by Keaton Arksey
previewed on PC
Once upon a time in the old west...
It seems that until this past year Wild West games have been all too uncommon. A setting that rarely gets used in video games, it provides a historical time period that fits perfectly with the 'shoot first, ask questions later' mentality that most shooters today abide by. Developer Fatshark may have hit the gold mine here, with their upcoming arcade shooter Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West.
Scheduled to hit Windows, Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network sometime in the near future, Lead and Gold is a third person multiplayer shooter in the vein of Quake III Arena or Battlefield 1943. In case those comparisons mean nothing for you, it means Lead and Gold will be a multiplayer only shooter. As in Quake III, if you have no friends but like to shoot things you can always play with bots instead of real people. Lead and Gold will support up to 10 player matches.
More than gunslingers
While it would be perfectly fun to run around and shoot at generic cowboys, a class system ensures that things will be a little more interesting. There are four classes in all, each with unique weapons and abilities. Trappers are female huntsmen (huntswomen?) who excel at sharpshooting. Trappers can also lay down bear traps (up to two at a time) to protect their sniping position. Blasters are mining experts who use double barreled shotguns to dish out the hurt as well as throw sticks of dynamite into the air. Deputies are better at medium range and use a repeater carbine. Finally the Gunslinger is the classic revolver bad-ass who can fire quickly, if not all that accurately.
There is also a fusion system that encourages cooperation and teamwork. Sticking close to Trappers makes it more likely that shots will be critical hits. Deputies can tag enemies, allowing extra damage for teammates, and Blasters provide damage protection for nearby allies. Special abilities can be activated at will which, in the case of the Deputy, means that they can select the extra damage ability when the cross-hair is on an opponent and tag him/her for extra damage.
The great western scenery
There are six maps currently announced, all with various themes. Camp sites, ranches, forts, mines, and towns are all available locations. Each map has certain game modes that can be played on it. In the Conquest mode two teams fight over control points at various locations around the map. The teams must attack points in order. One team starts at zone A, and the other begins at zone E. The two teams must capture their first point before moving to the next point (B and D, etc.). Eventually the two teams will meet somewhere in the middle and a tug of war will commence.
The Greed mode is a capture the flag variant where teams try and bring a sack of gold back to their drop off zone. The Powder Keg mode is very similar to the Assault game mode in Halo, where an attacking team must blow up points on the map with powder keg while the defending team must stop them from doing so. In order to move the kegs around the map they will have to be carried. They can be shot while doing so, and will explode anywhere from two to five seconds after impact, so you’ll want to get away from a powder keg as quickly as possible. The Robbery mode is a sort of amalgamation of Powder Keg and Greed, where an attacking team must blow up points in order to steal the defending team's gold. The Shoot-out mode is the classic death-match for players who just want to unleash their inner John Wayne and shoot at anything that moves.
Any multiplayer game released today would be incomplete if there was no form of co-operative play, and Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Old West has certainly planned for that. Up to four people can team up and face the AI in what Fatshark considers the practice mode in the game.
While multiplayer only shooters have quickly become a burgeoning genre on downloadable platforms, Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Old West seems like it will be more than capable of carving out a piece of gamers’ playtime. With four classes, multiple classes and maps, and simple controls, Lead and Gold is certainly a release to watch for fans of shooters.