Gunman Chronicles (PC) Review

Developer: Rewolf / Publisher: Sierra


When I first saw Gunman Chronicles, I thought it would be a cool sci-fi action game with robots and aliens. After all, it was backed by the Half Life engine. When I first PLAYED it, I thought it was a Half-Life suck-up. Boy, was I wrong…somewhat, on both accounts…but don’t get out your checkbook yet; this game still sucks.

From what I read, Gunman Chronicles was actually made as a total conversion for Half-Life (which would explain the frightening similarities in game play: the main menu, the tram ride intro, the same gibs flying, even the listing of “Half-Life” in my ctrl-alt-delete menu.) The bad move came when Valve and Sierra, impressed with the effort Rewolf Studios, a group of kids from different parts of the world (who never met each other, ANOTHER bad move,) put into the mod, took Rewolf under their wing and put their project out as a stand alone retail game. As far as I’m concerned, this game is only for the die-hard FPS fan who likes to blow stuff up…like me. Other than that, the game sucks, and needs a HELL of a lot of work.

The plot is a bit Half-Lifeish: You are Major Archer, the leader of the Gunmen, the law of the galaxy. On one mission to explore a planet, giant worms jump out and start eating some of the men (I know.) Your general, the “brave” man that he was, tries to save your men, but as you and your men run like bats out of hell to escape, the general’s ship gets attacked and swallowed in one gulp. Right now, the general is grade-A pissed that you left him there, whining all the time that you “forgot” that silicon-based creatures can’t digest organic matter. So after he frees himself, he tries to kill you.

Jumping into the fray are the Xenomes (Xen….Xenomes…are you getting the picture yet?), genetically engineered killers. You have to fight these freaks the majority of the game. Then comes the Mainframe, a hard-assed computer with a bloodlust, who joins you later in your quest and helps you along.

Gameplay (5/10):

The game starts you off in this big station. The nice thing about this game is the training mission is incorperated into the game, so you get hands-on training right before you go out and kick ass. But there is one flaw: All the soilders look and talk the same. And another thing: they all sound like game show announcers; I was almost expecting them to say, “Heeeeere’s Johnny!”

The only vechile (sic?) you get to drive is a tank, but it makes up for that by being invincible and well equipped: a cannon, two machine guns, and a (one) homing missile launcher, all with unlimited ammo. Other than that, you’re mostly on foot…with guns. There are less than 10 weapons, but the game also makes up for this by allowing you to customize the guns by right mouse clicking to bring up an interface. Most of the weapons suck, however, for the exception of the shotgun and Mecha gun (a modified version of a machine gun.) The sniper rifle is good for headshots, and the M.U.L.E portable rocket launcher is good for nuking masses of enemies and clearing out areas, but other than that, the weapons blow.

After you get to the second planet, the Mainframe sics its drones on you. The thing is, the Mainframe hardly sounds like a computer and more like someone hollering over an intercom. All that aside, you’re basically fighting drones and Xenomes until you make friends with the Mainframe and it calls off its drones. These fellows become trusty allies with their firepower, so watch your fire when you’re blasting Xenomes with drones in the way. The cool thing is the escape sequence, where, while you’re trying to get to the Aerial Drone that will take you to (crash land on) the third planet, drones and Xenomes are doing battle left and right.

The third planet is a desert, ruled by annoying scorpions which you can squish by just stepping on them. Their granddaddies take a lot more firepower to destroy, however. At some points guys fly around in crudely built helicopters trying to machine gun you down, but they can be shot down with two blasts from the sniper rifle or a shot from the tank’s cannon. When you drop into the secret bunker, though, things really start to kick up.

Oh, and the cacti CAN hurt you, but not much.

The thing that sucks is that the end battle (and the entire game, for that matter) is too easy. During the end, you have to protect the Mainframe’s new drone from these ugly little Xenomes (who look exactly like minature versions of Half-Life 2’s Ant Lion and are equally as annoying as Half-Life’s headcrabs) while the Mainframe nukes the General’s big-ass machine. And the General dies too easily: he gets eatten again in a cutscene. It would of been more satisfying to rip him to shreads myself.

The thing I like about the game is there’s guts galore. Gibs sprinkled here and there really make the FPS, although the guys explode too easily.

I also liked the endgame movie, where the Gunman High Command lays waste to some Xenomes.

Rated five out of ten because the gameplay is too Half-Life and gets boring fast for anyone who isn’t a die hard FPS fan.

Graphics (7/10):

I find it wrong to shoot a game down just because the graphics suck, but since almost everything about this game sucked, I can make an exception. The graphics were great, but not “oh-my-god-is-that-Half-Life-2?” great. The models of characters could of been rendered a bit better and the skins made a bit cleaner…and would more variety kill you people? With so many dudes looking the same it’s enough to give a person deja-vu.

Sound/Music (4/10):

Some of the sounds are hollow, like they were “recorded in a metal drum.” (PC Gamer.) The voice-acting doesn’t capture the emotion of the game, and the General’s laugh sucks. Plus I would of liked it if the Mainframe sounded more like a computer than Whoopi Goldberg on a bad day. The only thing that kicks ass is the music, which you can play on your CD player.

Crappiest Part:

The annoying, but laughable, glitches. There’s one I call the “dead-man-walking” glitch where some of the guys you kill stand back up. They don’t attack or anything, they just stand there and you can’t shoot them down again. But it’s funny to see a guy with no head standing upright.

Another bug I’ve noticed is on the third planet. When trying to climb down the cliff-face, I fell and got stuck. I can’t jump off, but I could shoot myself off or blow myself up. This bug REALLY sucks when you’ve saved the game at that point.

The worst bug is that you can’t get back to the main menu, which means you better figure out which button is the quick-save button (F6) and you’ll have to press ctrl-alt-delete to quit the game. Blame that and my crappy screenshot program for the lack of Gunman Chronicles screen shots.

Another annoying thing is that every so often I have to reinstall the game because it won’t load. And sometimes it doesn’t even work then.

Overall Score:

This game is fun for those who like to blow stuff up and waste people, but other than that it isn’t worth the Alexander Hamilton.

And in the immortal words of the April Fool, “What’s up with that?”

Overall: 16/30 (53%)

(basically, a 5/10)

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