Cowboys. As a young kid I remember sitting and watching western movies all the time. I loved them. Sitting and watching the saturday afternoon western movie and then going out in the garden and running around with my friends playing cowboys and indians. As I got older my interests changed and I found myself running around pretending to be Han Solo (did anyone ever want to be Luke Skywalker?) or grabbing the hoover and trying to catch ghosts. But I digress, getting sidetracked by my imaginative youth. For the rest of my childhood tales you will have to wait until my autobiography comes out. Anyway, the chance arrived to play and review Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood and I thought that I had matured enough to be able to play it without resorting to running around the garden with a cap gun again.
Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is actually a prequel to the original Call of Juarez game and serves to build up the McCall family history. The story follows the two McCall brothers, Ray and Thomas, as they begin fighting in the Confederate army in Georgia during the Civil War. Things take a turn however when the brothers have to desert from the army when they hear that their home and family is under threat from the advancing Union Army. Arriving too late, the brothers instead decide that all will be well again in their world, if they can just find the legendary Juarez treasure. No problem then.
Right from the first minute, when you are thrown into the thick of the American Civil War, you are struck by the grittiness of the game. Its hard, dirty and has more testosterone flying around than an annual Chuck Norris is better than Vin Diesel convention. The game does a great job of creating the right atmosphere. Through the 15 missions, the player can mostly choose between the two brothers to play, depending on their play style. Ray is your up close and personal kinda guy, with his twin pistols and his dynamite, whereas Thomas is the more thoughtful “shoot from a distance” character, sporting a rifle and lasso. Whichever character you choose does not make much difference to the story, only occasionally will Thomas’ path take him across the rooftops, where Ray fears to tread.
Gameplay is pretty much what you would expect from a western based FPS, lots of chasing and being chased, whilst shooting anything that moves. Adversaries include the standard bandits, law men, Apache and their rather annoyed commanding officer from the Confederate army. The game is not too difficult, although at times I found that the positioning of the checkpoints was frustrating, and the sharpshooters were, at times, a damn good shot. What the game really needed though, was a co-op mode, either online or local. Given that the two main characters are more or less inseperable, it would have been the perfect game to work through with a buddy. The inclusion of a western based Bullet time, known as Concentration mode, is a great idea. As you kill the badguys (or goodguys?) you fill an onscreen revolver. Once filled, concentration mode can be activated, allowing the player to unleash a torrent of bullets with amazing accuracy towards their foes. The cover sytem, where the player can press up against cover and take a few quick shots with minimal risk of being shot back, was not exactly perfect, but adequate.
Take the game online to play with up to 11 other players in a selection of multiplayer modes. From the standard deathmatch to the western equivalent of cops and robbers, good gameplaying is rewarded with cash for upgrading or unlocking playable characters. These characters offer a wide range of weapons and skills which will allow the player a different experience depending which they choose.
Overall, the game had a few glitches, and the missing co-op mode was baffling. It currently stands as the best of only a few games in the Western FPS genre. I score this game 8 out of 10. Now, where did I leave my cap gun?
This game was provided for review by Gamersgate