Let’s face it – The Cartel was a bit poo. We know it, you know it, and Techland probably know it too. Perhaps then that explains why the fourth entry in their gunslinging series is something a little bit closer to home. Announced last week at Ubisoft’s Digital Days expo, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, is a downloadable arcade title that takes players back to the Wild West, to the time of Billy of the Kid and other infamous figures in ‘Cowboy’ America.
Being a downloadable title, you shouldn’t expect a long drawn-out affair from this game. It’s going to be a relatively short single-player affair, with not a lot of replay value that we know of at the moment (although that could change), but there’s still a lot to be intrigued about here. The narrative of the game is told whilst you’re playing, over the top of the gameplay by the so-far anonymous narrator.
What’s interesting here is that during the narrative the narrator actively interacts with the audience, and we’re told that even though these strangers accept his story to begin with, they will start questioning the validity of his tale further down the line, which we’re told has some ‘interesting’ gameplay consequences. This has us fairly excited, as there’s few conceits more interesting than the idea of an “unreliable narrator” in story telling. Dragon Age 2 promised something similar, but we all know how that turned out.
Aside from that, the actual gameplay holds a lot of Call of Juarez staples that you’ll remember and enjoy. Alongside a concentration mode that fills up the more you perform flashy shots, there’s also a separate ‘death sense’ meter that’s a skill unique to the character, where by you can ‘dodge’ a fatal bullets and instantly shoot back if the meter is full and the circumstances right.
There’s also a skill tree – which is very Borderlands in its presentation – where you can invest in various skills and weapons (single revolver, dual revolver, rifle and son) and then the classic ‘dual’ mode is also back as well.
Looking at the demo being presented, it looked like it could have been ripped right out of Bound in Blood. I think Techland learned a lesson with The Cartel that there are some things you don’t mess with — at least not right away — and hopefully this will go some way to redeem the franchise. Apart from the skill system the only other new thing of note was varied enemy types: you’ll have your standard pistol/rifle wielding grunts, but you’ll also have other variations, like guys with wooden shields and other madness. We’re told there are going to be 8 – 12 in total.
There’s not a lot else to say about this game at this point, other than it looks promising. Bulletstorm-style point scores flash up on screen every time you get a kill, and we hope there’ll be some score-attack modes chucked in at some point, to add a little replay value (Trials Evolution has shown that you can get a lot of value out of something like that). Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is due out ‘early’ 2013 on PC, Xbox Live Arcade and PSN and we wait with curious, if not quite eager, anticipation.