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Preview

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Due Winter 2002 for Xbox.

 

ss10b-01.jpg (6594 bytes)The Interplay booth is legendary at E3, and this year the big surprise was that everyone’s favorite PC game developer is taking a real stab at the next-gen console systems. The better surprise, however, was their debut of a game we’d never even heard about before, Hunter: The Reckoning. In fact, the game was so early in development that we couldn’t do a proper preview of it right after E3. We have recently received some screens and more information about the game, and I’ve got to say that this one looks special.

ss9b-01.jpg (6726 bytes)Hunter is based on the White Wolf pen-and-paper game by the same name. In this world evil walks the earth, and only a few humans can see it. These humans are usually spurred on to recognize vampires and other ghastly baddies by some traumatic experience, such as seeing a person transform into a wolf before their very eyes, and that experience usually prompts them to hunt these evil beings, cleansing the earth for us more average joes. Such is the story in the videogame. You play one of four hunters trying to stop the evil. Two of the hunters you can play are a big, gnarly biker dude and a priest who kicks ass for the Lord. Each hunter has different weapons, ranged attacks, hand-to-hand combat, and magic techniques.

ss7b-01.jpg (6785 bytes)The story behind Hunter goes like this: In a small prison town, vampires have taken over the prison. The Warden is under their control, and they gleefully drain and convert the convicts into walking dead. Eventually they are subdued, and the prison falls into disuse as the evil ones sleep within. The game begins with a rave in the abandoned prison. Before the techno kids can spit out their pacifiers and say, "Dude, yer bummin’ my high," they are set upon by the reawakened evil spirits and vampires. Only one of the ravers makes it out alive, and she becomes a Hunter, too (I wonder if she’ll have a badass glowstick attack).

ss1b-01.jpg (6943 bytes)Now that the evil is in full force again, you must go clean it out. You play one of the Hunters, and the controls are reminiscent of Smash TV or Apocalypse. You use both analog sticks; the left controls your movement, and the right controls the direction you face. The game is rendered completely in 3D, but most of the time you’ll view it in a fairly isometric perspective. The camera zooms in, out, and pans to keep the best possible view and create dynamic scenes. These controls are incredible. They are very easy to get used to, and they make for maximum zombie wasting.

ss12b-01.jpg (7463 bytes)Another perk of the control and camera setup is that Hunter supports up to four-player multiplayer on the same screen. New players can enter the game at any time (how’s that for innovation?), and the game will automatically scale both the characters and the enemies to accommodate the number of players. At times, you may face over 40 baddies, all trying to eat your brains or suck your blood, crowding around you causing trouble. Multiplayer strategy is different, too, since player characters may interact with each other to provide backup, power up, and healing services.

ss11b-01.jpg (7661 bytes)We only got to see one level of Hunter at E3, but it looked great. The level was the exterior of a church, and we had to battle our way through hordes of zombies, popping out of the ground faster than dandelions, and some animated statues to reach the door. Apparently, all the levels will have the same dark, decayed, gothic vibe to them, although locations will change. Tasks required of you will change on each level, too, from just blasting your way through the armies of undead, to escorting innocents to safety, to just plain running like hell away from danger.

ss5b-01.jpg (7855 bytes)Hunter: The Reckoning looks to be one of the more exciting first-generation Xbox titles. The horror themes are carried throughout the story, graphic, and gameplay elements, and make for a terrifying experience. The multiplayer aspects could make Hunter an iconic group game, and the care going into the multiplayer development demonstrates that Interplay is keen to give console gamers what they want and need. The control system isn’t entirely innovative, but it is atypical and implemented in a remarkable way. Start saving up for this title, which will hit game retailers early in 2002.

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Shawn Rider

 

1995-2000
GamesFirst! Magazine