Star Wars Bounty Hunter (PS2)

Star Wars Bounty Hunter (PS2)

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 12/18/2002 for PS2  
More On: Star Wars Bounty Hunter (PS2)
If you need an idea of how bad this game is, solve this analogy. Obi Wan is to Xbox as ____ is to PS2. If you guessed Bounty Hunter, then you’re absolutely right.

What really upsets me is that this is a game that had a lot of promise. It’s a Star Wars game that diverts the focus from the light-saber wielding do-gooders and places it squarely on the dark shoulders of the galaxy’s most infamous bounty hunter. Give him a huge arsenal, a badass persona and you can’t go wrong right? Well, not exactly.

When you’ve got gameplay as uninspiring and repetitive as this, it doesn’t matter how cool or an arsenal you have. Most of the game feels unintuitive and as a result, most of the game feels a bit counterproductive. For instance, you can mark bounties and capture them as a secondary goal. How do you mark bounties you ask? Well you’ll have to switch from your weapon over to the visor, press R2 to enter first person mode, move the cursor to scan your target and then press O to mark them. Then you’ll have to change weapons a lasso-like object so that you can tie up your bounty. If you think that sounds inane consider the fact that you’re already wearing the visor at all times and it just becomes a complete exercise in frustration. How am I supposed to scan a large group of enemies for a single bounty, especially when I’m rendered defenseless as they’re raining fire down upon me?

The rest of the game’s functions are equally as puzzling with the camera system being the biggest offender. It’s simply too tight, following your character much too closely, leading to far too many headaches. The camera system’s limitations really rear their ugly heads when you’re in small confined spaces, as it seems to become confused with even the simplest of corridors. The game’s enemies suffer from the same problems as well, being relegated to performing only the most effortless tasks. The controls are also a bit too tight as your character feels like he has no weight or momentum to him. Sometimes it’s just all too erratic and uncontrollable. I was assured at E3 that the AI (along with many of the same gripes I had above) would be fixed and while the game wasn’t as rough around the edges as it was about 5 months ago, it’s still pretty coarse.

What’s really strange is that the features of this game tend to reside on either one end of the spectrum or another. While the gameplay and visuals are rather sub-par, the pre-rendered sequences that help advance the storyline are just breathtaking. With good cause, they’re all done by Industrial Light and Magic and the end results are nothing short of spectacular. The other portion of this one-two tandem is the sound effects, which are all done by SkyWalker Sound. They too are just incredible and remain truly faithful to their cinematic counterparts. The speech is a little muffled and hard to understand, however, especially during the course of action. Thankfully the more intriguing dialogue is relegated to the cutscenes and kept out of the action.
The visuals in the recent Star Wars games (with the exception of Obi Wan) have been pretty impressive as of late but sadly, that trend ends here. While the graphics that populate Bounty Hunter aren’t exactly ugly, they’re not exactly a sight for sore eyes. Many of the environments seem bland and uninspired, texture work seems to be a little weak and the character designs are well below par. Perhaps most puzzling is how the game tends to chug along at even the slightest hint of action. For some reason the frame rates tend to drop whenever a few characters appear on a screen. Keep in mind that this isn’t exactly the most visually advanced game on the market either. Even the draw rate is pretty bad as it becomes consumed by that ominous fog that seems to plague poorly programmed titles. It’s not SuperMan 64 bad but it’s still pretty weak.

Equally as uninspired are the painfully confusing levels. Often times I feel as if the designers purposely went out of their way to make sure that the gamer would be confused. In an early level I found myself running around a room, trying to figure out what the hell it was that I was supposed to be doing. It turns out that I had to run into an obscure corner of the room and crawl through a heavily obscured ventilation duct. It gets worse as you progress along, falling off a platform will result in you landing in an entirely different part of the level, most likely one that you’ve already been to. Then you’ll be forced to backtrack through the level all over again and as an added bonus, your enemies will continue to respawn out of thin air, causing even more frustration. Oh yea, the lack of save points and checkpoints hurts this game quite a bit too. Can you imagine playing for 15 minutes only to have to start over because a crucial character died? Well get used to it baby because that’s what Bounty Hunter specializes in, causing frustration.

In order to extend the life of the game you’ll be given secondary bounties to hunt on each level. Remember how unintuitive I said that the bounty hunting system was earlier? Well imagine doing that for the dozens of characters that populate each level and you have an enormous exercise in frustration. Sometimes it can take a half an hour to an hour just to hunt down all of the bounties on a level and the pay off? A few measly unlockables such as character art and a blooper reel. If you ask me it’s a bit too much like masturbation without the money shot. Is he a bounty? Well maybe you should put away your weapon so that you can look through a visor that you’re already wearing and wait to see if shoots at you. That ought to show em!

Take away the interesting bounty system (albeit poorly executed) and you have a generic run of the mill shooter set in a universe that vaguely resembles that of Star Wars. It’s a pretty bland game that is just horribly uninspired and while it shows a lot of promise, it goes the route of your childhood and continues to be a terrible disappointment. It’s not for everyone and it’s definitely not for anyone.
Take abysmal graphics, toss in a pinch of repetitive game play, add a pint of boredom and what do you get? LucasArts’ run of the mill 3rd Person Shooter, Star Wars Bounty Hunter.

Rating: 5.6 Flawed

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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