First person shooter: Call of Juarez: The Cartel Review

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Call of_Juarez_-_The_CartelPlatforms: Xbox 360, PS3 & PC 

Publisher: Ubisoft

Developer: Techland

Rating: 18

Release Date: Out Now

Review Author: David Holmes




 

Storyline

The Call of Juarez series started off life as a first person shooter like no other. Making a break from all other games in the genre, Call of Juarez was set in the old west as opposed to being yet another modern shooter or World War II adaptation. The first game in the series was a good start but far from perfect: With solid shooter mechanics but very clumsy platforming sections.

The sequel, Bound in Blood took the foundations of the first game and build on them to create a very impressive and somewhat underrated shooter following the tale of two brothers after the US civil war.

For Call of Juarez: The Cartel, developer Techland have decided to shy away from the Wild West setting and instead have decided to make this second sequel a modern shooter. This was a poor decision in my opinion but might have something to do with the incredible Red Dead Redemption released by Rockstar in 2010.

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After a bombing at the Drug Enforcement Administration buildings, an elite team is put together to find the perpetrators. Ben McCall along with FBI agent Evans and DEA agent Guerra are tasked with taking down the Mendoza Cartel. The action takes place in various locations ranging from the ghettos of L.A, to the dusty deserts south of the border in Mexico.

Playability

Gameplay wise The Cartel is a mixed bag. The most important part of any FPS is the feel of the controls, thankfully shooting feels pretty solid throughout and I liked the addition of the flanking system with you’re A.I. control sidekicks offering cover fire while you sneak up on the enemy. I was a little surprised that driving plays a big part in the campaign. During a lot of the missions the game has you hopping into the drivers seat of an SUV and making chase whilst your partners do all of the shooting. I would have preferred this to be the other way around however, as the driving controls are pretty poor. This was an unnecessary and overused inclusion to the game.  These sections of the game are a lot better when playing with friends cooperatively.

Presentation

The presentation leaves a lot to be desired. Things start off badly with a poorly executed chase scene followed by a trek through a Californian forest shrouded in what can only be described as fog. Thankfully things start to look up after the first couple of missions with some of the urban environments looking quite impressive, with the graffiti covered streets of L.A. being my personal favourite.

Sadly the game doesn’t run very smoothly. On more then one occasion I noticed significant screen tearing and frame rate issues. The voice acting also leaves a lot to be desired.

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Best Points

From the outset,  it is clear to see Techland’s main goal was to create an enjoyable fully cooperative experience. In this regard they have succeeded: Your friends can drop in and out at any point of the campaign to help you on your quest for justice and this is by far the stand out feature of the game. 

Worst Points

Sadly there are more cons then pros with this title. The story is uninteresting and poorly told. The driving sequences are extremely overused and badly executed, if anything they feel a little tacked on. The presentation also fails to impress. Some of the locations can look pretty good at times but overall the with the voice acting and technical issues you would expect a lot better from a current gen release.

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Overall

2/5 - Having played through the previous titles in the Call of Juarez series I was expecting good things from The Cartel. Sadly the game turns out to be a let down. Leaving the old west behind was a big mistake as this was something that set the series apart from the other first person shooters on the market. The campaign is worth a play through if you are after a coop game to play with some friends, but there are definitely better games out there.