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Have You Played... Gunman Chronicles?

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Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

The halo effect of some games can extend far enough that even games made in the same engine look better in its light. So it was with my love for Half-Life and my eager search for anything that remotely capture its magic, such as mod-turned-officially-released-game Gunman Chronicles. It had aliens, dinosaurs, spaceships, Mayan temples, a deranged AI, Western and Civil War-inspired soldiers, it was literally called “Gunman”, and I remember it more fondly than it probably deserves.

Those fond remembrances begin with the dinosaurs, which seemed impossibly impressive at the time. I was already familiar enough with what’s now called the Goldsrc engine to know its limitations, so I was blown away when that smooth-necked Diplo-like leaned through the ceiling. I also liked the more customisable weapons, which took Half-Life’s secondary fire modes and expanded on them with nicely animated tertiary and fourthiary fire modes.

It wasn’t all roses. There were some pretty awful difficulty spikes, turret sections, jumping puzzles, and small enemies that were hard to see against similarly-coloured textures. But these things didn’t matter to me enough at the time to put me off. Where today I barely ever complete even games I love, I persevered with Gunman Chronicles because it seemed to communicate some basic Half-Life-yness in its enemy design and scripted sequences. I’d swallow anything to get a bit more of the similar thing I already liked.

Shortly after release, developers Rewolf Software seemed to disband. If I remember correctly they were spread out internationally to begin with – a mod team, remember – and I imagine it was difficult to maintain cohesion when the project was done. One wonders about the nature of their business relationship with publishers Sierra however, and who owns Gunman today.

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Graham Smith

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