The Gunstringer


By: Tristan Clark    On: Xbox 360
Published: Tuesday 20 Sep 2011 11:00 AM
 
 
 
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In a short space of time, I’ve had three Kinect games come my way that were all refreshingly different from the usual mini-game fare that is quickly defining the wonder camera. Child of Eden worked. Rise of Nightmares didn’t. And now we have The Gunstringer, with its wonderfully insane theme and interesting take on Kinect controls. Is it a winning package? Read on.

The Gunstringer is, at its core, an on-rails shooter. Sweeping your right hand over enemies locks them on. Making a recoil motion as if your hand was a gun shoots bullets at those enemies. Your left hand, meanwhile, can move the titular Gunstringer horizontally, as if you were a puppet master controlling a marionette.

Which is exactly what you’re doing. See, this game is insane, but wonderfully so. It opens with a live action (!) movie of people in a theatre. A couple of guys grab a marionette puppet, bring it on stage, and the show — but also the game — begins. Your first move is to drag Gunstringer up from his grave, as he rises to enact vengeance on his old posse. From there, the game plays out like a puppet show, with giant hands literally placing obstacles in your path, and hilariously incongruent snippets of live action audience shots placed alongside the more usual collection of polygons.

You get used to the craziness after a while, so it’s lucky the gameplay is generally pretty tight. Controlling basic motion with your left hand while shooting a gun with your right is surprisingly effective, and doesn’t really get old. A second player can even jump in and help with the shooting. And when you’re not running, you’re often hiding behind cover, popping out with a sweep of your hand to take down stationary bad guys in a way that is very reminiscent (in a good way) of Time Crisis.

Things get a little more mixed when the game tries to switch things up. Basic side-scrolling sections ask you to flick your left hand up to jump at appropriate moments. Some boss fights descend into merely flailing your fists to hammer them like a punching bag. These moments get old pretty quickly, but thankfully it soon returns to normal.

But really, it’s all about the window dressing with this game. A narrator is constantly commenting on your progress, his Spaghetti Western gravelly-voiced seriousness contrasting very deliberately with the irreverent action. And to top it all off, your actions will draw cheers or boos from the audience of live action people who are ‘watching’ your ever mood. Combined with the sheer wackiness of the characters and settings, it all adds up to something that constantly makes you go, “Guh?” in between snorting with laughter.

The Gunstringer is fairly short, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Half the enjoyment, after all, is in the freshness of the game’s insanity. The problem is that there’s little incentive to go back and play levels again. You can aim for higher rankings, but that won’t be for everyone. There’s at least free access to a DLC pack and a gratis copy of Fruit Ninja Kinect (also fun).

Still, at only $50 or so, this won’t break the bank, and is well worth checking out for its tight controls and hugely entertaining premise. The Gunstringer may not be a contender for game of the year, but I’m very glad it exists — here’s hoping developers continue to pump out titles with this kind of crazy originality.


The Score

The Gunstringer
"Crazy fun cool."
8.0
Great
Rating: PG   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 5 Min

 

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