Headhunter Review

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July 5th, 2012

Posted in Reviews

Headhunter is a true pioneer in a current genre that should never be overlooked or forgotten in the video game world. In it bringing the “stealth shooter” subgenre into the field makes it something of it’s own. It incorporated every aspect that a game needs to be amazing: a gripping story, exploration, graphics, and of course, gameplay. Though it had a few very minimal flaws, this game is truly a gem for the Dreamcast.

Let’s start with the story. This game has a story that every almost every person can get into. A corruption in the government and medical industry brings about interest because it shows a possible reality that we would never be able to find. All of the cutscenes were at great points in the story and really intrigue the player. The climatic stage of the game in Biotech Labs provides an amazing to conclusion to the title with an ironic twist that provides even more questions to the plot, and led me (and I’m certain many other people around the world) to want to play the next game.

Next, the graphics of this game are very incredible for its time. There are some rooms in the game with absolutely incredible textures, such as Zweiberg’s office in the final mission. The game uses many graphical effects that make it look great. I personally thought the water in the “Docks” and “Queen of Heart” missions can even be seen as some of the best on Dreamcast. I really believe that the awesome graphics of this game added to the enjoyment of the game and really did make it pleasant to look at.

The gameplay of this game was absolutely incredible. It basically pioneered the 3D Stealth games, and I loved sneaking up behind people and snapping their necks, whether with Jack or Angela. It also incorporated some exploratory aspects, even one that reminded me of Shenmue II. While you are in Zweiberg’s office, you have to search for the Serpent Keys, and looking around and moving picture frames and such remind me of searching Yuanda Zhu’s room in Shenmue II. The bosses were very creative, and I liked how you had to learn how to hurt them, instead of many new games, in which you simply cover and shoot.

Lastly, there are only a few things that seem to lower the greatness of this game, though they are very minor. It seemed as if there was sometimes a lack of instruction in the game, in many instances. For example, in the DNA Research area of Biotech Labs (where you start as Angela in the level), you are supposed to get the door open to get to the amphitheater. To open it, you have to blow up the power source in the middle of the area, which I would never think to do considering it didn’t look destructible and seemed that an explosion would only trigger more guards. Almost every other door in the game is opened with a switch or a key, so it is very hard to tell that this puzzle should be solved in that manner. Though I enjoyed it on a personal level, I think the game may have been too forgiving. In many instances, you could somewhat walk in front of a person (to where they should see you) or you could even PUSH the person and they wouldn’t notice you, which is very unrealistic for a game like this. It feels like it made it so you didn’t have to worry about being stealthy, but just had to worry about staying behind the person, and not shooting in their presence. The last thing I have to say is the controls proved to be very difficult for me, at first. Though I believe it is because of my acclimation to the current third person shooter control, it took me a long time to get used to them. I did find it to be intuitive (by bringing all of those controls onto a controller with only one joystick and six buttons), it took me awhile to get a hang of it. Once I did, towards the end of the game, it made it feel as if the game was nearing perfection.

In the end, this game is truly a marvel and a standout title for the Dreamcast. It was a great joy to play and fans of any type of shooter would definitely get into it. The graphics are also incredible, so people that like the aesthetic appeal of games and are into art would really find enjoyment out of the game’s looks when the time period is accounted for. Though there are only a few drawbacks to the game, they aren’t major and don’t cause much of a decline to the game’s quality. For this reason I give the game a 9.0 out of 10. Regardless, any true Dreamcast fan needs to get this game and play it because you get a taste of the system that can’t be found with any other title.

Presentation 9.0 Package design, menus, and world are crafted well to give that slightly-distant future feel.
Gameplay 8.5 Controls take a little while to get used, but this action game is still a blast to play.
Graphics 9.5 These are some of Dreamcast’s best graphics, even though there are a few lower-res textures here and there.
Sound 9.5 Richard Jacques’ soundtrack is epic and beautiful.
Lasting Appeal 8.5 Main game lasts about 8-10 hours. It’s a game you’ll come back to play through every once in a while, though.
9.0

  • J-Wade all day.

    It’s been awhile since I played Headhunter (11 years) so I don’t remember everything about it. But before the game came out there were features that I’m not sure are in the game.

    There were planned online modes, one being a race in the Aquadome for up to 7 players that unlocked skills for story mode. You would also be able to download codes and input them to gain access into new areas. There were also cool features for the VMU that turned it into a beeper in order to receive messages and in game hints.

    Was any of that in the game? If not, just imagine how much more incredible it would have been, that VMU feature alone is crazy (it was so shamefully underused).

    • None of that is in the game. Online racing would have been so fun. Online death match’s in the LEILA Virtual Reality system would have been a blast too (or Co-Op play). The whole LEILA concept/Headhunters would have worked perfectly as an online component.

      VMU integration like that would have been a really nice feature. I wish there were more implementations like that for DC games.