Having played and quite enjoyed the first Call of Juarez game, I was very excited for this upcoming title. Usually I’m not a huge fan of prequels. A game’s story has to be very intriguing or mysterious for a prequel to be warranted in my mind, but it was coming whether I wanted it to or not. So, it was time to strap on the gun belt and walk amongst the tumbleweeds.
If you don’t know by now, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is the prequel to 2006′s Call of Juarez. The story follows the McCall brothers, from fighting for and subsequently deserting the Confederate army to search for the cursed gold of Juarez. The “two main characters” element ties very well into the core gameplay because at the start of each mission, you get to choose which brother you want to play as; Ray or Thomas. Ray is the powerful bull while Thomas is an agile, precise shooter. The two brothers have subtle differences in their abilities, weapons and special attacks. Although, to be honest, there’s not a big enough difference to make an impact on the game one way or the other. Having said that, it is nice to be given the choice.
Bound in Blood does actually have great graphics and modeling. The visual effects are very photo-realistic and the animations flow very well. Despite this, half way through the game, I started to feel like I was in a cloning experiment gone bad because I was seeing a lot of familiar gunmen over and over again. Another annoyance is that in order to play the game, you must create a password-protected profile, regardless if you’re planning to play multiplayer or not. And apparently cowboys of the old west couldn’t run. Sure, they would pant hard and swing their arms as if they where running, but you see absolutely no speed increase on foot when you sprint. Luckily, for long travels, you are often given a horse to ride. And when they sprint, they really move.
In between some missions, you are dumped in a camp or small town where you can chase down wanted criminals or be a hired gunmen for a few missions in a bit of a sand box moment. It seems completely out of nature for the game. While it’s not bad, it just seems to break the mood and momentum of the missions. Also, you’ll run across gun shops in which you can choose from a wide range of weapons and ammunition to purchase for your future battles.
The controls for Bound in Blood are simple and straight-forward. They serve their purpose and are no more complicated than they need to be. Even the cover system is simple. Without even pressing a button, you can take cover by just walking up to an obstacle. This may sound like it can get annoying, but I found that after about an hour of gameplay, it comes naturally and it turns out to be a great approach to an old tactic.
Even after the first game, the wild west still feels interesting and fresh, especially compared to all the generic history and modern war games. And although the story is delivered well, the narrative in Bound in Blood is not quite as good as the previous Call of Juarez game, but it’s nice that they kept the same style across the games. You’ll also be happy to know that Bound in Blood returns with slow-mo shooting that almost doubles as a quick-time event, but not in the traditional sense. It works fine and the pistol-duals against “level bosses” are fantastic, despite being frustrating at times.
- Graphics: 9
The visual effects and graphics are fantastic. There are some weak points, but all in all, it’s a fantastic looking game that doesn’t require a super-computer to run at full settings.
- Storyline: 6
Although it’s a good prequel to the original Call of Juarez, the storyline does fall victim to a few cliche’s of typical cowboy stories.
- Gameplay: 8
With a great cover system, a large range of available weapons and riveting action sequences, Bound in Blood keeps you entertained and engaged for many hours.
- Controls: 8
While the controls are nothing to write home about, they are very simple and do their job impeccably well. Very easy to pick up and remember, thus leaving you more time to enjoy the game.
- Lasting Appeal: 7
Bound in Blood features several multiplayer game modes, mostly consisting of team-based gametypes, so that should keep you busy long after you’ve beaten the single player, but shockingly, the game offers no co-op. Throughout the game, with the two playable main characters, the game just screams for co-op, but it is nowhere to be found.
Overall: 8 Olives