Hunting for compliments.
It's hard to keep a good zombie down'well, I guess it's hard to keep anyzombie down. That's the underlying principle of Zombiism: whether good, bad or indifferent, zombies tend to keep shuffling forward. And, though mostly bad and indifferent, the zombies in Hunter the Reckoning: Wayward have shuffled back to the town of Ashcroft to take up where they left off in the previousHunter venture, Hunter the Reckoning for the Xbox and GameCube.
The Hunters have returned as well, presumably to put an end to this malodorous uprising, investigate the disappearances of a couple of their own kind and rescue a few townsfolk while they're at it. They come with axes, swords, and pistols to quell the stench wafting from the unfortunate town, but they only succeed in fanning the funk around so we all have to smell it in High Voltage's disappointing sequel.
AlthoughHunter the Reckoning: Wayward, like its predecessor, looks and plays much like Gauntlet with its isometric perspective and cooperative multiplayer mode, here the "multi" includes up to a whopping TWO players. That's two down from the original four from Hunter the Reckoning for Xbox and GameCube, and the game doesn't make up for it with richer gameplay or lusher graphics.
The gameplay is the repetitive hacking, slashing and firing on enemies and carries meager reward for your handiwork. Often you gain nothing more than a weapon that you may or may not take with you to the next level. Even though Hunters gain experience during play, which allegedly impacts their stats, don't expect to notice the difference.
To dispose of baddies, Hunters can opt for melee attacks or just bust loose with a firearm. Each Hunter has a couple of melee combos, one which will move your character forward through and (as the move cannot be aborted) often beyond your foes, and another combo which is chargeable and will keep your Hunter in roughly the same space. Some of these attacks look cool the first couple of times you see them, but tend to lose their luster right around the sixth- or seventh-thousand time you do it.
The firearms are unimaginatively implemented and are hampered by the fact that all aim is relegated to the right analog stick and is jerky, inaccurate and just plain goofy. It will often have you firing on empty space while you're getting clobbered on three sides. Projectile weapons have finite ammo and are best reserved for Boss characters that you'd prefer to keep at a distance. Nothing else is much of a challenge in any respect other than sheer numbers.
Hunters can also perform a magical move called an "Edge." Each Hunter has a different Edge and they are meant to aid them in the mindless slaughter of things already dead. Either a help to a Hunter or a hindrance to their foes, the Edges are neither plentiful nor special enough to add much depth.
The controls are not fully configurable and, although a few alternate control schemes are offered, all of them are fairly silly (jump, for instance, is always a trigger). There's nothing intuitive about the control setups which makes them hard to get used to, but at least you get several unintuitive set ups to choose from. I suppose that's some consolation, although since your character isn't really doing much in the game it's difficult to understand why there should be any awkwardness with the controls at all.
Some attempt has been made at atmospheric effects like falling rain and wet pavement, but Hunter the Reckoning: Wayward is no great looker. Character design manages to straddle the fence between cartoony and bland. Monsters and undead (or "Rots," as they prefer to be called) look okay but come in little variety. Considering that the game consists primarily of wading through hordes of them, you're basically taking down carbon copies of the same creatures over and over again.
The character animation is less than flattering. Jumps are executed with a slow motion weightlessness that looks distinctly Zero G, and the strafe move appears to have been choreographed by Michael Flatley from the Riverdance crew; it equates to a kind of high-stepping sideways gallop which is supposed to get you away from enemies quickly, but just looks silly.
Despite the hordes of constantly respawning evil-doers, the humdrum storyline and repetitive play just don't provide much inspiration to wade through this yawner. Things fare only marginally better when played with a friend in co-op. Players will find themselves fulfilling such riveting mission objectives as attacking garbage cans, gravestones and newspaper racks in search of "cleverly" hidden items. Or rescuing innocents who sit huddled like balls of yarn and don't appear to be in any imminent danger, or taking down endless waves of the same handful of creatures as you track and backtrack through boring environments, etc.
Hunter the Reckoning: Wayward is definitely a lightweight when it comes to entertainment. Despite copious blood splatters and a smattering of "adult" language, the gameplay is strictly for kids. However, after about a half an hour even little ones will pooh-pooh this game in favor of just about anything else. You're better off leaving this one to rot.