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SummarySpaghetti into the South and Mexico
The GoodThe music is the real star of this game. It really sets the scene and the tone for the action. It's surprisingly good too, which isn't always the case (or even necessary).
The gameplay is stellar, the force feedback is used effectively (the gatling guns and cannon are tons of fun). Gamepads are used very effectively too: dual-pistols mode, hammer-fanning mode, rope-twirling mode. These are really fun. And each character has a unique 'concentration' mode, adding to things. The AI are pretty good too, if you throw dynamite, they will throw it back if you didn't let the fuse burn down. Plus they will attack if you take too long re-loading, so learn how to change weapons!
The story is pretty good, it adds to the story of the original while providing a good vehicle for the action scenes at the same time. Each character gets a unique view of the action as well, so the story is slightly different depending on which character you are playing. This is a nice mechanic, it really makes things more interesting.
The voice acting is spectacular. The dialogue is a little cheesy in places, but this is a western, after all. They manage to stay on the right side of political correctness, but it doesn't feel like anything has been sacrificed, plus they don't beat you over the head with it either. The sound and sound effects are stunning, if you have a good sound card and speakers you will really enjoy the 5.1 sound in this game.
The graphics and cut scenes are great, but more below. They have both formats too, so PC and console viewers will not pay a penalty for their choice of viewing format. More producers should do this, too many console ports penalize PCs. Also, if you are looking for a good title for Stereo three-dimensional play, this is a very good choice.
The BadThere's not much to dislike about this. It's pretty easy on the simplest settings, but there are harder difficulties and playing through it once unlocks a 'very hard' difficulty.
If you want to get the full story, you will have to play it through more than once in any case, as each chapter can only be played by one of the characters. So to get the full story, you need to play all the way through as both of the characters. But there are optional missions, so this isn't as bad as it sounds. Plus there are art bonuses (secrets) to be discovered.
The boss fights (showdowns) are usually very hard, but they're supposed to be. If you are persistent, you'll be able to get through them after you've played them over a while.
For fans of sneaking (which doesn't really include me) there are not many points that require it. Thomas is the sneaking character, Ray is all about charging in with both guns blazing. Ray can take a lot of hits (he has a boiler-plate under his shirt) so no real penalties for being reckless. Which is perhaps a little unrealistic. For the missions where Thomas is supposed to use knives, I have found a rifle or sniper rifle is just as effective.
I liked the graphics in this game, but there are critics. I'd have to say that the weakest part of this game is the water and water effects in general. But since the general over-exposure, smoke and fog of war effects are so great, the water is good enough for me.
Not everyone seems to like the music. It is probably more spaghetti-western than classic-western. It is even pretty hokey at times, but this seems appropriate for the scenes in question. You can find the closing credits on the web, if you don't like the music in the closing credits then you will not like the in-game music either.
The camera has a full range of motion, which is unusual for a shooter. So you may miss some of the bad guys, but in exchange you get to admire the really fantastic scenery, plus there are some challenges where you need the full range of motion.
The Bottom LineThis is the sequel to Call of Juarez - which I did not finish.
They have kept most of what was good about the original, and improved everything that wasn't so great. While I lost interest in the original pretty quickly, I may play it through now simply because the story was so promising. But it did not have the great gameplay of this sequel (actually prequel), which is too bad. I kept wondering what the original title would have been like with a gamepad and Force Feedback. Well, now I know.
This story, which is actually the back story for Call of Juarez, is not as interesting as the original, but still pretty compelling. It starts with the Civil war, then it turns into more of a classic western story. Plus there is Mexican gold ....
I had a good time with this. I think most people will, especially western fans.