Headhunter: Redemption

Format: PS2

5 060004 761616
Age Restrictions: 12+
27 August 2004

Set in Earth's near future, a new order has emerged based on two independent worlds. The citizens of the 'Above' society are controlled by media and powerful corporations and thrive in a glittering metropolis of glass and steel towers. The 'Below' society is riddled with criminals, undesirables and misfits, who must meet the needs of the 'Above' society in return for the right to survive. Maintaining law and order are veteran Headhunter Jack Wade and his reluctant new sidekick, the rebellious street kid Leeza X...

Headhunter: Redemption is probably best described as a cross between Tomb Raider and Metal Gear Solid. "Wow!" I hear you cry. "That's going to be one hell of a great game!" Well, it could have been absolutely fantastic, but due to some poor design issues it falls short of being a game I would recommend you definitely add to your collection.

You start the game as Leeza X, a young woman who was orphaned as a small child - or so she thought. She is caught by headhunter Jack Wade. But instead of arresting her, Wade gives X a chance to turn her life around. It becomes obvious pretty early on that X's father was not killed, as she had thought by a headhunter, but instead banished to the 'Below' society. She discovers that Wade was the headhunter that separated her from her father and sets off underground to take on a mission for Wade - hoping to find her father in the process.

While the graphics, music and gameplay all look and sound the business, there are some serious issues with loading times. Firstly every time you go through a door it takes an age to load the next segment. As there are countless doors leading to dull, empty corridors, this starts to become a real pain very quickly. Not only that, but the fact that the save points are so far apart will also test your patience to breaking point. This means that when you die you will have to go over the same boring ground again in order to reach the point in which you died.

Not only that, but the loading times when you die take an age before you can replay (we're talking of over a minute in some instances). At one point I actually thought the game had crashed.

Another problem is the aiming system. Once your character has locked onto a target (and there doesn't seem to be any logic as to which target you lock on to when there are multiple enemies) it is hard to loose that lock and re-establish a lock with a more threatening target. When you get close you your pray you can also take them out with hand to hand combat. Again, this is not always as it should be - as your character sometimes turns around and kicks at thin air while you are pumped full of lead from behind.

Another annoying fault is evident in the "sneak" mode. Here you can move along a wall and then glance around the corner to see what is awaiting you on the other side. Sadly, you can find yourself unintentionally hugging a wall when you are in the middle of a fight - leaving your enemy plenty of time to fill you full of holes.

So you can see why I am less than enthusiastic about this game. The storyline and general gameplay is fantastic, but there are just too many inexcusable sticking points that ruin what could have been a fantastic game.

If you are prepared to overlook these disappointing flaws, you'll realise that there is a fantastic game waiting at its core. Sadly, you'll probably get bored before you discover this.

Try before you buy.

Ray Thompson

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