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October 25, 2004
Headhunter Redemption - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
215KBDolby Pro Logic IIYesNoNoneNo

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Graphics really are nice.
Near the end of the Dreamcast's sadly painful life one title which was given much hype, and received critical praise, was a game developed by relative unknown Swedish developers Amuze titled Headhunter. With the death of that system however it was clear that the developer would have to port the game to another console to recoup costs, and Playstation 2 was that choice. It wasn't the best game however and sales really suffered, most probably due to the fact the game came out only days before Konami's Metal Gear Solid: Sons of Liberty - a game with quite similar gameplay. The choice for gamers was simple, and Amuze's Headhunter was never going to win that one. Several years later and the sequel is upon us. Can the developers improve on solid foundations?

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Inside one of the buildings.
It must be said that I really enjoyed the storyline for Headhunter Redemption. Twenty years after the devastation caused by the Bloody Mary Virus, a new order emerged based on two distinct but totally independent worlds, divided by the ultimate consumerist society - ‘Above’ and ‘Below’. ‘Above’, a glittering metropolis of glass and steel towers, entwined by elevated highways, its citizens controlled by ever-present media and the powerful corporations behind it. ‘Below’ is the home to criminals, undesirables and misfits. Meeting all the needs of ‘Above’ in return for the right to survive. Society’s conscience wiped clean. Maintaining law and society order is veteran Headhunter Jack Wade, older, wiser and battle hardened. At his side is the reluctant new sidekick, the rebellious street kid Leeza X.

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Targeting enemies.
Gameplay is a blend of action and puzzle solving. While the developers have include two playable characters, Jack and Leeza, there really is little to distinguish them. They have the odd different ability, but the gameplay is essentially the same.

The aiming system is interesting in that your accuracy changes depending on your level of progress into the game. At the beginning Leeza is highly inaccurate as the targeting circle moves around wildly making your shots harder. What is also impressive is the rather high level of interactivity with the environments. It's not as high as Namco's ligh gun game Crisis Zone where almost everythign is affected by bullets but it's better then most.

The puzzle solving is more a case of find the key, open the door, find the power source, which opens a door into another area and so on. It's not very original, nor exciting.

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One of the early levels.
The main problem with Headhunter Redemption is that it can just become plain dull. While the story is good, the way in which it's told isn't overly entertaining. There can be a little too much talk at times. Also a little annoying is the need for Jack or Leeza to scan some items before shooting them, or waiting for the game to do something before items can be affected. That becomes a little annoying.

Graphically I'm fairly impressed by what Amuze have done with this title. It's a unique engine with a fairly unique graphical look. Everything has a soft-haze look to it which smooths out many of the rough edges associated with so many PS2 games.. Most importantly the engine holds up very well when there are a multitude of enemies on screen, and the effects are pretty solid. The CG cut scenes also deserve a mention as they are surprisingly good, and rather interesting.

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Now that's a nice move...
Sound is really quite a mixed bag. The worst part is the speech. It's quite dull and dreary to listen to. If you were to catagorise Jack Wade it would be Clint Eastwood on his most dreary day. Leeza is a little better, but no where near the likes of most other video game characters. Fortunately the effects and music are considerbly better. The gunshots and explosions in particular deserve to be heard through a good sound system.

Overall Headhunter Redemption is a good title, but after the promising first game is a bit of a letdown. The graphics engine is nice enough, there are more cut scenes then you can poke a stick at, the story is good, and the sound, besides the dreary dialogue, is solid enough. Having said that the gameplay is a little bit of a letdown. This is an action title which only die hard fans of the genre need consider.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSThe graphics, while not award winning, are very good overall.
SOUNDSome very dull voiceovers ever detract from good music and effects.
GAMEPLAYTheres nothing fundamentally wrong, it's just not very exciting.
VALUEDoubtful that you'll replay it, you may not even bother completing it.
OVERALLHeadhunter Redemption is not a bad game, it's just that there really is a lot better out there. The graphics, sound (voiceovers excluded) and gameplay are all solid and this game is one which fans of the genre may enjoy. For most, it's a rental at best.

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