Over the past few years many developers have tried their hand at tactical stealth action games with mixed results. Metal Gear Solid and Splinter Cell are easily the stand out games but others have tried. The latest is Headhunter Redemption and while the main focus of the game is action, action and more action it does give you the opportunity to play with some basic stealth mechanics while carrying a fairly in depth and interesting storyline. Headhunter Redemption gets some things right, but also gets a few things wrong which keeps it in the average game category.
In terms of the storyline, there is really three subplots playing out at once. The game is set in the not to distant future after a massive earth quake rocks the world creating only two areas of human inhabitation; Above and Below. Above is where the civilians live and work while Below is basically the futuristic prison, with the difference being that once you're down there you never return. Jack Wade works as a Headhunter, bounty hunters hired by the administration to uphold the law. One day he is about to arrest a young woman but gives her the opportunity to join him rather then go Below. Together they work to unravel a conspiracy and save Above from The Opposition and as a side plot, find Leeza's father down Below.
Headhunter Redemption on the surface is a typical action game, it's not until you delve deeper into the gameplay mechanics you discover where the developers got it right, but as mentioned before they also got a few things wrong. The first impression you get from the game is likely to be negative for two reasons. The unique aspects of the game do not show themselves until at least the second level and from the outset the game is quite tough. Throughout each mission you will have a variety of tasks to complete such as reach a particular area or destroy some power generators. Most of the time you will find the gameplay to boil down to something like this. Shoot a few enemies, solve a puzzle, move further into the level before you repeat again or meet up with a boss character It sounds repetitive, and yes it can be.
However to dismiss the game based on that would be unfair because there is some unique and interesting gameplay mechanics to be found. Further into the game you are given the codebreaker software which is used to crack discs used to reach certain areas. The software is interactive and you have to solve a code before you can use the disc. The game displays three patterns and you have to guess the next one to solve the code. Basic in implementation but one of the more interesting sections of the game. Along with this is the puzzle solving factor. Sometimes you will run into a brick wall and feel stuck but as long as you know the extent of Leeza's moves you should progress quickly and when you do figure out how to get past somewhere, it is quite rewarding. If you do get stuck there is a guide available.
The game also has a high level of presentation and is presented in a very cinematic format. Every so often you will view movies giving back story and some are fairly long. However rather then being boring they add quite a bit to the game and it is sometimes the storyline which will keep you playing. The first few levels are drab and boring but once you go Below, you will find an intricately detailed city with interesting areas to explore and a variety of enemies to take down.
Initially you only encounter foot soldier style enemies who are lacking in the brain department. However due to their numbers it is essential to keep moving and also use cover when attacking. The game uses a fairly unique auto aim system which suits the fast paced action well. You can pick up enemy weapons and in fact most of the time you will find yourself using them and other components from their arsenal. Weapons range from a basic pistol through to high powered weapons such as a rocket launcher and further into the game you start to encounter non human enemies which ramps the difficulty up somewhat.
As mentioned before once you reach the Below levels, which does not take to long you will find some incredibly detailed environments. Using a system like Half-Life, the game streams in data from sections of each level rather then have constant loading screens which helps keep the atmospheric feeling except between level changes. The draw distance of the outdoor levels is quite impressive and the game always manages a stable framerate even during large fire fights with five or six enemies. The animations of both the players character and enemies are done well and the physics engine used backs this up. There really isn't much to complain about with the visuals other than some of the repetitive drab corridors in the early sections of the game. The cinematic soundtrack used complements the storyline well as does the impressive voice acting for both Jack, Leeza and the enemy characters.
Headhunter Redemption is an average game with a few unique things that keep it interesting. The lack of multiplayer does hurt the game, but some replay value comes from being able unlock things such as concept art. Once you look past the fairly average and repetitive gameplay between puzzles, some decent gameplay can be found and the storyline is something which really helps the game remain interesting once the repetition begins to hit.