Star Wars: Bounty Hunter
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is a 2002 action-adventure video game developed and published by LucasArts for the GameCube and PlayStation 2. It was re-released digitally on the PlayStation Store for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 in November 2015. Limited Run Games re-released a limited supply of the game physically for the PlayStation 4 on June 28, 2019.
|Star Wars: Bounty Hunter|
Promotional North American PS2 cover art
Disney Interactive (PS4)
Set in the Star Wars universe, the game follows the exploits of the bounty hunter Jango Fett, first introduced in the 2002 film Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, to which this game serves as a prequel. Enlisted to hunt down the Dark Jedi Komari Vosa by the Sith Lord Darth Tyranus, Fett finds himself entangled in an extensive death stick trafficking conspiracy, and has a number of adventures along the way that lead to him acquiring his iconic ship, the Slave I, meeting his partner-in-crime, Zam Wesell, and being chosen as the template for the Grand Army of the Republic. Following Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, the game became part of the non-canonical Star Wars Expanded Universe (also known Star Wars Legends).
Bounty Hunter received mixed to positive review from critics, who praised its graphics, length, sound and level design, as well as gameplay elements such as the shooting and bounty hunting, but criticized its repetitive nature and camera control, and felt that it was lacking in certain areas.
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is an action-adventure game played from a third-person perspective. Players control Jango Fett, who has access to a wide array of weapons in the game, including his trademark blaster pistols, a flamethrower, and jetpack-mounted missiles. They can use Jango's jetpack to fly and reach areas that are otherwise inaccessible, but it quickly runs out of fuel, which recharges automatically when the jetpack is not used; using the flamethrower also burns the jetpack's fuel. Additionally, Jango can use the scanner built into his helmet to identify individuals and see if they have a bounty on their head. He can then capture the individuals in question either dead, or alive, by immobilizing them with his whicpord thrower. When using the scanner, the game switches to a first-person perspective.
In-game, Jango can make use of his acrobatic abilities, somersaulting, and jumping to the side to backflipping to avoid enemies. He automatically targets enemies, and holding a certain button allows Jango to move around an enemy while keeping them targeted. If the player is using Jango's blaster pistols, up to two enemies can be targeted at the same time. There are also many pickups, powerups, and items to help along the way.
Completing levels and capturing bounty targets rewards the player with credits, which can be used to unlock concept art. Each level has a secret feather, which unlock cards from the Star Wars Trading Card Game by Wizards of the Coast; if all feathers are found, bonus footage is unlocked. After every level, pages of the comic Open Seasons are unlocked for viewing, and after completing chapters, "blooper reels" for the cutscenes in that chapter are unlocked.
Ten years prior to the events of Attack of the Clones, the Sith Lord Darth Sidious orders his apprentice, Darth Tyranus, to put a bounty of 5,000,000 Republic Credits on the head of the Dark Jedi Komari Vosa, Tyranus' former pupil-turned-leader of the infamous crime syndicate Bando Gora, whom Sidious views as a threat to his future plans. Meanwhile, Jango Fett arrives on the Outland Station to capture wanted gangster Meeko Ghinte. Despite losing his jetpack, he steals a new one and fights his way through Meeko's henchmen, eventually capturing Meeko and turning him in for the bounty on his head. Following this, Tyranus contacts Jango to inform him about the bounty on Vosa's head, and he agrees to the hunt, despite his Toydarian friend Rozatta's warnings about the Bando Gora.
Learning that the Bando Gora are shipping large quantities of narcotics called death sticks, Jango travels to Coruscant to capture death stick dealer Jervis Gloom. After he reveals his sources to him, Jango heads to a processing plant operated by the gangster Groff Haugg, only to find that he has already been interrogated and killed via carbonite freezing by Jango's longtime rival, Montross, who is also hunting Vosa. After a brief fight with Montross, who flees, Jango learns that Twi'lek Senator Connus Trell is involved in the death stick smuggling operation and interrogates him in his penthouse. Trell tells Jango to seek the Dug crime lord Sebolto on Malastare before he throws him to his death. A Republic gunship then attacks Jango, but he destroys it.
Rozatta informs Jango that Sebolto is offering a 50,000 credits reward for the capture of his former employee Bendix Fust, who sold him out after his imprisonment at the asteroid prison Oovo IV. Believing this to be the best way to get to Sebolto, Jango infiltrates Oovo IV in an attempt to break out Fust, only to run into another bounty hunter, Zam Wesell, who is also after Fust. The two form a reluctant alliance to escape from the prison and stage a riot, but Jango's beloved, the Jaster's Legacy, gets destroyed in the process. He, Wesell, and Fust resort to escaping aboard another ship, which Jango dubs the Slave I, and destroy the prison's hangar to prevent being pursued. Elsewhere, Montross realizes that Haugg gave him a false lead, but hears of the prison riot at Oovo IV and concludes it was Jango's doing, so he follows him to Malastare.
Jango and Wesell arrive on Malastare to deliver Fust to Sebolto, who attempts to flee upon realizing Jango's true intentions, only to fall to his death down a pipe into his own death stick factory. Venturing through the factory, Jango comes across some Bando Gora members, who are guarding a supply ship. After killing them, he inspects the ship and finds Huttese markings on it, implying that the Hutts are also involved in the death stick distribution rig. Montross then ambuses Jango again, while taunting him over his adoptive father's, Jaster Mereel, death and the disastrous Battle of Galidraan, where Jango's Mandalorian forces were slain by a Jedi ambush. Jango is defeated, but escapes with Wesell's help.
The pair travel to Tatooine and split up to question the Hutts Jabba and Gardulla. Jango meets with Jabba and, after proving himself by killing Longo Two-Guns and his gang, is informed that Gardulla is affiliated with the Bando Gora. He makes his way to Gardulla's castle, but is captured after an imprisoned Wesell, whom he left in her cell to avoid sounding the alarm, compromises his position. After escaping detainment, Jango confronts Gardulla, whom he feeds to her own pet Krayt dragon after she refuses to co-operate. After killing the Krayt dragon and leaving Wesell behind, Jango continues his search for Vosa alone and contacts Rozatta, but Montross attack her station and rigs it to explode to force Jango to abandon his quest. Jango arrives to find a dying Rozatta, who gives him a guidance device to help him track Vosa, and escapes before the station explodes.
Jango arrives on the Bogden's jungle moon Kohlma, the secret headquarters of the Bando Gora, and makes his way to Vosa's citadel to find Montross waiting for him. The two engage in a final battle, and Jango emerges victorious, but refuses to give Montross a warrior's death, instead leaving him to be torn apart by the Bando Gora. Upon entering the citadel, he is captured and tortured by Vosa, but Wesell suddenly appears to rescue him, and gets injured in the process. Afterward, Jango pursues and finally defeats Vosa, just as Darth Tyranus arrives and chokes her to death. He proceeds to explain that the hunt for Vosa was a test to find someone worthy of becoming the template for an army of clones, which Jango passed. Jango takes the 5,000,000 credits reward on Vosa's head and agrees to be cloned, on the condition that he gets to keep one clone for himself, unmodified (thus honoring Rozatta's final wish that he find something to live for besides money). The game ends with Jango carrying the wounded Wesell to the Slave I, while telling her not to push her luck.
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter began life when LucasArts was asked to make an Episode II-based game which featured the character, Jango Fett. In March 2001, game design documents were presented, and development began shortly after. The PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube versions of the game have different custom in-house graphics engines, each designed specifically to take advantage of the two platforms' unique strengths and work around their unique limitations, but the core game engine is identical. In the PS2 version, they took advantage of both vector unit (VU) chips to drive the graphics to maximum performance. The DMA bandwidth was taken advantage of to use a high number of textures. There is full-screen antialiasing and texture mip mapping support. They used the second VU1 chip to handle all the character skinning and VU0 to handle all the skeletal animation transforms. Which enabled dozens of characters to be on-screen without bogging down the frame rate. They had 10 individually optimized rendering loops on VU1 to speed up the rendering process. Their PS2 graphics engine could move 10,000,000 triangles per second, and adding the gameplay, collision, logic, textures, sound would go down accordingly to around 30,000 to 50,000 triangles per frame, all at an average frame rate of 30 frames per second.
In the Nintendo GameCube version, they took advantage of the system's fast CPU to achieve a higher frame rate, and added more polygons to characters, especially Jango, who has roughly twice the polygon count on GameCube. The GameCube's texture compression allowed them to use high-resolution textures. Texture compression also allowed for improved color variance on textures. MIP mapping support across the board on all textures helped provide a rich and consistent environment. They exploited additional memory to improve load times. They implemented projected shadows on all the characters and an increased draw distance to allow for vista views.
Level design began with what designer Michael Stuart Licht referred to as spatial studies. Design began with paper cut-outs of various rooms. Licht would rearrange these rooms until he found a design that he felt worked. The papers had design ideas written on them so that other developers could understand the overall flow of each level. Bubble diagrams were then created which represented main ideas for each space. This was followed by various stages of overview drawings and other drawing studies. The 3D level design began after such studies were completed. In-game cinematics were created by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), and marked the first collaboration between LucasArts and ILM. Composer Jeremy Soule wrote music for the game, including both cutscenes and gameplay. The characters Jango Fett and Komari Vosa have their own leitmotifs. Both Temuera Morrison and Leeanna Walsman reprise their roles from the Attack Of The Clones as Jango Fett and Zam Wesell, respectively.
Production began in November 2000 when LucasArts was asked to make a game based on Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones featuring Jango Fett. They presented the game design proposal in March 2001, and development started soon after. Jon Knoles revealed in an interview that they wanted to develop Jango into the ideal action-based video-game character and that he was to be exciting to watch and fun to play. Secondly they wanted to develop a story that fleshed out Fett's character more fully than in Attack of the Clones, while at the same time remaining true to the spirit of his character as seen in the film. It was imperative to not dull the game with a slow story and leaden script; as such, their goal was to work a fine balance between backstory, narrative, and action-packed gameplay. Knoles said Jango Fett was developed to be an extension of the player's will, the ideal vessel through which the player could live out the fantasy of being the galaxy's most dangerous bounty hunter. His movement and animation blending system was designed to automatically react to other world objects and to never be unable to use his weapons or devices in any situation. The jetpack was originally designed to be used in areas specifically designed for its use. When the team got it working, they changed their minds and implemented a rechargeable timer on it so the player could use it anywhere for a limited time. At the most, the crew was over fifty people that were working on the game, excluding Industrial Light & Magic (ILM).
Their concept artists looked to the team's favorite graphic novels for inspiration and the concept artwork by Ralph McQuarrie, Doug Chiang, Joe Johnston, and others who worked on the Star Wars films. They were given access to the Episode II script and concept art early on before the film came out. LucasArts created storyboarded scripts of their cutscenes and gave them to ILM, who developed them into cinematic cutscenes. Knoles envisioned the level layouts and then consulted with lead level designer David Wehr and his level designers. They created a bubble map of the levels that they worked from to determine details in what the player would face and be able to do. The team made a new engine for the game to be able to do what they wanted. The graphic designers worked concurrently with the level designers to create the environments, which the level designers then used to better visualize what they were trying to do. Knoles had previously been involved in the development of the Super Star Wars trilogy for the Super Nintendo and often referred to those games when describing certain aspects of Star Wars: Bounty Hunter to the team.
Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound assisted in the creation of the game, which was the first collaboration between LucasArts and ILM in the field of in-game cinematics. Knoles said LucasArts and ILM learned a great deal from their cooperation, which allowed ILM to try new methods for creating scenes, as well as new tools and techniques. LucasArts provided ILM with models, textures, and a storyboarded script, and then applied their cinematic expertise in adapting the script into dynamic and visually stunning films. The sound designers of LucasArts and the sound designers at Skywalker Sound worked together to create the game soundtrack. Skywalker Sound made sounds directly for game animations and events, and created foley sounds.
Bounty Hunter received average to positive reviews. GameRankings and Metacritic gave it a score of 71.06% and 67 out of 100 for the GameCube version, and 69.26% and 65 out of 100 for the PlayStation 2 version.
PlayStation Official Magazine gave the game an above-average 7 out of 10, complimenting the core shooting and production values, but criticizing its repetitive nature: "A Star Wars-themed 3D shooter with some optional bounty hunting. Good fun, but it promised more." IGN awarded the GameCube version of the game 8.3 out of 10, and the PS2 version 8.2. Praising the graphics, sound, length and level designs, they criticized the implementation of the bounty hunting system; "The whole process is pretty clunky, and there should have been a way to streamline this to make it more fluid - especially in the heat of a battle when your mark is mixed in with four or five other opponents. It works the way it is for sure, but it certainly could have been fixed to be more intuitive than it currently is." In the end, however, they found the game to be one of the better Star Wars tie-in games; "Star Wars Bounty Hunter is a solid, if not technically challenged third-person action/adventure. Successfully combining our favorite aspects of the Star Wars universe with a clever stage design and a fantastic presentation, LucasArts has done a great job in suppressing the myth that games based on the Skywalker universe aren't any fun. A definite recommendation for Star Wars fans, Bounty Hunter isn't necessarily built for everyone, but for those of you out there who just can't get enough of this stuff, it's one of your better choices for this or any holiday season."
Less impressed was GameSpot, who awarded the GameCube version 6.5 out of 10 and the PS2 version 5.4. They found the technical issues of the game to be too significant; "Bounty Hunter suffers from an array of technical problems that have plagued other third-person action games. You can move the camera perspective using the right analog stick, but the camera will still cause you some major headaches when in tight corridors or when trying to draw a bead on a specific enemy. Often it'll automatically swivel to point you in entirely the wrong direction. Clipping and collision-detection issues also abound." They also criticized the graphics and the overall gameplay, concluding that "Star Wars Bounty Hunter may have all the basic ingredients needed for a solid third-person action game, but it falls flat in the execution and is far too often cumbersome, confusing, or in some other way un-fun to be recommendable on its own merits. Serious Star Wars aficionados should enjoy the game's story, but they'll be forced to slog through a lot of tedious action to see how it pans out."
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