Fans of the Western genre will be pleased to hear that a new title in the Call of Juarez series is set for release. While final information hasn’t yet been made available on the release date, a likely estimate could be later this year or early 2014 depending on delays. The newest title has been given the moniker “Gunslinger”, and will bring the series back to its colonial roots after its unfortunate predessessor, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, failed to successfully transfer the franchise into the modern era. The game’s live action trailer hints gives a tantalizing preview of what is to come.
Before Red Dead Redemption there was Call of Juarez. One of a handful of games to take on the Western genre before Rockstar brought mainstream consumer to the genre with its excellent offering, Call of Juarez transported players to the 19th century Wild West, where they controlled both an outlaw and the bounty hunter on his trail in a historically accurate adventure. The second title in the series, Bound in Blood then moved backwards into the era of the Civil War, and put players in the shoes of the morally questionable and violently inclined brothers Ray and Thomas McCall. The third title brought the series into the modern era but was generally ill-received, hence the new game promises to return the series to its roots.
The original two games in the Call of Juarez franchise were pretty darn good. Bound in Blood especially drew me into the story, and the narration by the little brother of the main character’s story was some of the best I’ve experienced in a video game. Apart from a high saturation of bald men with mutton chops occurring among the NPC population, the game generally delivered, with nice graphics, a competent control system and a quite excellent storyline. The third in the series however, wasn’t a game I chose to play, mainly because of the pretty bland reviews it received and my desire to spend my cash on more worthy causes. While I can’t give a personal assessment of it, general opinion seems to be very strongly positioned towards the negative.
The developer of Call of Juarez, Techland, seems to have taken note of this lukewarm reception and has set the fourth installment of the franchise back in the Old West. Information so far indicates a history-driven storyline, featuring encounters with legendary figures like Billy the Kid and Jesse James. Just how historically accurate this story will be remains to be seen, but it seems a safe bet that the creators will take some pretty drastic artistic license where they see fit, and so they should.
Screenshots of the new game appear to show some pretty impressive graphics, but not really anything mind-blowing. I’ve never found prior CoJ titles to be particularly visually lacking for their time, so all in all I think players can look forward to a good-looking game world.
Thanks to Red Dead Redemtion, the Western genre has undergone a definite heightening of expectations. Gunslinger will inevitably be compared with the Rockstar blockbuster, and will have to pull of some special moments to be considered on par.Thanks to a return to the Old West time period, cautious optimism in the new game is warranted; hopefully the series can get past its woeful last outing and developer Techland will get to show off its development chops with the new installment.