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SummaryGood story, easy to play, fails to live up to full potential and too console-like
The GoodStory is quite good. It has as many cliches as you could possibly squeeze into it, but in this case it's forgivable. Some strong parts in the story and it's definitely R stuff with murder and sex (even with prostitutes). Some of the main quests are rather interesting and there is some variation. The early game in particular makes you feel this could be a really good game but game stays interesting only to about 1/2 - 3/4 through the game and after that looses a lot of the interest as you have seen everything except how the main story finishes.
The map works well. It feels huge, yet you can access almost any place on the map very quickly with a horse. Maybe less canyons and more open space would have been nice but no complaints if every game had a map this well designed.
Loading and saving times are exceptional. I wish more games were this fast, you just don't need to wait, not even when starting the game.
Voice acting is good, Kris Kristofferson especially (I didn't realise it was him until the ending credits) and music is nice if easily forgotten.
Easy game play is a two-edged sword. On the other it makes you less frustrated as you can easily retry a mission, on the other hand you can just try shooting your way through almost any situation.
The BadUltimately the side quests are all the same within the same type of quest (bounty hunting, law enforcement, pony express etc). Once you have done a few, you pretty much know what to expect.
Thankfully most quests are short. RPG element (skills are boosted by completing these quests) is quite artificial because you always get the same reward (depending on type of side quest). It would have been nice if the way the quest was solved there would have been some difference in how the rewards were given.
The console-like dumbing down does not work so well in the PC. Ammo boxes and other items are lying around everywhere, and you can hit your target by pretty much pointing the gun in the general direction. Makes the hectic fights a lot easier, but also gives you the feeling that you didn't even have to aim. The fights are like a shooting gallery, and there's a lot of it. And usually shooting is the only solution.
Animation and graphics are not that special. Horses are like four moving legs and an inanimate block on top of them and people walk like they had a steel-bar spine. They also do nothing but walk around or stand still. There is no real purpose to them except as props. I would like to see some more when I enter a saloon than just some inanimate people standing. No-one is drinking, no-one is gambling, no brawls, no nothing. Feels like a church on a Monday morning. The world simply doesn't feel alive.
The PC version also suffers from some bugs. I had it crash a few times, the animation sometimes fails (legs do not move etc) and the game sometimes gets very jerky. The last problem was fixed by restarting the game. The worst happened when I got stuck inside a stairwell and hadn't saved for quite some time. I had to reload the game from way back.
Finally, the last part of the game is quite lame.
The Bottom LineInteresting setting, good story and excellent world, but could have used some more enthusiasm from the developers. Or perhaps the need to make the same game work in (older) consoles have set too rigorous limitations.
Still worth playing, especially if you are into Westerns as there aren't too many games set into that period. The good story makes up for most of the shortcomings.