Call of Juarez: The Cartel Review by LitaOsiris

18 Nov 2011 18 Nov 2011
19 11 2
Originally written for in 2011 but slightly updated here

Call of Juarez: The Cartel is the third game in the Call of Juarez franchise and is once again developed by Techland. I’ve never played the previous games so I can’t compare and I’m going in with a fresh view of the series.

Unlike the previous installments, Call of Juarez: The Cartel takes place in modern day Los Angeles and Mexico with the focus on three new characters – LAPD Detective Ben McCall, DEA Agent Eddie Guerra and FBI Agent Kim Evans. The story begins with a bombing of the DEA offices by the Mendoza Cartel, led by Juan Mendoza and his son, Jesus. This then leads to the formation of an inter-agency task force to investigate which is what ties these three main characters. From what I’ve heard, the only links to the previous games are the names of McCall and Mendoza.

The Good
Throughout the entire game you are accompanied by the other two characters and what I found most surprising is that your partner A.I. is more intelligent than the enemy A.I. I’ve always been one to complain about teammate A.I. being quite stupid at times so while I’m glad in one way it’s not the case here, I still like playing the game myself rather than getting to an area and have them do the work for me.

Each character has their own separate story to the main plot and since they’re considered to be “bad cops”, they must perform certain corrupt tasks along the way without getting caught. Each character also has a weapon and range speciality – McCall is a close range fighter so he would favour pistols and revolvers, Evans is a long range expert so sniper rifles work better for her and Guerra is in-between so SMGs and rifles are his preference. This all results in the characters having different perspectives in certain levels since their tasks, collectibles and agendas are all different. This is integrated very well and is actually a great feature. For me, this was the most interesting part of the game because it added another layer to it.

The Bad
Unfortunately, the story itself is rather forgettable. It doesn’t have anything that stands out because what you’ll remember about the game is that mostly it’s just drive to one location, have a shootout, go to another, have more shootouts and sometimes you get a helicopter to take down. Although that sounds fairly repetitive, I still found it enjoyable because there was nothing too frustrating about the situations. The gameplay itself is good – the shooting mechanics are fairly on par with other decent shooters and there’s a variety of different weapons to choose from. My one grievance with the combat system goes to how grenades/explosives were handled. If you happened to be close (but not too close) to one, you were thrown to the ground – which obviously is realistic. Once or twice a level of this is fine but on one particular level I got caught in a loop of being thrown to the ground by an explosive, getting back up and being able to fire maybe two or three shots before getting thrown to the ground again. This went on for about a minute before it eventually killed me and during it I couldn’t even move to get into a better position.

As mentioned, the games mixes in some driving in-between the shooting but I didn’t like the in car view while driving and the controls felt too light, perhaps, for how a car should handle. There are points in the game where you get to hang out of a car window and fire a gun, which is a lot more fun.

The Ugly
Unfortunately the worst of the game is the graphics. Truthfully it’s something that you would have seen five to ten years ago. The animation on the characters looks terrible when they’re talking, general textures seem off, the environments are rather generic and distances can be blurry which can cause some issues when aiming.

The Posse
There are cooperative and competitive modes as well. Although the cooperative mode is fun, you have to start on the lowest chapter your team combined is on which may be annoying for some players. However, it is more interesting because the layout of some levels does allow you to strategise with your teammates and plan how to take down an area of enemies since there can be multiple entry points. The competitive mode has Team Deathmatch and Missions as multiplayer types and you play as Cops or Outlaws. It’s nothing ground-breaking though.

The achievements in the game are fairly easy to get. The only grind is having to play through the game three times as each character but the only good thing is you get to experience each character perspective so there's some variety. I found the best order to play in is as Guerra, Evans and then McCall.

The End
Overall Call of Juarez: The Cartel is fairly bland. Parts are fun but they’re overshadowed too much by the flaws. The game would have definitely benefitted from more development time. If the graphics were improved and the different character perspectives were expanded in a better story, the game would have done a lot better. The potential was there – it’s just a shame it wasn’t used.
venomthanosfanKudos on such a focused, well written, and very objective review :-). Though I only gleaned over the two reviews succeeding yours, I did fully read the two reviews preceding yours, and everything else I'd read about this game was unambiguously negative, so it was nice to read someone else praise the game where that much about it was merited. I was likely inclined to buy this game anyway as I can get it for a generally low price presently, and I was very interested to try it in spite of its negative reception, as I've played every other game of its franchise now, (granted, the first only very briefly) though due to all the negative things I read about the game I was inclined not to get it even at a value, though of course due to what praise you did issue the game, I have at least a bit of faith I'll find at least mild enjoyment in it, I just am expecting to play it with reduced expectations.

That likely goes without saying, though I obviously voted your review up/as helpful, and based off what I read/saw of other reviews, that's the only review of this game I'll probably say that about, so again, great job, and thank you for providing such an objective and helpful perspective about this game :-).
Posted by venomthanosfan on 30 May 19 at 17:46
LitaOsirisThank you for the feedback toast
Posted by LitaOsiris on 30 May 19 at 18:54