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Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (PlayStation 2)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.1
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5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Terrence Bosky (5234)
Written on  :  May 03, 2004
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars

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Summary

Bounty Hunter? We don't need this scum.

The Good

To understand my disappointment with Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, you have to go back to when I first finished Dark Forces. I powered off my Vic-20, took a sip of Tab, and thought, “Man, that was a great game. It would be really cool if they made one where you were Boba Fett.” I imagined an open-ended game where you could choose which bounties to go after, one that incorporated space combat as well an FPS section, one were you were given free range over the galaxy. This is not that game.

SW: BH takes place between The Phantom Menace and The Attack of the Clones. The weakness the Republic showed during the Naboo Crisis has given strength to its enemies. The Cult of Bando Goras, made up of murderers and saboteurs, are adding to their numbers by releasing Death Sticks into the market laced with mind control drugs. This new development may prove a threat to Darth Sidious’ own machinations and he has charged his new apprentice, Darth Tyrannus, with their destruction and given him the task of finding a suitable template for the Clone Army Project. Darth Tyrannus, seeking to kill two birds with one stone, has placed a bounty on Komari Vosa, the Dark Jedi leader of the Bando Gora. Surely which ever bounty hunter can bring her in will also be the best specimen for his master.

That’s the big story. The game itself involves Jango Fett’s search for the Bando Gora, chasing down people that know people that know people. Divided into six chapters with three levels each, there is usually one big bounty for Jango to go after and many smaller bounties. These smaller bounties are the trickiest for Jango to get since they either look like the average pedestrian or they are “bad guys” shooting in your direction. Jango must switch over to his ID scanner, scan the crowd, see if anyone has a bounty placed on them, tag them, and then either collect them dead or alive depending on the requirements or Jango’s mood. I should also note that ID scanning leaves Jango defenseless.

Armed with Mandalorian armor, metal plated gauntlets, twin blasters, an ID scanner, a wrist mounted whipcord, a wrist mounted cutting laser, and a jetpack that can serve as a flame thrower and rocket launcher on occasion, you’d think that Jango Fett was a walking tank. For the most part he is, but he faces overwhelming opposition on every single level. It seems like everyone in the galaxy owns a blaster and aren’t afraid to open fire on a notorious bounty hunter. Luckily some areas have heavy blasters Jango can use (until their energy cells die), there are nice turrets Jango can borrow (although the previous owners seem much more accurate), the occasional thermal detonator, health power-ups, jetpack power-ups, and a nice power-up called Mandalorian Rage.

Jango has some nice moves: the ability to somersault, duck, run or sneak, lock on to two enemies, and limited flying with his jetpack. As a result, there’s a lot of acrobatics for Jango to perform whether it involves creeping along a narrow ledge in a Tatooine canyon, moving hand-over-hand on a pipe between two high-rises on Coruscant, or using your jetpack to race through an asteroid prison. Controls are pretty standard although cycling through inventory is somewhat clumsy, especially in heated moments.

In a nice touch, Temuera Morrison (Jango) and Leeanna Walsman (Zam Wesell) return to voice their videogame counterparts, Highlander’s Clancy Brown voices Jango’s nemesis, Montross. Sound is provided by Skywalker Sound and ILM worked on the photorealistic cutscenes.

The Bad

So why was I disappointed? Wasted potential.

This could have been an incredible game, instead it’s an obvious platformer with frustrating jumping puzzles, respawning enemies, floating save points and continues. It’s already a dark game, with no thought to the killing of innocents other than keeping track of how many you’ve taken out, but it doesn’t take itself seriously. I would have loved to have seen Jango Fett as a grim determined Sam Fisher type character. Instead he seems more worried about the Death Stick trade than getting his bounties.

Despite the Lucas touch, this game lacks polish. Large areas like a foggy jungle level and levels with many enemies have serious slowdowns. The camera attempts to reorient itself, so in one section where I had to jump from moving platforms, I kept dying when the camera swung around. The ID scanning portion is very clumsy which is annoying since that is the focus of the game. Voicework is fine, but the tracks are off. When I was flying up an empty elevator shaft, disembodied voices kept saying “Nice jetpack!” Likewise, the enemies’ voices were at the same volume regardless of how far away they were- 5 feet or 15.

Finally, this game has the same problem as the prequels… we know how things end. There aren’t many surprises here.

The Bottom Line

I didn’t mention that this game is packed with extras: outtakes, a comic book, trading cards and concept art that you can unlock by beating levels, finding secrets, and other means. So it offers a reason to replay levels and be a “completeist”. Unfortunately, frustratingly inconsistent level design hasn’t made this a game I’d want to spend extra time with.

I think they had a good starting concept but then some suit said, “Oh, we should have a level where Jango is captured and doesn’t have any weapons. Players have never seen that before! And jumping puzzles, lots of them. Especially ones where the player will fall into the vat of instant death if they miss. And they should miss! Let’s loosen the camera up! And Greedo should shoot first!”