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Review: Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (PS4)

The Mandalorian is being widely regarded as the most authentic Star Wars experience since Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012. Featuring new characters and a Wild West-inspired world within Star Wars, the show was among the most wildly streamed shows of 2019. With baby Yoda of course, the show absolutely skyrocketed in popularity and united the fandom. With the prevalence of The Mandalorian, I discovered that the PlayStation Store released a lesser-known PlayStation 2 classic from an exciting time within Star Wars: 2002’s Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. With the game re-released on PlayStation 4, Star Wars Bounty Hunter is the closest that players can get to experiencing a genuine bounty hunting experience. 17 years later, the game is still an exciting and thrilling good time, but its faults still remain, and it has not aged well. 

Star Wars Bounty Hunter was released in November of 2002, six months after the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. In this awesome re-released game players Don the helmet of Jango Fett, a Mandalorian and one of the most notorious bounty hunters in the Galaxy. Jango Fett was featured prominently in Attack of The Clones, challenging Obi-Won Kenobi throughout the film. Star Wars: Bounty Hunter serves as the official prequel to Attack of The Clones

Being a Mandalorian, Jango Fett is a keen and cunning warrior dedicated to a Creed of honor. His expertise in tracking targets, weapons handling, and close-quarters combat make him a nightmare to the scum and villainy of the Galaxy. Unbeknownst to Jango, Lord Sidious and Count Dooku discover a new threat. An evil cult, known as The Bando Gora, is being led by a Dark Jedi named Komari Vosa who’s twisted and maligned beliefs threaten the plans of Lord Sidious and his clone army. Count Dooku, as a solution to this new threat, creates The Great Hunt. The goal of this being to pursue and end the threat of Komari Vose. Anyone who is able to accomplish this will be worthy of being the prime specimen for the clone army. Count Dooku sends a customized transmission into the circles of bounty hunters in the Galaxy. To the one who successfully dispatches Komari Visa, a reward of 6 million Republic credits will be offered. No one has ever hunted the Bando Gora and returned alive. After learning of this bounty, Jango fuels his ship and gears up on a quest for fortune and glory. 

Star Wars Bounty Hunter plays as a third-person action-adventure game, where players rely on their skills and quick-thinking to defeat the enemies before then on their quest for the ultimate prize. In the opening stages, players learn the fundamentals to combat. From Jango signature dual laser pistols to his flamethrower and grappling rope, players will have a solid assortment of weapons and tools to use. Later in the game, players receive the jetpack, and subsequently the special rocket launcher device for the jetpack. A special note, the helmet scanner, allows Jango to scan targets for potential bounties. These bounties can be used to unlock extras in the main menu. Strangely, these bounties, all.of which are dead or alive, are never applied to a level-up system or shop for new weapons, a strange omission from a game like Star Wars: Bounty Hunter.

Time has not been kind to Star Wars: Bounty Hunter and prospective players need to prepare for an experience aged by nearly 20 years. There are 6 chapters in Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, each one divided by several levels all of which following a linear path. On this path, players are tasked with clearing out hundreds of foes along the way to their destination. The mission objectives are accomplished through cinematic events. For those looking for more than just shooting and punching, there are secondary bounties to secure. These secondary bounties are randomly dispersed throughout each level, and remain in a designated location. Finding them is rather difficult as players have to manually switch to the scanner and scan various targets, oftentimes in the middle of combat. There is a trophy to unlock for successfully acquiring each bounty in a non-lethal manner, but this is for the more experienced players. Players can kill or capture these bounties, but other than the extras in the menu, there is no real consequence to hunting these bounties. 

The worst parts to Star Wars: Bounty Hunter are the jetpack sections. Several missions require Jango to fly across space to get to a certain destination. The problem with this is the fact that the jetpack has a very limited amount of fuel, which felt like only a few drops. It recharges quickly, but flight time is extremely limited forcing the player to struggle with proper flight and landing. These sections are the most frustrating parts of the game. They require precise flying and platforming to avoid certain death to the bottomless pit below. To make matters worse, Star Wars: Bounty Hunter uses “lives” and while there are checkpoints, you have to start all the way back at the beginning of the level if you lose all your lives. Some levels can last upwards of 15 to over 20 minutes, so having to restart from the very beginning can be rather soul-crushing. 

Despite these faults, Star Wars: Bounty Hunter can still be regarded as a very good game as the gameplay, mechanics, as well as the overall world and story are incredibly refreshing, especially within the world of Star Wars. Most Star Wars games focus on the Skywalkers, or to the constant battle between the Jedi and the Sith. In Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, the focus is squarely on the filthy and dangerous world of outlaws. The game invites players into a world of lawlessness, corruption, and darkness. Temuera Derek Morrison, who portrayed Jango Fett in Attack of The Clones, reprises his role for Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, bringing a solid performance and filling in the gaps that led to Attack of The Clones. A strong cast of voice actors, including the legendary Clancy Brown, lend their voice talents to this tale ion the seedy underbelly of Star Wars.

The combat in the game still holds strong despite its age. Using Jango’s trademark laser pistols is incredibly satisfying, especially in large groups. Even when locked onto a target, Jango will automatically target another enemy with his other arm, creating a true sensation of a Wild West shootout in space. The jetpack, while having painfully limited fuel, does make Jango a harder target to hit making it quite useful. Using the flamethrower and rocket launcher is also very fun to use. Regrettably, there is no level that has the player piloting the legendary  Slave I ship, but the combat scenarios presented in Star Wars: Bounty Hunter makes up for it. Giant alien beasts, starships, and rival Mandalorians are just a few of the enemies the players fight against. Coupled with a solid music score, the action is met with an aged, but still impressive visual style. The environments of the game are well-realized as well, from the towering skyscrapers of Coruscant to the jungles of Mandalore. Overall Star Wars: Bounty Hunter gives players a strong adventure experience. 

Its gameplay mechanics have certainly not aged well and going back into it can be rather painful, but Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is as close as we are going to get to an experience like The Mandalorian. It’s sharp presentation, combat, and story are worth the price of admission, and for the Star Wars faithful, they will appreciate the art direction and combat mechanics of Star Wars: Bounty Hunter. Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is worth your time, but with hope, Lucasfilm and EA may revisit the criminal underworld of Star Wars. Hopefully, they’ll fix those jetpacks along the way.

Platforms: PlayStation 4

Price: $4.99

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