Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter
Awondrous mythological beast made up of different creatures. Usually an eagle’s head and wings attached to the body of a lion. We’ve never seen a Griffin, of course, but we’d imagine it to be quite an awesome sight to behold. We would never compare such beauty to a game like Mace Griffin, but this too is a beast made up of many parts.
Well, at least two anyway – a firstperson shooter and space shoot-’em-up combined in one tidy package. Which isn’t really quite as wonderful a gimmick as it sounds, because let’s face it – a space shooter is a glorified first-person shooter anyway, only without the worldly restrictions of gravity. However, that’s not how it feels when you’re playing the game. The smooth transition between the two is impressive but we did expect a little bit more.
The space sections feel very much like a three-dimensional version of Asteroids. You never get a decent sensation of speed, which results in all the space sections being focused around the cursor at the centre of the screen. You may as well be sat in a fixed gun turret. This is not so bad, as the combat is fun to a point, but the epic potential is ruined completely by the lack of genuine freedom.
Having no loading time between space and first-person is great, but you only ever get to appreciate it at specific scripted moments in the game. Or basically when the story requires you to perform some task. We were expecting something more akin to what Falcone was promising before it disappeared; huge space battles that can be seen from within the ship and interacted with, boarding parties raiding all over the place and a general integration of the two game modes. Not short one-off sequences.
So the big gimmick of the game isn’t all it promises to be. It is, in fact, quite average, and the rest of the game appears to follow suit. Whenever something good happens there’s always something else hanging around to tarnish the image. Take the levels for example. Each one looks quite good (if a little dark) and the design is adequate, but the game is just about as linear as you can get. The environments are never used to the full and as such you never get involved in the story. You’re supposed to be a bounty hunter, but Mace Griffin may as well be any generic first-person character.
Sadly there is also nothing more generic in this game than the weapons you get to/need to use. The pistol, the shotgun, the minigun, the sniper rifle, rocket launcher, sticky grenades…we’ve seen it all before. Oh, and each weapon has a secondary firing mode. Fantastic. Thanks for that. Come on Vivendi – this is a future-set game, so there should be no excuse for delivering the ‘bounty’ when it comes to original weapons.
This is a bit of a shame because the action is good fun, the explosions are frequent and the gore is satisfying. Every so often, you even get some decent skirmishes going where you genuinely have to use some form of tactics to survive. But then – as we mentioned before – for every time the game starts to show its worth something else comes along to ruin things. The AI is a hit and miss master class.
Sometimes an opponent will use cover effectively and throw grenades to draw you out, whilst other times they’ll display all the intelligence of a brick. Annoyingly, sometimes this comes down to the scripting in the level. For example, a group of soldiers enter an area and don’t notice you stood right next to them until they reach the required point in the room where the animation ends and the AI takes over. This gives you a free hit, which we cannot complain at, but it is lazily programmed and very annoying.
At other times the AI itself is to blame. One very comical moment in the game saw us being chased by a cave spider with yellow glowing eyes and a dislike for our intrusion into its cave. This would have been a grave cause for concern, had it not been flummoxed by a step no higher than itself. And this is a spider that had the ability to jump up at our throat just moments before. There is no need for this. Thankfully moments like this are very rare, but it does hamper your enjoyment of the game somewhat.
We would love to have seen how Mace Griffin would’ve coped with bots in a deathmatch-style setup. Assuming we had the opportunity, of course; as it is there is no multiplayer to be found here. We can cope with the unoriginal story, the unoriginal weapons and the odd glitch in the AI, but the lack of multiplayer is offensive. There’s not even a co-op mode, which is a huge no-no with the Xbox. Surely, on the space sections a second player could have taken control of the guns whilst the other player flew?
This may be an above average game, but with these flaws combined there is little reason to choose this over another first-person shooter. The space-flying gimmick surely doesn’t warrant a purchase on its own. This should’ve been a very decent shoot-‘em-up. What the hell happened?