WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Game Review

As messy and problematic as the first two M-rated Call of Juarez games were, they both had a certain appeal thanks to their unique Wild West setting. At least in that scrub brush-and-bullets world it made a bit more sense that your character might have a six-gun strapped to his hip, ready to ride hard and take out bloodthirsty desperadoes. And with the second game, Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood, there were even interwoven themes of honor, redemption and faith.

Call of Juarez: The Cartel, however, jumps to the present day and shrugs off any of those thin scraps of charm and spiritual introspection. In fact, a central character with a familiar name and a very loose association to the famed treasure of Juarez are the only meager ties to the storylines of the past.

Meet Your Partners, Pardner
The foul-mouthed and incredibly rough-edged LAPD detective Ben McCall is an obvious descendant of the franchise's previous antiheroes. In fact, he looks much like the Bible-thumping brother from Bound in Blood. The only religion this guy has, though, is a penchant for grotesquely twisting Bible verses ("I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh, and I will bathe in the blood of my m‑‑‑‑‑f‑‑‑ing enemies") when he slips into a slo-mo, gun-blazing killing frenzy.

We meet this new age McCall after a DEA agent is brutally murdered while investigating a Mexican drug cartel. It seems there are undercover cartel moles everywhere, so Ben is handpicked to be teamed with FBI agent Kim Evans and DEA agent Eddie Guerra in an interagency task force. The authorities hope that this trio of toughies can slip in under the radar, solve the murder and bring down the powerful cartel and its drug pipeline. The idea has its problems. The three central characters don't like or even trust each other. And that's with good cause: They were designed that way.

Part of the makeup of the game is that each character has his or her own backstory and some little personal agenda to keep from the others. So as gamers play through as one of the three agents, they'll receive phone calls from outside contacts who supply plot clues as well as little secret missions that the others in their team can't know about.

These missions may involve stealing drugs, money or guns, or perhaps destroying a vehicle. If you're successful, you're paid off in experience points and gun upgrades while a few story holes are filled in. If you get caught "red-handed" in your secret quest, the teammate who catches you gets the bonus. It's an interesting new dimension to the gameplay, but pretty much pointless unless you're playing online in multiplayer mode where you and a couple of friends are filling the three main character roles and keeping an eye on one another.

Have Gu* n, Will Splatter*
That cooperative play twist aside, The Cartel is little more than a straightforward shooter. And a very messy, ugly one at that. Whether your team is out burning fields of marijuana or roughing up the occupants of a house of ill repute, it's really just level after level of bloodying bad guys with shotguns, AK-47s, pistols, bare fists and, of course, the occasional motor vehicle. You're rewarded for various types of kills: "Brain Surgery" bonuses for headshots and "Dental Work" bonuses for gunstock blows to the face are just two examples. Enemies spurt and spatter blood and leave pools of the stuff where they fall.

When the task force isn't running and gunning, you slow down just enough to deliver a few up-close-and-personal, uh, touches. You torture and interrogate one thug by tying him up with a noose around his neck to watch him dangle and gurgle before he tells you what you want to hear. And women are also part of the manhandling mix. For instance, the guys get rough and choke a stripper for answers.

Speaking of strippers, the game offers up quite a bit of nudity. Barely covered and fully nude women are regularly seen and ogled in the clubs. And the team breaks in on one informant who's naked and in the midst of sex with an equally bare-skinned woman. Camera angles obscure the digital characters' midsections, but the lens lingers on everything else.

One Last Chaw and Spit
I mentioned McCall's sacrilegiously violent mash-ups of Bible verses above, but I should also note that that's far from the only foul language on his lips. And his team's lips. And everyone else's lips. Each chapter and level is crammed with every type of profanity (both in English and Spanish) that you don't want to even imagine. F- and s-words are staples.

The end result is an "end justifies the means"-themed game that's as repetitive and one-dimensional as it is repellant. It may be that the gamemakers were attempting to bring the Call of Juarez spurs-and-saddle feel into the present day by blending the shoot-'em-up with some Saint's Row-style street grit. But I suspect that even the grimiest villains of yesteryear's Wild West would grit their teeth to dust at the comparison.

A postscript: This game has also come under fire for connecting a glorification of violence with a sour view of Mexico. "I think this should be taken very seriously, considering the large-scale demonization of Mexico and the Mexican people," says Dr. Kathleen Staudt, who teaches political science at the University of Texas at El Paso. Ricardo Boone Salmon, a congressman in Mexico's state of Chihuahua, adds, "It is true there is a serious crime situation [in Juarez], which we are not trying to hide. But we also should not expose children to this kind of scenarios so that they are going to grow up with this kind of image and lack of values."

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!