Published on August 22nd, 2011 | by zonalcrew0
Call of Juarez: The Cartel Review
After feeling like Clint Eastwood in the previous installment, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood I was excited when this latest installment in the franchise hit the shelves and went to Blockbusters to give it a try. Did it fire the six shooting smash that the previous version delivered, leaving you friskily looking at the mrs with your best “Hey Blondie“? I gave the game the zonalcrew dissection to see if it was worth our money.
The story is set in modern day and you play the part of one of three government agents thrown together to take down a major illegal drugs operation. The plot is the same, regardless of your choice of character but each character has a different secret agenda and how you experience that story differs. You receive intel from contacts but your co-op buddy will only hear your side of the story, leading to mistrust and deception as the game progresses, all tied in with the story’s twists and turns.
Each character has separate missions as you collect secret objects and perform side missions to gain xp, if you get caught by your companion you lose the xp and the trust of your partner. It’s a great feature, sneaking behind their backs whilst staying alert, trying to catch them doing the same thing. It’s these concepts that kept me interested and entertained. The next great feature comes when you’re playing co-op and randomized challenges such as ‘achieve a certain amount of head shots, melee kills e.t.c’ are great fun and when a player completes his challenge the other players fail theirs so its time competitive which adds pace, fun and bragging rights to the table. The overall guns and movement feel fine and at first look, luscious levels leave you breathless with graphical detail and space to make tactical maneuvers; a rare feature in this type of game.
The game is set in great locations such as Sequoia National Park, the decaying streets of Los Angeles, a Mexican Ghost Town and Drug Trafficking tunnels. There are some stylish corridor shoot outs but another bonus is that your team mate rarely gets caught in your crossfire or obstructs your movement which can be an annoying occurrence in successful franchises such as Call Of Duty and I give the game credit for that. The game has great ideas but sadly that’s where the credit ends as poor execution and maybe a rushed title gets what it deserves so read on.
The single player just doesn’t work and you’re left wondering if this title should really be played as co-op only. The game relies on quirks a little too much, for example, you get a slow-mo bullet time every time you breach a room and although this is a cool feature and you only have a few seconds to land the precision shots, it gets boring and repetitive and that’s not cool. The contacts that inform you of your secret missions call on your mobile at the most annoying times and as you answer automatically its not that convenient in a fire fight or during dialogue with another character, resulting in your death or missing important story lines.
The driving sequences are another reason to only play this co-op, if your playing solo you’re always in the driving seat relying on the AI to take out the enemy with the accuracy of Stevie Wonder and faultless driving can still leave you frustrated as you fail thanks to your team mate’s poor shooting. Confusing way-points whilst driving can be annoying as sometimes you’re unsure of where to drive and although the levels are big you often fail these missions for taking the wrong path, which is poor. This mission failure can result on foot also as I gave credit for the big levels but a journey too far and game over is what you get next without warning or any sense of boundaries.
The Very Ugly
At the start of this game you’re treated to on screen obstructions that annoy as they obscure your view of the action scenes and put you at risk as you fire at where you think the enemy is. Mission parameters are unclear as you don’t know the boundaries of each level and killing an innocent civilian may or may not result in mission failure so be careful. The game is littered with glitches and bugs and your team mate and enemies disappear and then re- appear somewhere in the distance along with stationary objects like cars. There are frame rate problems that cause the game to stall in the most intense fire fights and leave you close to quitting the game in frustration and as I researched these faults are more prominent on the PS3. There are sound problems and stutters and the whole experience leaves you wondering what this game would have been like with three months more to develop. The online game only offers two modes with a maximum of twelve players and after a few hours I was happier trimming my toe nails as I was bored to tears with the execution of this very promising title.
Call of Jaurez: The Cartel promised to deliver a great game for the franchise and despite some excellent innovative concepts that get you excited in the beginning, the overall execution leaves you completely gutted you even wasted the time to play this game. The on screen prompts make you feel like you’ve never gamed before and are borderline insulting, with no option to turn them off, how my plasma survived my outbursts amazed me. The game itself as a stand alone FPS is not worth playing as you can’t trust your AI colleague to get the job done and you miss a great deal of features that are only available in co-op mode. The bugs and glitches are inexcusable and I was shocked that this Ubisoft title passed quality control. This game is not worth a purchase at sale prices and I would seriously consider purchasing the previous version COJ: Bound in Blood 4/5 a top game worth full price and is now cheap as chips. COJ: The Cartel gets 1/5 and you may think that’s harsh but a title that expects you to shell out the best part of £40 should be worth the money and this is definitely not, so avoid like the plague and rent from Blockbuster who I almost asked for my money back from. Pure shite.
Zonalcrew giving it you straight keeping your money safe from greedy developers. Stay tuned and keep it real, keep it at sidekick.