June 3, 2013

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger Review

Ubisoft are locked and loaded, and they are pointing the barrel at the entire gaming industry with this game model

TL;DR: Buy this game immediately!

Genre: First Person Shooter, Action, Western

Developer: Techland, Published by Ubisoft

Platform: PSN, XBL, PC

Price of admission: $15


You wanted a game with an interesting story, a nice soundrack, fun and exciting gameplay with upgrades, great environments and visuals. You wanted all this without a shitty tacked on multiplayer, and you didn't want to be bothered to pay $60 like most AAA titles?

Well you got it. This is the type of game many of us have been waiting for. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is an amazing title that not only delivers on the western front, but on all fronts of gaming, and other developers need to take notice. I thought Ubisoft had lost their ways in the recent years and I honestly didn't even know this game was coming out after the trainwreck the last game (Cartel) was.

Developers at Techland deserve high praise for what they've accomplished here, and Ubisoft to offer this golden nugget for only $15 is something the industry needs to accept as the norm for single player games (I'm looking at you EA and Activision). With the recent release of another great title, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, you know Ubisoft is serious and they need your full attention.

The game starts out with the main character, Silas Greaves, entering a saloon in Abilene, Kansas. He then proceeds to tell his life stories to the patrons of the saloon. Each story involves legendary figures of the wild wild west. The listeners don't completely believe his tales, but they are intrigued by his great escapades. He tells them about his run-ins with Billy The Kid, Johnny Ringo, The Infamous Jesse James, The Wild Bunch featuring Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and many other key figures. Throughout the whole game, Greaves narrates over every scene and sometimes he will have flashbacks, which I thought was a nice addition.

Right from the start, the game throws you in the middle of the action. The gun play is very satisfying and captures the feeling of old school FPS games that modern military games seem to lack. When I shoot something, I want it to explode or burst into pieces. I remember playing doom for hours having a blast. But when I play recent games like Call of Duty Modern Warfare, I'm bored to death because shooting is not fun anymore, waves after waves of enemies, but I'm not having a blast shooting them. Well this game will bring you back to the good old days of the shooter genre. Throw a pack of dynamites at someone and shoot it mid-air and watch the mayhem unfold. And a few mintues in, you will be making headshots after headshots as you leave a trail of blood behind you.

To make the best out of the controls, make sure you turn off Auto Aim in the options menu, and make sure you set dual-weilding to "Akimbo" and not "Aiming." This will allow you to shoot with two buttons separately. There are lots of upgrades and you can choose to upgrade how it suits your play style. There are unlocks for faster aiming, faster reloading, higher combo chains and lots more. I ended up doing the "sharpshooter" upgrades more than close quarters or dual weilding. On my next playthrough, I'll use the shotgun more.

Blast through everything in your path

Aside from weapons, Greaves has abilities that are fun to use. He has your typical "slow down time while you shoot everyone in the fucking room" ability, he can dodge bullets if triggered at the right time, and sometimes you must dodge or you are dead. After every stage, there is a boss battle and usually it ends up with you dueling a legendary character mentioned above. The dueling mechanic can a bit tricky to get used to and you will be frustrated if you don't learn quickly. I wasn't a fan of the way it worked, but I managed to do just fine after dying a few times.

Go head to head in Boss Duels and see if it's in you

The soundtrack is simply brilliant and follows your traditional western feel and is paced well. The gun sound effects are also nicely done. If you like western movies, then this game is definitely a must for you because it does so many things right and there are lots of references to old western stories that'll give you a chuckle here and there. The environments feel authentic and sometimes the game can look as beautiful as Skyrim (but it's not Skyrim with guns). The art style will remind you of Borderlands and since the story is told through stills, it feels like reading a comic book.

Sometimes I wish this game was open world

Of course like all good things, the game will come to an end and it will make you sad when it's all over. But the fun doesn't end there because now you can do some more killing in the arcade mode with no story to slow you down! And if you're feeling ballsy, you can go against some bosses in the Duel Mode.

For the sequel, I want to see horseback fights, more train battles, sniper missions, more weapons like tomahawks, knives, bows and arrows. And a lasso would be pretty cool. And for the love of god, please give us dynamic weather. This game has all the ingredients of being a first person Red Dead Redemption. They can easily take that spot because there aren't many western games out there. I hope they come back bigger and badder.

Dodge em or die

For $15, this game is a steal and if you don't believe me, just play the demo and see for yourself. My first play-through was about 6-7 hours, which is on par with what most $60 AAA titles are putting out these days. And when the "really hard mode" unlocks, you are in deep shit.

Ubisoft are on fire, they are taking names and waving their guns at the entire industry, and if this $15 single player game model does well, then it's a win for everyone. So, other developers and publishers take note. Adapt to this model or you may find yourself biting the dust.

Hats off to Techland and Ubisoft, bravo!


Watch the launch trailer below