Black Label's MACE GRIFFIN BOUNTY HUNTER has been delayed time and time again, whether it be for an overhaul or just fine tuning the game. But, after some time in the makeover chair, MACE GRIFFIN hit store shelves this week. But after the wait, is this what Black Label wanted this game to be?
The game starts off with you, as Mace Griffin, a bounty hunter who is out for revenge against the people who framed him and threw him in jail. The storyline isn't very original, and while told in a mystery-like fashion, it turns out to be kind of boring. But then again, this is a first-person shooter. Who needs a storyline? Well, a good storyline would have been good for this game considering the lack of multiplayer support. Without multiplayer support, a developer really has to work on the single-player campaign; unfortunately, with only a run of the mill storyline, the whole game suffers.
One thing that MACE GRIFFIN has going for it is its graphics. The real-time lighting on weapons and animations are just awesome. And you'll actually want to watch Mace reload his gun a few times; it's perfect. And while the framerate will slow down from time to time, it holds up very well considering there are up to 10 enemies on screen at once with explosions all around you.
For some reason, when I began the game, I felt instantly at home with the controls. I don't know why, but MACE really reminded me of RED FACTION II at first. Unfortunately, the more I got into it the more I noticed flaws I couldn't find in RED FACTION. In MACE GRIFFIN, you have a shield (much like HALO) which must first be drained before you can be physically hurt (of course, the shield regenerates, also reminiscent to HALO). Progressing through the levels is pretty simple. Just go where the bad guys are and kill them. The thing I like about this is, instead of putting them all in front of you, Warthog chose to put them in strategic positions. You may have some guys on the ground, some snipers and a guy with a rocket launcher elsewhere, and you need to kill them quick enough to avoid too much damage.
The computer AI is pretty good at times; unfortunately, it's pretty bad at times too. Snipers will normally try to pin you down, while ground troops will try to surround you. Sometimes enemies make smart retreats or try to strafe you. But then, there are the times where you walk in front of an enemy who doesn't even see you until you put a bullet through his head. And also, the enemies in this game like to hide. And I mean really hide - some snipers would wait a few minutes before they would show their face again. And if there is one thing I don't like in an FPS its waiting for someone to appear. And the enemies can roll and I can't? What is with that? Oh yeah, don't even try to use the grenades. It's like trying to throw a superball against a wall and expecting it to stay.
Now, the big selling point for MACE GRIFFIN was the ability to seamlessly go from first-person shooter to your starcraft. While you can do this (literally, you can walk right into your ship, take the controls and leave), everything is scripted. You can't do whatever you want in your ship; you are required to board that ship and kill everyone. You are required to dock with that spaceport. It's really like a first-person shooter in space (in other words, there are set directions you have to go to finish the mission).
The music ends up being pretty good, although I wish it were a little more varied, and Henry Rollins does an admirable job as Mace Griffin. The sound effects are pretty fascinating and the game seems more realistic because most of the enemies have a lot to say. Very cool.
While playing through MACE GRIFFIN, I kept thinking to myself 'What am I going to give this game? Is it good or is it bad?' And I think what I've come to realize is that MACE GRIFFIN has some problems, does some things right and is an all around average game. Yeah, there are some special things here and there, but the game is just really an average shooter.