by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on X360
When the original Call of Juarez was thrust into my hands, I really had no idea what I was in for. I was barely even aware of its existence, let alone of what it was about. The cover suggested a First Person Shooter, set in the Wild West and I got exactly that, and more. I couldn’t believe my luck as the game turned out to be a refreshing change from the average Shooter and it really left an impression on me.
Its commercial success probably came as much from being a great game as it came from being one of the first DirectX 10 games. Call of Juarez produced some of the most impressive graphics in any game and quickly became a benchmark standard for video card performance. With such a history, a sequel was inevitable. Surprisingly enough, we didn’t get one, technically. We got a prequel instead.
Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood takes us back to the Mexico and United states of the mid 1800’s. The civil war has taken a turn for the worst and the McCall brothers find themselves at the losing end. When their commanding officer orders them to march towards Atlanta, Ray and Thomas defect, hoping to get to their mother’s estate before the Yankees do. Their choice would prove to cause nothing but pain and sorrow.
It is unusual for me to start raving about a game’s storyline so early in an article, but Bound in Blood is an unusual game. Being a prequel, developer Techland created an opportunity to give the player some insight into the history of Ray (and in a circumvent way Billy), one of the two lead characters from the original game. What could have possibly caused Ray’s distorted view on life and God? This question, along with many others, is answered in Bound in Blood. In order to know the whole story, however, several new characters had to be introduced. Ray’s brothers, Thomas and William, both play a significant role.
The game is divided in chapters and in most you will be able to choose whether you want like to play as Thomas or as Ray before it starts. Every now and then, though, only one character is available, forcing you to ‘sample’ the gameplay differences between the two. William’s role is restricted to providing narrative and cannot be controlled. Ray is the heavyweight of the two, being stronger. He is able to use dynamite to throw at enemies or blow holes where there were none and can wield two revolvers at the same time. Thomas on the other hand, is swift and stealthy when he wants to. He can use a bow or a knife as easily as he would his guns. He is also handy with a lasso which he uses to pull himself up to places where Ray would be unable to go. When you are playing one brother, the other will be around to back you up in your fights and aid you with the skills that you lack yourself.
The story is infused with humorous banter between Ray and Thomas. The laid back voices of the two men uttering lines such as “Did ya see that shot?” , “You sure you weren’t aiming for the horse…?”, “He’s just like me”, and “What, slow in the head?” in the thick of a fight really made me laugh. The voice actors did a great job of establishing the relationship between the characters, even if William sounds frustratingly whiney at times. But, as this fits with the role and character, it isn’t really a complaint.
While not as groundbreaking as the original, Bound in Blood produces some stunning visuals. No matter where you go, everything looks great. Traveling through the game’s forsaken-looking mountain ranges and densely forested areas is a feast to the eyes. Perceptive gamers will notice little details such as the heat that distorts the air above the barrel of a heavily used Gatling gun and chickens that don’t just look like chickens, but also move like them.
No Pros and Cons at this time