Grab your hat and strap on your irons, we're going on a Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood review round-up!
Developer Techland revisits the Spaghetti Western in Bound in Blood, the sequel to 2007's Call of Juarez. This time around the game focuses on Thomas and Ray McCall, the original protagonist's step-father and uncle respectively, as they make their way from the front lines of the American Civil War to Mexico on a quest for the mythical Lost Treasure of Cortez. Gunfights, chases, and other Western-themed occurrences ensue.
As Crecente pointed out in his review, Western shooters generally fail to achieve the same level of acclaim as more modern day tales of bullet-fueled valor. Can Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood rise about the rest? Let's gather us up a game review posse!
Offical Xbox Magazine UK
This prequel starts out on a promising note. It's the height of the American Civil War, and the Yankees are murdering and pillaging their way through the state of Georgia. As cannons tear Thomas and Ray McCall's land asunder, there's hope this game can build on its fiery beginning. Sadly, it goes from the gritty thrills of an episode of Deadwood, to the easy-going cliché of the Milky Bar Kid adverts.
Bound in Blood canters unapologetically through every western cliché in the book, and does so with enough vigour and sense of style that you'll enjoy the ride. The first chapter tips the nod to Call of Duty with its depiction of a battle in the Civil War, but then the brothers promptly become deserters and outlaws; they burst into saloons both guns blazing, pull bars off a jail window with a horse, steal a stagecoach, fall in love with a Mexican bandita, recognise the honour and pride of the Native American, and shoot lots of other Native Americans - as well as lots of Mexicans, lawmen, outlaws, Yankees, rebels and prospectors. They shoot lots of everybody.
...the single-player's strong focus on the McCall brothers makes the omission of co-op seem bizarre. With very few exceptions, you have an A.I.-controlled brother with you. The A.I. is actually decent, killing fools and navigating to objective points just fine — the amount of mistaken navigations or A.I. glitches is smaller than I imagined. Even the banter between the two — the way they simultaneously bicker/one-up/compliment each other — is surprisingly good...Perhaps there is some developmental reason I don't understand, but it's still odd to me that for every time I do a cooperative shoot-out with Ray and Thomas quipping about how ornery and badass they are, that I can never do that with a friend.
Ubisoft even decided to go all out and put a robust little multiplayer experience in there. The game types definitely bring a few new fun components to old school FPS online multiplayer. But the classes seem a bit unbalanced to me, though I admit I've only played with the first six or so characters. Too many games I played were almost all Riflemen. Even so, the game types provide enough fun team-based experiences that don't mess too much with the source material in terms of power-ups and such. Ain't got no quad damage round these here parts, pardner. But we do gots a levelin' system and such, consarnit!
Bound in Blood doesn't have any major flaws but I did notice that dynamite is way too effective in the hands of the enemy. They throw it like grenades and the heads-up display does a poor job of telling you where it lands; the only saving grace is that only a handful of enemies use them as thrown weapons. Engaging enemies at long-distance can also be tricky as it's sometimes hard to pick them out against the horizon.
Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood doesn't redefine the genre, nor, I fear, will it win over the mainstream audience that these games so richly deserve. What it does do is offer gamers a chance to step into the boots of lawless men in lawless times, to slap leather, to avenge wrongs and to peek into the motives of single-minded men.
There's only one way to settle this fight. I just don't know what that is.