Call of Juarez: The Cartel really likes swearing. It swears through its lumpen cutscenes, it swears through sludgy, half-pace firefights, and it swears through pointless slow-motion set-pieces. COJ's swearing is its only really enjoyable feature.
To reiterate: you can glean the same amount of fun as you would from COJ: The Cartel by sitting in front of a mirror and shouting expletives at your own reflected face. This grey-and-beige clunker's swearing isn't even that creative.
Neither are the characters. The plot drags three lawbringers together in modern LA, one from each of the LAPD, DEA, and FBI. Ben McCall is gruff and cowboyish, Eddie Guerra is a smooth-talker, and Kim Evans is the token woman. Each has their own story and their own weapons of choice, but they're all the same in one regard: they're maddeningly inconsistent.
The game does its best to stir up some kind of inter-party intrigue, but a bumbling storyline drops it en route. You're told to keep an eye on one of your partners to watch out for dodgy dealings, but there's no way to keep your eyes anywhere but the next objective point in a purely linear game. You're asked to watch for crooked cop-work on the job, but the game encourages you to steal wallets and phones for bonuses. Ben's afraid of heights, but takes relaxed phonecalls stood on a wooden walkway 80 feet above the floor of a valley.
The wobbly plot and hateful characterisation could be forgiven were The Cartel's shooting superlative. It's not. Guns feel flimsy, and enemies stick fastidiously to cover, hopping up and down and waiting to die. When they do make a break from cover, the game's auto-aim system happily yanks your crosshair away from where they're going to be, leaving you popping caps into thin air.
The prospect of a user-activated slow-motion mode sounds potentially exciting, but the window of time is so small you only have the space to fire off a handful of shots before you're catapulted back to real-time and filled full of holes.
With three communicative players, there's a possibility The Cartel could provide a fleeting few hours of entertainment. But that's asking more than most will be able to consistently bring to the game. Anyway, get three people in a room and they could entertain themselves with some paperclips and a shoe. Steer clear unless for some horrible reason, you're not allowed to do your own swearing.
Bar co-op, ugly in every conceivable way.
- High number of swear words
- Minutes of fun in three-player co-op
- Incredibly, visuals are smeary and blocky
- Piddly weaponry makes shooting dull
- Stereotypical, hateful characters