I'll be honest. I never got into the call of Juarez series. I only looked into this game because I saw it in an online top 10... and I'm glad I did! Ubisoft did something almost no FPS does, particularly a certain series by EA that's released with incredibly few changes every year...
This game told me a STORY. Literally. I love the fact that as I'm playing, the protagonist is actually narrating. I love it when he goes back and changes the story and thus changes the structure of the level. The shooting isn't particularly difficult. Like most modern shooters, Call of Juarez Gunslinger utilizes the same "Regenerating health" model pioneered by Halo. Even when you do die (and you'll die a lot, as despite regenerating health, you don't have much to start with), you won't go back very far, plus you won't have to listen to the same voiceover again and again since he won't continue the story until you get to the next line of dialog.
The cell-shaded graphics are beautiful to look at: bright and colorful even when you're in the middle of a ghost town in the dead of night. Everything's smoothe and runs quickly. It goes to prove a game's graphics don't HAVE to be hyper-realistic in order to immerse you.
There are a couple intriguing mechanics to talk about. Most notable is the "concentration" system. By killing foes along your path, you build up a "concentration" gauge. At any time, you can press the appropriate button and enter concentration mode, where your enemies are highlighted, and time slows down. A few quick shots will build up your score multiplyer quick, particularly as you become adept at headshots! The second mechanic is the "death sense" mechanic. After your character has cheated death for a short amount of time, this gauge fills up and will let you dodge a bullet which might otherwise be lethal... provided you hit the right button of course. Finally, most chapters end with a "duel," a classic, spaghetti western-style duel in which you and a famous gunhand (like Sheriff Pat Garett, for example) each get a single shot to find out who lives or dies. Points are scored more highly if you let him draw his gun first, but you can always cheat and draw yours as soon as you're ready.
A few RPG elements are lightly sprinkled throughout the game, as you can build your character into a long-range fighter, a close-range juggernaut, or even a dual-wielding desperado gunslinger. Exploring those options is a delight in itself, so I won't spoil them with this review.
The weapons selection is basic western fare, with a selection of pistols and rifles, and the occasional stick of dynamite filling out your arsenal. But honestly? That's all you need. Most of the attention is on the story, and you feel powerful enough without having a BFG equivallent loading you down.
I haven't even finished the game yet, but I already love it so much, I had to sit down and write this review. I bought it for $20, and it's absolutely worth the money. So if you like shooters, and you like westerns, I'd absolutely recommend Call of Juarez Gunslinger.