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Thursday | December 8, 2016
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Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood (PC)

Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood (PC)

 

Call Of Juarez was released 2 years ago by Ubisoft and it was a game set in the Wild West that dealt with a mission for revenge as well as the hunt for a cursed treasure. Reverend Ray was a fantastic character, a fanatical preacher who quoted from the bible while shooting people in the face. COJ 2 focuses on the history of Reverend Ray, his family and their quest for gold.

Bound In Blood is a complicated story which once again deals with a cursed treasure in the setting of the wild west. You are introduced to Ray and Thomas McCall, brothers in the Confederate army who leave their posts to rescue their family home from union soldiers. As they witness the destruction of their territory they head west to seek their fortune, in the effort to rebuild their home. Unfortunately going AWOL from the army means they are hunted by their former commander and his troops and they have to deal with this on their journey as well as law enforcement for their many suspect activities.

As their journey progresses they meet up with a Mexican bandit leader Juan and his mistress Marisa who hold information on the treasure of Cortez. The McCall brothers also have to deal with the Apache who are connected with this mysterious treasure. The story is narrated effectively during chapters by William McCall, the youngest brother and it is the games strong point as it is fully fleshed out and detailed from start to finish.

You play as either brother throughout the various sections and the two brothers have very different combat styles. Ray is the physically stronger of the two and can withstand a lot of damage due to the armor he wears – he is able to lift heavy objects and punch through doors and can also blast through objects with the dynamite he carries. Thomas is a stealth style character and he can use a plethora of projectiles, such as arrows and knifes to take down his foes. His speed is also a benefit and he can climb structures to escape or hide – one of his strongest traits is his accuracy with a rifle over longer distances.

Taking either brother obviously means you have to take a different approach to the levels and there are a few occasions when the choice of character will give a different route for you to take. The game is designed that when you have multiple character choices both of them can make it to the next chapter so it never proves to be a issue on that front.

The primary focus in the game is fast paced battle sections and everyone you kill leaves either ammunition, cash or a new gun for you to take. Killing enemies also means that your concentration meter will increase until you are able to use a bullet time effect to easily dispose of them. Both characters have a slightly different bullet time kill mode with Ray painting a multitude of targets then launching a fast burst of gunfire to kill his opponents. Thomas shoots quickly at anyone in sight and you have to reload via the hammer on the gun to fire his shots at the increased speed. You can hold onto this bullet fire mode for a short time and you only have a minute to trigger it before it is lost and you have to start the collection process all over again. This is an intentional mechanism in place to ensure the mode isn’t abused on a regular basis.

While there are a multitude of enemies to deal with, every so often you are placed against the leader of a district and these range from lawmen to gang leaders. These duels are based on reflex reactions and you have to walk around your foe keeping him in view all the time. Once a bell is sounded you then have to quickly draw your weapon – this is when a target zone will appear on screen and it will move towards his body. Inflicting a lethal wound is the order of the day and it is tricky in such a short time frame. Sadly there are some coding issues with this from time to time as the targeting area can stutter and will mean you miss the specific area you aimed for, even if you were faster on the draw than the AI.

The combat is generally solid and apart from the glitches with some of the reaction sequences there are really not many other issues to report. Graphically the game is lazy in parts, because there are a lot of characters in the game who are all almost identical in appearance with the same faces and clothing. There are many times you will look around and get a feeling of almost deja vu as the environments are even similar from area to area. The AI also has some issues because quite often I was faced with enemies who would stand looking at you while you were able to just shoot them in the face, without even a reaction for their own preservation. A certain amount of staleness will rear it’s ugly head, even a short while into the game. There are also very few sections which allow you to utilise the stealth abilities of Thomas, with the focus seemingly entirely on the fast ‘run and gun’ methodology.

The engine is smooth enough but there are some problems, especially with the sterile texture work which is particularly noticeable at high resolutions of 1920×1200 (or greater). The levels of pop in are also quite poor because even after maxing out every setting they are still apparent. The quality of the animations are pretty good especially on the main characters as they tangle with the various enemies from level to level. On a more positive note the frame rates are very smooth and there are also some nice particle effects on offer which make a good appearance when dynamite is utilized and wood shards erupt into the air. The engine however is not particularly detailed, especially considering the recent developments in the PC market over the last 6 months.

The audio side of the game is very strong and the music in particular deserves special mention as it sounds as if it has been lifted from a classic Clint Eastwood western film. The voice acting also deserves credit because the accents and dialogue all perfectly fit the setting of the game. Even the secondary characters get solid voice work which is a refreshing change from the multitude of games we review. Some of the scripting however is 18 rated and might not be suitable for young children.

Multiplayer has received some attention and it now features 13 character classes that you can play with as you unlock them by winning multiplayer bouts. All these character classes have different weaponry as well as various strength, health and speed statistics and as you kill other players during a battle you earn money that can be spent to upgrade your stats. There are 5 game modes across 7 maps and there is the promise of downloadable content to further enhance the experience. The online side of the game is fun and it was quite busy while I was playing, however whether this translates into the same activity in a few months is up for debate.

Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood is a decent follow up which will surely appeal to fans of the original, even with the shortcomings. There is a lot of fast action and gun fire which will attract a certain audience, however in the grand scheme of things I felt the game became repetitive rather too quickly.

Gameplay
78

Solid mechanic and pacing is fast, however it does become repetitive.
Graphics
68
Poor texture work, technical glitches and repetitive use of character designs
Sound
90
Brilliant sweeping soundtrack and colourful voice acting.
Value
75
Multiplayer adds some value to the package, but overall it is repetitive
Overall
75

Will appeal to a specific audience, but lacks variety in the long run

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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