Call Of Juarez: The Cartel Review

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While the lawless Call Of Juarez series has always staged its rootin’ tootin’ Wild West shenanigans in the late 1800s, 'The Cartel' brings the series bang up to date, and sees players confronting the drug barons responsible for death and destruction in modern day Mexico. But while focusing on contemporary events is a canny move that sets the new Juarez apart from its biggest rival, Red Dead Redemption, this latest outing is by far the worst in the patchy series, and will have players yearning for a return to the chaotic charm of the American Old West.

The main problem with The Cartel is that it feels old-fashioned, creaky and, at times, deeply embarrassing. Despite following in the wake of blockbuster blasters such as Halo: Reach and Modern Warfare 2 that have reset the bar for first-person shooters, The Cartel is blighted by parts of the environments that inexplicably pop in and out of existence, enemies that clip through solid walls and unimaginative graphics that spectacularly fail to create a sense of place, making the whole sorry mess feel like something you’d have been disappointed to pay £40 for in 2006.

Poor presentation aside, tedium is The Cartel’s fatal flaw. While the fast-paced shootouts and slow-motion blasting sequences are tremendous fun for the first 30 minutes, it won’t be long before you realise that every level sees you doing exactly the same thing in roughly the same order, making the game pale in comparison to other modern shooters that work hard to keep the action fresh. And with three equally despicable characters to play as, all of whom are impossible to like, and co-operative multiplayer that feels like a tragic waste of time as the combat is so basic, The Cartel comes across as rushed and lazy, and one of the lamest shooters so far this year.