Video Game: Call of Juarez: The Cartel
"Times have changed since the Old West—yet nothing has changed. Where once men fought over gold, now they kill for money, drugs, and guns. There is a fine line between upholding the law and being ABOVE the law. The cartels are the new outlaws—they said an army of good cops couldn't take them down... so I said, why not send in a few BAD cops?"
"Welcome to the New Wild West."
— Ben McCall, Call of Juarez: The Cartel trailer
Less a sequel and more of a Spiritual Successor
to Call of Juarez
and Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood
, The Cartel
moves the setting into the modern day
and criminal underdealings in Mexico and East LA. The new protagonists are Ben McCall, a Cowboy Cop
from LA and great-grandson of Billy Candle; Kim Evans, a tough Action Girl
from the FBI; and Eddie Guerra, a Card Sharp
working for the DEA. They investigate a terrorist attack orchestrated by the eponymous drug cartel and kick a lot of ass. Features the Co-Op Multiplayer
mode that the previous title strangely lacked, allowing teams to control up to all three characters at once.
Tropes found in the game:
- A.K.A.-47: Averted, unlike in the previous games of the series, as all the guns are given real names and are modeled closely after their real-life counterparts.
- Artificial Stupidity: AI partners will not do anything other than shoot bad guys with their default guns. They will never pick up a better weapon. The player has to do everything, even mission objectives that were designed for cooperation.
- Ascended Meme: A famous video from Bound in Blood discusses "Ladder Goat", a goat that, due to some odd coding, can levitate up and down ladders. In The Cartel you get an achievement for finding a hidden DVD: "Ladder Goat - The Movie".
- As the Good Book Says: Carrying on with Ray's tradition, Ben uses pseudo-biblical one-liners whenever he activates Bullet Time.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Cartel leader Juan Mendoza and Corrupt Corporate Executive Michael Duke, as well as Assistant Deputy Director Shane Dickson acting as Mendoza's partner inside the Justice Department, and Psycho for Hire Antonio Alvarez playing all sides against each other for his own advantage.
- Big Sister Instinct: Kim in Cartel is very protective of her last surviving younger brother, Deon. Her intro cutscene shows Kim using her authority as an FBI agent to prevent Deon from imprisonment due to a DEA drug sting, and she asked Ben to jail Deon for public intoxication to prevent him from getting caught in the crossfire of a gang war setup.
- Bittersweet Ending: The "good" ending: Alvarez testifies to Dickson's involvement with the Cartel, resulting in her being arrested. However, the team wasn't able to prevent Jessica from being killed, Alvarez gets immunity from his crimes due to his testimony, and Kim and Eddie both turn out to be dirty and are arrested at the end as well.
- Black and Grey Morality:
- In Cartel all three main characters have their own personal agendas: Eddie owes a lot of people money and runs a network of street dealers selling drugs for him to pay it back, Kim tries to cover up Alvarez being a mole for the FBI and kills a retired FBI agent who may or may not have been working for the cartel, Ben McCall is the most "moral" of the group, and he's engaged in petty theft against criminals to help pay for a child's medical expenses, as well as willing to kill Alvarez regardless of how many lives are lost in the process.
- It's also ambiguously implied that Eddie and Kim may have been complicit in Jessica Stone's murder, Eddie due to his heavy debt and Kim in order to protect Alvarez.
- Playing through the campaign as all 3 characters will reveal that Eddie Guerra was very nearly a Villain Protagonist; he was The Mole and helped the Cartel kidnap Jessica Stone, because they had purchased his gambling debts. He also set up his drug dealer/informant Flaco to be killed by the Cartel to silence him. In the finale, he doesn't give a damn about justice and just wants to steal all of the Cartel's money and start a new life for himself. Kim, in contrast, was actually an idealistic Good Cop and really an Unwitting Pawn who was Just Following Orders... she murdered the FBI agent because the corrupt FBI director had (most likely falsely) told her he was a Cartel assassin, and while she was actively protecting Alvarez she didn't know just how murderous he was, including his intention to kill Jess.
- Bullet Time: All the main characters can now do this with any weapon.
- Cold Sniper: Kim has a stat proficiency in sniper rifles, cutscenes usually show her wielding a Dragunov, and she frequently snarks back to her teammates.
- Combat Stilettos: Kim spends The Cartel engaging in gunfights while wearing a pair of high heel boots.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Michael Duke, the CEO of Private Military Contractor Peacekeepers International. He started supplying the Mendoza cartel with high-end firearms after PI went bankrupt. Shane Dickson turns out to be one as well.
- Cowboy Cop: Ben McCall, figuratively and literally.
- Dirty Cop:
- Kim Evans and Eddie Guerrera in Cartel. Both have their own agendas to pursue; Eddie steals drugs to sell on the streets and Kim steals rare guns to give the F.B.I. for her own investigation and is also actively working to undermine the investigation into Alvarez in order to protect him, due to him being an FBI mole. She also kills one witness to Alvarez's crimes and it's implied she might have been complicit in Jessica Stone's killing. In comparison, Ben McCall steals wallets from gangsters to help pay for medical care for the child of one of the hookers in his jurisdiction that he's protecting. You can also get an achievement with this title by getting 15 secret items as any of three characters.
- The Cartel has a pretty dim view of federal bureaucrats performing law enforcement duties in general. Besides Task Force Director Shane Dickson being revealed as The Mole, in the endgame the FBI director and DEA director both order the assassination of the competing agency's agent.
- Death from Above: After the task force catches Juan Mendoza, the Cartel leader, Shane Dickson sends a Predator drone to silence Mendoza from testifying against her in court, as well as attempt to kill the task force since they know too much.
- Fake Difficulty: The single-player campaign of The Cartel can be like this at times, as it is balanced for 3-player co-op. If you're playing single-player, your A.I.-controlled teammates are limited to the weak starting pistol, and are unable to perform objective-based actions. This is especially a problem in scenes where you're supposed to fulfill co-op based objectives, such as two players moving bags of money against a time limit, or one player carrying the money while the other two cover them. Since your A.I. teammates are incapable of doing any of this stuff, you end up having to do it all yourself, which the game isn't balanced for.
- Guns Akimbo: All the characters can do this with pistols, though Eddie can also dual-wield SMGs.
- The Gunslinger: Ben is The Woo (specializes in dual-wielding and shotguns), Kim is The Trickshot (specializes in Sniping), while Eddie is The Vaporizer (specializes in SMGs), though you wouldn't know it if you're playing alone, since the AI never upgrades from the default pistol.
- How We Got Here: Cartel opens with a frantic chase on a freeway, and the first half of the game leads up to that point.
- Identical Grandson:
- Ben McCall in Cartel is pretty much his ancestor Ray with a bulletproof vest instead of a metal cuirass, right down to his kicking ass while reciting scripture and fear of heights.
- The leader of the Cartel is Juan "Juarez" Mendoza, who's pretty much identical to his 19th century counterpart (although he ultimately dies in a very anticlimactic manner).
- Interservice Rivalry: Between the FBI and DEA in The Cartel, to the point that a detective from the LAPD is brought in to keep the peace between the two. This goes so far that in the final level the FBI Director authorizes the assassination of the DEA agent.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Ben McCall gets Jesus to talk by threatening to hang him with a noose, and Kim, Ben and Eddie repeatedly punch and kick strip club owner Javier until he gives up the location of the missing girls.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Each character gets unique cutscenes and bonus objectives that won't be heard from the perspective of others.
- Karma Houdini: Alvarez escapes punishment for his crimes regardless of what ending you get. If you try to kill him and your partners, he uses a grenade to escape and you end up in a shootout with your partners. If you take him alive, he gets complete immunity in exchange for his testimony against Dickson. Also, if you choose to kill your partners, Shane Dickson also gets away with her crimes and even becomes promoted to director of the Justice Department, although it's implied in Kim's ending that despite her apparent success, the stress that she may one day be found out is getting to her.
- Large Ham: Michael Duke turns into one during your boss fight with him.
- The Mole: Shane Dickson.
- Mooks but No Bosses: The Cartel doesn't have any one-on-one boss fights or quickdraw duels, unlike the first two games. The closest it comes are a few fights against an enemy gunship, and the final 3-way shootout between the team members if you choose to kill them.
- Multiple Endings: Cartel has four different endings, though only one of them is "good" and you can only get that one by choosing not to kill your teammates at the very end. Interestingly, the "bad" ending for each character can only be unlocked by getting a high enough Secret Agenda score playing through the entire campaign.
- My Greatest Failure: A recording by Patrick Stone reveals that he never forgave himself for not testifying with Ben against Alvarez for the rape and murder of a Vietnamese girl. This would cause Ben to sever ties with Patrick, despite Patrick still thinking of Ben as a friend. In fact, Patrick entrusts his daughter Jessica to Ben because he's the only person Patrick can trust due to Ben's unwavering sense of justice, which makes Jessica's death sting even harder.
- New Old West: The setting for Cartel on paper. In practice, the game mostly takes place in the streets of L.A.
- Non-Action Big Bad: The Cartel leader, Juan Mendoza, doesn't take any real action throughout the entire game, and is killed in a very Anticlimax Boss fashion at the end without any real fanfare.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Each characters will blurt out one of these when they activate Concentration Mode. Ben's one-liners are bible-themed, Eddie's one-liners are gambling-themed and Kim's one-liners are generally cop-themed.
- Power Trio: Ben McCall is The Big Guy, Kim Evans it The Chick and Eddie Guerrera is The Smart Guy.
- Sassy Black Woman: Kim Evans.
- Springtime for Hitler: Jessica Stone points out that the anti-Cartel task force is so dysfunctional, and all of its members so obviously corrupt and/or crazy, that it seems like it was intentionally set up to fail. She's right. Deputy Assistant Director Shane Dickson, the head of the task force, is the Cartel's mole inside the U.S. government. Yet, despite all that, the 3 crooked cops eventually do succeed in bringing down the Cartel.
- Trapped by Gambling Debts: Eddie's primary motivation.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The trio generally do not get along well and are quite hostile towards each other due to Interservice Rivalry and each character tend to be crooked to some extent. They can even end up turning against one another in the ending.
- Unfortunate Implications: There is a level called "Gang Bang" where you go to a poorer part of L.A. to stir up a little gang violence. You can get an achievement in this level for killing 40+ people. Typical video game stuff. What's less typical is that this is the only level where every enemy is black. And it's the only level in the game where you get an achievement for racking up a certain number of kills. In other words, whether by accident or design, the game rewards you for killing black people. Yeah...
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: It's also possible to kill civilians and your teammates won't call you on it, but you will fail the mission if you kill too many.
- The Vietnam War: Antonio Alvarez, Patrick Stone, and Ben McCall are veterans of Vietnam.