The genre of western has been niche genre in modern times. While there are still acclaimed games that are Western (Red Dead Redemption), most of them become cult classics with minimal mainstream popularity. The Call of Juarez series is an example of this. A serviceable series that became notorious for the game Call of Juarez: The Cartel which became infamous for its glitches and for being a bad game(like really bad, you guys). The follow-up in the series is the one named Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. Let’s talk about it.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a first person shooter set in an Western setting. The playable character is a bounty hunter named Silas Greaves who arrives in a saloon. He decides to tell the other patrons stories of his accomplishments and adventures in exchange for some drinks. That starts the game’s story mode where Silas tells his story through flashbacks… and flashfowards… and in media-res. You see, Silas is a bit of an unreliable narrator so this leads to arguments with the other patrons about the authenticity of his story and whenever he is making things up. It doesn’t help that numerous Western legends like Billy the Kid and Jesse James show up in Silas’ story. For the player, it gives the narrative a sense of humor that isn’t seen commonly in other westerns. One final piece of narrative in the game is the Nuggets of Truth which goes into more detail about the various characters and places that Silas goes or mentions in his story.The narrative is also helped by the voice acting of the characters which is quite good. Silas especially comes to life through the dialogue and the voice actor that portrays him. So the narrative is pretty good but what about the gameplay?
Being a first person shooter, the gist of the game is to get from point A to point B while shooting almost everything that moves. As you play the game, you earn exp that level ups Silas. Every time Silas levels up, a skill point is given to be used in three skill trees. The skill trees are tied to the weapons of the game: pistols, shotguns and rifles. Most of the skills helps Silas become a more dangerous gunslinger (ha) and to reach higher combos with your kills. It’s a fun little mechanic that empowers the player as he/she progresses through the game. There also a couple of other mechanics worth mentioning. First, the ability to avoid death by avoiding a bullet in slow motion. Its pretty unique but doesn’t break the game since the ability needs to recharge once you used it. Another part of the gameplay that is worth mentioning is duels. Duels are done mostly at the end of some levels where you face off against another man to see who draw and shoot first. The player has to keep the crosshair on the opponent in order to raise focus while keeping Silas’ hand over the gun to raise the speed. It takes some getting used to since its hard to balance both things at the same time buts it is a fun and tense part of the game that never overstays its welcome. In summary, the gameplay is fun and well done with the kills feeling satisfying while the duels are quick tense diversions from the main gameplay.
Before giving my final summary of the game, let’s focus on the other two modes of the game. There is an arcade mode where you play modified levels that are filled with enemies with the goal to get a high score through combos and killstreaks. You pick a class at the start of the level and just rinse the enemies as fast as possible. The last mode is Duels mode which is an endless parade of duels that are both from the Story and exclusive to this mode. So how does the game stack up in general? Pretty well I have to say. The gameplay is fun and satisfying while the story is charming yet succeeds in giving a western feel to the occurrences that happens. If I had nitpick a bit, the endings are a bit lackluster (even the very idea of multiple endings in a Western piece of media doesn’t make sense to me in my opinion) and the non-duel bosses are bit repetitive compared to the rest of the game. Summary? You should definitely give this game a shot wherever you can find and especially if it’s on sale. While it’s doesn’t take down Red Dead Redemption as being the best western game, its a fun time nonetheless. Agree? Disagree? Comment below and let me know.