Call of Juarez Review for PC

On: PCXbox 360
Call of Juarez is a nice change from the norm
Call of Juarez is a nice change from the norm

Call of Juarez is a nice change from the norm

With first-person shooters rapidly running out of new ideas, perhaps it's time to look at the underused settings for inspiration. Everyone has nuked an alien in the face or blown up a WWII bunker, but not many have travelled across a dusty landscape with two six-shooters in hand. The Wild West is a much underused setting, and the focus of techland's Call of Juarez. A gap in the market is clearly there, waiting for the right game to come along and claim it for its own, like Call of Duty did for the WWII era. Call of Juarez is certainly an ambitious effort, but in the end is let down by trying to do too much.

Somewhat uniquely, you get to play as two rather different characters. Billy, a young man accused of murdering his mother and stepfather, and Reverend Ray, a one time rebel and now reformed man of God. When Ray finds Billy's parents murdered (his brother and sister in-law), and sees Billy fleeing the scene, he goes after him, becoming the bloodthirsty man he used to be. He still believes he's doing the work of God, but this time with a bible in one hand and a revolver in the other.

As far as openings go, Call of Juarez's isn't great. It sets up the story well, introducing the two main characters and the plot, but it's incredibly tedious to play through. Billy's opening section is the main offender, with some punishing stealth that puts a downer on the game before it's really begun. Sneaking around is hard enough at night, but during the day, in a busy town where a few shots will send you to your grave, it's a nightmare.

Reverend Ray doesn't suffer from the same tedious introduction, with his 'all guns blazing' approach being much more like you'd expect from a western game. With Ray being able to wield two guns at time (or a bible that temporarily confuses enemies), it's solid action, and the guns certainly seem to pack a punch. Your weapons can be drawn in such a way to activate a slow-motion targeting mode, where you can get the upper hand over your enemies. It doesn't feel as well implemented as the pioneering Max Payne, but it's a handy tool to have at your disposal; as is the rapid fire mode, which lets you reel off a series of fast shots.

'... Call of Juarez captures the feel of the Wild West exceedingly well...'

When you get into the game Billy's sections aren't nearly as tiresome, but they're far from perfect. He's able to use a whip to attach to various objects, creating a rope swing of sorts, and he can climb ledges that Ray simply isn't able to, but Ray's all-action gameplay is a lot more enjoyable. Played entirely from a first-person perspective, stealth isn't easy. It's all too easy to wander into view of an enemy, and on a number of missions this means instant failure or, at best, a severe depletion of health.

The old Reverend isn't without his problems though, with horse riding segments being the biggest sore point. You're asked to ride and control a horse and aim and fire a gun at the same time. This would have worked well enough if the horse hadn't been so awkward to control, but it feels very stiff and this causes huge problems in smaller areas. I'd take horseback sections over stealth every time, but neither would have been preferable.

Gameplay issues aside, Call of Juarez captures the feel of the Wild West exceedingly well, and the best missions with the Reverend are very entertaining; the game as a whole just isn't compelling enough though. There are other issues too, like the excruciatingly long load times, game breaking auto saves (saving moments before auto failure of a level) and insane system requirements that make the game run pretty appallingly on all but the most powerful of PCs.

If you've got a good PC the game looks great

If you've got a good PC the game looks great

To be fair, Call of Juarez is an impressive looking game, complete with all the latest graphical effects. The large open environments are bathed in some glorious lighting, and the long grass looks superb. There's even a nifty depth of field effect that makes certain objects look out of focus when you're zooming in on a target, but this can look a little odd at times, with the focus effect switching on and off a little abruptly. Voice work and audio has been handled well, although there are a few too many lengthy monologues for my liking, and seem designed to disguise the lengthy loading.

Techland have also included a number of multiplayer game modes for play online or over a LAN. You get four classes to choose from (gunslinger, sniper, rifleman, and miner) and there are a number of maps to play in. There's nothing terrible about the online mode, in fact there are a few decent game modes on top of the staple FPS modes, but the maps aren't anything special - a few are just downright dull. It's safe to say that fans of the single-player game will get some enjoyment out of the online modes, but Call of Juarez is unlikely to gain much of an online community.

Despite its problems, Call of Juarez provides plenty to enjoy. Ray's action focussed levels are great fun and highlight how great the game could have been with a clearer focus. In the end, though, the mix of gameplay styles doesn't really work, with the stealth sections never reaching the quality required of a great game. If you've got the hardware you'll experience a quite stunning game, but one that doesn't fulfil its potential.

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spybaz's Avatar
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spybaz

This game is awesome with a good rig.

I have been an avid, hardcore PC gamer since '99, averaging probably 3-4hrs per day over the last 8 years. This game is one of the best looking, most unique and enjoyable games I have ever played. I wouild liove to know what the reviewer considers a good game.

FPS games I currently play: CSS, BF2 (DC), BF1942 CoD, CoH, GRAW, R6 Vegas, HL2, Red Orchestra, STALKER.

Call of Juarez rates up there with any of these. I put it above GRAW, R6 Vegas, Red Orchestra or STALKER when it comes to uniqueness and downright enjoyment. The MP is great and the some missions are akin to CSS rounds (Robbery Mode).

The stealth is fun logical. There is no difficulty to it once you use standard human logic (i.e. do what you would do IRL - I'm guessing the reviewer here must be a klutz IRL ;)). I never once got detected and enjoy the suspense associated with it.

The music is also a great part of this game. I usually turn the music down on FPS games (so I can hear footsteps, ambient sounds, etc.) but the suspense the music creates in this game is very riveting.

I recommend this game - the demo does it only some justice. If your rig is not up to scratch, don't complain about the game, complain about your own rig :)


Specs:
P4 3.1GHz; 2GB RAM; Radeon XT1950 Pro
Posted 20:58 on 21 June 2007
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Smood

But you have absolutely no idea what your talking about. This game is simply incredible. The billy segments serve to better contrast and accentuate the incredible sequences of the seemingly immortal Rev. McCall. When noobfest shooters come out with 1000 particles and rapid mindless action... you will be appeased. But when a truly awe-inspiring title arrives you morons complain. Get a clue retards.
Posted 21:09 on 24 February 2007
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HendrixJimi@ Bronxxx

Ok, mayb u can't judge a game by playing a demo or mayb the fact that I'm a major fan of western mythology prevent me form seeing things straight, but never-the-less i feel a strong urge to second those that say this is (or might b) a great and fairly unique game that looks like a must have. Yeah I only played the SP and MP demo, but I sure did enjoy em heaps – I suggest u go do the same b4 paying any attention to that measly 6 score the reviewer gave it.
Well I'm not a great fan of stealth in an action game myself, unless its the aim of game (like the Thieves and Splinter Cell ones), but the stealth part form the demo was down right fun and intense – horse riding was a pedal-to-the-medal mustang joy - and yeah I shot the Apaches when I got close enough. The demo took place in wide open space tho, so the reviewer might b right when he claims that a town can b a stealth nightmare. Might even b close to XIII-game stealth repetitive horribleness, but I'll make thu em that's for sure – coz the gamedudes didn't forget the quick save. And I'll get thu the jumping parts too, even tho it wasn't as good as jumping whit the interstellar bounty hunter Samus Aran.
The die-hard shoot-out thu the town whit reverend Ray – defently gave me a "I want more feeling" – so I'm gonna get this game in the near future for sure. Then I'll b back in this saloon to buy the reviewer a drink and tell him if the game tops the thrills of enjoyment I had, when I played that old-timer Lucasarts Outlaws game back in those days of ugly-looking old-school shooters.
Posted 02:37 on 26 October 2006
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OpenmindGamer@ Bronxxx

The guy reviewing the game obviously sucks at it. The stealth parts are really not that difficult. Use the indicator. The horseback riding part were my favorite. How can you say running across that beautiful landscape sucks? You do realize you can customize the controls so the horseback controls are 10x earlier. I love how the reviewers never mention that. The gunshots sound amazing. It handles beautiful. Billy's missions are pretty fun too, I loved climbing that Eagles Rock. Most fun I've had in a game in a while. Remember, if these reviewers knew what great games are, they would know pure action does not have to be required to make a game great. Not all FPS are gonna be Half Life quality. I thought this game was fantastic. The scope of the levels, the awesome shoot outs, the great voice acting I think this review is way to biased. All reviewers focus is on negative things. I give this game a 9/10. A very refreshing shooter.
Posted 15:21 on 19 September 2006
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MaxSand@ Bronxxx

The Character icon of Billy on the bottom right darkens when he can't be seen.
Posted 22:46 on 17 September 2006
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jtorry

Where is it if you don't mind saying? We doin't get instructions with most review copies and we don't remember it being explained in the tutorial.
Posted 16:09 on 17 September 2006
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meatfestival@ Bronxxx

There IS an on-screen indicator of how visible you are. But I agree that the stealth parts were ill-conceived. Still a very enjoyable game, overall.
Posted 16:06 on 17 September 2006
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Garmac@ Bronxxx

That game reminded me of far cry. I had the same feeling to be "in the game". Graphics are beautiful and gameplay is awsome. I would have given a 9. Even the horse part was not a problem for me... great game!
Posted 04:45 on 14 September 2006
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Shodan@ Bronxxx

I think this is one of the best games I've played for quite some time. Technically it's well implemented, very stable (no ctd so far nor other rarities) and quite fun to play. Maybe the "enjoyment curve" is geared towards the fourth and subsequent chapters, but I don't care to play a "lengthy introductory section".

The story may be somewhat predictable but the duality of the main characters also adds points to the fun factor. Anyway I must agree with the oppinion that some elements are a bit underdeveloped as the different weapon modes of the reverend, but I've generally enjoyed the stealth elements, being a Thief fan for ages.

If I had to set a score I'd select 8.5/9.
Posted 15:07 on 12 September 2006
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GameFan@ Bronxxx

This game is boring. Overly polished but bad maps and gameplay. Not addictive at all, even in the first level you got stuck way too easy. This game ain't too hard for me, it just can't attract me.
Posted 10:53 on 10 September 2006
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TomO

As the review mentioned, the Reverend levels are good fun, but the levels as Billy aren't. They're not terrible, but the stealth isn't implemented all that well.
Posted 16:07 on 08 September 2006
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Bronxxx

I was playing single and multiplayer demo and I find it great. I think that this score is much too low. This game deserves 8 or even 9 points. Try to spend some time playing multiplayer or killing enemies as Reverend to feel the spirit.
Posted 14:41 on 08 September 2006

Game Stats

System Requirements
Call of Juarez
6
Out of 10
Call of Juarez
  • Looks superb at times
  • The Reverend's levels are fun
  • Stealth is annoying
  • Steep system requirements
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 14/09/2006
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360
Developer: Techland
Publisher: Ascaron
Genre: First Person Shooter
No. Players: 1 + Online
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 3,413 3
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