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Video games have replicated myriad historical periods, recreating the likes of ancient military conflicts in strategy games and both world wars in third and first-person shooters. World War II, in particular, has long remained a favorite backdrop for first-person military shooters, and by the mid-aughts, such titles dominated the genre in nearly every conceivable way. Battlefield, Call of Duty, and Medal of Honor enjoyed great success on this front, effectively laying the foundation for all manner of copycats. But Polish developer Techland adopted a different approach when devising plans for its second stab at an FPS property.
For Call of Juarez, the studio turned to the Wild West, a period in American history whose romanticization spawned the western film genre that inspired several generations of popular culture. This iconic and resonating era surprisingly received little love within the realm of gaming, however, which further stimulated Techland’s interest in pursuing a “serious” western adventure.
While Call of Juarez never garnered much in the way of high praise, the franchise’s first two outings possessed a certain charm that many would argue dissipated as the series trotted on. The third entry, the dismally reviewed Call of Juarez: The Cartel, drew the shortest straw of them all upon failing to justify its drastic shift to a modern-day setting. And though Gunslinger—the fourth and final installment—delivered a thrilling arcade-like romp, it, not unlike the IP as a whole, faded into obscurity once the initial excitement surrounding its release wore off.
Techland has since moved on to greener pastures, its talents reinvigorating first-person action in an entirely different genre. But those who long for Old West-set exploits may fondly remember the days gone by when Call of Juarez held more promise than the Gold Rush.
This is the rise and fall of Call of Juarez.
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