Gunman Clive for the iOS has your typical western backstory -- a lone gunman must go up against countless bad guys who have kidnapped the Mayor's daughter. What isn't typical about Gunman Clive is how amazing it looks and plays, and that's always going to grab the attention of every virtual gaming gunslinger looking for something new.
May as well get this out of the way right now -- Gunman Clive looks incredible. Instead of 3D polygons or retro 8-bit graphics, developer Bertil Horberg went the sketch route, and the results are pretty breathtaking. You wouldn't think it, just from the black and tan look of the game, but the characters and backdrops look so good in their simplicity that you don't really need all of the graphically detailed bells and whistles.
What really shines aren't the graphics but the gameplay. Gunman is a simple platform game where you run, jump and shoot your way past various enemies and obstacles. Everything from sneaky gunman to cute animals will attack you. You can either avoid them or gun them down. The virtual control pad works flawlessly. In fact, the controls are so precise that it feels like you're using an actual controller. Button placement is out of the way of gameplay, but you have the option of moving the buttons anywhere you like on screen. A lot of platforming games can be frustrating because the controls are terrible and there's no real connection between the player and the character on screen. With Gunman, you always feel like you're in control of your hero, which is great because it allows you to focus on what's happening on screen. I like knowing that no matter what the game throws at me, I'll be able to get past it because of my timing skills, and not because I got lucky that the controls decided to cooperate. In Gunman Clive, if you die, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Each stage has a different look and feel. In one stage you could be running and gunning, while the next has you driving a mine cart or running on a train. The only complaint I have is that if you die, you start over from the beginning of the stage, which is annoying no matter what game you're playing. The music doesn't really match the look either and sounds like a pre-programmed mix from a Casio keyboard. It got so irritating that I just turned it off.
Boss fights are challenging and a lot of fun. When's the last time you fought a giant robotic train? Various powerups like spread shot and homing bullets are randomly placed on each level. Pieces of birthday cake will replenish your health. The powerups add some nice variety to the game but they only last for a limited amount of time.
Gunman Clive is simple to play, but it's tough. You've got to be patient and time your jumps and shots carefully or you'll find yourself starting the level over again. You have unlimited lives, so don't worry about running out of continues. One thing that does make the game frustrating is if you kill a bad guy and advance, for some reason he'll sometimes reappear behind you and shoot at your back. I was killed quite a few times because I had gunfire coming from behind me when I wasn't expecting it. I had already killed the guy, so I'm not sure why he popped back up in the same spot.
Despite these minor annoyance, Gunman Clive is a worthy addition to your iOS gaming library. It may not look realistic, it may not play realistic, but it's a fun, Old West platforming adventure with new and wonderful surprises around every corner. Time to saddle up, cowboy. You got some bad guys to kill.