Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Call of Juarez: It's all about the story telling.

I have just finished Call of Juarez Bound in Blood. It is a more conventional shooter than the first game and takes fewer risks with the gameplay but it feels more polished overall.

It is hard to talk about the Call of Juarez sequence however without commenting on the story telling: Some people loved it with one reviewer saying it is the "pinnacle of story telling in first person shooters" others hated it saying "The story’s a meandering mess of multiple villains, double-dealing women, faux-rugged heroes, terrible accents, sloppy racial stereotyping, and unmoving tragedy."  Personally I tend to agree with the more favourable assessment. I agree that the quality of the storyline is far below that which we have come to expect from literature or top notch Hollywood screenplays but this is a first person shooter video game  a medium that famously eschews any attempt at coherent storytelling The two Juarez games tell a multi-generational epic story and developers Techland have saturated the game with cut-scenes and narrative Dialogue. I particularly liked the choice of making the second game a prequel to the first and I found my experience of the game was enriched by the fact that I knew where the characters were going to end up but I had no idea how they were going to get there. More of this sort of thing, I say.

Minor gripes:
Too many duels. Every major encounter ends in a one on one duel and theses are a tedious exercise in twitch game play.
The optional side missions suck:  At two points in the game you are left to wander on our own with the choice of doing several optional side missions. These optional missions are for the most part much lower quality than the normal storyline arc. The game actually feels like the completely depressing Far Cry 2 at this point. You can skip these missions but the cash they generate is useful for upgrading your weapons. Thankfully they only happen twice in the game.

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