If you take Buffy the Vampire Slayer, have the episodes directed by John Woo and aired late night on Showtime, then you would have a good idea of what to expect from Hunter the Reckoning: Redeemer. Except the episodes would be considerably more inventive and I would probably never leave my house again.
I have to confess to being a new guy to the Hunter the Reckoning universe and as such when a particular villain (who came straight from the S&M club in Matrix Revolutions) showed up, who obviously had a past with the characters, I was completely lost. It also took me a while to understand the nature of Ashcroft, the city where the story is set. If I followed it correctly, Ashcroft was built on the blood of countless foul crimes and ghosts and demons continue to rise and threaten the populace. Special people dubbed Hunters show up and exterminate anything remotely supernatural and usually trash the town in the process. Then people rebuild and conveniently forget until the next game.
In Hunter the Reckoning: Redeemer you can play as one of five Hunters who all have their specialties. Well, two have specialties while the other three are variants on middle-ground characters. The tank of the group is Deuce and he swings a mean axe. Martyr is the quickest of the Hunters, and her dual pistols come in real handy. The others are Redeemer, Defender, and Judge. Everyone has their own special moves and “enhancements,” but the really cool thing is how your weapons improve the more you use them. For example, Deuce’s axe gets a whole lot bigger and meaner-looking the more you use it.
The Hunters are helping one of their own this time around, and all of them are trying to figure out why monsters are attacking during the Christmas season. My guess is they want to know what’s in their stockings ahead of time. Bad demons! Only coal for you!The visuals look great. I like all the city streets, buildings and street signs all are rendered, and it really gives you a sense of fighting through the downtown of a formerly bustling metropolis. The look of the demons, ghosts, larger demons, Bosses, etc. are all unique. The designers must be fans of Todd McFarlane, otherwise I have no idea where they got some of the monsters. Levels all have their own individual aesthetic which was nice since one crypt normally looks like another in these games. The music is hard rock/goth and sparsely used at best, so you may enjoy it you may not. It’s not obtrusive in any way regardless, so if you don’t like the pounding beats they will quickly fade except for the nightclub level. The directional sound is terrific, and thankfully so since the camera angles suck as bad as they do. The camera makes it difficult sometimes to know where monsters are, but if your back is turned and one lands behind you and to the left you hear it from the left speaker. Very nicely done. The guns all sound properly dangerous, but my favorite effect was the sound Deuce’s mammoth axe makes when it cuts a swath through a demon horde. Sick, messy, and just right for a horror game. The controls are easy enough to pick up, but the combos can be tricky to master. The left joystick moves you, the right joystick determines which way you’re facing, and the right trigger attacks while the left trigger jumps. You can select your melee weapon with the X button, your special ranged weapons with the B button and the special enhancement moves with the Y button. There are also a few different control schemes, though they tend to not make much of a difference so I stuck with the defaults. Hunter the Reckoning: Redeemer is quite a bit of fun… for a while. Once it grows repetitive it starts to lose its luster. If the character leveling had more of an overall effect, I wouldn’t be complaining, but if I’m at level 25 on ranged attacks I want to be doing some serious damage with my wicked looking weapon. But unless I’m playing Deuce and using an 8′ long battleaxe I didn’t notice much difference in the characters’ damage-dealing be it melee or ranged. The missions don’t have much variety beyond find this person and rescue them, or protect this guy until you reach the end of the map. One of the more inventive bosses is an evil Santa, but I started laughing at him because I kept thinking of the Christmas episode of The Tick where a bunch of evil Santas go on a robbery spree and all the Tick can say is, “I just can’t… hit… Santa!” Yes, I’ve got issues. Going through the game as each character is entertaining for only so long. Multiplayer will extend its shelf life for a while too, and I imagine playing on Live! would be a blast. With all four characters in the game, you can really balance each other out with special moves and enhancements. Some characters boost health, others boost speed, and so on. Thus, it becomes more of a tactical game between the four, but if you’re all alone then you’re missing a lot of the fun.