Anyone who is even remotely aware of my passion for the wild west genre knows I’m a sucker for any kind of game, film, or book related to these glorious, lawless times set between 1607 and 1912 in the United States of America. From riding across the frontier to organising a good old hunt, drinking until you drop in saloons or gun-slinging your way to capturing bandits – dead or alive – there’s nothing more exhilarating I would play, watch, or read about. Except for the all-too-common-at-the-time one-on-one duels taking place in the middle of the street; those moments are simply the best.
The video game industry has certainly had its moments when it comes to the wild west genre, although it’s still not as popular as the futuristic or medieval themes. That said, here are my top five titles taking place in lawless America…
Gun is set in the American Old West, specifically in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico in the year 1880. This includes cities and badlands with populated environments that stretch from the mountains to the plains of early Dodge City, Kansas. The story, written by Randall Jahnson, features several veteran actors, including Ron Perlman, Lance Henriksen, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Skerrit and the lead, played by Thomas Jane. Gun features an open-world environment, including side-missions that add to the story. Players controls the protagonist, Colton White, from a third-person perspective. While travelling from town to town, bandit-attacks are frequent, and players must either escape or defend themselves. Players can even switch from third-person to first-person during gameplay.
4. Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive
Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive is a stealth-based real-time tactics game developed by Spellbound Entertainment and released in 2001. In the game, the player controls up to six characters. The protagonist is a wordly knife-fighter and gun-slinger, John Cooper. He takes on a bounty to capture a notorious train robber named ‘El Diablo’. As Cooper sets off on his quest, he is aided by five other friends as they work together in a real-time, stealth-based structure very similar to that introduced in Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines; although an all-out gunfight is still highly possible in the game.
3. Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood
Bound in Blood is the second entry in the Call of Juarez franchise, although it takes place before the original title. The story begins with brothers Ray and Thomas McCall as they are fighting in the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy. After abandoning their posts to save their family, the McCalls decide to head to Mexico to find the Lost Treasure of Cortez, with the intent of using it to rebuild their home. As you might expect, things start going south real fast. The game derives from spaghetti-western genre, meaning you can expect a lot of gun-slingers, outlaws, duels, prison-breaks, bank-robberies, stagecoach-chases, and conflicts with Native Americans.
2. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
Unlike its predecessor, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger returns to the traditional Old West setting and features three unique game modes (story, arcade, and duel) while the setting is the life-story of a bounty hunter named Silas Greaves. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a linear first-person shooter game. Like previous Call of Juarez titles, the game consists of completing objectives to progress through the game. Staple gameplay elements of the series such as bullet-time and gun-slinger duels make a return. A novel element is the occasional ability to dodge bullets via a quick time event.
1. Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption is an open-world action-adventure title developed by Rockstar San Diego and published by Rockstar Games. The player can travel the virtual world, a fictionalized version of the Western United States and Mexico, primarily by horseback and on foot. Gunfights emphasize a gun-slinger gameplay mechanic called ‘Dead Eye’ that allows players to mark multiple shooting targets on enemies in slow motion. The game makes use of a morality system, by which the player’s actions in the game affect their character’s levels of honor and fame and how other characters respond to the player. An online multiplayer mode is included with the game, allowing up to 16 players to engage in both cooperative and competitive gameplay in a recreation of the single-player setting.