Mad Dog McCree review — April 2003, US edition

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Every Sunday, Tyler publishes a classic PC Gamer review from the '90s or early 2000s, with his context and commentary followed by the full, original text from the archived issue. This week, Mad Dog McCree is reviewed in the April 2003 issue of PC Gamer US. More classic reviews here.

For the past couple months, I've used this column to celebrate great and influential games—The Elder Scrolls: Arena, Unreal Tournament, Rayman—but not this week. This week we travel 11 years into the past, then 13 years further, to gawk at an anomaly: the second lowest review score in the history of PC Gamer (4%), beat out only by Big Brother 1 and Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude, which were both given 2% in PC Gamer UK.

Mad Dog originated in 1990 as an arcade game, and has since been released on Sega CD, Philips CD-i, 3DO, Windows, PS2, Wii, iOS, 3DS, PS3 and probably a few platforms I'm forgetting. This immensely silly game has earned a fondness—maybe just by existing for long enough—but this critical appraisal isn't swayed by sentimentality for early-nineties cheese. The game isn't good, but at least we consider it two percent better than Big Brother 1. It will always have that.

For a more recent take on Mad Dog and other games from American Laser Games, watch Richard's Saturday Video Crapshoot on the subject (embedded below).

***

Mad Dog McCree review

 
Let's just skip the pleasantries and point out that this is probably the worst idea in the history of computer gaming. Ever.

In case you missed it at the arcades back in 1990, a quick primer: Mad Dog McCree was one of those truly awful attempts to squash full-motion video and pistol-shooting together into a semi-interactive gaming experience. And "semi-interactive" is being kind. Digital Leisure already ported the game to PlayStation 2 last year, and apparently they didn't take a sound enough beating for it.

The PC version is basically an MPEG-1 video that loads automatically when you pop in the disk; no installation required. You use the mouse in place of the arcade gun and—you guessed it—click on the bad actors, err, cowboy cutthroats with beer bellies and pop guns until a sequence is (mercifully) over. There are maybe a dozen brief sequences from start to finish. Maybe it's better with a lightgun: the game is compatible with one, though how many PC gamers actually own this peripheral?

No, this isn't a case of "He's unfairly hacking on an out-of-date classic." This game was a piece of crap then, and it's an especially onerous piece of petrified crap now. It's not even worth buying to laugh at, not at $10. MDM might have worked as a freebie handout or a giveaway on a demo disc, but certainly not as a serious retail release.

It took me 10 minutes to play and beat the game on its toughest mode. That's a dollar a minute for an arcade game that wasn't worth a quarter when it first came out. I'd rather play the unpatched version of Battlecruiser 3000AD with my eyes stapled open for 24 hours straight than waste an 11th minute on this game.

What's next, a special "collector's" edition of Who Shot Johnny Rock? Wait—don't answer that.

Matthew Peckham

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We recommend: Avoiding at all costs.

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Verdict

04

Don't bother.