I'm up for some Wild West!
Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is a western-themed prequel to the original Call of Juarez. The game features great visuals that run surprisingly well on most modern PC’s, some fantastic setpieces, an interesting story that adds extra depth to the characters from the first game, and western-themed multiplayer which is a nice turn from modern shooters that seem to focus on global conflict. The only downside is that the singleplayer is a bit short – you can complete it in about 7 through 9 hours depending on your play style.
Because this game is a prequel, it isn’t really required to have played the first game in order to know what’s going on and become attached to the characters. In the beginning of the game, you basically are shown a small clip of the final cutscene involving the three McCall brothers as a sign of things to come. This doesn’t make the ending of the story less surprising or dramatic, if anything it builds up a sense of anticipation as you start to piece together how the main characters would end up in that situation.
The story itself is played in a linear fashion, going from chapter to chapter, with the exception of a few missions later on in the game. In between these missions, the player can go into an open world and buy ammo and new weapons with the money they have accumulated. However, you can also do side-quests for more money via wanted posters in the gun stores or ads wanting ‘hired guns’ for protection from wild Indians. This open world gameplay mixed with the linear-style singleplayer may sound a bit off, but ultimately they mix well.
Throughout the course of the story, you have the choice of choosing between playing as Thomas, who is skilled with a rifle and lasso while also being a man of few words, or Ray, the dual pistol-wielding gunslinger and older brother of Thomas.
Setpieces can make or break a game. This game delivers on numerous setpieces that are well-paced and full of action. You’ll be chased by Indians, run out of town by angry townsfolk, and participate in quick-draws which act as boss battles. If I mention more, I’m afraid I might spoil certain parts of the game.
The soundtrack of Bound in Blood is well-tuned to the theme and environment in which the game takes place, while also not being the same tired ‘whistling in the wind’ type of music. I hope that made sense. The overall sound in the game is well done, such as the superb voice acting from William (a priest and one of the McCall brothers) and many others characters, along with the weapons sounding like how western guns during that time period should sound.
Visuals in this game are quite the beauty. Everything has a gritty sort of texture to them which conveys the sense of realism. Well-detailed characters’ faces will have dirt and grit on them. Occasional ‘dust devils’ will appear on the ground. Perhaps the best effect pulled off in this game is the depth of field, which aids heavily in the game’s visual style. If you’re looking down your iron sights, things you are aiming at will come into focus within a matter of a second or so, and everything you’re not aiming at will become blurred. It successfully gives a sense of someone actually trying to aim and having to focus before shooting. Along with every other FPS in recent time, there is no health bar, and when you become low on health the depth of field will go into high gear and you will have a harder time aiming. As for optimization of graphics, modern PC's and ones a bit older shouldn't have any trouble running this at high or medium settings.
Ah yes, the multiplayer. To be honest, there aren’t a good number of servers out there in the PC version yet, but at the same time there are enough to experience it. Anyway, the multiplayer consists of 5 modes:
Wanted – a VIP deathmatch
Manhunt – a VIP team deathmatch
Posse – team deathmatch
Wild West Legends – This is one of the better modes of the game where the outlaws have to plant dynamite at certain locations in an attempt to either crack open a safe or just cause stuff to blow up. Afterwards, they have to break through a barricade to escape the town. The lawmen have to stop them. In a clichéd nutshell, this is assaulting/defending.
Shootout – deathmatch.
The money acquired by killing other players in these modes can be used to either unlock characters or classes by saving up money, or to temporarily (until the end of the match) upgrade a certain class, usually meaning they have more health or run faster. Spawn killing in this game is a problem like in almost every other multiplayer FPS, (except TF2, oh snap!) but it isn’t a noticable annoyance except in Shootout mode where it tends to happen the most. As a side note, for those who played the Call of Duty 4 multiplayer, you may experience some déjà vu.
So basically, this game combines a great linear singleplayer campaign with a uniquely themed multiplayer that is similar to other first person shooters in terms of mechanics, while offering a somewhat decent variety of multiplayer modes. If you’re aching for some wild west, you won't have any trouble enjoying this game.