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Call of Juarez: The Cartel Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Call of Juarez: The Cartel is a hodgepodge of bad ideas and performance issues. Even if you can get past the technical problems, this heavy-handed action game never quite lives up to its potential. If you have a couple friends to play with you might get some fun out of it, everybody else might want to look elsewhere for their first-person fix! Rating: 30%
Call of Juarez: The Cartel
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  • Review Score:

  • D+
Nearly a quarter century again Midway released a questionable action game called NARC. This ultra-violent arcade game had a pair of overly sensitive cops blow up anybody that even thought about picking up a crack pipe or bong. Fast forward to 2011 and here comes Call of Juarez: The Cartel, a game that seems to thrive off the killing of drug users, dealers and everybody in between. There's only one difference between this modern game and the 1988 Midway hit: NARC knew it was over-the-top, goofy fun.

Call of Juarez: The Cartel is silly for all the wrong reasons. This game tries to tackle a serious subject (the on-going drug war between the United States and Mexico), but does so in the most ham-fisted way possible. The result is a series of action sequences that start to blur together the longer you play this disappointing game. Here's an example of a product that has nothing new to say, so instead it spends all of its time trotting out clichés and nauseating machismo. Throw in some weird technical problems and you have a thoroughly disappointing game about drug trafficking.

Call of Juarez: The Cartel (Xbox 360)

This modern day Call of Juarez tells the story of a trio of tough-as-nails officers (an LAPD policeman, an FBI agent and a guy from the DEA's office) who are tasked to work together to track down the leader of Mexico's largest drug cartel. Told through news reels and taped interviews, the story takes us from the mean streets of Los Angeles to the dusty (but no less mean) roads of Ciudad Juarez. Along the way we torch marijuana plants in the hills, visit a strip club and survive tons of high speed chases. Eventually we'll make our way south of the border, where players will be treated to some very predictable plot devices.

The game is played almost entirely from the first-person perspective, so fans of modern shooters shouldn't have any problems acclimating themselves to Call of Juarez. Much like Gears of War and other squad-based games, you have a couple helpers covering your back. These characters are computer-controlled by default, but the game clearly wants you to team up with friends (or even strangers).

Call of Juarez: The Cartel (Xbox 360)

The gimmick here (if you can call it that) is the interplay between the three different cops. All three have their own specific agendas, something that comes into play as you make your way to Juarez. Sometimes this will culminate in the player being asked to choose what's best for that specific agent versus what is good for the team. For example, in one scenario you are asked if you want to arrest a suspect or kill him. This is an interesting idea, though it felt underutilized as the story played out.

In each mission the player is given a secret assignment, a task that only they know about and can perform. Usually this involves finding evidence, planting a tracking device on somebody or tampering with important information. You do this by breaking away from the pack and locating the secret objective without being seen. Complete the task and you'll get a hearty congratulation (and bonus points), fail and your partners will start to question your allegiance to the cause.
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