I'll agree with Dan in saying that Headhunter: Redemption is a better game than the original and a good example of how developers can implement improvements to produce a quality sequel. But in all fairness, the developers still haven't quite nailed it.

When I first started the game, my first impulse was to take it out of my PlayStation 2 and toss it aside. I got shredded in my first combat encounter with two peons because I was not prepared for the game's unorthodox control system. Dan is right in saying that it compares strongly to WinBack or even Kill.Switch in that surviving must always orient around finding cover and being highly defensive. However, the developers really should have made more of an effort to instruct this philosophy at the beginning—as it stands, everything starts off on the wrong foot. Anyone approaching this game like a standard shooter or action title will think it's a huge pile of crap for the control system alone, and I can't say that I would blame them.

However, I really had a great affection for the first Headhunter game, and I was motivated to give it another chance. Once I figured out what the game wanted me to do during combat, the rest of the pieces fell into place. Granted, the camera system and control functions could definitely use some work and things are not placed as optimally on the controller as they could be, but it was definitely manageable once I got into the right mindset.

Once past the learning period, I started to warm up to Redemption and was very glad to see Jack Wade back in action, though he certainly isn't the star. The original Headhunter's sense of satire is now gone (and missed), but Amuze does a good job of creating a cohesive, believable atmosphere that's easy to get into and fits the game well.

I will also say that the graphics are surprisingly good, with unexpected sophistication in level design and a lot of care placed in visual appearance. It may not match up with the top-of-the-line titles currently available, but it's unquestionably a beautiful game. My compliments go out to the artists for turning in quality work when they could've easily skated by on shortcuts and quickie constructs.

My feelings on Redemption started cool, then got warm, and before the developers could get me completely fired up, things cooled off again. More than anything else, I'd say that the biggest mistake here is making too much game. Redemption is easily twice as long as the original Headhunter, and in this case, more is not necessarily better.

The game's pace is slow and chunky. Although I do admit that most of the puzzles are good, the experience as a whole seems overlong and would benefit from being faster and more streamlined. There were too many times when I needed to backtrack to do things like find a fuse to activate an elevator, and there's one section about a third of the way through where an insane amount of effort is required to assemble a missile via the use of three separate manufacturing facilities just to read the serial number from its warhead. In a situation like this, I would have appreciated the ability to simply open the door and move on.

Besides the fetching, load times are long and the game uses an out-of-date manual checkpoint system. It was extremely frustrating to get through a long section only to be taken out by enemies that I wasn't expecting and have to re-do the whole thing over. Few things dampen enthusiasm like being forced to wait or being forced to repeat. Doing both should have been avoided at all costs.

Although my second opinion has focused more on the negatives as a counterpoint to Dan's positives, I do want to be clear in saying that Headhunter: Redemption still manages to deliver a surprisingly good adventure, especially considering that it's currently available for rock-bottom prices. Adventure lovers on a budget will most likely find Headhunter: Redemption to be well worth the cost of admission.Rating: 7 out of 10

Brad Gallaway
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