Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 7 Aug 2009 11:00
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I wouldn't want to be thought of as an unconstructive critic. I like to think that, while I have been known to liken games to dirty pants, I can always suggest methods of fixing the dirty pants issues. Like laundering, say. That would be a good start.

But there's rarely enough time in a video to pull down every pair of dirty pants on a game and run them through a spin cycle, so here we are again in Extra Punctuation to fill in the blanks. I had a lot to say about Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood's frustrating 'showdown' minigame, so I would like to challenge myself with the question: what would I have done to fix it?

To be honest, I like the idea, and I appreciate the effort. It must have been very tempting to just stick in a Quick Time Event. Wild West showdowns are probably as close to a real-life Quick Time Event as you can get, especially if anyone ever had to pull the trigger of a Walker Colt several times in order to push something heavy. But no, showdowns in Call of Juarez are practically a science. You sidestep back and forth to keep the baddie in the centre (because otherwise your crosshair isn't centered when you draw), move your hand with the right analog stick so it doesn't touch the holster (why aren't we allowed to keep our hand on the gun while we wait? Bloody cowboys making it difficult for themselves), then when a bell rings, move your hand onto the gun and hit 'fire' when the crosshair travels up to the baddie's scrotum.

For a while the minigame works and I can even sort of understand having it instead of a boss fights; in other Western games I've always had trouble accepting an evil cowboy who can take fifty shots to the face. What I don't like is the fact that they use it for every boss fight. In every single chapter. It's not just that it's repetitive; with difficulty curves being what they are each one has to be harder than the last, and the only way to do that is to make the baddie draw faster. By the end of the game they're doing that whole Gene Wilder in Blazing Saddles thing and you'll fail over and over again until you memorize the timing.

The other thing is, these are main story baddies. We hate each other. They've spent the entire game chasing us, ruining our lives, sending wave after wave of black-hats to gun us down and cut our throats, and we've offloaded enough lead in their direction to replace a church roof. At any other point in the game, we would have killed each other without a second's thought. But at the end of each chapter, as predictable as the tides, out comes baddie du jour making up some excuse about how his gammy leg's hurting and he'd like to do a showdown now. And I'm trying to pull the fucking trigger all while he's talking but my characters have come down with cutscene stupidity.

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