Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood is to the wild-west what Call Of Duty 4 was to modern warfare. It’s a roller coaster ride of engaging characters, plot twists and action sequences. Juarez will have you hooked from the get-go.
What’s It All About?
Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood is the prequel to the similarly titled XBOX 360 release. It follows the early lives of brothers Ray and Thomas McCall, soldiers for the Confederacy in the American Civil War. The tale of the McCall’s is told via Tarantino style time-leaps, an inviting technique which leaves the plot open to a lot of twists along the way. Never assume you’ve guessed what is to come in Juarez, as your assumption will probably come back to bite you. Bound In Blood is an interesting tale of love triangles and sibling rivalry. It relies on cliche occasionally, but a Western isn’t genuine without a hint of that. Some excellent cinematography and a delightful music score elevate the plot higher than most first person shooters, despite some iffy voice acting.
Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood will take approximately 6 hours to complete, but replayability is encouraged via branching mission objectives depending on your chosen characters. A multiplayer component rounds out the package.
What We Liked:
- Refreshing pace and feel. Despite falling victim to its own inevitable cliches, Bound In Blood is still a refreshing romp when stacked next to countless sci-fi and World War II shooters. The western setting lends itself perfectly to a number of excellent set pieces including a trip down a canal and a stage coach shootout. The game moves at a terrific pace, sacrificing game length to ensure you’re never far away from the action. It’s linear in almost every sense but that grants access to some really awesome moments.
- Engaging plot. One of Bound In Blood’s most interesting aspects is its engaging plot. The game constantly has you second guessing the plot’s next big twist, always giving you enough clues but occasionally steering you in the wrong direction. The character development of brothers Thomas and Ray is really interesting as you watch their relationship both develop and deteriorate. The fact that the tale is narrated by the third McCall brother, a reverend, is also an interesting dynamic which gives the plot an entirely different outlook.
- Some interesting mechanics. Choosing between brothers Thomas or Ray at the start of the mission will not only entitle you to a different viewpoint of the campaign’s objectives, but also grants you a mix of gameplay mechanics. Thomas can use a lasso to climb and scout out vantage points; naturally making him better with long rage weapons. Ray on the other hand is excellent in close quarters and is provided some subtle auto-aim to make dual-wielding that much more enjoyable. The fact that the brothers will split up from time to time also encourages replay value. Other mechanics such as horse riding, concentration shooting (essentially bullet time) and high-noon showdowns don’t necessarily make the game feel fresh - but are lovingly crafted enough to feel interesting and fun.
- Beautiful presentation. The presentation in Bound Of Blood is gorgeous thanks to a colourful environment and some great audio. Animation can be a bit wonky at times, but Juarez makes up for this with breathtaking vistas and some wonderful cinematography. One mission takes place in a foggy village and culminates in a haunting graveyard shootout which looks rather spectacular. Loading screens are occupied by narration and static images that have a hand-drawn look to them. It helps to keep the story moving while the game takes a breather.
What We Didn’t Like:
- Some dodgy voice acting. Occasionally Bound In Blood will make a hiccup in the voice acting department. This is sometimes emphasised by some weak animation but the plot is strong enough to overcome these slipups on the whole.
- Checkpoint loading breaks up the action. Frequently, Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood will pause to load the next section. While we appreciate Techland for not forcing an install on us, we couldn’t help but feel these pauses caused a few too many breaks in the action.
- Screen tearing. Bound In Blood is a great looking game but for some reason it is riddled with minor screen-tearing. You’ll only really notice it when you look for it, but it’s there none the less. All the time.
- Clunky cover system. Call Of Juarez introduces a new take on the cover system, but ultimately we found it worthless. The game tries to lock you behind cover allowing you to peak with the right stick. Alas, we found it far too clunky to be of any use and made our own cover using the crouch button.
Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood includes a complete multiplayer component which we’ll look at in more depth in the very near future.