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Video Game / Call of Juarez: The Cartel

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"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.

Techland were not happy with how this game turned out and had it removed from all online distribution, including Steam, possibly in order to make people think that this game never happened.

Tropes found in the game:

  • Affirmative Action Girl: Agent Kim Evans, who is stated to have joined the FBI through an outreach program.
  • A.K.A.-47: Averted, unlike in the previous games of the series, as all the guns are given real names (or very, very close to them, in the case of the "AS-12" and "K416") 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.
  • Artistic License – Law: The game has you saving a group of American female sex workers being sex trafficked into Mexico, but per statistics in reality, most Human Traffickers go for poor and destitute women in developing countries and ship them to richer countries, otherwise it would attract too much police and media attention.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Characters routinely use the phrase "oro o la chiganda" - gold or damn it. However, the original phrase, coined by Pablo Escobar himself, is "plata o plomo" - silver or lead, and is one of the most well-known phrases used by the cartels to indicate "accept the bribe, or you'll be sorry".
  • 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.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Revolvers are this for anyone other than Ben. The more powerful ones kill in one shot, but Ben is the only character who bothers to use a speedloader. Kim and Eddie have to load each bullet by hand, making their reload time impractically long.
    • Sniper rifles kill in one shot and can let you pick off enemies from outside the effective range of their guns, but you'll almost never find any ammo for them in any of the levels.
    • Shotguns likewise suffer from a lack of available ammo (some enemies carry shotguns and will drop shotgun ammo, but they are extremely rare), as well as the usual limited range.
  • 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 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:
    • 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.
  • Car Chase Shoot-Out: The game begins In Medias Res with a chaotic car chase in the middle of Los Angeles, before the game goes 3 weeks back in time to show what exactly led up to such a clusterfuck, and then makes you fight through the entire chase properly once the story catches up.
  • Cold Sniper: Kim has a stat proficiency in sniper rifles, cutscenes usually show her wielding a Dragunov, and one or two missions have her going off on her own to either give sniper support to the other two or testing a sniper rifle at a gun deal the group is infiltrating.
  • 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 - he even dresses the part and specializes in the revolvers.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • Kim Evans and Eddie Guerrera. 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 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, will rarely (if ever) actually fire them at enemies, 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.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Eddie Guerra is an Iraqi War vet turned Dirty Cop.
  • Guns Akimbo: All the characters can do this with pistols. Eddie's special ability is that he can also dual-wield SMGs, although due to a glitch the other characters can sometimes dual-wield an SMG with a pistol too.
  • 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.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Tougher-than-average enemies equipped with M60 machine guns appear very rarely throughout the game. They can take several bullets to bring down, compared to just a couple shots for standard Mooks. They can even resist headshots. The most noticeable ones are the PMC heavy soldiers that appear at the end Chapter 12, Fort Juarez.
  • How We Got Here: The 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 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, 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.
  • Last Episode Theme Reprise: If you go for the bad ending, the final shootout against your 2 teammates is set to a dramatic, actionized version of the Call of Juarez title theme complete with a One-Woman Wail that kicks in after a couple of minutes.
  • 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: The 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.
  • Naughty Narcs: The resident DEA operative Eddie Guerra is a gambler and quite obviously shady. That said, the game eventually presents the resident FBI agent in equally negative light, contrary to the usual portrayal of that agency.
  • New Old West: The setting for The Cartel on paper. In practice, the game mostly takes place in the streets of L.A., though moving towards and then across the border in the final levels.
  • New Work, Recycled Graphics: The game uses quite a few assets from other Techland projects, such as weapon animations and NPC animations taken from Dead Island.
  • 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.
  • Nostalgia Level: Juarez's fort, which serves as an endgame level in both of the previous games, is briefly visited during Chapter 12, but you only fight through a small section of it since after more than a hundred years the place is in significant disrepair. Your teammates even comment on bulletholes still left over from the previous games.
  • 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 is The Heart and Eddie Guerrera is The Smart Guy.
  • Real Is Brown: Like Bound in Blood, the graphics in The Cartel have the "coffee filter" appearance that's typical of many games from the time period, in contrast to the very colorful first and fourth games in the series.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The classic Dirty Harry Model 29 .44 magnum revolver kills in one shot to the upper torso and the PPC revolver and Raging Bull revolver both kill in one shot to anywhere on the body. However, Ben is the only one who can use them practically, as only he uses speedloaders (Kim and Eddie have to load each bullet individually by hand and thus have ridiculous reload times).
  • Sassy Black Woman: Kim Evans.
  • Shout-Out: One of the achievements is called "The Border Crossed Us".
  • 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; when Jessica calls them on this, Eddie describes the DEA (him) and the FBI (Kim) as "water and fucking oil", with the LAPD (Ben) as the match. They can even end up turning against one another in the ending.
  • 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.
  • Unique Enemy: The Heavily Armored Mook enemy type is extremely rare, and also not really tough enough that they stand out enough to notice.
  • Universal Ammo: Ammo is simply divided into pistol, rifle, shotgun, and sniper rifle. Everything from a .44 magnum to a 9mm semi-auto will use the same pistol ammo; likewise a 9mm submachine gun, 5.56mm assault rifle, and M60 machine gun all use the same rifle ammo.
  • The Vietnam Vet: Antonio Alvarez, Patrick Stone, and Ben McCall are veterans of Vietnam.