Call of Juarez: the Cartel is a first person shooter centered around cooperative play. The game is developed by the Polish games developer Techland, and follows the story of several crooked cops. The game was released in North American territories on July 19th 2011, and in European territories on the 21st of July. The PC version of the game is released on September 13th, 2011.
Call of Juarez: The Cartel centers around drug trade between Los Angeles and Juarez, in Mexico. A powerful cartel controls the lucrative drug trade and rules the street in both cities, inciting corruption and violence. Realizing that good cops won't get the job done, local government agencies have decided to put three bad cops on the streets to clean up the mess and rid it of the cartel once and for all.
Each of the characters in the game has their own back-story, as well as motives. They also have their own hidden agendas that unfold during the course of the story. In addition, each character is further differentiated by their areas of expertise; one is more effective than the other with pistols, for example.
Ben McCall is the character most players readily identify as a key protagonist in the game, due to his usage in most, if not all, of the promotional content released in relation to it. Ben is a veteran officer in the LAPD, and also a descendant of Ray McCall. Ray was one of the two protagonists in both previous Call of Juarez games, alongside Billy Mendoza in the original, and Thomas McCall in Bound in Blood. Ben seems to be at least semi-religious, for his introductory cutscene shows several different symbols most readily associated with religion, such as the cross. The religious aspect of his nature may also be a reference to Ray McCall, for in the original game, he was a gunslinger-turned-preacher. His past was only ever explored in the prequel, Bound in Blood.
Ben's reasoning for working with Eddie Guerra and Kim Evans comes from the death of a war buddy he had during his service in Vietnam. His friend's daughter comes to him during his opening cutscene, and asks for his help, as her father said that Ben would help. Ben wants nothing more than simple vengeance, and to punish those responsible for the killing.
Ben McCall's field of expertise is close-range combat. Ben is the best character of the three when it comes to close-range engagements, due to his ability with pistols, revolvers, and shotguns. He is able to reload revolvers much more rapidly than his allies, and he is also able to dual-wield them, further increasing their effectiveness at providing firepower, even if it does increase reloading times.
Eddie Guerra is a member of the Drug Enforcement Agency, which is better known as the 'DEA'. While the group's ideals are to fight the trafficking of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia into the United States, Eddie is not as concerned with upholding these goals as he is with survival. Due to a gambling problem, Eddie has found himself in debt to a multitude of different organizations. This has led him to start stealing drugs from crime scenes and using those to pay off his debts to the organizations responsible for keeping him bogged down in financial turmoil. Eddie's views are further distorted due to his childhood being in a Los Angeles ghetto, where drugs and other immoral activities were rife.
Eddie is excellent at medium range combat, meaning he is the go-to character for all-round statistics. Eddie's strengths lie in the usage of assault rifles and sub-machine guns, such as the MP5A2. Eddie is a jack of all trades due to his mid-range superiority over his allies.
Kim is a member of the FBI, though her form of justice is less than orthodox. Kim loathes criminality of all natures due to her experiences growing up in the Compton slums of Los Angeles. Her dislike of criminality in all forms stems from the deaths of both her older brothers, who were both gang-affiliated. They were gunned down in a gang war, with two different groups vying for control of an area of the Compton ghettos.
Kim's area of effectiveness is long-range. She is undoubtedly the best marksman of the three characters, possessing extreme accuracy over both Eddie and Ben, who tend to rely more on firepower. As a result, Kim is ideal with a sniper rifle, or one of the assault / battle rifles intended for longer range engagements, such as the FN FAL.
Call of Juarez departs itself from its predecessors by focusing on co-op. Up to three players can play together during the campaign, which tells the story of three "bad" cops (LAPD detective Ben McCall, FBI agent Kim Evans and DEA agent Eddie Guerra). These three members of the authorities have been grouped together into a makeshift 'task force', in order to counter the Mexican drug cartels. In particular, one new cartel has rapidly grown in power, and the police specifically want this cartel brought to its knees.
The game remains a first person shooter at heart, though introduces a cooperative play mechanic, whereupon players need to work as a team to complete the missions set out for them. Each character has their own secret agenda, that they can try to complete during the mission. In the case of Eddie Guerra, this is often to steal some of the drugs to pay back the organizations he owes due to his gambling addiction. Completing your own personal agenda will help unlock new weapons, though other players are encouraged to try and stop you from doing so. If you successfully complete your own second goal, then you earn money. If you are caught doing this, then the person who caught you earns the money you were earning instead. This is similar to the 'Fragile Alliance' system of the Kane and Lynch games, where you will want an ally, but will not want them following too closely. When playing single-player, the AI controlled characters will not try to complete their second objective but will attempt to stop you from completing your own.
In addition to the cooperative multiplayer mode, the game also includes a competitive mode containing the stereotypical Team Deathmatch, as well as objective-based game modes. Teams are divided into the 'Cops' and the 'Cartel'. In the objective-based modes, one team is told to defend a specific point while other team is either told to destroy it, or to capture it. There are four main environments for online combat, and each environment is further cut down to produce maps. It is through this system that the game comes with twenty maps as standard. This could be compared to the system used for both racing games, and real-life competitive racing. For example, Silverstone in the United Kingdom can be tackled in different guises, such as the International track, and the Grand Prix track. In addition, the game comes with some online character customization, allowing for players to make their own character unique with up to forty different individual looks, as well as class modification.
Weapons in the game can be broken down to pistols, sub-machine guns, shotguns, assault rifles, and sniper rifles. Light machine guns, grenades, and rocket launchers also appear, however, and are included for the sake of completion.
The Desert Eagle pistol appears during the 'map introduction' trailer, in the hands of Eddie Guerra. He is shown to be holding two nickel-plated Desert Eagle handguns, and the gun appears in gameplay, being held by Jesús Mendoza, who is then apprehended. The Desert Eagle is a common choice for in-game weaponry due to its characteristic profile, size, and powerful round, making it an excellent choice of weapon for most 'gangsters'.
Weirdly, the gun has surprisingly little recoil for a Desert Eagle. When close to a wall it can be seen that the in-game model is chambered in .44 Magnum, as opposed to the .50 Action Express that everyone readily identifies the weapon for. It also boasts a nine-round magazine and can be fired rapidly, though at a loss of accuracy.
The Beretta 92FS appears in the game as a lower-powered sidearm, and can be seen during the Giant Bomb Quick Look, at approximately 30 minutes. It is one of the starting pistols, alongside the Makarov. Boasting a larger magazine than the Makarov, the 92FS will likely still be discarded by players upon unlocking superior weaponry. The 92FS boasts higher damage than the PM as a starter, as well as a larger magazine, but cannot be fired as rapidly and has arguably poorer iron sights.
Both weapons are let down by some part of their design so it may be worth picking both earlier in the game to dual wield and get the best of both. The 92FS is the default weapon of your AI allies, and they will use it regardless of other weaponry.
The Jericho 941 is known as the 'Baby Eagle', for it capitalizes upon the iconic design of its bigger brother. It is chambered in a smaller round and is a smaller weapon overall, though still retains some of the design cues of the Desert Eagle, which is a significantly more popular weapon for films and games.
Oddly, the Jericho is much more powerful than it probably should be, as well as being very accurate, with open iron sights and a ten-round magazine capacity. It is also a very early unlock, making it one of the better early pistols in the game. It can be fired at a suitably high rate.
|Dan Wesson PPC|
The Dan Wesson PPC is a revolver appearing in the game. Players who chose Ben McCall as their character will doubtless find this weapon more useful for he will be able to reload it more rapidly than Kim or Eddie. The Dan Wesson has rather unique iron sights, as can be seen in the screenshot. Ordering the game at a branch of Wal-Mart unlocked a version of the PPC with an optical sight for even easier target acquisition.
The PPC is powerful, and accurate, though if you rely on firing quickly to hit a target the revolvers in-game are not for you. The PPC is a later unlock, appearing around Chapter 12 of the story.
The Walther P99 is a pre-order exclusive weapon, with a reflex sight mounted upon it and the ability to fire fully automatic. It is probable that the weapon will prove inaccurate due to the high rate of fire. The designation in-game is rather unusual: it is called the 'Zooming Automatic Pistol', which can be shortened to the acronym of 'ZAP'. This may be a reference to the somewhat futuristic look of the weapon, after modifications.
Referred to as the Makarov in-game, this pistol is the basic sidearm of new players, alongside the Beretta 92FS. It is weak, though boasts a high rate of fire. This could be both a help and a hindrance, as the eight round magazine will likely not last long before a reload is needed. It can be reloaded quickly though, meaning it is a usable weapon when dual wielded.
The Raging Bull is a powerful revolver, which also appears in both the Kane and Lynch franchise, and Hitman: Blood Money. Ben McCall is seen holding one of these revolvers in concept art released for the game. Rather interestingly, the red finish on part of the grip does not appear in the concept art. The red finish on the grip also does not appear in the game, for some unknown reason.
|Smith & Wesson 5906|
The Smith & Wesson 5906 was spotted during a demo gameplay video for the game, under the name of 'S 5906'. The 5906 is a semi-automatic pistol; much like the Ruger GP-100, this game marks its first appearance in any game. The 5906 is adequate but has more recoil than the Jericho, albeit with a larger magazine.
The GP-100 is a revolver, and was spotted in demo footage from the game though no images from inside the game have surfaced. The Ruger is the earliest revolver found dropped by enemies during the game, and can be found as early as the second mission in the game. Oddly enough it has decent stats and is quite a late unlock.
The CZ-75B appears in the game as the 'C 75', though no images of it currently have surfaced. It is purchased via the UPlay service. In real life, the CZ-75 is a Czech made semi-automatic pistol, and one of the most common weapons used by any law enforcement agency. According to the weapon manufacturer, it is the most popular law enforcement sidearm, though the Glock family is quickly challenging this. The CZ75 has perfectly balanced stats - each stat is precisely the same in each field, making the CZ75 perfectly balanced in all respects.
|SIG Sauer Mosquito|
The 'Mosquito', as it is identified in-game, is one of the main weapons used by the Mendoza Cartel. It seems to be their most common sidearm, though members may occasionally drop other weapons instead. The Mosquito is relatively unknown in the world of game weapons - The Cartel may be its first-ever appearance.
|Heckler & Koch USP .45|
The USP .45 appears in the game, designated simply as the USP. Images of the USP .45 in-game currently have not appeared online. In the real world, the USP series of pistols are semi-automatic, and are usually used in tactical roles - for example, the real-world image shown is of the USP with an underbarrel flashlight.
The 'Five-seven', as it is simply identified in-game, is a semi-automatic pistol. Images of the weapon in-game have not yet appeared online. The Five-seveN is chambered for the same round as the FN P90 in real life, so it is rather surprising that the weapon intended to complement the Five-seveN does not appear in the game at all.
The MP9 appears in-game as the TMP (both weapons are extremely similar; the MP9 is based upon the TMP), and was a pre-order bonus. The weapon slows enemy reaction times when they are hit with it, meaning that an accurate shooter will be able to fire more times without the risk of return fire. The MP9 is most effective in the hands of Eddie due to his increased SMG accuracy.
The Uzi appears in the game as the 'U.Z.I', and boasts a high rate of fire, though poor accuracy. This can likely be countered to a degree through using the character of Eddie Guerra to increase weapon accuracy, though recoil may still be an issue with the weapon.
The Skorpion appears in-game as a low powered sub-machine gun with a high rate of fire and rather significant muzzle flash. The weapon becomes more difficult to fire accurately over extended bursts as the flash from the weapon muzzle obscures the target. Firing from a 24-round magazine, the Skorpion manages to be relatively inaccurate at all but the closest ranges.
The variant of the MP5 included in-game is the A2 variant, with the synthetic stock. It is likely one of the more accurate SMGs due to the stock's presence, though the UMP .45 trumps the MP5 in damage respects. Players may prefer the MP5 due to the more rounded iron sights; the UMP iron sights are a mixture of both a square back sight, and a rounded front sight.
The UMP .45 is one of the more powerful SMGs, with a magazine capacity of approximately 30-rounds. The weapon is stable when firing though has a lower firing rate than other SMGs, making it a slightly more long-range choice.
The SPAS-12 appears in the game, and is shown in media with its stock both folded, and unfolded. The SPAS-12 is iconic due to the profile of the weapon with the folded stock, so it is probable that the game will depict it with the stock folded. With this said the gun may be displayed with a folded stock. The firing method is also not clear, whether the weapon is semi-automatic or pump-action. In real life the SPAS-12 is a semi-automatic shotgun with a pump as a back-up, if it is needed.
The Remington 870 is a pump-action shotgun, and alongside the Mossberg 500, is one of the most common shotguns in production. In-game, the weapon is identified as the 'R870'. Unfortunately, images from the game of the R870 are difficult to find in a high resolution.
The Ithaca 37 appears in the Multiplayer modes trailer. In real life it is probably the most common shotgun - it is the most produced, so it stands to reason - and is a pump-action available in a large number of different gauges.
The Mossberg 500 appears in the game as the 'M 500', and is accurately depicted as being a pump-action shotgun, similarly to the Ithaca 37. The Mossberg is well known as one of the most frequently encountered shotguns, both in films, and in real life. Parts of the in-game Mossberg 500 are wooden as opposed to synthetic, and it is one of the earlier shotguns to find during the game.
|Benelli M4 Super 90|
The Benelli M4, or "M1014", as the US military has designated it, is a semi-automatic combat shotgun intended for room clearing operations and other close-range scenarios. However, the game incorrectly displays it as being a pump-action shotgun.
Unsurprisingly, the AK-47 appears in the game frequently. It can be confirmed as an AK-47 due to the muzzle brake's aesthetic differences to that of the AKM. As would be expected, the rifle combines high power with low accuracy and a good rate of fire. The AK-47 is in service with all manner of thugs and criminals, so ammunition and rifles are always plentiful. The AK-47 in-game has surprisingly good iron sights, overlooking the common complaint that the sights were too far along the barrel of the rifle for most shooters to remain accurate. The AK-47 is the starting rifle in the game.
The HK416 appears to be one of the assault rifles in the game, due to the aesthetics of the rifle and the fact the game refers to it as the 'K416', foregoing the 'H' in the name of the rifle. The K416 is one of the most controllable rifles under fire, with an excellent fusion of all requirements. It could be among the best weapons in the game due to its all-round effectiveness.
The FN FAL battle rifle appears in the game, and can be fired fully automatic. However, the rate of fire on the rifle is extremely low, and it is more accurate to fire the weapon in a semi-automatic fashion. The rifle is intended for longer range operations, meaning it is one of the assault rifles that may be more suited to Kim than to Eddie.
The FX-05 is an actual Mexican-made assault rifle, with more than a passing resemblance to the G36 rifle family, produced by the German Heckler & Koch company. The FX-05 is extremely modern, with mass production having only commenced in 2008. The rifle appears to be the main weapon of the Mendoza cartel, and due to its military origins, may suggest military alliances with the cartel in order to supply the rifle. In actuality, the Xiuhcoatl uses a vastly different internal mechanism to the G36 - the internals of the FX-05 are much cheaper and more aligned with the AK-47.
The M60 appears in the game's story trailer and can be found during the first mission of the game, when attacking the enemy helicopter. It has the squared iron sights that are well known for their difficulty to adapt to, and fires from a 100-round belt.
The PKM light machine gun appears in the game as well, during one of the single player gameplay videos. The PKM shown is 'mirrored', for it feeds from the left. In actuality the PKM light machine gun feeds from the right.
The Dragunov appears in the game as a semi-automatic sniper rifle. It was first shown in a screenshot being used by Eddie. It is one of two sniper rifles in the game, and the only semi-automatic. It is probable that in order to balance the game, it will have less accuracy or power than the Remington 700, in order to stop it from being the dominant rifle due to its semi-automatic capabilities.
The Remington 700 is a bolt-action sniper rifle, shown in the hands of a SWAT sniper during the multiplayer modes trailer. It will likely either be more accurate or powerful in the game than the Dragunov, to prevent it from being the dominant rifle in the category.
|Mk. 2 Hand Grenade|
The Mark II Hand Grenade is the only grenade in the game, but not only that; it's also the only thrown weapon in the game altogether. It is known for it's texture, being known as the 'pineapple grenade'. The Mark II is the stereotypical design for a grenade and has led to them being nicknamed 'pineapples', even with the other grenade variants in existence bearing no resemblance.
The M72 LAW is a rocket launcher, and the only one of its kind in the game. It seems possible that it may be used to shoot down the helicopter displayed in the 'M60' entry in the weapons table.
The pre-order bonus for buying the game through Best Buy, GameStop, or Ubisoft's online store is an additional bundle of downloadable content entitled the 'Virtual Road Trip' pack. This pack includes the Steyr TMP, which is a suppressed machine pistol. In-game, it will reduce the reaction speeds of enemies when they are hit with it. Players also receive Body Armor as part of the pack (Ben McCall is seen on the box art to be wearing a Kevlar vest), as well as a poster of Ben McCall himself, measuring 22"x28".
The Pre-order bonus for buying the game at Wal-Mart is an exclusive revolver in the game. The revolver is a Dan Wesson PPC, though the special version received will include an optical sight to aid accuracy and target acquisition. The Walther P99 is also included had the player ordered the game at Best Buy. The P99 comes with a reflex sight mounted on top of the slide, and has somehow been converted to fire fully automatic, as opposed to the standard semi-automatic firing system of the weapon.
Call of Juarez: The Cartel's reception has been mixed, with low-to-average scores coming up most frequently. Metacritic aggregates the game's overall rating as 50/100, which makes it barely average. IGN rated the game 4.5/10, criticizing both the graphics and the repetitive nature of the campaign. Joystiq was even more harsh, giving it a rating of 1.5/5. Eurogamer described the game as being 'rushed', giving it a relatively generous 6/10. Elements of the game that receive the most criticism are the campaign and the graphics. Graphically, the game has been viewed as underwhelming, though possessing some relatively impressive moments.
OS: Windows XP/ Vista / Windows 7
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz / AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core 5000+ (or better)
Memory: 2 GB of RAM
Hard Disk Space: 6.5 GB
Video Card: nVidia GeForce 8800 GT / ATI Radeon HD 3800 series (or better)
Sound Card: DirectX Compatible