It's Thursday at 7pm and the sun is just about to set. It casts an ominous glow on a run-down building on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Inside, six armed and dangerous criminals nervously prepare for anything that tries to break in. Each second lasts forever; sweat drips down from the brow of the leader as he counts down the seconds. Hanging on to a glimmer of hope, almost simultaneously, each one sees what will become the beginning of the end. Sirens can be heard coming closer and closer. Shadows begin to creep ever so slowly under each and every window. The moment they have been dreading has finally arrived and with a white flash it is all over…
* * *
The Federal Bank on Main St. has been robbed. Six gunman forced their way into the vault and got away with over half a million in cash during their getaway, or so they thought. The sound of ammo clips being loaded into automatic rifles is all that can be heard. Unmarked, black SUV’s are being loaded up with all sorts of gear by a team of federal agents. Three SUV’s take off leaving dirt particles soaring through the air. Some agents hang out of their respectful windows, weapons drawn and ready for anything. An anonymous tip led them to where the criminals are hiding out. They position themselves to cover all the windows and all the doors, waiting for the signal to begin the raid…
What does the above fiction have to do with Call of Juarez: The Cartel? Nothing, because the new Call of Juarez is a worthless, broken mess of a game. I literally can not come up with one reason to recommend this game to anyone. If this were the new Wild West, I’d rather go back to the old Wild West and just hang myself.
How awesome would it be if the co-op mission modes could play out just like this? Criminals nervously waiting for the Police to show up, not knowing where or when they are coming. It would be the perfect blend of action and thriller, but instead we are left with a broken mess that dares to call itself a game. The new Wild West sucks, straight and simple.
Breaking from its franchise roots, Call of Juarez The Cartel allows you to play as three modern day law enforcement officers (LAPD, DEA & FBI). The campaign can be played solo or online with up to 2 other players. If you decide to play through it solo, the other two members of your team will be controlled by the A.I. Before each mission, players are able to walk around and select weapon load outs before starting the mission. This is the only time that players may join in the created match. There is no drop-in/drop-out support. Well, you can drop out at any time, but you cannot join in anytime. Why they decided to do this I may never know, as people would rather start matches and have others join in when they want instead of waiting around in a lobby for someone to join. If you are playing with others and someone doesn’t want to watch the cut scenes, then no one gets to. That’s right, if you hit the button to skip them, it skips it for everyone. How is that fun? It’s not fun, nothing about this game is fun.
The graphics are atrocious and the sound is terrible. The interior of buildings are too dark to see anything happening, and some outdoor areas have a blinding bloom effect. The gameplay is just as bad as the rest of the game. The gun mechanics don’t feel right with an unnatural feel to them. Enemies for the most part only pay attention to you if you are playing it solo and the ability to get revived only exists if you are playing with someone else. You are able to revive other players by waving a magic hand in front of their face, but the A.I. wasn’t programmed to do this if you play solo. Why? I don’t know, but what is the point of having them there if they are so useless?
Glitches are everywhere you look in Call of Juarez: The Cartel. Enemies have gained the god-like ability to randomly teleport mid-firefight. Cars will explode and glide through the air as if they were on ice. Invisible barriers surround the edges of objects and rocks, which make using them as cover and shooting from behind them near impossible.
The competitive multiplayer mode is just as bad as the rest of the game due to really bad design choices. The mission mode consists of 2 teams: the Criminals against the Cops. Basically the Criminals are out to steal an object and protect it while the Cops are out to defend and retrieve it if taken. In one section the Criminals are hiding out in a protected house with a briefcase full of money or gems — it doesn’t really matter. The first objective for the Cops is to breach the front door by planting explosives on it from the outside to gain access to the house. The problem begins when there are other entrances to the house, so you may be already inside the objective without the game moving on to the next step. Taking the briefcase out of the house to a designated area ends the match — the sooner the better.
It feels like there is almost no respawn timer, with players spawning instantly. Before the match stars each team is placed in a lobby where players can change weapons layouts and stats.
Call of Juarez: The Cartel should be avoided at all costs. I would not recommend it to fans of the series, because this has nothing to do with the previous titles — and I don’t want anything to do with this.
Note: The Call of Juarez: The Cartel review was written based on the PS3 version of the game.