Friday, August 05, 2005

Deadhunt Review

Deadhunt PC, developed and published by Rel Games.
The Good: Action packed, cool weapons, nifty bonuses
The Not So Good: No AI, few environments, repetitious gameplay
What say you? An inferior Serious Sam clone: 4/8

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In that case, the developers of Serious Sam should be extremely flattered by Deadhunt. Serious Sam revived the mindless shooter, where you heroically take on hundreds of opponents at once. Deadhunt strives to recapture the glory of the past with numerous weapons and loads of enemies.

The graphics in Deadhunt are a mixed bag. First, the weapon models look very good; they can almost rival the quality found in Battlefield 2. This was my first impression when I started playing the game. There is also a variety of weapons available in the game, including shotguns, submachine guns, and gauss rifles. As for the rest of the graphics, they seem outdated. The environments, few that there are, are sparse and unexciting. The enemies you’ll encounter look good, but nothing that would be considered stunning. The sounds in the game consist of the requisite action background music playing behind gun noises and monster cries. The guns don’t sound powerful enough, as there is not enough bass to complement the arsenal you have at your disposal.

The game features three methods of gameplay: campaign, survival, and greed. Campaign is a linked set of levels divided into four episodes, one per enemy type. Survival mode is continuous play until you die, and greed instructs you to quit right before you die and try to get the maximum score (dying results in your score being reset). All of these modes take place in the same four levels. Most games that come out feature hundreds of expansive levels where you can bring the pain. Deadhunt has four, and they are really small to boot. The gameplay consists of shooting enemies that spawn in semi-random locations in the arena and picking up bonuses. One of the pleasant things about Deadhunt is the bonus system. At certain times, bonuses will spawn on the map, giving you advantages such as a maximum health increase or faster run speed. These bonuses are either timed or held indefinitely, but you can only hold a certain number of bonuses at once, so there is some strategy in deciding which upgrades to choose. You can also pick up bonuses by pointing the cursor at them and pressing the “use” key, helpful if that live-saving rune is just a little out of reach. The gameplay itself is not very good, mainly because of the structure of the game. The AI is very poor, as the enemies run in a straight line towards you, and attack once they get close. Given, they are zombies or giant cockroaches, but I’ve seen some crafty zombies at the movies. The game’s difficulty is determined by how many enemies are thrown at you at one time, not by tactical decisions by the computer. Because of this, every level of the game is essentially the same: run backwards, fire constantly, pick up bonuses. It is fun to waste down some foes, but only for the first ten minutes or so.

There are some good and some bad characteristics in Deadhunt. Weapon models, constant action, and the innovative bonus system scores points. But, poor AI, the lack of real levels, and no strategy exposes Deadhunt for what it really is: a lesser version of Serious Sam. To make this game competitive, more variety of levels would be needed, as this may mask the generic AI scripting. But as it stands, Deadhunt is unfavorable due to poor level design and the lack of variety.