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Money Bags And Powder Kegs Make Lead And Gold Exciting

We get our hands on Fatshark's upcoming downloadable shooter.

 Once the trapper has you on her scope, it's lights out.
 Once the trapper has you on her scope, it's lights out.
This comparison is going to sell Lead And Gold: Gangs of the Wild West short a little bit, but it's an effective bit of shorthand that'll give you a fairly clear top-level view of what Fatshark's upcoming game is all about. Lead And Gold is a Western-themed, third-person take on Team Fortress 2, offering class-based multiplayer in a variety of team-based modes. Fatshark brought the PC version of the game by the offices earlier this week, and though it may take a few cues from other popular shooters, Lead And Gold has a feel all its own.

There are four different player archetypes to choose from in Lead And Gold. The gunslinger is probably the most straightforward of the bunch. He's armed with a pistol, and his special ability lets him shoot faster than any of the other types. The blaster is your typical shotgun/heavy weapons guy. He carries a double-barreled shotgun that can wipe players out at close range, and his special ability is a dynamite toss. The deputy (my favorite of the four, if you must know) carries a repeater carbine that lets you get off 12 shots fairly quickly before you have to reload. His rifle is pretty accurate, making it good for headshots. The deputy's special skill marks enemies for all to see, causing a skull icon to appear on them that can be seen through walls by all players on your team. If you're marked, another player on your side can come up and remove the mark. The fourth class is the trapper, a sniper class that, as you might expect, can lay out traps.

The special abilities work on a timer, so you can just mark an entire team at once with your deputy or repeatedly toss dynamite as the blaster. Also, each class has its own unique "synergy" bonus. These are benefits that you gain and share by being close to the other players on your team, so being close to a deputy will increase your damage, while being near a blaster reduces the amount of damage you take. Also, getting close to other players automatically heals you. As long as you aren't getting shot in the head, the players feel fairly resilient, especially if you're sticking together. But no amount of friendly healing will save if you if someone shoots at you while you happen to be running around with a powder keg in your arms...

  You can shoot from the hip, but aiming down your sights is always more accurate.      
You can shoot from the hip, but aiming down your sights is always more accurate.      
The modes in Lead And Gold start at simple team deathmatch and get into more objective-based territory. Greed spawns a sack of gold in a central spot on the map, and players must fight to pick up the sack and lug it back to base, essentially making it a version of one-flag CTF. Conquest is a zone control mode, but the zones are connected, meaning teams will have to capture them in order as they work their way across the map and attempt to take over the enemy home base, ending the match. Another mode has one team on the attack and attempting to bring explosives to multiple bomb sites, which the defenders are trying to stop. The catch is that the bomb is a very volatile powder keg that can't take more than a few shots before blowing up. So the carriers will have to be quick to drop or throw the keg if it gets hit, while the rest of the team will have to form a perimeter around the carrier to keep him safe. Once you've planted the keg, a few shots take it, and your target, down.

The game will support up to ten players in all and will contain six different maps, which feels like a good number for a downloadable game. Visually, the different maps cover typical spots like rundown town settings, mines, and so on. Lead And Gold is running on a version of the Diesel Engine, the same technology that powered games from the now-defunct developer, GRIN. Overall, it looks pretty nice, and since that technology has already appeared on the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, it seems likely that it will maintain a similar level of quality across all three of those platforms.

Lead And Gold: Gangs of the Wild West is currently scheduled to hit Xbox Live Arcade, Steam, and the PlayStation Network in Q1 of 2010. 
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+