21 August, 2009

Review: Call of Juarez

written by Blain Newport on Thursday, August 20, 2009


3 of 5

Call of Juarez is a western FPS. The demo for the prequel came out fairly recently, so I figured it was time to finally finish the game. I started it months ago, but the lousy graphics and punishing gameplay made me put it down.

In case you don't remember the lousy graphics, let me remind you.

If CoJ was of an older vintage, I wouldn't mind. But no game from 2006 should have looked like that. Unreal Tournament 2003 and Doom 3 had both been out for years, so CoJ was a throwback.

And once I'd gotten past the initial bad impression, it was followed up with a bad impression of how the game played. I started playing as Billy, who just runs away from everything. Running while getting shot and trying to figure out how the blasted whip works so I can swing across a chasm made me, as a player, feel just as unwanted as the character I was playing.

The game never really loses that. There are instant deaths by falling, rock slides, lucky enemy gunfire, exploding TNT barrels, river rapids, mine carts, and various other traps. The game has a decent quick save feature, which should be used often. I guess they were trying to get across that the old west is a rough place. But I found it annoying and a waste of time.

But for all the failures, the game tries a lot of different things. Sneak through a bandit camp, using thunder crashes to cover the sound of your whip as you take out sentries. Chase a stagecoach. Climb a mountain to get an eagle feather for a spirit quest. Solve the mystery of the missing gold of Juarez.

So while I don't recommend the game, I was interested enough to see what they would try next that I didn't feel like it was a waste of time. I'll probably play the new prequel when it gets cheap enough.

As an aside, one of the characters you play is voiced by Marc Alaimo (Gul Dukat from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine). It was strange to have a voice I associate with a villain as one of the protagonists. It took the better part of the game before I could think of him as anything other than Gul Dukat.

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