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Ubisoft's heading back to the old West in the upcoming downloadable Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. You'll follow the exploits of bounty hunter Silas Greaves as he sits in a backwater saloon and tells stories of his run-ins with some of the most famous names in the history of the Wild West. The tales take you through multiple flashbacks in which you'll duel gunslingers, raid trains, and fight alongside legends like Billy the Kid.
The levels are fairly linear as you move from one gunfight to another while Silas' voice narrates the events of the flashback. His storytelling works as a guide, telling you which cowboys are your enemies, leading you to objectives, and giving you background information on the characters you encounter, as you gundown bandits. Occasionally, as Silas tells his tall story, his audience members ask questions, causing characters in the scene to appear, disappear, or otherwise alter the situation. It's an interesting storytelling mechanic that makes for an inventive narrative.
The gameplay revolves around generating shooting combos, pulling off accurate trick shots, and earning new gunslinging skills. Shooting down enemies fills a meter, which activates a slow-motion, bullet-time ability at the touch of a button. Once you switch on the slow-mo, enemies also become highlighted in red, helping you to quickly identify your targets and pick them off.
The scoring system makes the game much more arcadey than its predecessors. You'll want to constantly keep up the fire and chain combos by rapidly scoring headshots and shooting environment objects like pumpkins, barrels, and even chickens to keep the score multiplier up. The higher you score in each shootout, the faster you'll earn experience to level up one of the ability trees. Each tree revolves around one of the three weapon types: pistols, rifles, and shotguns. We decided on the gunslinger tree, which allowed us to buy abilities like dual-wielding and faster reloading.
The Gunslinger experience isn't as big as a full retail release, but it offers Campaign, Arcade, and Duel modes to extend gameplay. The arcade runs you through the same levels in the campaign minus the storytelling and with more enemies to rack up your score to earn your place on the leaderboards. Duel lets you relive the one-on-one shootouts from the campaign and attempt to perform tricks like shooting a chicken before you fire at the gunfighter.
Between the fast-paced gunplay, the potentially addicting scoring system, and the beautiful cell-shaded visuals, Gunfighter looks like a downloadable title to keep an eye on. Call of Juarez: Gunfighter will release on PSN, XBLA, and PC this spring.
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