LucasArts' Star Wars: Bounty Hunter allows players to take the role of Jango Fett, the most-feared mercenary in the galaxy. In the game, you have to survive in the cold underworld and capture bounties without getting killed. You can use some cool weaponry in your missions, with interesting tasks and enemies to face. While this sounds great, the controls are a little bit off and the mission structure is a little flat. Are these problems enough to ruin the game? Join us as we examine Bounty Hunter and find out whether it overcomes these problems.
Set just before the events of Episode II, Bounty Hunter follows Jango as he tries to capture as many foes as possible. Bounty Hunter takes place in a variety of familiar Star Wars locales including Tatooine, Coruscant and other areas that should leave SW fans quite happy. You'll see many familiar races including Droids, Jedi and other alien races. There are also some new enemies and characters specifically developed for the game. While the game takes place between the first two films, the game's plot ties in nicely with the events and gives you a little backstory in how he was recruited to become the template for the Clone Army. These cinematic sequences are well done and help to immerse you into the game's plot, giving Bounty Hunter a highly-polished look. Fans should appreciate the many little in-jokes and there are also some cool sequences that evoke memories of events that occurred in later films. While they may seem small in isolation, discovering these small touches that make the game more much fun to play.
Bounty Hunter's levels are divided into smaller areas with different missions. Each mission has several objectives that need to be completed, but players can also do other sub-tasks that will give them extra points and abilities. Most of the objectives require you to capture a certain enemy, dead or alive or locate a hidden area and there's plenty of action to be had. During each mission, there will be numerous characters running around, many of whom have him in their sights. While Jango can earn points for killing them, he can target other to collect the bounties placed on their heads. Successfully capturing fugitives and those with bounties on their heads can earn some big points. To capture a bounty, he has to select them from his visor then he can target foes and capture them using his Gauntlet Whipcord or Snare device, which holds them. This is easy to operate and adds a new dimension to the gameplay, making Bounty Hunter more than a mindless shooter. Addtionally, each level in Bounty Hunter has a set number of bounties, and the more you capture, the more credits Jango earns and getting all of these in replays definitely adds to the challenge. . Jango has many cool abilities and can run, jump and climb through the various levels and obstacles. Most of the areas are large and expansive, so it pays to look around a little beforehand to see where everything is to get you bearings. Some areas have large gaps that he can bridge by hanging from ledges and jumping across. Jango can also sneak through air-vents or tight areas by crouching and using his rolling technique. As you'd expect, he has some cool gadgets at his disposal. Jango's basic weapons include a blow-torch that he can use to cut though grates and open up new areas. He can temporarily disable foes by hitting them with his bare hands. The dual-blasters are his main weapon and he can use these manually, or can hit the upper shift keys to target enemies. More advanced weapons such as flamethrowers, grenades and missiles can be acquires later in the game. Jango can also commandeer gun turrets.
Early in the game, you'll get Jango's Jet Pack which allows him to fly and reach high platforms. The Jet Pack has a limited amount of fuel, but replenishes itself slowly. There's an on-screen indicator of your fuel level and the more fuel you have, the farther and higher Jango can fly. The Jet Pack doesn't get in the way of the action because you can simultaneously fire at enemies while flying. This is really cool and you can use the jump pack to evade enemies. Even though you can only fly for a limited time, it differentiates Bounty Hunter from most other platform based action titles. This gives you a lot of maneuverability but players will have to use it wisely and not waste the jet fuel if they don't need to. While he has many weapons at his disposal, it's important to remember that some of these are going to be more effective with certain enemies than others.
Bounty Hunter's mix of action and puzzle elements is excellent and there's a nice structure and flow to the missions. While some of the game's areas suffer from a bit of sameness after awhile, there are still some challenging missions. The levels are fairly large, which gives you plenty of opportunity for exploration, giving Bounty Hunter surprising depth. The enemies are fairly intelligent and you have to spend a great deal of time on evasive maneuvers to avoid their shots. Players will find some of the boss battles to be quite intense, and this makes Bounty Hunter an interesting and challenging game. Unfortunately, the save points aren't as numerous as they could have been, which makes progression through levels too difficult. However, the levels themselves aren't excessively long, which mitigates this to a large degree. Additional motivation comes from the fact that you can also unlock numerous secrets such as cinemas, concept art and the pages of the Dark Horse Jango Fett comic book. These extras are interesting and enhance Bounty Hunter's replay value.
The controls are decent and using weapons is simple enough to understand. Most players should have little problem getting the hang of the GCN's controller. Switching between weapons isn't though it could have been made a little simpler. Using the visor helps you identify which enemies have bounties on their head and once again, makes for a cooler experience. Unfortunately, the clunky camera system is a bit touchy and some of the angles used in the game get in the way far too often, making progression excessively difficult. This can make Bounty Hunter a bit frustrating at some points, but persistence usually pays off with more excitement around the corner.
Bounty Hunter is a decent looking title that effectively brings a little-seen corner of the Star Wars galaxy to life. The third-person approach is useful, though as stated earlier, the game suffers from some awkward camera movements that make it hard to see where you are. Bounty Hunter's texture mapping and special effects are decent and the characters animate nicely throughout, with Jango himself the most impressive character. However, the other characters aren't as detailed in their look and animations however, which is slightly disappointing. The levels themselves look decent, though a tad generic with some rather flat looking texture mapping giving the game a rather bland appearance. There's plenty of lasers blasting and the lighting effects for these are nicely rendered as well. In the sound department, the game obviously features the classic music from the films, which is quite effectively integrated into the action, and there's some decent voice acting that helps to move the plot along, though your companion can get annoying after awhile, though not enough to ruin the game. There are also some excellent cinemas that breaks up the action between levels and are highly enjoyable to watch as the plot unfolds. Bounty Hunter's graphics engine is good and the game takes good advantage of the Gamecube's processing power. It's one of the better looking SW adventure titles to take.
There's no denying the appeal of venturing deep into the mysterious character's storyline and Bounty Hunter does an excellent job of putting you in the role of Jango Fett. It's fun to be able to use the famous JetPack and the missiles. While the missions themselves seem are a little flat, the gameplay is helped a great deal by the ability to capture bounties as you progress through. The story line is very interesting and people who loved the films will enjoy the added background that fills in a few blanks along the way. The game itself is fun and challenging, though it does suffer from some substandard design choices. Despite these control and camera issues, the game is still highly enjoyable once you get past these problems. While Bounty Hunter is not a perfect game, but it's clever design and decent implementation make this a worthwhile purchase for any die-hard fan of the series.
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