Review

The Gunstringer Review (Xbox360)

Ever since Kinect was released, there's one most obvious of uses that we've been secretly waiting for. Pretending to shoot with your finger is a basic human instinct, and with Kinect's capabilities, the combination of finger-banging and motion capture can finally be realised.

You are The Gunstringer, back from the brink to hunt down and kill all those who tried to send you to an early grave, Kill Bill style. It won't be so simple, however, as your targets have plenty of underlings, ready to stop you in your tracks at every moment.

The Gunstringer is a rather ugly fellow, although we wouldn't say that to his face

There's also a rather strange presence in the air, some kind of godly powers at be, although the Gunstringer can't quite put his finger on it. See, the Gunstringer is actually a puppet, and you are his puppetmaster. His world is a stage, and those laughs, cheers and boos he sometimes catches on the wind are the audience egging him on.

It's a wonderful premise, and gives the game so much style, so much flair. Every now and again you catch glimpses of a real-life audience in the background (a video obviously, although we like to pretend it's live) and whenever one of the big bosses rears their ugly head, the camera will pan to the audience to show their reactions. Why this hasn't been done before, we'll never know.

Your hands work as if controlling a real-life puppet. Holding your left hand up controls his position on the screen, while your right hand controls his aim and his trigger finger. It's such an odd feeling when you first play, as it all feels instantly natural, and really tight.

As you blast away at foes, various set-pieces will occur that cut the action up and keep it fresh. Hands will come out of nowhere, smashing up distant scenery or placing objects down to get in your way. A covering system kicks in every now and again, as you leap out from behind barrels and boxes to take six enemies all at once.

The mysterious hand will sometimes help our hero, but most of the time it's a hinderance

Other sections, such as the punching parts or the side-scrolling levels, don't work as well as the main action, but they do a great job of emphasising just how much damn fun the main course is. This is by far one of the most fun uses of Kinect that we've seen to date.

Gallons of personality are pumped into The Gunstringer. A narrator constantly gives a running commentary of how you're playing, very similar to the recent XBLA release Bastion. The story is witty and the jokes hit the mark, especially when coupled with the stage premise. You can also bring a friend in to play as a second recticle in the midst of the action at any time.

As always, however, this Kinect game does not come without its flaws. The main one may sound obvious, but it doesn't make it any less of a nuisance - your arms will become really, really tired after a very short bout of play. We had to take a five minute break after each level to get the blood back in our arms, and it definitely cuts the flow of the game up.

The sensitivity on the motion capture is a little off too, with the game sometimes picking up players who aren't even there. At one point, the game genuinely picked up our coffee table as a second player, and then proceeded to point a recticle at the bottom of the screen for the duration of play.

Warning: The Gunstringer does not like snakes

Of course, you could blame this on the Kinect hardware, yet we haven't seen this problem in most other Kinect games - hence, we can only assume that the way the game is picking up players in the room is at fault.

All of this isn't enough to put The Gunstringer down, though - no way, hose. If you own Kinect, The Gunstringer is now a game you should very much pick up. It's the kind of release that gives us hope that Kinect will finally find its legs and become a more regular part of our gaming lives.

Top moment: When the Gunstringer receives dual pistols, and both your fingers become weapons.

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