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: The Cartel is an adult-oriented first-person shooter with a broad range of mature themes. Players can expect to encounter intense violence, several prolonged scenes of frank sexuality, frequent and extreme profanity, and references to drugs. Players take on the roles of well-meaning government agents and a police officer, but their murky motives and violent actions are clearly meant to be appreciated by an older audience. Note that online play with open voice communication is supported. Common Sense Media does not recommend open online play for pre-teens.
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What's it about?
The third entry in Techland’s moderately popular first-person western series, CALL OF JUAREZ: THE CARTEL moves the calendar forward more than 100 years and sets the action in modern day California and Mexico. Players take on the roles of a trio of law enforcement professionals from different organizations: the FBI, DEA, and Los Angeles Police Department. They work together to take down a Mexican drug gang, but they also have their own hidden agendas, which are often dictated by people outside the group who call them on their phones mid-mission. Players will need to accomplish special objectives without being noticed by their partners, who may be controlled by the computer or other humans online, according to the player's choice.
Is it any good?
There’s little denying that Techland is grabbing at the tail of something unique and interesting in this occasionally clever shooter. The idea of players working cooperatively in frenetic gunfights and yet keeping secrets from each other and occasionally wandering off to secretly do their own thing for a few seconds is both original and compelling.
However, this brilliant bit of design is too often obscured by a wide variety of problems. During our evaluation, the game froze several times, forcing a restart. What’s more, the graphics are dated, the onscreen text is riddled with typos, and bits of action dialogue are repeated to the point of annoyance. Most disappointing, though, is the developers’ decision to use mature elements such as strippers and profanity to a conscience-numbing degree. It may be targeted at an older audience capable of safely consuming such content, but focusing on these elements makes it feel as though the game was made to appeal to high school boys looking to indulge in something forbidden. Worse, it draws attention away from what should be the game’s main draw: its zigzagging narrative and clever hidden agendas.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. How do you determine whether a game is too violent for your kids? Do the motives associated with the violence weigh into your decision?
Families can also discuss the depiction of women in games. Can you think of examples of games with strong female protagonists? What sort of qualities do they have? Are these same characters sexually objectified in any way?
- Platforms: PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: UbiSoft
- Release date: July 19, 2011
- Genre: First-Person Shooter
- ESRB rating: M for Blood, Drug Reference, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Sexual Content, Strong Language
- Last updated: June 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.