Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Call of Wrrarrrezzz

In preparation for the very good looking sequel out in a couple of weeks, I decided to try out the original Call of Juarez. Basically the only Western game I've ever played was the classic LucasArts FPS Outlaws, which I enjoyed immensely, so was hoping for a worthy successor. It didn't disappoint. Oh sure, it had it's problems, but it had a great story, an interesting two alternating players mechanic with each character (Ray and Billy) having different skills, some great setpieces, and a fantastic character in Reverend Ray, whose backstory will be told in the sequel/prequel Bound In Blood.

I was hoping the big problems would begin and end with Billy's "spiritual journey" Episode. A gigantic open area you can traverse on horse-back, with mountains, fields, rivers... and no enemies. Techland created this hugely impressive level to go rabbit hunting. That's it. After that you have to climb a mountain, but the massive open area plays no part in that.

Oh, and the mountain, the mountain. This now infamous section involves literally climbing a mountain, which takes ages, all in the name of getting a feather. But it's not just a linear climb, oh no, it's a goddamned maze. And just to further add irritation to this already very irritating cake, there's a eagle that you can't kill that does a very good job of knocking you off the cliff.

I hate you.

In the end though, if you manage to work out that you were actually at the top (I didn't as the eagle kept killing me within moments), grabbed the feather (didn't notice it at first for the aforementioned reason, and even then grabbing a tiny feather while being raped by a homicidal eagle is quite tricky) and made it down the mountain without dying (several quicksaves later), you find it was all for nothing but at least you can get back to shooting things again. Phew.

But unfortunately it wasn't to be the end of my troubles.

The final section of the game is filled with plotholes, conveniences, questionable gameplay choices, stupidity, and the breaking of most of the rules Techland had spent hours carefully cultivating. I don't want to list all the problems... oh, hell, yes I do!

(Some spoilers here, so if you haven't played it and are going to, don't read!)

  1. The baffling removal of Ray's patented 'concentration' mode for all of two moments in the game, with no explanation given.
  2. Respawning enemies for the first time, en masse. This also makes no sense as they don't have anywhere to come in from.
  3. Billy being asked to put his guns down, then having to do a fistfight because his guns have apparently vanished.
  4. Main villain Juarez coming back to life all of three times, and both Ray and Billy being surprised each time he does.
  5. And on the third time, Billy keeps his back to Juarez for ages, allowing him to get to his feet and pull out a Crocodile Dundee-size knife from nowhere.
  6. And if he had a knife all the time, why didn't he use it in the fucking fistfight?
  7. How the hell did Juarez and his entire gang manage to follow Billy through some of the most irritating Tomb Raider traps ever without making a noise, and finally make it there before him?
  8. How did Ray know where to go? We didn't get to play that part.
  9. Some bosses who inexplicably have a health bar, including one who just runs around in circles making you chase him... and he warps, too.
  10. The final moment is just a joke. After Juarez pulls that knife, without any warning you get control and have to shoot him. The first time I didn't realise what was happened and Billy died, long unskippable cutscene, the second time I tried to take out my gun and found out it was a Quick Draw moment even though this the first time the game hasn't slapped me in the face to tell me so, Billy dies again, long cutscene again, third time I do it straight away. The drama's long gone by now though.

Up until this point I was utterly loving this game. By the time this ridiculous scenario was over (and I've by no means mentioned everything that ticked me off, this is just off the top of my head) I was glad to see the back of Call of Juarez.

Nevertheless, I'm still eagerly awaiting the sequel. If there's an eagle however I may just snap the game's disc in half and have done with it.

- Chris C


  1. There's no eagle. There are lots of horses, though.

  2. You're Juarez ending mirrors mine precisely, and that mountain climb was a nightmare, but y'know, I forgive it all because I got to put arrows through cowboys' heads in super slo-mo.

  3. For me that adds to the problem, as that was incredibly cool and yet we only got to do it for a few minutes at the end of the game.

    It's more in the sequel though, luckily.

  4. Giev Wild West mod for Far Cry 2, with driveable horses (and Zebras, just for lols and because the model/texture is already there) and lots of big mesas and much riding-into-the-sunset.

    Oh wait, they're twats and didn't release the fucking SDK.

    Oh well.