Call of Juarez
|Call of Juarez|
|Series||Call of Juarez|
|Engine||Chrome Engine 3
Open Dynamics Engine (physics)
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows
EU September 15, 2006
AU October 14, 2006
NA June 12, 2007
NA June 7, 2007
AU June 28, 2007
EU June 29, 2007
JP February 28, 2008
|Genre(s)||First-person shooter, Western|
|Distribution||DVD, digital distribution|
Call of Juarez (originally called Lawman) is a 2006 first-person shooter Western video game developed by Techland and published by Ascaron in Europe, Techland in Australia and Ubisoft in North America. Originally released for Windows, it was ported to the Xbox 360 in 2007, published by Ubisoft. The PC version was one of the first games to use Microsoft's DirectX 10.
The game has spawned a prequel and several sequels; Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, a prequel, was released in 2009. An indirect sequel, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, set in modern day Los Angeles and Mexico, was released in 2011. A fourth game, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, which returns to the Old West setting, but introduces a new storyline and characters, was released in 2013.
Beyond the basic mechanics of the first-person shooter, the game's most notable feature involves each level alternating between each of the game's protagonists; Billy Candle and Reverend Ray McCall. Both characters have very a different style of gameplay; Billy's levels are mainly stealth based whereas Ray's are run and gun style. In Billy's levels, players can utilize a whip, and, later in the game, a bow and arrow. The whip can be used for neutralizing enemies such as snakes and wolves, and for swinging across gaps using tree branches. When Billy uses the bow and arrow, the game automatically goes into slow motion, allowing him to aim more carefully. For Ray's levels, he can be armed with two guns or one gun and a Bible. If the player presses the shoot button for the hand holding the Bible, Ray will quote a bible passage. Slow motion in Ray's levels is called "focus mode"; when activated, the game goes into slow motion and two targeting reticles appear on the screen, one on the upper left, one on the upper right, and move towards the center of the screen. The player cannot control the movement of either reticle, but can shoot separately from each one whenever they choose. Ray's levels also involve numerous gun duel's between Ray and one or more enemies. In these shootouts, the player must draw their weapons and kill the opponents before they get a chance to shoot Ray.
- William "Billy Candle" Mendoza (voiced by David E. Taylor): A young drifter of Mexican descent, and one of the story's two protagonists. Anti-social and flighty due to his upbringing and the constant prejudice he experiences from those around him, Billy has been on the run for most of his life. Upon returning home after searching for the legendary Gold of Juarez, he finds his mother and stepfather dead and flees, giving his step-uncle the idea that he was the one who killed them. Although he is on the run for most of the game, he eventually must face his enemies in order to protect those he cares about.
- Reverend Ray McCall (Marc Alaimo): An old gunslinger turned preacher, and Billy's step-uncle. Mistakenly believing that Billy is responsible for the murder of his brother and his brother's wife (Billy's mother and stepfather), Ray sets out to hunt down Billy in the name of justice. Although he is Billy's enemy for much of the game, he eventually realizes the truth and assists Billy in his quest.
- Juan "Juarez" Mendoza: The main antagonist of the story. A powerful bandit leader, known as "Juarez" after the town he is from. He is also Billy's biological father, and responsible for the deaths of Billy's mother and stepfather. Juarez wants the legendary lost treasure of Juarez, and is after Billy's amulet which holds the key to finding the treasure. His true name is Juan Mendoza (as revealed in Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood).
- Tom Manson, Ty Stewart, and the McClyde brothers: Juarez's main henchmen, the men responsible for killing Billy's mother and stepfather. Pretending to be Texas Rangers, they deceive Ray into helping them launch an assault on Mr. Ferguson's ranch in search of Billy.
- Molly Ferguson (Lisa Ann Orkin): The daughter of a wealthy rancher, with whom Billy fell in love. Her father is killed by Juarez's men, and Juarez holds her captive in order to force Billy to locate the treasure of Juarez for him.
- Calm Water (Robert Greygrass): An old Indian medicine man who rescues Billy and nurses him back to health after he is shot by Reverend Ray and falls into a river. He is formerly known as "Running River", and is a former Apache tribe leader (as revealed in Bound in Blood).
- Clyde Forrester: The owner of the local saloon in Hope. A racist, religion-hating, violent trouble-maker, and a long-time enemy of both Billy and Reverend Ray. Shot dead in a duel with Reverend Ray, who also burns his saloon.
- Suzy (Shannon McNally): A prostitute working in the Hope saloon, and a childhood friend of Billy's. It is unknown if Suzy dies in the fire that engulfs the saloon.
As the game begins, a narrator relates the legend of the "Gold of Juarez." Intended as a ransom for Moctezuma, who was being held hostage by conquistadores, the treasure was lost and never found. Nevertheless, over the centuries many have attempted to retrieve the lost riches of the Aztec Empire, even though the treasure is rumored to be cursed. All who have attempted to find it have failed.
The game then cuts to the town of Hope, where Billy is a young man who doesn't know who his father is, and has no real last name. Due to the town's racism against his Mexican ancestry, during his childhood he suffered racial prejudice from the local population. He especially hated his stepfather Thomas, who beat him daily, and the only love he had was for his Mexican mother Marisa. Fed up, Billy left the town in the hope of finding the Gold of Juarez, but after two years of fruitless searching, he eventually returns.
However, upon his arrival at the family's ranch, he finds Thomas and Marisa dead, lying underneath the words "Call of Juarez" written on the wall in their blood. A man named Reverend Ray, a former outlaw and now the local preacher, as well as Thomas's older brother, sees Billy standing over the bodies, and assumes that Billy is the murderer. Billy flees from Ray and escapes, but Ray decides that it is his duty as God's emissary to track down and kill Billy for the crime.
Billy heads to the ranch of Molly Ferguson's father, where he used to work, as he believes she is the only one who will believe he is innocent. Ray tracks Billy to the ranch where he meets a group of Texas Rangers who tell him they are going to attack the farm because Mr. Ferguson is a rustler. Ray helps them, and then chases Billy into the fields. He shoots Billy, causing him to fall in a nearby river. Ray returns to the ranch to find that the Rangers were in fact bandits, under the command of a man named Juarez. He kills two of them but the others escape. With his dying breath, Mr. Ferguson begs Ray to rescue Molly, who was taken by the bandits. Ray races to catch them, but he fails. Realizing that Billy wasn't responsible for Marisa and Thomas' murder, he breaks down in tears, believing he has failed in his duty.
Meanwhile, Billy has survived his fall, and is nursed back to health by Calm Water, an Apache medicine man. Later, after running some errands for Calm Water, Billy returns to find him dead. The bandits who killed him then take Billy hostage. Meanwhile, Ray is pursuing the bandits in an attempt to redeem himself. He chases them on horseback, and shoots a bandit named Ty Stewart. As he dies, Stewart reveals they are heading for the town of Juarez on the Mexican border.
In Juarez, Billy is handed over to a man named Juarez, who reveals that he is Billy's true father. He demands Billy find the Gold of Juarez, otherwise he will kill Molly. Ray then arrives, saving Billy and telling him to run. Ray fights more bandits and wounds Juarez, who manages to escape, telling Ray he will kill Molly if he doesn't bring him the gold. Ray storms Juarez's hacienda, fighting his way to a cell, where he finds Molly. However, Juarez traps Ray and Molly inside the cell and sets fire to it. Billy puts out the fire, then confronts Juarez. He shoots him and leaves him for dead. Billy then rescues Ray and Molly from the cell. Suddenly, Juarez walks in and guns down Ray, revealing that he was wearing armor. Juarez and Billy fight and Billy defeats him. As he lies dying, Ray realizes that the whole affair was his fault, and prays that his actions will not lead to the deaths of Billy and Molly. He recovers just long enough to see Juarez pull a knife and attack Billy from behind. Ray kills Juarez, and then dies happily.
Later, Billy and Molly are standing in the Juarez cemetery over Ray's grave. Billy says he will take Calm Water's advice and stop running from his destiny. He plans to return to Hope, along with Molly.
Prequel and sequels
On January 13, 2009, Techland announced a prequel to Call of Juarez, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. The game focuses on the exploits of Thomas and Ray McCall (Billy's stepfather and step-uncle) in their youth.
A third game, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, was released in 2011. Set in the present day, locations range from Los Angeles, California to Juarez, Mexico. The game is connected to the previous two games through the protagonist Ben McCall, an LAPD detective and Vietnam veteran who is a descendant of Billy Candle. Juarez' alcazar, and the ruins of Raytown (featured in Bound in Blood) return as locations. Also, Ben McCall was born in Hope, the same town as Billy.
A fourth game, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, was released in 2013. The game returns to the Old West setting, but introduces a new storyline and a new set of characters.
Call of Juarez received mixed to positive reviews. On aggregating sites GameRankings and Metacritic, the PC version holds scores of 75.44% and 72/100, respectively, and the Xbox 360 version holds scores of 71.74% and 71/100, respectively.
Eurogamer were impressed with the game, scoring both the PC version and the Xbox version 8 out of 10. Of the PC version, Kieron Gillen praised the alternating levels between Billy and Ray; "it leads to a brilliant sense of tension and release. You pass through a level as Billy, keeping out of line of sight and avoiding the attention of its residents. Eventually, you reach the end of the level. Next you're Ray, trying to catch up with Billy and following his trail takes you right through the area you were just creeping through." They concluded that "Of all the cowboy games in the last few years, Call of Juarez is the one which most feels like it has a soul. Impassioned and imaginative, its velocity of invention can make you smile through any flaws. It's a game which you feel someone actually cared about making. We don't see nearly enough of those." Of the Xbox version, Tom Bramwell was somewhat critical of the controls, but praised the game for reviving the genre; "the dirt under its fingernails, however tightly packed, has given new life to an area of the FPS genre where tons of developers have given up. It's been all-quiet on the Western front since Gun and before that Red Dead Revolver."
GameSpot's Alex Navarro scored the PC version 7 out of 10, and the Xbox version 8 out of 10. He called the game "a well-made genre exercise that's more often entertaining than not." He also praised the divided gameplay style, and was particularly impressed with the Reverend Ray levels, and the implementation of slow motion. However, he was critical of Billy's levels, especially the implementation of the whip feature used for getting across large gaps. He concluded that "as ham-fisted and generic as Call of Juarez can be at times, it does enough right to transcend its various issues and turn in a pleasing shooter. It does the Old West motif well, the gunslinging (and bible slinging) are a lot of fun, and the capable multiplayer modes have enough going for them to give the game a bit of staying power. It doesn't quite rise past the ceiling established by other recent western shooters, but it's good, solid fun all around."
IGN's Dan Adams was unimpressed with the PC version, rating it 6.5 out of 10 and writing "Solid shooting mechanics mix with poor level design while potentially interesting protagonists are bludgeoned with ho-hum enemies. Sadly some of the game's signature features, such as the slow-motion focus shooting, are hugely overused and actually drag the game down." He praised the Reverend Ray levels but criticized the Billy levels, especially the platforming and whip sections. He concluded that "Solid basic shooting mechanics aren't enough to make a passable game good. There are some fun and frantic moments here with Reverend Ray [...] but overall the level design is a linear letdown. Billy Candle's moments in the sun are even shadier with some sad sneaking and horrific jumping puzzles." Jonathan Miller was slightly more impressed with the Xbox version, scoring it 7.5 out of 10, writing "Western fans are really going to enjoy Call of Juarez, a game not afraid to take chances and have fun with itself. The atmosphere is excellent, thanks to a great cinematic score and a great variety of gameplay including horses, dueling, stealth and flat-out action. While Call of Juarez isn't particularly great in any of these areas, you have to hand it to Techland for developing one of the most fun Westerns to date."
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