Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood
A prequel to the original Call of Juarez, Bound in Blood improves upon the set formula in almost every way
When I reviewed the first Call of Juarez back in 2007, I praised the game's unique Wild-West setting but lamented the poor pacing and weak gameplay. Techland's follow-up effort, Bound in Blood, is much, much better and it's obvious that the developers learned from their earlier mistakes. It's about as close as you're going to get to playing a Sergio Leone movie and really, it's about damn time we had a good Western shooter.
- Solid storytelling, great visuals and Wild West setting make for a unique shooter experience
- Enemy uses dynamite too effectively, enemies can be hard to locate during long-distance gunfights
This game is definitely a nice change of pace from the standard World War II/sci-fi settings and until someone does it better, Bound in Blood is, in my opinion, the best Western-themed shooter around.
Back in the Saddle
A prequel to the original Call of Juarez, Bound in Blood improves upon the set formula in almost every way. The new proprietary engine pumps out some amazing visuals, especially in the cutscenes; the vast desert vistas and arid mountains also stand out as do the authentic frontier towns. The story, which relies on standard Wild West tropes like greed, betrayal and redemption, is effectively told and remains solid and engaging throughout; it's not up to the level of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly but it's also more than just an excuse to move you from shootout to shootout. It definitely helps that both the voice acting and writing are solid.
It's nice that the visuals and storytelling are expertly handled as it serves as a nice backdrop for the much improved gun battles. You get a chance to re-enact pretty much every type of Wild West shootout you can imagine, from hairy bullet exchanges in a saloon to long distance rifle battles out in the desert; there are even sequences where you're astride a horse and there's nothing like picking someone off while in the saddle. The gunfights are integrated into the story really well and you always feel like you're doing something, rather than just wasting bullets on nameless foes. I also liked the cool quick-time events and classic quick-draw duels as well.
Misfires and near-misses
Bound in Blood doesn't have any major flaws but I did notice that dynamite is way too effective in the hands of the enemy. They throw it like grenades and the heads-up display does a poor job of telling you where it lands; the only saving grace is that only a handful of enemies use them as thrown weapons. Engaging enemies at long-distance can also be tricky as it's sometimes hard to pick them out against the horizon.
But those are the only real problems that I had with the game, which says a lot about the overall quality of the title. It took me about seven hours to beat the game and I'd have to say I was thoroughly engaged about 90% of the time. It was definitely a nice change of pace from the standard World War II/sci-fi settings and until someone does it better, Bound in Blood is, in my opinion, the best Western-themed shooter around.
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