Techland Sets New Low With Call of Juarez: The Cartel
Posted 1 year ago By EastonAssass1n - Luke Brown
The Call of Juarez franchise began with a fairly mundane first-person shooter that took place in the Old West. The first sequel, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood was actually a prequel, but it improved slightly on the formula. When a third game in the series, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, was announced I’ll admit I thought developer Techland was going to bring the trilogy forward yet again. Imagine my dismay when upon playing The Cartel I found that it not only isn’t a very good game, but it just might be the worst game I’ve played this year.
Eschewing the historic Wild West for the modern era, Call of Juarez: The Cartel is the story of three law enforcement agents tasked with bringing down the Mendoza cartel. Players can choose to play as Ben McCall, the aging and gruff LAPD officer with a penchant for hookers, Eddie Guerra, the Latino gambling addict DEA agent, or Kim Evans, the sassy Halle Berry wannabe FBI agent. Each of the different playable characters shows a different perspective on the story, and each has their own motivations for getting the job done. Of course, all three characters are also extremely unlikeable, and there’s absolutely no reason at all for you to be rooting for the person you’re playing as to succeed. Connections to the original games are loose at best, with only some references and character names tying this title to the two that came before it. As much as I enjoy a gritty crime drama, the story here is so riddled with cliché and detestable characters it’s very hard to care about seeing the case through to completion.
Even a bad story could possibly have been overcome by solid gameplay, but The Cartel also falters tremendously here as well. The aiming and shooting works well enough, but there’s nothing being done here that isn’t done better in dozens of other first-person shooters. Between missions you’ll be able to choose different loadouts, and there are more weapons to unlock as you progress. You can dual wield some weapons, but it’s incredibly inaccurate. All three characters take part in every mission, but your AI partners are about as helpful as the world’s worst Stormtroopers. No matter who you choose to play as, the other two cops will fire bullets into everything but the enemy. That is as long as your allies aren’t stuck behind a wall in another room endlessly taunting your own shooting ability. Seriously, whoever had the idea to have the other two cops constantly bickering at you when you aren’t killing the criminals fast enough needs to be slapped.
Open area gunfights quickly turn into grinding battles that will test your patience, and showcase some of The Cartel’s more interesting glitches. Enemies will frequently spawn from walls, pop in and out of objects in the environment, and some will even not bother spawning at all. The last is a particularly aggravating issue, which plagued me throughout my playthrough of the single-player campaign. When the enemies don’t spawn, you can’t progress to your next objective. I had to reload the my game several times just so a felon I was supposed to chase onto the highway would actually run out onto the highway. Just another day in the life of the LAPD. There are a few breach sequences in the game, which play out exactly like similar sequences in the Modern Warfare titles do. It’s a neat element once or twice. Ten to twelve times though? Not so much. Oh, I almost forgot about the driving portions of the game. The cars control poorly, your partners don’t shoot the enemies when you drive, and when the AI drives it crashes into things all the time. These segments are abysmal, and happen way too frequently.
Though you can play the campaign with two other people online, the only real incentive to do so is the optional challenges. The rest of the game remains identical, so unless you have a friend you really don’t like, or you’re Trophy hunting, there isn’t a whole lot of incentive to play the story with others. Call of Juarez does offer some competitive multiplayer as well, and it’s actually not that bad. The control scheme is slightly different from that of the campaign, but FPS veterans will no doubt find the transition easy enough. The multiplayer is objective-based, and pits cops against criminals. There are multiple classes to choose from once start leveling up, and there’s actually some good variation in the map and game types. Unfortunately, the decent online portion of The Cartel isn’t enough to save this title from the rest of its faults.
Call of Juarez: The Cartel isn’t an ugly game, but there are enough graphical problems to keep it from being a pretty one. There are some moments when the game actually looks pretty good. Unfortunately, those moments are the mid-mission lobbies. Every level in the game seems to have some sort of mist or haze, and the camera often looks like it’s being shown through a camcorder. I had a lot of issues with the sound dropping in and out, and it lent the game an air of being unfinished. How any audio mix where dialogue is completely cut and sound effects are blatantly missing can make it into the final release of a game is mind-boggling. I’m absolutely astounded that a retail video game in this day and age can have such a lack of polish on all fronts.
I didn’t have very high expectations for Call of Juarez: The Cartel at all. I thought the game would at least be passable. What I played this last week was one of the least enjoyable video game experiences I’ve ever had, and I would be extremely surprised if there were to be a fourth game in this franchise. Not only is the game full of miserable characters, it’s also lacking the polish consumers should expect of a finished game. Despite the somewhat enjoyable multiplayer, the only thing people should be really doing with this game is putting it back on the store shelf.
- Cliche Plot with Detestable Characters
- Ridden with Glitches
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Release Date : 2011/06/28
System : PlayStation 3
Publisher : Ubisoft
Category : Action-Adventure
ESRB : RP
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10