Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
For gamers, the title Call of Juarez can bring fond memories (the original and Bound in Blood) or it can bring back repressed memories from the abomination knows as Call of Juarez: The Cartel. With Gunslinger, creator Techland has tried to get the franchise back on track. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger may be an arcade title, but in my opinion it offers up much more quality, game play, and execution than some larger, full retail games.
In Call of Juarez: Gunslinger you play as the aging Silas Greaves, who has made a name for himself by taking down the likes of Billy the Kid, Jesse James, the Dalton’s, and several other legendary names from the Old West. Of course his exploits may, or may not, be a figment of his imagination. Silas finds himself in a saloon telling his story to those around who will listen. Throughout the story Silas narrates his exploits, as well as backing up and making a few corrections to his story.
Story delivery-wise, Gunslinger plays homage to a couple other wildly popular games such as Braid and Bastion. I was a little apprehensive at the start, as I wasn’t sure how well that type of storytelling would translate to a first person shooter. However, those doubts were quickly put to rest. It works, and works very well for this game.
Like Bound in Blood, Gunslinger is a linear style corridor first person shooter. There are a total of 14 campaign missions that are for the most part fairly quick but offer up a variety of challenges along the way. Gunslinger focuses on executing fast, sharp and crisp gunplay that is very rewarding. Gunslinger offers the chance to specialize Silas in certain skills and types of combat, such as close quarter with a shotgun/pistol focus, Dual pistols, or more of a long range style with a pistol and a rifle. It also adds the ability to use Concentration after you have sufficiently built up enough points. Using it slows time, gives greater score bonuses and in a nut shell makes Silas a complete badass.
There are also three different modes wrapped into Gunslinger as well; the traditional story based campaign; Arcade mode – which forces you to use concentration mode to get the highest multiplier possible all the while taking down countless enemies; and then finally the classic Duel mode. During the campaign you duel several legendary people. Duel mode simply takes all those duels and puts them into one package for you to conquer.
Where Gunslinger really shines, and if I am being totally honest surprises me the most, is the overall story narrative. I was expecting a first person shooter with a relatively simple story that was just a way to put the player in front of more bad guys to shoot. However, the story and delivery here is in a word – phenomenal. It’s a story about what one man will go through to enact revenge for an act against his family. One especially poignant moment is when Silas is climbing the side of a mountain in the rain all while singing a song about death. It was literally one of those video game moments where I sat back and just let it happen and listened.
I was a little surprised that Techland decided to go with a more cell shaded look with Gunslinger. Sure it’s worked with Borderlands and Walking Dead but it’s a departure from the past Call of Juarez games. Again, this is a decision that works well with the game and Techland was able to produce some beautiful set pieces. Another homage to Borderlands is the classic XP above the head when getting kills and combos. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before but it’s effective and rewards you for linking kills and maximizing the use of your concentration ability.
- Story delivery and narrative
- Fantastic audio and voice acting
- Some surprisingly stunning vistas
- Boss battles at times ruin the flow of the game
- Lack of a variety of weapons
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is the COJ game that Cartel should have been. If Cartel was one step back for the franchise Gunslinger is two steps forward. The classic fast paced environment and countless enemies, variety of play styles makes Gunslinger a must have. The more I played of Gunslinger the more and more I enjoyed it; this is easily one of the top arcade releases this year and one I can see myself recommending to many people. If you’re looking for a fun Old West FPS that offers up around 15 hours plus of gameplay look no further.
Written by Andy Gray