Ubisoft Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood review
Set in the Wild West, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is a straightforward first-person shooter.
This prequel to the original Call of Juarez tells the story of two brothers, Ray and Thomas McCall, who turn from honourable soldiers to violent, ruthless outlaws. The plot is reminiscent of many spaghetti westerns: a tale of revenge, greed, violence and love.
The McCalls' story may be a little derivative, but it's excellently told. The voice acting is superb: Thomas and Ray's banter is varied and involving, and by the time you've finished this (fairly short) game, you'll feel as if you understand them. Most levels let you play as either brother. Thomas is stealthier and able to throw knives and shoot a bow, while Ray's more direct approach includes dual pistols and dynamite.
At first, the game feels like a Call of Duty: Wild West, with spectacular set pieces interspersed with checkpoint-based shooting sections. Stage coaches and dynamite replace trucks and grenades, but it's all very familiar. However, it also provides more freeform mission areas, where you can pick your own objectives.
The game includes traditional western showdowns, where you must outdraw your opponent. These are fun at first, but difficult, as your enemies are incredibly quick. You'll have to try several times to defeat each opponent, which soon gets repetitive.
A better addition is the concentration mode. Every kill you make puts one bullet in a six-shooter in the top-right of the screen. Fill this up and you have 60 seconds to activate the concentration mode. Concentration has slightly different effects depending on the brother you're playing. Ray tags multiple targets with the crosshair before releasing a hail of bullets, while with Thomas you have to flick the mouse back to cock and fire a series of deadly accurate shots.
Enemy AI is disappointing, as opponents often run out of cover to engage you and seem to have no tactics. In contrast, your brother is genuinely helpful and can easily handle himself.
The graphics are good, especially the characters' faces, and the long-distance views over the desert landscape are breathtaking. When you look closely at the scenery, though, there is little detail. There's not much to see in the desert sections, but the frontier towns are full of nice period details.
The idiotic enemy AI and short plot make Bound in Blood a quick single-player experience, although you can play it again with the other brother. There are some good multiplayer options, though. It's a solid, but not ground-breaking, shooter with impressively high production values. Fans of Call of Duty will feel at home.