Headhunter Redemption: Hands-On Impressions
With the release of Sega's sizable action sequel just weeks away, we get some hands-on with the game. All-new screens inside.
Last year if you managed to check out our impressions of Headhunter: Redemption you'll know that we've been anxiously awaiting another go at this potentially cool franchise from Sweden based developer, Amuze.
The original HeadHunter starred a bounty hunter named Jack Wade who awakened from his coma with a splitting headache and a bad case of amnesia. Making a daring escape from the research center he found himself in, Jack embarked on a quest to piece together his mysterious past, inadvertently stumbling upon a sinister master plan that threatened to wipe out the human species with a deadly virus. (Obviously).
Now, some twenty years after the Bloody Mary Virus caused a significant amount of damage, the face of the world has changed with a new order emerging, dividing the world into the ultimate consumerist society known as 'Above' and 'Below'. While "Above" is a sprawling metropolis with powerful corporations calling the shots and the ever-present media controlling its citizens, "Below" is where the unwashed masses such as criminals and miscreants call home and work to meet all of the needs of 'Above' in order to maintain their survival there. [Who needs a deadly virus to get to this sorry state? - Ad]
Enter veteran headhunter Jack Wade, who's back in action and doing what he does best, maintaining law and order by hunting down criminals in a world overrun with vicious organized crime, mind-controlling mass media, and unchecked consumerism, all the while wearing his sunglasses at night and trying to look cool on his motorcycle. This time Jack isn't alone and is joined by his reluctant protégé Leeza X, a tough, streetwise girl who has a knack for tattoos and trouble.
When the two of them stumble upon an arms smuggling operation that threatens to send the world into more of a downward spiral than it's already in, they realize that they must work together to deliver the oblivious world from this potentially new life-altering threat.
At the start of the game we watched as an older, more distinct looking Jack Wade showed us how much of a bad-ass he is this time around by manhandling a woman (Leeza X). Once the long, contrived opening sequence was finally over and done with we ventured into the game and came away with some pretty mixed feelings.
The good news is that the controls of Leeza X were significantly improved over last year's E3 demo which featured a pretty limited control scheme very much like that of the original. Along with the stealth play mechanics mentioned in our previous preview, Leeza is sporting some additional moves that will enable players to take down enemies without the use of weapons.
Last year's E3 build was crippled by Leeza's limited moves and dependency on weapons. Players were out of luck once she ran out of ammo as she wasn't well equipped to compensate in such scenarios. I'm glad to see that the developers have gone that extra step to rectify that problem by providing Leeza with additional attack moves she can perform while sneaking up behind enemies or standing face to face with them.
The gameplay is your usual third person action game affair, in which players explore each area of the game for clues and useful items. At the same time players can also engage in some stealth activities by sneaking around enemy infested areas and disabling them before they realize what's going on and all hell breaks loose resulting in some wild shoot outs.
While both Jack and Leeza are playable characters, each with their own unique abilities and weapons, we were only able to play as Leeza, who controlled quite well and was better equipped for action than her mentor was in the original. Along with the addition of basic fighting moves, there's also a new IRIS feature that lets players examine the environments in Scan mode, and obtain information about any objects that register during the scan. It's a pretty nifty feature that should help players quickly zero-in on the not-so obvious objects throughout the environments, instead of having to run around and manually check each one.
Graphically, Headhunter: Redemption looked pretty solid with some nice lighting effects, animated shadows, smooth textures, and a soft focus camera effect that added a nice smooth look to the overall visual presentation of the game. However, with that said, the level designs weren't anything to shout about as they've been done about a trillion and one times before in other similarly styled games.
Richard Jacques' orchestrated soundtrack was one of the highlights of the original Headhunter, and we're certainly looking forward to hearing what's he's come up with the sequel (our latest hands-on wasn't suited to checking the sound out too well).
In this version there were some pretty serious loading time issue and none of the cut-scenes were skippable - we'd suggest these are taken care of in time for the final release.
Provided the game schedule goes to plan with no further hitches, Headhunter: Redemption will hit the UK on August 27th (PS2) and September 3rd (Xbox) with both versions scheduled for US release on September 21st.
US Editor, Kikizo Games
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Direct feed gameplay (640x480, 1Mbps)
Direct feed trailer (640x480, 1Mbps)
Last year's showfloor footage.