I’m sure everyone’s familiar with first person shooters. From the futuristic settings of Halo to the historical firefights in Medal of Honor Frontlines, you’d never thought of playing a western-themed FPS. Yes, the one theme that would go perfectly with the genre. Atari decided to fill this void by engaging developers Human Head on the first Western-themed shooter on the Xbox, Dead Man’s Hand. Does it deliver? Read on and find out.
The whole idea of a western shooter in my eyes has always been one that I think could really work. When I look at the old western movies being played on TV I am always wondering why we aren’t seeing more of this genre in the movies played out on the consoles. Well Dead Man’s Hand I thought might be an answer to my wishes of a great western shooter but instead you will find that this game struggles right from the start.
Dead Man’s Hand does provide you with both a single player mode and a multiplayer mode to choose from. The multiplayer includes system link as well as Xbox Live online play, which in my eyes is a must for a first person shooter such as Dead Man’s Hand.
The single player mode starts off with a brief introduction to the mediocre storyline that was provided. The game starts with you being introduced to El Tejon (this is who you play as), a man who joined the most feared gang in the entire west, The Nine. Well things didn’t go too smooth with El Tejon and the gang and before you know it, the cut scenes shows you with a nice bullet in your chest and then you’re thrown into prison. This is where the game begins, with El Tejon healing up, escaping from prison and is on his way back to seek revenge. The story really is told quite plainly and it really doesn’t seem or feel like there was much time spent on the game’s storyline.
Each level of the single player begins with you being able to play some Poker (5 Hand Draw), with this you get a chance to earn some extra ammo and some points to the shot meter. This was always something to look forward to before each level.
Also included in Dead Man’s Hand is the online support, which is a great feature, if it would have been better executed. The Live mode includes Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Bounty Mode, and Possy. One of the pluses to this online mode is that the game does allow you to have AI bots in the online mode, which is not usually an option for Live titles. But unfortunately there are a lot of problems that will plague your online experience. While playing online, a lot of "key animations" which are essential to know what the heck is going on are curiously missing. For example, there is no animation when you have been shot; you just all of a sudden disappear. And what tops it all off is even without these animations the game still has a high tendency to lag, not good, not good at all.
Now for even more bad news, the gameplay truly doesn’t have anything new or fresh, or anything exciting to tell about it. In fact the game is just about your standard shooter, and not even a great standard shooter at that. The single player mode just seems to keep dragging on and on, and you truly feel like you have lost your purpose in playing the game.
Overall you are looking at a game that shows plenty of potential in the gameplay department but really fails to get anything going. I was truly finding myself bored to tears while playing through the single player, and becoming extremely frustrated with the multiplayer in the game. The gameplay works and is fine; it just seems sluggish, and out-dated.
The graphics of Dead Man’s Hand really don’t fair a whole lot better then the gameplay does. To start off, the most noticeable problem that you will find out right away is that the framerate is not good at all, to say the least it’s just bad. This is noticeable throughout each level of the game, as well as the multiplayer, which is defiantly a really bad thing.
As for the rest of the graphics they range from poor to average in my book. The character models are the poor part of the game, with little to no detail whatsoever. The character models look extremely blocky and truly lack any sort of form or personality. The environments of the game are pretty average, varying in detail from level to level; the game sticks with at least some decent looking environments.
Overall the graphics of Dead Man’s Hand aren’t anything to write home about, especially with the framerate the way it is, you may find yourself getting quite frustrated with this one.
Let me tell you, I can honestly sit here and say that there were only a few minor times when I had fun with this one, and the rest I just dazed at the screen with the thought of "big disappointment" right here. And that is exactly what Dead Man’s Hand is, it’s disappointing. The game truly has the potential, it has a different setting that we are not used to, combined with the genre that almost all gamers love. But now we are left with a game that wasn’t much fun, and ended up being more disappointing then anything.
Well I guess I will have to wait for the next western title to come along, to make my wish come true, because this one just didn’t do the trick. The game has some great ideas, but it just failed to take advantage of any of them. Unless you are in dire need of a western shooter, I will let this one pass you by, there are a lot of better shooters out there.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.