Wild Wild West: Steel Assassin


Developer & Publisher:    Southpeak Interactive

Released:   1999

PC Requirements:    P 266 MHz  CPU 3D hardware accelerator with 8 MB RAM  Windows 95/98 or NT  DirectX 6.1 (included)  64 MB RAM  200 MB free hard disk space 8xCD-ROM drive  DirectX-compatible video card with 4 MB VRAM




by gsd


This game sat on my shelf for a long time, untouched, except for the occasional dusting.  I'm not even sure how or why I acquired it.  I am not an action player (I never did get through the final shoot-out in Dust), and the reviews called this game action/adventure.  Also, the reviews were dismal, although I did read a very positive one.  Anyway, I finally decided to give the game a "shot" since it was produced by Southpeak, developers of Dark Side of The Moon, and Temujin, games I enjoyed.  I'm also a sucker for the Old West.

Introduction and Storyline

The game is obviously based upon the movie Wild, Wild, West. President Grant has called James West and Artemus Gordon (your characters) into a meeting to ask for help in foiling an assassination plot against him, one that is expected to take place at the infamous Ford Theater, five years to the day after Lincoln's assassination.  The meeting takes place on the Wanderer, the train which is your base.  It is there that you pick up the equipment you need, listen to voice recorded messages, and read memos from each other.  West's assignment is to track the old trail of John Wilkes Booth, for he suspects Booth had an accomplice.  Gordon's role is to look for clues that might link a suspicious murder with the proposed assassination plot.

Interface and Controls

The game is 3rd person perspective, point-and-click.  You control two characters, West and Gordon, although one at a time.  Double clicking will allow the character to run.  You are required to take each character through four episodes of the investigation, and then take them both through the finale.  When you are West, you tote your guns and are involved in the action part of the game. When you are Gordon, you travel unarmed and by wits alone.

The inventory system is simple.  The cursor highlights a description tag.  The left hand on the inventory bar at the bottom of the screen is where you place the item you wish to use, and simply click on where you want to use it.  If it is correct, the action symbol turns green.  Items can be combined or acted upon by placing one in the hand and clicking the other.  The right hand on the bar at the bottom of the screen is where you place your gun.  There is a "reload" button next to it that you must hit to reload your weapon.

You can access the menu at any time and adjust the difficulty settings on either the action or adventure aspect of the game as well as volume controls, etc.  Theoretically, adjusting the action to “easy” enables you to more easily dispose of your opponents, however I couldn't tell the difference…. Adjusting the adventure to “easy” gives more clues in the journal.

West travels with a health meter; 5 is optimal and 0 is dead.  However when West shoots down a gunman, searching the dead man often retrieves bandages, which are health points when used.  Dying in this game becomes routine, so it is mandatory to save often.  Saves are unlimited.  The game automatically saves after major events.

The entire interface, in fact, is very intuitive and quite easy to figure out and implement.


There is no way to completely avoid the action in this game.  When you play as West, there are a few opportunities to trick or circumvent your opponent.  But for the most part, as West you must keep your guns loaded, be quick and aim well.  When playing as Gordon, it is all trickery and avoidance, for you are unarmed even though your opponents are not.  And it was as Gordon that I had the most difficulty.  I won't describe the major hair-pulling maneuvers required to escape harm’s way and complete the episodes.  But suffice it to say I breathed a sigh of relief when I was again West, armed and able to shoot…. Imagine that!

The puzzles are varied.  Many are unique and, as mentioned, some require well-thought-out maneuvers.  The puzzles are not limited to Gordon, for in addition to the gunfights West has them as well, except they are more straightforward and traditional.

The game involves a certain amount of pixel hunting.  The cursor changes to an eyeball when something can be investigated and it changes to a grasping hand when something can be picked up or used.  However, the hot spot areas are very small and can easily be missed.
The Baltimore wharf, Ford's Theater and Old West towns are the settings that are explored and investigated.  As a character, you are required to complete one episode of investigation before beginning another.

Graphics, Acting and Sound

The background graphics are 2D rendered and very, very detailed, which creates an immersive experience.  Nothing was overlooked in making the environment as realistic as possible.  The characters, however seem stilted in their movements and although detailed, did not appear fluid.

The voice acting is excellent and the character development is quite good.  The characters come off as very believable.

Perhaps best of all are the sound effects.  From loading a gun to birds chirping, they were just about perfect.

Installation, Stability, Bugs

The game installs on one CD and plays on the other, so there is no disk swapping.  Installation was simple and straightforward. The game never crashed and I did not encounter any bugs.  My system was Dell, Pent III 933mhz, Windows 98SE.


When I first began this game, I had no idea of writing a review -- in fact I had serious doubts about even being able to finish it.  However, the more I played and got the hang of it, the easier it became.  I also became hooked on the story and developed a fondness for West and Gordon…. So I am writing a review for these reasons.  I know that this game is not for every adventure gamer, but those who don't mind a bit of reasonable action might be surprised to find this game as much fun as I did.  The traditional puzzles are actually quite easy.  The shooting was a bit frustrating at times, for it is not as precise as it might be, but it is still workable.  For me, the real challenge was the "adventure mode" where I needed to maneuver my unarmed Gordon past some mighty sticky situations.  A few, I might add, that were quite original.

Bottom line, I'm glad I played it. It was something different, and a nice break from the quiet, exploratory games I've been playing.

Final Grade:  B-

design copyright © 2004 GameBoomers Group

 GB Reviews Index