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Call of Juarez: Gunslinger (PlayStation Network)

Game Review

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Greg Giddens

Once upon a time

Ditching the divisive Call of Juarez: The Cartel's modern-day setting, and sauntering into the Wild West once again, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a real return to form for Techland's underrated series. Boasting over-the-top arcade action, stripped back weapons of yore, and a Tarantino-inspired visual style, this downloadable shooter feels like a worthy successor to the brilliant Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood.

The release is brimming with larger than life characters, some of which are pulled straight from the history books. The likes of Billy the Kid and Butch Cassidy both appear, though their legendary stories are warped slightly to fit a new narrative surrounding a bounty hunter named Silas Greaves. Holed up in a Kansas saloon, the retired sharpshooter is seen relaying his tales to a small crowd for free drinks. However, old age and audience interruptions add some oddities to his recounts, leading to several clever scenarios.

For example, one moment you'll be fighting through a mine, arming dynamite and felling bad guys, before Silas recalls that he never actually ventured through any tunnels. The game then takes you back to the entrance, and shows you an alternative path. These misremembered occurrences are a common theme throughout the release, and are extremely intelligently implemented. It's hard not to smile as the title switches things up on the fly, and the mechanic will keep you on your toes throughout the six hour running time.

Outside of memory manipulations, Gunslinger is also a fast-paced first-person shooter that does a tremendous job of keeping the action varied and fresh. Dusty towns, luscious mountains, swamps, steamboats, and trains form just a few of the locations that you'll visit, each bringing a new set of terrain to traverse and set-pieces to master. Manning stationary Gatling guns, overcoming ambushes from high cover, and dealing with bandits wielding barn doors are just some of the moment-to-moment challenges that you'll be forced to overcome.

While the adventure is largely linear, the title does a good job of masking it. Locations appear vast, but the game pressures you through these elaborate corridors, keeping the intensity high. Each level also concludes with a tense showdown, which contrasts the pulsating action that you're likely to have faced prior.

These sections see the camera switched to your hip. Here you must position your hand over your gun in order to improve your draw speed, while simultaneously adjusting your reticule in order to enhance you aim. As soon as you hear your target's heart beat, you can take a shot for a dishonourable kill, which will apply a penalty to your overall score. Alternatively, you can wait until your adversary draws and hope that your reactions are quick enough. Stages are anchored by cartoon cut-scenes, which introduce the next dead man walking on your hit list.

As you're battling your way through the Old West, you'll build up a concentration meter, which, when activated, allows you to slow down time. This can be used to dodge the trajectory of incoming ammo, and preserve your health which is represented by bullet holes on the screen. Earning points will allow you to invest in three disparate upgrade trees, each focusing on different weapon types. You can choose between revolver upgrades for mixed combat effectiveness, rifle augmentations for ranged attacks, and shotgun items for effectiveness in close-quarters. Progressing to the point where you can dual wield shotguns is especially satisfying, while earning faster-firing six-shooters and more helps to add to the sense of progression. It certainly encourages both experimentation and replayability.

There are even collectibles strewn throughout the campaign which educate you on the real Wild West. Additionally, there's an Arcade option which takes locations from the story, and challenges you to achieve the highest scores possible. Points are awarded by performing headshots and shooting fleeing foes, while a multiplier is unlocked through successive kills. The final mode Duel lives up to its name, focusing on the aforementioned showdowns. There are even leaderboards designed to encourage you to keep improving your scores, though only the most committed are likely to come back for more.

Conclusion

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger successfully puts the franchise back on track. At a purely mechanical level, the title may feel familiar to other first-person shooters – but its unique setting and novel storytelling methods give it the jolt of originality that it requires.

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User Comments (8)

get2sammybAdmin

#1

get2sammyb said:

I had no idea about the incorrect memories thing, that sounds like such an awesome idea. Love me some Call of Juarez so can't wait to play this!

Gemuarto

#2

Gemuarto said:

Actually voice that comments everything and tells a story is pretty annoying sometimes. Especially when you need to replay some parts. I hate myself for a habbit to play everything on hard difficulty. And duels on hard are pain in the boo, too. So guys, never play on hard, because you will see all flaws of this product.

get2sammybAdmin

#3

get2sammyb said:

@Gemuarto To me, that's true of most games. It's part of the reason why I love Trophies but rarely get platinums, because you're forced to play on unbalanced difficulty settings.

In theory, hard should make enemies more intelligent, but in most games, it merely results in the protagonist having less health and enemies having LOTS more.

Gemuarto

#4

Gemuarto said:

Yeah, but you never know before you try it. Resident Evil 6, Spec Ops The Line, Daksiders were much better on hard than on normal. Even Mass Effect 3 was pretty good on insane, regardless that it transformed in mini game - Monkey and Grenade. But duels are so annoying here. I think that developers forget to add fun in that mini game. It feels like those annoying QTEs in RE6, but ten times worse. I even consider to replay this on normal =)... even if I am somewhere in the final part now =). But all in all, the game is solid and deserves respect for it's price. But at the same time could be much better with less voice behind the scene and better aiming system.

ShogunRokAdmin

#5

ShogunRok said:

It sounds like another solid downloadable game. May grab this at some point in the future - the trial was a lot of fun and Greg's review has piqued my interest.

FriedConsole

#6

FriedConsole said:

I loved this game!!! This game is pure arcade shooter FUN. No pretentious story criticizing a political ideology just a throwback to PS2 era shooters that weren't afraid to be a fun VIDEO GAME. Lots of content here, more than some $60 games, for $15 and runs very well on PS3. The story was good cheesy fun and the setting of the Wild West is not played out or grim like modern combat games. Controls are perfect and satisfying. Hard to spend a better $15 on video games these days.

AG_Awesome

#8

AG_Awesome said:

I loved the first and especially the second. Why oh why couldn't this have been a Vita game... :(

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