Well wasn’t this a refreshing change of pace. After the appalling failure that was Call of Juarez: The Cartel, it truly is good to see a much more toned down and polished game that brings the fascinating quasi-large western franchise back to form. Released by Ubisoft and available for purchase on the XBox Arcade, Playstation Network, and Steam for the reasonable price of $14.99, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is one of the best value games of this year.
After The Cartel and the failed half assed attempt to push into Triple A status, a shift to a cheaper and more downplayed game that could be purchased at a fair rate is one of the smartest moves that I have seen in recent video game history. It was obvious that anyone would be gunshy (pun not intended) to buy another Call of Juarez game ESPECIALLY at the full $60 price. Instead of trying to force their hand, the developers said ‘maybe we should go back and regroup before we try this again’ and I for one think this was a genius idea.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is set in 1910 and is a story told by bounty hunter and unreliable narrator Silas Greaves to four men, the bartender Ben, regular bar patrons Steve and Jack, and finally a young teenager named Dwight. The gameplay follows Silas as he tells the tales the patrons of his adventures as a bounty hunter in exchange for free drinks. The game shifts back and forth in the story as Steve, Jack, and Dwight begin correcting Silas on his inconsistencies and grow irritated at him, soon leading to claim him to be a fraud. This leading to a surprising twist ending that I was not expecting and the appearance of a completely unexpected Historical Figure from US History.
Great Graphics and Gameplay for a $15 title
From a gameplay standpoint and a stylistic standpoint, this game looks pretty damn good for the $15 buy price. I would even go as far to say that it is the game that I would confuse for being an actual Triple A title between its company on the various platforms.
The graphics are pretty damn good especially in terms of gun play and the slow motion quick time events where you can dodge bullets. The graphics have a very dirty and gritty western style feel to it, making it one of the strongest western video games I have seen in recent history. But that could be said about the first two Call of Juarez games as well.
The only place where I see that they cut a few corners is the cut scenes where the older Silas is talking to the Bartender, Dwight, Steve, and Jack. Instead of being fully animated scenes, it is instead shown as gritty still shots. While the still shots do add to the western mystique of it, it does feel a little cheap and takes away from the experience if you are a person who really wants full control of the character.
Best Unreliable Narrator Plot I Have Seen Since Fight Club
Fight Club really did ruin the ‘unreliable narrator’ plot for everyone. It is just one of those things when someone does it so right, that to do it again will just make your book, movie, or video game automatic second fiddle to that masterpiece. And really I haven’t seen one that has been able to pull of a decent version of it until Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. Now please, do not think for a second that I am comparing Call of Juarez to Fight Club, but this game was able to take it in a very interesting direction.
Having the plot being told by a sorry-looking drunk drifter of his tales of a bounty hunter is already a farfetched plot to begin with. But to add in the fact that the characters he is telling the story to are well aware of the bullshit that seems to be pouring freely from this man’s mouth, but call him out on it, thus making you as the player recount the story is one of the more clever ploys I have seen in a game. I for one applaud this game for taking that path and executing it masterfully.
So this is big time spoilers (YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED), but at the end of the game after you are given the option of either killing Ben the Bartender (Bob) or sparing him, Dwight, the teenage boy you were telling the story to, turns out to be none other than a teenage version of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States. In game, you either get some words of wisdom from the future US President… Or have his dumbstruck expression after you straight up murder the bartender. The whole inclusion of President Eisenhower in this game is one of those things that is all kinds of epic… But doesn’t make a damn bit of sense. Why would Dwight be in some random bar listening to some bounty hunters story? It is pretty cool way to chuck a popular figure of American history into the mix, but it is a confusing feeling none the less. I felt the sensation of “FUCK YEAH!!!!… Wait…”
It is cool to see but superfluous to the story and leaves you with a confounded feeling.
I have said it before with independent titles and games that are released on the XBox Arcade and Playstation Network that small time developers do need to cut some corners in order to release their game since they don’t have the money for a Triple A title. This game… Kind of makes sense? It was released by Ubisoft and developed by Techland who is a pretty decent up and comer, still I can understand that they don’t have the funds to polish their games to a high gloss shine. But whenever you have several glitches that are either game enders or so crazy that it completely takes you out of the mood… Then you have a bit of a problem.
This game is pretty glitchy. On my first playthrough I ran into two moments where the game froze on me and had to restart and other moments where events did not spawn and characters began to go ape shit nuts. Glitches are one of the nastiest things in video gaming and no matter what you do as a developer, you need to ensure that they happen as infrequently as possible. Sadly this is where the game falls flat the most. I am sure many people have been able to make it through a glitch free playthrough… But I have not been able to play one yet.
The game is a great bargain. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger breathes new life into a hurting franchise. The graphics are good, the gameplay is fun and pretty inventive at times, and it is $15 well spent.
There are some pretty nasty glitches, some moments can get rather goofy, and it is by no means a perfect game. But you will not feel disappointed after you finish playing it.
Final Score 3/5
Thank you so much for reading. If you enjoyed this review then please like and subscribe for more. And return tomorrow to see my latest movie review of Jobs.