Review- Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
“REACH FOR THE SKY, VARMINT!!!!”
The Wild West: untamed, vast, legendary.
Deep in its rich history lies a diverse array of legends. Bandits, criminals, outlaws. Each legend entrenched with their own story, morals, and values. Those that took on a life of pure freedom, those that sought greed, and those becoming the very criminal they formerly fought against. Their names and actions have rung through history.
And in Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, you get to face them head on!
As Silas Greaves, bounty hunter, you have the special opportunity of facing down the toughest faces of the Wild West in your own quest.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a return to form for the franchise. Stung by the release of the critically panned Call of Juarez: The Cartel (the franchise’s modern take on the key mechanics), Call of Juarez: Gunslinger makes a fresh, new return back to the Wild West, creating an exciting downloadable game with plenty of action and a very solid story.
The year is 1910, and the Wild West is closing up. Silas Graves, a bounty hunter, walks into a town and heads straight to the local tavern. He is met by a diverse array of people. The people are intrigued by his name and wish to know the past experiences he’s had out in the West. Silas has shot his gun in many shootouts and dueled against many infamous faces over the past forty years. Silas sits down, pours a glass of whisky, and begins the telling of his quest, starting with Billy the Kid.
The story is pretty exciting and told very well through talented voice actors and an interesting story telling mechanic. As the game is a flashback, you’ll see settings, enemies, and levels change right in front of you as Silas narrates each episode. For example, in one level, you enter an area that is clear, colorful, and vivid. But as Silas narrates, he will mentions the area being foggy and the vibrant autumn brush. You’ll quickly see the area deteriorate into fog and the autumn brush forming. It creates an interesting story dynamic that fits very well into the Wild Western setting. Part of the charm of the Wild West involves the telling of many famed tales by mouth. This direction is most interesting. At times, the game will slow down and form a bronzed overlay cover to illustrate an important moment in a level. There is a few times where that interrupts the pacing of a level but it does not ruin the game at all. Through the approximately 8-hour campaign, you’ll come across a variety of nicely detailed levels with plenty of bad guys to shoot. You’ll wield some hard-hitting weapons and face-off against legendary foes with violence straight from a Quentin Tarantino movie. It is a nice, satisfying single player campaign. When it concludes, you can engage in a full-fledged arcade mode, with waves of bad guys to shoot at and a score multiplier to focus on.
The game play is thrilling and a total blast. Call of Juarez has distinguished itself by focusing on Wild West weaponry and combat in an accessible first-person format. There are no night-vision goggles, M4 carbines, or quick-scoping. Just the true grit and steel of you and your weapon. The game plays in a ferocious arcade setting that is fast and exciting! Challenging enemies put up a fight but are no match for your aggression and shooting. The weapons are powerful and a finely balanced. The sound of your enemies falling to your fire and hearing the penetrating splatter of blood is gruesome but satisfying, especially in tight firefights. As an arcade type game, players are rewarded for particular skill shots. Headshots, melee kills, long distance kills, dynamite kills, and others play into the score multiplier and your overall score. They also play into your XP meter, eventually earning you a skill point. You can use your skill points to unlock dual wielding sawed-off shotguns, more ammunition, and small perks such as time slowdown when aiming down the sights of your rifle.
Silas also has access to two unique skills: Death sense and blind eye. As you dispatch enemies, your blind eye meter builds. When triggered, enemies move slower, the background is green, but your enemies are red. In this mode, enemies are more vulnerable to gunfire and you can move faster to doge incoming fire. It is most effective when used against groups. Death sense allows Silas a chance to dodge an incoming killing shot. On your last breath, players will see a single enemy highlighted, and the bullet that will kill you will be seen leaving the gun. You have moments to dodge left or right to avoid the bullet. If you dodge it, your health is restored and you can fight back. And if you dodge wrong, of course, you are dead. The sense rebuilds over time.
As you will be facing off against the West’s’ most punishing foes, you are challenged to duel against the meanest shooters the West has ever known. In duels, players have to focus their sights on their foe and properly draw their hand with enough speed. You can fire first but you will remember as a coward. There is honor in returning fire when your foe draws first. Lightening fast precision is necessary. You will die a few times but when you finally nail the son a b*tch, you feel pretty darned good. There are a few boss fights were you will have to get up close and personal and doge their incoming fire in standard arcade fights as well. And, you get access to the vicious Gatling gun, where you can mow down foes. It’s a nice array of satisfying variety.
Presentation wise, the game is fresh. The levels are dynamic and coated with an interesting use of cell-shaded visuals and colors. It looks just right. Not cartoony but not seriously toned realistic. Just right. There is a nice use of “western” colors like orange, yellow, and red as well. When your enemies fall, there are massive blood streaks reminiscent of Django: Unchained (The ‘D’ is silent), which punctuate the sheer viciousness of gunfights with no rules. The music is satisfying and the story cut scenes are well done. Also, the development team encourage you to look into the extra menu and observe the “ Truth nuggets” you collect along the way. Each nugget presents a true, real-life fact of the Wild West, lending the teams’ authenticity and dedication to game you are playing.
For just $15, you get a fully realized and very entertaining downloadable first person shooter. From its interesting western settings to its ferocious, lawless gunfights and interesting story perspective, this is a game that is a breath of mountain air in a sea of militaristic shooters. Don’t miss this one!
Rating Score: 4/5
Developed by Techland
Published by Ubisoft
Available on: PlayStation Network and Xbox Live