A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this retro first-person shooter game is about the shooting of cowboys who appear in real time videos. Real humans are killed, and they sometimes moan in agony when shot. Along the way, there is a little bit of blood on arrows sticking out of a dead man. There is alcohol, drinking, and the slurring of words. There is the suggestion of sex, the showing of cleavage, and some crude humor, too. At one point, a cowboy falls into a pile of dung. The game is not optimized for the new Wii MotionPlus add-on.
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What's it about?
Back in the 1990s, so long ago in video game time, the cowboy shooter Mad Dog McCree went from the arcades to CD-ROMs to achieve wild success. Now, a collection of three of these games has come to the Wii as MAD DOG MCCREE: GUNSLAYER PACK. There's some decent story-telling in these shooting galleries. Mainly, though, you try to get to Mad Dog as you shoot through a passel of criminals, villains, and ne'er-do-wells who hide behind obstacles. In this way, you save the town.
Each of games has a Wild West story, decent dialog, and some of the better acting ever seen in early video games. Using the Wii Remote as your gun, you shoot at your opponents on the screen. There are three or four different videos to interact with for each scene. So, if you have to repeat the level after being shot and dying, you never quite know from where your enemy will emerge.
Is it any good?
Sadly, this remake of one of the more enjoyable, albeit cheesy, games of the 1990s didn't transfer well to the Wii. The game is almost unplayable. For instance, on your first showdown after losing three lives, you're supposed to shoot a gunslinger who's about 20 paces away from you. The problem? Your gun isn't loaded, so you have to spend precious time pressing a button to get bullets while you're supposed to be aiming and shooting. Even Jesse James would find this difficult. And sometimes, when you shoot this same 10-gallon-hatted dude in the chest, he doesn't feel the shot. But you've clearly hit him, judging from the wafting puff of smoke emerging from near his torso. Instead, he shoots you and you die. What an abysmal way to start a game.
The game gets more frustrating from there. Throughout, the targeting of a victim sometimes works and sometimes doesn't. Sometimes, you'll hit what seems to be just a graze or a miss, and, boom, down goes your baddie, dead. It's a shame because the performances by seasoned character actors is really admirable, a cut above the over-the-top acting in many first-person shooters today. Yes, there are women with sexy, subtle come-ons, a scene with someone falling in dung, many moaning wounded and a gruesome undertaker. But what's really shocking is how apathetic the game makers were in attempting to port this minor but popular cowboy classic.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether playing this game gave you a sense of what it was like to be a gunslinger in the Old West? Which of the characters would you be, the good guy or the very bad Mad Dog McCree? Would you liked to have lived in the era of cowboys? Why or why not?
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