Call of Juarez: The Gunslinger preview - Jumping into a new saddle

After two cult hits and an attempt to bring chaotic shootouts to modern day Mexico, Call of Juarez returns to the Wild West with a downloadable spin-off. Call of Juarez: The Gunslinger brings Techland's series from the "ripped from the headlines" trappings of the ill-received COJ: The Cartel to its base in a bygone era. Our first look revealed a game that seems like it'll satisfy the niche that made gamers adore the earlier titles in the series.

The idea, an Ubisoft producer told us, isn't just to bring the first-person shooter series back to its foundation, but to introduce new tales within the universe. The Gunslinger puts you in the worn boots of a mysterious storyteller who rubs shoulders with legends of the time. In the demo, we fought off packs of deputized men alongside Billy the Kid. You can expect more notorious figures, including Pat Garrett and Butch Cassidy.

The most immediate and noticeable element of The Gunslinger, aside from the return to the Wild West, is its art style. The game's cutscenes are told in a now-familiar motion comic style that many other titles tout. In action, it has a subtle hand-drawn art style that evokes popular shooters such as Borderlands. Plus, it has a revamped Concentration Mode (the slow motion feature that allows you to line up multiple quick kills) that's visually distinctive, as enemies will glow red--as opposed to the crimson-hued screen change in The Cartel or Bound in Blood's multiple bulleyes--and when shot, their blood flies out with a stylized comic book-like shape and velocity in the vein of 300.

The game has a stronger arcade feel compared to the previous titles, with a timer-based combo system that racks up your kill quantities and shows you an onscreen multiplier as you blast your way through a rogue's gallery. The better your combos, the more experience points you gain; those points, in turn, enable you to upgrade your arsenal.

Aside from XP, multiple kills build up your Sense of Death meter. When filled, this new gameplay feature lets you dodge an otherwise fatal shot. In this fresh mechanic, the camera focuses in on the would-be deadly bullet, and the onscreen action slows down long enough for you to duck out of harm's way.

The shooting action isn't completely on-rails, but the exploration looks to be about as guided as the likes of shooters such as Call of Duty. According to the producers, you can veer off the beaten path in certain stages, but it's not a free-roaming open-world shooter by any means. From what we saw in the demo, you can expect some big set pieces as well. In one section, the nameless hero discovered a barn. On the other side, there were six gunmen. While you'll have the option to flank them and take them down, the producer was in the mood to show off. He climbed a barn ladder to the second story, then jumped through the window with Concentration Mode activated. If you've played Max Payne 3, it's a moment that's very reminiscent of one of that game's early shootouts, as he took down nearly all of the varmints with impressive ease.

Although we didn't get hands-on time with Call of Juarez: The Gunslinger, it seems like the new and stylish gameplay additions--the XP system, Sense of Death, and revamped Concentration Mode--all add a new twist to Techland's formula. We're looking forward to checking it out in-depth prior to its early 2013 launch to see how it all gels.


  • drake-wayne - September 11, 2012 2:34 p.m.

    This game looks cool. I'm glad they went back to the western theme. My favorite part in game is actually the guns, this place here has a bunch of guns from the game and other guns from different games too.
  • Turtman - September 6, 2012 12:51 p.m.

    The first Call of Juarez was a pleasant bargain bin surprise. Everything else has been...well you know shit
  • Child Of Death - September 6, 2012 11:07 a.m.

    Am I the only one looking forward to this game? Yes the Cartel is definetly a stain on the name of the franchise but that was because it lost the western feel of the game when they decided to go modern. I have faith that this will bring back the COJ franchise to its former glory.
  • Redeater - September 6, 2012 11:27 a.m.

    You aren't. I don't quite understand the contempt that people have for BIB. It wasn't Red Dead but it was a pretty good game. The Cartel on the other hand.......I sure hope someone got cancer for bringing that game to the light of day.
  • Redeater - September 6, 2012 10:17 a.m.

    "downloadable spin-off." Sigh. I'll wait until I learn more about this but I was really hoping for a sequel to BIB. With the size limit MS puts on xbla games I don't see how this is going to be anything like BIB.
  • KA87 - September 6, 2012 7:42 a.m.

    How on Earth did this series get another game? The last game was easily one of the worst game I have ever played. The only place were this game belongs is on GR's "truly horrible sequels to truly horrible games list". I really hope that this game gets axed at the chopping block. Please stop this game for the sake of all that is good about gaming.
  • angelusdlion - September 6, 2012 9:19 a.m.

    I love how you can tell a game's worth well before the game is even announced to have a release date.
  • KA87 - September 7, 2012 2:20 p.m.

    If it looks like a rat and smells like at rat then it must be a rat. If you fool me once shame on you. If you fool me twice shame on me. I will not be getting any shame.
  • Child Of Death - September 6, 2012 11:04 a.m.

    Yes the Cartel was a terrible, terrible game. But the original and BIB were actually well done games that told an amazing western story. So dont judge this game because of one terrible game.
  • Tronto13 - September 6, 2012 1:18 a.m.

    I really wish ubisoft would just drop this series, they haven't made a good title from it in... well ever.

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