games / Columns

Unlockable Content 12.13.06: Reimagining…Bounty Hunter

December 13, 2006 | Posted by Will Scott

Welcome back to Unlockable Content, the column that takes an idea and sticks with it come hell or high water. As you well know from reading the link to this title, I’m Will Scott and I’ll be navigating you through the murky waters of today’s topic. I’m prepping this little gem in the middle of preparing for my final examine in Criminal Law, so don’t be surprised if the Model Penal Code somehow slips in to today’s column. You might learn something!

Regardless, today’s main subject is reimagining a terrible licensed title. First, let’s take a look at the title in question

Star Wars: Bounty Hunter

The Offenses
Star Wars Bounty Hunter was a 3rd person action game that put players in the shoes of Jango Fett in a prequel to Episode II. Bounty Hunter, in general, dealt with the backstory of Jango Fett and his quest to avenge his lost comrades while becoming the best bounty hunter in the galaxy. Aside from the main objectives, there was an ability to take out a limited number of bounties on the side for extra points.

Bounty Hunter is a fine example of a good concept wasted by a shoddy attempt to capitalize on hype. Coming out at around the same time as Episode II, the game was a spotlight piece for what was arguably the only standout character of the film. The plot even directly tied in to Episode II, serving as a prequel for the prequel itself. If you’re curious, IGN actually gave this game an 8.2, though I can’t imagine why. On the positive side, Bounty Hunter simply captured the concept of being a Bounty Hunter through the secondary missions, and had a fairly serviceable plot. That’s where the good things end, I think.

The negatives are a bit heavier, though. The graphics were barely adequate for that time on the various consoles, the controls were touchy (on Gamecube moreso than on PS2), the combat wasn’t anything special, and importantly the camera [i]sucked[/I]. That’s a given with 3D games, sure…but realize that Jango can, on occasion, “fly” using his jetpack. That wasn’t fun, I’ll tell you that much. Bounty Hunter took a decent concept, and made it purely mediocre. That’s negligence, people. If Bounty Hunter was a child, the developers would be convicted of involuntary manslaughter of a good idea. Lucky, there’s room for improvement.

The Fix: Bounty Hunter II – Boba’s Revenge

The Plot
Gamers control Boba Fett, the son of the original game’s protagonist, in his adventures between Episodes III and IV. The general gist of the plot would be Boba seeking to establish himself as the galaxy’s most feared bounty hunter, and we can view his early history working for Jabba the Hutt and the disintegrations mentioned by Vader in Empire.

The Game
Bounty Hunter would work best as a GTA-style sandbox game, with an overarching plot. Plot missions would concern important bounties and the various plots against other bounty hunters, while players could choose to spend their time between missions chasing down the random bounties in the various cities of the galaxy. The game would necessarily be fairly massive – like about two to three times the size of San Andreas, if the current generation of consoles can handle that. Give Boba, say, three major cities – Coronet City, a portion of Coruscant, and Mos Eisley (because everyone likes those cities…), as well as a few other areas to conduct plot missions. The player should be able to move between each city through space travel on Slave I…though at most, this would be a simple Kingdom Hearts II-style travel, not a full-on space sim (as much as I’d love it).

As far as combat goes, Boba should have a fair arsenal of weapons to use, but most of the bounties should be accomplished through clever use of the environment, as in Hitman. The jetpack, too, should be a standard item this time around…and likely the only vehicle. While it’s lovely to imagine Boba Fett carjacking an airspeeder, that just setps in to the realm of the silly.

What I mean to get at through this is…well, Bounty Hunter was right in making itself a third person action game. It just wasn’t big enough for its own concept. A bit more time to give the Bounty Hunter in question a larger world with a bigger focus on the actual bounty hunting would have turned the game from a bargain bin dweller to an actual franchise.

Next week, I’ll try to figure out how to turn Buffy the Vampire a title that doesn’t suck. Here’s a hint – I’ve got two possibilities, and one of them requires the Wii.


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Will Scott
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