Call of Juarez is one of the few franchises that has always eluded me. Over the years, I always heard the games were pretty solid and worth picking up in a Steam sale, but I just never got round to it. Cue the Call of Juarez: Gunslinger port for Switch.
While it certainly isn’t the highest profile port in the past few years, I honestly think it’s one of the more interesting ones. Thanks to Techland adding in a number of tweaks and making use of the Switch’s unique features, this is more than a simple port of the shooter.
Just like the original release, you find yourself in the leather spur boots of Silas Greaves, a wanderer through the Wild West who’s been wronged by some of the most infamous cowboys of the late 1800s. His journey of revenge and redemption forms the main bulk of the narrative, driving you across America and from one gunfight to another.
Outside of the fantastic Doom series revival, there aren’t many arcade shooters anymore, with realistic wargame trumping the simple fun of trying to rack combos together or chain head shots. Gunslinger manages to feel a little outdated because of this (which is no surprise given it’s 2013 release date), but it also feels like a breath of fresh air. The game as a concept is an unusual juxtaposition that shows how much gaming has evolved in the past seven years, and how arcade shooters of this nature have largely been left in the past in the past.
My favourite addition to the Switch port of Gunslinger is its implementation of motion controls. I would normally scoff at motion controls in an FPS, as I find it’s often a frustrating affair that requires lots of fiddling and shaky aiming to get it right, but developers Techland has managed to get it spot on.
The game handles this differently depending on how you’re playing the game. If your Switch is docked to a TV and your playing wirelessly, the sensitivity to the motion tracking feels much higher, almost to the extent that you could play the game without using the right analogue stick, like a good old waggle-shooter from the Wii’s heyday. Personally, this didn’t gel with me due to just how shaky my aiming was, but the option is there for you to try.
In handheld, it’s the more common form of motion controlled aiming found in Switch shooters. This pushes the analog sticks to the foreground, relying more on the Switch motion tracking to let you make minor adjustments. With the console in hand, tilting it as a whole, it just works excellently well.
I can not stress enough just how fun this addition is. The run and gun gameplay of Gunslinger mixed with the physical action of aiming the Switch itself is a delight to experience and it stands as one of the best additions to a port I’ve seen so far. When you consider players are rewarded for chaining shots together and playing well, there’s some real depth to how much you could get out of this if you wanted to.
HD rumble is almost implemented on a lesser scale during Gunslinger’s showdowns. You face one (and sometimes two) opponents in a face-to-face showdown in which both participants must defeat one another by showing who can reach for their gun the fastest. The HD rumble gives you a better sense how good your aim is and provides cues about your opponent. This doesn’t change gameplay much, but it is a nice feature to support, nonetheless.