Sadly, Lead & Gold: Gangs Of The Wild West lacks the staying power that it'll need to maintain a fan-base post Red Dead Redemption.
Wild west games lie fondly in our hearts. This is a statement from the same publication which rates Activision's last-generation sandbox westerner, GUN, as one of their favourite games of all time. All time. So the initial ideas presented in Lead & Gold: Gangs Of The Wild West had us immediately scampering to check it out.
Lead & Gold is a PSN class-based online third-person shooter developed by FatShark, a group of ex-GRIN employees. The game takes a pinch of inspiration from other popular class-based shooters such as Valve's Team Fortress 2. Upon joining a multiplayer match you'll play as one of four different cowboy characters - a long-range character, a close-range character, etc. etc. The models look great and play off some comical Western stereotypes. Using the different characters is not just purely cosmetic and tailored to your play-style however. When you're in the proximity of different class members on your team, you'll receive performance updates such as "Strength" and "Accuracy". Thus it pays to work as a team.
The maps make good use of the different classes too. There are always flank and choke points, aswell as a good deal of verticality for snipers to take advantage of. The maps house a range of different game modes - a capture the flag Battlefield-esque Conquest mode being the most fun as it usually results in big stand-offs at the central capture point.
Sadly these stand-offs can reveal some of Lead & Gold's weaknesses. The shooting is pretty loose unless you're playing as the sniper class, and that can make pinning enemies down pretty hit-or-miss. The game's also quite prone to lagging and general connection drop-outs which butt you back into the main menu. We're going to assume that FatShark will issue a patch at some point to fix these issues - but right now playing the game can be a frustrating wrestle with technology.
But what's most disappointing about Lead & Gold above all is the lack of any real progression. You earn XP during each game (and level up your class for that particular match) but none of this information is particularly well portrayed. And in an era post-Call Of Duty (with another Western shooter on the horizon) Lead & Gold fails to create any kind of attachment. It never gets its hooks into you.
With an £11.99 asking price it really should. It's not that Lead & Gold's a bad game - frustratingly it has moments of real quality - but its netcode is far too inconsistent to make it a must-buy. And even if FatShark manage to correct the connection issues with a patch, it still lacks a progression system to keep you playing.