Call of Juarez: The Cartel

Should Have Cancelled This Reboot

Call of Juarez: The Cartel is a change in scenery for the successful series. Unfortunately it should have stayed at home.
Author: Scott Rodgers
Published: September 3, 2011
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I was always interested in the Call of Juarez games. The old-timey Western themes and positive word of mouth always made me feel as though I was missing out on something. It wasn’t at the fault of any of the old games that I never played them, there are only so many hours in a day and only so many I can devote to gaming. So it was necessary that I skipped and devoted my time elsewhere. So when Call of Juarez: The Cartel came in, I was interested in putting it through its paces. Sure, the setting was thrown into modern times and the positive buzz was nowhere to be found, but it still had a lot going for it. What I found awaiting me was a bit unsettling: the game just feels incomplete. There’s no other way to really put it. It has a lot of things going for it and as I said, there are plenty of great ideas, but technically speaking the game is a hot mess.

The game looks like it should have been a launch title on the PS3 at best. Textures constantly pop in (from weapons to hallways and everywhere in between) and everything just feels muddy. When your character has to interact with something(for instance, opening a door) you can through the cracks in their palms. The other characters are constantly clipping through things (I saw Kimberly Evans stuck in a wall more times than I care to count) and it doesn’t help that they also magically appear/disappear at some moments and in some heavy firefights. I’m not a huge frame rate person and I rarely ever care, but The Cartel’s was so bad and all over the place that it quickly wore thin; in both cutscenes and gameplay alike.

The lack of polish and unfinished feel of the game doesn’t stop with the graphics. Oh no, the audio is just as bad. Characters talk over each other and everything just becomes a garbled mess. There are some instances where a character has a side conversation (like answering a call) and up to three people are all talking at once. It also doesn’t help that the text at the bottom doesn’t match up with what the characters are saying. Tack on a crappy script (I get that they aren’t necessarily “good guys” but not every other word should be followed by the f-bomb) and you have a complete and total disasterpiece.

So if a game is an eyesore and requires you to wear earplugs where exactly is the fun? Well, it’s in those aforementioned ideas. The alliance between the three main characters is fragile, at best, and this leads to some tense moments throughout the campaign. There are character specific secret missions which may involve swiping a cell phone or picking up some files and your goal is to avoid getting caught. If you are successful you get an experience bonus, and if you are caught in the act you get nothing while the other character gets the bonus. This goes hand-in-hand with the co-op and takes an otherwise vanilla experience and adds in some competitive elements. Unfortunately this great idea is taken down a few pegs by glitches. Sometimes you will see the item and get the prompt to interact with it, only for nothing to occur. If you choose to play offline there’s a good chance that an AI partner will catch you even if they are on a different floor or outside of a building altogether. Some of these problems actually come from the game giving you someone else’s objectives entirely and may mean that you lose out on getting any bonuses because the waypoints/interactive items will never appear on your end. Playing online fixes a lot of these problems but I have been in games where none of us were able to follow through with out secret missions because the game assigned the wrong objectives to all of us.
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