If there's one game genre that is sorely underrepresented, it's the western. Every year we get dozens of open-world games and first person shooters, but few developers ever consider a western. However, that's not to say that there aren't ANY western games out there. Whether it's an open-world game in the style of Red Dead Redemption, an FPS, or some type of fantasy hybrid, the western has been represented in the past. But all of them are great. Some aren't even good. Some are just downright bad.
These are the five best western games, and the five worst.
10 Best: Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption is one of the greatest video games of all time, let alone the greatest western. Like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (or any Sergio Leone film, really), Red Dead Redemption represents the pinnacle of the western genre in gaming. Featuring a host of beloved characters, a massive open world, and that glorious Rockstar gameplay you've all come to expect, RDR is the quintessential western. Whether you're acting like a cowboy and hunting down wanted criminals, being a criminal yourself, or just riding your horse through the idyllic countryside, RDR is always a rootin' tootin' blast.
9 Worst: Back To The Future Part III
We commend Back to the Future Part III for its willingness to try a new genre, in this case the western. However, the video game counterpart was nowhere near as memorable or as exciting. The game featured four levels - controlling Doc on a horse as he weaves obstacles and shoots bad guys, shooting in a target range, fighting off Buford's men with pie, and collecting speed logs while traversing a speeding train. Unfortunately, none of these gameplay elements were all that fascinating, and the result was a jumbled mess of a game.
8 Best: Red Dead Redemption 2
Is it cheating putting both Red Dead Redemption AND Red Dead Redemption 2 on here? Probably, but we're doing it anyway! After all, it really doesn't get much better than this incredible series. Upon release, RDR 2 was praised for nearly all of its aspects.
The world was among the best and most immersive we've ever seen in gaming, the story and characters were instantly memorable, and the attention to detail was simply astounding. The only drawback to the game was its gameplay, which many people thought was too slow-paced. That said, when it comes to pure immersion, no game can top Red Dead Redemption 2.
7 Worst: Samurai Western
Samurai Western was an action-adventure game released for the PS2 back in 2005. You play as Gojiro, a samurai who ventures into the Wild West in search of his missing brother and kills a lot of people along the way. While the samurai and western genre fusion was certainly interesting, the game itself left a lot to be desired. For one thing, it was unbelievably short, as it could be beaten in three to four hours. But the biggest detractor was its repetitiveness, as you would often revisit the same areas and fight the same enemies over and over and over again. A little more variety, and this could have been a good game.
6 Best: Darkwatch
Darkwatch is perhaps the greatest Western fusion in gaming. It beautifully blends elements of the western, the steampunk genre, and horror into a highly original and incredibly creative package that was hard to beat for the time. You played as the brilliantly-named Jericho Cross, a vampire who hunts other supernatural entities within the American Frontier.
The setting and bizarre characters were the game's biggest selling point, as the gameplay itself was quite familiar and unoriginal. That said, the unique blending of genres was more than enough to warrant a playthrough, as it did something that few video games had done in the past.
5 Worst: America
America was essentially an Age of Empires rip-off set in post-Civil War America. It played similarly to the aforementioned game, and you could control settlers, outlaws, Mexicans, or Native Americans. The only problem was that we had all played Age of Empires. Oh, and the game came across as cheap. The artificial intelligence was laughable, and the graphics were primitive for the time. The sound design was also grating to the ears, and it was clear that few resources were put into the production design of the game. It was a total mess on all accounts, and unlike its obvious inspiration, it was quickly forgotten.
4 Best: The Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail was a different kind of Western game - it was realistic! It was originally released for the Apple II back in 1985, and it served as an educational game for children to teach them about life on the titular Oregon Trail. The game was a school staple throughout the '80s and '90s and even into the 2000s, proving its longevity and legacy. Kids couldn't get enough of the game, as it wonderfully blended education with fun, which is more than we can say for a majority of educational video games. It's one of the all-time classic video games, and it has since been inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame. Yes, that is a thing.
3 Worst: Gunfighter: The Legend Of Jesse James
You would think that a video game about the life of Jesse James would be interesting. Well, if Gunfighter: The Legend of Jesse James is any indication, you'd be wrong. Like America, the biggest problem plaguing this game was its presentation. It sounded and looked ugly, and it came across as cheap. The gameplay was also highly repetitive and extremely difficult, but not in a Dark Souls "tough but fair" kind of way. In a "this is highly unfair and incredibly frustrating" kind of way. It certainly wasn't terrible, and if you could look past its utter ugliness and unfair gameplay, you may have had a good time.
2 Best: Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath is one of those games that few people have played but which make a magnificent impression on every single person who plays it. Like Darkwatch, it was highly praised for its unique genre fusion, successfully bringing together elements of the western, adventure, FPS, and sci-fi epic. It guaranteed that every single player would find something about it to like, but the mixture was also a highly intriguing concoction in its own right. It was even compared to Halo, and often called a better single-player experience. In the mid-2000s, there were few single-player games as good, as original, and as downright bizarre as Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath.
1 Worst: Desperados 2: Cooper's Revenge
Desperados 2 was an RTT game released for Windows back in 2006. It served as a sequel to Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive, a much better game. Cooper's Revenge was certainly a disappointing sequel, and many people considered it to be a poor video game in its own right. The game was riddled with technical glitches that impeded progress, and the gameplay was a frustrating mess that often left players feeling lost and confused, unsure if they did something wrong or if the game just sucked. Let us tell you, it just sucked. When EVERYONE is confused, maybe the game itself is the one to blame...