Once upon a time in the Wild West there was a man who had to do something to someone, or something.
This is that time, and Buck Crosshaw is an outlaw running from someone, or something. That is just about all the narrative you will get from Six-Guns before you are thrown into the tutorial. Learning how to walk, shoot and ride once more before graduating to a bonified gunslinger, rider and swanky lover.
Six-Guns is basically a mixture of Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare and the Contract Killer games from Glu. That is if you remove all aspects of story, and character build-up from Red Dead Redemption.
When it comes to the structure of the game it follows a Freemium model not far from that found in Contract Killer. You click on the world map, and then you select a mission. Once that is done you can touch a button to jump directly to the mission. There isn’t any real need to explore the environment, and the notion that this is a sandbox game like Grand Theft Auto is wrong. You basically jump between missions using the map screen, and the little exploration needed is for finding hidden objects.
The gameplay is divided into a number of different missions that can be divided into five kinds. Shooting gallery on foot or horse, horse racing, rescuing damsels or finding stuff in caves, surviving a set time or fighting off waves of enemies outdoors, and finally attacking enemy camps. Too soon I started having favourite missions, or rather missions I disliked less than others. The horse racing is uninspired, and never gets exciting. If you have a good horse you win, and if you have a bad one you are dead last. To win you need to invest either in game currency, or buy a horse as IAP. Even worse is trying to fire from horseback in the shooting gallery races. The game wants you to line up the horse, and rider, with the target but then you miss the path you have to trot instead.
Fighting in close quarters is not easy, as Buck wants to auto aim for the closest target. Too often this means that he starts spinning when enemies get close. With a lot of clipping issues, and enemies coming out of the walls this soon gets really problematic. Getting stuck is also a problem in the caves and catacombs. Trying to back away firing, often ends up with you stuck because Buck starts to waver left and right aiming automatically. When you get to a locked door or chest you enter a sliding block puzzle with limited moves. This change of pace is really weird when you are in the middle of a fire-fight with a bunch of demons.
Fighting outside in open areas is the best part of the game. Here you can take cover behind crates, and have a strategy on how to approach the enemies. There is little to no AI so soon it becomes more or less a shooting gallery exercise. The only exciting aspect is still that the enemies fire back, and you can actually get killed.
The Freemium aspect of the game comes in the shape of only being able to purchase new health, or buying your way out of hard missions using a star-based currency. You get a star or two when you level up, but to get good weapons, horses, or medication you need to invest some dough. I bought the starter pack with dual guns, a speedier horse and some money, but that ended up making the game really easy right away. This is the problem with the Freemium model for this kind of game. It is impossible for the game developer to know when the game is perfectly challenging for a consumer. If the player never gets any challenge then the game will just be a casual way to spend time. This happens far too often in Six-Guns. Racing horses without the AI being even close makes it a yawn fest. At those times I fail not because of poor equipment, but rather because the game handles poorly in close quarter battles.
The presentation is solid, especially when you walk around the buildings at dusk. A shame then that you can’t enter anything, or talk to anyone. The entire game feels barren, almost like a post apocalyptic wasteland. The hookers giving you advice, and mission briefings must live somewhere but where?
I really hope that Gameloft salvages the resources of this game, and puts them to better use elsewhere, and creates a proper game with a story. Now it is a mix of ideas that fails to become one comprehensive package. Fighting demons one second, and ordinary bandits the other feels weird. Even weirder is the idea of going horse racing in the middle of it all with maidens held captive in catacombs.
Six-Guns is the kind of game that you can spend a couple of days playing for free without investing a single dime. The experience isn’t that rewarding, and in the end you might feel that you actually wasted bandwidth downloading the 422 MB. Freemium games can be good, but in the case of Six-Guns it feels like a way to avoid spending time writing a proper story.
Six-Guns Free Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Seller: Gameloft S.A.