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      The Gunstringer

      The Gunstringer

      We really shouldn't have doubted retail pressure, or new tech, would have humbled the studio in any way.

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      From the off, Twisted Pixel proves its deft comedic touch is prevalent in the title that sees it upgrade to the retail leagues and apply its own unique brand of development to Kinect.

      That breezy absurdness that's been injected in increasing doses in its later projects continues here. The game starts with a live-action cut scene as an audience file into a theatre. For the game's duration their presence will be felt; cheering in the background one moment, camera cutting back to them as they boo the appearance of a boss.

      There's even times when an arm will stretch onto the stage to move buildings, crush enemies; Twisted Pixel haphazardly reusing props or protecting its hero both aiding the illusion of a stage show and flexing the fourth-wall destroying muscle it loves so much, the interaction with its puppet show cutting the line between character and creator with the subtlety of a wrecking ball. Yet it works.

      Gameplay centres around the theatre's stage; Twisted Pixel may be the creator, but you're definitively the puppeteer, moving the character with a move or lift of the left hand letting you dodge bullets, pull out from cover or leap over ravines. Cock your right hand and move it to draw a targeting reticule over up to six enemies at a time, yank it up quickly to fire.

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      The Gunstringer

      That's about as much as you get in terms of interaction, but the studio's tempered that with a variety of changing perspectives and gameplay elements to keep things interesting -while tossing in some cheeky gaming references on the hoof.

      The screen will flick to a 2D perspective as you ascend a series of platforms, leaping over burning barrels. Or the camera will pan around to the front as you outrace rocks or logs, or zoom in as you stand still to face off waves of enemies, control over movement exchanged for a secondary pistol and lock-on replaced with automatic rapid fire. You'll occasionally grab a shotgun power-up to blast away groups of enemies with a single blast.

      The Kinect handles the quick transitions pretty well, though natural tiredness in holding your hands out even at waist-height for lengthy periods means you'll start missing jumps or the precision and speediness of your shots will go to hell. The default difficulty offers a decent challenge if you're attempting to shoot every target quicker than Billy the Kid, more so if you're focused on ascending the online Leaderboards, or run up some of the Achievements.

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      The Gunstringer

      There's a whole heap of locked content ready for your accumulated in-game cash, from hardcore modes to skin modifiers for the Gunstringer, and chat tracks, photos and footage of the studio hard at work on the game - though they can't rival previous efforts for the number of laugh-out-loud moments. Additionally the narrator - a cowboy chewing his way through commentating on Gunstringer's every move and works as part tutor, part story-teller - disappoints, if not in delivery but in repetition. Though we're likely unfavourably conscious of comparisons to the fantastic work done in this area only last month in XBLA's Bastion.

      The game additionally tosses in two free downloads into the package. The first, a gig-hugging DLC pack for the game is tribute to the arcade classic Mad Dog McCree, and continues merging live-action with the gameplay. Second is a DLC code for Fruit Ninja Kinect, the fruit-chopping title that formed part of XBLA's summer releases.

      They're both nice compliments to a pack rather than - as some would put it - an attempt to buff out a game that should have been on XBLA. They only flavour what's another fun title in Twisted Pixel's catalogue, and a definite purchase for Kinect enthusiasts.

      08 Gamereactor UK
      8 / 10
      Lots of variety, very silly, good extra content, free copy of Fruit Ninja Kinect.
      Some difficulty spikes, hampered further by arm tiredness.
      overall score
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      The Gunstringer

      The Gunstringer

      PREVIEW. Written by Bengt Lemne

      "If you own Kinect you owe to yourself and your investment to keep an eye out for The Gunstringer."

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