RPG Index: Single player Role Playing Games

Monday, 8 July 2013

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

Having never played a Call of Juarez title to date, I didn't know what to expect when jumping into Gunslinger; aside from a few very pretty looking screenshots. After diving into the playthrough and finishing it in less than 10 hours, I can attest that it's a short but enjoyable game that peaks at above average. It's not a bad game, but it lacks content and can't really stand up to FPS games of higher quality.

A screenshot of robbing a train on the game Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
Trains seem to be a big focus on Gunslinger. Mostly because people like to rob them.

Genre: FPS, Adventure
Release Date: 21st May, 2013
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Score: 7/10
Similar Titles: Red Dead Redemption, Desperados, GUN
Worth Playing: Definitely, you can run through the whole game in a day and it's a fairly enjoyable arcade style shooter.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

The Good:

  • Pretty straightforward wild west shooter with a very arcade style feel.
  • Quick to pick up, and fun to play. Basic RPG elements.
  • Nice graphics, authentic story & brilliant atmosphere.

The Bad:

  • Almost too simplistic, there's nothing complex about this Call of Juarez game.
  • If you're looking for a Wild West game, you go for Red Dead Redemption first.
  • Very short, not long enough to really be considered a full game.
A western bar shootout screenshot from Call of Juarez
Someone told me to pay for my beer, the only valuables I could spare was lead.

Since playing Red Dead Redemption and loving it, I've been looking for a Wild West shooter to sink my teeth into. It also made me realize the raw potential for cowboy video games and how awesome they can be. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger definitely has an authentic feel to it, the graphics do justice to the old West, bringing hectic saloon shootouts and some of the biggest names from the history books. In fact, it was the graphics that made me buy the game in the first place (that and the temporary deal on steam). As you can see in some of the images, Gunslinger is very pretty and colorful. Especially if you have a weakness for cel-shading and awesome comic introductions like me.

One of the comic character introduction scenes from Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
I love it when they introduce characters through comics strips like this.

Silas Greaves is a famous bounty hunter, driven purely by revenge. Years after hunting countless targets and never missing his mark, Silas wanders into the Bull's Head saloon. The patrons of the bar ask him about his exploits over the years, quoting excerpts from a book about his past. For the low price of a few drinks, Silas agrees to tell his tale how it truly happened. Thus, the game begins. Silas narrates his story as you play it, slinging bullets alongside legends like Billy the Kid and Butch Cassidy.

The best part about Gunslinger is it's very atmospheric. Combining lush visuals with wonderful narration and historic characters from the Wild West will quickly garner your attention and push you to play the game until it's finished. As Silas depicts the story it unfolds, often he exaggerates the situation, which forces you to fight off more enemies than you can handle. With a quick reprimand from one of the people listening to his story, Silas changes the plot; which shifts the environment and enemies around you. Sometimes you'll be forced to play the same area over again with a different twist, which is a very intriguing and often amusing mechanic.

Screenshot of a ramshackle town Blacksmith on Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
It's surprisingly easy to get hit and die, which is why cheat death is so useful.

Although the story is immersive and interesting to watch unfold, the action feels like it's missing something that I just can't quite figure out. It's a very arcadey FPS, which is good. You can run and gun very effectively, and most of the time cover isn't that important. Killing enemies fills up your bullet time bar, giving you a few seconds of slow motion when needed. You can even cheat death by dodging a bullet that is going to kill you once every 30 seconds. Cheating death is really useful, it saved my ass more than anything else. It's also nice to see an RPG element incorporated into play, you can gain extra experience by shooting people in the head or chaining together kills.

There are also 'nuggets of truth' scattered around each level, which net you a nice exp reward and some snippets about real historic events. Levelling up allows you to place points in one of three talent trees, all of which are pretty well designed and give you some cool perks. It's not very deep or comprehensive, but choosing how to upgrade your character is fun and useful. Especially the dual wield talent. Who the hell doesn't want to blast away bandits with two revolvers? Nobody, that's who.

A really pretty visual from the game Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
You have to admit it looks pretty, especially for cel-shaded.

Each level is fairly unique, and you blast your way through caves, up mountains and even moving trains. There's a good variety. Most enemies you encounter are the same, simple chest or head shots bring them down immediately, but there's a few grenadiers and armored shotgunners that can put the hurt on you if you don't take them out first.

The AI is hella' stupid though, the only thing they have going for them is reasonable accuracy on hard. At least there's a lot of them, although they clump together in packs becoming easy dynamite targets.

Silas Greaves is quite a cool character, which is definitely a plus for this title. He narrates the story with charisma, and some amusing jokes. As you learn about his past, you can come to grips with his motives and justify his actions. The game makes a solid statement about how the history books might not always tell the true story.

Surrounded by enemies Call of Juarez
You're not always on the side of good, sometimes you have to blast your way through simple folk who are on a witch hunt.

Undoubtedly my favorite part of the game is the dueling minigame. At the end of each level, you get to test your gun against one of the best in the West, in a duel to the death. It's a simple face off. Whilst Silas and his opponent stare each other down; acting like true cowboys, you have about 20 seconds to keep your hand prepared to draw the revolver whilst aiming your crosshair on your opponent. When the timing comes down to the crucial moments, you can either attempt to shoot them before they draw and kill them dishonorably, or wait for him to pull his weapon and then draw faster. It's a really cool side game, and really satisfying if you can draw and shoot your opponent in less than a second.

The story of Silas Greeves from the game Call of Juarez
Silas Greaves is a pretty cool guy, young or old he's a boss.

I'd like to say Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a fantastic game. It's fun, addictive, and it doesn't have any features that irritate or slow you down. But it's just mediocre. All the mechanics and features are recycled from other games, admirably but lacking innovation.

There are barely 3 different guns to use. It's way too short, it won't even take up a day of your time. If you want a casual FPS without any thinking just some bullets and wild wild West action, then buy Red Dead Redemption. If you finished Red Dead and want more, only then should you consider purchasing Gunslinger.

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