Review by Midgard

"Just not up to snuff"

Hunter: The Reckoning: Redeemer is a game that's almost as constricting as the title would have you believe it is. The original concept comes out of a Pen & Paper game developed by a company known as White Wolf. Based in their world known as "The World of Darkness", a group of people known as Hunters who can see that monsters exist and deserve an ass kicking go back to a town that they once saved ten years ago to find that an evil infestation has occurred again. That's where the good parts of the story completely stop cold. Assuming you haven't already played and beaten Hunter: The Reckoning, the predecessor to this game, I suggest stopping post haste in your thinking of this game as it spoils the entire story from the first screen on.

In HtRR, you're given the option of playing as one of five characters who are the basic archetypes of their respective pen and paper counterparts in the real Hunter: The Reckoning game. The difference in characters is in their special abilities known as "Edges", their choice of weapons to use, and their basic speed at which they move. As you use the melee weapon, the ranged weapon, or the Edges of your selected character, you gain experience in that skill for doing damage to enemies or having an effect on your own party. This is the critical flaw in the system by itself.

As you gain experience with your weapons, you begin to become so powerful with your ranged weapon that you can kill anything before it gets close enough to you to do anything meaningful. All enemies have the exact same AI script; move as quickly into attacking range and begin, making them basic cannon fodder for your chosen Hunter. Further, once you've sustained minor wounds from an enemy who just happened to have a ranged weapon, most enemies also drop small glowing spheres to recover your life and your Edge's energy, making you nigh invincible as long as you keep a relatively high rate of slaughter going, which, in the one player mode is relatively painless and in the four player mode becomes a joke. The game quickly degrades to an experience-grab fest where everyone shoots everything to try to get up to the next level to improve their weapons to continue to get experience.

Hunter also just isn't that pretty. I think it had a total of four basic layouts with variations for effect, consisting of your typical streets, your sewers, your natureish terrain, and your cave set. I honestly don't remember any of the sounds out of it except for two: the sound of the Judge's first Edge (also by far the most powerful attack in the game) and the sound of all of the guns mixing into one annoying and mostly constant effect. There's some music in there, but it's entirely forgettable stuff.

The level design is completely linear, consisting of "Go here, kill everything in your way, flip switch, and either run from the timer or exit the stage to kill a boss." While that's the trend for all games of this type where slicing through a thousand enemies is key, this one has nothing else to offer besides the occasional side street to go grab a special gun with limited ammo to use. There's never a "safe" area, nowhere to buy better items, never anywhere to do anything besides shoot your rifle at some more idiot zombies or something else you've seen in a horror movie. This is compounded by the fact that the enemies are all extremely easy to kill outright without any struggle with them at all, making the level design seem so many times worse than it really is. The game also happens to go by extremely quickly, it being very possible to beat this on your first sitting if you feel so compelled.

Every so often (read as: every two levels), you'll come across a boss of some sort. All but one are your typical "I am LARGE and have thousands of hitpoints but a predictable pattern!" fare. They're quite like NES bosses of old, actually, except in isometric view and with better graphics. In fact, let's use that line to describe the entire game: it's reminiscent of ye olde Nintendo games that are long dead with better graphics. This is just plain unacceptable material for a next-gen console in my opinion. A weak storyline thrown in just to make the game make a portion of sense, totally mindlessly repetitive gameplay, and a greater importance on holding down the fire button instead of picking something to do just make this game begin as a fun time for four and go down in flames after a few hours, which should also be more than enough time to put this one to rest.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 09/23/04

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