Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Western Round Up Part 1: Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Welcome to part one of the PS3 Western Roundup! In this series I will be taking a look at some of the Wild West themed games that the PS3 has to offer. Eventually I will get around to Red Dead Redemption but for now poor reader, you have to read about Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood.

The adventures of Grandpa Hillbilly and Christian Bale

CoJ:BiB is easily the worst game I have played in recent memory, long term memory, or even in hypothetical memories of things that haven't even happened to me. I did not like a single thing about this game. And it isn’t even the kind of game where you can tell they had no budget or they had to release it early and it is full of bugs or anything like that. It is just terrible on its own merits. The people who made this game should probably just get out of the industry and find their true calling in life, because making games is soooo not it.

Looking good

All the guns feel weak, the actual mechanics for shooting them are bizarre, and the characters are hands down the least interesting characters I have been forced to deal with for any length of time ever (and I have played a game where you play as one of those bread clips that keep a loaf of bread from becoming stale.) Even the music misses the mark and the art direction is such that it contains tons of western elements such as, cowboy hats, cacti, saloons, revolvers and horses, but it somehow completely fails to make it feel like you are playing a western. All the cut scenes are done in a lazy style where they did some sketches that you watch slowly fade onto and off of the screen, while somber music plays and the whiniest narrator I could imagine them finding prattles on about how the player characters are turning to the dark side and everything you are doing is wrong and blah blah blah.

No joke, this is a cutscene

Here are some gameplay highlights: In Mexico I was finally starting to have at least enough fun where I was willing to space out and just go with the flow. I was sitting back, enjoying the gameplay, racking up some combos, and if I moved through the level fast enough I didn’t have to dwell on the fact that the town I was in made no sense as a town or even as a shooting stage at all in terms of its layout. All of the sudden the narrator character, a high school aged priest, starts following me around interrupting my goon shooting every forty-five seconds to inform me that killing is a sin and that if I continue to do so I will go to hell. Even if I was able to just roll my eyes and get past the Sunday school lecture, the cutscenes were unskippable, and the level checkpoint was located right before them. So I had to watch them over and over again as I died and retried. (I was on the hardest difficulty chasing a trophy, and the game kind of sucks) I don’t know, maybe you would like that sort of thing in your video games. Maybe I should have tried the guy’s advice and stopped the killing. Maybe after a few minutes of just standing there not doing anything my character would have went to heaven and fed a baby deer a bottle of milk while lounging around on a cloud or whatever the deal with that would be. Who is to say?

Mind Blowing GFX!

A second gameplay highlight involves the game’s horses. I can’t even find a screenshot online of what the horses actually look like in this game. They look nothing like horses at all, control nothing like horses, and like everything else were probably just inserted last minute because horses are the type of thing the developers saw one time on Bonanza. If you go looking for screenshots of the horses, they are all going to be photoshopped to look better than they actually are so don’t bother, unless you enjoy being lied to right to your face.

I couldn't find any pics of the actual horses from the game so here is more of this guy

Anyways, one thing I know about horses is that they are made out of flesh, blood, bone, hair etc. The type of shit that does NOT plow right through a building and out the other side. There is a sequence in this game where you are riding a stagecoach and some guys are chasing you for some reason. You end up stuck at a dead end with your pursuers right on your tail. So naturally, a scripted sequence plays where you make the horses plow right through the wall of a saloon and out the front onto the streets on the other side of the building. Seriously. A couple horses use their foreheads to casually bust a wall down Kool-Aid Man style in this game. I had to replay the sequence for my wife because I just could not believe it. Then I was kind of embarrassed because that means she saw me playing this game.

Artist's rendition of the stagecoach sequence

There is so much more I could say. Like how the only reason you are doing anything in the game is because one of the characters is horny and is trying to impress some woman who wears tight pants and shakes her butt for the camera in the background of every scene, or how every single encounter ends with a quick draw duel. Even against guys who are staged as more traditional boss fights. You do the boss fight and kill them, and then they stand back up so that you can have the duel. Or how the game has several terrible “free roam” sections, that basically boil down to you riding the ugly horses around in a big empty space with nothing to do other than find spare change to buy some guns.

Anyhow, long story short: game sucks, don’t play it. Join us next time for another exciting PS3 Western Roundup!

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