Also on: PC
It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Guns and Spurs 2. It’s a mobile game from 2020 that was clearly heavily inspired by Red Dead Redemption that’s had its sights on PC and console for a few years now…only for it to finally come out on the Switch in the wake of Red Dead Redemption itself.
Needless to say, Guns and Spurs 2 looks really bad by comparison.
However, when you’re explaining why Guns and Spurs 2 doesn’t come close to measuring up to its chief influence, it’s important to separate out the parts that merely don’t stand a chance of competing with Red Dead – which, after all, is one of the greatest games of all time and that stands head and shoulders above most other games – from the parts that are just plain bad.
Take the game’s open world, for example. It’s fairly ambitious, with several small towns scattered across a decent-sized wilderness and its fair share of secrets and surprises. Compare it to the vast, sprawling world of Red Dead Redemption, though, and it obviously doesn’t measure up. On top of that, Guns and Spurs 2 struggles at times to show the world around you, with environments popping in and out of existence constantly – but seeing as Red Dead’s Switch performance is nothing short of astonishing, it’s hard to be too critical of this smaller game from a developer who has previously only released mobile games.
Similarly, there’s not really any story in Guns and Spurs 2. You’re a bounty hunter who’s ridden into town, and your job is to take down all the bad guys. The game tries to give the towns a little more personality by having you undertake other odd jobs here and there, but it all seems pretty low stakes if you’re looking at it through the prism of John Marston’s epic horse opera. Again, though, given the relative sizes of Rockstar and Frozen Lake Games, Guns and Spurs 2 probably deserves a bit of a pass.
There are plenty of other places where Guns and Spurs 2 doesn’t deserve that same kind of pass, though – starting with the game’s technical performance. While I don’t want to compare it to RDR, like I wrote above, at the same time it’s not unreasonable to expect the game to achieve a certain level of competency, and I think it’s questionable whether it achieves that. Not only do environments pop in and out constantly, there are just basic things like “not falling through the world” that the game struggles with. Early on, for example, I was standing inside a building, talking to the sheriff. I took one step, then suddenly found myself plummeting through an endless blue expanse, and I was forced to restart the game from the beginning.
Similarly, at one point I walked towards a door, planning to exit a room. The screen went dark for a moment – since door animations were beyond the game’s scope, I guess – and I found myself back in the same room I’d just exited. Mind you, another time I tried leaving a room, I wound up several feet in front of the building, in the middle of the street, so it seems like there’s some guesswork going on with the game about how the whole entry/exit idea works.
Guns and Spurs 2 also features the most aggressive enemy respawning I’ve ever seen in a game. It’s not just that enemies respawn in the same areas of the map – though I learned that the hard way when I first started playing the game, after I cleared out small group of bad guys, picked up their guns, walked back to my horse, and by the time I’d returned to the location, they were all back and shooting at me. Rather, it’s the speed at which they come back: numerous times, I’d go on a mission to capture a bounty, and if I didn’t do it quickly enough the same bad guys I’d just killed would suddenly reappear, making the quest that much harder. In fact, one time bad guys started shooting at me even before they’d respawned, so I’d see their dots on the map and I’d get hit by their bullets, but there wasn’t anywhere for me to return fire.
Mind you, this is another issue with the game: shooting sucks. Even with aiming assist on, you’re basically just firing away and hoping you hit someone. On top of that, firing from a horse is next to impossible: you can do it sometimes, but there’s almost no indication of whether your shots are hitting their targets. (I’ll also note that Guns and Spurs 2 doesn’t allow you to simply trample over the bad guys with your horse; instead, you’ll just stop in your tracks, blocked by whoever is in your way.)
Perhaps the worst part of Guns and Spurs 2 is the cost: it’s a free App Store game that costs $30 on the Switch ($40 if you live in Canada!). Even if you were to buy a bunch of in-app purchases, you’d have to spend a lot of money on those IAPs before you spent as much as you would here. While I imagine that it costs more to get a game onto the Switch, the economics still seem off.
Especially when we’re talking about a game that doesn’t deliver on its promises – and when you can get the much version of the game Guns and Spurs 2 is ripping off for not that much more. While it certainly deserves praise for its ambition, and it can’t be faulted for not delivering a Rockstar experience on a fraction of the budget, it’s not too much to ask that game asking for your money to deliver more than this. If you can buy it on a deep discount and have no expectations – and, of course, you’ve exhausted everything else there is to do in Red Dead Redemption – it might be worth it, but otherwise you’ll want to give Guns and Spurs 2 a pass.
Soedesco provided us with a Guns and Spurs 2 Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.