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January 6, 2002
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
3/12/2002EA GamesLucasArts1M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
50KBPro Logic IIYesNoNoneNo

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Jango can use his jet pack.
Without a doubt one of the biggest characters in the Star Wars universe is the bounty hunter Boba Fett. Although he only says a couple of words in the original trilogy he has become one of the legendary characters. In Episode II: Attack of the Clones it's Boba's father, Jango, who gets the action on the screen as one of the characters which Obi-wan is trying to track down following an assassination of Zam Wessell, another bounty hunter which is being interrogated. Star Wars Bounty Hunter is a game based solely on Jango Fett's bounty hunting exploits. This game is set before Episode II, and will give gamers some insight into the characters past with an all new storyline.

You are Jango Fett, the galaxy's most dangerous bounty hunters, hired to hunt down the elusive leader of a mysterious cult - dead or alive. Over six diverse worlds and 18 levels, you face off against galactic scum, fearsome beasts, and brutal competition that stand between you and your prey: a deranged dark Jedi. This hunt leads you to the darkest corners of the Star Wars universe where no one else has dared to go, but you are the fearless, ruthless, and relentless Jango Fett. During the game the cut scenes, developed by non-other then ILM (the company that does the special effects in movies), explains how Jango Fett ened up being used to create the Clone Army.

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Using the blaster.
Star Wars Bounty Hunter is primarily a third person action adventure game which takes place on well known Star Wars locations such as Coruscant, Tatooine, and a maximum-security asteroid prison. Jango's deadly arsenal includes his trademark dual blaster pistols, missile-equipped jetpack, flamethrower, thermal grenades, toxic darts, and a sniper rifle among others. Jango also has a range of gadgets at his disposal such as the wrist-mounted cutting laser to cut through locked doors and the bounty scope which is used to determine who has a bounty on their head, but more on that later.

As with almost every LucasArts title the developers have included not only primary mission objectives, but also secondary and even tertiary objectives. While most missions see you trying to hunt down a boss of some kind the levels are also littered with other enemies that can be captured for bounties. Another of the key aspects of this title is that while your twin blasters and Whipcord have unlimited ammunition most other weapons have a limited supply of ammunition which ensures you are careful to ensure some ammunition remains to take out the later, and ultimately more difficult, characters in the levels.

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The visual effects are nice.
One of the most interesting additions to this title is the use of Jango Fett's Jet Pack, as seen in the movie. This allows you to go airborne. It was always going to be interesting to see how LucasArts implemented this as it would have made the game very open if you could fly off into the distance and out of the gameplay area. The developers have gotton around this by reducing the boost time to a couple of seconds, enough time to get out of danger, but not enough to take you too far away from it. It works quite well and really is one of the few highlights of the game to distinguish it from other 3rd person shooters.

Despite all the technical wizardry this game falls well short of expectations. The most immediate problem is the control system which, while introduces relatively slowly, is awkward. Funnily enough even the bounty hunting aspect of the game is just way too cumbersome to be useful, and within a couple of levels it becomes an distraction more then a gameplay element and is soon forgotten. To collect a bounty you must cycle through the items in your inventory to the Jango Fett Helmet, then press the R2 button to switch to a First Person View. Folling this you must aim your helmet at all the characters in the level (many of which are conveniently shooting you at the same time) to find those that have a bounty on their heads. You must then press the Square button to signify you are going to collect that bounty. Then switch to the Whipchord, then tie them up (many are required alive so shooting them is pointless). Following this you must then press the triangle button to collect the bounty. Surely LucastArts could have streamlined this prior to release.

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Using the jetpack.
Graphically, Star Wars Bounty Hunter is a very mixed bag. The introduction and cut scenes are simply stunning. They aren't movie quality - they're not supposed to be - but they are very cinematic. From the opening scenes with Lord Tyranus you know this will be something very special indeed. The game itself includes over 100 wonderfully modelled characters that are instantly recognisable throughout the game. Just wait until you see the C3PO look-alikes. Finally the levels themselves look simply stunning with some brilliant texturing, lighting and particle effects throughout.

Sadly, all this graphical splendour comes at a large cost - the frame rate. At times the frame rate seems to drop very low, perhaps to 15fps or so from the usual 25fps, especially when the action on screen is at its heaviest, and the need for the high frame rate is at its highest. This is yet another Star Wars title that simply can't hold a steady frame rate. Perhaps LucasArts need to look elsewhere for technical ability on consoles (although even the upcoming Star Wars: Clone Wars by Pandemic has frame rate problems). Another of the problems with the graphics is the camera angles which leave much to be desired, although you have some control via the right analogue stick. On a brighter finishing note although the game doesn't include a 60Hz mode it does have Progressive scan support for those lucky enough to have one of those TV's.

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A hit with the missile.
With the work being performed at Skywalker Sound there was little doubt that this game would be stunning to listen to, and the Dolby Surround Pro Logic II works superbly. The game includes many sections of John Williams' legendary score and it back the action perfectly. Jeremy Soule has also creates some original music for the title, and they also blend in perfectly. LucasArts have also used the voice talents of Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones stars Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett and Leeanna Walsman as Zam Wesell. Also featuring TV and film star Clancy Brown as Jango's brutal arch-nemesis Montross.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is a very disappointing. Despite the input of Skywalker Sound and ILM this game is flawed by gameplay and technical deficiencies. LucasArts are still struggling to come anywhere near the excellence in Star Wars games that game with games like Tie Fighter and Dark Forces on the PC in the early 1990's. Perhaps the company should look at re-inventing those titles - getting back to basics. Star Wars Bounty Hunter is a game for Star Wars fans only, or possibly a rental for casual gamers.

GRAPHICSNice levels character models, and cut-scenes. Poor frame rate.
SOUNDYou expect the best with Skywalker Sound, and that's what you get.
GAMEPLAYPointless bounty hunting disappoints, controls require more work.
VALUEOnly 18 missions on six worlds, but plenty of things to unlock.
OVERALLConsidering the game was worked on by both ILM and Skywalker Sound you would expect a lot more. Star Wars fans will enjoy this title much more then the casual gamer, and it's probably worth considering. For casual gamers and non-Star Wars fans this game is a rental at most. Star Wars Bounty Hunter fails to live up to expectations.

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