If you were to ask me which movie genres didn’t tickle my special zones then I’d probably answer you with Romance and Westerns. Now if I were tied to a flaming stake and forced to choose between Gone with the Wind or The Good, The Bad and The Ugly then I would probably side with Clint Eastwood. As you may be able to guess from title, Lead and Gold for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC is not a romantic game but instead a western inspired shooter. Let’s find out more about it in this Lead and Gold PS3 review right away.
Now if you are a fan of Westerns then you’re probably already looking forward to Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption, but that’s not the only third person Western shooter round these parts you know. On the outset Lead and Gold from Fatshark is just a typical team based multi-player affair set in the Wild West, looking closer actually reveals a different beast.
Similarly to Team Fortress 2, players in Lead and Gold are split into two opposing teams (red and blue) but just like Valve’s other shooter Left 4 Dead, there is a big reward for staying in a close nit team. In this case it’s not about fending off a swarm of infected zombies but gaining Synergy from each other, but let’s get onto that after we take a look at the 6 rather nice game modes first:
- Powder Keg sees one team tasked to destroy two enemy bases whilst the other to defend. With no rocket launchers back in the Wild West days, rooting tooting cowboys had to make do with barrels of Gunpowder. Ideally one or two players will need to carry a keg towards the enemy base while their team-mates clear the path and keep them from harm because they will not be able to defend themselves and the other team should be hell bent on blowing up the dude carrying that explosive barrel. At the end of the round the teams swap roles.
- Greed is fun. Here a single sack of gold is spawned on the map and the first thing the teams need to do is fight each other to gain possession. Then it’s the not so simple case of returning it back to the safety of home base to bank those dollars and trigger the spawn of another sack of gold on the map. Obviously the team with the most gold at the end of the match wins.
- Robbery is similar to Greed but is more focussed. Instead of both teams battling for the spawning sacks of gold one defending team has to protect a stash of gold from the other. The teams swap roles at the end of each round so being adept at defending and attacking is a skill needed here.
- Conquest is a traditional zone capturing game. Each zone needs to be captured in order and will require a strong attacking team to dominate a zone quickly and efficiently. The more teammates in a zone the quicker the capture will be, on the other hand the easier the target they become.
- Gold Fever is a two player cooperative mode with gold collection at its roots. How much gold can one small team collect against a never ending supply of computer controlled opponents?
- Shootout is you’re basic team deathmatch, simple but always effective.
Next up we should look at the characters; their skills and then this Synergy business. There are four character classes to choose from here in Lead and Gold
- The Blaster is your typical tough but short ranged fighter. Armed with a shotgun, the Blaster is great for storming into enemy territory dealing major damage.
- The Gunslinger is only armed with a revolver but has a super quick rate of fire, an agile and powerful short to mid ranged fighter.
- The Deputy steps right out of the Civil War with his quick loading repeater carbine. Very good at mid to long range but aiming can be slow when face to face.
- The Trapper is only girl of the gang but don’t be thinking that she needs protecting. Her hunting rifle has is very deadly with its long scope and is perfect for the snipers among you.
Rather than go along with an RPG like upgrade system that rewards players for playing the game 24 hours a day, Lead and Gold features a unique Synergy system. Each character radiates a different synergy around them like an invisible forcefield; any other team members in the surrounding area will get a small but noticeable boost of attributes such as Accuracy and Damage. Of course there is a catch; the synergy effect cannot be stacked, this prevents a group of four Gunslingers quadrupling their accuracy rating – only one synergy field can be created per character class so for the best effect a team should consist of all four. That’s not all, the better you perform will have a greater effect your synergy has on your nearby teammates. Killing the enemy, reviving pals and completing objectives all count towards your synergy boosting.
Now all this sounds great but of course can’t make a great game on its own. With no single player mode besides the tutorial mode, everything rests upon the game being a fun and varied multiplayer experience. The game ships with six maps which is probably the bare minimum nowadays, luckily they’re all pretty good with great attention to detail and lots of different vantage points to suit different play styles. My favourite has to be Sinners Gulch with its authentic western look and feel complete with Saloon. Hopefully a few more maps will arrive via DLC in the future but the ones included are a good starting point and also remind me quite a lot of those found in Team Fortress 2, which is a good thing.
With full voice chat support and a handful of trophies to collect, is there anything actually bad to say about Lead and Gold? Well surprisingly no, there I don’t think there is. Everything from its smooth frame rate to awesome soundtrack just makes for a great gaming experience. The small but well balanced character selection are easy to control and more importantly all fun to play as, at no point will you mind switching classes to suit the moment. Another nice touch is that the controls don’t swap around for each class, I don’t know about you but I hate those games that have different layouts for every character.
Visually Lead and Gold doesn’t look to burst the PS3’s cell processor from the motherboard but you’ve got to bear in mind that this is a low cost PSN download title. Perhaps the textures could be improved here and more speech could have been recorded there but hey, sometimes I’m happy to have a game that comes in at an affordable price that doesn’t require me to pay the BluRay/HD tax every now and then. Lead and Gold is the answer to the question you didn’t ask but should have done. Will someone ever develop a Team Fortress 2 competitor set in the Wild West with a Resident Evil 5 third person perspective? The answer is yes and it scores an almost perfect 9 out of 10.