Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

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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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This week on Outside Xbox

All hail our new robotic overlord!

This week on Outside Xbox, we saw the face of a new generation: the device Microsoft hopes will define our entertainment habits for the next 10 years. It looked like a VCR from the future for watching American sports. That's not to say the Xbox One won't have games, only that the TV-centric reveal event was short on buzz if you were hoping to catch some new videogames.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger review

Following Call of Juarez's ill-advised ride into a modern day setting in 2011's The Cartel - a game that was, at best, culturally insensitive, with its facetious take on the contemporary drug wars in Mexico - we're back to the stirrups and sunsets of the series' spaghetti western beginnings. Techland's series has in the past offered one of the better Call of Duty clones, but in the context of download gaming, where the emphasis is on leanness of ideas and execution, there's a fizzy pungency that was hitherto lacking.

Nevertheless, the debt owed to Infinity Ward's Modern Warfare titles remains vast. The games share an almost exact feel. Muscle memory learned in one translates to the other button for button - even if the set dressing is entirely different. Tanks are recast as station wagons, grenades are regressed to hurled sticks of dynamite, while more resourceful enemies wield heavy barn doors instead of the modern Juggernaut's polymer riot shield. Gone are the crimson smears around the screen's edges that indicate when your character is wounded, replaced by gunshot holes that temporarily rupture the glass, obscuring your view. But in the basic exchange between player input and on-screen output, Gunslinger fits the hand like a well-worn cowboy glove.

Higher tiers of ideas and systems upset the routine of this increasingly dusty first-person shooter template. As you keel enemy shooters off these sand-bruised rooftops, you earn experience points that unlock skills that can be spent on upgrading your weapons and abilities. Augments are split into three groupings, which broadly correlate to your three firearms: pistol, shotgun and rifle. The wide array of skills on offer allows you to alter the game's tempo and character in discernible ways as, for example, you learn how to dual wield shotguns, reload your guns while sprinting, steady your aim, slow time when aiming down the iron-sights, or how to shoot thrown bundles of dynamite, exploding them mid-air. Your chosen allocation of points demands changes to your tactics, meaning one playthrough can differ significantly from another.

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VideoGunslinger brings glory to the Call of Juarez series

Come have a look at how Ubisoft and Techland have reinvented the series in our video preview.

Happy Techland day! We've already brought you word of the studio's latest release Dead Island Riptide, and it's everything you'd expect of the Polish developer. That is it's a little shabby, a little bland but with a big heart.

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger Preview: Putting The Horse Before The Cartel

Call of Juarez: Gunslinger Preview: Putting The Horse Before The Cartel

The ornery first-person shooter returns to its roots.

Let's not talk about The Cartel, eh? Let's wipe it from our minds, like a storm cloud on a summer's day or a drunken tumble down a very long flight of stairs. Instead, let's mosey over to Gunslinger. I say mosey, of course, because I'm a useless cretin, and because the latest Call of Juarez game takes the series back to the Old West where it belongs. Varmint.

It also takes it to download services, with a streamlined campaign that drops you into the dusty shoes of a grizzled and ancient bounty hunter. He's been all over the wild plains, by the looks of it, and the game's central conceit sees him washed up and doddery in a bar, telling his life story to a bunch of whores and vagabonds. (Maybe he's in Sittingbourne?)

Luckily, you only play the good bits, leaping into his memories whenever he mentions a famous - and pleasantly copyright free - hero from the golden days of fightin' and fumin'. Cameos will include the likes of Butch Cassidy and Billy the Kid, and you'll either be going after their hides in the name of frontier justice or blasting away at marshals alongside them in the name of slightly more complex frontier justice. Either way, frontier justice will prevail, which is good news for everyone.

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New Call of Juarez announced

New Call of Juarez announced

Gunslinger going straight to the wild, wild west.

Ubisoft's lifted the lid on another installment of its long-running Call of Juarez series - and Gunslinger, a downloadable title set for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC, goes back to the series' period roots.

Gunslinger promises to integrate some of the most famous names of the American frontier into the game, with characters such as Billy the Kid, Jesse James and Pat Garett (no, not that one) all featuring as marks in the game.

There's a new flourish in Call of Juarez's trademark gunplay as well, with the slo-mo concentration mode now granting the ability to dodge bullets as well as deal them out. It's going to be on display at Ubisoft's Digital Day in Paris that's taking place today, and Chris Donlan's on the ground to bring you more details as he gets them.

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