Good Old Reviews
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter - Mandalorians Over Midichlorians

Marshall Lemon | 23 Jan 2016 09:00
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Twenty minutes into the game, Jango gets his jetpack, and Bounty Hunter gets even better. Much like the film, it provides Jango with upward mobility, fast-travel, and lets him shoot in every direction while airborne. That's exactly as fun as it sound, and it doesn't hurt that level designs make good use of the features. My favorite example is the second mission: It opens with Jango exploring a city surface on foot, retrieving his jetpack, and then flying overtop the same buildings while chasing his bounty. Sadly, those camera problems I mentioned make it hard to keep track of your quarry, but overall the jetpack is a great touch that brings Bounty Hunter to life.

Speaking of bounties, Bounty Hunter isn't some meaningless title - NPCs are scattered across each mission with lucrative bounties on their heads. Scanning them from a distance tells you whether a bounty is available, what they're worth dead or alive, and any biographical details from the bounty poster. Some targets are civilian NPCs, minding their own business while you complete primary objectives. Others are foot soldiers among your primary enemies, meaning you might kill them by accident if their partners start a firefight.

Bounty hunting goes a long way towards mixing up routine action scenes. It encourages you to keep your distance from enemies at first, scoping out potential targets and generating an attack plan. If they must be captured alive, you'll need to decide whether to take them out last (so you don't aren't shot in the process) or capture them first (so you don't shoot them by accident). Even when Bounty Hunter isn't dropping you in heavy firefights, stalking lone targets makes the game more engaging. There's an entire civilian section in Coruscant to explore and capture bounties - one of whom gave me an impressive chase across the entire map before I caught up with my jetpack.

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Outside of gameplay, bounties also have a rich narrative function. The simple display text from each bounty description shares stories of the larger Star Wars universe - some of which aren't very pleasant. At one point, I scanned an unassuming Twil'ek, only to find she was an escaped slave with connections to an Underground Railroad movement. More importantly, she was wanted alive, which meant the Hutts who posted her bounty would torture her for information. That's an impressive amount of backstory for a character who doesn't have any significant dialogue, and it actually made me question turning her in. Of course, Jango himself is a pragmatic individual, so the game won't judge you for earning a few extra credits.

If you're more interested in epic Star Wars battles, don't worry - Bounty Hunter has some fantastic set pieces. You'll fight enemies in remote forests, towering skyscrapers, and a huge variety of worlds. Missions range from executing a prison break to breaching the stronghold of a corrupt Republic senator. Boss characters include alien creatures and giant vehicles covered in heavy armaments. And through it all, Jango is a force to be reckoned with. Once you have a handle on the controls, he'll roll past enemies, pop back up to open fire, and dodge for cover using your jetpack. All of his weapons from Attack of the Clones are featured here, from his flamethrower to a bounty grabbing cable, and all have practical functions beyond looking impressive. The fights themselves are dynamic and exciting as well. On more than one occasion, I was knocked from a nearby ledge, grabbed the edge to keep from falling, rocketed up to safety - and dove back into the fight, where it might happen again. Even if Jango is the villain, that's pure, distilled Star Wars action.

Whatever you think of the prequel universe, Bounty Hunter capitalizes on its elements in fun and memorable ways. The end result is a solid action game that transports us to a galaxy far, far away, and pays good credits for bringing targets back alive. Now strap on that helmet and jetpack, and find them.


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