Bounty Hounds Update

We visit strange new worlds and murder anything that moves in Namco's futuristic PSP shooter.

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It's been almost a year since we saw Namco's Bounty Hounds on the PlayStation Portable. The third-person shooter from developer Xpec is set in a far-flung future where humans and aliens are bumping elbows in the galaxy. Since we've already had a good overview of the single-player game, the updated version we saw showed off more of the environments you'll be exploring and let us check out the multiplayer options. Despite its work-in-progress state, the game looks to be coming along quite well.

Bounty Hounds features four different planets for you to visit.
Bounty Hounds features four different planets for you to visit.

Our demo of the game showed off some of the galactic locales you'll be exploring. Bounty Hounds will offer four worlds for you to visit, where you can proceed to mow down anything that moves, with occasional breaks to loot corpses. We checked out three of the four worlds--Ghies, The Lost, and Anti Babel--to get a sense of what to expect. Ghies should be familiar if you've been following the game, since its dry, rocky environments can be seen in the gameplay footage that's been shown. The oddly named Lost planet had a more lush, jungle theme, while Anti Babel was a weird tech-influenced locale. Each planet is broken up into smaller areas and features unique enemies to murder, and the corpses occasionally leave behind objects that yield new weapons or upgrades.

You'll have your corpse-looted booty appraised on The Farcaster, a massive mothership that will serve as your crib during the game. Besides giving you a place to have your loot appraised, the massive craft houses facilities that are key to your success. A shop will let you purchase new items and have those you've collected identified. A medical center will replenish your health and let you buff up your stats.

The multiplayer component of Bounty Hounds comes in two flavors. If both players have the game, you can engage in ad hoc wireless versus games. If only one person has the game, Bounty Hounds' game-sharing feature lets you share with a friend so you can play versus or the challenge mode. The versus mode appears to be a standard deathmatch between two players. The difference between a multiple-UMD ad hoc wireless game and a shared one is content. The deathmatch gameplay is the same, but the characters available differ. Game owners will be able to use their character and items from the single-player game, while game sharers will only have access to a base character and item set.

Even in its unfinished state, Bounty Hounds looks and moves great.
Even in its unfinished state, Bounty Hounds looks and moves great.

In terms of presentation, the game does a fine job of upholding Namco's reputation for having some of the best-looking PSP games around. The game looks sharp and moves smoothly. There's a high level of detail to be appreciated and some nice bits of eye candy to be seen as you play. Despite its unfinished state, the version of the game we checked out ran very smoothly.

Based on what we saw, Bounty Hounds is shaping up to be a sharp-looking PSP game. Though the core gameplay is essentially a hack and slash, the controls feel good and the item collection and customization elements keep the single-player game from being too mindless. The multiplayer games are modest but seem fun from what we played. Bounty Hounds is slated to ship this fall. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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