I know what you’re thinking: Why only two? Well, there just aren’t that many western games out there. It’s a really underutilized genre in gaming. On top of that, I can only talk about games I’ve played. So that really limits my options. I was really tempted to make this a list of three and add the first Red Dead Redemption, but that just seemed like cheating. I really shouldn’t have to tell you to go play that if you enjoyed the more recent title.
Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood
Call of Juarez (BiB) is a first person shooter. The story revolves around three brothers (two of whom are playable) who’re trying to make their way in the world after the Civil War took their home and family from them. Their aimless wandering eventually puts them on the trail of a legendary treasure. The story is actually pretty decent here. It sounds simple, but there’s a lot going on during the journey that makes up for the premise.
The two playable characters have different play styles, and often take different routes in levels. Most missions allow you to choose who you want to play as, but a few require a certain character. Surprisingly, there are actually a couple open world sections. Large areas to explore, with side quests to undertake. They’re actually quite good, making me wonder why there wasn’t more of a focus on it. However, that’s not to say the game is bad. I actually enjoyed my time with it. The shooting mechanics are fun, and much different than the Call of Duty games that were released at the time. Oh and the soundtrack here is great. In fact, that seems to be a trait every western game I’ve ever played shares. My biggest problem with the game, is the standoff mechanic. It just… doesn’t seem to work. I only ever make it through by what seems like sheer luck. At first I thought it was just me, but it seems everyone has this issue. It’s a drain, but it doesn’t ruin the experience.
Call of Juarez is a fun game, and a good western. It has its flaws, but they shouldn’t stop you from taking a look. I hear “Gunslinger” is a great game, but unfortunately I haven’t had a chance to play it myself.
Yeah, that’s the whole title. A little underwhelming. You’ve got Red Dead Redemption, Call of Juarez, then there’s just “GUN”, all caps. The story is… Hell it was one of my favorites growing up. Your father gets killed in a surprise raid that turned out to be a part of something larger, you find out he wasn’t actually your father… And that’s just what happens right after the tutorial. It’s a huge adventure with twists and turns galore. You meet a lot of new people, grow to like some, a few die.
This is an open world game. This one had an Xbox 360 release, but it’s worth noting it was originally released for the PS2. A large open world western had never been attempted on console before this. I don’t know if the PC release of the original Call of Juarez was out by this time. I bring this up because if you play it’s re-release now, you might think it’s a bit barren and basic. It only has two functional towns. However, it actually has a surprisingly expansive stretch of wilderness connecting them. There’s a multitude of different terrains and environments, and a good few secrets hidden throughout. It has all your open world basics, shops, side quests, even poker. Unfortunately, all of these are limited. You can only do so many before you eventually run out of things to do. Then it’s just a western GTA3 at that point.
In many ways, GUN felt like a predecessor to Red Dead Redemption. It pioneered a lot of the elements that RDR ended up improving on. It even had Dead Eye, I think they even called it that. It’s worth noting that GUN released a year after Red Dead Revolver. So it’s possible this feature was lifted. However, this is also the point where games began taking multiple years to complete. So it’s equally possible the two developers simply had similar ideas. There’s a lot in this game, and I’m pretty sure there were some additions in the re-releases. It’s a great package, and worth checking out for the sake of historical reference if nothing else.