Preview

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger Preview (PS3)

There’s a lot to be said for going back to basics. I mean, lets face it – Call of Juarez: The Cartel was not a great game, for many reasons that I won’t dwell on now. You know it, I know it, and Techland certainly knows it, which is why they’ve tried to go back and try again with a more traditional and fun offering in the form of Call of Juarez – Gunslinger. The fact that it’s an XBLA/PSN title probably just goes to show the precarious position the franchise is in right now, but in all honestly this could prove to be the best thing that’s happened to the franchise, apart from the fact that it’s gone back to a classical western setting.

In Gunslinger, players take control of Silas Greaves, a bounty hunter who’s seen too much, shot too many people, and probably had too much to drink. The game is actually him telling a bunch of strangers some of the highlights from his life, and this is where the game genuinely starts to shine – Silas is the prime example of an unreliable narrator. Dragon Age 2 boasted that it did this, but to be honest Bioware didn’t do it half as good as Gunslinger seems to have done it (based on the handful of levels we’ve seen so far). Not only does the environment and enemies change in real-time depending on what Silas is narrating, but whole segments may be re-done because the story got away from him and he wants to put it back on track. It’s dynamic, it’s fun and it keeps you on your toes as well. Silas narrates during cut scenes and during the levels themselves.

Ka-boom

Whilst the game is fairly story-driven, in its unreliable and tongue-in-cheek way, the fact that it’s a downloadable title means that Techland have focused more on the action, and put a very arcade spin on it. You get points for killing people and how well you do it, and each level is separated by a results screen evaluating your actions. Further to this, there are other gameplay modes that fuel this even more – Time Attack is one such mode, where you get to select a ‘load-out’, and your job is to clear your way through the level as quickly as possible, scoring as many points as possible. It channels a lot of Bulletstorm’s energy, in many ways, just without all the really crazy ways to kill people. There’s also a ‘Duel’ mode, where you can have pistol duels with all the people you encounter in the game. You get a certain amount of lives and the ultimate goal is to beat all the duels with some lives left, although if you fall short your progress is recorded and you get to try and beat it.

Whilst you’ll always use pistols for duelling, during levels you can comfortably use rifles instead

Gunslinger has all the hall-marks of a very stylised spaghetti western, and a stylised action game as well – you could easily see this being on an old arcade machine. The levels themselves seem varied as well – one level we basically just ran away for most of it, before finally turning and shooting our way to the ‘boss fight’. Gunslinger typically keeps you moving through the levels in a linear fashion, culminating in either a duel, or a staged encounter of some kind. There’s also a fairly hefty RPG layer that accompanies the game: as you level up you can unlock skills in various skill tress – do you want to be a pistol man? Do you want to be more long-ranged with rifles? Or do you just want to pull out the shotgun and go toe-to-toe with everyone? There’s also things like slow-motion, which is a classic Call of Juarez thing, and this metre that, when it’s full, you get the opportunity to dodge a potentially fatal bullet and counter.

Techland seem to have learned from their mistakes, and Gunslinger is shaping up to be one of those fun, easy titles that doesn’t require too much investment, but provides a lot of fun content to get through. To be honest, something that can draw parallels with both Bulletstorm AND The Usual Suspects can’t be too far off the mark, and this one Call of Juarez title you can look forward to. Fun fact: So far this is looking like the first game in the series that doesn’t have a reference to Juarez – in the first game there was a place called Juarez, in the second game there was a person, in the third game there was the ‘Gold of Juarez’ but so far in Gunslinger, nothing. Weird.

Most Anticipated Feature: Nothing in particular, but the game in general does seem like quite a bit of fun so far.

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Comments

By nocutius (SI Elite) on Apr 22, 2013
nocutius
Now this is how a Call of Juarez game is supposed to look, no need to be brilliant, good is good enough.
By HenoKutus (SI Elite) on Apr 23, 2013
HenoKutus
Indeed!
By RakeW (I just got here) on May 11, 2013
RakeW
That Fun fact isn't very accurate. In both first and second game were Juarez as a place, person named Juarez (after the place) and of course gold of Juarez. The third game was about the place and the gold only.