Call of Juarez: Bound In Blood
- 05 May, 2018
- By Admin: Frederick Wilson
- Comments: 00
Ubisoft and Techland have done well to release a solid first person shooter in the form of Call of Juarez: Bound In Blood, a prequel to the quirky Call of Juarez that graced the shelves two years ago. Competing in a field that is cramped with futuristic alien shooters, World War II simulators and Modern Warfare games, Bound in Blood provides something different from the rest of the pack.
Players are introduced to the McCall brothers Ray and Thomas, both soldiers in the Confederate army who leave their postings to save their family property from the oncoming Union forces. After the destruction of their homeland, the brothers set off west to discover fortune and glory. The Confederate troops are hot on their heels due to orders from the McCall’s former commanding officer, and with some resistance from local law enforcement, you’ll be battling against various factions as you eventually strive to find the treasure of Cortez. All set against the backdrop of the big wild west, Bound in Blood offers a compelling story, albeit a tad predictable, it’s outside the normal confines of what gamers are used to being fed from a shooter, and it’s a welcome change.
This is a prequel game, and chances are many of the people playing Bound in Blood have never set their hands on the first title. Fortunately, you don’t need to have played the first title to “get” what is going on, as each chapter is narrated by the youngest McCall and fleshes out the story and character of the two brothers. It’s well done and everything ties together nicely.
You have the choice of playing as either Ray or Thomas at the beginning of each mission for most of the game which is a welcome feature. Each brother has his strong and weak points, Ray can absorb a lot more damage due to his body armor and can pick up heavy items and smash through doors. Thomas is a better shot than Ray and is more about agility and stealth. It’s a great contrast and playing a mission with one or the other will truly change your playing style to fit the situation. It’s a mechanic that is simplistic yet works so well to keep things truly interesting.
The platform elements that plagued the first title are missing from Bound in Blood, with this time round the focus being on frantic gunplay. Enemies will drop new guns for you to try out, ammo and money to spend upgrading your explosive arsenal. The game also employs a “bullet-time” esque mechanic called the concentration meter. Each enemy you kill goes towards filling up this meter, and once activated you will unleash a lashing of fury. Once the concentration meter has been filled it is only available for one minute, which is wise decision from the developers, it eliminates the ability to take advantage of the feature throughout the whole game. The difference between the gameplay styles are even evident here, Ray targets a number of enemies and brings them down in a shower of gunfire, while Thomas will perform a quick shot at anyone in his line of sight.
Once you have been fighting off waves of enemies, you’ll eventually be paired up against other enemies in a duel. It takes skill and patience, you’ll need to keep your enemy in front of you at all times, and you won’t be able to draw your weapon until you hear a bell being struck. The target reticule will directed at your enemy and through timing and skill you have one shot to land a fatal blow. It’s an exciting moment that get the blood pumping and is truly unique to the title, yet it can be frustrating enough to ruin the experience. Dependant on where your enemy is on the screen, the targeting reticule can bounce around erratically at times causing your death. In such a high tense situation that is based purely timing and reflexes you want the controls to be spot on, and unfortunately, these moments can be detrimental to the experience.
While not a deal breaker the lack of variety in the enemies also brings the title down. Aside from the characters you face off against in the duel segments, there are only four or so enemies who run at you in waves. It makes it feel monotonous, and with some occasional issues with the AI just standing there waiting for a shotgun to the face, it really breaks the immersion from the west. A lot of the missions feel the same, and while they are in different locations, the same generic formula is used throughout the game. Much like a certain Ubisoft title about a creed, most of the time the mission will consist of moving to a town, blowing it to hell and moving onto the next one. There are some side missions to break the mold, but they still offer the same frantic gunplay or dueling mechanics. The side missions had the potential to put the characters into different scenarios such as robberies, fist fights, saloon shootouts, everything that we know about the wild west, but unfortunately, they stick to the same formula.
Bound in Blood features an expanded multiplayer component, featuring a total of thirteen player classes. Each class has a unique armament along with varying speed and health stats which keeps things interesting. Each enemy you kill online rewards you with some cash, which can, in turn, be used to upgrade you character’s stats. Seven Maps are included with the game, along with five fun game modes. Wild West Legends being the standout. It’s reminiscent of Assault mode from Unreal Tournament, one side is tasked with objectives while the other side is tasked with defending said objective. This is a perfect formula for some EPIC battles and is a lot of fun.
Graphically Bound in Bloodis a decent looking game, but has some issues that ultimately let it down. From far away the rocky surroundings and ghost towns looks amazing but as you get closer you will notice that the textures are rather bland, and backed up with tremendous amounts of pop in, screen tearing, clipping and aliasing it detracts from the visuals. The PC version looks a little sharper than the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, but still suffers from the same issues, especially if you max out the resolution 1920×1200. Regardless the game does a solid job in the visual department, running at a steady frame rate and showcasing some great particle effects.
The audio presentation is rather good, the voice acting is top notch, and the little arguments that Ray and Thomas have will resonate with brothers as similar arguments that have been had around the house. The musical score feels like an old western movie and suits the title perfectly, and the gunfire and explosions are spot on.