A Solid shooter with a compelling western story
Having never played the first Call of Juarez, it was a relief to know that Bound in Blood was a prequel. Focusing on the antics of Thomas and Ray Mccall and their younger brother William the young priest always trying to guide his brothers from their murderous ways... Unsuccessfully.
The game is a western in and out, it has a very compelling story that will drive you to the end just to see what happens. Also there’s great character development of the Mccall brothers, and the ending nicely connects to the original game. That said the game is short I managed to finish it under 7 hours.
Sadly the story is the best part of the game, the gameplay isn’t bad, it’s solid yet it doesn’t offer anything new or exciting. The gun feel clumsy at first but as you gain money and move up in the game, you get new stronger faster weapons. the game also has a cover mechanism its simple to use but sometimes it can be clumsy and not very intuitive, it’s not fun to be stuck in the cover while an enemy is duck 2 steps away from you. Also as you kill enemy you build up the concentration meter which when fully charged allows you to use a special concentration mode to help when you’re stuck with a bunch of cowboys surrounding you. Then there’s the boss fights which are all settled in a duel, where timing and positioning are the most important things, they never really get hard (I killed the last boss on the first attempt) and honestly can be weird considering the non-dueling brother can just jump behind the boss and just kill him, but it’s a game.
You can play each level as either Thomas or Ray, Thomas is more agile, he also has better aim and can you use a bow, while Ray is bulkier, stronger, and can dual wield and use dynamite. But Thomas feels slightly better than Ray, the dual wield is somewhat useless as you can’t aim with it and most of the enemy are a medium to long distance away, plus most of the times it’s Thomas climbing and jumping around while Ray just covers him, I guess it depends on what do you prefer to do, shoot wildly or be more effective in using you ammo. Strangely though is the absence of campaign Co-op which fits perfectly in the structure of the story and the gameplay.
The game is mostly linear during the 15 chapters except for 2 level where it turns into an open ended level, it does good to break the repetitiveness you feel after playing the linear levels (all of them have similar structure, talk a bit, shoot, talk, boss fight), but there’s only 3 side quests in each and you can’t come back to those levels, also they don’t really do anything for the story.
Presentation wise CoJ:BiB drips of the western feel, the background are wide and gorgeous, the character models can stiff sometime and there’s 3 or 4 iterations on enemy models but it does a good job of reflecting the look of the old west. The voice acting is gritty, it’s not deadwood but it does the job, it gets a bit repetitive during combat, and William can get annoying.
In the end, BiB is not looking to be the best shooter out there, but the western setting and the compelling story will make it stand out among the mediocre filled shooter genre.