You're stuck in traffic on a rainy day. Positioning yourself between the cars ahead and behind you, avoiding collision with the merging vehicles, occasionally reading street signs; these things don't require skill so much as a sort of passive awareness. It's not your first time in traffic. You know the drill. It's a test of patience – not because it's difficult, but because it's boring, and with all the rain, it's kind of hard to see. Nothing good on the radio. Nothing fun to look at. It's a long drive home.
Playing Big Town Shoot Out feels kind of like that. It functions, it involves a certain amount of skill and it isn't the worst thing you could do with your money and free time, but there are so many better options out there.
The shooting gallery genre, to which Big Town Shoot Out definitely belongs, is one that works especially well on the Wii thanks to its slick pointer controls, but the developers seemed to have forgotten to add any of the fun or excitement that makes its carnival game counterparts so successful. Part of the problem is that Big Town looks and feels like a small game that's been stretched to fit the screen; its ugly, compressed menus and muffled soundtrack set the tone for the gameplay, which is equally emotionless and perfunctory in its execution. If you're going to make a game entirely based around shooting targets, the targets had better prove satisfying to shoot and the environments encasing them had better be memorable. None of these things hold true, however, its joyless presentation and minimal level of challenge that lasts too long doing nothing to soften the blow.
The presentation, by the way, isn't just bad – it actually hinders your ability to play successfully. The generic little 2D cowboys that you're tasked with shooting are highly pixelated and blurry, making it genuinely difficult to determine their features from a distance lest you hit a generic little 2D innocent bystander by accident. The visual murkiness is even more of a problem in levels where you're tasked with shooting matching playing-cards, as the suits and numbers are difficult to make out.
Big Town Shoot Out was published by Performance Designed Products, and it's done just that: released a product that performs. It functions. It exists. It just doesn't do much more than that. It expects us to be thrilled with the idea of a shooting gallery game rather than giving us a worthwhile entry in the subgenre with any legitimately thrilling gameplay. You could conceivably play the game with up to three other friends but, honestly, your friends deserve better.