Ubisoft's new Wild West shooter sequel Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood has a surprisingly complex online multiplayer mode. It seems to take several cues from the online mode in last year's Far Cry 2, with multiple player classes, several contextual game types, and a persistent experience and upgrade system that carries from one match to the next.
Most of Bound in Blood's multiplayer action is team-based, with players splitting into groups of lawmen and outlaws. The most elaborate and engaging game type for my money is the Wild West Legends mode. It's a multi-stage assault-style mode that moves from one location to the next, with the successful completion of one objective triggering each subsequent leg of the assault.
In one level set in a town, the bandits had to first break into a bank, then move upstairs to dynamite open the safe and grab a bunch of money, then fight their way to a stable across town to steal some horses and flee the town. Another level out in the wilderness had some lawmen attempting to shut down an outlaw hideout by assaulting a series of buildings like a weapons cache and the requisite old mill. This mode has a good attack-and-defend back-and-forth thing going on that ought to get pretty heated when two skilled teams are involved.
There's quite a few playable classes here (13 in total) that utilize an array of Wild West weaponry. The various classes come equipped with various combinations of six-shooters, single-shot rifles, sawed-off shotguns, dynamite, and other 19th-century implements of death. One Native American character rolls around only with a bow and arrow, which takes a while to refire and has a slow-moving projectile; the trade-off is that the arrow is lethal every time. You wouldn't expect Wild West weapons to be that much fun to use in a multiplayer shooter--at least, I didn't--but Bound in Blood's core action is actually pretty satisfying, in the context of the post-Call of Duty 4 shooter landscape.
The experience system comes in with an upgrade system that lets you boost each class's health and speed by cashing in points you've earned during matches. Each player builds up a "bounty" rating based on their performance; the deadlier they are, the higher the bounty on their head, and the more experience you earn for killing them. In ranked matches, your experience and upgrades carry over from match to match, so there's a bit of a carrot-on-a-stick thing going on here.
Bound in Blood's multiplayer isn't going to blow anyone's mind who's been weaned on more multiplayer-focused shooters, but if it's coupled with a strong single-player campaign, it ought to make for a solid one-half of this package. We'll be taking a look at that single-player next week, so stay tuned.
Ubisoft released a new trailer for the game this week, so take a look at that while we're on the subject.