Forgot password?


Password reset

Please enter your e-mail address and new password.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

By MrJenssen23-09-2013
Bis18marck70 (editor)
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

The Defence

Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 3 GHz
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3 GHz
Nvidia GeForce GTX 460
AMD Radeon HD 5750
4 GB
5 GB
9.0c, 10

The Case

Silas Greaves. Bounty Hunter. Badass. Possibly the murderer of every western legend known to mankind. Gunslinger marks the Call of Juarez franchise’s return to its Wild West roots, with a few twists and at a bargain price. But after the fiasco that was The Cartel, does Call of Juarez deserve a second chance?

The Trial

I loved the two first Call of Juarez games and, though they were flawed, they were certainly ambitious, both in terms of gameplay mechanics and narrative. They nailed the Wild West setting like few games had before them. Call of Juarez: Bound In Blood was, to me, the best PC representative of that era. When the series took a long step into the modern day with CoJ: The Cartel, I was initially sceptical. The promotional footage didn’t make me feel any better and when all the negative reviews finally started coming in...well, let’s just say that was The Cartel’s final nail in the coffin.

Boom! Bang! Pow! Kaboom! Et cetera.

Boom! Bang! Pow! Kaboom! Et cetera.

It is quite obvious that Techland and Ubisoft were not oblivious to The Cartel’s negative reception. Gunslinger has all the tell-tale signs, the first and most obvious change being the return to Cowboys, Colts and Cigars. Not only is this a good move because the amount of Wild West shooters existing on the market is near zero nowadays, but it is also where this franchise belongs. Secondly, the price tag is outrageously low for a game published by one of the major companies in the industry; Gunslinger is part of Ubisoft’s experimental new program to make smaller, “mini-AAA” games that offer almost the same amount of quality gameplay as a $50 game, but for only a fraction of the price. Gunslinger’s launch price was $15, which is likely to tempt sceptical players into buying it.

The narrative of Gunslinger is surprisingly robust for a shooter. The opening cutscene starts the game off with Silas Greaves, an old retired bounty hunter, seated by a poker table in a saloon, telling stories of his supposed escapades. There is a fair amount of outrageous things this Silas guy wants you to believe, and each story leads to you taking control over the younger Greaves as he hunts down and presumably kills off almost every single Wild West legend you have ever heard of, and then some. You won’t be playing as any of the McCalls during Gunslinger, but Silas is a worthy replacement. However, there are hints here and there that Silas might not always be speaking the truth. For one, he often forgets certain details and intertwines his tales. More importantly, he even needs to go back and retell some of his stories after being corrected by the other people at the table, which has a direct impact on the actual gameplay.

‘Dodge this!’ - he said. I wasn't paying attention...

‘Dodge this!’ - he said. I wasn't paying attention...

Indeed, new routes might pop out, characters that were there before might disappear into thin air, and at one point an entire barn falls out of the sky. Literally. Sometimes, you’ll have to, with some alterations, play a section of a level all over again which, strangely, works quite well and helps to keep the flow going. You never know what might happen next. This is also helped by the good variety in the level design and enemy types. You might be taking down a mountain logger’s camps in one minute, then strafing through the tight corridors of a speeding train in the next. More importantly though, the fluctuating narrative paints Silas as an unreliable narrator, something you don’t quite often see in a shooter of this kind.

Gameplay-wise, Gunslinger mostly feels no different from the bulk of today’s linear shooters. You run around various linear, semi-destructible environments, gunning down every enemy you come across with shotguns, rifles and of course the signature six-shooters of the era, blasting your way through to the final boss on each level. Occasionally, you’ll hit a button to activate bullet-time, which marks enemies red and lets you take more accurate shots. The AI of the average rustler, bandit and Indian is nothing standout-ish, but enemies will use cover and are accurate shots, always offering a challenge.

Even rough men can appreciate beauty when they see it.

Even rough men can appreciate beauty when they see it.

The boss fights themselves are arguably Gunslinger’s weakest part and they all play out nearly exactly the same way; you run up to a bullet-spouting, bullet-spongy enemy with lethal accuracy, and take him out with your guns or some dynamite. These fights can be tedious, especially on the highest difficulty setting, but they are usually over in under a minute. Once you win this boss fight a duel occurs where you need to be quicker and more accurate than your opponent. You get a bonus point-increase for being honorable and letting your enemy draw first. After all, according to Wild West law, it is not so much about who kills who, as it is about who drew first. The duels play out similarly every time as you go through the same motions every time. Yet, as they challenge your multitasking skills and are underscored by tense music in the background, they never stop feeling thrilling and challenging. Sometimes even frustratingly challenging, as you can be killed rather easily by one of the quicker opponents. But then again, there is always the option to just draw first...

Gunslinger is perhaps most akin to fellow Polish developer People Can Fly’s Bulletstorm when it comes to gameplay. The two are similar in how players can rack up points by performing exceptional kills or chaining kills together. Gunslinger doesn’t go as all-out as Bulletstorm, but it is most certainly in the more arcady and stylish lane of the FPS genre compared to earlier CoJ games. For those who don’t enjoy seeing numbers pop up on the screen continuously, Gunslinger has the option to deactivate that. As you rack up points, you earn experience and level up to get skill points that you can allocate to three small skill trees that give you the ability to reload faster, lob back the dynamite enemies throw at you, unlock new weapons and so on.

He has a problem with depth perception. I only have Alzheimer's. Guess which one matters in a duel.

He has a problem with depth perception. I only have Alzheimer's. Guess which one matters in a duel.

Once you are done with the six-or-so hours the main campaign lasts for, there is a New Game Plus mode with increased difficulty that lets you complete the game again with your weapons and unlocked skills intact. There are also the Duel and Arcade modes. The Duel mode is exactly what it says it is: you defeat the same characters in a duel ladder that increases in difficulty as you go. The Arcade mode sees you running through levels inspired by the ones in the main campaign, where you chain kills together to rack up combo points and topple your friends in the Steam leaderboards. Though the extra modes won’t keep you playing forever, there is enough content and variation in the content to warrant the price.

To top it all off, Gunslinger is a technical marvel, especially when you consider the price. Every environment, every gun and every character you blast to kingdom come, is lovingly crafted with high attention to detail. Everything looks sharp, and the tiny little dash of cel-shading adds to the atmosphere. The weapons all feel like they pack a punch, especially the shotgun which literally blows enemies off their feet and throws them back with only a satisfying cloud of blood left shortly suspended in mid-air. The sound design helps a lot too. The music is top notch, but the voice acting - especially Silas’ thundering words of doom - shines even brighter. The somewhat low FOV setting could be tedious for some, but shouldn’t detract from you having a great experience.

The Verdict

Although I do wish the game had even more guns, an FOV slider and boss fights that were more than just “duck and hide until the bullet-sponge needs to reload”, these are only minor issues that barely make a dent in Gunslinger’s shiny armor of quality. It’s such a fun game, and a good one too. It’s the type of game that any other publisher would likely slap a half-assed multiplayer mode onto and ship out the door with a $50 price tag. But that is not the case with Gunslinger. Gunslinger is worth its price, and then some. I personally would love to see more mini-AAA type games coming from Ubisoft. Quality games at a low price. You can’t argue with that.

Case Review

  • Storyteller: Gunslinger’s narrative is surprisingly robust and intricate for a shooter.
  • Value for Your Buck: Though they only ask $15 for it, Gunslinger’s combined strengths make it worth much more.
  • Beautiful: Between the sharp textures, awesome effects and beautifully artistic vistas, Gunslinger is like the shooter equivalent of a painting.
  • No McCall: Though some may miss the McCalls, Silas Greaves is a worthy replacement.
  • Guns: They’re cool and all, but I wish there were more.
  • Boss Me Around: Boss fights are boring, occasionally frustrating and pointless. Just bring me right to the duel!
Score: 4.5/5
The explosive gameplay and clever narrative make Gunslinger worth the bargain price, and much more.
Comments (7)
You must be to post a comment.
Posts: 166

I did enjoy Gunslinger, I was a bit sceptical due to the cheap price, but it was very enjoyable and good for a quick blast if bored.

Posts: 9

I loved the game and it is easily in the top 3 arcade shooters of the year

Posts: 1548

Ubisoft surprisingly is starting to be one of the best publisher (quality and content wise) even with all the shit they pulled over the years.

Posts: 127

True that, didn't think about the statement this way :-)

Posts: 1317

Ubisoft is the one who takes charge with this thing. Not the developers. They're the ones funding the budget of the mini-AAA games, and they're the ones who choose to set the low price when they could've cowered out and slapped a $50 pricetag on it.

All credz to a developer for making a game, but the developers have literally nothing to do with the Mini-AAA initiative.

Posts: 127

A great text apart from this, and a nice game it seems :-D I may want to check it out.

Posts: 127

"I personally would love to see more mini-AAA type games coming from Ubisoft."

Aw man, this line hurts :-( It is like praising the book's publisher instead of the writer.