Call of Juarez: Gunslinger Review
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a first-person shooter developed by Techland, released for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3. I took a look at the PC version of the game, and must say, Techland is doing things right. To begin, if you couldn't tell based on the name, Call of Jaurez is set in the wild west, and you play as the namesake gunslinger and bounty hunter Silas Greaves. The story mode is somewhat interesting, without spoiling too much: the player gets to run through a variety of old west locales, towns, prairies and more while meeting up with famous western icons like Billy the Kid and Butch Cassidy.
The old west in the game is very stylized. Which I think lends itself well to the fictionalized glorified version of the west presented in the game. The cell-shaded graphics have a very comic-book feel, and it fits well with the comic-book style story of larger than life cowboys and outlaws.
The game is not an exploratory affair. Rather, think of the missions as linear episodes, battling through waves of enemies, perhaps meeting up with an NPC at an objective, and typically topping off with a climactic dual. The dual mechanic is a little hit and miss with me. Basically, the way a dual works is you sort of stare down your opponent, all the while trying to ready yourself to draw your gun by increasing your character's focus. They throw in some extra rules, such as dishonorable kills where you pull your gun before your opponent does that costs you points, but I had way more fun blasting waves of enemies than waiting for a cowboy to draw his pistol at high-noon.
Speaking of blasting waves of enemies, it's strangely satisfying. The whole game feels a lot like the Borderland series if I may make the comparison. The enemies are not particularly intelligent. Sure, they'll take cover behind a box or a wall, but just as likely they'll sprint towards the nearest barrel of TNT which you can detonate in explosive fashion. I think this might be the ticket to the satisfaction, the way the enemies die. The game has a slow down effect, and enemy deaths are a bit visceral, with blood spatter and flying bodies without being so gruesome to take away from the atmosphere. The "bullet-time" meter you can build up with kills helps you string together combos which ties in with the games addictive point system.
The idea of quick episodic jaunts through the old west are what make arcade mode really shine over the story mode. This did keep me coming back for more, at a couple minutes per run through per level, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger has a great pick up and play feel, and it has a nice leaderboard system so players can compete against their friends in their favorite levels. The level designs in arcade mode have a nice rhythm to them, as you pick up the flow of the level, you can really watch your score shoot up. Though everything is very linear, this does lend some replayability, along with hidden unlockables that unravel some of the back-story and help you level up your character and unlock the upgraded weapons. But it's still not more than hopping into a side room or the like, not the typical scavenging that is becoming common in a lot of the action and action/rpg hybrids games of today.
The game isn't perfect, much like the dual mechanic I wasn't a fan of, the weapons at your disposal are quite limited. You have your basic rifle, shotgun, pistol and upgraded versions, but on the other hand, the weapons in the game are satisfying. Nothing beats throwing a stick of dynamite from behind a wall, hearing the bad guys scream and your point total shoot up. The other big issue I had was the groan inducing story mode, with cut-scenes that just made me want to jam on the skip button and get back to the action. Not to say I don't appreciate a story, I have sat through my share of JRPG's, but Call of Jaurez: Gunslinger really falls flat in the story and voice acting department in my opinion.
Still, despite the drawbacks, which are minor in my opinion considering the game is a pretty awesome way to spend a little bit of time. I would give Call of Jaurez: Gunslinger a hearty recommendation.
Call of Jaurez: Gunslinger Can be picked up on Steam for $15.00 USD and either through Xbox Arcade or PlayStation network.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.