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Introduction - Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West Review
I've waited as long as I can to do this review of Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West. I tried to wait for dedicated servers (at least that's what I told my editor) [EDITOR NOTE: Aha. The truth comes out!], but it's been long enough. This game is an interesting title. It's an affordable multiplayer game with a strong resemblance to Team Fortress 2. There are some rather annoying issues that they still have addressed since it's official release on April 8th. I've been playing around with this game since the beta, so hopefully I can shed some light on whether it deserves your $15.
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The gameplay seems like a mix of Team Fortress and Counterstrike. The combat can be very fast paced and the deaths feel a bit cheap at times, since you'd need eyes in the back of your head to avoid a number of the good ambushes. It features a very tight class system though that allows for a lot of variety and some very good teamwork.
There are several game modes, but they boil down to the same basics. Greed is a basic game of capture the flag, except the flag really slows you down (it's a bag of gold). Robbery and Powderkeg are defense missions with one team protecting objectives that the others have to blow up or rob. Finally there is the Shooutout mode which is just a good team deathmatch.
The classes are just as important. There are four distinct classes in place. There's the trapper, which acts as the traditional sniper who excels at long range and can use traps to delay rushing enemies. The gunslinger is a standard infantry soldier. Their pistol is accurate up to medium range with the ability to be "fanned" at short range to basically become a shotgun. The blaster is a close range fighter who can use dynamite to blow up stationary enemies and his shotgun to rush long range fighters. Finally, the deputy is an interesting class. Their repeating rifle gives them low damage but a lot of bullets and range. They can also use a special ability to tag enemies with a skull. This icon marks them on the map until either the deputy or the target dies.
The maps are also decent. There's some variety. A few are more circular with no set battlegrounds. Others have buildings and sniper perches. They're alright and generally kept things pretty tense and exciting. There's usually combat going on somewhere and there is almost always a way to flank an enemy. Even spawn camping is pretty difficult on most of the maps, since the campers will just get
outshot or outflanked.
There isn't much teamwork involved. The closes thing to a squad is that someone can pick up a flag from the base. This serves a mobile spawn point for the team until the other team manages to kill the flagholder and touch it. It's alright, but it would have been nice to have had some more inherent teamwork built in. Considering that it is just 5-on-5, the lack of teamwork makes some games a real grind.
As a last note, if you're killed you always get a last stand ability. You can lie on the ground and fire with your pistol until someone finishes you off, revives you or you respawn.
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The graphics are alright. Nothing to write home about, but nothing bad. It's actually quite good for such a cheap game. The animations are quite jerky and the models barely move. The settings are also fairly bland. It's still nice for the price though and it's not like good multiplayer really requires good graphics.
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Let me start off with this one. The rough average that I've seen playing Lead and Gold, has about 90 people. 90 People! That's their own counter.
The problem is that Lead and Gold does not have dedicated servers. This is a big issue. This also isn't just me trying to be cool and attack the developer for not using dedicated servers. It's a big deal. There are bouts of lag. I haven't personally experienced much, but that's never the problem. Lag from other people and general lag makes the hit boxes unpredictable. In a game that depends on accuracy, that's kind of a big deal. Also, let's go over this scenario. I'm actually had a really good game a few days ago with a steady ratio of 2:1 for my kills. My team is competent and we're defending our points well. The host player rage quits. Game Over. The host can't switch in the middle of the game. If the host leaves for any reason, then the game ends. This gets really annoying really fast.
Aiming has been a bit of a pain. It just seems quite picky and a little sensitive in my opinion. It just takes a while to get in the zone, and this is coming from a halfway experienced player.
My teammates have been idiots. In all seriousness, the player base is not only small but a little frustrating. I've seen so many players not grab the concept of grabbing the other team's flag to stop respawns. That's a basic concept, yet I've seen dozens of players walk right past it. Revives are also infrequent due to low situational awareness from most players. There's a 30% chance that either team will just play an objective match, like Powderkeg or Robbery, as a deathmatch game.
Which leads into a larger issue. There is just no teamwork. Without voice support it's impossible to help my team much. The only way to directly help them is through the deputy's special ability. There's no way to plan an attack or even set up a strategy. The only way to communicate is through chat, yet the games are way too hectic to ever allow that. There were mumblings that voice chat would be supported, but those don't seem to be coming true.
There is no way to vote kick anyone. Let me repeat that, you can't ban anyone at the moment. I've seen inactive players stand in a corner the whole match and drag down their whole team. There is no way to kick a laggy player who's teleporting or gliding around the match. I can't wait for the griefers to get a hold of this one, because there are certainly some opportunities.
That's maybe my final point. I've been fairly disappointed with the game. It was released on April 8th after a fairly long Beta release. The Beta was rough, but it was just an early build. Dedicated servers should have been ready on release. As of April 24th, they are not. Aiming has not addressed, even though they've acknowledged it as a problem. It still feels so rough after being on the market for a long time. I assume that's why it has such a small player base. The buzz is just gone, unless they can really revive the game.
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I've been playing this with no problems on my XPS. It has 2.6 GHz dual processors, 3 gig of RAM, and an Nvidia 8700M GT. It requires 1.5 gigs of RAM, a 2.4 GHz processor and a fairly recent video card (The Nvidia GeForce 7800 series or the ATI X1900 are the minimum requirement). Most gamers shouldn't have any trouble with it.
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I've had a love hate relationship with this game. It's nice for budget title and the optimist in me wants to believe that things will get fixed. I just feel that it's really too late. It's a half decent game and I've had some fun with it. I've also had a lot of frustration from the in-game issues with the small player base and the lack of dedicated servers. I'd certainly wait a little bit longer before buying. There's no rush, so you might as well see whether they actually make good on their promise for dedicated servers and then see if the player base recovers. If you feel lucky, then it is only $15.