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Hunter: The Reckoning

Developer: High Voltage Software | Publisher: Interplay
Players: 1 Player Game | Release Date: 05/21/02 | Genre: Action

Hunter: The Reckoning has made its way from being a paper and pencil RPG to being one heck of a fine video game for Xbox owners around the globe. If you're waiting for the next big thing to hit the Xbox, then why not kill some time with a surprisingly good title? Hunter: The Reckoning definitely fits the "sleeper hit" bill. It may not have garnered much attention from the press, but it should have; it's truly one of the best games available on the Xbox.

The game puts you into the role of a Hunter, a mortal who has been given special abilities to not only see the monsters that walk among us, but to destroy them as well. Yes, it's a sad fact: zombies, vampires and werewolves are all just trotting around having a blast and we stupid humans can't even see it. Anyhow, a bunch of evil spirits have recently awakened and it's your job to put them to sleep֠for good this time. You can choose one of four characters; each has their own strengths and weaknesses depending on that character's creed. There are four creeds in the game, one for each character, the Avenger is the tough guy of the group, but he's incredibly slow. The Judge is pretty well balanced and has access to some of the best Edges in the game (more on that later). We also have the Defender, who like the Judge, is a well balanced character with healing powers. The Martyr is the last of the four creeds. Playing as the Martyr makes the game more difficult because her stamina is low, and using an Edge takes away a bit of your health. However, she is by far the fastest character in the game.

If you've ever played a Gauntlet game before, then you have a pretty good idea of how Hunter plays, but this game feels much more polished than recent Gauntlet titles. Yes, you'll still be slashing down hordes of enemies, but when things are at their worst, the Xbox is at its best. You can literally have an entire screen filled with enemies, and you won't even see a hint of slow down, even in the four player cooperative mode. With so many enemies attacking, you're going to need some serious weaponry to take them down, and Hunter more than delivers the goods. Each character has a standard melee weapon (knives, sword, etc.) and one firearm. Along the way, you can pick up a myriad of special weapons like a machine gun, flame thrower and even a chainsaw. These weapons have limited ammunition, so you'll need to be careful. In addition to the special weapons, each character can make use of special powers, called Edges. Each character begins the game with a different Edge, and as you progress, that Edge will grow in power and you'll also gain access to new Edges. As mentioned before, the Judge has some of the best Edges in the game, and he is capable of taking out swarms of foes with the greatest of ease early on.

As you fight, you'll gain experience points which are vital to increasing your character stats. When your character levels up, you don't get to assign the skill points where you want to, the game does it automatically, but that's OK, it keeps you focused on the action. Also, experience points will increase the power of your Edges, and give you access to new ones.

The graphics in Hunter: The Reckoning are great. Characters look cool on screen, and the environments are beautiful. In the sewer stage, you'll wade through water for the first time and the effects are astounding. What is it that makes water effects so cool in video games anyway? Well, it doesn't really matter; just know that these are among the best yet seen in a game. All of the environments look just like they should, and of course, have the spooky atmosphere that sets the mood for the game.

The sound also goes a long way in making Hunter the haunting experience that it is. Plenty of creaking and swooshing noises can be heard as you make your way through the game, and the weapons sound great too. Everything from the swipe of a sword to the explosion of a gas pump, sound just like you'd expect. The voice acting for the characters is also pretty good. It's not great, but it is a bit above average for a video game.

Despite all the good aspects of the game, it does have some flaws. The biggest problem is easily the camera angle. The action is shown from a top down perspective, and while it provides a nice view the majority of the time, it can cause some problems. If your character goes behind an object on screen, the camera will likely not follow, and hence you lose sight of your character. What's worse is that you can't control the camera yourself. You can zoom in and out, but only slightly, and you can completely forget about swinging the camera around for a better view, this just isn't possible. Also, the game is nigh impossible to complete with four players. You and all of your friends share the same lives, that means if you have a total of eight lives, and your pal sucks and uses up six of them, you only get two for yourself֠bummer.

Overall, Hunter: The Reckoning is a great game and is definitely worthy of a purchase. The static camera and insane multiplayer difficulty are really the only problems, and the camera isn't as big of an issue as you might expect; most of the time it gets the job done just fine. If you're looking for some hectic action, you really can't go wrong with this game, give it a shot and you'll be pleasantly surprised!

By Ryan Schaefer - 07/02/02
ESRB Details: Blood and Gore, Violence
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Screenshots for Hunter: The Reckoning

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