Hands On: Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood

By Jim Rossignol on April 30th, 2009 at 5:45 pm.


This week I had a chance to play through the first few levels of an unfinished build of Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood. My impressions of the forthcoming cowboy gunslinger meander hazily in the sunset below. (Cut to: distant jangle of campfire guitar on the prairie…)

The modern FPS seems determined to make sure that we are not alone. In Call Of Juarez we get to play through the shooty exploits of two Confederate brothers, Thomas and Ray McCall, the stepfather and step-uncle of the original game’s Billy Candle. These chaps aren’t exactly Gordon and Alyx when it comes to charms, but nor are they Clint Eastwood loners: they need each other to overcome obstacles, pulling each other up onto ledges, or entering a dual gun-fighter mode where they both hit a slow-mo six-shooter sequence to kill off a swarm of enemies in a single blaze of gunfire. This is, like Gears of War, or Army of Two, a buddy game, with you having a choice between buddies as you play. And yet for some reason not a co-op game: odd.

Anyway, “concentration mode”, is the core trick of the fancy shootin’ (it can be performed solo, or scripted with gun-chum), allowing you to make precise kills in slow-mo, or to select a number of targets to be rapidly gunned down. It takes on two modes – one with you pinpointing a bunch of dudes you’d like to be dead before the timer is up, and another getting you to fire rapidly as your gun passes over some targets. So it’s not quite the same as it was in the original game, but it nevertheless adds that veneer of near-supernatural gunfighter talent that is fundamental to cowboy lore. It also gives this game a mini-game challenge feel that you don’t tend to see in FPS.

Of course it’s still a game that is largely down to straight-up gun-fights: hundreds of combatants face off against Ray and Thomas, and staying alive becomes a factor of quick reactions – earning kills to charge up the concentration mode – and use of that power-up to overcome particularly nasty moments. It’s also remarkably forward in its use of a cover system: you’ll find yourself “attaching” to specific bits of scenery as you get close, and leaning around them with mouselook, rather than lean keys. It’s a peculiar sensation at first, but it seems to work: giving you an analogue alternative that binary up/down of the traditional crouch-toggle-behind-box. I found pinpointing enemies occasionally tricky – the start of the game is rather grimy and murky – and was thankful when concentration mode had charged back to full.

That’s not to say that is this an ugly game. There’s barely a moment passes without some tremendous moment of Midwest spectacle: you start with the battered Confederate defences of the Civil War South and then head west, through seven shades of carnage. As Alec noted in his previous look at the game, developers Techland are taking the challenge of the scripted FPS very seriously, and even without the fully-automatic ordnance of the modern world they’re conjuring up a very violent, wonderfully smoky, explosion-filled world. Linear, yes, but heavy on the dudes-eviscerated and the gunpowder detonated.

So it looks like this will be a very solid shooter indeed. What is more worrying, however, is that the wild esoterica of the original has not returned for this game. This feels more traditional than the original, despite sitting in the relatively untouched Western genre. The concentration mode is the only notable vestige of that original outing, with the disappearance of Revered Ray’s fire and brimstone Bible-carrying rabble-babble is a genuine loss for the character of the series. This does appear to be a far more polished, technically accomplished game, but I wonder if the mad verve of the original, and its broken charm, will evade Bound In Blood.

We’ll find out for certain in a couple of months time: Call Of Juarez will be published by Ubisoft on Friday July 3rd.

Oh, and this is the most recent trailer:

And here’s some of my favourite cowboy music to get you in the mood:

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30 Comments »

  1. Nighthood says:

    I’m cautiously interested. The original was great, especially the engine. Remember the huge expanse you could see after you climbed the mountain? It was one of my favourite moments of graphics ever, and it’s a fairly old game now.

  2. army of none says:

    I loved the first, even with it’s flaws, and am eagerly looking forward to this one!

  3. GC says:

    Outlaws is back !

  4. Turin Turambar says:

    I wonder, what happened to all the other games from this company, announced before this game? Chrome 2, Warhound, Dead Island.

  5. Pavel says:

    I have just seen this czech preview (shows a lot of HD gameplay):

    http://stahuj.tiscali.cz/videa/call_of_juarez_bound_in_blood-tiscali_video-preview_hq.zip

    and I gotta say – I LOVED what I saw.I also liked the first game very much.So if this will have some sensible price (like 20 pounds, which is maximum I am willing to pay for a game, with a few exceptions like FO3 or GTA4), I will definitely buy it.

  6. MrBejeebus says:

    warhound was looking to be good i remember

    anyway this looks great i liked the 1st altho i didnt complete it when i had it, my old pc couldnt handle it back then

  7. DigitalSignalX says:

    great trailer. Except that very last bit. “Pre-Order to unlock powerful weapons and classes.” If I decide to get this game in stores in July I may not get everything it has to offer? Christ.

    It’s amazing how developers can invent ways to potentially alienate customers.

  8. Lars BR says:

    “Thomas and Ray McCall, the stepfather and step-uncle of the original game’s Billy Candle”.

    Ray also being the rev.

  9. LewieP says:

    @Pavel
    You can preorder it for £23.99.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Fede says:

    Nice tune, the second one.
    It was also in Blues Brothers 2000 if I remember correctly :)

  11. bergotronic says:

    No coop? Those Slags. :( :(

  12. autogunner says:

    Johnny Cash also does a good cover of this song. I loved the first one, short and sweet, and ideal example of what a B movie game should be

  13. DK says:

    So, are there first person blowjobs in this, as in the first one? Because that was a little over the top.

  14. Alex N. says:

    The trailer seems to be broken, for me at least.

  15. Marty Dodge says:

    Hrm, this done by Southerners perchance?…Yankees bad…Confederates good…

    The Outlaws do a cracking version “Ghost Riders…” as well.

  16. Jim Rossignol says:

    Hrm, this done by Southerners perchance?

    Techland are from Poland.

  17. AndrewC says:

    …Southern Poland?

  18. Schadenfreude says:

    And I’d hardly call Ray “good”. He’s the bastard’s bastard.

  19. SanguineLobster says:

    Just so everyone’s clear, in wild west mythology, the confederates are often considered to be protagonists who fought, not necessarily for slavery, but for their state rights, specifically their right to secede from the union.

    Northerners are often depicted as rich, fancy-talkers who have never worked a day in their lives, yet they still feel as though they have the right to suppress southern freedoms. The confederate protagonists, therefore, are seeking a new home or some form of success in the west, away from northern tyranny.

  20. Inigo says:

    I think the most important question is: will we be allowed to shoot corpses this time round?

  21. yaster says:

    You can shoot animals (I saw dying chicken and poor horsie;( ) so I think shooting corpses is alright too… ehh, I actually liked imposed morality in original CoJ.

  22. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    I too, wonder what happened to Dead Island.

    I wanted me a non-linear zombie smashing game :<

  23. reverend ray says:

    Great! You guys may also want to check out
    COJFANS.COM

  24. Fumarole says:

    Reverend Ray is one of the most entertaining protagonists I’ve ever stepped into the boots of.

  25. Malagate says:

    @Nighthood, “Remember the huge expanse you could see after you climbed the mountain?”, yes I do. In fact, it’s one of my favourite parts too, if only because I found a kick ass bug! I discovered that if you jump off the top of the mountain, and don’t touch the sides, and land in the water, you won’t die or even be hurt. It’s a shortcut I’m always happy to take :D

    I just hope there are really tall things to jump off of in this one too, it does seem to be what I do in a lot of games now I come to think of it…

    Also @the fanciest of pants, Dead Island? Ohh, sounds just like the kind of zombie game I’d want to play, gonna look that up, thanks.

  26. Ian says:

    I really, really like the first and I just hope this can retain some of the charm. Reverend Ray was immense. I always loved it when you’d spent half an hour sneaking through a level as Billy, and then the Rev just came barging through with his six shooters, breastplate and a little brimstone and killed the hell out of the people you’d been terrified of just minutes before.

    Also: I too have been waiting for Dead Island news for a good while now.

  27. SlappyBag says:

    Can you shoot dead people and animals in this? Its all I care about damn it.

  28. Resin says:

    probably fans of the Outlaw Josie Wales.

    setting looks great -linear gameplay = pass

  29. born2expire says:

    I think Dead Island tops my most wanted list, finally a zombie game with actual zombies, who would have thunk it?

  30. BumLing says:

    I cant belive that they left out Coop???? thats gonna cost them a lot of consumers!! they need to be more up to date,
    games nowadays need to have coop to be competetive, at least FPS games right? but i did love the first so i am defenetly going to buy this one to give it a chance.