Oh brother, where art thou? Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood seems like it was made for co-op, but that feature's nowhere to be seen.
Thomas and Ray McCall are two playable characters, each with a unique set of abilities.
They have to work together to overcome obstacles and there's even a focus mode where they double team the enemies with a hail of bullets. But for whatever reason co-op was left out, this Wild West FPS feels all the more sorry for having to play alongside AI.
This prequel starts out on a promising note. It's the height of the American Civil War, and the Yankees are murdering and pillaging their way through the state of Georgia. As cannons tear Thomas and Ray McCall's land asunder, there's hope this game can build on its fiery beginning.
Sadly, it goes from the gritty thrills of an episode of Deadwood, to the easy-going cliché of the Milky Bar Kid adverts.
While there's no shortage of saloon shoot-outs, jail breaks and stagecoach chases, there are few original or standout moments. To its credit though, the brothers' relationship with their younger sibling (a milksop preacher) gives the game some much-needed drama.
The combat isn't spectacular, but the enemy AI is good at using cover and the weapons feel authentic. When it comes to choosing between the brothers there isn't much to separate them. Thomas can use stealth weapons and climb over obstacles, while Ray is able to dual-wield and soak up punishment.
They also take slightly different routes through the levels, which adds some limited replay value.
It's never less than competent, but it fails to make the most of its setting. There are a couple of free-roaming levels, but they're sparsely featured, with little incentive to explore. The linear shooting galley-style missions are less impressive but work much better, and the difficulty curve isn't bad either.
Bound in Blood is like a Wild West theme park: corny, but at least there's constant gun smoke and plenty of bad guys being put to rights. It's not a must-buy by any stretch, but it is bearable.
Regrettably more mild west than Wild West
- Fast-paced and entertaining combat
- Decent enemy AI
- Gets off to a great start
- Sorely misses a co-op mode
- Brimming with clichés