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Call of Juarez
(hx) 05:50 AM EDT - Oct,01 2006

Developed by Techland, Call of Juarez is a first-person shooter with a western theme. In the game you play the role of Billy Candle, a young adult, raised at the fist of his stepfather just over the border to Mexico, in a town called Hope. After a particularly bad beating from stepfather Thomas, he took off, over the border to roam Texas for two years, in search of the legendary Juarez gold. The second playable character is Thomas's brother, Ray, a Reverend with a dark and violent past. The story begins with Billy being caught up in a murder he didn't commit, and Ray seemingly catching him red handed after gunshots were heard. Billy had returned to Hope from his adventures to see his mama but soon has to take off again with Ray hot on his heels.....

Rather than focus on one side of the story, you'll be able to play as Billy or the reverend, experiencing very different gameplay depending on who you play as. Billy's character provides a stealth and sniper element to the game. With his whip he can latch onto objects to get into hard to reach locations. Billy also has a zoom viewing mode that allows him to hit long range targets. Over 90% of time, Billy spends it straining unseen, cowering behind arbors and rocks, always in shadow, always alert. On the contrary, Reverend Ray is a hard core shootist. Not only can the Reverend wield two pistols at the same time, he can enter 'Concentration mode' (SlowMo mode), allowing him to hit multiple targets in a drawn out second. In addition, he uses a bible to launch fire and brimstone scripture at the enemy, and finally he has an armored chest plate so he can take more damage than Billy.

Call of Juarez captures the feel of the Wild West exceedingly well. There're towns with local saloons and brothels, as well as wide open spaces that are peacefully inhabited by wild animals and native Americans. The towns have that lovely light brown tint from the hot sun, the sand and the wooden buildings, and all the costumes are typical Western too. The size of the environment is impressive and detail in the towns is very good indeed.

The single player game spans 15 episodes, alternating between Billy Candle and Reverend Ray. Each character takes different approaches to the game. As I wrote above, playing as Billy is all about stealth, so you spend a lot of your time creeping about and sniping people. The lack of any on-screen indicator of your visibility made the lengthy stealth section as Billy rather a chore to play through :( The quick-save is under F5, remember that and use it well! Fortunately, the missions with the Reverend are much more entertaining. Ray can dual-wield, with the left and right mouse buttons controlling the guns in his respective hands. The game provides a handful of weapons at the characters' disposal: pistols, shotguns, a rifle, and some dynamite. The AI is very adaptive during shootouts, with bandits making exemplary use of cover and having the aim of a seasoned sharpshooter. There's also the Slow-Motion mode that is done when you draw your pistols from the holsters, each pistol then has its own separate aiming reticule, moving slowly towards the center of the screen, each gun gets fired separately with left or right mouse buttons meaning you can take out a whole host of enemies at one time if you can time it right. Also the duels are pretty intereting. Basically, when you come across a boss or particularly nasty piece of work, the game goes into duel mode. The timer counts down with you facing your opponent, and you have to quickly move the mouse down to reach your gun on the floor, then bring it up and fire. Western game wouldn't be a Western game if there weren't horses. The levels in which you are also riding on a horse or using a bow and arrow are all done with such love of cowboy and Indian movies it is hard not to enjoy them even when there are some annoyances such as relying on quick saves to get you through the levels.

The game also includes four game modes - Gold Rush, Robbery, Deathmatch and Skirmish - and the possibility of confrontation both in LAN and Online matches. You get four classes to choose from (gunslinger, sniper, rifleman, and miner) and there are a number of maps to play in. The multiplayer maps are mainly town based, and these maps are quite impressive, as they are mainly small and enclosed with many houses to hide behind and run between during giant sieges amongst the players. If you like Team Fortress, try this and I you'll probably like it.

Overall, the game itself, while arguably having flaws, is a very refreshing take on the whole first-pershon shooter genre, which usually equals to shooting aliens in and around some abandoned science facility/space station and so forth. So, if you like first person shooters, westerns and Clint can you not try this out? If you're at least curious, you should try the demo.

related links: homepage, SP demo, MP demo, official trailer (65MB), cheats, tweak guide.

System requirements:
Minimum: P4 2,2GHz / Athlon 2400+ (2,4 for Celeron), 512MB RAM, GeForce 6600 or ATI: Radeon 9800, DX 9 compatible sound card, 2GB free HDD space, 56k Modem (for Internet multiplayer)
Recommended: P4 3GHz / Athlon 3000+ (3GHz for Celeron), 1GB RAM, nVidia: GF6800 or ATI: Radeon X800, DX 9 compatible sound card, 2GB free HDD space, ISDN Internet connection (for Internet multiplayer)

snd: 5/5 - excellent, realistic sound effects, good voice-acting, beautifully orchestrated music changes drastically from level to level
gfx: 4/5 - pretty impressive (even on medium settings this game looks great), updated version of Chrome engine, lots of Old West realism, poorly implemented physics + aberrant collision system, clipping errors and other bugs
playability: 4/5 - solid, some great gunfights, slowmotion effect, multiplayer via LAN/Internet, stealth parts are boring and can get frustrating, requires a pretty powerfull system,
genre: western themed FPS
release: September 2006
developer: TechLand
publisher: Ubisoft
Overall: 75%

last 10 comments:

Smiley_ie(11:51 AM EDT - Oct,01 2006 )
I played about 4 hours into the game. Over all id give it 85%, having aa blast.

xxxx(11:29 PM EDT - Oct,01 2006 )
I played the demo, thought it sucked. Rusted guns, give me a break.

darknothing(05:53 AM EDT - Oct,02 2006 )
i agree with xxxx ...give me a game that uses the full power of my pc

xxxx(01:05 PM EDT - Oct,02 2006 )

from the looks of the screenshots, it seems their method to improve frame rates was to cut the quality bigtime. The demo i played had way better looking graphics than those screenshots. Again, gfx don't necessarily make a game but when I played the demo at a reasonable resolution it was laggy, the AI was a joke and the story right starting was lousy. The rusted guns made me laugh because of desperation at trying to be original. Maybe just me but I laughed when it said 'rusted guns'. I played the demo a few times and couldn't figure out how to get to the guy in the top floor with the chick so I just quit and never cared for it after that. Hell I don't even care to get this off bit torrent.

Ainstain Junior(06:45 PM EDT - Oct,17 2007 )
I like it a lot and the Western,CowBoy theme its the best i ever play in a video game.I finish and i have a good time.93% from me

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