The first-person shooter genre is one of the most competitive, and it sometimes becomes hard for games to stand out from the crowd. In that respect, Techland have done a commendable job with the Call of Juarez series. The old Western setting, the gripping gun battles, and the unique missions helped the series create its own identity. The one thing that was missing, however, was campaign co-op. The third game – The Cartel, changes that, but unfortunately also takes a few steps back for the series.
The biggest of these changes is the move from an old Western setting to the modern-day urban environs of Los Angeles. Much of the charm that helped the first two games feel unique is lost instantly. It also doesn’t help matters that The Cartel is a massive step back for the series in terms of visual fi delity. All the environments seem to have an excessive haze that makes enemies hard to spot and tell apart from other objects. The AI isn’t the brightest but having to squint to look for enemies does up the challenge, just not in the way you would have hoped. Los Angeles and its surroundings aren’t very well realised either; it all just looks painfully generic. The Cartel’s biggest hook is the addition of online coop. You can play as one of three law enforcement officers, and in a half-hearted attempt at linking it to the first two games, one of these characters is a descendent of Ray McCall from the earlier games. Each of these characters also has his/her own hidden agenda, and these play out as side missions in amongst the main missions. This sounds good in co-op, but fails when playing solo, because the AIcontrolled characters conveniently skip their side missions. While it’s great to see co-op in Call of Juarez, Techland chose to do it in a game that would have been just fine without it because all the characters play nearly the same. Even in co-op, The Cartel is a mediocre effort and one that doesn’t do justice to Techland’s talents.
Volume 1 Issue 4