They’re not all going to be winners, folks.
I’ve had ‘Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood’ in my PC library for a while. Since it’s on the PS Plus list of free games this month, I figured I’d play it on the PS3, especially since my brother, Chris Claflin, would be coming over to hang out. He’s a veteran game developer, known for a bunch of the art behind the ‘Saints Row’ games, as well as ‘Descent 3’ and its expansion, ‘Descent 3 Mercenary.’ These days he’s working on Overload, an indie game I think a lot of us old-school PC gamers have been waiting a long time for. Chris came over, we cracked some beers, and I fired up ‘Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood.’
We loved the look of the game. The environments are gorgeous, and the character models are quite detailed. Sadly, much of the remainder of the game doesn’t live up to those early impressions. ‘Bound in Blood’ suffers from bad controls, bad voice acting, and bad mission design.
Example: early on, there’s a set-piece that has you destroying boats full of Union soldiers (oh yeah, the game starts with the protagonists fighting for the Confederates in the Civil War). They give you a cannon, once of those heavy artillery pieces that normally would take a few minutes to load between shots. You don’t have to worry about loading it, but it’s still a damn difficult mission. It took us several tries to get past it, mostly because there were too many boats and not enough time to dial in the distance (the cannon fires explosive shells on a ballistic trajectory). I don’t think it’s possible to get it on the first try. You need the endless checkpoint reloads to really get your eye in.
Later, as you’re fighting alongside your brother against Union soldiers in the vicinity of your homestead, you’re given horses to ride the last fifty feet or so to your home. Someone killed one of the horses, so the other protagonist (your brother) didn’t know what to do. He just stood in place and twitched for a while. Needless to say, it wasn’t possible to continue past this point. So we said goodnight and shut it off. It’s a shame. ‘Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood’ has potential, and the environment artists bled for this game. You can tell. If only the designers had been so diligent.
I played a demo of a game called ‘Call of Juarez: Gunslinger’ a while back and thought this one would be like that. ‘Gunslinger’ was stylish and fun. ‘Bound in Blood’ is a mess, a pretty mess, but a mess nonetheless. Anyone remember an old PC game called ‘Outlaws’? I played that a long time ago, and no doubt the mechanics are dated now, but I’ll bet if I fired it up (I’ve got the disc around here somewhere), it’ll be more fun than ‘Bound in Blood.’ Of course, none of those western-style games can hold a candle to ‘Red Dead Redemption,’ the long-standing high-water mark for western shooters. Rumor has it there’s a sequel to ‘Red Dead Redemption’ in the works. Can’t wait.
I’ll be back next week, probably with a PC game. 7pm-ish on Twitter.