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    jp's Call of Juarez (PC)

    [August 23, 2010 01:04:14 PM]

    After a few incredible firefights, I was stumped by the game's final scene (until I looked it up online, to be honest). After "killing" the main villain (Juarez) for the 2nd time (more on that later), Reverend Ray wishes he could do one more thing to atone for all his sins. He is granted that opportunity as, from the floor (he's mortally wounded at this stage), he sees Juarez slowly get up with a knife clearly aimed at Billy's back. It's shown in "cut-scene" mode, but near the end it transitions to the regular gameplay mode and you have a few (1 or 2?) seconds to take out Juarez. I couldn't figure out HOW! None of the keyboard keys worked (couldn't shoot, couldn't "execture action", kicking didn't work, etc.). This was a bit annoying since you couldn't skip the cut-scene and I ended up watching it 3-4 times. It turns out you have to assume the final scene is like a duel, which means you have to move the mouse down (and then quickly up) in order to shoot Juarez. This may have been more obvious than I thought, but I guess I was tripped up by the fact that duels display a counter on screen. When it reaches zero, the duel starts and you can then act. So, an inconsistency in the interface sort of spoiled the emotional impact of the ending.

    This inconsistency surprised me since earlier I had noticed an interface element that was remarkably well-used. The end of the game features 4 distinct encounters with Juarez. The 2nd is a standard duel between Billy and Juarez each with identical pistols and only three bullets. Billy shoots Juarez only to find, later on, as Juarez ambushes the Reverend, that Juarez was wearing a piece of steel armor beneath his shirt. So, Billy and Juarez go hand to hand (3rd encounter, actually Juarez is out of bullets so he's forced into melee) and you take him out after depleting his energy bar. I've already mentioned the 4th encounter, so let me recount the 1st. The 1st encounter takes place in an underground (Aztec?) structure where the infamous gold of Juarez is found. You're playing as the reverend and after taking out all the goons protecting Juarez to have a traditional shootout. Juarez has an energy bar and every time you hit him, it's depleted a little. Juarez' energy bar was depleted to perhaps a little less than half when I shot him once more and a cut-scene came in. Juarez says something or other about Molly (a hostage) and then leaves!

    I didn't have to deplete the energy bar completely! Most games would have had the boss leave after the bar is depleted, but this game indicated that the bar really was representing Juarez' health, so when it was reduced too far, he took off!
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    [August 21, 2010 09:03:18 PM]
    I can't believe I haven't played this game since December of 2009. I trust the dates on my saved games more than I trust my memory, that's for sure!

    I'm getting really close to the end, I think, because I reached (and passed) the "reunion" between the Reverend and Billy. The game is setup in such a way that, at least until this point, you always alternate between one and the other with the Reverend always a few steps behind. The Reverend, hell-bent on revenge is madly trying to catch Billy who is innocent but scared out of his pants.I predicted that THIS, the confrontation between the Reverend and Billy would be one of the more important moments of the entire game and was, in fact, the reason I was interested in the game after I got over the fact that I was playing a gun-toting priest. I wondered whether the Reverend would realize that Billy was innocent. Would he kill him? How would it all go down?

    It was a bit of a letdown, to be honest. Mostly due to issues I had with the gameplay, which I guess is a bit of a surprise. I would have been disappointed if the whole thing had happened in a cut-scene as well... Curiously, I don't think that it crashed and burned due to terrible design choices, but perhaps due to how I was playing the game?

    The next-to-last scene (before the showdown) features the Reverend teaming up with some Texas Rangers (lawmen) are about to storm a farm where Billy is hiding(?). The owner is supposedly a rustler. The Reverend decides to help out, but things seemed a bit fishy (to me, at least). In any case, Billy is able to escape through a barn into a field. For some reason the Reverend is getting attacked a lot in the field and you hear Billy yelling out that he's innocent and that sort of thing. Upon exiting the field, Billy is galloping away on a horse and the Reverend leaps on another to pursue.

    Riding a horse in the game is an interesting experience. As you would imagine, horses don't stop on a dime and the controls, while functional, take a bit to get used to. You control the horse with the arrow keys while you move your sight around with the mouse. So, you can look sideways as the horse moves forward. Anyways, it took a me a few attempts to make some progress on the horse (before, say, loosing Billy) and, in general I was pretty tense (when the horse gets going quickly it's quite exhilarating) due to the music as well as the timer. One particular segment was really tricky since it required turning quite sharply (to the left) on to a (somewhat narrow) path alongside a river. I must have done this part 5 or 6 times before I figured out the right speed and moment to turn in order to avoid having the horse fall of the ledge.

    And I made my way along the ledge (slowly) BANG! and the horse falls off the ledge. I'd try it again. BANG! The horse falls of the ledge. Then I got smart and moved along slowly and dismounted...BANG! Horse (and me) fall of the ledge. I did not know where I was getting shot from, and by whom either! This went on a few more times, so I was getting pretty annoyed until I was finally able to pick out my attacker, shoot him a few times and watch him stumble from the rock he was on.

    It was Billy.

    I hadn't noticed until the Reverend started going off on how he was sorry, and that he'd done the wrong thing and so on. It was incredibly anti-climactic because I was frustrated and hadn't noticed what I was doing. Ray (the Reverend) vows to redeem himself and blah blah.

    I have no idea how the Reverend knew he'd done the wrong thing. I thought the Rangers seemed kind of fishy (they were impostors) but I'm not sure that Ray knew that...I don't think he hinted that either.

    So, was this climactic moment in the game ruined because I was too angry about failing multiple times before I got there? I was genuinely happy when I was able to shoot the "random dude on the rock" that had caused me so much Ray's change of heart surprised me quite a bit.

    In any case, Billy survived. He was rescued by some sort of Shaman who had me do some random quests (kill 4 rabbits and then climb this huge mountain to get an Eagle's feather). For a minute the game was headed down a mystical route which, strangely enough, fell apart when the bandits caught up to me, killed the Shaman and kidnapped Billy. My only though at the moment was, geez, those Shaman missions were a complete waste of time!
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    [December 9, 2009 10:07:36 PM]
    Gosh, once again it's been a while since I played. I'm up to episode VIII at the moment and I'm starting to wonder for how long the whole fugitive thing will keep on going. Alternating between the characters works (the preacher is definitely the more interesting one), but I might start to tire of the whole deal because the longer I play Billy (the runaway) the more I start to wonder why I can't decide FOR Billy. (ie, turn yourself in and stop running away!)

    Of the two characters, the Preacher is definitely the more interesting one. Yes, he truly believes he is on a righteous path but he still comes across as a bit of a villain. After all, we know he's wrong. However, the fact that he TRULY believe he is right, and that he's doing the right thing, makes him more compelling. Curiously, it's always the other villains that call him out on his actions. For instance I just had a duel with the bandit that was trying to rob the train. After I've literally shot his ENTIRE band of outlaws, the honcho bandit basically draws attention to the fact that I've been doing a lot of killing. In something of a missed opportunity, the Preacher doesn't respond or even acknowledge that something needs to be thought of.

    Interestingly, the game's mechanics and interface support the notion that the preacher, while a villain of sorts, still thinks he's the good guy. Once again at the train, I had to use a scoped rifle to shoot something away. I panned around and noticed that the steam engine's engineer was there! The preacher then said something like "Thank God the engineer is still alive". I quick saved and then tried to shoot the engineer. The game kicked in however, the preacher said something like "No, you musn't", and the weapon was raised. Contrary to some games where you get to choose how you want to act (it's up to you if you shoot civilians), this game won't let you. The preacher hasn't snapped entirely because he can still discriminate... I guess there's also a bit of a missed opportunity in that the game effectively decides for you who the good guys and the bad guys are.

    Even when doing something bad, the game still places limits on you. For instance, while playing as Billy I ran across a farmhouse from which I was required to steal a horse. The owner of the house was a bit crazy (calling out for his wife) and I felt quite bad about making off with his horse (as well as sneaking into his house to steal the saddle). Fortunately I had to abandon the horse a little while later (I sincerely hoped that the horse made its way back to its owner). Less fortunately, I ran into the old coot's murdered wife a little later. Her wagon had been ambushed. THAT really got to me. I had just stolen an old coot's only horse and on top of that he doesn't know that his wife has been murdered. Tragic. Really!
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    [October 23, 2009 10:21:05 PM]
    Played a few more episodes the other day and a noticed a few more things I wanted to make sure I wrote down.

    1. I had forgotten how to play and (while playing as Billy) kept trying to find out how to get the "bullet time" to work. It turns out that Billy can't do that, you have to play as the preacher Ray for that to work. Doh!

    2. While playing as the preacher I was surprised to hear some of the NPCs talk back by basically calling him out on his actions. The gist of the messages was basically something along the lines of "Hey, aren't you a priest? Why are you killing us all?. I couldn't help but agree with the sentiment, which makes playing as Ray a little bit more interesting. Especially when he starts going off on the whole fire and brimstone thing...

    3. The last Billy episode I played ended with Ray showing up opposite me (and then Billy escapes). I actually felt disappointed to play Ray after that because I knew what was going to happen. The sight of Ray was a pleasant surprise at the end of the Billy chapter but it really dampened things for the Ray chapter.
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    [June 6, 2009 08:31:32 PM]
    The back of the box says "Ain't no law out here except the one you make". I bought this game for one reason. It is (hopefully) an ethically notable game. I read somewhere that there were a few interesting things going on with the story and the characters (probably from a preview for the new game, which I believe hasn't been released yet), so I though I would check it out. Specifically, I think it's a game where one of the characters is troubled by his actions (and what he feels he should do). We'll see.

    So far, I've played two episodes of the game. The first one was essentially a tutorial where I played through Billy Candle's return home. It wasn't a happy return, Billy didn't have a happy childhood. He was beaten by his dad and harassed by pretty much everyone else in the town. He only wants to go back to see his mother again. It isn't very clear how much of a good guy he is, but he essentially steals his way through the tutorial. Strangely, he is admonished (well, the player is) if he tries to shoot someone who isn't his enemy. Although I didn't try to, the warning was written in the screen: it will be game over!

    The second character is a fire and brimstone priest (Billy's uncle) who apparently has a past he wants forgotten. I think this may be the only first-person shooter where you play a man of the cloth. That, in itself, is interesting. Uncle Ray happens upon the murder of his brother and his wife (Billy's mother) at the same time that Billy does. Billy flees, his uncle thinks he's a murdered, and that's about far.
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    jp's Call of Juarez (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 5 June, 2009

    GameLog closed on: Monday 23 August, 2010

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    I just noticed I started playing this game on the 2nd anniversary of its release. Weird, huh?

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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