Gunslinger is the 4th entry into the Call of Juarez franchise. Returning to the Wild West and putting you in the dusty boots of bounty hunter, Silas Greaves. Recounting the stories of his life to the members of a local saloon who listen intently as Silas describes his adventures of tracking outlaws such as Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, to name a few.
Being an “accurate” retelling of Silas life, the story plays out quite charmingly as Silas gets down to the real reason he found himself becoming a bounty hunter. Crucial details to his stories are added and removed to the game as Silas recalls them, a ladder for example will drop from the air right on cue as Silas explains “a way out miraculously appeared”. Be prepared for entire sections to rewind as Silas corrects himself to say “wait that’s not actually how it happened” this can appear as taking a guns dangerous, blazing approach over a more subtle, safer approach. Comments, corrections and questions on the game’s narrative appear frequently from the listening patrons in the saloon, offering humour and a truthful recollection of Silas story as at times his stories exaggerations are caught out.
The open, vast and exceptionally detailed Wild West era is stylized and replicated fantastically with its pretty cell shaded visuals. I couldn’t help but feel fully involved in the locations and predicaments I was thrust into as Silas life unfolded. Voice acting is right on par and I loved the Wild West jargon that would play out I was frequently called a “yellow-belly” and a description of the weather by Silas as “Colder than a witches tit with a brass bra” only helped me fall deeper into this world.
You can hear the distinct crack of the gunpowder fire in the pistols or the clear echo of the rifle shot in a cave. Music sets the tone for your adventures, shooting out in saloons or chasing American Indians over a cliff face perfectly. Loading screens don’t offer much apart from being on the longer side but be weary you have to press-start to continue once loaded, a feature which caught me off guard more than once.
Gunslinger consists of three main game modes. First there is the story, during the course of the story taking roughly 5-7 hours. Players are given the opportunity to earn experience points via headshots, chaining kills, explosions and a variety of other methods which will accumulate for the purpose of building upon a skill tree set which will boost attributes in the chosen branches, pistols, rifles and shotguns. Gunslinger features its own variation of “Bullet Time” which is labelled Concentration, during concentration time will come to a near stand-still and enemies will be highlighted.
Fast paced with accurate and responsive gunplay lay the foundations for your shootouts. Dodging bullets in a Matrix like fashion adds as a small break of pace whilst I found dual wielding pistols play the most authentic part of being in the Wild West, serving as my weapon of choice and a bonus feature to tweak in the settings each pistol can be aimed independently or both on one target depending on players’ preference.
Secondly Arcade mode serves majorly as a recycled use of levels from the story opening them up as shooting galleries with the option of selecting one of three load outs focusing on the three weapon types pistols, rifles and shotguns.
Thirdly is Duel, Gunslingers Mexican stand-off mode, throughout the story you will find yourself having a stand-off with the select character of that particular story. This challenge will only see you duelling against increasingly difficult enemies as you progress. Being new to the series I found duelling to be one of the most authentic aspects of pulling me into the Wild West. In one hand your keeping your hand as close to your pistol as possible for the quickest draw and on the other you have to focus in on your opponent following his every move waiting for the draw and kill of your adversary, you can opt to do this honourably by allowing him to make the first move and reacting off this or cowardly drawing first hoping for an edge on your enemy.
Whilst no multiplayer appears, scores taken from Arcade and Duel mode can be uploaded to leader boards on your respective platform.
Gunslinger doesn’t do anything different in comparison to other first person shooters in terms of mechanics but offers an escape from the military games that are the FPS powerhouses of late. It has solid AI and doesn’t take itself too seriously, in the way it references other franchises such Star Wars in its mission title “On a mountain far, far away”. I also found it to be the best thing ever after I nailed a headshot on the last enemy in a cluster to have Silas cool down his pistol by blowing on it, very western and only added more charm to the game itself.
I would recommend this game for anyone looking for variety in the FPS genre, anyone who is a fan of the series and a fan of Wild West history, which is in abundance throughout the story.
Techland have done a fantastic job in re-establishing themselves with this entry into their Call of Juarez franchise.