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‘Call of Juarez: The Cartel’ is a lackluster experience

“Call of Juarez: The Cartel” PC, PS3, Xbox 360 2/5 Pitchforks Released: July 19

“Call of Juarez: The Cartel” attempts to capitalize on the drug war currently plaguing much of Mexico, and succeeds in one general aspect - a lot of people die.

At its core ‘The Cartel’ is a typical run-and-gun shooter and contains the subgenre’s customary traits: a fast-paced but poorly developed plot, belligerent artificial intelligence that often cause more headaches than challenges, copious amounts of gory death, and that one nonsensical action scene that makes you swear so bad that the Queen’s blood would curdle.

Thankfully ‘The Cartel’ adapts this formula more efficiently than its most recent counterpart, the abysmal “Duke Nukem Forever” - but not by much.

The two previous “Call of Juarez” titles took place in the rugged, shoot first and ask questions later, American West. While it may be challenging to locate a dedicated fan base for the games, their interesting characters made the other fallacies dismissible for a short period of time.

Despite how compelling ‘The Cartel’ tries to make its three playable characters, they’re simply more one-dimensional than a GEICO commercial.

You get to choose from the crack-shot FBI agent, Kim Evans, a murder beat police detective, Ben McCall, and DEA agent, Eddie Guerra.

Most of the action takes place in gang-ridden California slums branded as the “new wild west,” and each of these characters has a personal investment in the bloody streets.

The three characters are able to covertly steal items in order to achieve personal agendas, which slightly increase their experience points and unlocks new weapons. Kim hopes to seize enough illegal firearms to fill an evidence locker by herself, Eddie sells illegal narcotics to pay off an intense booking debt, and Ben has to pay child support.

Each character will adventure off in order to locate the shiny hidden items, but another character is able to catch the theft in the act and cause a loss or gain of experience. This idea seemed novel at first, but was implemented pretty poorly and doesn’t have enough gain or risk to warrant paying any attention to it.

Another distraction for the experience is the lack of cohesion between subtitles and what is actually being said. Frequent misspellings and subtitles not matching what’s being said are common and really detract from any sort of a polished feel.

Actually, polished isn’t a term that should be used with this game. The previous “Call of Juarez” titles had better graphics, despite ‘The Cartel’s’ new engine, the menu is incredibly dull and unattractive, driving scenarios are often not fun and a pain, and the cover system may as well not exist.

A lot of the charm found within the first two “Call of Juarez” titles has disappeared within ‘The Cartel.’

The uninteresting characters, poor story, overlooked editing, and ugly menu, certainly make this game a forgettable experience.

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