Hunter: The Reckoning Rocks Xbox

Hunter: The Reckoning
Gameplay
graphics
audio
value
fun
Genre
Reviewed On
Xbox
Available For
Difficulty
Intermediate
Publisher(s)
Developer(s)
ESRB
ESRB

I’ve had trouble trying to put my thoughts on Hunter: The Reckoning (Interplay) in a coherent format. Some aspects of the game appeal to me and some don’t. And those that don’t almost repulse me.

I received an assist on this recently when I hosted a party at my home. The kids fired up the XBox and began playing Hunter. Most of the kids thought it was cool (except for two who thought it was dumb) and every single one of the adults thought it was terrible. That’s when I think I discovered what was bothering me: this isn’t a game for a person with sophisticated tastes. I realize that bringing that word ‘sophisticated’ into a video game review is like trying to discuss the subtle bouquet of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill wine, but bear with me.

I was excited to receive Hunter: The Reckoning because the folks at Interplay hyped it to us as being very much like Gauntlet, one of my all time favorite games. But other than the fact that one fights endless hordes of monsters this isn’t very gauntlet-like at all. I like my hype to have some basis in reality.

Don’t get me wrong, HTR has strong gameplay and programming work behind it. It’s the game concept I largely disagree with. I found myself playing what struck me as just one more silly ‘battle-the-undead-while-dressed-in-ways-that-would-make-Tom Green-feel-stupid’ game. I had expected so much more and I was getting the same old pap. It was very disappointing for me.

I realize that it’s easy to produce this sort of game concept (the programming, on the other hand, can be fiendishly difficult) and there’s always a market for it. But I would have been much happier had there been less of a common denominator approach to it. I’m sure every teenage boy will find himself more than happy to be unchallenged by the storyline and game concept. God help you if you’re not 14 though.

Along that line, we had a typical 14 year old boy play the game, a younger brother of a good friend. He played the game for six hours straight, figuring out the different moves and playing each character in the game. His comments were along the lines of, "this is great, I love it."

The graphics are good, though gory. The monsters move realistically and so do the players. When you start hacking a zombie its great when they keep coming sans arms, legs and head. Given it is a three-quarter view, the obstructions actually"well"obstruct and that’s a good thing. It makes the gameplay more challenging. I thought the overall design was somewhat dark however. And I am talking about the dark illumination in the title, not the plot which could be described the same way. From time to time the shadows and general darkness (why cant the undead just play in the sunlight?) made the game hard to see. Play it in a darkened room if you can. You will get killed by things you can’t see much less often.

Multiplayer is a great feature, and you can have up to four people playing at the same time on the same screen. Halo might be cool, but the split screen nature of the game drives me batty. Having everyone at the same place at the same time works best for this type of game. As a social experience, the game does rank near gauntlet, but only for the aforementioned younger crowd.

So the game is good if you’re young enough to overlook its conceptual faults. For anyone over the age to drive I’d say to avoid it. Even the attempts at humor fall short. I laughed when I saw the source of the undead was named ‘Ashcroft Prison.’ It’s worth a laugh, but it’s the only attempt at an interesting joke (for adults) in the whole thing.

I shouldn’t really slam Interplay for this one. It’s clearly a game aimed at the younger set who likes just this sort of thing. But I actually like the folks I know at Interplay and hoped for something with a bit more to recommend it.

Or maybe I’m just getting too old. You make the call.

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