Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood

Why can’t sibling outlaws ever get along? In the Wild West shooter Call Of Juarez: Bound In Blood, a woman gets between Ray and Thomas McCall: Saucy femme fatale Marisa plays both brothers like fiddles. She’s already shacking up with one of the game’s villains, but the brothers offer her the opportunity to trade up from abusive crime lord to vaguely sociopathic outlaw. There’s treasure on the table (cursed Mayan gold) but it’s pretty evident that the gunslingers know their plan to cash in, return to Georgia, and rebuild their family plantation is strictly a pipe dream. Better to chase a shimmering McGuffin (and the tail with the clues to find it) than return to the South and face the music for desertion.

You inhabit the bickering kin in first-person perspective. Jealous, pinch-faced Ray fights with a pair of six-guns and a fistful of dynamite. Thomas, the looker, keeps a lasso handy for climbing, and flings stilettos he keeps tucked into his suspenders. Both ably take cover behind barrels and barn doors—a rare feat for a FPS. Every so often, there’s an opportunity to tag out and try the other brother on for size, but bouncing between the two rivals feels strangely promiscuous. Between story-driving sequences in Mexico and Arizona, there are opportunities to saddle up and explore. These open-world breaks are a handsome reward—not fully realized sandboxes, but vast, lovely diversions from the dirty business of unraveling a family tragedy.

Beyond the game: Two isn’t enough to call a trend, but Poland (home to Techland and CD Projekt, creators of The Witcher) could be shaping up as a reliable spawning ground for revisionist games.


Worth playing for: Taut showdowns offer a chance to shoot from the hip. When its time to duel, the camera drops to waist-level and pulls out to third-person. To survive the fight, players must keep the enemy in sight, hover a hand just shy of the holster, then draw and shoot when the clock strikes.

Frustration sets in when: The game’s Civil War opening feels hemmed in like a tepid take on Call Of Duty. But things really open up when the McCalls cross the Mississippi. The game leads with its weakest moments.

Final judgment: A Mountain Dew Western.

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