After a lackluster entry in the form of Call of Juarez: The Cartel, Ubisoft is getting the series back to its roots via the next iteration in its Call of Juarez series; Call of Juarez: Gunslinger.
Announced at PAX 2012, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a return to the Old West setting after the 2011’s, unfortunate modern-setting of the last outing in the series.
Fourth game in the western themed first person shooter series, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger features Silas Greaves as the main protagonist of the story. The game’s narrative features Silas as he sits in a backwater saloon as recounts tales from his past 30 years of encounters with real life famous names of Old Wild West.
The game itself is divided into three modes; Story, Arcade and Duel where the gameplay takes a leave from the deliberate pacing of the past iterations of the Call of Juarez series, and ventures into past paced arcade shoot-em-up style, twitch gameplay.
In essence, the story mode is a myriad of flashbacks that take the player through Old West staples and scores of gun fights as well as meet some historically significant people of the era, legends like Billy the Kid and Jesse James.
Levels in the game a fairly linear, as the player is taken through different areas and maintain the ‘get from point A to point B’ while eliminating everyone in the area. The game’s basic focus is on how you achieve that process of clear the areas out.
Silas Greaves is basically a sponge for bullets as he can take a fairly good dose of harm before going down. Moreover, the game utilizes the contemporary FPS staple of regenerating health, which replenishes itself as the player spends a few seconds in safety without getting hit.
On the other hand, the enemies in the game feature a competent A.I., as they shoot at the player while employing cover and using objects like doors as shields to block oncoming bullets.
The meat of the gameplay revolves around finishing the levels while earning larger XP by stringing up shooting-based combos and earning bonuses for actions like Headshots and moving targets as well as getting multipliers from maintaining consecutive kills.
These kills can be achieved through utilization of ‘Concentration meter’ which allows the player to slow down time and highlight the enemies to string up more targets, as the meter depletes. Moreover, the character can also employ a bullet dodging mechanic, which can come in handy to keep the character alive when in a pickle
XP is the main currency by which the player can upgrade their weapons and skills. The leveling and Skill progression in the game is featured through three specific class systems; Gunslinger, Ranger and Trapper. Upgrading and selecting options in each skill tree allows the players to upgrade rifles, revolvers, dual wielding as well as concentration meter upgrade.
Another system that is employed in the game is the dueling mechanic, which allows the player to control the drifting cursor to draw and shoot within a specific time frame. While this mechanic is featured in the story mode, it is also prominently featured in its own section, aptly labeled; Duel Mode.
This mode features 15 levels of Dueling action, ranging from a straight-forward duel, to more complicated scenarios where the player has to deal with additional factors and objectives like moving targets, hand placement and honorable kills.
The third and the last mode offered by Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is the Arcade Mode. This mode allows the players to go through a numerous of smaller levels with the sole objective of clearing the room while attaining the highest combos possible.
Levels in Arcade mode are basically shooting galleries that a populated with myriad of opponents allowing players to memorize their locations and string up multipliers and combos in repetitive plays. The mode also offers leaderboard support to those competitive players that love to post and compare their high scores.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger also deviates from the franchise norm in its approach which presentation. With its new shading and color palate as well as the pop up kill scores, the game looks less like Call of Juarez of the old and more like Borderlands.
The game has a cell shading feel to it and features lots of neat little details like cracking of the screen as if bullets had penetrated the glass, splatter of blood after a kill and motion effects in slow motion; concentration mode.
Moreover the game also features great voice acting which is featured in a new storytelling mechanic where Silas Greaves provides running narration throughout the gameplay. This not only serves as a novel story telling mechanic but also acts as a clever way of highlighting the game objectives.
This storytelling mechanic is further elaborated where the levels get populated as Silas recounts various details. Furthermore when Silas is, at times, caught embellishing the story he is telling and the game responds by changing the visual details as Silas recounts how things truly unfolded in his past.
All in all, Gunslinger is shaping up to be a much different game than its immediate predecessor. Whether that is good thing, depends on how much you enjoyed Call of Juarez: Cartel and how much you like arcade FPS experience.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is scheduled to be released next month; 22nd of May 2013, as a download only title for PC, PSN and XBLA.