The Western is a genre scarcely seen gracing consoles with its undeniable depth and potential, but for what reason? Whenever a game set in the wild west is released, it garners mediocre-at-best reviews by the critics of the gaming world, yet never ceases to gain such a phenomenal cult following that it's a wonder why more developers aren't simply jumping at the chance to create a brilliant western game, wether it be a First Person Shooter, RPG, or heck, even a horse racing game (ok, that last one probably wouldn't work). Take Gun for example, this was a massive hit despite average reviews, or the first Call Of Juarez game. It was popular enough to warrant an even better sequel; Call Of Juarez: Bound in Blood. But is this western game enough to give the genre the recognition it deserves, or will it keep it among the ranks of the underrated? Read on to find out...
Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood tells the story of two brothers who set off on an adventure to find the legendary treasure of Juarez; an ancient Aztec treasure that is said to turn all those who seek it insane. Locals refer to this insanity as the Call Of Juarez. And through gun blazing battles, frantic horse-back chases and on-going war with the army they once served, the McCall brothers battle the curse of Juarez in hopes of rebuilding their ruined family home. As with any good western game, theres no short supply of intense shootouts and with the games many different settings and back drops, each and every gun battle leaves the player satisfied, yet wanting more.
As with any good shooting game, Bound In Blood has an easy to use control scheme that mimics the likes of Call Of Duty and Battlefield. And combined with the games dynamic cover system that sees players able to slowly duck in and out of any cover provided in a very sleek and seamless manner, this makes sure the games many shoot-outs are fun and at times, very intense. No matter what difficulty your playing the game on, from Easy to the chaotic Very Hard, you will be sure to face battles that test your skills but also keep it down to a level that wont have you throwing your controller down in a fit of rage. This ensures a enjoyable playthrough and will have you coming back for more on a harder difficulty setting until you've conquered the mighty Very Hard.
If any of you have played the first Call Of Juarez, you will no doubt have a very one sided opinion on it, but whether that is on the love or hate side of things is another question. Many gamers simply hated the game due to its average at best gameplay and failed to look past that to see its very involving story and unique style. But rest assured, Bound In Blood improves on not only the flaws of the original, but also what made it great. From the beautiful and varied surroundings to the games unique and moving characters, the McCall brothers. Being a prequel, you don't need to have played the first to enjoy this, but once you complete Bound In Blood, you will want more of the McCall brothers story to an extent where you shouldn't be surprised if you just want to jump up and run to your nearest game store to see if you can find a copy of the original in the bargain bin.
What really makes the game a great experience is the way players choose at the start of all missions bar a select few, which of the McCalls they will play as. Ray McCall is the eldest of the brothers and is the fast-hand of the family. He prefers pistols to the bulky counterpart, rifles and shotguns, and can duel wield two to cause even more destruction. He is also the only one to makes use of dynamite, the games only thrown explosive besides the lamps that one can find around a level to toss at the enemy to ignite them in flames, which makes for a rather enjoyable display mind you. Alternatively, you can play as Thomas McCall. Thomas can only use one weapon at a time, but his accuracy with a rifle more than makes up for that. Also, Thomas can use a lasso, which is useful for getting higher up for a great advantage over the enemy. But while Thomas can reach higher altitude to dispatch the opposition, Ray can use a more iron fisted kind of justice and kick down doors into enemy hideouts. As each level is played with both Ray and Thomas by each others side, both of these characters abilities will be needed to complete missions. Something which is a let down with Bound In Blood is the absence of a Cooperative gametype, which seems like the absolutely perfect thing to include in a game where every mission is played with two brothers fighting side by side.
Something which Bound In Blood kept from its predecessor was its length, which although will provide players with around 7 hours a playthrough, is undeniably short for a game that will have players wanting to stay in the action for as long as possible. But that's where the games multiplayer mode comes in. When you become exhausted with the single player campaign, you can always rely on shooting other players with a large arsenal of weapons to keep the blood flowing. This game includes 5 great multiplayer modes which can be played with the games 13 very different classes. The game modes include; Shoot, a classic free-for-all deathmatch type game mode; Posse, a classic team deathmatch game mode; Wanted, where only the wanted player can gain points for killing, and others must work together to bring him down. Once dead, his killer takes his place; Manhunt, a team based game type where one team has the wanted player and must protect him while the other team works to take him down before the minute score limit is reached; and the games best and most unique game mode is Wild West Legends, a team based game where one team must complete a series of objectives, which differ from map to map, before the time limit is reached.
What makes Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood stand out from other multiplayer games on the market is its bounty and cash system, which sees players saving their hard earned cash to purchase more of the games 13 classes, which all possess their own set of weapons and skills. This cash can also be used in game to temporarily upgrade selected classes to give yourself an advantage over the enemy players. Also, players can unlock silver and gold weaponry by gaining 200,000 and one million dollars respectively, which increase all guns power, accuracy and reload speeds. To make the cake sweeter, all of Bound In Bloods multiplayer maps and very well laid out and diverse, making the multiplayer a truly great experience.
And probably one of the games best features is the awesome duel segments, which sees two gunmen go toe to toe in a timed draw which results in the demise of the unfortunate loser, which is viewed from a nice camera shot from the hip. This is done by using the two joysticks and maneuvering them in time to be the first to draw your pistol after the sound of the bell. It really must be played to be truly appreciated.
Not only does Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood play beautifully but it also manages to look stunning at the same time. It takes players from small western sandstone towns to vast mountainous landscapes that never cease to amaze with its attention to detail and brilliant lighting effects. While spanning the desert, players will notice the sun beaming down onto the harsh desert sand, and the detailed shadows from the dying trees and cacti. No western game has previously has such amazing graphics, and the detailed surroundings of the games levels make the gameplay and gun fights even more enjoyable. Even more amazing however, is how Bound In Blood keeps the detail high throughout the large scale missions. Every tree, rock, animal and character model is done perfectly right down to the core and make the experience very believable.
Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood has some very top notch voice acting which at times makes you feel like your really watching a western movie, as does its classic western soundtrack. The games musical score seamlessly changes its tempo and style depending on the games current setting. While peacefully roaming the countryside, you will be supported with a gentle western score, which changes into a more deep, fluid musical number when confronted by enemies and engage in a fierce shoot-out to fit the situation. And the games crisp and full gun sounds keep the player on edge during the frantic shootouts, from the soft pop of the small 'Ladies Gun' to the thunderous bang of a double barreled shotgun, each and every gun has a unique sound but a similar feel of satisfaction.
As the full priced retail game it is, Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood is still worth every penny spent. It provides alot of replay value and many hours of fun single and multiplayer gameplay. The game will stand the test of time, and months down the track will still bring a decent amount of online players for all you western fans to indulge yourselves in its unique blend of gun play. And with plans to release downloadable content in the form of special missions available from the single player menu in the future, Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood is a game worthy of being kept in any gamers collection.
With not many western games to choose from on the market, Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood really does stand out from the rest, but even if there were a legion of westerns to choose from, Bound In Blood would most probably still be very high on the list of the best. Rich in replay value and with a deep and involving story, players will get lost in it for hours on end, with no end to the fun in the games multiplayer modes. And with plenty of challenging yet fun achievements to accomplish, you will keep coming back for more of this game for many months to come. Its been along time since a First Person Shooter offered so much replay value, and along time, if not the first time, a western game has looked so damn good. Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood is a unique and brilliant game, worthy of bringing the western genre into the spotlight.
AAG Score: 8.5/10
1. Its a Western!
2. Lots of Replay Value
3. Great voice acting and dialogue
4. Brilliant multiplayer mode
1. Little on the short side
2. Average A.I.
Reviewed and Written by John Elliott