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Hunter: The Reckoning

Review By:  Nick Arvites

Developer:   High Voltage
Publisher:   Universal/Interplay
# of Players:   1-4
Genre:   Action
ESRB:   Mature
Online:   No
Accessories:   N/A
Date Posted:  

7-10-02

Sometimes I just want to sit down to a deep and involving game with a good plot like Elder Scrolls 3: Morrowind...and sometimes I just want to play a game that is so mindless that it sets the bar on the game style. Hunter: The Reckoning is not exactly a plot heavy game. In fact, the entire plot can be summed up by the phrase "kill the zombies!" While this may sound repetitive and boring, Hunter manages to make this concept work by putting an emphasis on multiplayer cooperation. Translation to the previous sentence: grab this game, grab some friends and have some fun.

Hunter: The Reckoning is based on the pen/paper RPG from White Wolf (the same people who make things like Vampire: The Masquerade). While some may say that Hunter would do better as an RPG game true to the pen/paper roots, I have to disagree. Sure, another RPG would be great to have. However, if this game were turned into an RPG-styled game, it would never escape the inevitable comparison to games like Silent Hill or Resident Evil. Instead of being a small fish in a huge pond, Hunter in this style is a huge fish in a small pond. Besides, the multiplayer feature is enough to make this one of the better games released this year.

Hunter looks fairly well in terms of graphics. Character models (player and enemies alike) are detailed and look like something you would see in a standard zombie movie. The levels are fairly large and have interesting little graphical features like fog. I did not notice any sort of graphical slowdowns. Considering that there are times when all you can see on the screen are enemies and your player character, the lack of slowdowns is a great thing. The only bright colors seen in this game are the well-done fire and explosion effects. The dark "Night of the Living Dead" atmosphere is almost perfectly created in terms of environment (a dark, foggy, semi-deserted city) and the coloring used for the levels. Sure, Hunter: the Reckoning is not on the same graphical level as some other games out there, but it still looks decent enough to be playable.

The control scheme makes perfect use of the dual analog sticks on the controller. One stick runs while the other aims. The triggers fire and jump, while the face buttons switch between standard weapons, special weapons and special powers. The dual stick feature may take a little practice, but once mastered it becomes essential to the game. By using the sticks together while attacking, players can strafe, run backwards and link melee combos. At first, the dual stick movement may seem hard, but most people can pick it up after about an hour.

As a single player game, Hunter is mediocre at best. However, Hunter is the first game to make full use of the four controller ports on the Xbox. The more players, the better this game is. One to four players can simultaneously battle the undead. The game naturally adjusts the number of enemies and strength of enemies to match the number of players playing. The cooperative play can also be turned up a notch by turning on the friendly fire mode. With this option on, players can actually damage each other during the game. This increases the difficulty and also allows players to take pot shots at a friend who isnít doing their job. However, this may not be in your best interests. There are a limited number of lives. To make matters worse, lives are pooled together with the other players. It pays to keep your friends alive and encourages teamwork instead of freelance mercenary work.

Each player character has two stock weapons. One weapon is a melee weapon while the other is a ranged weapon with unlimited ammo. Special weapons, including chainsaws and flamethrowers, can be picked up. The special weapons have limited ammunition, so it would be wise to conserve them until boss fights. Each player character has different strengths and weaknesses, much like the characters in the gauntlet games. One character is fast, one has better special weapons, one has better guns, and one has better melee attacks. Like Gauntlet, players can level skills up throughout the game. However, if another person joins an experienced player in the middle of a saved game, the new player starts at the base level.

The soundtrack is good and can fit the pace of the game. The ambient sound could have been better, but it really does not take away from the game at all. Besides, if you have more than one person playing this game, it would be better to play a CD or something in the background to enjoy yourselves.

The one glaring fault with Hunter is the length of the game. After beating it a few times, there really isnít anything that would cause you to play it again except for the multiplayer value. The harder difficulty mode is fun, but the game simply isnít long enough for my tastes.

Highs:

  • Great multi-player
  • Zombie killing action is always fun.
  • Mindless yet addictive

Lows:

  • Too short.

Final Verdict: 

This is one of the better multiplayer kill-everything-in-sight games ever made. Before this game, Gauntlet set the bar in terms of fun, but Hunter seems to have taken the crown away from the classic series. This game is a must buy if you have friends who are into multiplayer games. If you can remember and enjoyed the addictive multiplayer offered in games like Smash TV, buy the game. Dust off the extra controllers and invite your friends over because Hunter is one of the best multiplayer games out there right now.

Overall Score: 9.0

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