How the West was won!
Boasting everything you need for a deranged action game - Guns! Outlaws! Trains! Horses! Hookers! - its a surprise that more developers havent jumped on the Wild West bandwagon instead of eschewing cowboys and indians for space battles and fairy tale fantasies.
But while Call Of Juaraz is an enjoyable and beautifully made Western romp that follows the same pistol-packing template as Gun and Red Dead Revolver, its peculiar blend of gaming styles spoils an otherwise gripping quest.
During the course of the game, players regularly swap between two distinct characters; the gun-slinging firebrand preacher Reverend Ray, and Billy Candle, a drifter with little experience of wielding a six-shooter. But while playing as the Revered is tremendous fun - especially when hes using a slow-motion bullet-time effect to pick off clusters of enemies with perfect headshots, or screaming damning passages from the Bible before filling banditos full of lead - the sections where you control Billy are dull and awkward, focusing on stealth rather than gunplay and bringing the delirious blasting grinding to halt.
Even worse, Billys ham-fisted episodes often see the youngster attempting to climb mountains or negotiate perilous platforms from a first-person perspective, a clumsy viewpoint which makes it almost impossible to judge distances and leads to many teeth-grindingly frustrating deaths.
Juarez also features a smattering of horseback sequences that help punctuate the traditional FPS action, and the twisting tale adopts a clichéd, tongue-in-cheek attitude that will charm fans of Wild West flicks and creates moments of genuine hilarity. But with tedious sections where you have to creep between bushes to avoid enemies when all you want to do is fill the air with bullets, COJ is a game that delights and disappoints in equal portions.