Jeff Markiewicz On July 13, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Bound in Blood is a prequel to the 2006’s Call of Juarez from Techland. They have put out several games but nothing that has made much of a splash. Three years ago they came out with a western-themed first person shooter which placed them on the map but it wasn’t perfect. There was some issue with stealth based parts but overall was an okay game. Now the sequel is out and the summer shootout is in full force, will surpass its predecessor or will it take a tumble?

This may be a prequel to Call of Juarez but it requires no knowledge of the former game to understand. The game starts out during the final years of the American Civil War outside of Atlanta, Georgia. You play as both Ray and Thomas McCall in the confederate army but once the Union threatens your homestead, you run away together to defend it. From there you’re forced to escape the confederate army hunting you down so you leave with your other brother William into the west, waiting until the coast is clear and you have enough money to rebuild your home. The story is told beautifully which is a breath of fresh air because these days it seems like almost no game can tell a decent deep story.

The game is obviously a first-person shooter as you can tell from the screenshots. Your arsenal will depend on which character you choose to play through most of the game. To show you the difference the early levels have you forced into either Ray or Thomas for a period of time. Ray is the brute; he can wield two hand-guns, dynamite, and knock down doors. Thomas is the opposite, he’s more agile and main weapon is rifles. He can also use rope to get to higher areas but its use is very situational and a little awkward but using the joystick to build up the rope momentum is great. The gun play is top notch and satisfying. Getting kills will fill a meter for you to enter a concentration mode, which must be used within a certain amount of time. Ray the brute just moves the crosshairs over the enemies and he unleashes a flurry of bullets on them all. Thomas is more precise and you actually have to do a cocking motion with the joystick and it automatically targets everyone within range. Unfortunately the single-player is not cooperative but your partner is actually very competent navigating the world with ease and will actually kill people. There was only one or two times where he was a little too slow but nonetheless a helpful asset. Objectives come quickly and furiously, you’ll always know what you’re doing and they are wildly varied. One moment you’ll be firing a cannon taking out boats and the next you’ll be in a stagecoach barreling through town. Interspersed throughout these top notch linear levels is a couple hub worlds where you can pick up side quests and make money to buy better weapons. They are a great break and are executed admirably. Quite frequently you’ll be engaged in a showdown which can be tricky to learn how to do. You have to hold your hand over your gun while keeping the other guy in your direct view and when the clock goes off, pull it out and shoot. It’s a lot harder than it sounds and can become frustrating at times if you can’t pull it off. All in all the single player will give you about 6 great hours of action plus about 4 more if you want to switch roles. There are several parts where you break off and take alternate routes plus they both play very differently so you’ll still have tons of fun.

The online takes the core single player elements and takes them online. Therefore you’re going to drop the concentration mode and your unique arsenal of knives and rope. In return you gain a pretty cool upgradable class system. You start off with 5 of them unlocked already and have access to unlocking 8 more. These are unlocked by earning money through ranked matches online in 5 different game types. You have the basic variants of deathmatch and team deathmatch with Shootout and Posse. Interjecting a wanted man into the mix gives you Wanted and Manhunt respectively. These are all neat but nothing special. The real call is Wild West Legends, an objective-oriented mode that is supposedly loosely based upon real events. They entail quite varied things from robbing a bank and escaping from the town to destroying weapon caches. Unfortunately nearly every objective requires you to set charges and blow something up which gets a little old after a while. The great joy in this game is the multiplayer maps are really open and it’s up to you which angle you attack from. There are not many artificial choke points which feel very liberating. Unfortunately the game is snipers and spawn campers wet dream and there is no counter for these tactics. Plus once you learn the maps, you can literally camp some of the next objectives.  You’ll have a lot of fun in the definitive mode and a little bit in the others but after a couple class unlocks it’ll start to get a little old.

A game set in the Wild West is definitely a breath of fresh air and it’s well executed here. What’s even better is that how varied they made the world so you’re always seeing something different from the barren deserts to wooded forests. In the background in several areas are epic vistas that you just want to sit and gaze. The game is beautiful artistically but there are some missteps. They overuse the super blur and disorienting shaking of the screen far too often. At times you’ll be in awe of the views and at other times things will look horrible. Particularly when a certain object is thrown into the ground early in the game during a cut scene looked abysmal. The character models look great but can also be a little stiff during cut scenes. In the vast expanse, the pop in for the extra detailed foliage is very sharp and some effects are noticeable absent. Overall you won’t be disappointed but it’s not perfect.

From the moment you hear Thomas or Ray you know you’re in for a treat. Most the voice acting is stupendous and really blends the game with the story. There is the occasional voice that may be a little generic but overall they are delivered great. Some phrases do become overused during single player but the much worse atrocity is during multiplayer where the announcer will tell you what your objective all the time which can become annoying. The music usually sits in the background and does its thing but as you keep playing the game, it oddly grows on you. It fits the game perfectly and accents the game while blending subtly into the background.  The weapons sound powerful in your hands. The sound is a great joy in this game.

I walked into this game knowing little to nothing about the franchise. I knew there was a prior game but it quickly faded to nothing so its prequel didn’t generate much hype for me. Plus Techland has not received many accolades for their work. But let me tell you, this game is awesome.  It told a story that makes more sense than most top tier titles these days in addition to actually being pretty good. It’s gameplay took a little bit getting use to but it feels like running about with weapons that feel as fun as Halo 1’s pistol with awesome varied gameplay. At one moment you’ll be breaking someone out of jail and the next you’ll be on a stagecoach fending off Indians. And along this entire journey you’ll be in company of your brother, which is played by the AI but is actually competent. You actually develop a trust in your computer-controlled partner to help you out instead of holding his hand like a baby like other games. Then when you’re finished with the game, you can switch and play the other brother which adds considerable life to the game. The multiplayer and its impressive Wild West Legends game mode will keep you satisfied for quite a bit of time. Its setting in the Wild West is refreshing and its use of varied locations is great. Ray and Thomas sound amazing and the music perfectly blends into the experience. Call of Juarez: Bound In Blood is the perfect game for the summer drought. It won’t win any awards for innovation or technical achievement but it’s consistently fun from beginning to end and the story is told beautifully. If you’re itching to get a game, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is it.


Awesome single-player playing as either Ray or Thomas. There unfortunately is no co-op but the partner AI is actually good and doesn’t require babysitting. The story is great. Some aspects of the controls take a little getting used to. Multiplayer really open and fun but can get repetitive.


Great look to the game but over-reliance on certain effects can be off-putting. Animations during cut scenes can be a little stiff. Characters look great and distinct.


Awesome voice-acting. Both Ray and Thomas sound fantastic. Certain phrases get repeated a lot though, especially in multiplayer. The music is great and grows on you throughout the game.


Summer blockbuster. The gameplay will awesome and the story is told beautifully. It’s not perfect by any means but it’s consistently fun from the beginning to the end. It actually tells a really good story. The multiplayer gives it some decent legs. If you’re itching to get a game, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is it.

Comments are closed.