With a scant three titles over the last two console generations, the old west has been an underrepresented environment in gaming. Cinematic interpretations of the setting have focused on rapid gunplay, tense showdowns, and sweeping vistas, creating a presumably idyllic context for the pastime. Developer Techland awkwardly mined the cowboy mythos for 2007ís Call of Juarez. While many enjoyed the titleís first-person shooting elements, the gameís stealth missions and object manipulation puzzles felt woefully forced.
Fortunately, the recently released prequel Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood largely omits those superfluous elements, wisely focusing on Wild West gunplay. In this pursuit, the game often becomes steeped in linearity, feeling as antiquated as an old, dusty stagecoach. Enjoyment emanates from slaughtering an enemy posse in the streets of a sandy pueblo, but revisiting staged set-pieces and the repetition of brotherly banter detracts from these pleasures. The first respite from the gameís preset pathways doesnít appear until the sixth chapter of the game, offering a handful of exhilarating open-world sub-missions. Itís a shame that a recurrent, screen-blanking, glitch robbed this section of its verve, forcing a retreat to an earlier save point.