Hunting for compliments.
It’s hard to keep a good zombie down’well, I guess it’s hard to keep any
zombie 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 previous
Hunter 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.
Hunter 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.
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,
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.