Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood Review
- Posted June 30th, 2009 at 21:30 EDT by Steven Williamson
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The Old West is brought to life in Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, the finest Wild West shooter in town.
- The beautiful landscapes and shabby towns
- The intuitive and responsive control scheme and weapon handling
- The engaging Wild West-themed action sequences and shoot-outs
- Having a brother with a poor shot tagging along
- How the showdowns lack excitement and tension
The movies would have us believe that the Wild West was full of tobacco-spitting, gambling, whiskey-drinking males who regularly got involved in saloon brawls, slept with hookers, robbed banks and took to the deserted streets for high noon showdowns. It’s this romanticized, clichéd version of that era with all its murder, suspense and skulduggery that draws us towards any Wild West themed videogame that sees a console release. After all, hasn’t every man once dreamt of being an outlaw?
Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood certainly gives you a flavor of what being an outlaw is all about. This first person shooter provides every gun-toting, cinematic action sequence that we’d expect from this violent era, and also delivers a very appealing visual depiction of the Wild West. Soak up a 360 degree view while out in the wild and you’ll witness some dazzling views that stretch as far the eye can see, complete with rich vegetation, grazing cattle and deep red sunsets. Alternatively, ride your horse into one of the towns and you’ll be greeted with a highly detailed Wild West set that comes complete with grubby saloon and well-stocked weapon store. While Bound in Blood doesn’t push the PlayStation 3 to its absolute graphical limits, it does present one of the finest recreations of the Wild West on any console thus far.
Indeed, Bound in Blood plays to its strengths admirably and leans heavily on its Wild West theme for its thrills. If developer Techland had created a shooter with a World War II theme then we’d probably have talked about the lack of innovation and the run-of-the-mill shooter gameplay. As it stands, however, the Wild West theme ensures that there are enough entertaining scenarios to make some familiar gameplay ideas feel fresh and exciting. It also helps immeasurably that Techland has got the basics spot on. Bound in Blood has an accessible and smooth control scheme, an enticing game world design and some challenging gameplay. Throw in the fact that there’s an immersive (albeit clichéd) storyline and you’ve got an extremely appealing Wild West package.
Bound in Blood tells the story of Ray and Thomas McCall, two brothers who leave their posts in the Confederate army during the Civil War in order to rescue their mother and their brother from invading Yank forces. The brothers are labeled as deserters and their commanding officer then spends his post-war years in pursuit of them while they go on the search for Aztec treasures in the foothills of Mexico. Despite the inconsistent quality of the cut-scenes, the archetypal 'good vs. bad' storyline drives the gameplay sufficiently with both a strong script and some believable voice acting. The brotherly-themed storyline also makes for a very good excuse to play through the campaign as either one of the two brothers and also switch characters at certain points in the game.
The campaign storyline isn’t affected by your character choice; however, the two outlaws do boast different skill sets, so the experience is slightly different depending on which outlaw you choose. Ray, for example, is good at close range fighting and planting dynamite, but he also has the special skill of being able to carry a Gatling gun. Thomas, on the other hand, is better at shooting from long-range distances and at using his lasso and bow. Whoever you decide to play as, the other CPU-controlled brother often stays by your side, and you need to team up together to trigger brief cinematic scenes in order to progress.
These teamwork objectives don’t require any brain power at all to execute -- they’re a bit of a gimmick more than anything -- but they do help to keep you immersed in the game and ensure that you always have to keep close tabs on your brother and make sure you have his back. You’ll help your brother out by covering his back while he attempts to achieve an objective, or vice versa, and you can expect times where you have to move into the correct position to give him a leg-up onto of roof, or another action that's just as menial. More often ... (continued on next page) ----