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M (Mature)






- The western themes that run throughout kind of work, but McCall probably should have been left in the 1860s
- Three-player co-op
- Expansive vistas, outdoor locations are what Call of Juarez is good at (made me want to play Bound in Blood again)



- The saddest sounding shotgun in gaming
- Jittery gunsights
- Feels so average
- Story takes some time to fill-in the blanks of what's supposed to be going on
- Sound cues that are out of place


Review: Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood (360)

Review: Red Dead Redemption (360)

Review: Wolfenstein (360)



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Call of Juarez: The Cartel

Score: 6.0 / 10


call juarez the cartel          call of juarez the cartel


Techland should receive some praise for taking a risk here by taking a character from their Western-themed games -- Call of Juarez, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood -- and moving him into "present day" largely unchanged. Last time we saw Ray McCall he had reformed his gunslinger ways and became a preacher. For The Cartel, (Ben) McCall is definitely no preacher, though he does spout Biblical lines as he guns downs enemies in Concentration Mode.

In this reincarnation, McCall, LAPD, is in an unholy triumvirate alliance with a DEA and FBI agent, who may or may not actually have "the greater good" in mind (but




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does lend itself well to three-player co-op).


The game starts with a bang up shoot-out on an LA freeway then flashes back to days earlier when the trio explores Sequoia National Forest to take in the sights and blow up a few outdoor marijuana grow ops, framing another gang for the destruction in the process, which so predictably ends with a shoot-out with a



Even though its attempts at depicting a "real" Los Angeles (and surrounding areas), it's connected to reality in the same way the Die Hard series holds true to the Laws of Physics and Physiology. But if it was going for some kind of serious message or social commentary it's kind of lost in these moments of ridiculous (and sometimes fun) disconnects from reality.

Like being right next to a tanker truck that is about to explode. After jumping into a van that is about 10 feet away from an apocalyptic fireball, the game probably should have ended with McCall (or pieces of him) landing in Juarez, Mexico circa 1865. But the van just rolls a couple of times and McCall's fine. It makes dying under a hail of bullets seem cheap. C'mon McCall survived a point blank gasoline explosion to the face and he's bothered by a few bullets?


call of juarez the cartel          call of juarez the cartel


The gunplay, so important to a shooter, is okay or average, depending on what word you want to use. Bizarrely each gun has a "vibration" to it. Snap to iron sights and the barrel vibrates. Learning to not see that is probably the hardest part of the game because it's so distracting.

As each level starts, there's a chance to let other players join you. Essentially the staging area for each level is an (optional) online lobby. Playing through a level with two other people is quite a bit different than stumbling through a level backed-up by some pretty stupid AI partners. Yes, they'll pick-off a guy or two, but it falls to the player to push into the level and kill everyone 95% of the time. They do prove useful when you're not sure where to go because they always know where to go next if you miss the guiding dot that marks the direction that the team is supposed to be going.


There's some competitive multiplayer thrown in as well for some reason. Player population is spotty as of this writing. Jumping online at the right time can mean some okay head-to-head or objective-based multiplayer. On a technical level it seems to perform a-okay but there just haven't been enough people to really provide much more of an insight into these modes other than the same thing I said about Bound in Blood: It has multiplayer.


This might be a horrible back-handed comment on The Cartel, but playing it sparked me to go back and play some Bound in Blood, which has a far better single-player experience and I'd rather ride a horse in first-person than drive an SUV in first-person.


- Aaron Simmer

(July 25, 2011)


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