Wild West plot for ‘Bound in Blood’

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 27, 2009

By Chris Campbell
Scripps Howard News Service
“Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood”
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
Genre: Shooter
Publisher: Ubisoft
ESRB rating: M, for Mature
Grade:PPPP (out of 5)
Considering the lack of games set in the Wild West and featuring old-fashioned shootouts at high noon, the original “Call of Juarez” was a welcome, if imperfect, action game from several years back. Ubisoft saw enough promise to make a second game, and, luckily, gamers are rewarded with “Bound in Blood.” It makes vast improvements.
The McCall brothers are back, and you get to play as both Ray and Thomas. Since “Bound in Blood” is a prequel, you’ll see how their characters developed into the original’s hardscrabble gunners.
Ray is for the run-and-gun crowd. He wields two high-strength six-shooters; close-quarters shootouts are his bread and butter. Thomas is his perfect complement, the more skilled assassin from a distance. While he can get up close and personal, he’s better as a rifleman who can attack targets from perched positions and make Ray’s efforts easier.
The game is disappointingly short, considering all it has to offer in visual richness and varying game-play styles. The levels change from ghost towns to shady Mexican jungles to religious temples. No matter what the set piece, the game delivers beautiful textures and effects. “Bound in Blood” has a cinematic aura from start to finish.
What the game lacks in story-mode length, it makes up for it with fun multiplayer games. Gamers can customize each session by choosing from different characters.The game may be short, but it packs a punch. Gamers shouldn’t hesitate to head out to the Old West.
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
Platforms: Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, PS2, PSP, DS
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: EA Games
ESRB rating: E, for Everyone
Grade:P 1/2 stars
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to movie-themed games, EA churns out a lackluster new “Harry Potter” game. It’s a reminder that sometimes companies bet good development money on the likelihood of making it back from overeager families.
The game suffers from a poor story, ineffective mini-games and aimless game play that relies on wandering the halls of Hogwarts.
Unless you have read the book or seen the movie, you won’t follow the plot easily. I didn’t read any of the novels, so my knowledge comes from the films. Otherwise, there would be little I could discern from the game’s so-called plot.
The main story has you wandering around the wizard school looking for things to do, like compete in mini-games or mix potions. If you like the new brand of Wii cooking-themed games, then mixing potions will make perfect sense. Younger gamers familiar with “Cooking Mama” and similar franchises will probably have fun with it.
However, everything else falls flat. The mini-games are too easy and provide zero depth to the game itself. Nothing about the scenarios ó from playing Quidditch games to dueling with other students ó feels fluid. All your actions are pretty much scripted, happiness and satisfaction be damned.”Harry Potter” will probably make a bundle for EA Games, but it’s a shame that a game based on wizards offers no real magic.