"Annie! Get your gun!" I'm not kidding either! It's in the game. Not that exact quote, but there is a cute little blonde cowgirl wielding a rifle named "Faith" that hooks up with Red, the tragic hero of this Rockstar western, as he sets out on his mission of revenge. They've taken every clichÃ© western theme you can think of from John Wayne to that cheesy musical, and spit-balled it into this cinematic, shoot-em-up game that will knock your socks off.
Like any good Western, it's a story of a gunslinger. Our hero watches dear ol' dad take one in the gut as father and a boyhood Red try and fight off claim-jumpers in the game's opening. The poor kid watches helplessly as the villains steal his fathers prized possession, an ornately jeweled Revolver and ride into the sunset laughing. From the start, Red is out for revenge, but he's not the only character you'll follow. There is a complete cast ranging from a crazy Mexican general to a Buffalo Soldier, and that's where this game deserves the most credit.
Rather than beating you over the head with cut-scenes and dialogue boxes, Red Dead Revolver keeps you in control, allowing you to play each of the stories characters yourself, and this makes sure that every second of the game is action packed. The plot is pushed with cinematic movie sequences that seamlessly end by putting you right back into the action. The movies are masterfully presented, and the presentation will impress any player. Rockstar also lets you choose how much of the story you want to see by allowing you to purchase items throughout the game that unlock show-down characters, add pages to a journal, and reveal a few hidden goodies to those who are patient enough to go through it all. After you play through a few levels, you may find yourself taking an interest in the story, too. I sure did. It is very amusing, and like any cowboy movie, it makes you wonder what comes next.
The games' bullet flying action can get pretty intense. Fans of Rockstar's games will feel right at home with the third person view, and I was pleasantly surprised at how responsive and intuitive the gun controls were. You'll find several weapons throughout the game that will allow you to choose what kind of gunslinger you want to be. Are you the old-trusty revolver type? Do you prefer to wield a rifle? Perhaps you're a flashy Doc Holiday wanna-be wielding dual, silver plated pistols! Whatever your preference, Red Dead Revolver will let you slip into the game and play it your way. They also include a few features like a bullet-time slow motion, allowing you to bulls-eye some amazing shots and make your gunslinger is the bad ass he should be.
The chiming of the clock tower bell signals a showdown. Tumbleweeds may not drift lazily across the street, but you will find yourself face to face with some unsightly characters. The fastest draw wins. Red Dead Revolver uses a very clever gameplay system that will test your reflexes and aim. A movie sequence welcomes squares you off against your opponents, and just like the wild west, it’s not always a fair fight. With a quick flip of the control pad you go for your gun and quickly aim your shots. The reticule will indicate how effectively placed your shot will be, and as the game gets progressively harder, you will need to be dead-on with your aim and timing. They also require players to think. A head-shot won’t always kill them, and some of your opponents are faster than you are. You may find yourself shooting a hand or targeting their gun in hopes of getting a split second edge on that yellow-belly bandit.
That game is not without it’s problems. The actual level design isn't that impressive. It has a dungeon-crawl feeling as bad-guys pop out from behind rocks, and some of the AI is just down-right stupid, even in some of the later levels of the game. Overall, they do a good job of forcing you to use your whit, but the lack of challenge in some areas will slightly sour the sweet nectar of victory. Some of the more difficult challenges of the game are not where they should be either. Rather than fighting more bad guys or smarter enemies, you may find yourself struggling with stupid friendly-NPCs who might as well just stand out in the open or camera angles that consistently allow some invisible enemy to rush past you from off screen. Both of these headaches result in having to restart the level, and it gets a little frustrating.
There is a limited 4-person multiplayer in this Xbox title that allows players, on the same box, to compete in a deathmatch event. You can assign characters for the computer to run, and you are allowed to choose from any of the showdown characters you have unlocked. Although a token of replayability is available here, the overall fun of this feature will be quickly lost, and I don’t think anyone will be incredibly fascinated by this extra because the lack of Live enabled play is glaring. How fun would it be to square off against another gunslinger online, or to have an all out paintball-style deathmatch, or capture the flag, or king of the hill tournament? There was a great deal of potential left unrealized with this omission that greatly limits the replayability of the game.
Despite its moderate shortcomings, this is a must-play-game for any fan of action titles. The creative use of player control to determine the gameplay and story delivery is an industry-leading feature. The showdown gameplay is an absolute blast, and the pace of the game will keep you amused for the weekend. Red Dead Revolver, like any Gunslinger, lives fast, lives fun, and goes out in a blaze of glory far to soon.