Hey everyone, welcome back. Quick question, do you all know the company Techland? You should if you know about two of their releases in 2011, Dead Island and Call of Juarez: The Cartel. One of these games has done well, while the other is considered one of the worst games of 2011. This brings me to my next subject, how to screw up your own franchise. The first Call of Juarez was bad, but the second game that came out in 2009 called Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood was actually a pretty good western-style shooter. Then, the third game came out with universally negative reviews. If you play it, you can tell a huge amount of time and effort went into Dead Island, and very little and I mean little like miniscule effort was put into The Cartel’s story, gameplay, and themes. The Cartel was a good idea like you’re a cop who takes out the Mexican drug gangs, but it was just not thought out or developed at all. I mean, what happened here? Very little advertisement was put into this game and we didn’t even find out about it until like 3 months before it came out. I mean, Techland should be ashamed that they released this bad game to the public. I mean it could have been the victim to budget and time, but man, the budget and time must have been small for that game. Let us now move on to this week’s review, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. When I got this from Gamefly.com, I thought it was going to be a Red Dead Redemption rip-off that was trying to be the big western shooter before Red Dead Redemption came out the next year, but it’s actually a pretty good game. It has a good story, memorable characters, and a good amount of variety. Red Dead Redemption still might be the best of the best of Western shooters, but Bound in Blood still stacks up pretty well with the best. Let’s get started then, cowboys and girls.
The story follows two brothers who were part of the Confederate army. These brothers are Ray McCall, voiced by Marc Alaimo, and Thomas McCall, voiced by Zach Hanks. After deserting the Confederates during the Civil War to save their home and family. The two brothers then take their youngest brother, William McCall, voiced by Carlos Alazraqui, down to Mexico to find the cursed treasure near Juarez. Things unfold, and the Confederate general Jeremy Barnsby, voiced by John Cygan, thinking it was the two brothers’ fault that the war was lost, goes after them for deserting the Confederate army. There are other story elements, but they are all mixed well enough to make the story enjoyable. It brought me back to western films again, like Tombstone and 3:10 to Yuma. You will pretty much play this game for the story and not for the multiplayer.
The main single player campaign has you going through multiple chapters as either Ray or Thomas McCall in a first person endeavor. You run around and shoot cowboys and Native Americans by using guns ranging from rifles, shotguns, and pistols. Each brother has his own special traits, like Ray can wield TNT and carry a gattling gun. Thomas on the other hand plays very differently by having the ability to get to areas Ray can’t get to with a lasso and wields throwing knives. Thomas is the more agile one where Ray can dish out more damage. The game brings in a decent amount of replay value by having the ability to play as two different people in the game and get different experiences. At the end of each level, you go through one-on-one gun fights where you wait for the bell to go off and try to shoot the other person first before he shoots you. These break up each level decently, but all of the one-on-one fights are the same. The multiplayer definitely had a unique mode for itself where you can play as either cowboys or criminals, that basically plays like team battles like Halo’s Red vs. Blue. It isn’t anything you haven’t seen in all of the shooters we have seen in the past few years. Sometimes, you will get the chance to do some side quests, like taking down criminals and protecting railroad workers, though these side quests are not really a big part unless you play the bonus missions that are offered at the menu screen.
The graphics don’t look that bad, actually. I think they are a bit better than The Darkness, but are not as good as Red Dead Redemption’s graphics. You definitely get a good Civil War feeling throughout the game, and the graphics help put you there somewhat. The voice acting is great with some stellar performances from actors like Marc Alaimo who makes Ray McCall a scumbag, but a likeable and memorable scumbag. The music is epic and intense at times with some great moments to support the music throughout the game. There is also a light mix of black humor put into the game, that usually comes from Ray McCall that can be really funny.
However, this shooter in the Wild West has some flaws that drag this game down from being truly great. The youngest of the McCall brother’s religious banter and how he beats you over the head with religious quotes gets really annoying. It is like you couldn’t go 5 minutes without hearing a religious verse from him. I also found the one-on-one fights can be boring since you do the same thing over and over in each fight. The smoke effects with the cannons are a nice touch, but the first time you get to use them and fire them, the smoke gets in the way and you can’t see the things you are trying to shoot at. It gets tedious since you have to shoot down boats before they get to the shore and drop off the soldiers and I can’t see the dark graphics when the smoke gets in my way. The other problem with the presentation is that the graphics can sometimes look a bit too dark and you can’t fully see your enemies at times, which results in you wasting ammo. It gets to be a pain when your enemy can shoot you and drain you of energy and you can’t even see them.
Overall, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is one of the better FPS games I have played in a long time. However, I would still pick Red Dead Redemption as the best western shooter out there. I will give this game a recommended rent though if you want to play a FPS that actually has a good story. If you want to pick it up, I bet it’s about 20 bucks, but if you can find it for cheaper, I would recommend it. It has also been recently put onto the PSN store, which I think is the attempt for Techland to get some money back from their losses of The Cartel. Let’s just hope we can get a better Call of Juarez game in the future.
This game gets a solid 8 out of 10