Gunman Chronicles is a first person shooter developed by Rewolf Software and published by Sierra. It is based off the same engine as used in Half-Life. Originally starting development as a mod, it grew to the point that Sierra hired the developers for an official release.
Its standout feature was the enormous amount of Secondary Fire options: rather than simply giving each weapon a specialized alt-fire, each weapon had anywhere from three or four to dozens or hundreds of configurations for fire modes. For a good starting impression, the standard pistol you began the game with had enough modes to essentially double as a normal rapid-fire pistol, shotgun, SMG, or even a sniper rifle. Most other weapons were considerably more complicated.
In the main portion of the game, a set of space rangers - known as the Gunmen - are a military-type group consisting of a uniform similar to Space Cowboys. Five years ago prior to the game's events, several platoons of Gunmen were sent out on a mission to a planet known as Banzure Prime by their general to investigate the sudden loss of contact with the science team stationed there for unknown reasons. After some time has passed, they are suddenly attacked by alien creatures dubbed as Xenomes - in this case the apex species, the Alpha Xenomes, which are towering worm-like creatures. As the ensuing battle between the aliens and Gunmen persist, the general and his ship is captured in the jaws of an Alpha Xenome, presumably consumed afterwards. The player character, Major Archer, then decides to order the remaining Gunmen to retreat off planet, unknowingly leaving the general to die, and is commended for his efforts afterwards.
Five years later, Archer and his platoon are sent out on a similar mission to investigate a Gunman distress signal on a jungle planet inhabited with dinosaurs. The distress signal turns out to be a trap, and its revealed that the general survived his unfortunate experience, has gone rogue, and decides to take out his anger on Archer and the Gunmen faction overall for leaving him for dead, with the help of other rogue Gunmen. Archer now must survive whatever is thrown at him, whether it be hostile lifeforms or an outdated AI mainframe that's also gone rogue, no matter the cost.
This work provides examples of:
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played straight with the Mainframe. That is until she eventually allies with the player to eliminate the greater threats at hand.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Alpha species Xenome, also known as the Worm Xenome. During the later part of Icnus, one is released by Archer to bring havoc to the Xenome facility where the General is currently stationed.
- Not only that but also on the first planet, the sauropod-like dinosaur that the General sics on Archer, which happens to be a carnivore.
- Controllable Helplessness: The most unnerving part of the sauropod attack is that it knocks the players off their feet several times.
- Covers Always Lie: The character seen on the box-art cover above is not the main playable protagonist. That's actually one of the enemy mooks in the game.
- Enemy Mine: The Mainframe eventually joins up with you first to escape the planet alive and then to stop the greater threat of the General and his Xenomes. Interesting because it was you who doomed the moon to destruction in the first place, even intentionally so.
- Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The first planet is primarily a dinosaur world, including large triceratopsi, small compsognati and raptors, and a gigantic sauropod which turns out to be carnivorous.
- HeelFace Turn: The Mainframe AI starts out as an antagonist trying to kill you with her drones. However she later joins your side and becomes your ally.
- Hyperspace: Known as Kata-Space here.
- Interface Spoiler: The keyboard controls section of the game's settings somewhat gives away that the Mainframe's core can be taken with you, and the Enemy Mine subplot.
- Mythology Gag:
- One level recreates Gordon's battle with a military helicopter on a mountainside with the player having to do it against an orinthopter on a mountainside.
- Another level takes "On A Rail" from Half-Life and gives you a tank instead of the powerless vehicle from the original.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: The Final Boss. You need to protect the Mainframe as she attacks the General in his Kata-Drone in order to defeat him - but she can sometimes hide behind a wall or a crate, resulting in a stalemate.
- Scenic Tour Level: As per Half-Life, you are in a tram ride. In this case, you only have one viewpoint compared to a 360-degree view. Additionally, moving from your position means you aren't on the lowering lift when the tram reaches the end of the track, potentially causing some fall damage as you drop down.
- Secondary Fire: Taken to insane levels: rather than just Secondary Fire, weapons have anywhere between a handful of firing modes and in some cases dozens or even hundreds of possible combinations. At the bottom end, you have the Laser Pistol with four modes and the Mechagun with two modes, one upgrade and accidental overheat mode. At the top end, the Chemical Gun has 625 possible settings by combining different amounts of acid, base and water at different pressure (trajectory). The remaining weapons are somewhere in between.
- Short-Range Shotgun: Played straight and subverted at the same time with the Shotgun: the maximum spread (Riotgun) will make it short range, while the minimum spread (Rifle) will make it efficient and precise even at longer distances.
- Silicon-Based Life: Xenomes turn out to be this and it's also revealed they can't digest carbon based life forms, though that doesn't stop them from trying to eat them.
- Space Western: If it wasn't obvious enough, see the game's tagline:It's High Noon In Deep Space.
- Starfish Aliens: The Xenomes. Subverted as they aren't a native born alien species but rather, genetically engineered bioweapons.
- Swiss Army Gun: The very premise of the game. It has relatively few weapons, but more weapons than most games if you count all possible modifications. Each weapon could fill the niche of various others with the correct modifications - especially the M.U.L.E, that could be set from a standard BFG RPG, to a homing RPG, or a minelayer, with a payload of either normal rockets / mines or cluster bombs.