Six-Guns Review: This Western Lacks a Plot, Doesn't Lack Bugs
Gameloft's Six-Guns is a Red Dead Redemption-inspired freemium game set in Arizona. You play Buck Crosshaw, an outlaw on the run in the Wild West, who ends up battling vampires and witches.
Six-Guns consists of a series of missions that take place in different sections of the Wild West. Unfortunately, there's no plot tying these missions together, so the game quickly becomes repetitive and difficult to engage with.
The only story you're given comes from the game's Google Play page: You are Buck Crosshaw, an outlaw who has to "fake his own death and escape to Arizona." Once there, he meets an "ancient and wicked force" that seems to be made up largely of the undead and witches.
That all sounds pretty cool, but when you open up the game, you get none of this promising backstory. You have no idea what crime you committed that forced you to hide out in Arizona, why monsters are in Arizona, and why you're the one battling them. Seriously--the game is just one mission after another, and each mission is introduced with only a loading screen and an objective. So you'll be killing monsters and running around the countryside just because the game tells you it's time to do so. The lack of a plot probably wouldn't be that bad if the game had more variety in the types of missions you receive, but it really has only three kinds of missions, and they all basically involve just killing a bunch of enemies to complete. With so little variety, the game gets old fast.
Six-Guns may look like Red Dead Redemption, but it's nowhere near as polished, especially when it comes to controls.
The shooting mechanics are okay--not perfect, but pretty decent for a mobile game. It's a third-person shooter, and aiming is fairly straightforward: Tap the crosshairs button, swipe toward your target, and you'll automatically lock on them. Then hit the action button (which, confusingly, looks like a reload button) to shoot. You get six shots, and then you have to spend some time reloading, though you can purchase upgrades in the store to increase the speed at which you reload.
Moving around the landscape should be painless, but it's not. Tapping anywhere on the lower left side of the screen (under the aiming button) brings up a virtual joystick. You have to push your finger far outside of the realm of the joystick to move quickly, and in several instances you will get stuck behind rocks and other obstacles. Here, you'll find glitches, and you'll have to spend several minutes twirling your finger around the screen attempting to extract yourself from whatever rock or log Buck became infatuated with.
After each mission, you'll earn coins, but you're usually asked to spend them right away to upgrade your equipment. The game has 19 guns and 8 horses to choose from, and each upgrade will cost you coins or sheriff stars (the latter are the game's second, real-money currency). You can also purchase other upgrades, such as health boosters and clothing, for a nominal fee.
Six-Guns is a little different from other freemium apps in that you can purchase just about everything for real money, straight from the game, including coins, sheriff stars, packs of upgrades, health boosters, and even XP points.
Graphics, Audio, Performance
Six-Guns looks very good, with impressive lighting effects and excellent 3D graphics. Even so, it's not console-level, and doesn't look as attractive as other 3D Android games such as Dead Space. The audio is also well done, and the game features a sullen, Wild West-style soundtrack and lots of sound effects. It has few voice-overs, however, which makes sense considering the lack of plotline.
Performance is something of an issue. I tested Six-Guns on a Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.0.2, and the game ate up a lot of memory and battery life. Within just a few seconds of opening the game, my device was hot enough that I had to take the cover off of it, and battery life had decreased significantly. The game also has a lot of glitches, it occasionally crashes, and it takes around 30 seconds to start up, which is long enough that I found myself checking to make sure it wasn't frozen.
The Bottom Line
Initially, Six-Guns sounds amazing: It's a big title from Gameloft, and it's got great graphics, an attractive soundtrack, and a large world to explore.
Unfortunately, it suffers from a ton of major issues: game mechanics, battery drain, no storyline, and so on. Though the game is free, you're prompted to purchase upgrades and health packs after each mission, and if that's not enough, you're also constantly prompted to turn on notifications so the game can spam you with updates.
Six-Guns may be free, but this is definitely a case of getting what you pay for.
This app was tested using a Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.0.2
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