The previous Call of Juarez games passed me by but I understand that Call of Juarez: The Cartel takes the Wild West theme and brings it into the modern day with cars instead of horses, hookers instead of whores and big guns as well as six shooters. The game is set in 21st Century Los Angeles and Mexico as a team of three agents with different agendas come together to bring down the Mendoza Cartel who are responsible for a bombing.
It’s a first-person shooter which can be played either solo with two AI characters or in full co-op mode as three of you complete the campaign together. It’s the usual FPS affair with a load-out of guns to select at the start of each mission depending on which character you choose, those characters being drug enforcement officer Eddie Guerra, LAPD detective Ben McCall and FBI agent Kim Evans. Each one is more suitable at different ranges. For example, Kim’s more handy with a long-distance rifle and Ben is better up close and personal.
The interesting part of the game is solo objectives you have to complete without other people seeing you. At set moments you each get a phone call and are asked to steal items, plant evidence or destroy incriminating evidence. This is, however, the only thing that caught my attention as everything else about the game is pretty poor.
The first thing you’ll notice is the poor graphics. The game looks like it’s from the days of the original Xbox with low quality textures and objects popping into view in front of you, objective markers that look like placeholders and grey, dull text. There are even spelling mistakes and grammatical errors in the subtitles. Techland clearly don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re” or the rule about apostrophes in plurals. Animations of characters and general movement are also substandard.
Then there’s the gameplay itself. After finishing F.E.A.R. 3 the same day which is a very tight shooter, the gameplay here pales in comparison. Your AI team-mates get stuck on walls, lag behind or run ahead, aiming feels floaty and there are the usual slow-motion parts that are now standard. There are also melee combat sections where you can’t really see who you’re supposed to be hitting. Weapons also don’t feel meaty which makes them no fun to use and the sound in cut-scenes also sounds hollow at times. The opening cut-scene sounds like it was recorded in a toilet!
Driving sections where one of you drives and the other two shoot are at least not on rails but the handling of the car is shoddy and the restricted view from inside makes it hard to navigate. There’s also a multiplayer offering with cops vs. gangbangers but once again, there’s nothing new here and the graphics are just as bad.
I actually enjoyed trying out the co-op gameplay at a recent event but unfortunately whilst playing the game at home alone for a prolonged period the cracks appeared. The whole game seems unfinished with little quality control before it was shipped to the shops so it gets a below average 4 out of 10.
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