Now is this the cowboy game everyone is talking about? Hello and welcome to another ranking. This time, it is the second game in the Call of Jaurez series known as Bound in Blood. As always, you can find the rank here. So, let’s get into this and see what this game has to offer.
Bound in Blood is the prequel to the first game, taking place right after the Civil War. You play as one of two brothers: Ray (the reverend from the first game) or Thomas (the stepdad that died at the beginning of the game) as you make your way home to find it devastated from the war. Soon, you two as well as a third brother find yourself travelling to Juarez in search of the mysterious Aztec gold. Despite the strong ties between the two, money and women test their brotherly bond throughout. Who knows, maybe this gold really is cursed.
When it comes to the story, I would say it is about up-to-snuff with the first Call of Juarez, with the exception that this one is more predictable. The two characters work well together, and you can hear it even the dialogue between the two during firefights. Locations feel more varied than before, ranging from a mining area up a cliff to a foggy ghost town. Story cutscenes are better than the first, though that isn’t really saying much. I also like the new groups that make an appearance here. You will still see Juan’s face as well as the Mccalls, but now disgraced confederate soldiers are added to the mix. The story aspects of this game have improved here-and-there, and I would say overall it feels more like a cowboy game than the previous one, but it also had some flaws as well.
The biggest flaw I can note is how predictable the whole thing feels. As soon as a woman side character is added to the mix, I could see right through the story. Searching for money for a noble cause (rebuilding the homestead), despite the strong brotherly bond, an attractive woman comes into play and they start slowly distrusting each other, the brothers almost shooting each other only to have someone else shot in the crossfire, so they shed their distrusting days. It felt really predictable, and that lowered the story experience. What certainly didn’t help was the voice audio, because it sounded like it was recorded in 2002. Overall, I think the story is about the same for me as the first game. It’s there, it’s fine, and let’s move on.
While the story remains at around the same quality, the gameplay has been significantly changed, and mostly for the better. The biggest thing to note is how streamlined the experience feels. While the gameplay feels more generic and has more generic moments (like slow-mo kicking down doors), I do enjoy the more streamlined approach because shooting feels better, controls feel less clunky, healing is automatic, and a weapon wheel is added. Speaking of controls, there is a new leaning system that in my opinion is the best I have ever used. It is hard to stick, but when it does it proves to be great. You choose how far you lean out by slowly moving the mouse in the direction you want to lean. Since the action doesn’t feel like it’s at break-neck speed, I was glad to be able to spend my time and lean around corners. But leaning isn’t the only thing using the mouse. I found that this game has a surprising amount of mouse controls. Whether it be moving your mouse in a circular motion to use a lasso or using the mouse as your hand in duels, mouse controls can be seen everywhere. While I didn’t like them at first, I found that by the end of the game, I was grateful for them because it offered a good level of challenge to duels and made the game more interesting overall.
In the first game, you went back and forth between two characters, and each character had their own set of weapons and abilities. This time, you get to choose what character you play as before the start of each mission. Each character has their own set of weapons and skills, as well as their own concentration mode ability, which is an ability that charges up and allows you to quickly kill enemies. The two characters play to a certain playstyle, and it wasn’t long before I was only running with one brother (Thomas, for anyone wondering).
The biggest surprise in terms of gameplay changes though are the inclusion of open-ended levels. Most of the levels are linear, but there were two separate occasions where the game let me loose in a giant open area. The open ended level allowed me to tackle bounties for money that can be spent on better weaponry, and around the open level are random encounters. Despite the encounters and bounties getting repetitive, I love the open-ended level design because it changed up the gameplay at just the right time and was a different change of pace. I only wish there were more of these missions because even if I hated the missions, I could just skip them and go to the next mission.
Other than that, some other gameplay changes can be seen. Weapons still have different conditions, but they won’t break, which is something that frustrated with the previous game. Now, I can carry around weapons in good condition without having to worry about them breaking. Weapons also show their stats, so now I know what I want. Like I talked about a little earlier, you can earn money and spend it on weapons at shops, and the weapons you buy carry over to the next level. By the time I finished, I was shooting dudes with some mighty clean guns. Finally, the bow-and-arrow is still as fun as ever.
Just like every other game, Bound in Blood has its flaws. Despite occasionally presenting different paths the two characters go on, there was never incentive to do another playthrough with the other character. What doesn’t help with playing the other character is that the weapons you buy for one doesn’t transfer over to the other. Despite being a great opportunity for co-op, I didn’t see an option to play the campaign co-op. I wouldn’t have played co-op anyways, but I still think it would’ve been a good option. Despite giving a tutorial on it and one of the characters having a stealth weapon, I never found an option to stealthily kill enemies, which I am not so mad about considering I never really looked at this series as a stealth series. Since I am always running with a brother, I have to stay near him, which is an issue considering how slow he is. I didn’t really notice this issue until later on, but whenever I start going towards the objective, I would always be forced to stop-and-go because of how slow my brother is. Finally, I had a lot of menu issues that I think shouldn’t be there. The intro cutscene and menu background were upside-down, every time I played the game I had to log into an account, and multiplayer required even more information to play. While these issues aren’t horrible, I found them to be annoying and unnecessary, and I wonder why anyone even thought of putting these in.
Before I conclude, I want to talk about the multiplayer option I didn’t play. They had a multiplayer option, and I didn’t play it because it required some personal information. Something else this game does have though are mods. You can download multiplayer and single player mods, and while I didn’t do that because I felt the website were sketchy, I still think it’s cool that the option is offered.
In conclusion, I think Bound in Blood is a good improvement upon the first game. While this game does have some flaws in both the story and gameplay, I think the improvements made are significant and I found I had a better time with the game because of it. Because of that, I put this game in front of the first game on the rank, and I predict it will be in the top two.