Live the epic and violent journey of a ruthless bounty hunter onto the trail of the Old West's most notorious outlaws.Live the epic and violent journey of a ruthless bounty hunter onto the trail of the Old West's most notorious outlaws.Live the epic and violent journey of a ruthless bounty hunter onto the trail of the Old West's most notorious outlaws.
The game opens up with Silas Greaves, our apparently renowned protagonist, walking into a bar and being bribed with alcohol by some strangers to tell a few stories about his adventures during his younger days. As the veteran bounty hunter recounts his journey, the player gets to reenact the narrative as the actual gameplay. This is a nice touch in terms of presentation since it enables some pleasant gimmicks, such as objects or enemies being altered as a listener challenges the veracity of what Silas is saying or new paths opening up when the raconteur recalls the finer details in his tale. In true Western fashion, the story is some nonsense about revenge or somesuch but it's solid enough to serve as an excuse to shoot baddies. Notably, the plot revolves around famous personalities of the Wild West, like Billy the Kid and Butch Cassidy, so if you're a cowboy buff, there's some added value there.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is much more visually appealing than its predecessors, not only in hard graphics but in the general style and vibe as well. It's sort of a more grown-up, less cartoon-ish take on Dishonored's or Borderlands 2's art style. Bosses trigger badass cutscenes before you fight them and almost everything that you can look at is done in a very pleasant, stylistic way that stays consistent throughout the whole thing. Detail-wise, maxed out sliders feel a tad lacking but the game still looks good and runs great.
Regardless of the fancy packaging, when you strip everything off, you're left with a good ol' first person shooter. The level loads, you shoot your way through the bad guys till you reach the boss, you kill Mr. Boss, rinse and repeat. Simple doesn't equal bad, but a story-driven, level-structured FPS feels pretty bland nowadays. Sure, there are some action sequences, skill points, duels, quick time events and slo-mo goodness that break things up a bit and even provide some semblance of customization, but all that is icing on the cake.
The cake itself? Not that tasty. There's nothing specifically wrong in any areas, but everything is just kind of bland. The story is okay, the setting is not particularly original, the voice acting is nice, the AI is meh, the actual combat mechanics are incredibly standard, level design isn't anything to write home about, there aren't a whole lot of contextual actions you can execute other than busting the occasional door, et-damn-cetera. Everything is 'okay' and that's why I'll probably forget all about this game when Call of Juarez: The Ballad of Mad Dog McLeod or whatever comes out and, just as I did this time, I'll go: "Hmm.. I think I played the last one, but I don't really remember what it was about."
Unsurprisingly for the genre, the game is somewhat short, probably around 10 hours for the first time. There's also an arcade mode where you just shoot bad guys and a duel mode where it's all about the showdowns. They're both okay but if you're going to make a story-driven FPS, why not invest the resources into making the actual main story longer and better instead of secondary modes that some people won't even bother with?
All in all, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a polished, stylized and decently humorous FPS featuring a bunch of cool moments thrown in for good measure. You can have fun playing it through, but it just lacks the substance to be a memorable hit.
- May 24, 2013