Traveling across the solar
system, you are motivated by one thing: your job. You love the depths of an
empty galaxy to find that one planet that is in need of your skills as an
intergalactic bounty hunter. It’s the thrill of the hunt that makes you eager to
prove that you are a Bounty Hound that legends are made of and it is your name
others like you will recall in the mess hall or the saloon aboard the main ship.
In Bounty Hounds for the PSP, you are such a man and you are about to embark on
your most dangerous mission yet.
The game’s story revolves
around a bleak future where humans travel across space in search of planets
humans can call home before alien races can claim a hold of said planets. Of
course, in order to colonize the planet, the humans hire a group of
intergalactic bounty hunters known as Bounty Hounds to clear the planets of
hostile aliens. You assume the role of Maximilian Webb, a member of the Bounty
Hounds living aboard the mother ship known as Quicksilver.
The beauty of Bounty
Hounds is that you start aboard the Quicksilver and you are able to explore your
surroundings and speak to anyone you come across so you are not quickly rushed
into starting the story mode‘s main mission. The ship, you’ll find, is the place
where you can upgrade skills and items or purchase new weapons and gather
information from friends and Bounty Hound colleagues. There are events scattered
throughout the ship that trigger graphic novel-styled panels that introduce each
character. You’ll meet Maximilian’s friend Perceval and the beautiful Corteria
as well as the vicious cyborg named Archibald.
While you are able to
explore the mother ship and return to it at any time during the game, the
majority of the game is exploring the plants and wiping out hordes of alien
enemies. Once you’re on a planet’s surface you are tasked with clearing each
section of multiple alien enemies that appear on the screen. Much like a similar
hack-and-slash, Dynasty Warriors, you will often find yourself surrounded by
your enemy as you slice or shoot through the hordes. You are allowed to carry
two weapons for each hand and you can mix and match them anyway you see fit. For
instance, if you want twin blades you can carry your sword and a “Krull”
inspired blade as your backup but then again if you like to mix your
short-ranged attacks with some long-ranged ones you can carry a blaster in one
hand and your sword in the other. There are over 500 weapons and armor pieces
you can use and fit your upgradeable character.
Unfortunately, even with
the over 500 weapons and armor items at your disposal, combat in the game
becomes way too repetitive way too early. Yes, there are interesting aspects to
combat, such as pulling off combo attacks and taking advantage of your Force
Field and the cool Field explosion but they add very little when it comes to the
action. This is made worse by the fact that the camera often doesn’t give you
the best possible view of your attacker and the fact that the enemies you face –
even the level bosses – hardly ever change. Sure, there are moments when the
enemy will have you pinned and your health gauge will get dangerously low but
the so-so controls make attacks a breeze to pull off. Add a confusing map that
has you constantly backtracking after each mission and you have a game that will
leave a sour aftertaste in the action department. Even the deathmatch
multiplayer mode isn’t very fun for very long even if your friend doesn’t have
to own a copy of the game.
Visually, Bounty Hounds is
actually a spectacular-looking PSP game complete with neatly detailed characters
and more than decent backgrounds. The characters, particularly Maximilian, look
great in action and despite the fact that you will be seeing a majority of the
enemy more than once throughout the game they do certainly look good. Still the
joy is in the great visual effects and the wonderful art used for the comic
book-styled cut scenes. The game’s sound is not as amazing as its visuals but it
does the trick in terms of bringing a wonderfully cinematic score to the
storytelling and doing just an Ok job with the sound effects. Since the game
tells the story through comic book panels there isn’t any voice acting found in
the entire game.
It’s sad to see a game
with such potential fall victim of repetitive combat and poor camera control
because Bounty Hounds for the PSP is a great concept that would have made a
great game. It possesses a great deal of things that would have made this a
solid action hack-and-slash with a lot to offer gamers looking for some portable
carnage. Unfortunately, due to its repetitive nature, I wouldn’t recommend this
game but if you’re willing to put up with it this game will make you feel like
you’re playing a game that could have been a true classic.
The great number of equipment and
weapons you can mix and match works perfectly in this game and putting them to
good use throughout the game is a real treat. However, when it comes to the
combat, fighting wave after wave of similar enemies grows completely tiresome …
as does the constant backtracking.
The character models look great as
does the beautifully designed graphic novel-styled panels that give the story
its great comic book appearance. Even the environments look great despite just a
few rather dull backgrounds (most specifically the early exterior planet
The game’s score is actually pretty
good and wonderfully cinematic during cut scenes. It makes up for the lack of
voice acting in the game. The sound effects are handled decently but then again
they could have been more pronounced during combat.
You’ll encounter a number of alien
enemies and some of them are actually tough to bring down but there is nothing
in this game that will have you sweating bullets. Even in later missions, you
will find it hard to get killed.
Think of it as a futuristic Dynasty
Warriors with a good story and a great deal of upgradeable items and weapons at
your disposal. There is a lot to cover on hostile planets and interesting
character developments along the way. There is multiplayer but it is hardly
The PvP multiplayer game is no
substitute for a co-op mode that could have made a much better impression. The
deathmatch-styled action runs smoothly enough but won’t hold your attention for
very long even though the game supports Game Sharing (your friend doesn’t have
to own a copy of the game to play).
Bounty Hounds has all the right
moves and a good story to boot but fails to rise above the hardware’s
limitations or its repetitive combat. This is actually too bad, really, since
the game does manage to bring many good ideas to this futuristic game that could
have been a PSP classic much like Dynasty Warriors.