Who Shot Johnny Rock? is a laser-gun game, and it comes with all the advantages and shortcomings notorious with this type of genre. They are in a gaming bracket of their own, and you can’t compare them with first-person shooters, or adventure games, although laser-gun games exist a little in both worlds. If you keep that in mind you can enjoy the game, and if you know the genre and appreciate it then you will certainly enjoy the effort put into Who Shot Johnny Rock?.
There really aren’t graphics in this game, at least nothing like in Doom 3 or Half-Life, here you find that the visual representation is actually a live-action interactive movie. This is not a negative criticism either, it’s well known that making a movie game is not easy and making it playable is even harder. You simply can’t compare WSJR with other conventional games, it exists as its own gaming entity. You need to have a good eye against the characters that approach you; you won’t always know who’s an enemy and who’s not. If you judge the interactive movie in graphical terms, then it’s a well done without ever being visually impressive. The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously either, it’s a tongue-in-cheek detective comedy, and is often both funny and wacky.
The same thing applies to the sound. But the difference here is that you can judge the sound by directly comparing it to other games; sound effects and music are elements found in both movies and games. The quality of the sound is not outstanding (it’s certainly no Call of Duty), but you can easily distinguish sound effects and voices. The voices are a critical part of these types of games because, for the majority of the experience, that’s what you hear the most and they’re directly responsible for projecting the story. The sound effects can help you when knowing who to shoot and when. They are not extremely varied, but they get the job done.
When it comes to laser-gun games, you either like ?em or you don’t, especially since you have very little control over things happening on screen. The game is limited to shooting bad guys and choosing where to go next on the map – with a bit of investigative ability thrown in there, too. But it’s not as satisfying as the gameplay on a title such as Half-Life or the Splinter Cell series. That simplistic approach is part of the charm of laser-gun games; they keep things simple and fun, period. In many ways Who Shot Johnny Rock? achieves its goal admirably, but it has to be said that even for a laser-game the gameplay isn’t always as effective as it should be.
Nowadays, one of the most popular gaming genres is the first-person shooter, but laser-gun games are the father of the FPS. And it’s good to see that the genre is still alive and kicking, but for all those younger gamers where the oldest game they know is Half-Life they probably haven’t played a game like Who Shot Johnny Rock?. No problem, you don’t need too much knowledge or gaming skill to enjoy this game. Just have fun with the crazy presentation; the movie itself can be really funny. And it’s fun to do some real(ish) shooting, even more so with a laser-gun. For nostalgia freaks, like myself, the game will bring back some arcade memories, making it more interesting than for other gamers.