Originally released on the PC in 2006 this country and western style first person shooter sees you playing as two characters and battling through various different terrains and scenarios. The game has loose links to many Western films and also has realistic weapons which create a nice and realistic country and western atmosphere.
You play the part of Billy who is accused of murder and Reverend Ray who is a reverend at the church in the town where Billy grew up. Throughout the game you will switch between the two characters on different missions. As Billy you will be on the run and fighting whoever may come in your way and as Reverend Ray you will be chasing Billy and also crushing anyone who steps into your path. Both characters have their own strengths, weaknesses and special abilities. Billy is the stealthier of the two characters and he is also very agile – he holds a whip which can help him to swing across gaps and is also able to climb. In levels where you are Billy it’s more about not wanting to be seen, making as little noise as possible and just trying to get away. As Reverend Ray, you have “concentration mode” which will help you when you do get in a gun battle. This is activated by drawing your guns and brings up two crosshairs on the screen in slow motion. This gives you a massive advantage over your enemies and can often result in taking more than 2 enemies down totally untouched. There is a small regeneration time on the concentration mode ability so timing can be critical. Reverend Ray has poor agility but has brute force and the bible on his side. With Ray you will find yourself killing many enemies in pursuit of your nephew Billy. Your bible has the ability to momentarily confuse enemies allowing you to easily kill them with your gun but most of the time you will be using your guns and killing every enemy in site with Ray.
The AI in Call of Juarez for the most part is exceptional, but maybe a little too good some times. When sneaking with Billy the computer can sometimes spot you from miles away even before you have seen them or even if you crouch into a bush shots will still be fired in your direction. The Billy missions can be very trial and error and with no quick save function this can get a little tiresome.
The game throws you straight into the action and you have a small battle before even really knowing what’s going on. After this initial gun battle you then start to learn more about Billy and eventually in a few missions time learn about Reverend Ray. As well as using weapons you can also move many objects in order to help you reach higher places. The moving of boxes and other objects adds some puzzle elements to the game. Whilst at first this sounds good, it can be very frustrating and it makes the game feels like a slightly lazy port from the PC as jumping and climbing can be very tricky using the 360 controller. Navigating through levels is usually quite easy as you have a red dot to show you which direction you should be walking in. What can be very frustrating is that it is very hard to judge if, when you fall, you will kill yourself or not. Sometimes the ground looks very low but jumping down will kill you and vice versa. Now, this wouldn’t be very country and western without duels would it? Well, luckily there is a nice duel system which is also a standalone mini-game. This is a nice test of reactions and is a fun addition. The duel mini-games will take some time to complete and of course increase in difficulty the more you progress. The single player campaign will take most experienced gamers around ten hours to complete however, there is some replay value here as you can go through on harder difficulties and try and get all of the achievements in each mission as you no doubt will miss some first time. The game has a very nice set of achievements; there is one in every level for doing a certain task - for example, “10 enemies killed using bow in Episode IV”. In addition to these achievements there are also some online achievements and some hidden achievements. If you want to get the full 1000 then expect to have to play the single player campaign for at least 24 hours.
Graphically the game is a bit of a mixed bag, but on the whole it is solid. Looking over cliffs and into the distance is superb and there are never any issues with the draw distance. Some textures on items are very basic but this is only when you really focus on the item which to be honest, unless you really look out for them you are not going to see them.
The overall sounds in the game are very basic but they definitely do their job. There is a large variety of different sound effects which gives the game more variation in this respect. The voice acting in the game is very good. It’s a little over the top but it does help to get more in to the game.
The online multiplayer in Call of Juarez is a little basic. It is quite fun but it only has run of the mill game types (hunted, capture the flag, death match and team death match) and I can’t see many people playing it still in a few months time. It also doesn’t include an online duel mode which is a huge disappointment as this would probably have made the online a little more appealing.
To conclude Call of Juarez is a fairly good game but with some flaws which seem to stem from it being a PC game port. It’s a fun game but with so much competition in the first person shooter genre at the moment it simply isn’t good enough.
Originally Written By: Joe