Wild Wild West

Strap on your six-shooters and saddle up, it’s time to go back to the Wild West. After a modern-day outing that didn’t sit so well with fans and critics, Call of Juarez is going back to what it does best with Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, a digitally-distributed old west shooter. Will the old west theme allow Call of Juarez to ride again?

The main aspect of Gunslinger is it’s story mode, which is actually told as a story. The game tells the tale of Silas Greaves, a gunslinger and bounty hunter in America’s old west. The game takes place as Silas himself tells the story to a bunch of listeners in the local saloon, so it’s not uncommon for the game-world to change around you, or to experience moments more than once as Silas weaves the threads of his long history together. It’s a method that works really well and helps to make the gameplay more interesting, as you have to stop momentarily as Silas argues with his listeners about whether his story is fact or fiction.

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The story itself isn’t anything too original for those familiar with spaghetti westerns, but it’s fun to see how the life of Silas Greaves weaves amongst the stories of Wild West legends like Billy the Kid and Jesse James. The story is enough to keep you going though, as the gameplay itself is also quite fun. I managed to complete my first playthrough of the game in around 4 hours, but starting a second playthrough on the game’s True West difficulty made me realise that it would take much longer to truly complete the game.

Adding length and replayability is a Duelling mode, which tasks you with winning 15 duels and scoring as highly as possible while doing so, and an Arcade Mode which has you complete a small part of a level, aiming to get a high score by chaining together kills and using some fancy shooting. The duelling mode is fun, but neither it nor the Arcade Mode are really standout features unless you’re the type of competitive player who absolutely needs to get as high as they can on the leaderboards.

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The visual style and dialogue of the game are really well presented and help feed the storytelling style of the game. The animated/cell-shade graphics make the whole game feel like a sort of comic book story, and the narration and dialogue provides some much-needed comic relief. It’s rare that you see all the key aspects of a game truly working together to create a fluid experience.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is actually a really solid package, and far more than I was honestly expecting from it. It’s maybe a little short, and I feel like the skill trees could’ve used some more interesting abilities, but for an arcade release it exceeds what was necessary of it. It’s fun to play, well presented and I really had no problems with bugs, glitches or broken mechanics. Gunslinger is a polished title that I feel would’ve gone down well as a full retail release if it had been extended out some more.

Developer: Techland
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: May 22nd 2013 (XBLA – Reviewed, PC Digital & PSN)