There has not been a decent wild west style game since Outlaw first showed its worth on the PC almost 10 years ago. While the reviews of the game back then were not all that praising, it had a massive amount of fans. I have to say that I am very surprised it has taken this long for a new shooter based on the Wild West, but Call of Juarez gets it right almost all the way throughout its long levels.
Fight your way through the Wild West, birthplace of the term “shooter,” in the only game to give you an authentic look into the Old West and all its glory, through the eyes of the hunter and the hunted.
South Texas. 1882. Billy Candle has just turned 19 and he stands accused of murdering his mother and stepfather. Hot on his trail is Reverend Ray McCall, his stepfather’s brother and an infamous gunfighter who believes the Lord has chosen him to be Billy’s judge, jury and executioner. Call of Juarez is an epic western adventure about vengeance, survival and the search for a legendary lost treasure.
Call of Juarez doesn't do anything much differently to any other First Person Shooter game, but what it does right straight from the beginning is draw you into the atmosphere of being in the Wild West and taking part in some very cool shootouts but it is the excellent decision to base the game on two characters in which the game alternates between during the various levels. While I can understand that this doesn't sound much different to what other games have done in the past.
The two characters that you play during the game are the very cool and fantastically voiced Reverend Ray, he is a preacher who is trying to repent his sins that he managed to gain in his past life. Next you play as Billy, an orphan who has been searching for the Gold Of Juarez. Billy is on the run from Reverand Ray who is trying to hunt him down for the murder of his parents. As stated earlier, while you alternate between the two characters, the reason it is done so well is that most of the time you are very close on back of Billy and this means there is always levels full of tension, it is also very cool to see the different types of character do different things at the same points in the levels, one may creep past enemies, while Ray will just blow them all away and can then read a section from his bible to them as they lay there dying!
While Billy's missions do have a lot of focus on stealth, it isn't as good as has been seen in games like Splinter Cell or even Thief, the good thing though is that the game doesn't just have you doing that, you tend to explore more and hear more of the story when the levels are played as Billy, he also makes good use of an Indiana Jones style whip for getting up trees and across rocky gaps. The levels in which you are also riding on a horse or using a bow and arrow are all done with such love of cowboy and Indian movies it is hard not to enjoy them even when there are some annoyances such as relying on quick saves to get you through the levels.
Ray's missions on the other hand are more about taking out your vengeance on the people who get in your way, you do so much shooting that the adrenaline just keeps flowing. The best feature used in the game though is the Slow-Motion mode that is done when you draw your pistols from the holsters, each pistol then has its own separate aiming reticule, moving slowly towards the center of the screen, each gun gets fired separately with left or right mouse buttons meaning you can take out a whole host of enemies at one time if you can time it right.
The game also has many chase scenes, from chasing a speeding stagecoach to rides through and into a mine. There is also a train level which was one of my favorites and even better there are some levels in which you have to actually think about what to do next, something that doesn't happen enough in some of the more recent First Person Shooters.
Graphics & Sound
The general performance of Call of Juarez is not as good as I had hoped, the strange thing though is that no matter what resolution I ran the game at from 1360x768 to 1920x1200 the framerate seemed to stay the same, thus I obviously stuck with the highest resolution possible. The graphics themselves tend to be excellent for the most part, although it does have a tendency to look a little shabby in some levels when compared to others. The horse riding scenes are very good and characters faces and design is great. The game seems to use HDR for lighting too, this works quite well in some scenes, especially when moving through mountains and coming out into the sun later in a level.
Sound is excellent, this is one area that I can't fault at all (well I did have problems with OpenAL, but that was fixed) the speech is first rate and I have to give my highest compliments to whoever voice Reverend Ray as I felt that his voice work is possibly the best and most fitting I have ever heard in a game and for that praise comes from someone who is usually critical when it comes to voice work.
The reason I loved Call of Juarez is that not only am I a fan of westerns, you can tell that the developers were, it is a game that makes me buzz when playing it, the speech is superb and some of the best I have heard in the last couple of years, yes it does have its problems...performance wise the game could have been a lot better and sometimes the graphics on some levels do not look quite as good as they do in other levels. The game is full of cool set pieces though, and it has turned out to be one of the few games that I have played through a couple of times and talked about to friends, so I can't recommend it anymore than that!
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