the resigned gamer, everything I hate about the thing I love the most

So Far, So Good: Call of Juarez

Posted by Doomeru Woebashi at 9:00 PM on Friday, June 22, 2007

Gul Dukat goes West, the resigned gamerI have to admit that I'm a sucker for western games. Not that there have been too many. I'm not fooling myself: besides Lucasarts' Outlaws with the crazy hand drawn weapons and Neversoft's Gun, no recent games have really nailed the genre.

Call of Juarez started out on PC and its roots show. The environments I've seen are lush and well-lit, but you don't so much explore them as push forward until you reach whatever the waypoint marker directs you to. NPC's are well-animated but lifeless when they aren't saying something, and one of the two characters you play as is constantly forced through circumstance to use a whip to cross chasms but it's evident the branch-grabbing function hasn't been tuned for use with a controller.

Billy is a tough injun, the resigned gamer

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Here's Billy, one of the two characters you get to be in Call of Juarez. Billy's tortured by his past and running from some kind of misunderstanding. Blah blah blah. What Native American videogame character doesn't have that in his background? He can hide in bushes and shoot arrows and dies dramatically whenever he falls off a cliff. He can probably hang out with spirit animals too, but I haven't gotten that far. The reason I got the game was to play as Billy's pursuer, Reverend Ray. This guy has everything going for him, I don't even know where to start.

While Billy's missions are supposedly made interesting through thoughtful stealth activities and dog murdering, Reverend Ray is a pissed-off man of God who charges through his levels shooting bloodless drunk townsfolk in the face and never letting his terribly-implemented bullet time firing mode get in the way. I've gotten two six-shooters as well as a shotgun, but the game lets you pick up a lot of objects and toss them around.

mah bukkit of justice! the resigned gamer
Yeah, you do have to grab a bucket of water and use it to put out a fire, but only once. The game didn't make me put it down so I threw it at Billy to screw up his scripted action. Reverend Ray is voiced by Marc Alaimo, which is totally badass because he played Gul Dukat. If Ubisoft really wanted Call of Juarez to sell, they'd just run ads of Alaimo reading scripture from the Bible, which really happens in the game since Reverend Ray comes equipped with one and you can whip it out and read from in one hand while shooting dudes with the other.

I've barely started this game but it is clear there are some unique gameplay elements to see. Reverend Ray doesn't just get a Bible, he even has a Bible mission!

bible, the resigned gamer
I mentioned this game's PC roots. Most PC ports to Xbox 360 aren't optimized to load well and this game is no exception. By this time in life I've resigned myself to long loading screens on modern game systems (Nintendo DS and cracked PSP excepted) but this game takes it to a whole new level. A lot of developers use loading screens to give helpful tips or give some historical details about the game's world but only Call of Juarez uses them to baffle players with suggested play strategies.

meatball, the resigned gamer
I'll try to get a screencap of the meatball maneuver. It remains unclear which character can perform it...