I like Westerns; Iíve watched a lot of them in my time and played a few Western themed shooters. I enjoyed the original Call of Juarez despite its many flaws and when I heard that Techland were working on a sequel, one that would be a prequel no less I began to keep an eye on it. So now here we are with Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood.Story
Set during the American Civil War, Bound in Blood begins with the heroics of the two McCall brothers, Ray and Thomas. Soon something transpires that puts these two would-be heroes onto another path, a much darker one and they become Outlaws making their living in the Wild West. The pious and overtly-Fire and Brimstone Reverend Ray has yet to evolve from the tough-talking and brutal Ray McCall. Over the course of this well told Spaghetti Western story youíll witness the evolution of these two men and see the knock-on events that shaped their lives.
The story is told with a mix of well directed in-game cinematics and in-game cut-scenes where the player is forced to observe from a first person point of view.Gameplay
Bound in Blood plays like a traditional shooter, thereís nothing overly innovative about it but compared to the first game, Bound in Blood soars way above it in terms of control and action/gameplay. Techland has listened to the player base and made some changes to the way gun-combat works. Itís easier to shoot now and the weapons no longer degrade. There are still different classes of weapons and a lot of them, all with varying pros and cons. You can have two pistols of any kind, a shotgun/rifle and depending on which brother you play in each chapter Ė a special weapon (dynamite for Ray and a Bow for Thomas).
Both brothers have something that they can bring to the table. Ray can dismount Gatling Guns and use them on the move. He can kick doors open that are otherwise locked to Thomas and he can take a lot more punishment in combat compared to his brother. Ray can also equip two guns at once for some real carnage.
Thomas is swifter than Ray, lighter and whilst Ray canít jump, Thomas can climb to higher points and help his brother up. He also has a lasso that allows him to climb even higher and get a better vantage point on the enemy. Both brothers can engage in a cooperative shootout mode against large groups of enemies, this usually has them stacking up next to a door and in true Western style, kicking it open and unloading twin guns of death upon the enemies on the other side. Time slows down for this and youíre given a pair of crosshairs that move across the screen, you can change their motion as well to fine tune your aim.
As you battle enemies, youíll charge up your power meter, shown on the right by a revolver chamber that appears based on the way you kill you enemies. A stylish headshot or environmental death fills the chambers faster. Once you have enough you can enter Concentration Mode.
Ray can paint targets with his gunsight whilst a timer bar ticks down and Thomas can perform a rapid shot that auto-targets nearby enemies, using the right stick to simulate the rapid hammer action as he fans his revolver. When you press B for Ray, time kicks back in and Ray unleashes a barrage of shots from both his guns on the marked targets whilst for Thomas, his effect is as long as the timer bar remains.
Both brothers can engage in tense and dramatic: High Noon style standoffs, these operate on a simple system that requires some work to master.
The right stick controls the position of your hand, too close to the gun and youíll lose time as the cowboy refuses to draw until the clock chimes. Too far and youíll take too long to get to the gun when the clock chimes. There are visual cues for the system. When youíre in the right place your characterís fingers will twitch, now itís just a case of gently tapping the right stick to keep the hand close, not too near, not too far.
The enemy will attempt to trick you, by moving around your field of vision, you can counter this with the left stick and try to keep them a medium distance to the right hand side if you can. When the clock strikes, push the right stick quickly towards the left and draw. Now youíll have a sight that appears and time slows down for a few seconds. If you get this right, pull the trigger when itís over the enemiesí body.
Most of the game plays out across large multi-objective levels that have a real atmosphere to them. For some of the game youíll actually be able to play open-world style sections and undergo a few side-quests to earn more money. The more money you have, the better weapons you can purchase from the gun shops around the levels. In many of the sections youíll be using a horse to get around and Techland deserve points for making the riding easy and even gun combat off the back of a horse is a cinch.
The side missions are well thought out and theyíre very often given a small twist and a mini-boss showdown at the end. Thereís also a cover system as well that is automatic when you get close to an object that can be used for cover.
The game plays out as an average shooter, a competent one and whilst it isnít fantastic, it does exactly what it needs to. It evokes a sense of camaraderie between the brothers, has a really solid story and brings the Wild West to life with hectic shootouts and some really great shooting action. There are some nice set piece moments as well where youíll defend a coach, plus a few other things weíre not going to spoil.