It’s rare that I go into a game completely and utterly blind, and when I do sometimes it can be a pleasure and other times a nightmare. I can honestly say going into Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West blind and with no prior knowledge of the game was refreshing and very, very enjoyable.
Part of that is because it’s different yet familiar. Lead and Gold could be described on the surface as a Team Fortress style game with a multitude of game modes for online teams of players to tackle and that would be a pretty accurate description. The one major difference on the surface is that Lead and Gold is third person, not first.
Like Team Fortress Lead and Gold is class based, and each of the four classes offer a unique play style that is vital to making the team succeed. There’s the Trapper, Gunslinger, Blaster and Deputy – and it should be fairly clear what they all do from their names alone. The Deputy was my favourite, coming with a high-capacity semi-automatic rifle that could tear through enemies at mid to long range depending on how good your aim is.
If you haven’t already guessed from the title of the game or the class names, Lead and Gold takes place in the Wild West. It sports an interesting, quirky art style that isn’t quite cartoony but isn’t realistic either, and it really suits.
While on the surface all the similarities may suggest that this is a Team Fortress ‘clone’, but once you scratch past the surface Lead and Gold reveals a surprising amount of twists to that class-based, team-based Red vs. Blue formula.
While on the surface all the similarities may suggest that this is a Team Fortress ‘clone’ once you scratch past the surface Lead and Gold reveals a surprising amount of twists to that class-based, team-based Red vs. Blue formula.
For a start, there’s the spawn flag which can be picked up by a player from your home base and carried around. This does exactly what you’d expect, and can be carried around or dropped so that the rest of the team spawn on the player carrying it or at the location where it was dropped.
Because Lead and Gold deals with smaller teams than most other games of this kind, the ability to control where your teammates spawn is vital in certain game modes, especially the mode which requires you to capture various control points across the map – several times I spawned on an about-to-die comrade and rescued him from his would-be assailants – and that feels really satisfying.
The game also comes with a ‘Last Stand’ feature of sorts built in, where if players are shot in non-vital places but take enough damage to deplete their health they’ll be left on the floor with a six-shooter and aiming control. Unless it’s a clear-cut headshot, remember to never assume a body that falls down is dead in this game – it could come back to haunt you!
You can rescue teammates from this status by healing them, though that takes a couple of seconds to execute, so make sure you’re all clear.
The classes are about more than what guns they use, too – classes here have extra buffs. Some classes emit area-of-effect buffs that heal, while my Deputy had the ability to ‘tag’ enemies, highlighting them to the rest of the team. Tagged enemies also take more damage, so this is a vital ability in close matches.
Generally much like Team Fortress the class load-out of your team will determine how you play each match and how successful your team will be. It’s the kind of game that can be picked up and played, but learning those classes will turn out to be hugely beneficial and advantageous in future matches.
There’s also an experience system in place, though exactly what it does is still a mystery to me in this preview version. Aside from the above, Lead and Gold is pretty much self explanatory.
It may be small, simple and familiar in everything from the player count to the number of classes, but it’s an extremely polished piece of work.
It boasts a straightforward HUD that’s easy on the eyes, and the whole game is really rather pretty and animates absolutely beautifully. The sound design is solid; the controls are tight and most important of all its pretty damn good fun.
Lead and Gold isn’t going reinvent the wheel or start a revolution, but what it will do is offer a refreshing take on an old genre that’ll be extremely fun with friends. And it’s cheap. What more could you want?