Headhunter: Redemption Hands-On Impressions

Amuze's Dreamcast action game will be getting a stylish sequel on the PS2 and Xbox later this year.

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In the waning days of the Dreamcast, Amuze's Headhunter stood out with a gritty near-future storyline and a good mix of stealth, shooting, and driving gameplay. Now Amuze is working on a sequel to the game called Headhunter: Redemption for the PS2 and Xbox. We got to try our hand at the game and speak with director John Kroknes about the specifics of Redemption and about what has happened to down-on-his-luck protagonist Jack Wade since the first game.

Redemption's storyline is set 20 years after the events of the original Headhunter, at the end of which the Bloody Mary virus wreaked considerable destruction upon humanity. If killer viruses aren't enough for you, an earthquake has leveled Wade's city and destroyed the old social structure at the same time. In the aftermath of this earthquake, the city's society has been stratified between the privileged, who reside in the glistening, pristine upper city, and the paupers, who dwell in a ruined lower city that doubles as a prison colony. In this sinister new environment, an older Jack Wade and a street urchin-turned-ally named Leeza will battle against a shadowy menace that threatens mankind's continued existence.

We got a chance to run around in the game's initial area for a bit and found the controls to be quite easy to use. Redemption's aiming is particularly friendly to new players--you hold down a shoulder button to switch to shooting mode, and your crosshair will automatically snap to your closest target. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your aim on your intended target while you move around and try to keep yourself alive. One new addition to the game that should prove helpful is the IRIS, a sort of scanner that gives you information on any pertinent objects in your immediate vicinity. This gadget ought to come in handy when trying to figure out what you need to do to move on from your current area.

Kroknes said that while the original Headhunter had something of a reputation as a stealth game, Redemption will be largely focused on all-out shooting action. A few areas of the game will require you to be stealthy to survive, but about 80% will let you progress with guns blazing if you choose. You'll be playing primarily as Leeza, at least at the beginning of the game, though you'll switch to Jack Wade and back fairly frequently throughout the game.

Graphically, the game has a stylized, futuristic look that fits in nicely with the techno-thriller storyline. A number of filmlike effects, such as soft focus and depth of field, will help enhance the sci-fi feel of the game. Kroknes told us to expect between 20 and 25 hours of gameplay for an average player, so fans can expect a pretty lengthy fight when the game hits stores this summer. Stay tuned for more coverage on Headhunter: Redemption in the coming weeks.

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