Review: Six Guns (Xbox Live)
Saddle up, as all the cliches would say, it's time to take yourself to the Wild West, to seek your fame and fortune. But in the case of the latest Xbox Live title, Six Guns, the fortune is going to be earned by Gameloft, through a rather punishing freemum system.
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52
Let's start with the game, because it's all very promising for the first ten or fifteen minutes. The game opens with a series of cinematic cut scenes, drawings and captions, which set up what little story there is - you're a cowboy, and you've decided to help the good people of the world against all manner of evil.
And for some reason, that evil includes zombies, vampires, and supernatural beings hiding in the rickety mines around the map. No, I don't know either, and the game doesn't make it clear. Providing you with a solid storyline was not high up on the developer's list of priorites, which makes playing Six Guns a rather disjointed feeling.
Which is a shame, because the other developer priorities are making the game look fantastic and giving it a good vibe of the Cowboy genre. From calling your horse to your side so you can gallop towards a new mission, to the tight zooming in to aim your gun carefully at the enemy, Gameloft have got a pretty good third person shooter in 3D vibe going on here.
It's not perfect, as again you have to rely on a virtual joypad on the screen, with the direction control under the left thumb, and the 'look around' managed by swiping in any other 'empty' party of the screen (your fire and reload controls are specific buttons). But there are good virtual controls - and bad. Gameloft have thankfully got a good one here in Six Guns, with good granularity in the movement, and smooth panning of the graphics to look around.
The graphics really bring the gaming world to life. There are a number of varied locations, spread out across the West, all of which are depicted in the muted weather-beaten colours that John Ford would have been proud of.
Character details are pin sharp as well, with lots of limb movement reflecting the characters' actions, and smart character maps making head shots possible with some careful aiming (although there is an auto-aim option I found useful as my arcade skills are not as strong as they once were).
And is it wrong to think that the best looking graphic is the horse?
SixGuns is a wonderful environment to play in. There is a solid feeling to the world, the interactions are clever, and Gameloft have taken into account the mobile environment. While it is an open world, the self contained levels mean you are taken straight to the action, given clear short term goals, and can play through the levels in a reasonably short amount of gaming time. Congrats Gameloft, you've got that part licked.
In terms of the in-game action, Six Guns is a winning game. But the main issue comes after about ten minutes of gameplay, when you run out of ammo. And you have to buy it. And the in-game currency shows up. Both of them - the little currency for basic provisions in the game that you can earn by playing through the challenges, and the larger currency that makes the game bearable during the later levels. Which of course is the currency Gameloft would rather you buy through in-app purchasing than grinding in the game.
There's a lot to buy with your money, from generic ammo, to better weapons, armour, and health, and in many cases you have to buy them or the levels are simply too hard to complete. Those would be the levels that feel the same every time you play them.
After a week of playing Six Guns, I'm pretty frustrated for two reasons. One of them is around the freemium system, which seems to be set to be incredibly aggressive. Run out of ammo, die on a level, or be caught short for power-ups and the game will present a huge button that asks you to buy them - naturally with the large currency, doing its best to hide the true (real world) monetary cost of the currency.
Compared to many freemium games, it feels like Six Guns has one hand on your wallet for the entire game. sometimes it doesn't even wait for you to die before it goes 'wouldn't a health pack be a nice thing to buy?' Which all leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Yes, you can work on grinding out the stars through the in-game missions, but as you continue to play you realise that all the missions you are undertaking are all rather similar. A truly smart open world game has a plot that will develop as you play through the game. Six Guns is unfortunately not that smart. New challenges feel exactly like old challenges, so the entire game becomes one long grind, one long trudge of doing the same thing over and over again with no change in the environment, no change in the reward, and ultimately a lessening desire to play the game.
I burn out on most freemium games because I've been playing for too long, and I'm not prepared to spend more than a few pounds to buff the character or buy some currency. Six Guns is relatively unusual, in that I'm ready to give up because the game is too greedy, too forward, and ultimately too boring.
Put simply, boring games are not good games. No matter the graphics, the control system, or the intention. Six Guns might be many things, but it's not recommended.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at