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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Encore

 

Developer

Black Ops Ent.

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2004


 

- Good for some laughs

- It’s really, really cheap

 

 

- Good only for some laughs

- It feels really, really cheap  

 

 

Review: Soldier of Fortune II - Double Helix (XB)

Review: Turok Evolution (PS2)

 

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Fugitive Hunter

Score: 3.0 / 10

 

Any movie buff is familiar with the concept that a movie can be so bad that it is actually fun to watch.  Plan 9 from Outer Space and Mommie Dearest are canonical examples of this phenomenon.  I have never really had that experience with a videogame.  Maybe it is the $50 price tag on the average release, but I rarely get a kick out of bad videogames.  Fugitive Hunter is the rare exception.  It is undoubtedly a terrible game.  It makes Irritating Stick for the PSX look like The Legend of Zelda in comparison, but I have to admit that the game was good for a few laughs.  Still, even as a bargain release, Fugitive Hunter isn’t close to being worth the money.

 

fugitive hunter          fugitive hunter

 

The premise of Fugitive Hunter is straight out of the FOX Television playbook.  Players take on the role of an operative charged with hunting down the world’s most dangerous terrorists.  These missions lead our hero from the Middle East to the Hood and a half of a dozen places in between.  Though the locations vary, two things do not:  every enemy is a broad racial/cultural stereotype, and all of them know the same brand of Kung Fu.  (No, I’m not kidding, but we’ll get to that in a second.)  The game is mission-based and non-linear.  After the scripted first mission, players can choose which mean foreigner to go after next.

 

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The vast majority of Fugitive Hunter’s game play is standard first-person-shooter fare.  Other than the graphical upgrade, nothing separates the game play here from Quake era FPSs, except for the fact that there is no fun to be had.  Many annoying traits are present, but the top two or three will likely suffice as examples.

 

To begin with, the difficulty level is wildly inconsistent.  The auto-aim element means a player must only 

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vaguely point the game’s weapons toward an enemy in order to score a hit.  I once shot a villain off the top of a high cliff with a shotgun when I was actually aiming at a different enemy on the ground.  Also, even on the highest difficulty, the easily-found armor absorbs way too many hits.  I went straight through the first few levels on the top difficulty without dying at all and without really trying not to die.  But then, later, my character would be taken from full-health, full-armor straight to death in a split second—I suppose from a head shot by an enemy that suddenly materialized behind me in a cleared out area. 

 

To be perfectly clear, there is no such thing as clearing out an area in Fugitive Hunter.  Even if it seems that there is no possible way an enemy could get in behind the hero, you can turn around suddenly and find ten enemies that weren’t there a minute ago are there now.  I don’t think that the enemies re-populate either (a major no-no in FPS design).  It actually seems like these re-appearances are scripted rather than random respawns, though without examining the code we can’t know for sure.  Regardless, the teleporting enemies would be a real issue if they weren’t such pushovers.

 

If all there was to Fugitive Hunter was the bland FPS fare, it would simply be a bad shooter, but Black Ops Entertainment really goes the extra mile here and adds boss battles that are handled with hand-to-hand combat using an amazingly amateurish, button-mashing fighting engine.  At the end of each mission the player goes man-to-man with the leader of a terrorist cell.  The characters toss down their guns and get right to the chop-socky.  All that is required of the player is to hit a random button at a pretty good clip to eventually wear down the opponent and take him into custody.  Now, game design in the modern era is a collaborative process.  It requires animators, programmers, writers, producers, art designers, and various other individuals.  I can’t imagine that of the dozens of people that participated in the design of the game, none of them said, “Wait a minute—this is a really stupid idea!”  But, alas, it must not have happened and gamers are left suffering through the lamest game play this side of Mary-Kate and Ashley’s latest shopping-themed endeavor.

 

fugitive hunter          fugitive hunter

 

The graphics and sound are average and boring.  The only thing that really stands out is the character animation.  As can be seen in the DVD-like bonus features, Fugitive Hunter features motion-captured animation for both the protagonist and his enemies.  That is all well and good except for the fact that they captured the models doing ridiculously unrealistic combat maneuvers, many involving back flips.

 

The first thing you’re likely to notice is that most enemies are capable of throwing a standing back tuck that any cheerleader would be proud of.  The problem is (well, the other problem other than the fact that the average thug can’t do a back tuck in full battle gear) that when they do the back flip in front of our hero, it gives the player a luxuriously long time to take aim and blow them out of the air.  Still, I have to admit the flips are hilarious to watch and my brother and I really got a kick out of them.

 

Other than intentionally funny games like Day of the Tentacle and Monkey Island, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed more at a game than I did at Fugitive Hunter.  So, at least there is that to recommend it.

 

- Tolen Dante

(February 25, 2004)

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