Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Key events

Techland insists Hellraid isn't cancelled

Techland insists Hellraid isn't cancelled

Dying Light passes 4.5m players, and Call of Juarez could return.

Dying Light developer Techland has assured me dark fantasy action game Hellraid has not been cancelled. Development has been "frozen" but may be thawed as soon as third quarter this calendar year.

CEO Pawel Marchewka also told me Dying Light has 4.5 million unique users, the last count being 3.2 million mid-March. That doesn't strictly equal sales, but more on that and Dying Light - and the future Call of Juarez - later.

Hellraid first. "No no no," Marchewka responded at Polish games conference Digital Dragons when I asked if the game had been cancelled - it had been ominously announced as "on hold" only hours before.

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Xbox 360 vs. PS3 Face-Off: Round 21

Xbox 360 vs. PS3 Face-Off: Round 21

Wolf, BF1943, Virtua Tennis, Juarez, GI Joe, Fight Night, UFC, Overlord II.

The cross-platform console games having been gradually piling up over the summer, and it's about time the decks were cleared to best ready ourselves for the upcoming Q4 gaming tsunami. On this particular occasion, eight recent titles are put to the test, including our very first multi-format PSN/XBLA face-off.

As is the norm, the analyses are backed up with a comprehensive range of assets: full 24-bit RGB framebuffer dumps of each game (including 1080p shots where supported on PS3), embedded comparison videos using the very best in h264 compression, along with new high-definition clickthroughs in order to get the full picture. These Eurogamer Face-Off features have been gradually evolving over time, and once more the range of available data has increased: discrete frame-rate and v-sync readings have been added to the HD videos.

Onto the gaming line-up then:

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UK chart: Ashes bats away competition

As Madden NFL 10 thunders in.

Codemasters' Ashes Cricket 2009 scores a second week atop the UK All-Formats chart, batting Nintendo stars Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit to two and three, respectively.

UK charts: Fight Night still undefeated

Juarez and Tiger mount challenge.

Fight Night Round 4 remains undefeated at the top of the UK All-Formats chart for a second week, out-punching competition from sibling newcomer Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10.

Call of Juarez DLC on the way

For a few dollars more. Probably.

Is Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood going to be supported by downloadable content? According to whispers from a Polish press event, most definitely.

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Western decadence.

Once again - at least until Rockstar San Diego tries to bring the cows home with Red Dead Redemption - it falls to Europeans to keep the fine traditions of the Wild West squarely in the crosshairs of popular culture. Just as Italy and Spain did in the spaghetti western films of the sixties and seventies, now an unlikely collaboration between Poland and France - in the form of developer Techland and publisher Ubisoft - is turning out videogames that capture the grit, machismo and melancholy lyricism of the USA's creation myth better than any American studio seems able.

A couple of years ago, Call of Juarez delivered its mix of stealth, six-shooting and pioneer melodrama with bible-bashing, fire-and-brimstone fervour. Of its two leads, vigilante preacher Reverend Ray undoubtedly stole the show, with his "concentration mode" quick-draw skills and crazed, throaty admonishments from the scriptures. It was an uneven game, but had the authentic tang of frontier madness that made it a great western.

The sequel is more confident, but perhaps more conservative. Techland understands that Ray was the most interesting thing about Call of Juarez, but misunderstands what made him so, in a slightly worthy attempt to trace his roots and tell his origin story as a fighter in the civil war and then a bandit on the run with his two brothers. The majority of Bound in Blood is thus a straight-shooting tale of outlaw anti-heroes chasing after treasure and fighting over a woman, and although it's still a well-spun yarn with a fantastic sense of place and time, it doesn't quite have the same fire in its belly.

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You could argue that the Wild West is a tough sell for a videogame. It may have been the reliable staple of action-packed kids' entertainment for years, but those who grew up daydreaming of cowboys were doing so long before the joypad made an appearance. Kids today - and by kids, I refer to most people under the age of 40 - seemingly all grew up wanting to be tormented superheroes, homoerotic space marines or superstars of reality TV. Where's the room for a Western adventure in that?

Ubisoft doing Call of Juarez prequel

Techland to deliver this year.

Ubisoft has announced a prequel to Wild West shooter Call of Juarez and plans to release it on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 sometime this year - presumably the latter part, this being the first we've heard of the game.