Instead of a sequel, Call of Juarez: Bound In Blood for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is actually a prequel to the original Ubisoft published game from 2006. Returning is the hellbent Reverend, Ray McCall, although the story takes place before he turned to the cloth. However, Ubisoft indicated the plot explains the events that eventually cause Ray to become a religious man. Ray is joined by his brother Thomas, and together they fight their way through a number of classic old west scenarios on a quest for the Gold of Juarez.
Each of the brothers have different strengths, with Ray being more of a classic assault character who favors bigger guns and close-ranged combat, while Thomas is more of a sniper, with longer-range weapons and the ability to climb some walls and buildings. At the beginning of each of the game's chapters, the player can choose which of the brothers they wish to use, and the other brother will be controlled by the AI, providing support. Unfortunately, the game does not feature any co-op, which is a huge disappointment, considering both brothers are involved together in much of the story-line.
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Returning is the game's concentration mode, which varies for the two brothers. Concentration mode is similar to a slow motion Panzer Dragoon target tagging mechanic, and it can be entered when you rack up enough kills in a short period. Ray's concentration mode allows him to mark a number of enemies as targets in slow motion, and once a pre-set timer wears off, he will fire and hit each of those targets in rapid succession. Thomas' concentration mode allows him to bring up separate target reticules for each of his six-shooters, which he can then aim and fire in slow motion using the controllers left and right triggers.
Call of Juarez: Bound In Blood also once again features duels, although they are improved from the original. Duels now allow combatants to size each other up, lean, and step back and forth in order to get the best shot. It's not as cool as a classic Sergio Leone stare-down, but it looks potentially fun.
One of my biggest gripes with the original Call of Juarez were the sloppy stealth and platforming missions featuring Billy Candle. Thankfully, Ubisoft removed these elements and decided to focus on the action. However, even after witnessing some fairly action-packed set pieces in our demo, I still have reservations about the game.
For starters, the developers say that the world will be much more open. However, the game still has a mission structure, and from what I saw, the missions seemed very linear. Maybe there is some variation on which path you can take depending on which brother you are playing, but that's hardly an open world. Additionally, the lack of co-op is disconcerting. With two protagonists playing together, why not add co-op to the game? Many gamers I know will buy a game just because they can play with a friend. In the demo I saw, there were instances where one brother will have to perform an action such as blow-up a boulder and take out enemy cannons while the other covers him, so why not allow your friend to be the one helping you out?
Finally, even though the game will include multiplayer, the first game's multiplayer was not particularly fun. There is a chance the developers could get it right this time and have properly balanced maps and weapons, but that's a big question mark. If they do, there is some potential in the game's bounty system, which earns you money for each kill to unlock weapons, while at the same time increasing the bounty on your own head. Only time will tell if Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood can be more than a formulaic Wild West Shooter.