Ubisoft Inc.’s Call of Juarez: The Cartel for Sony Corp.’s Playstation 3 and Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360is a standard first-person shooter that handcuffs an average drug bust campaign to a solid online multiplayer mode.
In Call of Juarez: The Cartel, a U.S. task force must take down a Mexican drug cartel in Los Angeles. Users can choose one of three agents to trek solo or co-op with two additional players.
Controls are mediocre with standard trigger fire, grenade, and reload access. Aim can be foggy due to a focus effect that can blur immediate vision. Movement can be crippling with a subpar cover system and limited jump height.
Missions include varied locations, from mountainous terrain to inner city slums to high-speed car chases. Mission structure can pace the game slower than need be, with sporadic firefights that require a long distance run to the next shootout. In addition, the car chase sequences are hampered with a limited in-car driving view.
Certain missions include an extra secret agenda to obtain items or observe actions that can earn the user XP or new abilities.
The enemy AI is average with constant strafing and cover ability.
Co-op functionality can be initiated at any time with users starting a pre-level lobby where each user can define a loadout. Gun selection ranges from pistols to shotguns to machine guns.
Online multiplayer is a superior shootout experience with up to 12 players. Mission scenarios include multi-part objectives between cops and gangsters. Objectives can include guarding an area, breaching a location, and placing explosives within a time limit. The fight between other players offers competition, teamwork, and enemy reaction that isn’t found in the campaign.
The graphics engine is decent at 30 frames-per-second. Characters and locations are very detailed and nicely relay all parts of Los Angeles. The entire game includes a hazy overlay that can make it difficult to see enemies in certain lighting conditions. The sound engine is adequate with cinematic profanity-laced dialogue that is over-the-top and not taken seriously.
Call of Juarez: The Cartel can’t muster a well-oiled solo campaign, but the online multiplayer mode between cops and gangsters may be enough to find recruits to end the drug war.