Just Bad: Call of Juarez: The Cartel

in Hive Gaminglast month

Hey there! Have you ever wanted to just play a bad game, just to experience how surreally trash can it be? If you ever did, you know the mixture of feelings, a spectrum from speechlessness to crying laughter as a reaction to what is unfolding before you.

Erased History

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Let's start at the beginning. Call of Juarez is a great series of first person shooters set in the Wild West, with big levels and great combat, except The Cartel. This one odd game in the series is set in modern day Los Angeles and Mexico and it is a clunky co-op shooter. The entire series was developed by Techland, and originally published by Ubisoft. Quite recently, Ubisoft gave back the rights to the franchise back to the developers, leading to a temporary absence of the games on digital storefronts, until Techland published every game again, except The Cartel. They basically want to bring it out to the woods, put a bullet in the back of its skull and bury it somewhere where nobody will find it.

Presentation

Now, what can a guy do to get the game? I had two options: download a shady crack for a game nobody wanted, or get a key from a shady reseller which shall not be named. I went with the latter, because wanted to display this dumpster fire in my Steam library. Upon starting a playthrough, I was hit by the muddy presentation, which looked as if someone smeared vaseline over the image and then applied a brown-grey filter. The voice acting wanted to compete with the badness of the graphics, so the voice lines sound as if someone recorded the output of TV speakers, and the writing isn't much better. The animations are also pretty bad, characters moving as if they were puppets on strings and they speak as if they are trying to chew their faces off their skulls.

Gameplay

Call of Juarez: The Cartel is, theoretically, a co-op game. At the beginning, you choose one of the three characters of whom I don't remember the name, but I know one was a policeman, one a DEA agent and the woman of the group was from FBI. Their handler is a woman called Dickson, and I laughed every time her name was mentioned by the crew (who said I had a sophisticated humor?). Each of these characters has the same personality, which is being an asshole to everyone around them and to eachother, which leads to a lot of counterproductive sequences of gameplay. Anyway, they all play the same, but the character choice has one major effect on gameplay: Hidden Agendas. Those are side objectives, which you must do without the other characters seeing, like stealing money or drugs from a scene to fund a side hustle of yours. Doing the side objectives is how you unlock new weapons, which can be selected in the pre-mission lobby. Your equipment will consist of two pistols/revolvers/mix and match and a two handed weapon. During a mission, you will go around, shooting gang members with clunky controls and having a really small pool of regenerating health. There are good things, like the fact that you have unlimited sprint and also the fact that you can go akimbo with the two pistols. On the bad side, the shooting is bland and also, you have no feedback from shooting enemies, until they eventually drop dead to the ground. One more gimmick of the combat is Concentration Mode, which is basically bullet time, which is charged up by killing enemies.

All in all, I had a good laugh while playing this and I'll continue playing it to see how low it can go. Still, it is a shame that this game is delisted, as it is a good laugh, and for what I paid for it, it is a blast to play, although, for all the wrong reasons.

Images: 1, 2(my own screenshot), 3, 4, 5


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