Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood Review

Bound in Blood by Polish developer Techland is the prequel to the first Call of Juarez released in 2006. Very few first person shooters succeed in offering more than standard FPS fare. Bound in Blood goes the extra mile to deliver a real sense of atmosphere to go with solid shooting mechanics. Unfortunately, too often the game reminds you that it is a game with many wrinkles.

The story follows Ray, Thomas, and William McCall as they trek the spaghetti western landscape trying to rebuild their former lives. You can play as Ray or Thomas for most missions, each with their own skill-sets and uses. While the story and themes are as cliché as it gets, at least the two main characters are fleshed out with strong voice actors, even if the supporting cast is not. The story isn't without flaws and certainly isn't a reason to pick up the game, but there's the feel of a harmless summer movie as you play, and it's on you if that is compelling enough to see how it ends.

The menus and the seamless integration of cutscenes into gameplay help get into and keep the game rolling, but the narrative still-pictures during loading screens and some of the voice work do the opposite at times, taking you out of the experience. Most of the voice work goes above and beyond expectations, but every now and then it's very laughable. The sound effects at least are authentic and the visuals are outstanding, even at low settings. Unlike most shooters where the ground clutter and settings are just there for the backdrop, this game really fleshes out the environments, even allowing for a degree of exploration if you are not under the gun. Simply put, it's hard to not notice and appreciate the extra effort and detail put into building the western flavor of this game; Techland hit more than miss in this regard.

The authenticity carries over to the mechanics of shooting. Standard FPS controls and heads up display are present; the only thing worth mentioning is the bullet tally of your guns coming up as you reload, and the best part is that you can interrupt reloading. And you better enjoy reloading and every aspect of reloading because you will reload as many bullets as you fire. You might fire a ton with the targeting being so precise and target-assist working only when it feels like it. Up close these don't stand out, but when most of the enemies are at long range, you have to be accurate down to the pixel to hit them. Contact with moving targets is fine when the target assist works, but it gets frustrating missing right, missing left, and finally hitting the cowboy's hat. Overall, the game suffers from a lack of tightening the shooting mechanics.


Also reviewed on:
  •  · Xbox 360