STAFF REVIEW of Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter (Xbox)

Monday, July 21, 2003.
by Queasy Buddy

Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter Box art Warthog, Black Label Games and Vivendi Universal present Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter, a first-person shooter for the Xbox that is a taut tale of vengeance. The story starts off like this; Mace Griffin had tried to make a career of the Ranger service, serving as a pilot and infantry, until a mission turned sour. While Mace was innocently obeying his orders, Mace fell into a trap that took the lives of an entire ship full of his fellow Rangers. Upon his return to base, Mace was court-martialed, and thrown into prison with common criminals for ten years. Upon completing his sentence, Mace joins an old friend from the big house who sets him up with the Guild of Bounty Hunters. Mace?s work in the guild not only serves to fund his operations, but to help him discover the forces that set him up for a fall and ultimately avenge the dissolution of the Rangers and the death of his comrades.

The game starts off with pretty simple tasks. The first task given to Mace is to find the control center and release the airlock, which has shut on the unit. Along the way, players will get a lesson in targeting, and killing a host of bad guys, all of whom speak with Russian accents with trite mean slogans - like "your scalp is mine, dirt bag" or "I?m going to have your head on a stick!"?during the firefight. The game itself is somewhat linear in nature, and the AI is really good. The bad guys don?t just stand there waiting to get shot. They roll, hide and take irregular paths to their target. The graphical quality of the game is very up to par. There is some pretty profound details that are presented in a fashionable way. The textures and coloring is much more lush then most of the other fps on the Xbox. Some of the cut-scenes are a little robotic, though. And there are some lip-synch problems. But those are just minor problem that can be easily ignored. The sound is a mixed bag as well. The musical score is very good, and the battle sounds are well done. Some of the vocal characterizations are cliché though.

The control elements are fairly straightforward and typical of the genre. The right thumb stick controls targeting and is rather touchy. Newcomers to the genre will have their work cut out for them but after about 20 minutes, they should have the fundamentals down well enough to work through the early levels. You will have to pay attention to health and ammunition and find power-ups along the way to sustain both. The game also has auto-save points that enable you to save your progress in a level without having to begin all over should you die. And count on dying. The better you do, the more the AI seems to adjust and throw smarter, tougher and more enemies at you. Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter is almost non-stop action. This is a linear tale that asks players to rely on reflexive abilities rather than worry about thinking too much. Yes, you will have to process information and sometimes they will throw innocent non-playing characters at you as decoys. A quick trigger finger is not always the best idea. This is a game that is challenging, looks good, has a moody soundtrack appropriate for the tempo of the game and plays well. Mace is not your typical hero, but then he has good reason not to be. Levels vary, sometimes requiring all out blasting, strategic action, or even an assortment of puzzles, jumping and otherwise (such as blasting an explosive tank to move an obstacle).

: Here is where the FPS mode shows its flaws and the space combat shines. Although on the ground, there are some neat graphical tricks such as the shimmering orange water in some places, and the hallucinogenic blur when you get hit with a flash grenade, the game is rather primitive looking, with character models that look slightly blocky. Some of the animations are rather nice, including the way Griffin will switch between a single and double-handed grip for his pistol, but as a whole there?s nothing particularly exceptional about the graphics on the ground. In space, however, is a different story, with space itself looking as pristine as it ought to, and the graphical details on the ships a bit more up to par.

The voice acting is nearly emotionless, and the monotonous drone that almost every generic tough guy has used in movies and games since the beginning of time does little to benefit our belief that Griffin is a worthwhile character. The rest of the voice acting fares only slightly better, even if it too is as generic as the protagonist?s. Most of the sound effects are alright, although there?s nothing particularly exceptional about it. The music is nicely composed, although coupled with a sometimes-shoddy dynamic music system it begins to seem obnoxious at times; when a full choir and orchestral score is blasting while you?re simply walking up a few flights of stairs, it doesn?t feel epic at all, unfortunately.

This is a good first-person shooter. The storyline maybe a bit familiar, but the new settings and the way Rollins expresses himself all add up to a very enjoyable time. Mace Griffin sports all the features of the very good FPS titles, and deserves a good long look. Great Job Guys.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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