Sunday, June 28, 2009

Games to Own #8 - Call of Juarez for Xbox 360

While Hollywood made plenty of Wild West movies to satisfy people's fascination with this stage of history (although sadly, not very often these days), there hasn't been a lot of games based on this period. A fantastic Wild West movie recently shown in cinemas you should check out if you have a Blu-ray player is 3:10 to Yuma, it's one of my favorite movies.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, We get a heck of a lot of World War 2 shooters, but Call of Juarez is the only FPS wild West game I can think of since a cool (at the time) shooter called "Outlaws", which was released on PC many years ago. I'm not sure why, I guess publishers think there's not much interest in these games, which of course is false as Call of Juarez sold well.

The story follows Billy Candle, who's accused of murdering his mother and stepfather, who happens to also be Reverend Ray McCall's brother. But Ray is not just any Reverened, he's an infamous gunslinger who turned to the lord and became a Reverand. Now Ray believes the Lord wants him to punish Billy. With bible in one hand and gun in the other (I kid you not!), he's out to take his life. That's all well and good, but the problem is, Billy is in fact innocent.

The interesting thing about Call of Juarez, is that you play as the chaser (Reverend Ray) and the runner (Billy) in the story, switching between each one at certain intervals. You'll sometimes go through familiar territory, but usually with different routes. Billy's levels consist of stealth and sneaking mostly, with some really fun bow and arrow action as well, while with Ray you'll be shooting enemies like it's 1769! Apart from a quick draw slowdown mode which can be done with dual pistols and is very cool, you'll also be able to use rifles and shotguns. Billy's main weapon is the bow and arrow and also enters "concentration" mode and can also use rifles and shotguns. I found the bow too fun to bother with the weapons though.

Billy's missions can be quite frustrating with some bits requiring trial and error. It's not always clear where you're supposed to go or what you're supposed to do and this makes his levels less fun than Ray's. You'll lose/die a lot with Billy. Luckily, the loading times are really fast. The graphics also deserve a special mention, sometimes the game looks fantastic, other times a bit average. The music gets repetitive but the voice acting is pretty good.

For a first effort from little known developer Techland, Call of Juarez is a great game. Sure it's flawed, takes a bit of time to get going and yes it can sometimes be frustrating, like some of the horse riding and Billy's sneaking bits, but overall it is a fun shooter with an enjoyable story and the change in characters keeps it fresh. The extra missions after completing the main story mode are really fun too. The second game which is a prequel is almost out, so make sure to play this one first! It's only $25!

8.0 out of 10

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