Review by Antpants
An epic game in size but not substance
Epic is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Mace Griffin. Not epic as in "wow, that was an amazing game", but rather "woah, this game is the longest FPS I've ever seen". Mace Griffin is an FPS that seems to have drawn much from tried and tested features already made available in other games. The drawing feature to it is the fact that this is part space-shooter as well, and the transition between the two genres is seamless. There's a decent amount of stuff to like about Mace Griffin, but much of it does give one the impression that he/she has been there before.
This game gets a passing grade when it comes to graphics. The environments are varied from level to level, the atmosphere is quite palpable and at times, attractive. The weapons animations are excellent as are the splash damage marks that they cause. Character animations are quite well done and there's a lot of stylized blood splattering and gory destruction to be had when dispatching your enemies. The graphics in the space sections of the game are remarkably good.
Frankly, the sound in this game is hit and miss. There's no problem receiving dolby 5.1 out of the game and explosions and weapons fire does feel potent and enjoyable. Ambient sound effects are well implemented and the music notches up every time the action becomes intense. The soundtrack however is a bit of a miss. I don't believe that the developers nailed the atmosphere in this game with the soundtrack. For the first half of the game, it felt more like I was marching into the war of 1812 rather than exploring an asteroid base in space. Massive brass and trumpets sound off, giving you a feeling like you were more likely to run into soldiers with muskets than your standard fare gun toting alien. In all, the soundtrack disappointed. The dialogue in the game is flat and boring, punctuated mostly because it almost exclusively happens in cut-scenes where you're just simply standing around and talking to someone else.
This section doesn't deserve too much attention. Essentially, you are a part of a troupe of soldiers whose entire regiment gets wiped out, save for Mace. He's framed for his part in the tragedy and sent to jail. Once he gets out, Mace embarks on a journey to uncover the truth, all the while taking on mercenary jobs. The game follows Mace from asteroid base to asteroid base and never really seems to push forward. It would be wise to skip the cutscenes and go straight to the game.
Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter follows tried and tested FPS convention that we see all too often on the Xbox. Your character has rechargeable shields and the gameplay consists mostly of corridor crawling, culminating in a pitched battle in an arena-styled setting. The action is almost constant and there are a lot of enemies in the game. Most of the time, you'll find yourself baiting and picking off the enemy, as the AI, while competent, does become predictable and for the most part, will close in on you with time. Weapons usage is quite satisfying, and I did find myself hoping for a little more power with my firearms. During the latter stage of the game, the difficulty does ramp up, and you find yourself blasting rounds and rounds of ammunition into the enemy.
The space shooter aspect of the game is not executed well at all. In fact, it is so easy that you will find yourself trying to get it over with as soon as possible. The enemies and auto targeting are so easy to hit that you could stay in "park" and shoot everyone around you and most likely take no damage. Being able to disengage from a firefight and walk through the spaceship while still flying is a nice touch, but not enough to make it worth experiencing.
For the most part, this game hands you an adequate challenge, while not being too easy or difficult. A couple of rail shooter levels are fairly challenging and the space shooter levels are a complete cakewalk. Later on in the game, the enemies become greater in number and ability, and by the end, you will likely be of the mind that you wished your weapons were just a little more potent.
This game is a solid title, if not for anything else that you will get value for your money. As far as FPS shooters go, this is the longest that I've played by a country mile This is the energizer bunny of games. When you think that you're getting close, think again. It just keeps going and going and going...
Since most Xbox games now are reduced in price, it doesn't make sense to pass this title up. It won't give you a "wow" experience, but it will give you a decent and stable shooter with a whole lot of levels to offer.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
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