Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ante Up, Boys and Ghouls

Activision has a new game out called Gun, which sounds like a serviceable if not spectacular shooter.

What makes this Western-themed FPS interesting is Last Call Poker, the elaborate promotional alternate reality game, or ARG, that was built to promote it. The folks behind LCP are 42 Entertainment, which did the I Love Bees ARG for Halo 2.

The Last Call Poker site includes a real, free poker room but also a parallel puzzle game about unlocking the backstory of the Activision game. The notion is that everyone in LCP, including you, is dead.

Dead doesn't mean eternally resting, though. You and your colleagues in the hereafter have bones to pick and missions to solve.

One nifty element is how the LCP site's visual style -- front page, poker room background, your avatar's clothing -- changes as the narrative has moved back in time to Gun's setting, from present day to WWII Europe to Prohibition to Deadwood.

Part of Gun's backstory follows the bloody history of the antique Navy Colt in question as it slam-bangs into the lives of cross-dressing orphans, OSS agents, Ambrose Bierce, Calamity Jane, Al Capone, and more. A second thread is a Tarantino-y, LA-set action drama about Lucy, poker ace, sometime chauffeur, and rightful owner of the gun in the present day, and all the colorful and homicidal characters hot on her trail.

Pretty entertaining stuff, even if the performances and writing tend to be a bit over the top. You can catch up on the previous episodes at the site.

As the community solves the puzzles, bits of story are revealed through photos, text, fake recorded phone calls, comic book pages, video snippets, and even live events, the last of which is being held this Saturday in a Hollywood cemetery. The event will feature a tournament of "Tombstone Hold 'Em," a poker game using headstones as pocket cards.

Should be interesting...

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