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Call of Juarez: The Cartel

by Habermann

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Original Thread: "This is way above my pay grade." (Let's Play Call of Juarez: The Cartel)



Alternate Thread Titles

Previous LPs of Terrible Games

(I was going to run this box art through Blingee, but these tools are already decked out in enough bling as it is.)

Game Overview

Call of Juarez: The Cartel is a first-person shooter video game developed by Techland, who you may know for developing Dead Island, as well as the first two installments in the Call of Juarez series. The Cartel was released in July of 2011 for 360 and PS3, with the PC release delayed until September of that same year.

While the first two games in the series took place in the American "Wild West," and received praise for their dedication to their theme, The Cartel takes place in modern times, and received criticism for cultural and political insensitivity. The game has you take the role of one of three slightly-crooked members of law enforcement from the LAPD, FBI, or DEA, as you systematically murder scores of gang members. There's also something about trying to prevent America getting into a war with Mexico or something, but it's all very poorly written and incredibly jingoistic.

The game does attempt to incorporate some admittedly interesting co-op mechanics, in the form of character-specific side missions which other players may actively attempt to prevent you from completing. In addition to this, there are also challenges that may appear during the course of gameplay, which you must compete against your teammates to complete first in order to receive bonuses. Unfortunately, the game's co-op (as well as it's multiplayer mode) is more-or-less empty, particularly on the PC platform. It seems to be a case of "dead-on-arrival," potentially thanks in-part to Ubisoft's much be-loathed "Uplay" service.

The connections to the previous two games in the series are loose. Unlike the previous two installments, The Cartel fails to provide impressive graphics, likeable characters, or even competent gunplay. By abandoning the theme and setting of the first two games, The Cartel abandons any sense of identity, leaving players with a bland attempt to cater to a broad audience.

Mission Statement

Make no mistake: This game is an offensive, irredeemable pile of shit. Everything about the game, from the characters to the story, is laughably stupid, which is precisely why I've chosen to play through it. While some may react to the game's content with outrage and disgust, I react to it with hearty laughter. It tries so desperately to be edgy and exciting, I can't help but love it on some ironic level, like a bad movie that thinks of itself as fine art.

In my commentary, I will criticize the weak action and unimaginative set pieces. What I will NOT be doing is acting offended by the treatment of minorities in the game, or trying to feed you any bullshit about the game being inherently and intentionally racist: What we have here is a clear-cut case of a Polish developer doing their damndest to appeal to what they have been lead to believe is "The American Market," by taking cues from our own media and other popular video games.

Don't hate the devs: Hate the game.

Tech Specs

I'll be playing the game in the DirectX 9 mode - as opposed to DirectX 11 - in order to avoid the sickening effects of the gratuitous motion blur. Other than that, the video settings within the game are maxed out... Which isn't saying much, considering there are only two quality settings you are allowed to alter ("Texture" and "Foliage").

I record and render my videos in 1280x720 at 29.97 frames a second, while game audio is presented in full stereo for Total Immersion™. It should also be noted that the game is coated in a thick layer of smog and fog, which some may mistake for bad render settings. Rest assured: The game is every bit as ugly and indiscernible as the videos make it out to be.


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