Call of Juarez: The Cartel is the brand new first person shooter which brings the series into the modern day. Set in LA and Mexico the game follows three law enforcement officers, from three different departments, each with their own story to tell. With plenty of guns, drugs and explosions will it be forgotten in a flash or is it what Wild West fans have been waiting for?
Let’s find out and kick-off the HOTs and NOTs.
The strongest part of the Call of Juarez games has always been the gameplay and this hasn’t changed when it comes to The Cartel. While there are plenty of firefights in Call of Juarez: The Cartel they never get boring due to the variety of events. There are many slow motion scenes but they’re not back-to-back. This means something that could be repetitive is a fun break from the normal fast paced gameplay. This in conjunction with the driving sections that periodically break up the gunfights mean nothing goes on too long; keeping the gameplay entertaining until the end. Players can also have a number of different gameplay experiences due to the three unique characters in the game.
Three Characters Three Experiences
The character you choose doesn’t only affect the storyline but also the gameplay, as they all have their own weapon preferences. Ben McCall from the LAPD is all about pistols and heavy machine guns, if you’re the sort of player that likes to continuously fire big guns he is the character and experience are you. Eddie Guerra is the DEA agent and the only character who can dual wield pistols and sub machineguns. Unlike the other two characters, players that choose Eddie won’t be sat back but instead will be running straight into the action.
The female FBI agent, Kim Evans, is all about distance. When it comes to firefights her preferences are sniper rifles and long-range rifles giving a completely different feel to gunfights from the other two characters. A nice touch is even though one character may be best with a weapon the others can still use it, meaning the gameplay can always be catered to the player.
While the storyline won’t be winning any awards it is an enjoyable part of the game. It starts slow but soon picks up pace and before you know it everyone around with a gun is against you. With some big twists it’s easy to be dragged into the story and before long players will start to think how their character does. Another reason the storyline is great is the three different viewpoints to play the story from; all resulting in a slightly different ending depending on the player’s choice.
From Smith and Western type revolvers and Uzis to rocket launchers and sniper rifles all the guns have their own unique feel and appearance. For example, even though there are a few revolvers they all have their own stats, meaning players can pick the one best for them. Be that one with more bullets, does more damage or one that reloads fast they are all different. Each gun has been well polished with slick reloading and firing animations and powerful realistic gunshots sounds, they all help the game appear realistic.
Unlike many games when an AI enemy can see a player, in The Cartel they won’t ignore them. It’s an all too common problem that a player can run into an area full with enemies and while in full view take down an enemy but not be noticed by the rest, that it’s refreshing to actually be shot at. There didn’t seem to be a single moment where if an enemy could be shooting at the player, they weren’t. This meant even small engagements with enemies seemed hectic and fast paced creating a fight for survival atmosphere which many other titles fail to make.
The Cartel has clearly been developed with online Co-op in mind. Despite the fact that players don’t need to play Co-op in order to enjoy the game, players will only get the full experience when they do. Flanking the enemy is the biggest example of working as a team that is possible with AI on your side but is accomplished easier with actual players backing you up.
Story Enhancing Loading Screens
For many games loading screens are a pain for all players but The Cartel has an interesting way of getting around the boring wait. While waiting for the next level to load players don’t just get an icon spinning around or an image, players get to watch news reports or hear phone calls. These news reports are all about events that the player has caused such as escalated gang violence in a certain area. The phone calls that are during other loading screens relate to the character that the player has chosen; an example is Eddie often has phone calls with drug dealers as he tries to recoup some money to pay off his debts. It’s not a brand-new unseen before feature but it is a great way to keep players engrossed in the game between levels.
The multiplayer is set up to be a great experience just like the storyline, unfortunately there are a few things are holding back. The buddy system that implemented works fantastically when playing with a friend but when the system puts two random players together it falls apart. This isn’t a massive problem but if the system was applied differently pairing players on performance rather than randomly it would work better and ultimately make the experience more enjoyable.
The other problem with multiplayer doesn’t come from the game modes, the maps or connection as these are all great; the problem comes from a lack of players. The multiplayer is great fun and it’s a shame that not many people play online but empty matches could have been avoided with bots. If the game was filled with bots until actual players joined to replace them, more players would give the multiplayer a chance.
Call of Juarez: The Cartel unfortunately suffers the same way many games do in terms of visuals, which results in the game looking slightly rushed. The graphics aren’t especially bad although some textures do make areas look worse than others, leaving the game with a rushed unpolished feeling.
Not helping the presentation is the somewhat random sounds that occasionally occur when shooting wooden objects. You can empty an entire magazine into a wooden object and it sound perfectly normal but occasionally rather than hearing all the bullets hit wood, it sounds like one or two hit something metallic. It’s a small problem but it doesn’t help players’ immersion into the game world.
Call of Juarez: The Cartel is a great envision of the Wild West meeting the current day. Action packed from start to finish the game provides plenty of fast paced gunfights and vehicle chases. The presentation does let the title down but don’t let it stop you from giving The Cartel a go. Call of Juarez: The Cartel will see players track down gang members, save prostitutes, take down what appears to be an entire army and most importantly having fun doing it.
[Editor’s Note: Call of Juarez: The Cartel was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Call of Juarez: The Cartel Review,