Have You Played… Call Of Juarez Gunslinger?

Bang bang.

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

As an accomplished and habitual liar, I take pride in my art and follow a simple rule: if you’re going to lie to someone, at least make it entertaining for them. So, dear video games, I’m not impressed when you set up an unreliable narrator to reveal gasp I’m dead or gasp I’m the killer or gasp something something metaphysics. Call of Juarez Gunslinger‘s turns me into a gunfighter blowing away a dozen outlaws in the blink of an eye with my twin revolvers. Ayup, that’ll do nicely.

A grizzled old gunslinger walks into a saloon, pulls up a chair, and starts spinning a tale about how he’s Silas Greaves, one of the west’s greatest bounty hunters. He brushes paths with Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy, and half the other big names of the old west. We play through the tale as it’s told, jumping around in time, rewriting events as he remembers things or corrects himself, and even seeing events from several perspectives as different people round the table tell their version. There is once a fine pause while Silas goes to the toilet.

His big legend also means he shoots an awful lot of men. Skill trees nicely build us up into this mythical gunslinger as his career progresses. Towards the end, I was able to clear areas entirely in slow-motion without being touched, feeling like the legend he wants people to believe he is. Sure, he’s exaggerating, but I’m happy to play out this tall tale. It’s a highly entertaining lie.

36 Comments

  1. Maritz says:

    I was worried I wouldn’t enjoy this, as it deviated somewhat from the formula of the first game and Bound in Blood, but I needn’t have as it turned out to be great. It was also released at a rather tasty price point – I seem to recall picking it up on release day for under £15.

  2. Brosecutor says:

    Yup, CoJ:G was a nice surprise and a pretty fun game.

  3. Meth0dMax says:

    Hell yeah! Gunslinger is pretty, fun and crams some serious storytelling into 6-7 hours. Kinda like Max Payne 3 without the big ol’ price tag.

  4. Axess Denyd says:

    I loved it right up until

    *SPOILER*

    the final freaking battle with all the ghosts. I just could *not* get past that. The game remains unfinished, to my eternal sadness.

    • smisk says:

      I must have played that section dozens of times… I considered dropping the difficulty (I was playing on hard) but eventually managed to finish. It was incredibly frustrating, no idea how it’s possible on the highest difficulty.

    • jonfitt says:

      Oh yeah, it’s 10x harder than the rest of the game (which does have some tricky parts).
      It’s a shame you didn’t finish it, as it was satisfying to close the book. The part where you’re stuck at is him describing years of murder and hate nearly overcoming him, what a place to leave it!

    • LionsPhil says:

      Use the tombstones. Really use them tombstones. They’re mostly coming from one side at a time so awareness and cover are vital, and when it comes to certain solo heavy foes you can play silly-buggers with them orbiting around a single stone recovering and reloading between shots.

  5. RuySan says:

    One of the best FPS of all time and altogether a criminally underrated game. It looks great, and there are moments of sublime beauty, like when the narrator starts singing.

    If only full price games had half of the soul of this little gem.

    • plugmonkey says:

      Great game. Finished it twice, then mopped up all the side modes.

      I do love a game I finish and immediately start playing again. So much better than a game I get bored of halfway through and end up grinding to the end of anyway.

  6. LionsPhil says:

    I finished my new-game-plus hard-mode run just yesterday, in fact.

    It is an amazingly good game. I’m half-tempted plough back into hardest difficulty to try to find those last damn nuggets and get the last couple of skills, but I don’t want to wear it thin.

  7. Dilapinated says:

    Ahh, this game was really fun, yeah!

  8. Synesthesia says:

    This one was fantastic! Reminds me I really need to play Red Dead Redemption.

  9. phelix says:

    One of the most pleasant surprises of 2012 for me. I especially liked how it embraced its own gamey- and silliness.

  10. subedii says:

    I think it’s the only game I’ve got 100% “achievements” on.

    Not that I was particularly trying (except for maybe the chicken one, and I did admittedly use a guide for the collectible factoids). It’s just that it’s short, it’s well designed and thought out, and it’s fun. And even in that it had some nice little mechanics to go with the setting (the shifting narrative, showdowns, death sense giving you a second chance).

    Really I feel like it’s the ideal way to do an FPS on a budget. When you explore it and try it a bit more, you realise that a lot of the levels you play are the same ones, just from different areas / angles. But that’s completely fine, you’re here for the wild west shootin’s anyway. There’s only a few weapons, but the game doesn’t want or need any more purely for the sake of pointless variety. And they had a really nice trick with the setting in that they could basically morph it around at will by using the narrator as the plot device.

    Heck, I even love the fact that on a second playthrough, the between-mission tool tips show Cyrus’ thoughts and plan underneath what’s happening.

    It was well thought out and solidly executed as a romp through some of the legends of Wild West history. I’d take it over most of the modern “big budget” FPS’s any day.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Heck, I even love the fact that on a second playthrough, the between-mission tool tips show Cyrus’ thoughts and plan underneath what’s happening.

      (Silas.) Yeah, that’s a really neat touch.

    • Alegis says:

      Yeah same. Went through it again shortly afterwards and ‘100%d’ as well

      Good formula, excellent execution, great game.

  11. Zekiel says:

    Yes. This is possibly my favourite game of last year (which is when I played it) and I’m really looking forward to replaying it. Having loved playing with rifles the first time, I’m trying to work out whether I’ll enjoy pistols or shotguns more (any advice?)

    I really can’t speak highly enough of this game. The gunplay, the story, the art style, the framing device, the price, the lack of Uplay (!) – it is all pretty much excellent. It helps that the Wild West is actually a pretty unusual setting for a computer game.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Akimbo ranger pistols are really nice and will still give you solid range with good rate of fire. Shotguns I found a bit of an odd one, although late-game you can get akimbo sawn-offs, which are about as potent as you’d expect if you have the toughness to keep the fight close.

  12. smisk says:

    Great game! As long as you accept it’s gonna be a linear shooter you’ll have a good time. Even after I finished the story, the arcade mode sucked me in for a few more hours. Trying to keep that combo going is incredibly addicting!

  13. ikehaiku says:

    I loved about every minute of it.
    And, cherry on the cake, when Silas suddenly broke out in a (actually pretty good) rendition of “Oh Death”….to me, probably the single best moment I had in a video game (granted, that felt right into my musical universe).

  14. Lord_Mordja says:

    I have played it! Three times, in fact!

    In a row.

    At some point, you reach critical mass in the skill tree and become almost untouchable; giant slo-mo chains, automatic headshots, nuclear dynamite, and the game becomes more of a combo challenge than a straight up shooter.

    It’s fucken aces.

  15. jonfitt says:

    I would like to add my voice to the list of people saying that it’s a brilliant gem of a game. I played it only a few months ago having bought it a long time before that in a sale. I would have played it sooner had I known how good it was! I recommend it to anyone who will listen.

  16. LennyLeonardo says:

    Seems redundant by this point, but yeah, it’s marvelous. Best Arcade Mode in ages. It’s like Bulletstorm but with actual bullets.

  17. Bluerps says:

    This game is on my list of things I want to play in the near future. As soon as I’m in the mood for a shooter.

  18. Det. Bullock says:

    I loved this one, after playing Spec Ops The Line this was a blessing.

  19. Pazguato says:

    Looking forward to buying it in the steam sale.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Damien Stark says:

    An excellent game, a pleasant surprise, and one I have RPS to thank for!

    There’s no way I would have purchased and played this if it hadn’t been for John’s WIT, so thanks John and RPS!

  21. Memph says:

    I feel in the minority here, in that I absolutely despised the QTE duels, to the extent that they ruined the entire experience for me. The horrible, horrible and finnicky mouse controls drove me bonkers.

    Clocked it on Hard, but I’d had more than my fill by that point. And aye, screw that ghost battle. On the point of obnoxious difficulty imo, not least because it went on and on and on… Made Max Payne 3 on hardcore feel like a gentle breeze.

    • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

      Yeah, I was bored by the QTE duels as well. I wanted to be honored but eventually didn’t have the pacience. And th devs just HAD to pile and pile more stuff so now you have to move aside and shoot chickens and ugh

      Still it was probably a necessity for the genre and I think the devs did a good job, just one that didn’t click with me.

      • Zekiel says:

        Um, you really don’t have to shoot chickens… you can, but you don’t have to. (At least not on the default difficulty.)

        I occasionally found them a bit frustrating too, but I really liked the concept.

  22. ResonanceCascade says:

    I really had a blast with this game. I’m usually extremely against these kinds of shooting gallery-style shooters, but this game somehow pulled it off. And Silas Greaves is one of the all-time great gaming protagonists.

  23. AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

    Ah, yes. The game that proves that CoD-style über-linear shooters aren’t inherently bad, they just need a little heart and a little brain (a… few brains?) to work well. I loved how they made fun of gaming tropes they were actively using without either mocking the player for playing a game with them or pretending that being aware of bad design excuses them from bad design. My favourite bit was when one of the game’s usual mid boss, dude in gattling gun, shows up:
    “So up ahead there was an asshole with a gattling gun.”
    “You sure seem to fight a lot of those!”
    “Assholes?”

  24. clumsyandshy says:

    Seems I am in the minority finding this game a big disappointment after all the initial praises. Storytelling way interesting and fun, but gameplay was terribly lacklustre and waaay repetitive. Half way in it became a terrible repetitive grind to see the end of the story. No variety what so ever and should have ended after max 3 hours. Just my opinion.

  25. Xander77 says:

    Gunslinger is what it is – a cute little aracade-y game which you fire and forget – but I’m really sad that it wasn’t more than that. If your interactions with the great figures of the West were anything other an entirely interchangeable series of short cutscene – exactly same duel scene – it could have been an absolutely great game, rather than a forgettable piece of fluff.

    Not saying they should have made an open world Stalker-ish Wild West… wait, that’s exactly what I’m saying, actually.