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Call of Juarez: The Cartel Review

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Developer: Techland Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: July 19, 2011 Available On: PC, PS3 and Xbox 360

Some games just do not warrant a sequel. You would think that after the first two mediocre entries that they might call it quits. Instead they took a moderately underused premise in video games – a FPS based in the Civil War era – and abandoned it for the tired route of drug cartels. What you get is a wildly uneven experience with a surprisingly shallow story, excessive f-bombs and graphics that make some Wii games look good.

The game includes three different characters, including the descendant of the past game’s main protagonist. Each character is a law enforcement officer from different agencies tasked with the same case. You take on the Mexican drug cartels in California after they blow up a federal office in Los Angeles. The problem for your group is that there are internal divisions within the various bureaucracies and disagreement over how to respond.

The story is unfortunately hindered by ridiculously bad voice-acting and dialogue. There is a lot of profanity used, which I guess the developers thought would be attractive towards their target audience, but it is used with such frequency that it actually gets annoying. They repeat a lot of the same lines, there are awkward pauses during cut-scenes, and they use stereotypical accents. The game’s Latino agent sounds like a gringo that is trying to impersonate a Mexican. It’s embarrassing to listen to.

Oddly enough the game uses subtitles by default. They did not do a very good job editing the dialogue. I noticed a few blatant elementary-level errors, such as “there” instead of “their” and “your” instead of “you’re”. I might expect this from a Japanese import, but there is no reason that this should happen with a game developed in the U.S. This is a professional retail release, not a Facebook status.

The gameplay is not much better. The shooting is passable, but frankly average just does not cut it in a market that is saturated with good first-person shooters. Why settle when you can have great? My main beef is that the action feels like the same from one level to the next. You have to unlock new weapons at certain stages in the game, so you cannot even enjoy a wide variety of guns until late in the game. I also had a problem with not being able to exit the weapon selection box at the start of each level.

The racing missions are absolutely atrocious. Why they added this, I have no idea. It is an unnecessary component that was tagged on to give the impression that things are getting mixed up when it is really just a painful diversion. I realize that they were going for a sense of being an action movie, but all it turned into was following a white dot that told you where to go from point A to point B.

The main complaint that I have with Call of Juarez: The Cartel is that the product was rushed. The game is glitchy, the graphics are dated, the voice-acting is pathetic, and the story is laughable. If it weren’t for these numerous complaints, it might be worth a rental. As it is, Call of Juarez: The Cartel is just another sub-par first-person shooter that everyone will forget about in six months. Save yourself the trouble by forgetting it today.

Graphics: 4
Sound: 4
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 4.6 out of 10
Written by Kyle Bell Write a User Review