Gun Showdown for the PSP is a western themed adventure game for the PSP entertainment system. It touts itself as the “Grand Theft Auto of the Old West,” which raised my anticipation level drastically. Unfortunately, disappoint was just a few load screens away.
Basically, this game is a port of the game Gun released for the PS2, Xbox, Xbox360, and PC. There are a few tiny additions here and there, a few extra side quests, but all in all this is the same game. To compensate for the PSP’s UMD disc, Gun’s world has gotten drastically empty. Riding through the towns feels not much different than riding through the desert, because these towns are deserted. The only characters you will encounter are the ones that activate the various missions. Throughout, this seems to take away from the open ended feel the developers were striving for. Interesting the developers at Rockstar were able to stuff a vast world full of characters onto a UMD disc but for some reason Activision has failed. Perhaps they did not try.
The story of Gun is typical western babbage. You play Colton, mild mannered hunter who just so happens to have the meanest six shooter in the old west. His father is shot down, and on his death bed confesses he is not really Colton’s father. Thus, this begins an adventure of revenge and identity. Through the game cut scenes will take place to move the story along and these are mostly well done. The problem is that the story and the way it takes place doesn’t really inspire the player to get behind the character.
Gameplay is Gun’s one saving grace, as shooting wild bad guys in the head never seems to lose its gaming charm. The games target system will take some getting used to. When running in regular speed, you will have to manually move the gun cursor over an enemy. What’s worse is that the PSP’s control scheme does nothing to make this any easier. As a matter of fact, these may be some of the worst controls on a PSP game period. There is also a slow motion target screen, a bullet time if you will. In this mode you can switch between targets with a click of a button, although you only have a limited amount of this luxury.
The graphics in Gun are top notch for a portable gaming system. The characters have decent detail and the western worlds really take on an appropriate field. Some trees and plants look a little over pixilated, but that is my only gripe. The small screen of the PSP does at time make enemies difficult to see, but these complaints are few and far between.
Guns sound is amazing. It is clear that Activision has taken some cues for HBO’s Deadwood, because the music sounds almost identical. The fighting sounds also have a great nostalgic western feel, which really adds to the overall atmosphere of the game.
Overall, Gun Showdown could have been a real gem. Unfortunately, bad controls and an empty game world take away from it in droves. The game does offer a quickplay mode, which is good if all you want to do is shoot some folks. If you are just a die hard western game fan, then don’t miss Gun Showdown, but if you are looking for Grand Theft Auto gameplay, look elsewhere.