Lately it seems like a lot of companies are devoting time and money to porting their big budget console games to Sony's PlayStation Portable. Games like The Godfather and From Russia With Love are released on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, and then months later they find their way to the PSP, generally with mixed results. When I popped Gun Showdown into my PSP I hoped for the best, but I had a strange feeling that this was going to be yet another port that shouldn't have been released on the portable platform. Gun proved me wrong; it's a surprisingly solid port that is no better or worse than its console brothers.
That's not to say that Gun Showdown is a great game, it's still a short adventure with its share of unfortunate problems. Just about every problem that plagued the console version is apparent here; only this time around it's easier to accept the game's limitations and the various additions actually make this a fairly enjoyable portable experience. Gun is still not the first action game you should pick up for your PSP (those honors should go to Syphon Filter, SOCOM or Grand Theft Auto), but if you've been waiting for a western-theme video game full of dirty cowpoke and beautiful vistas then you can't go wrong with Gun Showdown.
The game starts out with a lot of promise; you'll find yourself playing Colton White, a man out hunting with his grizzly old man. Before long you are whisked ahead to a tragic confrontation with an evil preacher who has no problem killing men, women, and even your father (voiced by Kris Kristofferson). As you can imagine this angers Colton White something fierce; and the rest of the game is set-up for you to track down and kill the people responsible for this heinous act. While on your quest you'll meet up with friendly prostitutes, crooked locals, a resistance party, and your fair share of Indian tribes, it's a traveling circus of interesting characters.
When the game was released on consoles last year some likened it to Rockstar Games' popular Grand Theft Auto series, suggesting that the game's open-ended world is comparable to that of San Andreas. Unfortunately it's not. Don't expect Gun to be a completely non-linear experience; the game always lets you know what you're supposed to be doing next in order to advance the plot and you can forget about taking things out of order. But the story itself is fairly interesting, full of exciting characters doing dangerous (and sometimes stupid) things. Your quest will take you all over Gun's world helping strangers, shooting enemies, and blow stuff up. Things do get a bit predictable in the game's second half, but all in all this is one story that will keep you going all the way to the end.
But you getting to the end may have less to do with your interest in the story than it does with the fact that Gun is unbearably short. Just when you start to feel confident about your gunslinging abilities the game is over, you've battled your last boss and the only thing left to do is play the lame mini-games. This is no exaggeration, Gun can easily be beaten in five – six hours, and getting 100% in the game is nothing more than an eight hour jog. This PSP version of the game actually adds a few new missions to the story mode, which does a nice job of increasing the game's length (and offers a bit more to the story). But even with the new levels this game is extremely short, especially when compared to other open-ended games on the PSP.
Another big problem comes in the form of the size of the environment. A lot of the GTA clones try to mask their imperfections by offering huge worlds to explore, but not Gun Showdown. On horseback you can ride from one side of the map to the other in just about three minutes, five minutes if it's a leisurely trot. Not only is the world small but it's also extremely boring, there are two small towns (Dodge and Empire), a couple of forts, a mountainous area, a river, and a whole bunch of flatland called the Badlands. That's it. Outside of those few dots on the map there isn't much else to see, so you may find yourself not wanting to explore the world quite like you would when going to Vice City or San Andreas for the first time. Worse yet, there aren't a lot of compelling reasons to search out all of the nooks and crannies in Gun's world, which means that won't be doing a log of sight seeing after you've played through the exceptionally short single-player campaign.
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