Headhunter: Redemption

Format: Xbox

5 060004 761661
Age Restrictions: 12+
27 August 2004

20 years after the devastation caused by the Bloody Mary Virus a new order has emerged based on two distinct but totally independent worlds, divided by the ultimate consumerist society - 'Above' and 'Below'. 'Above', a glittering metropolis of glass and steel towers, entwined by elevated highways, its citizens controlled by ever-present media and the powerful corporations behind it. 'Below' is the home to criminals, undesirables and misfits meeting all the needs of 'Above' in return for the right to survive. Maintaining law and social order is veteran Headhunter Jack Wade, older, wiser and battle hardened. At his side his new sidekick, rebellious street kid Leeza X...

Headhunter: Redemption wants so much to be a great game. And the sad thing is that, with a little more care and effort on the part of the developers, that is exactly what this game could have been - great. It is probably best described as a more fluid Metal Gear Solid clone.

But there are just too many unforgivable bugs and annoying problems with the gameplay that bring this well short of being anything other than pedestrian.

While the Xbox version is nowhere near as slow as the PS2 offering, there are still plenty of long pauses. On the first level after you are killed, it takes exactly 47 seconds before you are allowed to restart from your last save point (and then you have to endure another run thorough of the movie sequence). And when you finally meet the boss at the end of the first level the wait is even longer. Get killed by him and you will have to wait just short of a minute before you can take up play from your last save point (which, incidentally is quite a way away).

The aiming mechanics are awful. If there is more than one enemy in the immediate vicinity your gun just locks onto one at random. And more often than not that's the enemy that is hiding behind something - so you can't even shoot them.

You are also supposed to be able to switch characters between Leeza and Jack in later levels, and another bonus is that you get to engage in some lightning-fast motorcycle thrills on futuristic highways. Well, at least that's what the press release states. I have to be honest and say that after over ten hours of playing this game I was bored. I never managed to see the bike chases, nor did I get to play as Jack. In fact, the last thing I saw was some moving crates, which you have to use as a cover to run past some deadly lasers which slice you in half. Several unsuccessful attempts at getting past them and I had had more than I could take.

What could, and should, have been a must own game is reduced to the ranks of barely acceptable. Don't waste £40 on this unless you enjoy frustrating games.

Nick Smithson

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