The West: This is Not Oregon Trail
by Scott Braquet (SimpleAnatomy), OnRPG Writer
"You have died of dysentery", Oregon Trails infamous last words that served as the final blow and the ultimate end to your intense adventure through the American Wild West. Since then we've been hooked on this historical era and in search for a unique combination of strong narrative, immense action, and pure ruthlessness that is the Old West. The 2D browser based adventure game "The West" is a formidable replacement.
The West takes on the challenge of recreating one of the most original times in America's short history. It attempts to capture the true grit of the Old Frontier by providing detailed back stories on every character you encounter within the game; whether it is Barkeeper Henry with his battered hands and calming voice or the whiskey laden breath of Sheriff John. These characters are pulled straight from an old fashion nickelodeon.
The main home screen has easy-to-navigate menus and a combination between the main map and a series of mini map displays that make for easy access to quest locations. All the RPG essentials are there, including a HUD, Character, Inventory, and Quest buttons in a clear and accessible way.
Quests: The game begins with a simple tutorial to help guide first time users through the games primary screens. As a Greenhorn, players spend time running errands and completing quests to gain experience. The amount of grinding that takes place in this game would make an old western Blacksmith jealous; with each quest taking as little as five minutes to as much as one hour to complete, with additional travel time tacked on. Once level 10 is accomplished a wide variety of choices open up to customize the path chosen within the game. Each class provides a unique set of advantages that helps users tailor their gameplay to fit their interests. Finally, levels are currently capped at 120 to help achieve a competitive balance between new and old players.
Duels: The other way to gain experience is through duels, players have the ability to duel both NPCs and other players. These duels are automatic however, so don't expect to achieve that Doc Holiday "I'll be your huckleberry" level of satisfaction. Duels are misrepresented as characters are shown wielding a handgun when in reality they are in possession of a broken jar; and unfortunately, there isn't any way to name a weapon. It is understandable that no one wants to bring a knife to a gun fight; but if they did they should at least be able to name it; it's these little nuances that take away from the duel at high noon feeling of western life.
One major highlight of the game has to be its community, the forums are lively and the high ranking players are friendly and helpful. The game's staff does a wonderful job of keeping a constant stream of quests at the ready for those who love doing them. The ability to found towns and compete in fort wars allows for players to build and break relationships to add an additional dynamic to the game.
Conclusion: 7 out of 10
Bogged down by tedious level grinding, long waits, and a pretty bland dueling system The West is not without its faults and it may not bring back that sense of nostalgia for everyone, however, the Good, Bad, and Ugly of the American Old West was anything but a cakewalk. If you stick around long enough The West will reward you a fool's gold of good friends and dastardly enemies as you reach for the chance to etch your name into the history books.