Review: Call Of Juarez: Bound in Blood
I like me a good modern western movie. Tombstone, The Quick and the Dead, 3:10 to Yuma are all fantastic movies. Call Of Juarez: Bound in Blood is a prequel to the original game and feels like it could have been a good western flick. The story starts off with the main characters Thomas and Ray McCall in the civil war fighting for the south. Certain events happen and they end up deserting their regimen to save their home. After that, they set out find wealth and riches to rebuild their home from the war. Of course the commanding officer doesn't like the fact they abandoned their posts declares that he will hunt them down for however long it takes. After a few year of causing chaos in the wild west, the McCall brothers end up running into a leader of some Mexican bandits named Juan with his lovely woman Marisa by his side that talks of the treasure of Cortez. The McCall's get caught up in this legend of the great treasure and the lovely Marisa and of course craziness ensues. Every level has both McCall's playing side by side but you get to pick which brother you want to play as except for a few levels where you are forced to play as one or the other. Thomas is good with ranged weapons, can use a lasso to climb up to certain places and can use a bow whereas Ray can wield 2 pistols at the same time, kick down certain doors and use dynamite. I played through the whole game as Thomas cause I love using the rifle. I can't see playing the game through again just to play as the other brother since there is little difference in the levels playing as either brother. The weapons sound and feel like it should for western era firearms. Each brother also has a special power up called "Concentration Mode" or what translates in modern days as Bullet Time. They handle it a little different in this game with each McCall having a slightly different control mechanic for Concentration Mode. As Thomas, your reticule auto targets the enemies in range and you have to flick the right analog stick to shoot (like in westerns when the cowboy uses his palm of his hand to slam down on the hammer of the gun). Ray, on the other hand, has you aiming the reticule to mark the targets and then it auto shoots for you when the timer runs out. In order to get this mode activated, you have a meter in the top right corner and you fill it by killing enough enemies in a row. Once filled, you have 60 seconds to activate it. It's the developers way of limiting how often you use it since it is an overpowering move.
For the boss fights, the game has you do a showdown in the middle of the area. The view has the camera behind your character focusing on your right arm and your holster with the enemy on the other side of your view. You have to move left or right to keep your enemy in view while using the right analog stick to keep your hand close to your gun. When you hear a bell go off, you must do some magical motion to grab your pistol and shot the guy before he shoots you. I say magical since I could never get it to work right so the times I beat it was from some sort of Voodoo magic or luck. Probably the worst part of the game which is a shame cause it should be the best part. At least the controls feel good through the rest of the game for anyone who plays FPS games and are easy to fall right into and feel at home.
Graphics are good at some points but getting up close to things you then see how bland they are. Since the game is mostly fast paced, you won't spend too much time looking at the all that closely. The character models are pretty good and don't seem that stiff in motion although there is a lack of face expressions. Explosions are well done with all the dust and particles flying around hindering your vision for a brief period. There are some screen tearing issues that annoyed me but I tried to look past that since the game was fun after all.
The level designs were done well in that it made me feel like I was in a western movie. You have the deserted towns, open fields, mountain tops, etc. It never once felt like I was staring at the same level over and over again. I was a little disappointed in that the lasso is really a gimmick and you barely use it. They could have done a lot more with that had they chose to. Also what the hell is up with the load times for checkpoints? There are at least 5 in each level and its a pain in the butt for you when you are playing and the game pauses the action to save the checkpoint. Takes away from the flow of the game and is a very bad flaw.
The sound in this game was great. Everything sounded like it should have. Explosions, gunshots, bows, horseback riding all sound like it should in a western. Voice acting was a little better than average with some of the characters sounding like they are in the wrong game. I loved the banter between the McCall's as you play through the game. It can go from complimenting you on a good shot to ridiculing you on aim. I am glad they didn't go crazy with the cursing since it would feel out of place if they did. The music choices felt right even though it was a little to modern rock like at times. It seemed to fit like it would if this were a movie instead.
Not sure why the developers didn't include Co-op since this game is built like it should have it with the AI playing along side you through the whole game. The AI is good enough to be an asset in the game which is a surprise since most AI partners tend to hinder more than help. The game also opens up letting you complete side missions for extra cash in certain parts of the game. To me, they seemed to go by way to fast. Still fun to do to earn that extra bit of cash needed to upgrade your weapons. Sometimes you can find really good weapons from dead enemies so keep a lookout for those. Also, there are collectibles in the game (89 in all) that unlock things like artwork for the game and extra back story. Multiplayer is really fun which surprised me. I thought it was going to be your standard deathmatch and free for all game styles. They do have that but also such modes as Manhunt and my favorite Wild West Legends. In this mode, one of the teams has several things to complete. Some are optional. The opposing team has to prevent them from completing the objectives within a time limit. The cool thing about this mode is that the levels you play are based on Historical Events. How awesome is that?
Great game despite its shortcomings and the best western game I have played in a long time. With the good story and fun gameplay alongside multiplayer, this game is worth a play through.