by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on X360
I was thoroughly impressed by the game’s ability to depict ‘air’ conditions. With the sun burning hot in the sky, the air becomes sultry, making shiny objects ‘painful’ to look at, just as it would in real life. Fog and gunpowder smoke can have a big, realistic feeling impact on your vision. With gunpowder smoke, some of the patches of smoke drift away slowly, causing clear patches in the smoke to exist as well as denser ones. Finding your target under these circumstances can become something of hunt, increasing the sense of danger.
With such quality graphics and attention to detail, it is hard to imagine anything negative can be said about the game’s graphical presentation. True enough, it is only a small issue, but I do feel that Techland overdid the distortion effects. At times, combat in the game really intensifies. Oil lamps break and cause fires, explosives go off and cannonballs impact nearby to create a chaotic frenzy that aims to mimic real combat conditions. Each of these may impact your visibility, causing your view to go unfocussed. So much even, that there is nothing left to do but to seek cover and wait for it to be over. As the game is scripted, the chaos may not be over until you have progressed onto the next area. I appreciate the sense of chaos that this instills, but it is a little too much for my taste.
The game’s pace is brutal at times, requiring you to move forward along its invisible rails in order to get to the next scripted trigger. Yes, Bound in Blood is very much a ‘shooter on rails’ and even more so than its predecessor. At first, I was a little disappointed but the game quickly convinced me that it was more than just a fancy shooting gallery. The AI for example, is often quite clever. Enemies hide behind objects and will try to find better vantage points to fire from. They will also shoot oil lamps that cause fires that force you to come out of hiding.
The scripted events are also a strong suit of Bound in Blood and at one point, I sensed that a difficult battle was finally swinging my way. My euphoria knew no bounds until I saw a wagon being dragged into the combat zone which had a Gatling gun mounted on top of it. Gone was my momentum, I had a new task ahead of me. The game is riddled with similar events, always offering you a new challenge to overcome.
It is no exception to find 8 or 10 baddies all trying to shorten your life at the same time. With bullets whizzing around your ears, taking cover is the only way to ensure you will stay in the fight. The game’s cover system is one of the most intuitive I have ever played with. Hiding behind a wall or an object is incredibly easy. Just stand next to something and your character will automatically lean into it. Depending on the object and your position, you will either be looking over or around the object so that you can shoot your foes. Leaving cover is simply a matter of stepping away.
Ray and Thomas each have different “bullet time” sequences that can be triggered after you have shot down a certain number of enemies. Playing as Ray, you can quickly ‘tag’ foes that he will rapidly gun down after the bullet time sequence ends. As Thomas, you ‘pull’ on each target during the sequence itself. A third type of sequence occurs when both brothers burst into a place that they know is crawling with enemies. Preferring the head-on approach, they crash through doors and fire at anything that moves. During this sequence, two crosshairs (on for each revolver) will slowly move closer together. Until they connect, you can shoot at your enemies in slow motion.
The cowboy way
The 7 hours that I spent to finish Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood was on the short side, but every moment of it was very enjoyable. Well, maybe not every moment: some were spent in utter frustration. Showdowns with end bosses appear on a regular basis and the mechanics for these were well intentioned but ill-conceived. The showdowns are more a matter of chance than of skill so it is chance that lets you progress to the next chapter. My patience really ran out with two of the last three end bosses. Still, this comparatively small blemish on an otherwise great game can easily be forgiven when you look at everything else that the game has to offer. Great gameplay, a unique Western setting and a gripping story with more twists than the Mississippi river make this shooter stand out of the Shooter crowd.
No Pros and Cons at this time