In an effort to begin a new tradition, my friend and I decided to kick off the New Year by completing a “bad” game. We’d done this previously, completing Fugitive Hunter: War on Terror at my behest back in 2012. It was a barely competent first-person shooter that was otherwise unremarkable, save for the ludicrous fistfight against Osama Bin Laden that capped it off. This year, we compiled a list of suitable titles from my collection, paired them against each other in the Tournament of Terribleness and wound up selecting Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard as the game we’d start 2017 with. Oh boy.
I’ll often times try to find a game that my friend Jeff and I can play through. I’ll look for something that’s not very long and will provide some form of entertainment. When we last hung out, I came across a copy of Fugitive Hunter: War on Terror and I knew it met these criteria. Fugitive Hunter: War on Terror was developed by Santa Monica, California based Black Ops Entertainment, and released for the PlayStation 2 on November 18, 2003 courtesy of publisher Encore.
Fugitive Hunter: War on Terror follows the exploits of one man, Jack Seaver and his travels to hunt down fugitives. Before beginning the game I thought he might’ve been a bounty hunter, but he’s actually a member of a fictional government agency whose responsibility it is to hunt down America’s most wanted fugitives. Jack travels around the world hunting fugitives who pose increasing amounts of risk to America’s safety.
Most of the game was a first-person shooter. Controlling Jack, I’d venture through straightforward levels taking care to mow down every baddie I ran into. These thugs ranged from local gang members to Al Qaeda. There was a variety of weapons and many alterative fire options, although I mostly stuck with shotguns which obliterated enemies from far away.
An interesting feature to the FPS gameplay was the ability to lock-on to enemies. By pressing the square button, my reticle would automatically hover over an on-screen enemy. Aiming and moving was a little too sensitive, so I appreciated this feature, but I did over utilize it. I refrained from manually aiming unless the lock-on feature wouldn’t target an enemy. This simplified the game and made it seem like a guided experience; linear levels coupled with intense auto aiming meant all I had to do was move and pull the trigger. It didn’t always target the “best fit” enemy. While my reticle might have been right next to an enemy, it might target someone in the corner of the screen. Instances of this happening led to a few deaths.
Besides tracking down Jack’s target, I’d also have a few secondary objectives of finding or destroying important items. These were sometimes hard to locate even though the levels were linear. I nearly gave up in the first level until I realized my objectives were represented on my radar by a white dot. I was surprised by how competent the gameplay was, with the exception of items being too nondescript. Black Ops Entertainment had a solid track record up to the game’s release; having developed the PlayStation James Bond games they had much experience with the genre.
A gameplay element that didn’t stand up to scrutiny was the fighting. Before Jack could capture the fugitives he had to wail them into submission. At this point the gameplay switched from a FPS to a fighting game. I had a limited selection of moves and the most viable way to deal damage was with combos. After I hit on the fugitive a little, his health bar would flash indicating I should do a combo. It’d take a few combos to capture a fugitive and these weren’t always guaranteed; even though they were simple combinations of two buttons, combos didn’t seem to register all the time. Plus, the final fugitives attacked ferociously and didn’t leave much time to get hits in. Regardless I beat the crap out of and CAPTURED OSAMA BIN LADEN! How many other games can lay claim to that opportunity?
There’s a lot I like about Fugitive Hunter: War on Terror, albeit ironically. The whole premise of being able to beat up and capture Osama Bin Laden is weird, maybe a little exploitative considering what America had gone through a year or two prior. Jack constantly spewed awful one-liners and when he’d fight fugitives, he’d converse back and forth with them. After he’d capture the fugitives he’d perform an unnecessary and outlandish attack on the enemy; much of the game makes it seem like it’s a ten year old’s interpretation of a bounty hunter. But, the premise is unique and the gameplay – with the exception of the fighting – is solid. Good for a couple of hours of laughs with a friend.