Blending ground-based shooting with outer space combat, Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter is a sci-fi adventure starring a former Special Ops Ranger called Mace Griffin. After being framed and imprisoned for the murder of his brothers-in-arms, Griffin returns to society as a bounty hunter who has vowed to find out who or what is responsible. As he explores the far reaches of space searching for information, Griffin makes contact with an assortment of human and alien characters, both friend and foe.
Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter's open-ended gameplay offers randomly generated missions to increase the main character's notoriety and personal wealth. Cash received from successful missions can be used to upgrade firearms and ship weapons at specific shops. While the majority of action is played from a first-person viewpoint on the ground, the act of traveling to and from destinations is accomplished via spaceship. Hostile encounters with creatures in space may also affect relations with that particular race on the surface.
As the main character gains renown across the galaxy, players will be able to unravel more of the story and embark on specific missions designed to further the main plot. U.K. developer Warthog also designed a special engine called TUSK, allowing for complete movement in and out of the spaceship without the use of cut-scenes or transition sequences. In-game environments include space stations, battle cruisers, and various planetary surfaces as players move one step closer to solving the conspiracy.
In the deep recesses of space, a man has come looking for answers and seeking revenge. The man is Mace Griffin, a former member of the elite Ranger squadron has just returned from prison after being framed for the loss of his team ten years earlier. Mace takes work as a bounty hunter in an effort to gain information on who has set him up.
The game unfolds in a series of missions that are punctuated by cut scenes as missions are assigned at various locations such as space stations that are teaming with activity. Innovatively blending the action of a 3-D shooter with the combat thrills of a flight sim maks Mace novel in its approach to action gaming.
Gameplay does have some varied options such as the time I landed a ship to find a welcome party that had me severely outgunned. With only a little health remaining, a direct attack would be suicide. Not to worry, as I activated the ships onboard camera and weapons and picked off the enemy from the safety of the ship.
While the shooter aspects of the game are a lot of fun, and the levels are for the most part well designed, the space flight segments are limited to shooting down fighter craft. While this is not bad, the targets display a fairly basic A.I. as they do little more than attack in swarms then pull away only to repeat the process again. Players looking for combat that rivals the Wing Commander series will be disappointed as targets do not show much in the way of tactics making them more annoying than challenging to most seasoned gamers.
The action is very intense at times and can be tricky with a console control for those used to a mouse and keyboard. My main fault with the game was in the save system as players need to reach certain points to save a game (automatic saving) and when loading after a power down, players are taken to the start of the most recent level rather than the most recent checkpoint. I found this to greatly hamper the flow of the game, as I grew tired of having to constantly replay sections of the game that I have already completed.
That being said, the graphics and gameplay of the game are well done and death animations of the enemy players are highly innovative and original. Watch out for enemies that fire blindly on their way down as you can find yourself watching the animations while another enemy sneaks in behind you.
I found the level design to be solid as the scenarios including everything from a freighter to a temple in space to be well rendered and practical in their depictions and layouts. Multiplay is available as up to 4 players can join each other for shear mayhem. With games such as Halo setting the new console standard for shooters, Mace Griffin is a solid game that is enjoyable and varied. It is however saddled with a bad save system and certain space flight sequences are lacking. That being said, the save game issues prevent this game from being a classic but as it stands, Mace Griffin is an enjoyable romp with a good story that should please most action fans.
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