There’s something about the old Wild West that appeals to us all. Bringing law to a lawless world enforcing order over a chaotic land. The path to progress was never easy. Living fast and dying young was commonplace. Many lost hope and took advantage of skeleton crew law enforcement, plundering towns with reckless abandon. Whichever side you were on, you would sooner or later visit the Saloon to drown your troubles and perhaps play a game of cards.
This is where, Bang! The Official Video Game produced and developed by SpinVector and Palzoun Entertainment, comes swaggering through the Saloon doors. This is a video game based upon the popular board, though arguable more a card game, Bang! That is saturated in the theme of the Wild West. The general set up is, one player is the Sherriff, one is a Deputy and they have to stop players that are Bandits and Renegades. It’s a kill or be killed situation where the everyone except the Sheriff’s identity is hidden. So you have to guess most peoples roles by their playing behavior. If you see someone attack the Sherriff then it’s fairly safe to assume they’re a Bandit or Renegade. By playing various Western themed cards you can achieve your goal. There’s no real limit on how many cards you can play. However, you can only use one ‘Bang!’ card unless you use a card that allows more. You can only attack those next to you unless you use a modifier card or the card allows it. You can’t have more than one of a kind of the buff cards in front of you at any time. Your health determines the amount of cards you can hold at the end of your turn.
The soundtrack consists of only five songs that do capture the essence of the Old West. However, due to the lack of variety and the way they just loop the same tune, they can become somewhat annoying after a while. The game gets off to a poor start due to poor design decisions. There’s a ‘Help’ option that is never pointed out as being important. It really should have been labeled ‘Rules of the Game’. As such you will most likely ignore it and you really shouldn’t. This is because the tutorial only covers the absolute basics of play and doesn’t explain the cards in the amount of detail it should. This will leave you trying to figure it out as you go along. Which would be fine, if it wasn’t for the next unexplained part of the game.
When you start single player you will see a toggle switch for ‘Dodge City; with absolutely no explanation to what it actually is. Even in the ‘Help’ section it’s not immediately explained that this is actually an expansion to the original game. It gives you a whole new set of cards with a green boarder that bring with them new rules. It’s almost like they expect everyone who buys this game to have already played the board game, serving only to alienate those new to the franchise. This becomes even more evident when you get cards like ‘Can Can’ that state, ‘same effect as Cat Balou’. So if you have never used the ‘Cat Balou’ card then you have no idea what that card actually does.
There are various characters in the game, each with their own special ability. However, this is randomly selected for you and they all have varying levels of health. It’s a ham-fisted attempt at isometric balancing of characters with better powers than others. Lower health means fewer cards, which is a distinct disadvantage. Less card options makes it far more likely you will die in a single round, making your special ability somewhat useless. To top it all off there’s only one match and then you are sent to the main menu. You earn cash in single player but for no real reason as there’s nothing to spend it on and the high-score table is only for the multiplayer. A multiplayer, I’m going to add, that I couldn’t get a single game on. It would appear this version didn’t get the ‘multicross’ function that would allow multiplayer with people on other platforms. Looking at reviews for the app it becomes clear this is the reason the mobile app is so highly rated.
To conclude, Bang! The Official Video Game could have and should have been so much better. The card game is actually pretty good and has some clever psychology going on at the start of each game. Unfortunately, poor presentation, no campaign to speak of, not even a tournament mode and a lack of a decent multiplayer function makes this game feel unfinished. There is no real replay value as single player is basically one level and it’s unrewarding since you don’t actually win anything if you’re not in multiplayer. Which makes it clear that the multiplayer is the bulk of the game. A game that relies too heavily on multiplayer that lacks the award-winning cross-platform feature to support it ultimately becomes a waste of time.
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