A very brief way to describe Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West would be a slightly more compact, third person Wild West version of Team Fortress 2. At first glance most would agree, but scratch the surface and you will see all the subtle differences and additions which really reward the more team focused and strategic players. A team of lone wolves really do not stand a chance against a well trained team on a game like this.
Published by Paradox Interactive and developed by Fatshark, Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West is a multiplayer only, class based third person shooter set in the Wild West. The game didn’t receive much hype prior to release; in fact just sneaking in under the rader, but it is available for download now from the Playstation Store, priced at £11.99 in the UK and $15 in the US.
Firstly it’s important to get one of the biggest criticisms out of the way, being the connection issues. Sometimes you will get stuck in a lobby when trying to enter a game, whilst at other times not even managing to get into the lobby at all. When you do get into a game, the slightest bit of lag can ruin everything, showing players lagging around the map like crazy and sometimes even staying alive for a full 10 seconds after a critical hit. This is slightly confusing considering the lobbies only support 10 player 5 on 5 games. On the bright side this doesn’t happen very often and most of the time games run pretty smoothly. Another minor issue has to be the lack of lobbies at certain times of the day, meaning if the few games that are open have bad connections to you, your only option is to host a game or wait a little while for some new lobbies to open.
Now for the positives. First off, the classes. There are five to choose from, first is the Gunslinger, your short range soldier and the only class with one weapon. Using a speed loading revolver which is devastating at short range, it can be combined with his special Fanning ability that can empty an entire revolver clip into an enemy in a fraction of the time than any of the other classes. Second is the Trapper, your typical sniper, carrying a scoped, high powered Buffalo Rifle and bear traps to set. While not dealing any damage, the traps will keep an enemy stuck long enough for you to pull off a sweet headshot or take out the person trying to take you out from behind. The Deputy is the medium to long range master, boasting a strong, accurate repeater carbine and the ability to tag enemies, giving you and your team the chance to track your foes if they manage to escape your attack. Last but not least is the Prospector, a short range master with a double barrel shotgun which can unload one or both barrels at once at the player’s discretion. Also the only class with explosives in the form of some sticks of dynamite, this guy is a force to be reckoned with at close range. The latter three classes carry a weaker version of the Gunslinger’s revolver for sticky situations. Then there are the synergy effects - these are the things that really make each class shine.
The synergy effects are basically class specific bonuses that take effect when you are near another team mate. Each class has a specific one and when you get near enough the effect becomes active. The Gunslinger improves the team’s accuracy, the Trapper improves the chances of critical hits, while the Deputy improves damage and the Prospector the team’s armour. A team with well balanced classes that stick together get a major advantage over a team of lone wolves.
The game has five modes, Shootout being the standard team deathmatch with the winner being the team with the most kills after a ten minute round. One match consists of two ten minute rounds, so if you end up losing a round with that one lucky kill, you have another to try and redeem yourselves. Powder Keg is probably the most team reliant mode, having one team defend two points on the map while the other team must transport a keg of gun powder to these locations to destroy them. The twist comes that the person carrying the keg is pretty much defenceless and much slower. A well placed shot will make the keg start to spark giving the carrier only a couple of seconds to escape the explosion, sometimes even throwing it into a group of their friends, earning you a couple of free kills. Conquest is like most game modes of a similar name; each team must take points on the map in alphabetical order, the team that holds the most points for the longest time wins the round. This mode tends to have a slightly slower pace than others. Greed and Robbery are pretty much Wild West versions of Capture the Flag, Greed being one bag of gold (flag) placed in the middle of the map with each team trying to get the sack of gold back to their base, the team who recovers the most gold wins. This is one of the most hectic game modes, often with all players squashed into one small part of the relatively large maps considering there are only 10 players to a game. Then comes Robbery, this is very much a one sided CTF game type where one team defends three sacks of gold while the other team tries to steal them, followed by teams switching sides. The team who gathers the most gold wins. There is also a small co-op mode, where you and a friend must collect as many sacks of gold as possible before being overrun by endless waves of enemy bots. This is good practice for going up against real people without having to play through the relatively boring training level, which can be avoided without missing anything important.
Another interesting switch up is the addition of the “spawn flag”. Teams only have one spawn base, even in conquest mode, so to help push your team forward a flag is placed in each team’s base. A player can then pick up the flag and effectively become a mobile spawn point. If the player carrying the flag is killed it will stay on the floor still allowing your team to spawn there and pick it up to continue through the map. Though if an enemy touches the downed flag it returns to your spawn base, meaning someone has to pick it up and start moving it through again. This is a nice little touch and really speeds up the game’s pace.
In the area of sound, the game’s music at its best is brilliant; action music kicks in when you are in or near a shootout, really helping you get into the heat of things. Some are also great to hum while others are just forgettable, fading in and out periodically. The sound effects do their job nicely, each gun has its own unique and authentic noise and the high pitch hiss when a sniper bullet narrowly misses your face is always a welcome warning to danger. On the graphics side, the game is very reminiscent of Team Fortress 2, which is no bad thing. While clearly not the most graphically detailed title out there, the bright, slightly cartoony art style lends itself so well that it doesn’t really matter. The six maps fit perfectly with the game, also fitting with the western feel having names like “Deadwater Ranch” and “Bad Blood Valley”. One thing that may annoy new people to the game is that the area around your crosshair changes to yellow as you reload, sometimes making it hard to keep track of a far away enemy while reloading, though most people will get over this pretty quickly.
Gangs of the Wild West seems relatively unknown, never really having a huge amount of players on at any one time. However it really should because this is a fun game that not only emphasises strategy, but also really pushes you to work together and stay close to your team in order to win. It would appeal to anyone with a competitive nature who likes a fast paced, adrenaline fueled online gunfight, and all third person shooter fans should really add this game to their collection. With very respectable graphics, great gameplay and enough modes to keep you busy for quite some time, a price of £11.99/$15 makes this very worthwhile.
Final score: 8 out of 10 (How do we rate games?)