Version Reviewed: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
History suggests the Wild West was actually a little more on the tame side, but movies, TV shows, and video games love playing up the ol' Texas "Yee-haw!" angle. Hey, who can say "no" to dashing lone riders, horses, dusty trails, outlaws, and lightning-quick gunfights?
Western 1849 by Slynq Interactive is a shooting game based around the gunplay that features in most Western fiction. The gallery-style shooting action is fun for a while, but grows stale quickly - especially since free-to-play trappings like expensive items and upgrades abound.
Players jangle into Western 1849 as a steely-eyed Sheriff that's been commissioned to clear a small town of its ruffian problem. That means one good gun against a whole lot of bad ones, but someone has to try.
The game's action takes place over a series of days. Every day brings a new scuffle to a different part of the town, including the train station, the mines, and the outskirts. Regardless of where the fight happens, the goal is always the same: shoot down the overgrown varmints before they punch too many bullet holes into the sheriff.
The Sheriff ducks behind crates, barrels, and other projective objects while the bad guys take pot shots from roofs, balconies, and behind makeshift barriers of their own. Holding onto the left side of the screen brings up the aiming reticle, and tapping the right causes the Sheriff to shoot his weapon. Swiping in either direction at the bottom of the screen lets the Sheriff tumble between barriers and re-adjust his aim.
Once the Sheriff shoots down all the outlaws, the day ends and he presumably throws back a sarsaparilla at the saloon. Then the sun comes up, and a new conflict breaks out in a new part of town.
The object of Western 1849 is to survive for as many consecutive days as possible. When the current Sheriff falls, another one takes his place, and the player starts over from day one. Hey, a job's a job.
Shooting bandits is fun enough at first, and Western 1849's challenge to survive day-by-day offers a compelling reason to keep playing. In time, however, it becomes apparent many of the enemies look and sound alike. Worse, the game's supporting cast repeat advice often - and they don't stop talking even after the player has tapped the screen to get on with the action.
Moreover, Western 1849 contains the kind of expensive weapon upgrades you'd expect from a free-to-play title. The Sherriff's health isn't restored between stages, and healing is extremely costly. Purchases often come down to deciding between a healing shot or a new weapon. Of course, the game is happy to offer coin-triplers, coin stashes, and other in-app purchases.
Ideally, the player is supposed to buy and accumulate better weapons to pass on to the next Sheriff that rides into town - but starting over and over again from day one and going up against the same enemies and listening to the same jabber from the townsfolk becomes stale pretty quickly.
Western 1849 has its charms, but they're shadowed by dust and a few days' growth of whiskers. Better to just ride on down the trail.