As Dumb as it Sounds
For years, a company called Hasbro Interactive has been very successful at making a quiet fortune selling more "family oriented" types of games that the "hardcore gamer" didn't even know existed (Monopoly, Clue, Life, Wheel of Fortune etc.). Lately, with the publishing of HEDZ and soon-to-be-finished Glover (new Mario64-type of game for the N64), Hasbro has been making an effort to jump into the more mainstream gaming market. A valiant attempt but, in the case of HEDZ, Hasbro should have stuck with another board game conversion.
Let me start off by saying that games with wacky, random or improbable plots can work... but, in the case of HEDZ (that's Head Extreme Destruction Zone), the game just comes off as completely pointless. Here's a quick synopsis of the game's half-baked story: A race of aliens who all look the same decided to go to earth and steal human heads to use as their own (sort of like a hat). Soon this "headhunting" became the craze and turned into a legal sport. You play an alien headhunter participating in an intergalactic head-hunting competition (yes, that last cheesy line was taken right from the manual), and try to collect all 200 HEDZ.
Just how does this translate to gameplay? Well, basically you run around a level shooting people (which are really just aliens wearing human heads). If you kill them and can grab their head in time, it goes in your bag and you can equip it whenever you want. Each head has its own attributes including power, range, jump height, toughness and top speed, which makes for somewhat interesting strategies as different heads must be equipped to pass different parts of each level.
Also, you can grab money lying around and spend it on regaining health or interchanging heads in the middle of a game. Simple? Yes. Boring? Yes. Tiresome? Hell Yes. The game itself plays similar to other Tomb Raider-style shooters on the market with one major difference: you cannot look up and down (reminiscent of the oh-so-famous Doom age).
The player can carry around 5 heads at one time in addition to the number of heads collected throughout the level, which are held in the backpack. Each head only has its own individual health and ammo, all of which replenish when the head is not in use.
The entire game is played with a 3rd person, Tomb Raider-style camera angle. But, as you might have guessed by now, graphically this is no Unreal. Levels are extremely simple and consist of a number of stairs, boxes, lifts and opening doors. All characters (including yourself) are obvious 2D sprites and, while there are some cool graphical effects, like some explosions, the majority are utterly simplistic and flat.
Now, VIS (the developers) does deserve credit in a couple of places. First, the music. The rock-style background music throughout the game is definitely a plus. Second, the game's depth. While playing the game can get tedious, the fact that the game has 200 different, unique heads definitely deserves some praise. Lastly, HEDZ supports multi- player via IPX, TCI/IP and modem. Microsoft's Internet Gaming Zone should support it in the near future.
Unfortunately, the bottom line is that HEDZ just is not a fun game. The game's abstract plot has very little to do with the gameplay as there is nothing in the game hinting to what the hell is going on with any kind of story. And the gameplay just isn't good enough to stand on its own. Basically, playing the game feels completely pointless. Whatever you are looking for in a game, it isn't here.