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PS2 Review - 'Hunter: The Reckoning Wayward'

by Hank on Sept. 25, 2003 @ 1:14 a.m. PDT

Players can expect the same none-stop action, outstanding graphics and authentic White Wolf storyline that makes the Hunter: The Reckoning franchise so successful and addictive. With a psychotic and highly dangerous new character joining the original Hunter team, new environments and weapons, players are armed to battle creatures of the dead in order to fulfill their mission to fight evil. Let the hunt begin.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Vivendi
Developer: High Voltage Software
Release Date: September 11, 2003

Buy 'HUNTER: The Reckoning Wayward': PlayStation 2

In the world of Hunter: The Reckoning Wayward, evil exists everywhere but is unseen by most. Only the elite can see the army of undead evil monsters, known as the Rot, controlled by a cult formed in the Ashcroft Penitentiary.

Hunter: The Reckoning has been made well-known by the Xbox version of the game, which had you cooperating with up to four players to complete mission objectives. The PS2 version wasn’t as nice as the Xbox version but did support up to two players so you could play in either single player or co-op mode. There was no added feature when you played co-op so don’t be afraid to play by yourself. The storylines were the same, but when you played with a partner, the objectives were somewhat easier to complete. If you do not already know the story, four “Hunters” met at Ashcroft witnessing the execution of Nathaniel Arkady, where they saw what true evil is. The story might have been wrapped up in the first installment, but it would seem that “They’re baaaaaaack.”

The game controls are very simple and don’t include crazy button combinations, thus making it quite easy to pick up. Just about every single button on the PS2 controller is utilized, however: R1 for the main weapon, R2 for the secondary/special weapon (usually long range), triangle to change your edge weapon (special abilities), L1 to activate the edge, circle scrolls through special weapons available to you at that point, X is the action button and allows you to choose the weapon, L1 activates jump and dodge while strafing, and lastly, L2 to strafe. Once you get these key configurations down, you are ready to take out some Rot.

There are a total of seven playable characters, four of which are from the original Hunter game: Father Esteban “Judge” Cortez, Kassandra “Martyr” Cheyung, Spenser “Avenger” Wyatt, and Samantha “Defender” Alexander. You will start off with this bunch, and the three other characters will be unlocked as you make your way through the game, one of whom is Joshua Wayward. Each one of these characters has his or her own set special abilities and attributes. For example, Martyr is all about speed and is the fastest of the bunch, so when she does the creed attack she becomes faster than Flash Gordon. While the Avenger’s attributes are focused in strength, making him a slower attacker, he can kill enemies quicker.

Like the previous Hunter, your goal is to purge the land of these evil creatures. The game starts off with the foursome looking for two new hunters who had requested a meeting at the hotel. From there, you will start your first mission to recover data that these hunters have hidden in several locations. Let me tell you, finding these items is not the easiest task. For instance, we are informed in the first mission that data has been placed in a mailbox, trash can, and a newspaper stand. In order to find these, you will have to go and destroy every single one of these objects in the area. Perhaps after a few runs through the city, you will finally reach your objective. Most of the missions deal with finding certain objects, but it gets easier since they are not as well-hidden as they were in the first few missions. In some cases, there will be a blue mark showing that the hidden item is located in the vicinity. Once you’ve passed these missions, you will advance to missions that require you to escort and/or protect people, which is difficult because they are so weak, slow, and die way too quickly. Protecting them is a royal pain, especially the mission where you have to protect them from the crazy rush. Once you get these missions out of the way, however, the extremely fun boss battles begin, where all you do is run away from the opponent and wait for an opening to exploit their weakness and kill them. For you Hunter fans, a specific someone is back, but I will leave it up to you to play it and find out who it might be.

While battling in the missions, you will notice that the characters do no respond as well as they should. Characters get stuck in their combo attacks and cannot break out of it or change directions, which I hope will be fixed in their next edition. In order to avoid this, it is wise to not bash the melee attack button unless you have the perfect timing and can hit with it. If you miss, you may find yourself surrounded by many Rots – not a good thing. If you do get stuck, you can try activating your edges, and maybe you will break out of the predicament. Each character has a total of three edges, and each edge has three power levels which get more powerful as time goes on. The edges can help increase your speed all the way to healing yourself, which is definitely very helpful in battle. Be careful not to use this feature too much because it will use up conviction and at times even take away some health. When this happens, I suggest looking for glyphs on the ground.

Within each of these missions, there will be several glyphs on the ground to which you should pay attention; they will give you life, conviction (magic power), strength, or accuracy. Once you have finished the objectives, the exit glyph will be activated and allow you to exit and head back to home base, where you can communicate with the other hunters via and check out the data recovered on missions. Next would be the trophy room, which shows your progress on how you are fighting the forces of evil, which are pretty much cheats that you unlock once you beat the game. The mission board is where you will check out the objectives and choose which mission suits you best. Last but not least, there is the entertainment center, where you can watch the CG movies you’ve already seen, listen to the unlocked songs in music player, and model viewer.

The video quality in the game is impressive and may not be on par with the Xbox version, but it is fairly enjoyable. You just can’t help but wait for the CG scenes, which tell the story of the game because without them, you would not understand how anything ties together. These scenes occur after you complete a set locale, and my favorite CG was the school bus. The character models are always very nice and match the CG models fairly well. All we all know by now, CG quality is always greater than in-game quality, but if the CG doesn’t impress you, the blood and gore probably would. You just got to love seeing the Rots with their head, arms, and body parts chopped off. It’s just hilarious to see the only the enemy’s legs kicking you since everything else is already gone. For you concerned parents out there, you can turn off the blood in the game options, but I think the kids will want to keep this option activated. The in-game graphics are fairly nice, but the background suffers and seems rather dull and not very detailed. Gamers won’t notice it much because the game does not focus much on the surrounding scenery, since you won’t have enough time to stray away from fighting the constantly respawning enemies. The game also offers you the ability to zoom in and out of scenes, but I’m not certain why this useless feature was included. Those buttons could have been utilized for something more useful.

Sound in the game is almost non-existent. Throughout the course of the game, the only time you will hear music is when there is a location with a massive amount of monsters. When there is music, however, it fits the situation fairly well. I’m uncertain about whether the lack of a musical score is good or bad, but silence is definitely preferable to a bad melody. To make up for this, they have included very impressive background music, like war cries and battle sounds. You have just got to love the sound when you pump a fully-loaded automatic into those Rots, and if the sound isn’t enough, you will feel it on the controller vibrations. The voice actors are the best part of the game’s sound; it’s uncanny how well their voices fit the characters, and Judge’s voice is just way too cool.

Overall, this game was fairly enjoyable, and although the missions are identical, you will never get bored with it. The only downsides with the game is the fact that they lock you up into combos, and the fact you can’t rotate the camera around to try and find the objects you need to destroy. If you are into this genre of games, I suggest that you try this one out. Where else will you see a priest giving a smack down? From what I hear, the missions are somewhat similar to the original so I don’t know if Xbox owners will be clamoring for this one. To Danger High Voltage and Vivendi Universal, this was certainly a job well done.

Score: 8.0/10

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