Sizzling gunfights, white-knuckle horseback riding, lots of unflinching stares, slutty barmaids, and whisky - not the kind of stuff that usually works well with a gamepad attached, but the action/adventure Gun perfectly bottles all those classic Old West ingredients in videogame form, and the label doesn't read "snake oil."
Gun nails a compelling balance between great story and great gameplay. As hunter Colton White, your world is upended when your father is killed in an ambush - right after he reveals that he isn't actually your father. Your quest for truth and revenge takes you down a twisted path through brothels, outlaw hideouts, the sheriff's jail, and into Indian territory. Without spoiling anything, Gun's gradually unfolding yarn is grade-A stuff that commands your attention. Stellar voice acting by a cast ranging from Kris Kristofferson (Blade) to Thomas Jane (The Punisher ) prevents the story from ever degenerating into standard videogame cliches.
The gameplay keeps both barrels smoking with intense third-person combat interspersed with side quests that give you a chance to catch your breath. You'll carve a path through a saloon, square off in duels on dusty streets, blow away marauding Indians with your shotgun, and even quietly stalk prey with a bow and arrow, all while swigging whisky to restore your health. The highlight-reel moments, though, come as you careen around on horseback through hornet-like swarms of airborne lead - the frantic intensity and fun never dulls, and a handy bullet-time move helps you survive when the crap hits the fan too hard.
In between the story missions, you can roam the landscape (just don't expect a GTA-like open world) and admire the gorgeous scenery. Or you can tackle side quests, which range from cheating in poker to riding the Pony Express. Unfortunately, the hunting missions unlock far before you have the bow and arrow needed to complete them, so don't waste time trying to tackle them until after you escape from jail.
If there's a nit to pick with Gun, it's that it's short. Depending on how much you poke around, you can beat it in anywhere from six to ten hours. To us, that's no problem; we'll take a short amazing game over a long lackluster one any day.
But Xbox 360 gamers get a pretty raw deal. That version costs $10 more, and it's 99% the same, last-gen game and graphics, virtually identical to the regular Xbox version. If a 360 is your only hardware, Gun is too good to miss, but if you have other systems, save yourself some cash and play it elsewhere.