Introduction / Story:
The story takes place in the far future, in a place resembling earth, somewhat. Once upon a time you and some of your fellow soldiers were on a mission to a planet. Everything seemed fine at first, everything looked just "normal", but then the shit hit the fan. Out of nowhere creatures pop out of nowhere, and I'm not talking about tiny annoying things you can kill with your little finger. Beasts with the height of 30 soldiers on top of each other smash pretty much everything (your pals, your group's ships etc). Luckily your general took a noble decision and runs like crazy out to a ship a bit outside the comotion and tried bombing the huge beasts. You, being a high ranking person in the army took the decision of escaping the battlefield and taking with you the remaining men and supplies. The general on the other hand (inside the bombing ship at that moment) gets somewhat eaten. Being a general and a regular tough guy he somehow gets to the heart of the beast and smashes it, making it very much dead. A few years later they've raised a statue of him to celebrate his noble actions in combat, and to mourn the loss of him. That is where you start.
To be more exact, you start off in an transport "box" taking you to the headquarters somewhere in space, and since this takes quite a while you get to see a fair amount of what's going on. Does this resemble something? Hell yes, it's almost the exact start as in Half-Life. You see the thing about Gunman Chronicles is very much like Half-Life, both in the menu system and the content of the game, but more about that later on.
When you arrive at the main building you head off to the main room where you meet your squad leader and some of the rookies on your team. He explains the celebration and some of the mission, but since you don't start all this till a few hours later. So to spend your time you head off to the firing range! I don't want to spoil the experience for you, but things get REALLY f'd up and you have to be the knight in shining armour. On the mission you head out to kill Xenomes, beasts of many kinds that will kill you in just as many ways. To top it all of, when you've played a little into the story you run into some new enemies who are more of the metal kind. Luckily you get an ally you probably don't expect getting on your team.
The entire story is fairly like other games, with it's own twists and turns.
This is the major problem with this game, because now when we have brilliant 3d engines like the one in Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament etc. Gunman Chronicles uses a somewhat modified version of the Half-Life engine. But, a zillion people love Half-Life: Counterstrike which does use the same engine even though Half-Life is a game from 1998. To be honest the graphics look outdated, but if you look beside the obvious lacks here and there it feels just fine. The characters in the game really detailed, but sadly each type of character looks identical. For instance, at the start where you look at the rookies in your squad and at the soldiers you meet throughout the game they are 100% identical. I don't really blame them though, it's not like they could've made 10 textures for each character. What really impressed me graphic wise is the fantastic level design. It's not often so much happens during a level as it does in Gunman Chronicles and considering what's in the single player part of Half-Life this is in my opinion quite alot better.
Score: 7 of 10.
The Music / Sounds:
Dynamic music is great, don't you think? As in many other games the music changes from the situation you're in. But, it's not real 'music', you see it's not like in Kingpin where you have beats in your speaker while you cap some guy on the street. There's much more silence in Gunman Chronicles, and to be honest it suits the game a whole lot. When sneaking around a corner so you can snipe some rocket launcher armed solder far away you don't need techno music from your speakers. On the other hand, when you're running in corridors and things are exploding all around you it's great to have music set the atmosphere even greater! Sound wise it's pretty much 'OK', all the characters sound pretty much the same, and a personal observation of mine is that the voice of a computer you'll run into in the game resembles alot one of the characters in System Shock 2 which also is a good first person shooter. It would sure be good with more variation voice-wise, but you won't be too annoyed, if annoyed at all.
Luckily for me you can enable EAX and A3D sound, so if you've got a Live! card (like me) then the feel of the sound will be even better.
Score: 7 of 10.
If you're able to play Half-Life you're able to play Gunman Chronicles. The default key setting is pretty much the one I use in every first person shooter game, so it's nice that they've considered the fact that the default key setting on most games of that kind is changed by every gamer with skills above a peach. At times it felt as if the mouse was lagging a little bit, but by tweaking a bit here and there in the control setup it felt just fine. Actually another thing I liked a whole lot about the game is that you can modify all the weapons you pick up. For instance: the "laser gun" can be modifies so it doesn't just use pulse fire, you can set it to charge, rapid and sniper (if you pick up the sniper kit). By having such a modification system you don't need the game to have 10 weapons with one mode, rather you have less weapons with great possibilites of gibbing you enemies, all considering the situation. The weapons are well balanced, and when you play the single player part in normal mode you get just the right amount of ammo, so then you don't need to run around with your knife and you don't have have all the guns filled to the brim with ammo either. Usually you find ammo in places where it's natural to place it, but naturally it's also alot of other places as well. The artificial intelligence is actually better than in quite a few other first person shooters. Instead of just running towards you the soldiers now hide behind crates etc, the aliens on the other hand are dump as cattle. Last but not least, another great and even exclusive feature is that the weapons can get too hot! There is some kind of thermometer on the bottom on the screen when you use some of the weapons, and if you fire too many shots in too little time they can get "stuck" and fire on their own for a little while, hehe.
Score: 9 of 10.
Since this game is very much like Half-Life the multiplayer part is also so. You have Quickstart, Lan Game, Internet Games, Chat Rooms and Visit WON. Actually while I was just writing the multiplayer text in this review I noticed that when you alt+tab it the name of the application (or game if you may) is Half-Life (!), you would think they could change such a thing but that'll probably be fixed in a patch. Speaking of bugs, there are some graphic bugs here and there, some bigger than others but usually it's just small things probably related to the level-design of that level. The 5 multiplayer levels are all as good as you would expect, some with many halls and some with large open areas. I only wish there could be more levels to choose from.
If you like the Half-Life multiplayer possibilites you won't exactly be disappointed by Gunman Chronicles.
It would be cool to have more choices though, maybe capture the flag and things we've seen in Quake 3/Unreal Tournament.
Score: 7 of 10.
This is the kind of game that you play just to frag some aliens! It's not a game where you have to think alot, even thought there are some tricky areas. If you want to get out anger you can try a few hours of Gunman Chronicles. There are things that make this game outdated, but there are still some things we haven't seen in first person shooters before. I doubt a whole lot of people will remember this game 5 years from now, but that doesn't mean that you can't have a good time playing it. If you like Half-Life and especially mods then you REALLY want to try this game, because if this was just a mod I'm sure it would get much more appreciated by that croud rather than it being a standalone game, but that's just one of my thoughts, it might not be correct but so what.
PS: The first time I played this game I played it for 8 hours.