The controls still reveal the limits of the hardware. Don’t expect pin-point-accurate targetting and shooting, jumps have to be made a fraction of a second in advance, and the movement controlled by the left hand is prone to fits of unpredictable sensitivity. The game has clearly been designed to accommodate all these things, and for the most part it works. If you want to play Time Crisis, there’s a perfectly good version on PS3 with Move. This is not that kind of game.
The graphics, meanwhile, are best described as stylish rather than impressive. Apparently, The Gunstringer and some of the other characters began as real puppets, and the game revels in the kind of bizarre hand-crafted characters and scenery we’ve seen before in LittleBigPlanet; you’ll even see human hands placing objects and items on the horizon as you go, while one special attack actually involves a pounding fist.
With scenes that take you through frontier towns, backwoods logging camps and bawdy river-boats – even weird pseudo-Oriental forts – there’s plenty of variety, and it’s all backed by a soundtrack that riffs on the classic Ennio Morricone Western themes to great effect. It even pinches Bastion’s interactive narration trick, though here it’s used more repetitively and sparingly, and mostly for silly comic effect.
If the game falls down, it’s in the fact that it is undeniably light fare, and that there’s not an awful lot of reason for a lone gun to keep coming back for more. Online leaderboards and bronze, silver and gold rankings might encourage a few, but The Gunstringer hasn’t got the taut gameplay of a classic score attack game.
Cash earned through the killing can be splashed out on a bonus hardcore mode or new graphical effects, but these aren’t particularly convincing. What we suspect is that this will be the kind of game that comes out with family or company. Given the price – and the fact that its bundled with a free download code for Fruit Ninja Kinect – that’s absolutely fine.
The Gunstringer might be slight and simple – and it won't convince the Kinect-hating hardcore – but it’s a lovable chunk of rootin’, tootin', shootin' fun.