Red Dead Revolver


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 6

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

Those who lived through the 16-bit era will likely remember a game by Konami called "Sunset Riders." This superb 2-D shooter was set in the Wild West with a tongue-in-cheek style that brought back memories of spaghetti westerns. Though from a completely different company, Red Dead Revolver from Rockstar actually has a lot in common with Konami's old-school classic, just with a new-school, 3-D twist.

The game puts players in control of Red; a child turned bounty hunter after the murder of his parents. He wanders around the west, taking jobs to wipe out criminals for money, all the while trying to extract revenge from those who made the mistake of killing his family. You'll meet some allies along the way and occasionally control a few of them, but the main focus of the game is on Red.

This 3rd person action-shooter does almost everything right. Originally developed by Capcom but dropped for financial reasons, Rockstar picked it up and released it to the public. Each of the stages are usually confined to a small town (basically an arena), though a few will let you flex your platforming muscles. Enemies will relentlessly attack from every angle and your keen reflexes are the only things that will keep you alive. Thankfully, the camera is rarely out of place and will hardly ever be a problem for players.

Red will be able to purchase other weapons between stages to add to his arsenal, though only a few can be carried into the actual gameplay segments. Every weapon has various attributes and they can all be upgraded as well. In a few stages, you may find various turrets to fire from and ride horseback a few times as well.

Shooting is a bit tough to get used to, mostly thanks to the clunky control system. To draw your weapon, it is necessary to hold down the left trigger while moving and aiming with both analog sticks while firing with the right trigger. It's very hard to get used to and even more complicated when switching weapons. This can be done either with a tap of the white button or d-pad. Jumping, melee attacks, and reloading are all mapped to the face buttons as well. There is a lot to do and it will take some time to master.

Should the action get too heavy, you have the ability to enter into "dead eye" mode which is an improvised bullet-time. Once you have clicked in the right analog stick, the entire game slows down while you aim at various points on the enemy's body. Press the fire button and you fire off a rapid array of bullets to all the marked points. This is a very fast way to dispatch the bandits but you only have a limited amount of dead eye to use.

Running and gunning is not the only aspect of the game. Good 'ol fashioned duels have been included as well. These keen tests of wits and nerves are certainly fun. You'll unlock more of these segments as the game goes on and these can be played like mini-games from the main menu. You can also purchase journal entries that will give you more characters and weapons in the multi-player mode.

Speaking of multi-player, the three modes are all worthy for 4-players, though if you want to go on X-Box Live, you will be certainly disappointed. It is not supported. You can challenge another player in a quick-draw duel, fight to collect the required bounty cash, and a timed death match to see who can simply accumulate the most money. There are also two card games you may find strangely addictive.

This game is also available on the PS2 and it shows. It seems like nothing has been done to make the game stand out on the X-Box other than progressive scan support. Textures are blurry, character models break up at the seams, and color is limited (though this is for effect). The blood is a nice touch, but it just doesn't seem to fit with the rest of the package. The cinemas are real nice and made to seem like old, beat-up film footage complete with scratches. The loading screens are impressive as well, but the overall package is severely lacking.

Voice work here is also disappointing, especially early on. However, the near-perfect soundtrack makes up for everything. A mix of 70's style music and classic cowboy themes, it's a perfect fit for this somewhat campy western shooter. Gunfire is clear with a nice "boom" and the dying characters spout off some great quotes before finally dropping. Those with 5.1 surround support will get an even better experience since they can pick out their opponents just by listening.

The game does suffer from a stack of technical problems as well. The AI is downright dumb as times (especially a few of the bosses), which will lower the challenge level significantly. A few levels, specifically the train robbery, have enemies that literally just fly into the air when attempting to jump onto the speeding cars from horseback. You'll never see them again. The game will also be seen as repetitive to many people as well. The few stages that mix things up hardly help the redundancy of the shooting stages.

Red Dead Revolver is a perfect flashback to simpler era in the game industry. Sure it's in 3-D and the controls are a bit more complicated, but the game certainly owes a lot to the action shooters of the past. Anyone who grew up on games like Contra or the above mentioned Sunset Riders will certainly have a blast here throughout the entire game. Those people who have never played these games will still have fun as well. This is, at the very least, an absolute rental if not an outright purchase.


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Last updated: Saturday, July 10, 2004 08:14 AM