Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West – Review

Title   Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West
Developer  Fatshark
Publisher  Paradox Interactive
Platform  PC
Genre  Third person shooter, multiplayer
Release Date  8th April, 2010

Howdy partner! Welcome to the Wild West, the roughest, toughest and meanest place you’ll ever come across. What’s that? You’re looking for gold? Well sonny there’s not much gold in these here parts. No sir, not seen gold in these hills since back in the fall of ’84, I do reckon. My grand-pappy was a sheriff back in the old town and he killed a few gold smugglers back then. He was a local hero he was; Sheriff Bill ‘Hopalong’ Stevenson. He once wrestled a grizzly bear this big (stretches arms as far as they can go). No sonny, you won’t find any gold around here and no sheriffs either. This is a lawless land now; there be plenty of lead flying around these parts. I wouldn’t trust anyone boy… you’d best keep your wits about you, or you’ll end up deader than a buffalo in the desert sun.

As much fun as it would be to continue talking like that it’s taken me some time to actually get into the mindset of being some toothless old git, rocking on a chair on the porch of some dusty old saloon. Combine that with the fact that I’ve now exhausted my knowledge of cowboy phrases (I’m saving yee-ha for later) and you can understand my reluctance to carry on. It was, however, necessary to put you all in the position of the greenhorn cowboy as we take a look at this Wild West third-person shooter.  Lead and Gold is a game set amidst the gold rush era. I only know this because I went and looked it up, and herein lies Lead and Gold’s first problem. When a game lacks a single player aspect, the majority of the time it lacks a story; a driving force behind the entire point of you taking the time to play the game. Sometimes this is a good thing. If the game is different enough or has a unique selling point then this distracts from the lack of a story element. Some games need a story or are actually begging for one to be written. Lead and Gold is one such game. There are so few actual cowboy titles out there that the opportunity for a decent story is one that goes begging.

Perhaps I’m wrong and Lead and Gold will dazzle me with its original presentation? Alas no. When you first start, you are presented with the plainest of menus with a couple of options. I was hoping for a sheriff’s office, or a saloon, maybe a couple of the characters milling around outside. What about inside the saloon? Couple of guys playing poker, maybe a fight breaks out and the deputy carts the offending party off to the jail-house? Nope, none of that thanks.  Just a screen coloured with what I think is the nastiest shade of green and brown I’ve ever seen and the sound of hoof beats. It’s ironic I hear hoof beats because I’m not thinking horses or zebras. I’m thinking this looks as dull as shit.

I’d read that Lead and Gold boasted six different game types, which I thought would be fun to try and, although they were confined to only eight maps, I was hoping that there would be enough originality involved to overlook the small amount on offer. I started looking for a game and thought that team deathmatch was probably a good place to start. Clearly the gaming public wasn’t interested in what I thought was best, as no-one was playing team deathmatch.  Instead, I found a group playing a mode called Conquest, which is essentially Onslaught from Unreal Tournament. You need to capture zones in order to progress to the next one, while the opposing team does the same. There are other modes on offer ranging from ‘Shootout’, to ‘Greed’ and ‘Robbery’. The latter two involve moving bags of gold around, which, while in transit, leave you vulnerable to whatever cheeky bandit fancies taking you down. Robbery does have the added feature of needing you to blow up a bank vault first using a powder keg. This leads us onto the cleverly named ‘Powder Keg’ game type which is very like ‘Search and Destroy’ from Call Of Duty, but with the need to protect the very slow keg carrier.

Starting the game of Conquest, I was presented with my first taste of the character select screen where there are four options to choose from. The Gunslinger appears to be your standard shooter class; he’s equipped with a highly accurate revolver dubbed ‘The Negotiator’, and a special ability to engage a rapid fire of his revolver for close quarters fighting. Each character has a special ability specific to their role. The Blaster, aside from carrying a very powerful Coach Gun (double-barrelled shotgun), has sticks of dynamite to chuck around. If you want to attack from range, look no further than the Trapper who handles the Buffalo Rifle and can lay bear traps for enemy players to get caught in. The Deputy wields a Repeater Carbine, and has the ability to tag opposition players for the rest of the team to see.

Each character also radiates a ‘Synergy effect’ which is a buffer that increases a particular trait of the people around them. For example, the Blaster character radiates an armour effect which increases players’ damage resistance. The concept is to encourage teamwork as a group of people using mixed characters are more likely to win a battle than a group only using one or two character types. As you kill enemies and complete objectives you gain experience points which rank you up; this also increases the power of your Synergy effect. At the end of the game, however, your rank is reset and there is no permanent ranking system. This doesn’t bother me personally, but will put off people looking to get a substantial reward from playing.

I opted for the Deputy and got involved straight away. The combat and actual fighting is spot on; it’s not going to win any awards for originality, but it is airtight and cannot be faulted. Weapons feel punchy and effective, (with the exception of the Gunslinger’s Negotiator which I could never really get on with and seemed to lack any real impact); combat is quick and brutal, and engagements are over quickly with the victor usually being whoever has the greater numbers and the quicker draw. There aren’t any ‘lone gunmen’ or solo antics here and the previously mentioned Synergy effects that were shooting into my character did seem to make a difference, for example, when flanked by a Blaster I was able to take a couple of extra hits before going down. Damage is represented by the appearance of numbers upon collision of lead with flesh, which I think is better then having health bars clutter up a third person display. Should the opposition impart on you a numerical value of damage equal to or above that of your prescribed health allocation, you will find yourself either without pulse or in a last stand mode with only your side-arm. From here, you can either be revived by teammates or can take a last crack at your murderer. People in last stand should not be underestimated – that revolver they’re carrying packs a punch… as a selection of smug idiots found out after shooting me.

Graphically you can take one look at this game and would immediately would be forgiven for thinking it’s Team Fortress 2. The pallet of colours, themes and appearance of its characters are very similar to that of the hugely popular Valve title. This is no bad thing by any means, but I guarantee it’s the first thing you’ll think when you get into a game. The characters themselves look awesome and I especially love the female Trapper character sporting Davy Crockett Coonskin headwear. However, much like the lack of story affecting the overall drive of game, this is another title begging for some sort of character editor or creator. Designing my own cowboy or cowgirl would have been enjoyable and would have added a layer of personality that Lead and Gold could have benefited from. Much like the characters, the levels also look brilliant. The bright blue skies, yellow dusty deserts, brown murky mines are just some of the things that will draw your attention away from action. Not only that, but the design of the levels is equally impressive; the developers, Fatshark, have a particular skill for multi tiered levels. There may not be a load of maps on offer, but what you are given is enough and they are very well made.

While the game impresses graphically, the same cannot be said for the audio quality. Some of the weapons sound how I would expect them to, but others lack any real effect. The dynamite sounds weak by comparison to the shotgun, which sounds as though the universe has just collapsed in on itself. The characters also lack any voices which is criminal considering this is a cowboy game. Where’s my “Yee-ha” and “Stick um up!”?  There is also no notable background music apart from some guitar strums and a harmonica playing.

I played a couple of rounds of Conquest for around twenty minutes and enjoyed it; it was honestly a great deal of fun.  From here, confident in my abilities, and with a couple of people having left, I decided to find another group to play with. I returned to the drab menu screen and began my search. It didn’t go well. There were nine people playing. In total. Each map takes ten people so it wasn’t even a full game.  Nine people playing in the whole wide world. They were all playing the same map and playing Conquest. This was a Monday evening so I didn’t think it unreasonable to think there should be a decent amount of people on here.

It’s sad to say that this didn’t get any better. I played the game for a week, trying at different times to get a game. I went on in the early hours of the morning and late at night. I tried while eating breakfast, lunch and dinner (at the appropriate times of the day, not as some sort of twisted combo meal) , and I even started a couple of games myself, hoping people would join in with a game type that wasn’t Shooter (Team deathmatch) or Conquest. I played two rounds of Greed which seemed enjoyable, but people seem to prefer the former game types which is a shame. This heavily impacts the replayability because there simply aren’t enough people to play against at any given time. If ten people are playing, then you’ve had it, because I never saw more then one game on the go. Combine this with a lack of permanent ranking system and there is little to come back to after you’ve put in a certain amount of hours.

  • Solid Combat
  • Lush Graphics
  • Good level design
  • Lack of decent audio
  • Limited character selection and no character creator
  • Total lack of user base.

Maybe I'm looking at this totally wrong. Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West is a fantastic game when compared to how much you're paying for it. Currently going for under five pounds on Steam it's an absolute steal. The fact you're getting this much for that price is borderline insane when you consider most Call Of Duty DLC is at least ten pounds and you get less content and quality. If I take the pricing out of it though, what are you buying? It's essentially a good example of something you can dip into for some decent combat across some well designed maps. Is it good for long term play? No. I can't recommend it for that purpose. There are a total lack of players, which is an awful shame because when you're paying less than a fist full of dollars for this sort of quality you'd hope that more people would give it a chance.

Although the developers have created a quality game, I believe the missed opportunities are large in number. No character creator? No soundtrack or character voices? What about a level set in a large saloon and jail-house? How about a game type where you have to break a bandit out of jail or try and pull off a train robbery? So many opportunities not seized. However, what is here, is well worth the asking price, so if you want something different for the weekend, grab a group of friends, and experience the good, the bad and the ugly of the Wild West.

Last five articles by Chris



  1. Edward Edward says:

    Sounds like the sort of game that would be epic if there were more people willing to give it a go.
    Sadly, I’m not much for multiplayer only games, and I don’t want to invest in something where I’m only going to be able to play one mode and most the time find no-one about.
    Great review, Toff :)

  2. Ste Ste says:

    I think the lack of a progression system is where this game falls down. The best games out there give players something to play for and reward them for their invested time. This does neither which is a shame. Nice review Chris.

  3. Lorna Lorna says:

    I was truly interested in this one, but can’t believe the lack of progression XP. That it doesn’t carry over seems ludicrous in a multiplayer only game, especially when there is no other incentive to really keep playing, such as a story to explore. Great looking game, but it is a real shame about the lack of player support really, and as a multiplayer only title, makes it impossible to play, no matter how willing you are.

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