Call of Juarez

Most (if not all) cowboy games garble the ultra-pure western themes: revenge, greed, honor. Call of Juarez aims to stalk into Gamesville armed with these and gun down all pretenders.

This shooter is an homage to the spaghetti western, crammed with duels, wagons, Stetsons, sheriffs, quick-palmed reloads, saloons, women in peril, women in bonnets... almost every detail has a big, echoey twang of authenticity. Juarez already has a powerful sense of place.

A frequently attractive proprietary engine and decent physics - kick out railings, shoot out windows, throw oil-burning lanterns - help too, whether you're scaling a huge mountain as Billy (the hunted) or gunning down townsfolk as the loony fire-and-brimstone preacher Ray (the hunter).

Sounding like one of Johnny Cash's darker records, Ray blames Billy for his brother's death, but from his Bible-wielding intro onwards it's clear he doesn't need too much encouragement to kill.

Each character has a style all his own. Billy is saved by a Wise Old Indian and learns to use a bow, a whip and a horse, while Ranting Ray is all about the guns and God. Playing both sides of the story is still an excitingly fresh prospect. It was pulled off in the new-school adventure gameIndigo Prophecy, and that had a Wise(ish) Old Indian in it, too.