Call of Juarez Xbox 360 / PC

Call of Juarez Xbox 360 / PC
It seems like perfect timing that with the release of The Sergio Leone Anthology and the third season of Deadwood that a Western-themed first-person shooter/stealth actioner like Call of Juarez should come down the dusty trail. Word of mouth hasn’t been overly kind to Call of Juarez but pay it no heed, as CoJ is one of the best Western-themed games in a long, long time. True, while there are limitless FPS games where you battle alien hordes, mechanical monsters, insectoids or the Third Reich, with more in the pipe every month, the wild, wild West has been mostly left alone, with only a handful of games in its canon. However, given the savage, lawless nature of the period and its vivid characters and imagery, it’s always been ripe for videogame adaptation, although few have been up to the challenge. In Call of Juarez, you play as two characters: Billy Candle, a young Mexican more adept at hiding and climbing than gun-slinging, and Reverend Ray, an unstoppable hand of god killing machine/preacher. After his family is slaughtered, Billy, in a case of mistaken identity, is on the run, mercilessly pursued by the Reverend, who believes he’s responsible for the death of his brother, Billy’s stepfather. Oh, and there’s also the legend of cursed gold that comes into play and ties everything together but that’s down the road. Basically, you play as either the more stealth-inclined Billy, fleeing from the wrath of God (Reverend Ray), or the good Father, who’s pursuing Billy, killing just about everything in his way. Some have complained about the two-character system, especially the game play differences, but the switching back and forth gives variety and adds difficulty. While most of Ray’s missions are all "walk and gun” (he doesn’t run), Billy will have to sneak, hunt rabbits, climb a mountain (with the help of his whip), etc. The missions are varied enough, utilising numerous Western tropes but the duels feel a little haphazard, involving more luck than skill. While the graphics aren’t the best ever, they are fine and the great outdoors look expansive. As well, the music is exactly what you’d want for a Western game, the length acceptable and the conclusion of the story satisfying. While Call of Juarez won’t supplant Halo 3 on year-end lists (once it drops, of course), it is a good, solid, entertaining game and one that any Western fan should heed the call of. (Ubisoft)