I'm finding it a bit odd. It's quite good, I think.
The single player is pretty straightforward stuff, though there is a complete lack of any linear gameplay. For example, you start on a ranch running a few missions, then eventually end up in a town, woohoo. I start taking jobs in town and begin work as a bounty hunter. Targets worth more alive than dead so I begin hunting. My method is to shoot the target in the leg, he just limps away. Leg shot followed by run up and hit, nope. Leg shot, hit with fist no good either. Seems that there were certain things I needed to do back at the ranch to learn to use a lasso. BUt, thats what the internet if for. Overall the missions are well spaced out and fun.
Two parts to this, free roam and game. When you first enter MP you are in a 'ghost town' as there really are no NPCs about - this is free roam. You can call your horse and go exploring, join up with buddies and form a posse. In free roam you have the vast world (and it is vast) to ride about in and find things to do - capture a fort, kill other players, hunt, and other slow time cowboy stuff. You also have the ability in any region to become wanted (either alone or with posse). To do this you simply kill a wandering law officer NPC. Then a bounty is on your head (aka police chasing in GTA). The more law you kill, the more bounty on you. Soon your presence as wanted is broadcast to all other players in the vicinity which adds a nice twist. This is fun and, to date the most interesting bit of MP I've played. I joined with a posse, took a fort, then we killed a lawman and defended our position from NPCs and other players alike.
The disadvantage of free roam may be encountered when playing alone. You will be killed by either skilled players or a posse, who will wait for your respawn nearby and kill again. I played a run the other night where there was a posse of about 6 spread out and in contact with each other. They were killing individuals and calling out the respawns. I died about 10 times in 3 minutes and eventually just logged out in frustration. I've also seen individuals with powerful weapons staying in one area, riding up all friendly like, and killing, then hunting your respawn down on horseback. All part of the game and very interesting, but it may have a tendency to go a bit OTT. Of course playing with friends and forming a posse overcomes this disadvantage.
When you leave free roam and enter game mode you jump into a revamped version of classic shooter maps - CTF, gang v gang, free for all, etc...its pretty standard stuff with different weapons. But theres a few differences.
First, all players start with the same weapons - low end revolver, low end rifle, knife. More powerful weapons are found in ammo crates on the field or picked up from kills. You've got as much chance of being an MP40 fiend as every other player. When in possession of a sniper rifle (rare) and a good perch, you can reign havoc.
Secondly, the targeting system is much like that of CoD. A quick pull of the left trigger locks target, the right trigger shoots. At first I wasn't overly impressed but the more I'm playing the more I'm liking it. It levels out the playing field to some extent. In this game there is no run and gun, you'd go down in a second. Instead you have to make use of cover, which I think makes the game feel much more like a 'western'. From base to flag may involve running 30', sliding behind a hay bale, checking the scene taking a couple rifle shots, run across to the barrel near the general store, etc... Where CoD relies on speed and brute force, this relies on route choices, use of cover, and use of appropriate weapon (you're not going to hit a far target with a revolver, and your rifle is too slow to use use up close).
Thirdly, the round beginning is fun. Starts with a standoff, your team in a line, their team in a line. A ready, set, go type cue for drawing guns and letting the bullets fly. When one full team is down, the last men standing on the surviving team have about a 10 second head start to get into the main map and take up secure positions. When playing a free for all the standoff is done in a circle. Last man standing has a few seconds to run off to try to find a good snipe perch.
Graphics are beautiful, physics are very impressive. My biggest complaint is on the fly weapon switching. Unless I'm mistaken I don't believe there is a quick key to swap weapons, a radial menu must be used which takes that dreaded 1-2 seconds of firefight time.
Reason I find it odd is probably because its quite different. The free roam is often like a ghost town and sometimes like Manhattan at noon, depending on your location. Sometimes the MP games are overloaded with people, sometimes there's 2 or 3 of you. All in all, I didn't return it and I have been putting it on for an hour or two each night. Its growing on me slowly but in a good way.
"Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?" George Bush, Jan. 11, 2000