Currently Playing: Call of Juarez: Bound for Blood (PS3)

Western movies or games even haven’t really got me interested, watching Unforgiven or even the western inspired Kill Bill Vol 2 didn’t help either. I tried playing the LucasArts western game called Outlaws before, that was my only glimmer of hope to get inspired to try Call of Juarez: Bound for Blood out. Hearing that the first Call of Juarez game wasn’t so good made it harder to pick this game up too. Well, eventually, I did get the game and tried it for myself and hoping that the game is as good as some people say.

I really didn’t know what to expect with the full retail version but my experience with the demo was interesting. The game introduces 3 brothers of the McCall family, 1 of them (William) is a priest which tells the entire story of the game, while 2 (Ray and Thomas) of them are fighting over a woman. It stops immediately after that, we go back a few years into a civil war where the 2 brothers were together trying fight for their state. Realizing that their own home is in danger, they leave the war to protect their own land and family and they are now considered as deserters by the army. As they reach their home and hunted by their own people, the meet up with their younger brother and leave for Mexico. This sets up everything for the entire story to unfold. I won’t go into details anymore since there is a lot of interesting things going for the story alone. I’m generally impressed with the presentation of the story, the flow feels good and keeps me interested to keep on going until I see where it goes. I suppose my only issue is when the story is told during loading times is that I felt that William’s voice felt a bit exaggerated. I’m not sure about accents if it’s accurate or not, but I really couldn’t buy it.

The game starts off as a plain shooter. It does lend a hand at the start of the game to get you used to the controls before you get dying immediately. It did remind me a little of Call of Duty, the World War 2 ones before. What interested me a little was the importance of getting into cover. It’s more automatic here since you don’t need to press anything. It will go for cover once you are behind an object which you can use for cover. Targeting slightly changes while being in cover and gets a little easy, but not moving from one position is not an ideal place at most times. Good thing the controls are pretty responsive and I had a great time getting used to it.

Ray and Thomas have different ways to play. Ray is focused on short range weapons, like 2 pistols (a-la-halo2), shot guns and dynamite; while Thomas is focused on long range weapons. So you can’t use some weapons with certain characters. Also both of them have different paths on certain levels. Ray likes being on the ground, and sometimes it can be kind of irritating that a small ledge is not something he’s willing to use. While Thomas likes going up high and can use a rope to go to higher places.

Both of them have special moves when you can access it. Once you hit a number of enemies, you’re given access to concentration mode. Ray’s mode is giving you a slow motion period and hitting multiple parts in one target using 2 guns. While Thomas does also have a slow motion period and can hit multiple 1 hit kills with 1 gun.

There is another version of this slow motion move, but it only activates on certain locations, like bashing into a door with one of your brothers, this time you can use 2 guns at a time but you don’t have a control on who you target but you can only control when you shoot. At this moment, you can control the view very slightly but at most times, it’s useless. Just focus on the targets and shoot when you get the chance.

Both characters also go into a special mode, lets call this a boss mode since you are only forced to go into this gameplay when you meet the boss. There are times that you get into a duel, where the traditional shooting goes out the window and start a western duel. You have to make sure that the target is centered, focus on the position of your hand since every move can readjust itself, once the bell is rang move your hand to the gun and it will do an auto aim and it’s your call to press the trigger. It’s a small segment of game, but it has a very western feel that only works in the genre. It’s fitting that it’s fun, but it is a lot of trial and error, expect to die a lot in this mode. Good thing that it loads fast, because if it’s not, it could have gotten ugly.

In between missions there are mini objectives which you can get at the store. See a “wanted” sign? Go and to those and get some extra money. It’s a nice touch which i really wanted to see more. It gave me a chance to see a lot of the western world although it’s a tad barren but it was a nice touch. My problem with this is that it felt lacking, it only gives you a few missions and most of it you’ll be forgetting it was even there in the first place.

The graphics were not outstanding. I know a lot more games that had better, but this was adequate. I’m impressed with the vast landscapes and open areas, some locations can surprise you while roaming around. I know I could have been impressed more if I had more freedom and more options, which is lacking in this game. The details on every character is impressive, though not as impressive as playing God of War III or Unreal Tournament 3, but still, the level of detail is beyond most games go through, since there are several ingame cutscene close ups which you can even see pores from the skin. It’s also nice that they also take advantage of depth of field, blurring distances that aren’t important and focuses on where you are looking. This effect is used almost in every part of the game and also very essential during the duel modes.

The voice acting is mostly done good, the only thing that irritated me is William’s voice. I’m having a hard time believing that it is an accurate way to portray a character during the 1800’s. All other characters we’re believable from my point of view. The music too was interesting, even though it had a touch of electric guitar at the background. It was unique and fitting to listen to. The composition is done like a movie which sounded like a grand action movie. There were moments with the character Marisa where the music will turn like a ballad, love tune. It made the mood of the entire game as wonderful as it can be. It is good but will I wan’t to listen to it independently? No, I don’t think so.

The multiplayer is a bonus for me, although I rarely play multiplayer games but this helps with the longevity of the game. The single player is too short, at about 7 hours it really doesn’t justify the purchase alone, but since there is a multiplayer option, it’s a nice touch. My problem with playing multiplayer games with the PS3 is that it takes a little long to get a proper connection, so I wasn’t able to judge this part of the game properly.

The overall game is generally impressive but it was a bit short, and it also comes up short in variety of missions. The lack of cooperative player is a little disappointing, but you will understand why it was not possible. The graphics, music and the story does not disappoint.  I’d consider this as a very good rental, but not something that I’d like to keep in the long run.

Thank you to Gamehopper for lending me a copy of Call of Juarez: Bound for Blood for the PS3. Gamehopper is Philippine based video game rental service focused on delivering video games to your home.

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