Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood Exclusive Multiplayer Hands-On - Modes and Character Classes

No Mexican standoffs were required to bring you this exclusive multiplayer hands-on preview. Well, maybe a few.

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We've seen lots of Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood over the past month on GameSpot. However, there was still one major part of the package that we had yet to encounter: the multiplayer. Thankfully, we got to correct this recently when we were invited to play the game in multiplayer.

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The multiplayer component seems to have plenty going for it--there are familiar first-person-shooter traditions here, but with enough twists to keep us coming back for more. The basic numbers all sound good--one to 12 players online or locally, five different game modes, and eight maps. The feature that seems to set the game apart, though, is that it offers 13 playable classes: gunslinger, rifleman, miner, sniper, and native, in addition to the scout, trapper, gunsmith, hombre, spy, officer, duelist, and veteran, who have to be unlocked. Whether you're a native running around with a bow and arrow, or a mustachioed hombre duel-wielding shotguns, the game has a great mix of characters, each of whom feels balanced within the world.

We started out by playing a few rounds of deathmatch (known as Shoot-Out mode). Bound in Blood employs a bounty system to keep track of scores, so rather than winning rounds by racking up the most kills, you're awarded money based on how "wanted" your assailant is. For example, if one player manages a string of kills (named after poker hands, like "straight," for example), that player's bounty goes up. There was a wonderful moment in one of our games where we'd spent the entire match in the lead, only to be assassinated by the number two player. Because of the high bounty on our head from our string of kills, that player snatched victory at the very last moment, much to our frustration.

Your earnings can also be used to upgrade individual character classes throughout the match. Each class has three stars next to its name, representing the different levels you can upgrade to. The first upgrade you make improves whatever weakness your particular character has, and the second upgrade boosts whatever skill you excel in. We like that you can upgrade any class regardless of what you've been playing as, so, for example, you can switch your character briefly to pick off a few pesky foes with a sniper rifle before switching your character again to go up close with a beefed-up gunslinger. As it turns out, in ranked matches, you'll be able to hold on to your characters' advancement levels; however, in casual, unranked matches, advancing your characters' levels will apply only for that match.

Bound in Blood seems to offer plenty of variety beyond what you'd normally expect in a multiplayer shooter.
Bound in Blood seems to offer plenty of variety beyond what you'd normally expect in a multiplayer shooter.

In addition to deathmatch, we managed to get some time with the objective-based team mode, Wild West Legends. In this mode, there are two teams--lawmen and bandits--and one team goes on the attack while the other defends. Such objectives include protecting the bank if you're playing as the law or blowing up the stables if you're a criminal. The missions themselves are based on famous Wild West events, such as the shoot-out at the OK Corral and the capture of Billy the Kid, so there should be plenty for fans of the period to enjoy in this mode.

We also sampled a couple of maps from the roster of eight that will be in the finished game. Frisco is a map based on the location of a shoot-out that took place in Frisco, New Mexico, on December 1, 1884. It's an open map, with plenty of rooftops from which to snipe and indoor areas that favor close-combat characters. Stinking Springs, meanwhile, is intersected by a large lake, with a number of strategic buildings to protect in Legends mode, including an old mill. Developer Techland's ChromeEngine 4 powers Bound in Blood with visuals that look slick, and the game seemed to run at a fluid frame rate with no slowdown.

There are plenty of other modes promised in the final game. Wanted mode pits one player against everyone else, allowing the player to score while other players try to kill him to become the wanted player. Manhunt is a team-based variation on this theme, with one player acting as the wanted man, effectively a VIP. If one team can keep this player alive for 60 seconds, the team scores, but if he's killed, then the VIP changes over to someone on the opposing team. Manhunt's constant changing of sides when your team's VIP is assassinated (which then switches the VIP to the opposing team) seems to keep the pace brisk; you'll come running after the enemy VIP with guns blazing, but on scoring the kill, you may find yourself tagged as the next round's VIP, at which point you have to turn tail and scramble for cover while your teammates (hopefully) defend you.

Expect to see plenty of lead flying online when Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is released this summer.
Expect to see plenty of lead flying online when Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is released this summer.

We enjoyed our time with the Bound in Blood multiplayer, and one thing's clear: the game's multiplayer options definitely offer a lot more variety beyond the standard modes you may be used to. The game will launch on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on June 30 in the US and July 3 in Europe, and we'll bring you more info on the game as we get it.

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