Half Machine… Half Baked.
Machine Hunter originates around a pretty innovative idea: the ability to kill an enemy robot and then inhabit that robot’s body using its weapons against other enemies. This, however, is where innovation hands the baton to his friend, annoyance, and annoyance runs with it for the rest of the race. With a half-baked story line, annoying controls and a view that can’t be tolerated for more than twenty minutes, it is safe to say that Machine Hunter was a good idea that just never got developed properly.
The basic idea behind the
game play, as I said, is new and interesting. Basically you go around shooting
and killing robots and, just before fully destroying a robot, you have the ability
to become the robot, or at least inhabit its body. You then go around the game,
jumping from robot to robot, each time (hopefully) getting a stronger robot
with better guns and armor. Unfortunately, the stupid story created to accompany
this gem of an idea falls short of perfection.
The year is 2034, and colonies of robots have been set up on mars to perform labor-intensive operations. Aliens who have recently landed on the red planet re-programmed these robots into murderous killing machines. As the sole survivor of an operation to stop these robots from invading earth, you must destroy all the renegade machines and save the hostages. Oh yeah, you also have some special suit that allows you to “mentally and physically inhabit a robot” (lame). Well, that’s it. All other hints as to what the hell is going on with the corny story are the quick, 2 sentence, mission definitions. Each of the 12 missions has a different setting, but all with the same goal: kill robots & aliens, save hostages. Due to the uncomfortable game view and un-customizable controls, don’t expect to spend hours on end perfecting your strategy of walking around and constantly bashing the fire key.
When playing Machine Hunter you have two options as to the graphics: play in a window, or play full screen with absurdly large pixels. Yes, that’s right. Machine Hunter can ONLY be played in a 320X200 window. Going full screen means that pixels are unbelievably huge, while playing in a window means that you will be staring at a tiny window within a windows environment. While MGM pushes the fact that Machine Hunter is played fully in a 3D world, it is safe to say that all enemies and robots are simple 2D sprites, despite the fact that the intro sequences display awesome-looking 3D models. MGM Interactive describes the viewpoint as being from a “classic 3/4 perspective”. This view, basically an overhead, poses problems (and headaches) when trying to include the 3rd dimension of height. It gets difficult (not to mention annoying) to determine higher sectors from lower ones, and the basic game play of moving around a map looking for that last hostage to save before finishing the level can really try one’s patience. On a more positive note, the player has the ability to change what kind of camera the game could incorporate: rotating, fixed, tilted, and fixed tilt.
In addition to the annoying
graphics and game play, the fact that Machine Hunter lacks the ability
to customize its controls poses yet another irritating problem. Yup that’s right,
you are stuck with the controls assigned to you. Don’t worry, the nature of
these controls is incredibly basic: directions keys, directional firing keys,
and 2 fire keys. If you feel like wasting the time, go ahead and use the joystick.
Not everything about Machine Hunter is bad. While the sounds are incredibly basic, the music is a different story. The CD contain a couple of techno tracks which get you “juiced” to whoop the crap out of those blood-thirsty, maniac robots. If you don’t like techno or your computer doesn’t support music tracks, you can settle for the lesser-quality midi. Nevertheless, the ominous CD-tracks definitely make the audio aspect of the game more enjoyable.
Machine Hunter is just too underdeveloped. A better plot and a stronger story that progressed and changed as the game itself progressed would have greatly improved the game as a whole. Annoying controls and graphics ensure that you won’t be playing for intervals longer than 20 minutes. The fact that MGM tried to release such a simple game that can only be played in 320X200 mode is an insult to game players everywhere. I’m sure the game CD will make a nice coaster for the living room table.