Call of Juarez: The Cartel is the third installment to the western-themed first person shooter.
I was intrigued to playing Call of Juarez: The Cartel because of enjoying the previous two titles, with Bound in Blood being my favourite. The idea of a more modern setting was interesting and sounds good on paper but in reality it's ruined by sloppy gameplay, repetition and other issues. The game feels like it was still under development when it was shipped and it's left me nothing but fustration and disappointment.
The game takes place in Los Angeles and Mexico. A drug problem filled with
Cartels run throughout LA and three law enforcement agents team up to wipe out the Cartels once and for all. You can play one of the three different law enforcement with each having a different skill. Cop Ben McCall is a gunslinger so he's a natural when it comes to duel pistol shootouts. Eddie and Kim are quite the opposite though, they are traditional city cops and deal with things a little differently. It sounds like a great team up but the characters are never interesting and they don't bond with each other for you to even care about them.
You can play the game cooperatively or offline with the remaining characters turning to AI. I would suggest playing online as it's a lot more fun but to me it feels like a game I wouldn't want to play in Co-op. Playing online is better for many reason though. Throughout the game you can complete mini challenges. For example, You will come across items that can be picked up. You must do this by stealing them without been caught. Doing so isn't that fun offline because it's very easy to collect them due to the AI not been very smart. But online is a more fun experience as there's a greater chance of been caught.
I mentioned the game feels like it's still in development but the game isn't unplayable. The shooting is kind of fun at times and there's plenty of enemies to kill, but the handling feels very cheap and sluggish. I was expecting a cover system like in Bound in Blood to return as it worked very well but unfortunately it wasn't added, leaving you to try and crouch behind objects in a iffy way. When you kill a certain amount of enemies it's builds up a concentration mode. Triggering this brings everything into Slo-Mo and gives you some time to take enemies down more accurately. But every time this is used you will here the same long dialog sentences and it gets very annoying. Actually all the dialog in the game is irritating. The characters can never be taken seriously as there always joking and swearing.
After a few hours in you will notice the games repetitive pattern. You shoot some guys, do a boring driving sequence, bash a door in that triggers Slo-Mo and then repeat. It's more or less predictable on what will come next and it doesn't help when faced with it's other issues.
It's visuals are another big draw back. Call of Juarez is on a brand new engine but it doesn't seem to look like it. It looks worse than it's previous title Bound in Blood and has constant texture popping throughout. It's very ugly and feels like a game from several years ago. There's also very bad screen tear and low quality that interrupts the story and gameplay. I found the sound to be very poor also, background music is decent and fits the game well but dialog sound is horrible. Most of the time it sounds very hollow as if there talking through a metal tin.
Call of Juarez: The Cartel does have some neat ideas but it feels unpolished and holds sloppy gameplay that drag it down. It could have been something great but unfortunately it's not.
Review by Gareth Smith