The Hunter: The Reckoning series got its start back in 2002. The Xbox game was great at the time, providing four-player simultaneous gameplay. It was short but fun. Vivendi then went on to release a new Hunter game exclusively for the PlayStation 2. Now, yet another new Hunter game has been released for the Xbox. Hunter: The Reckoning Redeemer doesn't stray far from the original Hunter blueprint. Though it does look better than any of the previous games in the series--and some updates and upgrades have enhanced the game a bit--Redeemer is still the same sort of basic hack-and-slash action. Fans of four-player cooperative gaming, in the style of Gauntlet, will have fun with Redeemer, but it's still a pretty short game and is quite easy to blast through.
Redeemer takes place five years after the first Hunter. A company known as Genefex has moved into Ashcroft and has turned the town around by inhabiting the old prison from the first game. However, evil doesn't tend to go away quite so easily, so the supernatural forces rise again, consequently turning Ashcroft back into an undead wasteland. So it's up to the hunters, once again, to come to Ashcroft to clean things up. At the outset, you're able to choose from five different hunters. Each hunter has his or her own specialties and specific access to different "edges," which are the game's equivalent of spells. Some edges are used for healing, while others provide attack bonuses. Other edges provide advantages of this nature.
In addition to having edges at your disposal, you're also armed with a melee and a ranged weapon. With sword or axe in hand, you're able to execute some basic combo attacks. A list of combos is available on the pause screen, but most of them are fairly simple to execute. As always, mashing the attack button is a pretty effective tactic. The ranged weapon is good for keeping enemies at a distance, but it usually lacks the punch to keep a large crowd of zombies off your back. For these moments, you'll want to switch to some special weapons, which include shotguns, machine guns, and other more potent utensils for death-dealing. As you use your two types of attacks and edges, you'll gain experience points in each category. This, in turn, makes your attacks more effective and grants you access to more edges. Each character can have up to three edges in all.
The action in Redeemer hasn't changed much from any of the other games in the series. It's a basic hack-and-slash game that pits you and up to three friends against hordes of dumb enemy creatures that, for the most part, just walk up to you and take a few halfhearted swipes until you get around to cutting them up. Though some levels establish some sort of objective, this rarely amounts to anything more than following a preset path and fighting your way to the end. Most of the game is easy to the point of being boring, especially if you or one of the other players picks a hunter with the ability to heal. Boss fights get a little more difficult, but the game gives you a healthy number of continues, which makes any boss fight little more than just a matter of time.
Graphically, Hunter looks OK in spots, but the game slows down, even when playing alone. Adding more players to the mix certainly doesn't help matters. The character models and monsters look passable, but they certainly lack flair and aren't particularly well animated. Perhaps the best thing to be said about the game's look is that its cutscenes look pretty nice. Moreover, there are a few effects here and there that also look good.
Redeemer sounds good, but much like the graphics, nothing on the audio side of the presentation really stands out. The gunshots and sounds of combat present themselves as they should, and the game's voices are good. The game's music is also decent, but again, not specifically noteworthy.
Overall, Hunter: The Reckoning Redeemer is a pretty standard Gauntlet-like hack-and-slash. It lacks the depth of games like Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, but it never pretends to have any real RPG component. If you're in search of a cooperative action game to play with friends, Hunter works, but it certainly isn't the most exciting game in town.