Why Call of Juarez: Gunslinger might be the best Western shooter ever

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Here’s why the masterful Call of Juarez: Gunslinger might be the single best Western shooter there ever was.

In this article, let’s consider everything that’s great about Call of Juarez: Gunslinger and understand why it’s still an undefeated shooter game. While some games like Red Dead Redemption 2 are considered to be excellent Western games, there are many reasons why Gunslinger is a better game in terms of gunplay and mechanics.

Of course, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a better game overall, with its attention to detail and cinematic story. But Gunslinger is truly a love letter to all Western fans.

The story

Why Call of Juarez: Gunslinger might be the Best Western Shooter there ever was

While my focus in this article was to discuss the gameplay of Gunslinger, I feel that it’s only reasonable to talk a little bit about the beautiful story of the game. By the way, there are no major spoilers in this section, so you can proceed without fear.

You play as Silas Greaves, an aged bounty hunter still on the prowl for a man who had done great harm to him and his family. In his pursuit, Greaves faced off against the most vicious outlaws of that time. That includes Jesse James, John Wesley Hardin, the Wild Bunch, and many more.

One of the best parts of this story is how it creates the Rashomon effect at certain points. It’s a very detailed and deep story that has a lot of tiny details within the dialogue that can reveal a lot, especially in subsequent playthroughs.

Indeed, the second playthrough of Gunslinger is arguably the best, as new details about Silas and the person he pursues are revealed. There are comedy elements, psychological thriller elements, and many more unusual yet fantastic tropes that make this story one of a kind.

However, a complaint (one of the only complaints about this game, in fact) about this story is that it’s rather short. But with the availability of an unlockable difficulty mode and New Game +, that is remedied to a certain degree.

The gameplay

In this section, we will discuss the most appealing parts of the gameplay. After reading this and playing the game yourself, I believe that you will agree with me that Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is probably the best Western shooter of all time.

Guns

Why Call of Juarez: Gunslinger might be the Best Western Shooter there ever was

The weapons themselves play a major role in making a game’s gunplay great. While the number of firearms in Gunslinger is quite limited, all of them are equally fun to use, and they feel quite different. Let me explain.

There are revolvers, including the Six Shooter, which is based on the Remington 1890 revolver, the Quickshooter, modeled after the Smith & Wesson Model 3 Schofield revolver, and the Ranger, which is based on the Colt 1851 Navy revolver and the Colt Walker revolver. Respectively, the first gun balances between firepower and swiftness, the second is the fastest gun in the game, and the third is the slowest but also the most powerful.

As for long weapons, the Rifle is modeled after the Winchester 1892 repeater, and the shotgun is based on the Remington-Whitmore 1875. There’s also a sawed-off shotgun and a sawed-off rifle.

Respectively, with an unlockable skill, you can dual-wield sawed-off shotguns, and the sawed-off rifle fires faster but holds only six bullets. There are better versions of these guns to unlock, as well, except the sawed-off rifle. Other than those, there are Gatling guns as turrets and Dynamite as explosives.

Each of these firearms feels quite different and I, personally, like to play the missions multiple times trying out various loadouts.

Arcade shooting mechanics

Now let’s talk about the brilliant shooting mechanics of Gunslinger. Unlike many other shooters, there’s a combo gauge in this game. Because the gunplay is incredibly fast-paced, you can pick off targets quickly, gaining high combos. In turn, higher combos grant you more experience points per kill.

Depending on the way you kill your targets, you will get XP bonuses. For example, if you blast off an enemy with a point-blank shotgun blast, you will get the “Full Blast” bonus. If you kill an enemy while in the focus mode (which slows down time and highlights enemies) you will get the “Eyeblink” bonus. There are much more bonuses and you can combine a variety of tactics to gain a lot of XP.

The gunplay itself feels incredibly satisfying, and it’s one of the most addictive shooting experiences ever. When you kill an enemy, the gruesome display of blood splattering is very visible, and it’s made even more dramatic with the slowed character death animations.

You can feel every single gunshot; when you kill an enemy, you will know it. It doesn’t matter if you’re dual-wielding revolvers or absolutely demolishing foes with short-range shotgun blasts, everything will feel perfectly satisfying.

Collectibles and unlockable skills

I absolutely adore the type of collectibles that grant us more information about the game when we unlock them. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger goes a step further and actually unlocks articles about the Wild West’s history (for example, information about the technologies of that time and stories of legendary gunslingers like Doc Holliday or Wild Bill Hickok). It’s the most fun way I learned about the Wild West.

With the experience you gain in combat, you will gain skill points and with them, you can unlock new skills that will enhance the experience for you. For example, there are skills that help when you focus on enemies, and abilities to enhance dynamite and other explosions.

There’s one more fantastic thing about unlocking these skills: you will be able to unlock legendary variants of your firearms through skill trees. These beautiful new weapons look fantastic while way more powerful than their common counterparts.

Dueling

Without question, I can say that Call of Juarez: Gunslinger has the best dueling system in the history of Western games. Focus and quick reflexes are keys to success, and considering how many of your foes are legends like Jesse James, you need to be vigilant.

Arcade mode and the Duel challenge

In the Arcade mode, you can unlock levels where you will face waves of enemies. The goal is to score as high as possible. This mode is incredibly fun and you will keep returning for more to beat your own score or your friends’ scores on the leaderboard.

The Duel challenge is also extremely fun. In it, you have to duel every famous gunslinger in the game without checkpoints. It’s not a long mode so the lack of checkpoints is reasonable. You can challenge yourself to draw as fast as possible, beating your friends’ scores on the leaderboard and setting new high scores.

Conclusion

With all the arcade gameplay mechanics and incredible gunplay of Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, it’s safe to say that no other Western shooter has offered this much fun when it comes to shootouts. Plus, there are a multitude of references and nods to legendary Western films that will make this game a favorite of any Western fan.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is available on PC, PS3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Switch. It is backward compatible with Xbox One and Xbox Series X.