Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West PS3 Review

May 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews

Publisher: Paradox Interactive  Developer: Fatshark  Genre: Action  Players: 1  Age Rating: 16+

Other console/handheld formats: N/A


The western themed release of Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West may have been released at the wrong time, given that Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption is upon us, and, because of this, I feel that the game could be overlooked by many. Red Dead may be a higher profile release, although Lead and Gold is a delightfully cheap (£11.99) online multiplayer game that shouldn’t be ignored just because a bigger budget gaming western is just around the corner.

Firstly, while duals and horses are absent (I don’t recall seeing any tumbleweed, either), Lead and Gold does take many elements from a good old western. The well made maps have the saloons, mines, wagons and dusty environments of a typical western backdrop, and cowboy music emanates from your TV speakers. Visually, the game is nothing more than serviceable, with some shockingly bad texture work, although the colourful art style is hugely appealing and the animations make it all the more fun to play.

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As a third person team-based (the only single player modes are practice and Gold Fever) shooter, Lead and Gold also has typical elements such as classes and an emphasis on working together with your team mates. There are four classes to choose from, including the gunslinger (proficient at close to mid range), the blaster (for those up close and personal shootouts), the trapper (a long range sniper) and the deputy (similar to the gunslinger, close to mid range is the ideal distances to fire at his enemies from), and, as such games normally go, they each have their own unique skills and all but the gunslinger carries a backup sidearm. The said gunslinger can coolly fan his pistol to release a faster, albeit less accurate, barrage of bullets, the blaster carries a shotgun and can lob TNT, the trapper is equipped with a sniper rifle and it’s possible to deviously set up traps that hopefully some unknowing enemy will stand on, and finally the deputy has a rifle in his hands and is able to tag enemies, in which you and your team mates can then keep tabs on their positions. What’s important is that classes should feel balanced, and here they feel just that. No class has any major advantages over any of the others.

But there’s more. Lead and Gold has a rather unique Synergy system, in which sticking close to your team mates will result in perks radiating from them and onto you. All classes radiate health, while being around a gunslinger will improve your accuracy, a trapper will radiate the potential to score more critical hits, the deputy will make your shots stronger, and finally the blaster will increase your defence. It’s a clever system which strongly encourages team work and sticking together as a unit and, with that said, a team is obviously going to be better off when all its members are in close proximity to one another. Synergies also increase in effectiveness based on your level in each match, although said level isn’t persistent and doesn’t unlock any extra content for the game, which means that the better players are never going to have unlocked more than the worse players, as in some games.

All players can revive their team mates, just as long as the downed players are still breathing, and when they’re still breathing, they’re still shooting. When injured, it’s possible to make a last stand while you wait for a team mate to come along and hopefully get you back on your feet before an opponent kills you, although, if you’re the impatient type, then you could always help euthanize your cowboy and then respawn. Remaining on the subject of respawns, a single flag can be carried around by each team, in which it’s possible to respawn from, although if said flag is dropped, an opponent can touch it to send it back to where it came from. It’s a great idea which allows for teams to remain strong on the attack in any of the six modes.

There are few real surprises as far as the modes go, with mostly traditional rules dressed up in cowboy hats, gun holsters and bandannas. Shootout sounds rather like a death match, and that is exactly what it is, while Powder Keg is played across two rounds, in which one tasks you with protecting objects from being destroyed and the other has you attempting to do the destroying with a barrel of gunpowder. Finally, Conquest will be familiar to many as they fight to gain control of certain areas on the map.

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There’s also an attack and defend game mode, involving one team attempting to blow open a bank vault containing bags of gold, and then carrying said bags to the drop off point, while the other team defends the shiny currency, and, when it comes to round two, the roles are reversed. Greed is another mode that has teams straining their muscles by carrying sacks of gold, and the winner is the team to have delivered the most when the clock hits zero. Yet another mode that contains the lifeblood of the Wild West is Gold Fever: a cooperative survival mode (limited to just the one map, sadly) for 1-2 players, in which you are required to steal as many bags of gold as you can, doing so until the AI opposition overwhelms you and the breath leaves your body, meaning that there’s no respawns for you or your team mate. All modes offer little invention but work and play as they should.

Flaws are hardly serious, although are sadly present. Firstly, the network code is a little bit unreliable, bringing about some nasty bouts of lag and some connection issues, but thankfully none of these things happen often enough to ruin the game entirely. Secondly, while the game mechanics are sound, the lack of a cover system and a duck button in particular is rather bizarre to say the least, although it does keep things simple for the more casual player.

Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West is a mostly brilliant and well made team-based shooter. There’s much to like in this downloadable game, particularly the tight controls, the classes and the synergy system, and the £11.99 price should make it appealing to anyone who enjoys such multiplayer shooters. Red Dead Redemption is just around the corner, but it would be churlish to skip Fatshark’s cheap online shooter because of this.


9/10


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