Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Dust and Sun

This is an example of false advertising if ever I saw one. I went into Dust and Sun expecting a series of Wild West quickdraw contests testing my reflexes to the limit and causing irreparable damage to my index finger. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that this was precisely what I didn't get.

Oh, it's set in the Wild West, but this is the Wild West of an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie circa 1985 - everyone you see from your first-person perspective is there to die and subtlety is for gays.

There are four missions, each one requiring only that you survive for a certain period of time while simultaneously killing as many people as possible. This is simple enough, but in practice I found this to be harder than expected, because the bad guys all seem to be mutants with the ability to get shot in the head and yet keep firing. There's also no way to hide from the hail of enemy bullets that constantly rain down on you (your character can get hit even when he ducks behind a rock to reload.) It's simple and straightforward, but there's no skill involved here - it's just a constant procession of evildoers that stand around shooting at you and waiting to get their heads (eventually) blown off.

Indeed, even with overwhelming numbers against me, what do I have to worry about? I've got an automatic assault rifle and unlimited ammo - I think I'm gonna be OK.

Indeed, it's only when the gangs reach double figures onscreen that they pose much of a threat, and on the early levels even that's not a big deal. After all, you've only got to survive a couple of minutes at most.

And as if the machine gun wasn't enough, I've got DYNAMITE! Whole waves of enemies are destroyed by the underwhelming flames of my TNT. With this much weaponry, I didn't have much trouble taking on cowboys, bandits... Rastafarians... and pirates?

OK, what's going on here? It's like every meme on the Internet ganged up to kill me. Is the final boss a bucket-wielding walrus?

Actually, in the final level you take on Native Americans (gee, that's broad-minded.) It's a tribe of Injuns with arrows and rifles against me, my bombs and my brand new shotgun. Am I worried?

Not really.

I guess, if you're looking for something to kill some time and maybe get out a little frustration, there are worse ways to do it than blowing up hordes of rampant pirates. But for all the fast-paced shoot-'em-up action that the game purports to deliver, Dust and Sun is very boring. Each level is exactly like the last, just with more enemies and a different background. There isn't much of a challenge, and if you die, you'll be given cheats to help you beat the game anyway. If you do feel the need to blow people away for no discernible reason, try something like Co-op 2112. You can even play that one with a friend! Who said video games were unsocial?

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