Version Played: PS3
When the Call of Juarez franchise came to present day with Call of Juarez: The Cartel, fans like myself rested their heads within their palms. Call of Juarez started as a Wild West game, with the sequel improving on the original in every way. Everybody thought the franchise had shot itself in the head with the third entry in the franchise, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, being set in present day and sales representing fans hatred towards the game. Techland, the developers of the franchise, have now return it to its roots with Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. However, do the fans even care? Well, they should.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger brings the series back in fine Wild West form, with six shooters, rifles, shotguns, stagecoaches, canyons, sawmills and dynamite. It’s the Call of Juarez you know and love. Focusing upon the hunt for a whole bunch of Old West legends, Gunslinger sees you tackling outlaws like Billy the Kid and John Wesley Hardin. There’s plenty of violence, fantastic looking weaponry and an XP levelling up system with upgrades and weapons to unlock.
I have been addicted to Gunslinger since purchasing it. I thought to give it a chance at first with a free trail. Never before have I immediately purchased a game after playing a free trail. Games set during the Wild West are few and far between, that’s what makes each and every one so special. Within Gunslinger, you have access to the Story mode, an Arcade mode and a Duel mode. No multiplayer in sight, and to be perfectly honest, it doesn’t need it. This game is only £11.99 (£9.59 with PlayStation Plus Discount) or your system/ regional equivalent. These extra modes already give you a lot for your money.
The main story is told from the perspective of Silas Greaves, the playable character in the game. He walks into a bar and ends up retelling his adventures of the Wild West to the people around him. The voice acting here is fantastic, and is easily some of the best I’ve ever heard. Even with being a smaller title, the high production values are still present. You play through each part of his adventure through his life with him narrating the story constantly, from becoming a bounty hunter, to ending personal grudges. With all the famous Wild West legends in there too, like Billy the Kid and Jesse James, it’s a fascinating story.
Arcade mode has you play through the levels in the story as quickly as you can. Racking up high scores with combo kills and headshots. While basic, it’s still a lot of fun and can bring a lot of friendly competition with your friends. The Duel mode has you simply having a duel with characters from the story. Once again, basic, but still a nice distraction if you end up wanting to just have a duel and not play through a whole level to get to one. The duel mechanics are also simple to learn, hard to master. You have to use the right stick to keep your concentration on your opponent, and use the left stick to get your hand as close to you gun as you can. Once you’ve nailed it, it becomes very satisfying to win some of the later duels.
The controls for the game are also very nice. Very reminiscent of other first person shooters, so you’ll feel right at home. Shooting the weapons in the game is a great time. Shotguns shoot your foes back with incredible force, dual-wielding pistols makes you look like a badass as you gun down an army of enemies and rifles pack the punch that makes each shot seem just as powerful as the last. Concentration also returns for Gunslinger, just like previous games, you slow down time and can take out a group of enemies with little hassle. A new addition is the Sense of Death, this gives you the chance to dodge the bullet that will kill you when your close to death. The screen slows down and you see the bullet exit the weapon, heading straight towards you, with you having to dodge left or right. It’s a nice addition to the game and you get an XP bonus if you survive.
Weapons along with concentration can now also be upgraded with the addition of the XP levelling up system. Killing enemies give XP, as does finding secrets in the world. This XP feeds into a bar, that once filled, gives you a skill point to use on one of three skill trees. Each skill tree focuses on a different type of weapon. Some upgrades improve the weapons and some improve concentration, giving you the flexibility to create based on your play style. Playing through the game once won’t let you level up to the max. Thankfully, a New Game + option becomes available so you may go through again to get those last few level ups.
Graphically, the game looks completely different to all previous entries of the franchise. Whilst in the past, previous Call of Juarez games went for realistic graphics, this goes the opposite direction. Gunslinger utilises a cel shading effect, very similar to that of ”Borderlands’. With the tone being more about over the top action and Wild West legends, it fits the style of the game very well. Even with the cel shaded graphics, the game still looks beautiful and the environments feel alive with chickens, cattle and other animals placed around. However the load times for the game are incredibly bad. You can be waiting on average, 30 seconds for a level to load. It may be a minor annoyance and it may not even be an issue with the PC version, but it should be noted.
When you shoot a chicken for fun, only to hear the narrator talk about how he fancied some fried chicken afterwards, you come to understand the care and love that went into Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. It’s clear Techland understand they made a mistake with Call of Juarez: The Cartel, and that they’re trying everything to bring the franchise and its fan back. Even with the minor loads time issues, it’s hard to find anything majorly wrong with the game. In my opinion they have succeeded, and I hope this has enough success behind it to give them confidence to give us another full retail release set in the Wild West once again.
90 Bullets Dodged out of 100