Xbox 360 Review: Call of Juarez: The Cartel

Is a modern day Call of Juarez really a good idea?

The previous Call of Juarez games have always been set in the Wild West and although not polished, were enjoyable shooters. The Cartel moves away from that time period and instead has brought the series to a modern day scenario, but has it lost its roots along the way?

After a Mexican drug cartel bombs a U.S. law enforcement agency, killing of people, federal government agents Kim Evans, Eddie Guerra and Ben McCall are tasked with hunting down and stopping the cartel. Of course that’s easier said than done – particularly when the members of your taskforce have shady pasts and problems of their own to battle with. You can play as either character and will discover their secrets, but the story is forgettable and the characters are instantly unlikeable due to poor voice-acting and a script that just ruins what could have been an enjoyable plot.

In terms of gameplay, The Cartel handles like your standard FPS although it’s poor in comparison to the likes of COD and Battlefield. Essentially you’ll just keep repeating the same objective of driving to a location, clearing out waves of enemies and moving onto the next area where the pattern repeats. This would normally be fine if there were some variety, the game tries to do this by adding collectables that you have to pick up without your team-mates noticing, but it’s a shallow idea that’s poorly executed.

You can play the game with 2 other AI companions or you can play it via 3-player co-op, but I see little reason to play online for any reason other than achievement boosting, since your AI partners are pretty clever and will not die. Enemy AI seem to have the ability to walk through solid objects and sneak up on you thanks to a number of glitches, although checkpoints are plentiful for those trying to do the game on a harder difficulty.

You’ll get a different ending for completing the game with each character, but it’s really not worth it since the story is so poor and the reward isn’t worth it. There are multiplayer modes included, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen a thousand times before and it’s been done a lot better. Visually, The Cartel looks dated by today’s standards. Textures take a while to load sometimes, while the character models are average and the effects like explosions leave a lot to be desired, there’s just nothing that makes it stand out from the crowd, voice-acting is pretty bad too…

The Verdict

Call of Juarez: The Cartel has lost its way with this departure from the traditional formula. It’s not the worst FPS out there; it’s just very average and feels rushed. It’s clear that the game needed much more time to become a quality product and it shows from the beginning till the end. The series needs to go back to what made it enjoyable in the first place and forget trying to compete with the bigger boys of the industry.