Top-Shot is a target range simulation that is set up to look like an outdoor gun club with four different ranges: paper target, skeet shooting, outdoor range and distance range. The paper target, or indoor range, is a paper bull's eye that you can move forward or back, exactly like the one Mel Gibson shot a happy-face on in the original Lethal Weapon (remember?). The outdoor range is a bunch of building facades with pop-up assailants and innocents. The skeet shooting and distance range are, well, like skeet shooting. The paper target range works pretty much flawlessly, but not so the other two… the outdoor range has bad and good guys looking almost exactly the same, so I shot a bunch of innocent bystanders in my pursuit of justice, and the skeet shooting tends to pull the screen off-center whenever you shoot near the edges of the screen. This will result in the clay pigeons being shot partially or completely off the screen… and you really will have to be a "top-shot" to hit clay pigeons which don't show up on the screen. There is also a safety presentation included, and there is a plethora of guns available to be used. The game is a simulation, as I mentioned, and unfortunately simulates very well the fact that a target range is only fun for so long. What I mean is, even shooting clay pigeons with an assault rifle loses its novelty value after a while. Going back to "Duck Hunt" for a minute, although technically far superior, "Top-Shot" doesn't have anything to make it fun, like the ducks spiraling into the ground, or the smiling dog to gather your kills…and giggle his guts out when you miss entirely.
There is a third party Quake II conversion (freeware) out called Gun Frenzy, which we used to test the GS's versatility in the more-than-just-shooting genre. They also make a conversion for Half-Life, which we didn't test out. They can both be downloaded from http://www.glitterstream.net . The game was pretty fun, and the shooting was a blast in one-player, but anyone trying to use this in a multi-player frag-fest would get soundly spanked. Any Quake-genre player worth his grenade launcher uses a combination of mouse and keyboard to get the most out of his two hands, and you simply can't get all the control of the mouse on the GS's supplemental controller. You would need three hands to get all the controls required plus be able to use the gun (and if you had three hands, your Quake-ability would be the least of your problems). Hence, anyone trying to use the GS against competent Quake-sters would end up a bloody piñata in no-time-flat. I think it is necessary to emphasize that isn't the fault of the GS, but a limitation of any gun hardware to this point. The fact is, all a gun does is shoot, and you can't use half of your resources (one of your two hands) just to shoot. That's why Act-Labs is (wisely) marketing the GS more towards tactical simulations and strict shooting games.
The upshot of all this is, the gun itself is a great product. It is accurate, ergonomic and well-built. The problem is, like all the other gun products that have ever come out, is game support. That makes or breaks the product. Who wants to buy a hardware product that works with only one game, especially if that game is "Top-Shot", or worse yet, SNES's Super-Scope 6? Act-Labs supplied us with a list of eleven additional upcoming titles which will support the GS, including some of the big boys like EA, and there are supposedly more to come soon. When that happens, the GS promises to be a great addition to your gaming suite. And at $89, it isn't going to break the bank. So, save your pennies, and get ready to grab the GS when the supporting products start to roll out! Hmm… I wonder if I can convince the guys at Wizardworks to include a laughing hound-dog in "Deer Hunter 3"? :)
Many thanks out to Greg Hanna who co-wrote this article with me.