From the second you boot Cowboy Guns, the powerfully cheesy, yet engaging Wild West tunes put you in the perfect mood to appreciate what Chillingo have set out to do, and the music stays up to par throughout the entire game, making you feel more edgy and badass than Clint Eastwood one-manning a saloon full of hooligans.
As is to be expected, the in-game graphics are fairly blocky, and unfortunately the environments are pretty samey; however, it doesn’t detract from the atmosphere or the playability of the game, and you can see from the quality of the artwork found in the loading screens that given a device with more resources to play with, Cowboy Guns would look pretty brilliant.
Unfortunately, past the aesthetic, the game begins to go downhill. Although fun to play, very straightforward and fast-paced (keys open gates just by walking into them, there are few menus to navigate to buy upgrades or save etc, making the game a very streamlined experience), the control system does take a LOT of getting used to, and definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the game for a little while.
Having to point the right analog stick to shoot is pretty clunky, and I found myself having to hold it down and alter the angle I was pointing at just to hit baddies about an inch away from me; not helped by having an incredibly small clip on your guns, which means your process of figuring out exactly where you’re firing is interrupted every five shots (on the handgun) by having to reload. This also makes the shotgun worthless, because you’re paying a lot of cash for ammo, 60% of which you’re going to waste missing easy shots because the analog stick either won’t point where you want it to or the bad guys are moving faster than the controls are responding.
The poor controls also make boss fights less than worthwhile; I found myself beating most of them simply by standing in front of them and holding down the fire button as close to their direction as I could get it, running away and hiding to regenerate health, and rinsing and repeating. Thankfully, boss fights make up a minimal amount of gameplay time, as most of what you’ll be doing is shooting waves and waves of ruffians. Sort of like Dynasty Warriors, but with guns and an equally poor substitute for button mashing.
And the scriptwriting is terrible. Really, really terrible. It may just be the english literature student in this reviewer coming to the fore, but capitals letters are missing, commas are absent, and spelling mistakes are rife. (Ammend? What the hell is ammend?!) Sometimes, like when having to read a warning as powerfully phrased as ‘watch out here they come.’, it can actually detract from your enjoyment of the game, and it’s a pretty lazy development process when you can’t have someone proofread the script. If you can get over the literary niggles though, the cliché ‘bad guy gone good’ plot is enough of a storyline to carry the basic nature of the gameplay.
The achievements and upgrades (purchased with ‘Stars’, staple tokens you find around levels) keep the game interesting after beating adventure mode, but only if you’re willing to soldier through the sloppy controls.
Bottom Line: Cowboy Guns is worth the first playthrough, and the reasonable price tag, but it’s not replacing Red Dead Redemption anytime soon.