A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a downloadable first-person shooter set in the last days of the Wild West. Players will use pistols, rifles, shotguns, and dynamite to gun down or blow up rival cowboys, criminals, and Native Americans. The ability to slow down time and zoom in on head shots or other destructive attacks means players will see lots of blood spraying from wounds. Players also will engage in close-up showdowns and duels between one or more combatants, intensifying the impact of battle. There are some references to drinking, though the act isn't shown, and characters are frequently shown smoking. The language is strong, with "bastard," "dumbass," "bitch," and "s--t" used frequently in dialogue, along with some sexual innuendo and insults. This is part of a long-running franchise, so some players may find themselves interested in checking out other games in the series.
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What's it about?
CALL OF JUAREZ: GUNSLINGER is set in 1910 in Abilene, Kansas, and centers on Silas Greaves, a legendary bounty hunter of some of the Wild West's greatest outlaws. Silas enters a saloon and, upon being recognized by the patrons, tells stories of his most significant adventures and gunfights for free drinks. These include taking on the Dalton Brothers, fighting with Billy the Kid, and taking on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, as Silas "rewrites" the history books with what he says happened. Apart from the story mode and revisionist details, players can fight off waves of opponents in the Arcade mode or take on a showdown in the Duel mode.
Is it any good?
Players looking for a unique twist on the legends of the Wild West will enjoy blasting their way through the outlaws in this shooter. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger sprinkles in some revisionist history and unreliable narration to produce an engaging take on the first-person shooter. The story uses a Liberty Valance-like approach ("When the legend becomes fact, print the legend") to draw the player in. It's a nice and unexpected gameplay twist when Silas keeps changing the "story," making you question whether he actually participated in the fights he's talking about or his entire life is based on tall tales. He's always facing down an army of thugs or blasting through entire tribes of Native Americans, before someone checks his facts and the numbers are adjusted. That said, you'll still blast a ton of nameless gun-wielding cowpokes over the numerous chapters. Though the cel-shaded graphics decrease the impact of gunfights, the violence, especially the close-ups, may be too much for some younger players. At least there are scattered "nuggets of truth," which provide historic information about key moments or people in the West. The points from these collectible objects provide Silas with new abilities, such as reloading his pistols more quickly or tossing out multiple sticks of dynamite to destroy criminals.
Fortunately, even though he may bend the truth, Silas is a skilled gunslinger, which you'll notice as you face off against some of the most notable criminals in duels. These can be difficult if you're trying to honorably deal Western justice and jump the gun (no pun intended). You have to constantly adjust your trigger finger and your aim as they move, then wait until they draw before you fire. Juggling all these minute adjustments, especially when facing off against very skilled gunslingers, can be hard. But since the only negative in shooting early is you get fewer points for your score and the upgrade system, duels boil down to giving yourself a challenge to legally shoot enemies. Also, though the game's arcade-like scoring system is good for leaderboards, the gunslinger duels would've been a great multiplayer mechanic, so gamers could've tested their skills against everyone else. These issues aside, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger's unconventional, arcade-like take on the West is an entertaining look at how the West was won, usually at the barrel of a gun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. Is there any way that this game could have been developed without the heightened focus on gunfire?
Talk about the Wild West and its handling of justice. Were vigilantes and bounty hunters the best way to handle criminals back then? What would have been a better way to handle lawlessness?
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