The deathmatch. A game mode that stands out as a veteran in the world of video games. Halo, Call of Duty, and of course, Doom. The deathmatches in these games defined generations of gamers. There is also the source engine. The engine, made by Valve, that has given us some of the greatest games ever made, as well as the actual greatest game ever made: Half-life 2 (My opinions are always correct). The source engine is no stranger to interesting takes on the beloved deathmatch. Valve and 3rd party creators have made games, such as Dino D-Day, Day of Defeat, and Half-Life 2: Deathmatch. These games all have their own fun quirks, and joining that list is the Old-west themed FPS, Fistful of Frags by the Firstful of Frags Team.

Premise

It’s the old wild west. A time of brutal duels with crude forms of modern fire arms. This game is an arena fps but with a twist. The old West was also a time of gentleman and honor. Shooting a man in the back is cowardly and attacking someone with a much more powerful weapon is a sign a weakness. Your notoriety as great western duelist won’t rise as fast as those who use more honorable tactics. The weapons are crude slow and inaccurate, which adds a unique challenge to the game mechanics.

Game play

As I alluded to in the premise. This is a game based around the deathmatch game mode, but there’s an interesting variation. Instead of a scoring points per frag (which is gamer slang for a kill), there is a system to measure who is the most notorious. It is fairly straightforward. The more difficult the kill, the more points you are awarded. Taking someone down head on with a knife is worth more than if you shot them in the back with a shotgun. The idea is great; but even great ideas are crap without proper implementation.

The system is easily exploitable. I found out that I could weaken an enemy with a shotgun, then finish them off with my bare fists. The game considers it a punch kill so it was worth a ton of notoriety even though the shotgun did most of the work. This style might just be a simple and obvious strategy that highly experienced players could be able to play around, but during my hours of sever hoping with friends I always wound up ranking in the top 3 by employing this strategy (and I am not very good at FPS games).

The weapons you spawn with are all rather weak. However, around the map there are crates that contain better weapons. The strength of the weapon determines the respawn time on the case. The pump shotgun, for example, will wreck everyone’s day but may only spawn a couple times during a match. The weapons are all period pieces from the one shot derringer to the trusty bow and arrow. This also means the guns are incredibly slow and inaccurate which provides a nice interesting challenge in this day and age of modern FPS games.

The map design is impressive and well designed. The game makes use of 3D space to an effective level which creates interesting and fun shoot outs. The levels manage a great balance of being well designed for a FPS deathmatch while still having realistic layouts the make the world come to life and helps immerse you into the old west setting. I enjoy a game that uses the 3rd dimension effectivly in it’s level design. Flat maps tend to work better for competitive play (think Dust 2 in counter strike) but using cover and terrain to your advantage feels very satisfying. Having too much z-axis (vertical) movement can make a level very confusing, but the maps I played were free from this pitfall. The levels also feature different events to liven up game play. A train may pass through the middle of the level with a weapon crate on top of it, for example.

Those looking for a competitive experience will not find it here. I mostly keep this game installed as a LAN party game. You and your friends can even make a whole western themed event out of the night! If someone starts using cheap tactics and becomes too much of a try-hard everyone can gang up on them.

I came here to kick ass, drink whiskey, and chew tobacco. And I’m all out of kick ass and tobacco.

Aesthetics

It’s a Source powered game so it looks good, but dated. Playing it makes me feel like I’ve traveled back in time to the early 2000’s. But that being said, the graphics aren’t bad compared to other games created by modding the Source engine. I enjoyed the western feel and the dynamic objects in the levels such, as a train passing through town, both provide strategic game play elements while also making the game feel more alive and authentic. The guns themselves have the proper heft and sound to make them feel old and unwieldy, while I can’t comment about their authenticity, to the untrained eye they seem to feel and sound as one would expect.

Conclusion

While this game won’t be dethroning Counter Strike or Team Fortress 2 in the ongoing FPS popularity contest, it’s still a fun game with enjoyable mechanics. If you’re wondering if you should check this game out, the answer is: why not? It’s free on Steam, so you won’t lose anything for trying it. Except time you could spend doing more productive things, I suppose. But why worry about that when you could be shotgun punching your enemies to death?

Overall Score
75 %

It's a free source game on steam. It is fun and it works. There is no reason not to give this unique game a try. Get your friends to install it for the next LAN party and go crazy.

Stroy 50%
Graphics 75%
Fun 80%
Replayability 80%

About The Author

Charles is a mild mannered engineer by day, and slightly less mild mannered gamer by night. He spends most of his time traveling the world looking for arcades to play at.

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