by Andrew "telarium" Langley
After seeing Star Wars Bounty Hunter in action at both E3 and the July LucasArts press event, I was looking forward to the final product. Its gameplay style and story potential sparked my interest during the demos that I witnessed. Although the completed game didn’t quite live up to all my expectations, it is still a very fun game that I thoroughly enjoyed.
LucasArts reminds us once again of their unique talent for storytelling in a video game. Written by Jon Knoles, Bounty Hunter tells the story of Jango Fett; who he is and why he was chosen as the source for the clone army.
The game starts off with Darth Sideous warning Count Dooku of a renegade dark Jedi interfering with his plans to take over the Republic. Count Dooku then decides to put out an open call for various bounty hunters to terminate this fallen Jedi, thus killing two birds with one stone. He’ll eliminate his obstacle as well as find a warrior who is worthy enough to be cloned for their army.
During the course of the game, Jango serves as both a detective and a mercenary. He travels to six different worlds and encounters more than 120 unique characters, each providing various clues and leads. Through his interaction with friends and enemies, we learn a lot about Jango Fett and what drives his actions, turning him into a rather sympathetic villain. I hesitate to even call him a villain, since his life is driven by both survival and honor. This is probably heavily inspired from a line in Episode II where Jango says that he’s “just a simple man trying to make his way in the universe.”
Through the course of the game, we get to see Jango’s history with the Slave I ship, his previous dealings with Jabba the Hutt, his long time rivalry with another bounty hunter, his bitterness towards the Jedi, and his turbulent relationship (and potential romance?) with Zam Wesell. You also get to see how much Jango wants to take someone under his wing the way his deceased mentor did for him. This desire, of course, results in Boba Fett’s existence.
A good story isn’t enough for a video game to be successful. A game has to be fun, and Bounty Hunter does a good job in that respect. By holding down one of your controller buttons, Jango will target one of the enemies close to you. Once targeted, you can run, jump, roll, fly, and dangle while shooting directly at your enemy. Carrying two pistols can result in Jango shooting at your target with one hand while blasting away at a second enemy with the other. This method of gameplay is very effective in creating hectic and entertaining gun battles. Other weapons that Jango can use include sniper rifles, jet pack missiles, flame throwers, toxic darts and more.
There are secondary bounties in the game you can pick up for extra cash, but to be honest, these optional bounties are really boring and not necessary. The methods in which you have to search for a bounty, target the subject, capture or kill them, and then claim your prize are a little clunky and tedious.
Additionally, the game does suffer from quite a few bugs. LucasArts seems to have a poor reputation of creating 3D engines, and this title isn’t exactly a highlight. The third-person camera controls, like a lot of other games, are far from flawless. The A.I. can also be rather stupid with some enemies getting stuck and vibrating like they’re having a seizure. I remember at one point in the game, Jango somehow got stuck in a wall, flailed his arms like he was falling, and then died for no reason. These bugs don’t occur constantly through the game, but there are enough of them to warrant this paragraph.
Graphics: The visuals are a mixed bag. Character models and animation are well done, and the animated cutscenes from ILM are really amazing. However, model textures range from good to poor. The combination of bad textures and weird lighting in some locations caused the game to look a little too cartoony. This wouldn’t be so bad if the look for the game had not already been established by the spectacular ILM cutscenes and the actual Episode II film. Overall, the visuals aren’t always great, but they’re good enough.
With Skywalker Sound providing the audio for this game, you should know what to expect here. Many of the sounds are taken directly from Star Wars, which is very cool. The particular effects I enjoyed were the authentic Star Wars death screams, better known to you film buffs as the Wilhelm Scream. I also admired the clicks and clacks of Jango’s armor when he was rolling around and dangling from ledges.
The voice acting in this game is top notch. Temuera Morrison reprises his role as Jango Fett from Episode II, evil Shawshank Redemption guard Clancy Brown plays Jango’s arch rival, and legendary voice actress Lucille Bliss plays Jango’s trusted manager/assistant. Each actor fits their role extremely well and fleshes out the characters. Oh yeah, and longtime LucasArts composer Clint Bajakian once again provides the voice for Jabba the Hutt.
In Conclusion: If you can pull off a Star Wars game that has both fun gameplay and a bit of character development, you’ve got my respect. I had a lot of fun playing Bounty Hunter and would certainly recommend it. Despite its sometimes buggy gameplay and questionable textures, this game’s story and action should appeal to any fan of LucasArts and Star Wars.
When?: December 2002 - (USA)
What with?: Gamecube and PS2
Very nice story
A bit buggy
Some bad textures
A lot of fun. This game is definitely worth a look.
4 skulls out of 5