Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: May 24, 2002
The World of Darkness: White Wolf’s key franchise and a widely spread landscape of pure terror. Clans of vampires secretly control the world and have shadowy truces with the leaders of humanity. On the fringes of society dwell proud and vicious werewolves who are able to disguise themselves with the same ease with which they can disembowel anyone who stands in their way. Added to this macabre cast you’ll find countless ghosts, wraiths, spirits, and walking dead, all of whom have their own agendas, or serve the agendas of others. What’s so gripping about the World of Darkness is that it’s scarily close to our own, but infested with the undead and supernatural, so much so that liberty is granted only in perceptions while shadowy figures control all of humanity’s destiny. Finally, though, a time has come where the meek and mild humans have the ability to rise up against their oppressors, and owners of the Xbox can join the hordes of those looking to take the fight back to the streets, the boardrooms and the halls of government. People who can see the undead and unnatural for their true forms are called Hunters, and High Voltage Software along with Interplay are offering you a chance to awaken into their war in Hunter: The Reckoning.
Hunter: The Reckoning‘s back story deals with the town of Ashcroft, sight of the execution of one Nathaniel Arcady, a serial killer of some notoriety. Sitting in the viewing gallery we have the usual assortment of guards and a collection of people drawn there for various reasons, including the officer who arrested this criminal and the priest who took his confession. As the circuit closes, the electricity flows and something more powerful begins. Horrified, four of the spectators look around as their newly opened eyes take in the reality of a horde of undead around them in the prison. Grabbing for whatever weapons they can find, they battle their way clear and seal the prison doors forever, having it condemned and locking away the restless spirits of thousands of prisoners who had died within its walls. Newly awakened Hunters, the four split up and begin their personal crusades against the world of the unnatural until, one year later, word reaches them that the trouble has begun again.
As you step into the world of Hunter: The Reckoning, you’ll take on the role of one of the four “imbued” characters from the story’s prologue. As Hunters, they are defined by their Creed — the rough equivalent to a class from standard RPGs — but also the viewpoint by which a Hunter approaches the presence of undead. The Defender Creed, for instance, tends to be defined by an urge to protect the innocent and the world at large, rather than starting the fights, as their Avenger counterparts will most assuredly see as the only option; the Defender is more likely to finish an existing conflict. Balancing out those two extremes are the Judges, who seek balance and the greater good and the Martyrs, who are willing to lay down their lives to redeem the world, if necessary.
Tied to each of these Creeds are special abilities known as Edges. Roughly akin to spells, these abilities always tie back to the Creed’s goal. Defenders, for instance, can form a protective barrier of pure will that repels the undead, and which heals themselves and others with their rejuvenate Edge. In Hunter: The Reckoning, Samantha Alexander takes on the role of ex-cop turned Defender, and her ability to heal and repel makes her easily one of the most survivable characters in the game. At the other end of the spectrum we find Spencer “Deuce” White, an amiable biker who backs up his hatred of the undead with a pump shotgun and a gigantic axe. His Edges allow him to infuse the axe with flame or even project rings of undead-torching flames around him. Next on the list we find the presiding priest of Ashcroft penetentiary, Father Estaban Cortez. Turned to the way of a Judge, Estaban can paralyze the undead around him with ease, or project a ray of holy light that disintegrates them where they stand. Our final savior takes on the diminutive form of Kassandra Cheyung. Raver, teen, heiress and Martyr, Kassandra is the most nimble of the Hunters by far, and backs up her natural dexterity with edges that practically double her speed and even turn damage back upon the enemy.