The Wild West. Many people remember that it was a time full of cowboys, guns and old-fashioned showdowns. So, does Call of Juarez Bound in Blood cover all these perimeters that made the old west so great? You bet it does! This is an all out action packed FPS that teaches us that it’s better to shoot first than ask questions later. Oh, you can even use dynamite!
Call of Juarez Bound in Blood is the follow-up to the to the 2006 Xbox 360 original. It is a prequel however, focusing on the lives of the McCall brothers Ray and Thomas. The story starts off during the American Civil War when the two brothers are in the Confederacy army fighting against the Union. Alas, upon hearing that their homeland in Georgia is being overrun by Union forces they disobey direct orders and desert the army. This starts off a rollercoaster ride of events of finding treasure, a love triangle and trying to make things right.
You get the opportunity to choose which of the two brothers suit more of your respective playing style before the start of each mission. Ray is the older of the two brothers, and he specialises in more close quarters combat, preferring more in-your-face weaponry such as a shotgun, dynamite, duel wielding pistols and even the chance to walk around with a Gatling gun. Thomas (who looks remarkably like Christian Bale in the film 3:10 to Yuma) is more agile and stealth-like. His arsenal includes a sniper rifle, throwing knives, a bow and - cowboy favourite - a lasso.
It is very satisfying that Techland has been heavily inspired by westerns and more modern action-packed blockbusters. The production values in this game are all Hollywood-type quality and will see you partake in spaghetti-style western gunfights and at the beginning of the game an all-explosive war. Not to mention there’s horseback riding and intense on-the-rails shootouts and chases.
Graphically, Call of Juarez Bound in Blood is presented in full 1080p and is one of the better-looking PlayStation 3 games around. Especially since most PlayStation 3 games are only output at a mere 720p resolution, you will instantly notice the difference when playing this game - if you have the TV to show it off, of course. The game sees you battle across a range of urban and natural environments, including dust-filled ghost towns and beautiful forests.
Gameplay-wise, it is not dissimilar to other shooters out there, and takes heavy inspiration from both Killzone 2 and Call of Duty 4. Some might say that Killzone 2’s cover system was a little clunky, considering that crouch and cover were shared by the same button. Bound in Blood has its own version of a cover system that is both smooth and does not interfere with the gameplay. You automatically enter cover whenever you hide behind any flat surface and the controls are simple, requiring the use of the left stick to peek out and the right stick to aim.
As innovative as the cover system is, it is not as cool as the game’s boss battles. Disagreements between the characters are settled in the old-fashioned way: one-on-one in a quick-draw duel to the finish. Cinematically, showdowns are very tense, with the two combatants circling one another before the bell ring prompts you to make the first and final fatal move. Duels are difficult to master and you will die a number of times before you will get the timing correct. You will be relieved and satisfied once you finally down your first opponent. It took me about a good 15 minutes before I struck at the precise moment.
As positive as this game is, it still has its fair share of faults. The game’s main problem is its inconsistent collision detection. When I shoot someone in the face point blank with a shotgun they should be dead, not continuing their assault on me! Overall, though, the aforementioned example was only few and far between. At least you can pick up chairs and knock baddies out with one hit if all else fails.
Another not so great idea is the game’s main gimmick, called concentration mode. You will earn concentration when you kill six enemies, which will then allow you to go all trigger happy in a bullet-time like effect. When you do get the opportunity to use it you will have already killed most of the enemies. I thought this was kind of a bummer as mostly everything else in the game ran smoothly.
All in all, Call of Juarez Bound in Blood has a lot to offer. Great, fun gameplay mixed with likeable characters, an unpredictable plot-twisting storyline and jaw dropping visuals makes up for a high-quality title. Although the game can be completed at around seven hours, it will satisfy any FPS junkie, occupying the time between now and the release of Modern Warfare 2. Go give this title a lasso spin. You won’t be disappointed. Yee Haaaw!
By Damian Seeto