Call of Juarez Impressions

We saddle up for a lengthy demo of Call of Juarez at the Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany.

LEIPZIG, Germany--Call of Juarez, a Western-themed first-person shooter from Ubisoft and Techland, promises to bring you all the excitement of being a cowboy without having to suffer the saddle sores. Beyond the Western theme, there are some interesting gameplay mechanics in Call of Juarez that should set it apart from the glut of other shooters on the market. We visited the Ubisoft booth at the 2006 Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany, for a lengthy demo showcasing a few levels from the game.

The structure of the story is interesting in Call of Juarez, because you play as not one but two characters. That's nothing new, but the interesting part is that the two characters you play as are at odds with one another. Ray is an older man who gave up his guns to be a reverend, and Billy is Ray's nephew, a wild young runaway accused of murdering his family. After learning of the death of his family, Ray picks up his guns once again and starts looking for Billy, who, meanwhile, is running for his life. This structure gives you two unique perspectives on the same story. You might end up playing through one level as Billy and then playing the same level as Ray, which gives you a completely different perspective on the settings, events, and characters you encounter in that level. This alternating narrative seems like it could work well, and we're especially interested to see how the conflict between the two playable characters is resolved. Of course, the developers wouldn't share that information with us, so we'll just have to wait for the game to be released.

Since Call of Juarez is a shooter, there aren't any tremendous surprises in how it plays. For the most part you shoot one bad guy after another as you work your way through each level. However, there are some variants to make it a little more interesting. For instance, each of the characters has unique weapons and special abilities, which require you to change up the way you play from level to level.

Ray is a gunslinger, so his primary weapons are his pistols. Since he is a man of the faith, he also carries around a Bible. You can approach enemies and quote scripture to befuddle them and buy yourself a moment to draw your guns. Ray also has a special ability that lets him slow down time. When it's activated, Ray draws both pistols, and the world around him moves in superslow motion. Two targeting reticles appear--one for each gun--and by using these you can easily take out half a dozen enemies or more before they even get a chance to draw their weapons. The slow-motion effect lasts only a couple of seconds, but it seems like that's all you'll ever need.

Billy is a young boy on his own, running for his life. He doesn't use guns but instead relies on his trusty whip. Using the whip, Billy can swing from tree limbs, attack enemies, and so on. Since Billy isn't quite equipped for direct confrontation, he has to rely more on his agility, stealth, and ingenuity to surmount the challenges faced in each level.

Beyond the unique abilities of each character, there are plenty of small details that, taken collectively, have a substantial effect on the gameplay. For example, the development team put a lot of work into the fire effects in the game. More than a mere visual effect, the fire in the game behaves as it would in the real world. When you shoot a lantern and it shatters, catching a barrel on fire, the fire won't just go out after a few seconds. Instead, it will spread to all the surrounding flammable items, and if left unchecked, it could present major problems for everyone in the area. There are other ways to interact with the environment as well. You can pick up items such as boxes and move them around to clear a path or provide a step up to an elevated area. We also saw Billy knock over a tree and then use it as a bridge between two ledges.

Visually, Call of Juarez meets the standards of first-person shooters on the PC, though it isn't especially impressive. However, it did run smoothly throughout the entire lengthy demo we saw, even when the action was at its most intense. The levels we saw were large and expansive, with sprawling outdoor areas as well as dark mining tunnels and dingy saloon interiors. Call of Juarez definitely has the dirty, gritty feel of old Western movies, which goes a long way in establishing the tone of the game.

Call of Juarez is scheduled to ship early next month, so you don't have to wait long to start slinging your six-shooters. If you're not sold on the game, you can check the downloads tab of the gamespace for a single-player demo. Be sure to check back soon for our full review of the game when it's released.

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Discussion

28 comments
equili3rium
equili3rium

Got the game and from the word go it says quality to you. The sound is spot on and the little extra's here and there add a great sense of realism to your whole adventure. The AI is not too bright in the stealth sections but boy do the bad guys make up for it with their aim! :) The voice overs are very gritty and suit the style perfectly and whilst the facial animations are a bit crude compared to most modern shooters today the overall look of the characters is very good. It's a beautiful game and lots of fun. Oh, just don't run the sound on openAL, keep it on directX instead unless you want the sound to start and stop in the middle of conversations! Still love it though. AMD Athlon*2 64 4800+ 2 Gb DDR PC3200 (4*512) BFG GeFORCE 7800 GTX OC 256 CREATIVE X-FI FATA1ITY soundcard ASUS A8N-E Motherboard Windows XP Home

azn46
azn46

I just got the full game from there website and its a great game. Nice variations in gameplay keep it fresh. The story line is great and keeps you hooked. The grafx are really nice too. I have a modest system and I run all the settings on high, but with 1024x768 res. It looks damn good though. amd 64 3000 6800gs agp 2 gigs corsair My systems a little outdated but it still runs well. The full version runs alot better than the demo. Not to promote other games but have you guys tried sin episodes, its a really fun game. I gotta help out the small companies. :)

patred
patred

I think you have the rong releasedate of call of juarez because i order it on the internet and i had it this week by mail.

psyconius
psyconius

My computer is falling behind fast, but I can still get some respectable frames in most games. Oblivion @ 800x600 with medium to high settings for example. Company of Heroes runs pretty smooth in 1024 with the graphics low. However, the demo of CoJ ran horribly on my PC pretty much no matter what I did. The full version is running decently @ 800x600 low to medium settings.. But the game is just VERY ugly at these settings. Oblivion looked presentable in lower settings, but this looks atrocious at low settings.

Poeticinsomniac
Poeticinsomniac

First off, Lozzo87 you do not have that much of a high-end machine if you have a 7800 nvidia card. Despite my being a die hard nvidia fan up until about a year ago, i've come to despise their video cards just as i despise intel. Overpriced cards that 90% of the time when running SLI barely meet the performance level of a single ATI card with similar specs. I have an x1800xt 512mb card and was ready to buy a second one to venture into crossfire, but now i'd rather grab one of the x1950 cards with DDR4. Second, loved the game. Interesting game play for certain and graphics that rival oblivian in certain aspects. Running my opteron 165 at 3.4ghz and ram at 720mhz 2.5-2-2-5 i was able to run the game smoothly in 2560x1600 with foliage on medium quality shadow quality medium with 1024 texture size everything else at max quality never dropped below 30fps. Taking everything to max quality and 2048 shadow maps i had to drop the resolution to 1800x1440 to maintain 30fps+ and dropping down to 1600x1200 kept fps above 45. It always makes me smile seeing that nvidia logo in the opening sequence of a game only to read about how poorly optimized, slide show framerates and overall crappy graphics nvidia users actually expierience. Tempted as i was to press on for a 7900gtx i'm glad i decided 4 months ago to get the $200 x1800xt that runs every nvidia game i've come across twice as well as any nvidia card at 3 times the price.

_Ice2fire
_Ice2fire

After playing the demo I'm tracking this one. The six-shooters put an interesting constraint and an injection of realism to the action compared to the weapons in the wwii shooters. I'll bet nobody could reload a single-action revolver that quickly though. :-)

Ashkanhoss29
Ashkanhoss29

I loved the shootouts and all, but the stealth didnt really work for me. I still loved the demo though. I hope this is better than Gun

laversn
laversn

too bad... I was really looking forward to ths game, but the demo won't run on my GeForce Go 6600 128 meg card. ...really slow frame rates, not usable at all.

recalcitrant1
recalcitrant1

Enjoyed the game. Reminded me of playing Outlaws, the old LucasArts game! Agree that the gun effects could do with a bit of beefing. I shall look forward to playing the full game.

SamSabat
SamSabat

Nice game. But is loading level so long

curtfishin
curtfishin

Liked the Demo. Gun sounds and smoke could be better!

kylestater
kylestater

It's a very fun game from the fact that it is rare to see alot of western videogames. Good ones that is. I liked the demo and I look forward to buying it when it releases. Oh and graphics looks amazing as well.

CaribouLou5
CaribouLou5

I thought the demo was great, I like how when you zoom in the focus changes to what you are looking at, it's a cool feature. Plus the gameplay is good and the stealth is well done. Graphics ran fine on my high end machine, Lozzo87. But I have ati, which has no AA problems, either. I will surely buy this at some point, when I run out of FPS to play. There's a LOT coming out soon...

Lozzo87
Lozzo87

The demo is poorly optimised. I have a high-end machine and I cannot run this in high settings without it playing like a slide-show. Not to mention it looks really crappy without AA (My 7800gtx cannot support AA and HDR at the same time :( )

snackfoot007muk
snackfoot007muk

"Mona5443 Have any of you guys yet played the demo? It's not as good as this preview makes it look." Well thats your opinion, i personaly think its a great game. It has everything a good game should have Gameplay,Graphics,Iteractivity and Sound All those thinks the Chome Engine can acomplish really REally well!

Mona5443
Mona5443

Have any of you guys yet played the demo? It's not as good as this preview makes it look.

uenfudbvaukbf
uenfudbvaukbf

The US version was supposed to be delayed to coincide with the console version, but the console version was cancelled. I think they're waiting to see how it does on PC before deciding to go console. So i guess US might get it next month after all.

lb003g0676
lb003g0676

It's funny how uniformed a majpor site like gamespot is. Not only talking about the release date either. and dunno what demo they saw, but teh graphics aren't just meeting standards. They're beautiful. So looks like they need soem glasses or somethng.

runstalker
runstalker

"Call of Juarez is scheduled to ship early next month, so you don't have to wait long to start slinging your six shooters." Only the Euro version is shipping in September, right GS? Wasn't the North American release of CoJ delayed to January in order to coincide with an Xbox 360 version (official announcement, not rumor), hmm? I'm not seeing "Gamespot UK" credited for the story, so I had to chime in.

TintedChimes
TintedChimes

Westerners are usually boring because the guns aren't as destructive as I'm use to. The whole revolver thing is cool but after a while, it gets weird.

_Sam_
_Sam_

I'll track this game now, it seems alright

Mehfuz
Mehfuz

This game is in my list, i love GUN and think i will like this one too

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

wow your guy can swing in trees...i wonder how thats gonna work