Call of Juarez is an intriguingly action-packed shooter coming to us early in 2006 from Techland. Drawing its layered core influences from gaming’s relatively untapped Wild West, and built around Techland’s Chome engine, the game is a serious attempt to wrestle some of the spotlight from the usual sway of first-person releases.
1) Before we start can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
My name is Pawel Zawodny and I’m the producer of Call of Juarez. Greetings to all GamersHell readers!
2) Is Call of Juarez an outdoor shooter, indoor shooter, or a mix of both? If both, what will the player see the most of in that respect?
The game’s basic plot and the player’s actions make best use of both open spaces and indoors. Thus, we can appreciate the scenery of the wild and realistic landscapes, venture through the back alleys of small towns or explore buildings recreated down to the tiniest details. I’d say that the ratio of open to indoor action is around 60/40.
3) Since it’s a Wild West game, can you elaborate on the different types of levels and characters we will be seeing?
Let me start off by saying that the Wild West genre has the potential to show off many intriguing new gameplay elements. I’ll bet anyone can remember some of the memorable moments from various western movies, like gun duels, horseback chases and combat, bank and train stints, the good, the bad and the ugly… Since no one has really come up with a serious first-person ‘shooter’ set in the gold rush era, we believe that players will find something fresh and innovative in our game. Not only that, but Call of Juarez brings some completely new elements to the table!
First of all, the plot is told from the perspective of not one but two protagonists, who are characterized by different values, motives, and goals. Gamers will take on the role of either ruthless preacher Ray, or petty thief Billy, who’s trying to get away from Ray. A series of events has crossed their paths, which resulted in an intriguing and fascinating plot, the solving of which will require precision shooting, cunning and, at times, the knowledge of the art of avoiding confrontation.
This is the most important feature—having two game heroes means that each of them has different challenges poised on slightly different maps. Ray prefers open combat and brutal force, so his levels are reminiscent of classic first-person shooters—many opponents and multiple gunfights (with standard Wild West weaponry, of course) both indoors and outdoors. Billy—who seeks to avoid confrontation—dodges attacks, prefers to run and generally sneak around problems that he will encounter mostly in open spaces, allowing us to showcase the whole plethora of impressive physics effects.
Aside from the level variation, which depends on the player characters, the gameplay itself in subsequent missions will also be varied. You’ll have maps that focus on duels and shootouts, horseback pursuits, and train stickups.
Thanks to the extensive physics simulation model for all the in-game objects, every freestanding item can be used as a potential weapon. The innovative fire and smoke simulation systems and the ability to change any given object’s qualities (like flammability) allow players to use their imagination to get out of harm’s way (like using a smoke barrier to shield yourself from enemy fire when you’re overwhelmed) or to kill the enemies (you can set a barn on fire, forcing the bandits out, or keeping them in by barricading the doors).
All in all, these features result in incredibly varied gameplay and an unlimited freedom in choosing the means of fighting and advancing to the next level.
4) Do the A.I. enemies use any tactics to gain an advantage over the player? Do they communicate at all or run around an object to attack from behind?
Half-Life 2 proved that FPS players can have a lot of fun not only with shooting, but solving physical puzzles as well. However, a proper shooter game requires the combat to be both intriguing and playable at the same time. This can be achieved by introducing easy to use weapons, proper balancing, and smart opponents. We know that these features greatly influence how the game sells, so we put a lot of effort into getting the A.I. just right. In Call of Juarez the enemies not only hide behind objects, but use every chance they get to ambush you, attack you from the back, hide in buildings, call for reinforcements, and cooperate with one another. The best example of this is when a group of bandits runs away from you, leaving a few of their men behind to hold you off while they seek a good spot for an ambush. Just like the player, the A.I. opponents can use items in their immediate surroundings for combat. The A.I. can set a narrow passage on fire, or the whole building, or barricade the doors or even shoot your horse.
5) Can you use the whip to knock the gun from an opponent’s hand?
The whip is one of the key elements of the game. It’s a fine weapon and a very useful tool. You can assault enemies with it, knock them to the ground, or knock out their guns. Aside from the fact that the whip is a great offensive weapon, the player will also be able to use it to get to inaccessible ledges or rock outcrops, disable traps, and leap over large crevices—like Indiana Jones. You’ll be able to grab objects from a distance and hurl them at the bandits.
6) Will there be any classic showdowns, where you take 15 paces, turn, and fire?
Our script is more European, so to speak, so the duels are more similar to how the nobles used to duke it out. In the Wild West, duels were governed by a number of rules and rituals, taking place at high noon in the center of town. The gunslingers would face each other, pressing their hands to their sides but not actually touching their weapons. It was a great battle of nerves—if you couldn’t face the pressure of standing eye-to-eye with death, you lost. The key elements included a stone gaze and incredible reflexes, a good aim, and, of course, luck. In Call of Juarez we created a special ‘one-on-one’ showdown system, which requires the player to have a good reflex and concentration. We kept everything very intuitive, which makes the gameplay even more attractive.
7) What types of weapons can we expect to see?
We wanted to make a realistic game, so each weapon is a very historically accurate replica of the real thing. First of all, we have a whole arsenal of classic six shooters—Frontier, Peacemaker, Walker and Schofield colts, among others. Each one will also be available in a number of variants with different parameters (for example, older rusted models will jam or shoot over a shorter distance). We also have the Winchester M86 and Remington DB (including a ‘sawn-off’ version), which represent the higher-caliber weapons available in the game. On top of that, players will get to shoot around with the powerful Gatling Gun. You’ll also get bonus weapons—all in all, you’ll have 10 guns to choose from, and that’s not including all the variations.
We also have other types of weapons, like tomahawks, knifes, and the aforementioned whip. You can also use any object in the game as a weapon, or in your self-defense.
8) What will be available in the multiplayer department? Coop?
Coop is what makes the Call of Juarez multiplayer mode particularly attractive. Missions will require the teams to achieve various goals. Western fans will be happy to hear that we’ve based many of these scenarios on classic western movies, allowing you to play some of the best-known characters and situations of that era (such as the train robbery at Wilcox, Wyoming, 2 June 1899 with Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid). Thanks to horseback cowboys-and-indians duels, bank robberies and saloon brawls, you certainly won’t be bored!
9) What are some scenarios we will see in the game? Horse chases? Drunken fist fights? Train robberies?
We think that the Wild West setting is full of various ideas for a game, mainly due to the fact that a lot of the myths from that era have been amplified by movies, allowing us to take virtual entertainment to a new level. In result, Call of Juarez has all the elements you mention, and multiple other features—which I mentioned earlier. You’ll get to chase bandits on horseback and fight between the saddles, take part in chaotic bar brawls (accompanied by the sounds of broken glass), rob trains, siege a fort, free farmers captured by bandits, and hunt in the forests for wild animals.
Ah…as you can see, the possibilities of the Wild West setting are endless for a developer.
10) Is there anything else you would like to say before we sign off?
Call of Juarez will be the first ‘serious’ game placed in the Wild West setting. We think that it will bring a breath of fresh air to the market, dominated for years now by countless WWII games.
In closing I’d like to thank all GamersHell visitors for reading. We’ll remember you when we are publishing new Call of Juarez materials and demos soon.
Many thanks to Pawel for giving his time to answer our questions so thoroughly. Look to GamersHell for more Call of Juarez coverage as its release approaches.