September 13, 2006

That Gaming Itch: Call of Juarez MP Demo

That Gaming Itch

Every once and a while I get an itch for some type of game, in some sort of setting, that I don't always see in the spot light. For a while now, I've been wanting to play a good western-themed shooter. There are a couple Half Life 2 mods floating around that have been working on the idea, but none of them have produced a playable mod yet.

The other night I was surfing for gaming news, and I came across a multiplayer demo for Call of Juarez. It is a soon to be released western-themed shooter from Techland and Ubisoft. Without hesitation, I decided to satisfy my gaming itch.

Pros and Cons

I am going to break this down into a Pros and Cons list, as it will be the easiest way to review this game's multiplayer demo.

  • The setting feels authentic. The two available maps felt like towns right out of a good spaghetti Western.
  • The concepts behind the game modes make sense with the western setting. One map is centered around the Outlaws robbing the bank and the Lawmen defending, while the second map is just a straight up timed team death match (TDM).
  • Graphics are up to snuff. Nothing to complain about. I didn't have a single issue related to graphics and I ran the game on max settings.
  • When zooming in with a weapon you lose focus with everything except what you are zoomed in upon. A unique twist I haven't seen before.
  • Not a single crash to desktop for the entire time I played.
  • Due to the unbalanced nature of the weapons in game, the two classes, Six Shooter and Rifleman, didn't really provide enough variety.
  • Piggybacking on the first con: the rifle is the most effective weapon in game. It can be fired as fast as the trigger is pulled and does two times the damage of the Six Shooter's pistols.
  • The in-game server browser is trash. It makes Battlefield 2's server browser look like a golden nugget. The update and refresh buttons rarely worked and the game froze several times while at the server select screen.
  • The game suffers from several connection issues. I can't remember ever actually quitting a server. Every game I was forced off by connection issues, or a flat out server crash.
  • The Outlaws are Native Americans (Indians) and the Lawmen are White Men. Hmmmm... anyone crying injustice yet? Racist? Got me, but when I think Outlaw in the old west I'm thinking of Billy the Kid, not Chief Tonka.

In the end, the demo was fun overall when I was able to connect to a server not having connection problems. The action was quick and refreshing. Unfortunately, this game didn't make enough use of it's western theme. Besides the idea of shooting it out in an old mining town as an Outlaw or Lawman, there isn't much else that puts the western in Call of Juarez. Maybe I was looking for horses, trains, or Mexicans. Maybe just something other than White Man vs. Indian. I really don't know, but Call of Juarez just didn't deliver anything that screams "must play".

If you are interested in a western themed FPS, then Call of Juarez can satisfy you for a few minutes. I make no guarantees that the server browser or connection issues will be fixed, but I can't imagine them giving up on the title before some major holes are plugged. Call of Juarez is just another FPS that fails to innovate or impress.