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Star Wars Bounty Hunter Preview
game: Star Wars Bounty Hunter
posted by: Jeremy Kauffman
publisher: Lucas Arts
date posted: 09:10 AM Wed Jun 19th, 2002

Less is more. That seemed to be the secret behind the extraordinary popularity of Boba Fett among Star Wars fans. His suit was cool and it had all kinds of secret weapons. He said little, but in no more than a few minutes of screen time he accomplished what no other bounty hunter could: he captured Han Solo (in your face, Greedo). For those of us who were fans (or even alive) in 1980, when a pre-Special Edition Empire Strikes Back was released, Boba Fett was the strong arm of an ominous and unseen threat: Jabba the Hutt.

You can see why I was more than a little worried when I heard that Attack of the Clones would prominently feature a young Boba Fett, and his father Jango. Delving into this character's history was dangerous at best. Who would have known that AotC would not only succeed in making Boba Fett's origin interesting, it would make our beloved bounty hunter cooler than ever. Turns out that we were seeing a lot more of the Fetts in the original trilogy than we could have imagined, as the army of the Empire was created in his image, and just about any Empire underling behind a face plate might share his visage.

So, now I am thinking that more Fett is better. How could we not be excited to take on the role of Jango Fett in Star Wars Bounty Hunter? Fans have been rabid for a trip through the seedy underbelly of the Star Wars universe for a long time, and from what I experienced at E3 2002, it was well worth the wait.

In the game, Jango Fett has been hired to find and deliver the leader of a mysterious cult-dead or alive. As the story progresses, players will accept other bounties, each of which includes its own circumstances and conditions. It also promises to explore Jango Fett's past, ultimately revealing why he was chosen as the genetic template for the clone army.

Bounty Hunter is a third-person action-adventure game with lots of action and exploration. There are 18 levels that take place on 6 different planets, including Coruscant, Tatooine, and a maximum-security asteroid prison. Throughout the game, you will encounter over 100 unique characters ranging from the humans, aliens, and droids seen in the movies, to all new creations like the fearsome Krayte Dragon.

You will also have full control of the wicked arsenal contained in Jango Fett's battle armor. At any time you can whip out your dual blasters, scorch the scene with your flamethrower, zoom in on your enemy with a sniper rifle, fire toxic darts, launch a missile, or take to the air with your jetpack. And if all of those methods fail, you can beat your targets into submission with your fists. What's more, when wielding your dual pistols you can target two different enemies, and when you're hanging on a ledge you can use your free hand to pop shots off. Although Jango can't use his jetpack for extended flights, he can hover above his enemies and gun them down from midair.

The game also allows you to decide whether you want to bring your bounties in dead or alive. Some of your employers will offer you a bonus for a live capture, which consists of snaring your target with your wrist cable. Others merely wish their adversaries would cease to exist. In addition, you can pretty much go anywhere. Jango can use some of his tools to force his way into buildings and passageways. There will be no arbitrary keys to pick up throughout the game. If Jango wants in, Jango gets in.

The playable demo at E3 was limited to a small section of Coruscant (the environments in the finished game promise to be huge), and there were only a small number of opponentss to overcome. Still, the game is beautiful. Jango Fett in particular looked amazing, and the special effects are terrific. The control set-up takes a little getting used to, especially on the Gamecube version, which necessarily has more buttons performing double-functions. But after a little practice things become pretty intuitive. The entire time I was playing Bounty Hunter I had a big, goofy grin on my face. The game does an incredible job of placing you in the role. I was engaging enemies, taking flight with my jetpack, the whole time thinking...I'm him! I'm Jango-freaking-Fett!

Bounty Hunter is being developed entirely by LucasArts, with cinema screens rendered by Industrial Lights and Magic and sound design by Skywalker Sound. Portions of John Williams' Attack of the Clones soundtrack will be mixed with all new music for the game. Voice talents include actors from the film, such as Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett and Leeanna Walsman as Zam Wesell, as well as Clancy Brown (Highlander, The Shawshank Redemption) as Jango Fett's arch nemesis Montross. From the looks of things, Star Wars Bounty Hunter is going to be something to behold-one more in a string of incredible Star Wars games. Star Wars fans are very lucky people.

Jeremy Kauffman and Jason Frank (06/19/2002)