“…You should trust us. This is a great western game. This is a new Call of Juarez game and it will be just as great…” –Blazej Krakowiak
We the fanbase trusted you Techland. You let us down--big time.
When I saw the first trailer for The Cartel I was impressed, I knew with the change in setting it could never compare to Bound in Blood, but the trailer looked good. The biggest problem I had with it was when Ben fired a slug into a Cartel van; if you watch closely the bullet entry path doesn’t correspond with the wound the driver received… And, apparently they had five gallons of nitroglycerin in the back seat set to go off just after the driver died. TC’s first trailer is a good one that fails to capture the essence of both story and gameplay. Why? Keep reading and you'll find out. As I get into details, prepare to see many comparisons with Bound in Blood and the original Call of Juarez.
At the beginning of the game, I was thrust into a vehicular firefight down the wrong lane of a semi-crowded highway. My Comrades seemed to think yelling at oncoming cars to move would be effective. Strangely I encountered a problem similar to one I have with the Crysis series, you can blow up cars by simply shooting them. Mythbusters and common sense have proved that the only way to do that would probably have to be with incendiary ammo. Now in Crysis, it takes quite a bit of ammo to take down a vehicle by simply shooting it, to the point it's usually not a valid option. In The Cartel, you fire less than a clip and KA-BOOM, the enemy car explodes. A little realism too much to ask Techland? I seem to remember that in Bound in Blood, enemy horses didn't explode when I shot them.
On a level early in the game, we approached a zip-line leading down roughly a hundred and fifty yards that had a conveniently placed handle. Ben McCall decided it would be a good idea to run and JUMP to grab ahold of the handle and proceeded to ride his way down and dropped just before he would’ve made a nice McCall slushy. Ignoring the fall damage from that height, if that isn’t unrealistic I’m not reviewing The Cartel right now.
Good news, everyone! You can now kill civilians! Bad news, everyone! The “No you mustn’t harm the innocent civilians! Bad, bad, bad!” guy from the first game has returned to work on The Cartel! Killing too many civilians will result in
desynchronization the game ending.
Ben McCall attempts to be a "bad-ass" like Ray McCall but it comes off as overdone and gets annoying very fast. Overall he is the most likeable character of the bunch… That isn’t saying much.
Eddie Guerra is the sleazy, smooth-talking ladies’ man whom in the end is just an annoying, badly written character with no real depth despite The Cartel’s best attempts.
Kim Evans of course attempts the tough FBI/Spunky African American Woman stereotype and just like Ben, she doesn't pull it off well.
They all try in their own manner to be “bad-ass”. You know a vital element that makes a good story? Realistic characters. Not everyone has the same personality. Chemistry between characters too. There is none, they all hate each other, they don't ever open up to one another and probably wouldn’t care if the others died excruciating deaths… At this point, I wouldn’t mind either.
The three main characters, Ben/LAPD, Eddie/DEA and Kim/FBI neither look nor act anything like officers from their respective agencies; combined with barely-explained, perhaps self-assigned missions of shooting up and destroying Cartel/street gang hideouts with Ben faithfully marking the territory like a dog using a spider logo after their destruction has ended… Their superiors and fellow officers don’t appear to be doing anything to oversee/organize/help these operations and to me it seems like these three are just going around destroying things with their own plans, which their departments have no problem with it appears. What little character development there is completely fails. No one seems to notice their shiny badges and Ben’s ridiculous “tough cowboy” attire when they are “under cover”.
There was a level in Call of Juarez where you have to sneak inside a man's fortified house and steal both a saddle and horse, all without being caught. You escape the wrath of the owner's Lemat and ride the stolen horse to sweet freedom, traversing a small distance and then Billy comments how it's time to abandon the horse. One of my first thoughts was, "Then why the hell did I steal the horse in the first place?!”
Supposedly Billy needed him to get across a large gap, which I am pretty certain a 17 year old could've made with a running start. The Cartel's driving sequences are a lot like that, too short and not worth it. The car controls are difficult at best and definitely not the greatest I have ever seen. The horses from the previous installments handled better.
The animations are sloppy and unrealistic; once again probably more so than the last game. Apparently Ben is so bad-ass that he doesn't need to aim when spray painting.
When I planted bombs in the first level to set fire to some Cartel stashes (Since when do the LAPD/DEA/FBI officers carry around bombs like that?) I ran like hell, they were EXPLOSIVES after all. Kim just stood in front of it like an idiot and to my astonishment, the bomb didn't have the effect one would expect, just a small explosion equal to/perhaps less than that of your average gaming-grenade. A problem in both CoJ and BiB are the unrealistic blood/wound effects after injuring an enemy. As far as I can tell, they haven't improved and perhaps not even modified those effects for The Cartel. Techland isn't a rich company, I know, but still… Halo: Combat Evolved, released in 2001, has better injury and blood effects than Call of Juarez: The Cartel, released in 2011. Regardless of wealth, it seems to me there is something wrong with that.
In Bound in Blood the chat between Ray and Thomas was not only entertaining and fun to listen to, but versatile enough to usually fit into any situation during/after combat. The Cartel's dialogue is none of those things, and about 50% of it is overused curse words that just get annoying. The actual cutscene/story relevant dialogue is cheesy, badly written and the voice actors should be fired. I hope Marc Alaimo, Ray McCall’s voice actor didn’t voice any of the main characters. The voice actor whom I think voiced Juarez and Mexican bandits in previous games returns and is probably the only one who does a good job. The music was good, same as the previous two games and perhaps this game’s only redeemable quality.
The AI is terrible and badly scripted, I've yet to notice any improvements on AI from BiB, its predecessor probably has better in comparison. After a firefight with our foes my comrades kept running up to me, when for all we know there could be a sniper fifty feet away or a thug we didn’t see. Thomas/Ray didn’t do that; William knew when to stay down too. Friendly AI is most definitely WORSE than in the previous game; while Thomas or Ray would duck for cover like any sane person would, Ed and Kimberly just stand in the line of fire 70% of the time, and rain bullets down on my enemies. They’re invincible and it’s as if they know it. Speaking of enemy AI, I was driving a car and headed right for a gangster who just stood there shooting at me, and then get run over.
While The Cartel may have some graphical improvements (in all honesty, I haven't noticed one) the level design and majority of scenery are bland and ugly, the opposite of the previous two installments in this series, while BiB and the original game don't have top-grade graphics quality (The first game less than BiB) their scenery is superior.
I haven't been able to understand the story due to what little was offered, had been stretched out and corrupted with the insidious dialogue and voice acting. This game is probably the second worst I've played in my entire gaming career. I haven't played the multiplayer and I don't think I want to, because I know it will be just as bad at the rest of this sh**** game. Perhaps it would’ve been better suited as a spinoff book in the Call of Juarez series, and not a game.
To say I am disappointed in The Cartel would be a vast understatement. I am appalled at how bad this game is and am ashamed it carries the title “Call of Juarez”.
Techland, for Call of Juarez 4 return to the Old West setting and DO NOT rush the game. Finish Billy Candle’s story and do it right. Don’t play with the idea of a Cartel prequel set in/around Vietnam. Give us the type of character depth, story and gameplay from the first two games, or end the series right here… Right now.
Foreborn 06:25, September 14, 2011 (UTC)