Lead and Gold is an online third-person shooter available on the PlayStation Network, set in the law-free Wild West. With guns blazing bullets in the air, and plenty of yee-har, what does your hard earned £11.99 get you?
There are four classes to choose from at the start of the game, the Gunslinger with his rootin’ tootin’ six shooter, and good for close range executions. The Trapper with his buffalo rifle who is able to snipe foes from afar. The Deputy who packs a carbine rifle, great for medium to long range combat and finally the rear is taken up by the Blaster, armed with a shotgun and dynamite. Each class also comes with a special skill that helps the rest of the team. The Deputy for example, can tag enemies making them visible to the rest of the gang and the Blaster radiates an armour synergy effect that boosts the defence of the rest of the team.
There are a generous number of maps, six in all, over which to sneak and shoot. Each are suitably named, with Deadwater Ranch making out like a Western town environment, and Devil's Pit being made up of tunnels littered with the dead bodies of fallen comrades; great for close combat action. These maps look the part and definitely give the feel of being in a dusty lawless backwater.
Things look equally promising when it comes to game modes; there are an awful lot of them, six in all along with a practice mode to get your eye in. These don't stray away from the more familiar capture-the-flag, destroy objectives and team deathmatch modes seen in other online shooters, but here they're given western style themes, such as Gold Fever where your team must steal as many sacks of gold as possible, and Powder Keg where the objective is to destroy the opposing team's defensive posts.
One neat aspect of the game presents itself after being shot and nearly killed, the player will find himself injured and on the floor but still with the ability to unload his six-shooter in to the dastardly rotten tooth bastard what done'um. Downing a foe in this state is most satisfying and brings a wry smile to the lips, knowing the boy’s done good.
When things are working well in Lead and Gold, the multiplayer action is frantic and fun. However, there's just too much broken in the game to make it an overall decent thrill-ride. The biggest issue with the game is the amount of bugs you'll encounter whilst playing it. The action will be stable for 5-10 minutes, but then the entertainment is marred with system lock-ups requiring a PS3 hard-reset, glitches that see you stuck on scenery, and host disconnects that kick you out of an online game and back to the title screen, rather than failing gracefully and transferring the host to another player - this is completely unforgivable in a title that is purely an online experience. If you can't get the net-code right, then you're kicking your audience in the balls when that's all the game is about, and right now those testes are aching royaly.
It would seem that Lead and Gold is trying to stand on the shoulders of giants, but it's unable to put itself above what is a saturated online multiplayer shooter market. To succeed in this arena you've got to be doing it cleaner and better than the other guys, and this game falls short. There are simply too many bugs in the game, stuff that really shouldn't have gotten past the game's testing, it's absolutely no fun to suffer random system freezes and dropped hosts.
For those reasons it's difficult to recommend a purchase, particularly when Red Dead Redemption does things bigger and far better. If the game issues could be patched, then the rating for Lead and Gold would definitely improve. For the moment though, unless you're really desperate for some Wild West action and don't want to stump up the cash for a full retail release, your money is best spent elsewhere.