Bounty Hounds PSP Review

So you're tired of the same old song and dance that Koei's Dynasty and Samurai Warriors games put you through? Who wouldn't be? You basically travel from land to land doing the exact same thing over and over, slaughtering enemies with the same four-hit combo and musou attack you charged up an hour before. Namco Bandai tries to do a different take on the formula with the release of Bounty Hounds, a game that follows the same basic principle, but mixes things up a bit thanks to some additions. That's not to say the entire face of the genre is changed, but at least these ideas are put to good use.

You play Maximillian, who leads a group of hostile mercenaries from planet to planet with one goal in mind- the obliteration of bothersome aliens. You'll go between four different planets to complete these goals, using your brute force to clear away the battlefield before eventually facing a boss that refuses to go quietly. Isn't that always the way with a boss character- refusing to budge unless you make him...um, her...er, it.

The game has some terrific graphics going for it, as the planets and the home turf you roam around look beautiful. However, the camera's problematic at times. One minute you're behind your character, and the next you could drift off and get stuck to the point you can't see all the enemies on-screen. It's adjustable, but bothersome when all you want to do is turn the corner and see what's up ahead. The sound backs up the action with some fun music and decent sound effects.

As for gameplay, it runs up and down. The down portion suffers the same fate that beleaguered the Warriors games- it just gets too repetitive, and your enemies can't really think for themselves. You'll face wave after wave of alien enemies on each planet, but they pose very little threat unless they somehow miraculously get the gang-up on you. After wiping out so many, you're treated to a boss battle that is a little harder, but still seems like a breeze to pass through.

Fortunately, this is made up for with the vast use of items. You can mix up your weapons each time you're on the battlefield, including up-close slashing tools and many, many guns, and see what works best for you. This is probably the aspect of the game that will keep you coming back for more, as repetitive as it gets. You can also use additional power-ups in the game, including shields and offensive boosters that enhance your performance.

Like I said, up and down. Probably the worst thing that's here is the limited multiplayer. You can go against a friend using only one copy of the game via Game Sharing, but it's a simple versus contest of player versus player, instead of the epic Starship Troopers-esque battle that you're expecting. It's here that Namco Bandai should've given some more effort and not cut so many corners. It's serviceable, but you desire more- kind of like comparison Steak-Ums to actual steak. Know what I mean?

Bounty Hounds is a nice twist on the theme that makes the game more interesting to play than Koei's worn-out efforts, but you still can't help but feel more could have been done with enemy AI, camera adjustment, and multiplayer. I suppose that's food for thought for a sequel, as it'd be great to see something added to this game for a future release. Let's see Namco put some bounty on that.

What's Hot: The weapon-equipping aspect mixes things up; great presentation.

What's Not: Multiplayer's pretty shallow; the gameplay gets old way too quickly.

3/5