Developer: Techland | Released: 2013 | Genre: FPS, Western
Finally I arrived at the third in this western series – the best of the trilogy.
This western FPS was significantly improved in most departments. The almost cel-shaded graphics and the sound effects were both outstanding, the dual and concentration modes refined even further, and it now sported an excellent level-up system. I lamented the loss of the anti-heroes of the first two games, but it was made up for by a charming tale of a new gunslinger meeting the legends of the Wild West.
Stealth and jumping was dialed down even further, mostly focusing on pure shootouts. The cover system no longer glued me to the crates and wall corners, but I still found it to be an improvement on the second game. Objects used for cover were now always easy to see and usually in abundance, and the few shots I received (shown as bullet damage to the screen) was easily shaken off while reloading in cover.
Together with easily spotted enemies, this made the game easier in the beginning.
Shooting enemies gained XP, with more XP for the trickier shots, and leveling up gave me access to a skill screen for boosting my abilities. Concentration mode no longer expired when ready, and it could even be activated before that to at least highlight the enemies. Duel mode had only few enhancements since the second game, but they were all for the better too.
But actually, the game had a lot of smaller improvements that all worked well. Dynamite could now be thrown on its own hotkey. Some encounters had QTE for avoiding bullets. Nuggets of truth could be found for checking out a fact about the Wild West on the title screen. Bandits up close could be killed with a melee hotkey. Only autosaving was there (quicksave was gone) but it never set me back much.
The story itself was about Silas Greaves, the protagonist, entering a saloon in the age of the first cars. He finds a small audience and starts telling them about his adventures in the Wild West many years ago.
This made for levels that changed place like the wind blows, but it kept the experience fresh.
The game also didn’t take itself too seriously. Sometimes Silas misremembered something or admitted to fooling around, and then the level rewound a few minutes back for trying a different path. At other times, Silas remembered a way out of a bind and the game gods instantly revealed a path.
Unfortunately, it also made use of the same narration technique that Bastion used, with the protagonist constantly blathering on in the levels. In between the shootouts it was fine and sometimes even amusing, but whenever the shooting got going, I could no longer concentrate on what he was saying.
I chose to spend my skill points on using a rifle. Seemed to fit my style of playing best.
The dual mode now allowed for shooting first, but then it wasn’t acknowledged as an honorable kill. I must say that I only liked the duels in the first few levels of the game. Later duels became significantly more difficult and I typically died many times before getting it right, and then only because I was the one that shot first. I really think they should have tuned this down a bit. We’re not all true gunslingers.
By far the worst duel was the one against two Dalton brothers at the same time. Not even the last Mexican standoff against Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was this difficult. I died against those pesky Daltons 8 times before I finally got lucky. Man, I suck at these duels.
I loved throwing dynamite and watching the action text indicate that I killed more than one at once.
In the mine episode, I entered a storage cellar filled with explosive barrels. I died several times here trying to shoot bandits until I understood that the game required me to pick up and use a shotgun.
I also discovered a bug there. When the entire shaft came crashing down, I actually survived in a small side chamber. There was no way out and it was clear that I wasn’t supposed to survive that. As soon as I touched one of the big boulders next to me, the death sequence was instantly triggered.
In the level shooting Indians while tracking down Grey Wolf, I was dumped into an arena at one point and had to survive an impressive session of shooting from everywhere. That was quite challenging as the arena didn’t have much cover. I just kept running around when I wasn’t shooting.
I liked when the kid in the saloon told the story about the Daltons. I think that level restarted three times. The first two times were not true, and Silas then had to tell them a longer version.
Sometimes there were bandits hidden behind a big wooden shield, tall as the man himself.
I wasn’t too fond of how the game changed from rifle to revolvers when it was time for a QTE, even though it makes sense to use the revolvers for quick-shooting several enemies all around.
In the swamp level following the Daltons, Silas mentioned a building missing and it dumped down from above. I really loved that silly shit – always gave me a smile. There were also more of this in the level with the wooden overpass, disarming dynamite. As soon as the dynamite was disarmed, a new wooden bridge or plank dumped down to give me an exit. It made sense since the game needed me to disarm the dynamite before I could be allowed to continue.
Also lots of silly stuff being commented while Silas tells his stories. Apart from the naysayers not really believing his claims, there was Steve falling asleep, snoring out loudly.
A steamboat in the swamp was set on fire and I had to run out like hell. This wasn’t actually all that difficult. The part afterwards, manning a gun turret outside with swarms of enemies attacking, seemed a lot harder to me. I died a few times there.
The part on the overpass having to run up a lit dynamite fuse actually wasn’t that hard.
The Kid Curry gun turret boss sequence was hard, but not frustratingly so. I just had to keep sprinting from cover to cover to get up close, then throwing a lot of dynamite at him. I personally think some of the QTE and the duels were harder.
Of course there would be a level on a moving train – I just knew that one would pop up sooner or later. The usual stuff having to make my way through the wagons, on the roof, on the sides. At one point Silas had to go take a leak at the saloon where he was telling his story. The train wagon was actually looping into itself continuously until he came back. That was a nice touch.
In the level with Frank James, Silas got drunk in the saloon and started singing, pondering about death. Frank was actually a bit hard to get to. He always kept his distance, as a good sniper should.
Not unexpectedly, the final level in a foggy ghost town was the hardest in the game. I was attacked by ghost figures of all the legends Silas had met in his life. In an arena with tombstones, I had to endure multiple waves of ghosts. I died so many times there. Then Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid arrived for a Mexican standoff duel. I could use two hotkeys for switching between them.
Turned out that Ben was actually one of the guys listening in the saloon where Silas was telling his stories. I got a choice of two endings – revenge or redemption. I chose the latter. Not necessarily because I felt Ben earned a second chance – I just couldn’t muster another damn duel.
- Chrome Engine looks greater than ever. A rainstorm in a level almost made me feel wet.
- Again professional voice acting all around – and there’s a lot of it.
- Excellent sound effects especially for the weapons, and the enemies die in a satisfying manner.
- Concentration and duel modes has been refined and works better than ever.
- Killing earns XP and leveling up gains access to useful skills.
- Collections called nuggets of truth opens up for interesting Wild West facts.
- Sometimes you have to dodge a bullet – either as part of a QTE or to avoid being killed.
- It doesn’t take itself too seriously and sometimes rewrites the story (or creates an exit) on the spot.
- Lots of excellent drawn pictures in the cutscenes that really sets the right mood.
- The protagonist talks a lot during shootouts. I wasn’t always a fan of that, but maybe it’s just me.
- Unlike in the two first games, there are no horses to ride on this time around.
- If you jump down where you’re not supposed to be, you die – even if it’s less than two meters.
- The duels can get pretty difficult later on in the game.
- There are a few arena sequences where the difficulty goes through the roof.