Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood Review

By Jake Gaskill - Posted Jul 01, 2009

Ubisoft's Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, the prequel to 2006's Call of Juarez, tells the tale of the McCall brothers. Anyone familiar with the first game will immediately recognize Ray McCall as the game's preachy protagonist, and over the course of the new game, you'll come to find out exactly what led him to the path of the righteous. Oh, and you'll get to blast your way through the Old West, and have a hell of good time doing it. So that's nice.

The Pros
  • Dripping with Old West style
  • Gorgeous and varied environments
  • Solid gunplay and fluid cover system
  • Sweeping Spaghetti Western-inspired story
  • Wild West Legends Mode = rad
The Cons
  • Clipping and pop in throughout
  • Inconsistent voice work
  • Terrible lip-syncing

Call of Juarez: Bound in BloodUbisoft’s Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, the prequel to 2006’s Call of Juarez, tells the tale of the McCall brothers, Ray, Thomas and William. Anyone familiar with the first game will immediately recognize Ray McCall as he is that game’s preachy protagonist, and over the course of the new game, you’ll come to find out exactly what led him to the path of the righteous. Oh, and you’ll get to blast your way through the Old West, and have a hell of good time doing it. So that’s nice.

A Fistful of Pesos

The game opens with Ray and Thomas entrenched in the Civil War. After the brothers refuse to follow their general’s orders, they flee, and are from then on wanted men. With their home on the brink of collapse, the two outlaws meet up with their brother William, a preacher, and set off for Mexico in search of a fabled Aztec treasure.

Throw in a scheming love interest, an Apache guide with identity issues, and a deranged Confederate general determined to use the cursed gold to help the South rise again, and you have all the makings of a satisfying Spaghetti Western-inspired tale. And while the story mode only lasts about six hours (on easy), that can easily stretch to 10 or more, considering how unforgiving the harder difficulties are.

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How the West Was Fun

Call of Juarez: Bound in BloodCombat is split between two characters, although at some points, you’ll be forced to play as one or the other. Ray is a classic, grizzled gunslinger, packing duel six-shooters and dynamite, but he can also use rifles and shotguns if need be. Thomas offers a more tactical and stealthy experience, as he’s able to use bows and arrows and throwing knives, and with the help of his trusty lasso, he’s able to reach high positions for that added tactical advantage. The story doesn’t change depending on who you play as, but you’ll still want to play through a second time just to experience the story from the other brother’s perspective.

The shootouts in the game are incredibly satisfying, thanks in part to the game’s surprisingly fluid cover system. The fact that you don’t have to hit a button to enter cover (you automatically attach to surfaces) adds tremendously to the sense of immersion, and keeps the cover system from feeling clunky. It also helps you stay alive, which is always appreciated.

At the end of most chapters, you’ll face off a single opponent in a quick-draw sequence. The goal is to keep your hand as close to your gun as possible without actually touching it. After several tense moments, a bell sounds, you draw, aim and shoot. While not particularly challenging, the quick-draw fights offer a nice break from the heated gun battles, and they faithfully recreate the classic Western scenario.

I Have Not Yet Begun To Defile Myself

Call of Juarez: Bound in BloodWhile all the weapons in the game feel authentic and the cover system is fluid, it’s the game’s stellar environments that make the shootouts so enjoyable and memorable. You’ll fight your way through dusty town streets, saloons, pristine wilderness, scaffold-ridden mining camps, Indian settlements, and other environments, all of which are dripping with detail, and give the game a tremendous sense of scale.

Unfortunately, while the game does sport some impressive visuals, it has some notable issues as well. Pop-in is a problem throughout, especially during the open-world travelling sequences, and clipping shows up constantly when you’re in cover. The lip-syncing is downright nonexistent, and some of the voice acting is inconsistent. Overall though, the game does a great job of capturing the feel and style of the Old West, so it’s easy to look past these issues.

This Town Isn’t Big Enough for the 12 of Us

The game also features a solid selection of multiplayer modes that all support up to 12 players online. The most enjoyable mode has to be Wild West Legends, which lets you relive historic scenarios like the Battle at the OK Corral. The straight up shootouts that occur during every multiplayer match are an absolute blast, but with the addition of classic Old West scenarios, you can’t help but be completely sucked into the fantasy of living as an outlaw in the Wild West.

One of the best aspects of the game’s multiplayer in general is the addition of a bounty system. Basically, for every person you kill, your bounty increases, which creates all kinds of cool tension, because while you obviously want to strive to dominate each match, the more you do, the more people you’ll have gunning for you.

Sadly, there isn’t any co-op play in the game, which is particularly bizarre given that the story mode consists of two playable main characters. Also, why there isn’t a quick-draw multiplayer mini-game is simply beyond me.

Ubi Bravo

Call of Juarez: Bound in BloodCall of Juarez: Bound in Blood offers an Old West experience that should please any fan of the genre. There are few graphical issues here and there, and the voice acting is spotty throughout, but those are easily forgiven because the gameplay and atmosphere are fantastic. If you’re looking for a sweeping, violent romp through the Civil War-era American west, Bound in Blood will not disappoint.