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Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter Preview (Xbox, PS2, GC)
game: Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter
posted by: Shawn Rider
date posted: 09:10 AM Mon Jul 1st, 2002
last revision: 04:19 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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In a galaxy rife with political, corporate, and religious turmoil, a tuff-as-nails renegade named Mace Griffin has been framed for the murder of his comrades. After a stint in prison, Griffin becomes a bounty hunter in order to gain the means necessary to track down and kill the people who framed him.

Ah, revenge. What better reason to pick up a controller and start blasting away those who dare make you their adversary? However, Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter is more than just a grand, galaxy-wide revenge tale. It is also an innovative cross-pollination of two solid gaming genres: the first person and space flight shooter. That\'s right, when you take on the role of Mace Griffin, you get yourself a gun and a spaceship to kick some ass.

The way it works is this: the story moves in a mostly nonlinear fashion, somewhat akin to Grand Theft Auto 3, so that some of the encounters you have are story-driven, some are incidental. You fly around in your spacecraft, find a spaceport, land, get out, and walk around. While doing so you will find clues, receive assignments, encounter hostile enemies, and ultimately take your revenge. And all of this is seamless. Yes, in this game you will be dogfighting with squadrons of spacecraft, your game screen consisting of the cockpit and HUD of your warship. Then, upon finding a serviceable place to land, you step up from the pilot\'s seat, walk down the exit ramp, and fight your way through unfriendly environments in a FPS. Okay, I am being a little redundant, but it really is this cool. I don\'t know why, but I even got a kick out of the fact that you can be in mid-flight, gallivanting around in space, and still step out of the cockpit and walk around your ship. Likewise, you are not bound to an area once you have landed. If an enemy runs into a spacecraft and tries to make an escape, you hop into another ship and give chase. Plus, with an open-ended story that emphasizes exploration and encounters rather than single-minded level conquering, this is the kind of game that could take over your life. Imagine if, while playing HALO, you could hop in a Banshee and just take off into space and go somewhere else. That\'s Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter.

Non-player characters will play a large roll in Mace Griffin-both the ones who give you assignments, and the ones you encounter along the way. And be careful, screw over the wrong guy and you may encounter his unappreciative buddies later. The AI promises to be great as well. Reactions from NPCs depend upon many factors, such as their intelligence, bravery, or health. Enemies will engage you in different ways depending upon their numbers, type of weapons, available cover, et cetera. They will even run away if they are injured or things get too hairy. Playing the demo at E3 2002, I got a taste of this, and even though the AI was still early, the enemies rolled and dove for cover, flanked me, and behaved otherwise unexpectedly.

The game sports a plethora of different hand weapons and upgrades for your ship. During the course of the game you earn cash in order to purchase different items. You can also find and steal them along the way. You will have the opportunity to fly as many as seven different vehicles. Also, each environment you encounter will have its own unique physics, inhabitants, and creatures.

Even though the game was very early in its development and there was only a portion of one level to play, even though I knew I should be out on the floor playing other games, I couldn\'t help spending an undo amount of time with Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter. I even came back to play it again. Sure, it looked and performed great, though there was little to do in the demo. But there was more to it than that. I guess I just couldn\'t help but explore every available inch of what was there, because, in the end, I wanted more of what the game had to offer. I couldn\'t get enough of Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter, and considering I was surrounded by virtually every other game that is coming out this year, and well into the next, that is pretty impressive.

Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter will be available for the Xbox, PS2, Gamecube, and PC in Quarter 3, 2002.