2 Comments

Z-Hunter

Author: Atomic Armadillo Entertainment
Released: June 29th 2008
Download: Here

Introduction
An isometric, third person shooter for including 8 action packed maps, the original Doom 3 enemies reworked for this style off play and a full custom soundtrack by the band “Desecrative Phoneticism”.

 

Review
Z-Hunter is a simple run and gun adventure at the core, focused on mowing down waves of enemies throughout eight different levels. The catch here however is the top down aspects, offering a unique edge to the world of Doom 3 and modifying the enemies to suit this change of style. Z-Hunter is very reminiscent of similar old school shooters, yet one that catches my eye is the ‘Loaded‘ series on PlayStation, especially true since the iconic character image can actually be found in one level. Moving on, the gunplay was achieved well, both simple to aim and responsive, except better indication when enemies are hurt could have helped. While the movement does take some getting used to, jumping and crouching are still functional, while I never found much use for the former besides getting stuck down a shaft I shouldn’t be, crouching is a good tactic for those pests closer to the ground such as trites. There are only two available weapons. First is the automatic rifle, useful for long range and focused fire. The second is a plasma gun, providing much wider spread for slightly weaker firepower, but handy when cornered. I guess you could also count the obligatory exploding barrels littering the hallways too. Neither gun requires any ammo or reloading, allowing players to waste as much of it as they please to keep the pace constantly moving forward. This can however have an effect on the combat being a little on the easy side considering this worry is gone. More persistent flanks, occasional larger hordes and interesting enemy combinations to keep the player moving would have helped here, but the experience as a whole is no doubt enjoyable.

Each level has a specific theme and the design then focuses around this. From time to time, it tends to feel that a couple of locations here and there will appear often as if copied and pasted, but otherwise the design is solid with objects that fit the environment as a form of detail. Each level will also occasionally change the approach toward combat and what types of enemies may appear. From the beginning, up until the sixth level, there was a progressive nature to the way themes changed as the player will go through several high tech areas, some cave systems and eventually an old ruin, with blood stained bricks and bone decorations. Beyond this point are then two levels that feel displaced and breaks the sense of flow that was built up beforehand. Basically, the sixth level has the player go through sevel smaller arenas to do combat against all the end level bosses they’ve already fought up until then. This gives the idea that the next levels will offer a fitting finale to this journey. Except the themes didn’t match up, with the seventh map taking place in some subway tunnel system and the eigth an asylum. These two could have fit perfectly if placed in earlier segments and leaving the current sixth level as the finale.

As for the levels themselves, there is enough detail and variety ensured despite their short play times, offering different visual styles and twists in gameplay. Level four, Mars Surface, makes use of oxygen tanks to force a faster pace to the action in order to push past enemies and grab another tank before air supply is depleted. Map five, Forgotten Passage, does a good job at conveying that spider like enemies, such as trites, exist through the use of cobwebs scattered along the cave walls. Map seven, Shovelling Shit, has a nice dynamic with most of the level shrouded in darkness except for the odd lamp post and the trains as they pass by. As for the custom soundtrack, this isn’t exactly my style of music being a little on the heavy and growly side, but there were some good combinations with certain levels and the overall style does appear to fit with the gameplay. The soundtrack is also available as a separate download for those who may wish to give it a listen before playing.

Conclusion
Eight action packed maps, offering a variety of themes with good design all round. While the combat is a little on the easy side, the run and gun mechanics are handled well despite the infinite ammo, to keep a constant pace when mowing down waves of enemies.

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2 Comments

  1. It’s very interesting to find out what you think of Z-Hunter. I personally didn’t think that the themes of levels 7 and 8 didn’t match up, it seems quite logical that hell is a supernatural world where everything can happen, so it’s not surprising that character was teleported to somewhere else (I believe it’s Earth) Since this is not a story-driven mod, levels take the function of a story, the path that you go is so interesting, that it is an able replacement of storyline development. I’ve seen similar technique in the game You Are Empty, where there are not many story scenes, but very various design, which compensates it.

    Speaking of design, it’s amazing: they use textures that come with Doom3, but the atmosphere is totally different. And music aids this atmosphere very strongly.

    Apparently, the gun that you choose is changeable difficulty: machine gun is harder, plasma gun is easier.

    The explosive things are with unique twist: they don’t hurt the player, only monsters. This opens the path for original battle situations.

    I believe that the seventh map takes place outdoors in the dark night. That’s the joy of top-down: what’s up there is not revealed, opening a way for the fantasy :)

    I loved control scheme of Z-Hunter, and after it other top-down shooters didn’t look right due to different controls which cannot be setup to be like in Z-Hunter. Their control schemes are more intuitive, but Z-Hunter’s is more challenging, and it’s nice when the game challenges you with its controls if it’s not too hard. For example, Resident Evil 4 is challenging because you have to play it with the keyboard, and that makes the game scarier.

    Thanks a lot for the review of the mod that I enjoyed very much, it was great to read it, and now I look forward to Level 9 review.

  2. quakis says:

    Interesting views about level 7 and 8, yet that was something I just couldn’t ‘feel’ had taken place. I guess something was missing there for me, which is wierd since I don’t mind that kind of storytelling through the environment.

    Level 7 probably throws me off that idea, I guess if it went straight to the asylum after Level 6, that ‘feeling’ might have been there for me, but I’m not sure.

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