Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter Review
By Michael Richter |
Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter, developed by Warthog, amounts to nothing more than a mediocre first-person shooter with one cool gimmick. Long ago said to be "Grand Space Auto", chiseled ex-Ranger Mace Griffin is far from being a rockstar. Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter is a mixture of good and bad, a prime example of the Ying and Yang of game design. But is there enough good in here to merit withstanding the bad? Read on and find out!
Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter is, surprise surprise, set in the future. It's a time where, apparently, everyone likes to live in asteroids instead of on planets. A time when outlaws are hunted by bounty hunters, as opposed to government regulators. Our hero, Mace Griffin, is a grizzled hunter of bounties, a former Ranger (galactic police force recently disbanded), who gets the ol' screw job and must figure out who set him up and why. The mystery and the plot Mace uncovers is poorly told and pretty boring. The cut-scenes, which are almost always showing Mace standing and talking to someone for long, drawn-out exposition, are great fun to skip.
Because Mace Griffin has no multiplayer or game elements beyond the single-player campaign, a deep and involving story is one ingredient that must be present. It's not here. This is a poorly told, uninteresting, and cliched tale of revenge that doesn't even appear to be about revenge for the majority of the game.
Ground and space merge
The hooplah over Mace has been in full-effect for some time. This is a first-person shooter that blends ground and space combat together and weaves the two aspects throughout almost every mission. You may, for example, have to infiltrate a slave mine, rescue a prisoner, and then take control of your ship, fly into space and take down swarms of enemy ships. All of that comes without transition. You walk into your ship, the Pallbearer, to the cockpit, and grab hold of the throttle. At any point in time you can let go of the controls, get up and leave the cockpit. Pretty damn cool idea. Too bad Warthog did nothing interesting with it.
When we were originally shown Mace, it was touted as Grand Theft Auto in space. The end product shares nothing in common with GTA. This is a 100% linear game where your path through a mission is simple to find since there's rarely more than one accessible door or entryway at any time. While you will get to board another ship and kill the crew, this is a scripted event. You can't suddenly decide to leave the New Denver space colony and take off for parts unknown in your ship. You have to play by the rules. You never go far in your spaceship, just enough to dogfight some baddies or dock in a space station. All necessary long distance travel is handled in cut-scenes.
There would have been nothing cooler than to be able to fly throughout the Mace galaxy on my own time, or to hop from ship to ship, jacking people like a true space pirate. But in the final product, you'll rarely fly anything but the Pallbearer and even when you do fly another ship, it's only for a short period of time, while it serves the story.
This is the final frontier?
The space combat itself is decent, if not overly enthralling. Warthog is best known for bringing Starlancer to the Dreamcast. The space combat is similar to this excellent Dreamcast game, but less complex. The simplicity of space combat makes it feel hollow. It's fun, sure, chasing down ships zipping by, but it's just too easy. Even in the later levels, when there are dozens of ships attacking at once, the threat of dying is never prevalent. What should be dramatic dogfights turn into a matter of outrunning pursuers and shooting constantly. Space never felt so two-dimensional. But this is actually the fun part of the game. It simply lacks execution.