By JediXMan 8 Comments
Originally posted on my website.
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter
Hello and welcome to the first in my series of Star Wars video game reviews. Keep in mind that I won’t be completely unbias here like reviewers should be (but aren’t). My personal feelings definitely come into play here; but why shouldn’t they? That is, after all, why you’re reading this, isn’t it? You want to know what I think of this game. So let’s start off with a relatively unknown game that happens to be one of my all time favorites. I shouldn’t have to say this, but…
Before we get into my feelings, let’s talk story: you play as Jango Fett, revered Bounty Hunter and all that jazz – seriously, I shouldn’t have to explain who Jango Fett is. It takes place roughly ten years before Episode II, so around the time of Episode I. He is still trying to earn a living, working with his informant Roz, a flying little Toydarian who is almost motherly toward our fearsome protagonist. He is hunting down a criminal named Meeko on Outland Station. While all this is happening, Darth Sidious gives Count Dooku two assignments: kill the leader of a dark cult known as the Bando Gora (led by Dooku’s old padawan, Komari Vosa), and find a suitable source of genetic material to use for the secret Clone Army. Dooku basically says “screw it, I’m lazy” and kills two birds with one stone by putting a bounty on Vosa’s head, the first person to actually kill her proving themselves as worthy of being the host. There’s more, which I will reference throughout this review.
First, if it sounds familiar, that’s because it’s almost identical to the graphic novel “Jango Fett: Open Seasons” released around that same time. Okay, maybe “identical” is the wrong word. Open Seasons shows Jango’s origins leading up to earning Dooku’s contract, whereas Bounty Hunter shows the actual quest of obtaining the contract. And while yes, there are some contradictions between the two, I’m going to let it slide for once, primarily because I love both and refuse to see fault. And as you’ll later see, they actually have strong ties to each other.
The game actually goes in-depth into the character of Jango Fett. This game almost presents him as the lesser of two evils; the greater evil being his traitorous, dishonorable rival, Montross. Montross actually appears in the aforementioned Open Seasons series. So you actually see that Jango has real reason to hate this piece of crap – which he is. OS aside, he gives you enough reason to hate him throughout this game, especially toward the climax where Montross brutally kills Roz, effectively killing most of Jango’s remaining humanity. Does that mean you’re lost, that you won’t know their past without having bought OS? Nope! Because the developers were nice enough to actually include Open Seasons #2 as an unlockable bonus, #2 being the most important for understanding Jango and Montross. The game also shows why Jango wants a son. First, he actually is lonely, especially after Roz’s death. He also partly does it to honor Roz, who always told Jango to retire and have a family of his own. She even tries to get Jango and Zam Wesell together; while not something Jango is particularly interested in, Jango does come to care for Zam – a little, at least, which makes it all the more tragic when Jango is forced to kill Zam in Episode II. The story really is a tragic tale, both because of what led up to these events, what happens in this game, and what we all know it leads to. In short, Jango has had a sad, sad life.
The story really sells itself due to a few important factors:
Great voice acting. I’m serious, it’s just amazing. Now while I love Star Wars, their games aren’t known for great acting talent. Outcast had a bit of hammy dialogue and a bit of KOTOR had… some campy dialogue from actors who just weren’t feeling it. Happy now? I just criticized KOTOR and Outcast. Now I feel dirty. But why is this, you might be asking? Well most obvious is the casting choice. They have the original actors for Jango and Zam reprising their roles! Excellent move. Zam had hardly any lines in the movies, but here, she sells the role.
The second factor is the writing. There’s just so much emotion without it being in your face. There’s even some good body language, which I will get to momentarily. The writers did a fine job of paying attention to continuity and understanding their characters.
Now making the transition over to gameplay, let’s talk graphics: amazing. Simply amazing. In-game, they’re just okay, nothing spectacular. But the cinematics… whoa. Just…. Whoa. Amazing. I would never have believed this was made in 2002 if I didn’t know this as fact and having played this game years and years ago. The cinematics still hold up to current standards. Just go to YouTube and look them up. Just… wow. No, they aren’t next-gen, but they’re very good and the characters actually convey emotion.
For gameplay, you are given a wide arrange of abilities. Flame thrower, jet pack, twin blasters, wrist cord, poison darts, even your bare fists. You can even hunt small bounties – dead or alive, your choice – throughout the game, which grants you some bonuses. It’s straightforward, but hard at the same time. Die… I think six times, and you have to restart the mission. Now there are five chapters with about five levels each. Not a lot, but enough. At least in my opinion. Not too long, not too short. Just right.
I should also mention that this game has some real guts. Seriously. This is a Star Wars game, and it comes across as rather dark. First, you kill Republic cops in a few levels. Now this is not a dark side, non-canon ending or what the bad guy is doing. This is what you do, with no choice. You’re a killer and the game reminds you of that. The Bando Gora is rather dark, as well, featuring little demon things with glowing eyes leaping out at you from the darkness in later levels. Jango himself is tortured, and we see the scars from torture. In short, this game breaks a lot of the traditional models Star Wars has for itself, which I am happy for, although that may be why this game isn’t that popular.
To sum it up, Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is a great game with a great story, interesting and fun characters, good graphics especially for the time in which it was made, and engaging gameplay. I highly recommend it and proudly count it as one of my favorite Star Wars games of all time.