Call of Juarez Gunslinger is a bullet filled romp through the wild west, told through the tall tales of a bounty hunter named Silas Greaves. It's a first person action game, with a high emphasis on gun play and precision. In all honesty, this game is brutal from the get go, and will punish you every step of the way. Every enemy is a sniper, that can hit you no matter how far away they are, dynamite and Gatling guns kill almost instantly, enemies appear and swarm out of nowhere, aiming needs to be precise or you will miss, and you die after 5 gunshots.
It isn't the hardest game ever made, by any means, but it will definitely test your ability to take cover and read the situation, instead of running and gunning. Seriously, popping out and trying to mow down a horde of gunslingers will only end with you full of bullet holes, cursing at the game over screen. You will die. A lot.
This is my first foray into the Call of Juarez world. I wasn't sure what to expect. Except for the now-and-then glance on the Playstation Network, I never heard, or even knew, that such a game existed. I have an odd fascination with cowboys, and the wild west, so this game would have been a perfect fit for me! I tried the demo on a whim, and instantly fell in love with the the wild west setting, and Silas Greave's gritty, albeit flawed and perhaps embellished, story telling.
I believe there are four games in the Call of Juarez franchise. At least, so I've heard. On Wikipedia. I wouldn't know personally, since I've never touched any of these games. The original game came out on June, 2007, followed by Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood in 2009, Call of Juarez: Cartel in 2011, and ultimately The Call of Juarez: Gunslinger in 2013 (which is the only game that doesn't connect, story wise, to the previous installments). Each game follows a different protagonist, usually on a quest for revenge, usually with lots of blood shed.
It should also be understood that I'm not a fan of FPS games. Ever since I got killed by friends in GoldenEye 64, and my cousin continually murdered me with a Sniper Rifle in Halo, I've had a love/hate relationship with the genre. Actually, make that a hate/more hate relationship. However, I eventually found that I can tolerate some FPS, and this is one such game. Here are the top features that make Ubisoft's Call of Juarez: Gunslinger a worthwhile investment for any shooter fan.
Yes. Games can be fun, and fundamental! As much as I love fantasy and fiction, it's always nice to be given a sense of place in a game world that coincides with reality. Throughout the game, you face off against some of the most notorious outlaws in wild west mythology: Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Pat Garret, Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and a whole pantheon of thieves and murderers that are new to me. I've heard some mentioned from time to time, but never really knew who or what they did.
Scattered within the dusty levels of Gunslinger are small cards known as Nuggets of Truth. Aside from awarding the player with experience points, they also convey some real life information on, not only the characters, but the setting and events that truly transpired during these epic conflicts. They're given in small snippets, so they're not overwhelming, and you have access to these truths at any point in the game by visiting the menu.
There are a lot of wonderful features, which we will get to in a moment. Alas, they wouldn't matter if I didn't care or have any motivation to move forward. The tale is told through he eyes of Silas Greaves, an old bounty hunter with a sordid past. He enters a saloon in Kansas and regails the patrons with his exploits over a simple game of cards.
While you play the game, Silas narrates, and you venture through his flashbacks, reliving the story as he tells it. The rest of the characters talk, reminisce, and ask questions about the story that is being told. This all happens while you're running and blasting away cowboys. The patrons even go as far as questioning the validity of Silas' story, causing him to amend, or clarify, what he just said.
The most interesting thing is that as they talk, the game world changes! Doorways will appear out of nowhere, trees will fall to change the scenery, bad guys will shift from rifle toting Indians to scarfed bandits, all in the name of story telling. It's a fascinating way to convey the narrative, and it was always intriguing how the story unfolded and edited itself to fit Silas' version of events.
The voice acting is also well done, especially with Silas Greaves' character. His voice is hard, rough, and just what you'd expect from a wild west gunslinger. It fits the character and the world perfectly, and I really enjoyed the voice-over narration while I played the game. It not only gave perspective on the events I was playing, but also allowed me to experience the story and watch everything unfold, without the need to stop and watch a cut scene. Sure, there are still images that serve as cut scenes before every level, but the story and gameplay wove into each other, creating an unforgettable experience of story telling and gun play.
#4 No Health Bar
Health bars are a wonderful thing, since they give you a chance to gauge how much damage you can withstand before you inevitably fall in combat. However, with health bars comes the need to buy, regulate, and save up for potions in order to stay alive.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger features a unique take on managing a potions system. Cause there isn't one. Instead, when you take on damage, your sight blurs, bullet holes appear on screen, and red splatters of blood begin to fill the edges of the television. As your wounds become progressively worse, the screen will seep with red mist, and bullet holes will riddle your sight. Then you get that wonderful death music, and the words, “You are dead. Continue?” Classic!
Without the need to throw back the, usually red, liquor to stifle death, you simply have to duck behind cover and hide. Safe from the onslaught of gunblasts behind rocks or trees, you slowly regenerate, and the screen returns to normal. Within a few seconds, you've received a second wind, and you can pop your head out, guns blazing, once again.
This isn't without flaws, since you also have a finite amount of bullets and damage that you can take. In this game? About 4 or 5 bullets will take you out. Or a few dizzying hits from a Gatling gun, or a single stick of dynamite! You need to watch yourself and take heed not to haphazardly rush into battle. Just because you can regenerate doesn't mean you're invincible.
Since dying happens often, and quickly, there is a system within the game called Sense of Death that allows you to avoid being shot. In the top right corner is an image of a skull and dice. If this indicator is filled when you are on the verge of death, the action will slow while the camera zooms into one of your opponents, and you see a blast from their muzzle. You watch their bullet fire slowly from the gun, calmly floating towards you, like it's going to rip from the screen and hit you in the face. Perspective man, it's amazing. This bullet time effect gives you the opportunity to dodge, matrix-style. You have a split second before the bullet splatters your insides.
You only need to dodge left or right. But if the bullet finds its mark, you die instantly. It's a great ability that keeps you on your toes. It triggers automatically, and can happen at any point during a stand off. A single enemy can turn the battle against you, and if you don't dodge their bullet, you're dead. If you manage to cheat death, the Sense of Death icon empties, and you need to wait for it to refill again.
While the Sense of Death is replenishing, any bullet will kill you on contact. It leaves you wide open, so it's a very double edged ability. It gives you the chance to survive, but also makes you more vulnerable, even after you manage to trigger it. Helpful, but to your detriment.
This is one of my favorite aspects of the game! Ever since Star Wars opened up the doors with duel wielding lightsabers, I've always been fascinated with being able to hold the same weapon in each hand. It gives me a sense of power that single handed weapons cannot hope to fill.
Call of Juarez Gunslinger features duel wield single handed weapons once you upgrade and unlock the “Duel Wielding Desperado” skill tree. I mean, even that name, Duel Wielding Desperado, is freaking awesome, and just screams badassitude. Switching between single or both handed is as simple as switching between weapons. The advantage of duel wielding is that you can fire more rounds in quick succession, without really worrying about ammo, since you have twice as much than you would with a single pistol.
You will literally blow away the competition with these stout boom sticks of chaos! The Six-Shooter, Quickshooter, and Ranger --which are your standard, wonderful, revolvers-- are available during duel wielding mode. A pistol in one hand just can't compare. Duel Wielding for life!
While enemies can effectively slow time so they can fire a single, deadly bullet at your skull, you have the ability to control the flow of battle. In the top left corner of the screen is the image of a revolver. As you score hits and take down baddies, this gun serves as a gauge that fills with yellow.
Call of Juarez Gunslinger features an ability called Concentration, which will deplete the revolver's bar, thus slowing down time. In this state, enemies will not only move slugishly, but bullets will also slow down, and every enemy in sight will turn red. This makes it easier to see opposition, easier to aim since you have more time to adjust your sights, and easier to kill with precision. Concentration doesn't last very long, so you need to dispatch those desperadoes quickly!
What makes this ability even deadlier is if you upgrade the Long Distance Sharpshooter tree. Within it is a skill called Executioner. Aside from slowing time and painting the opposition red during concentration, Executioner will mark the head of every visible enemy with a target. The longer you hold Execution, the more heads it'll target. Then, firing your weapon will execute a perfect headshot, on every single enemy it marked. It is glorious!