Fight through the Wild West in 'Call of Juarez' prequel

Most first-person shooters take place in a futuristic world, involving fighting against aliens, mechanical warriors and other hellish creatures.

There are exceptions, such as the first three Call of DutyWorld War II-themed games, but for every one of these historical titles there are a dozen sci-fi shooters, including games like Halo,Half-Life,Doom,Dead Space,Bioshock and Left 4 Dead.

Now, get ready to return to the Wild West in Ubisoft's Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, an epic gun-slinging adventure that begins during intense Civil War battles in Georgia and then takes you on a lawless journey into Mexico to seek a fabled treasure.

In this prequel to 2006's Call of Juarez, you play as one of two McCall brothers, Ray and Thomas, by selecting which sibling before the start of the mission. Each man has his own story, personality and motivations — which come out during the high-quality cinematic sequences — and each has his own abilities, too. Ray, the older brother, is stronger and can kick open doors, shoot two revolvers simultaneously and carry heavy objects. Thomas, on the other hand, is agile and can climb obstacles easily, lasso objects and use a bow from afar. Throughout the blood-soaked story there will be times when the brothers will need to work together, such as Thomas helping his brother onto a rooftop or Ray clearing the way with a quick trigger finger so Thomas can perform a function.

Shooting rifles, tossing dynamite or using throwing knives are all intuitive for both the console and PC versions of the game, plus the game has some stationary weapons including Gatling guns, cannons and such. Accurate shots build up your Concentration meter, which allows you to slow down time temporarily and then tag multiple enemies with your crosshairs. When you're done, let go and watch as all targets are taken out.

This seedy tale of greed, corruption and redemption is fleshed out well, and features many memorable scenes, skirmishes and set pieces. As one might expect, Bound in Blood includes many Wild West hallmarks including saloon shootouts, horse and wagon chases, bandit duels and interaction with American Indians. The game is gorgeous thanks to high-definition graphics, special effects (such as explosions) and movie-like "camera" angles.

While the single-player campaign is on the short side — roughly six or seven hours or so — playing as a different brother per mission will change things up a bit. There are also varying difficulty levels and five multiplayer modes (each with special maps) for online-only play.

Whether or not you've played the first Call of Juarez game, Bound in Blood proves to be a fun and gratifyingly immersive adventure that should make you feel like you're living as an outlaw before the frontier was tamed.

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