Condition RedCondition Red
Kyle is rather desperate for work, having received nothing further from the Rebellion since the Dark Trooper conflict. He receives a message from Jabba the Hutt in which the smuggler lord details his plans to trap Han Solo on the station Vanguard near Ord Mantell and offers a substantial bounty on his head. Numerous other bounty hunters have gotten the message as well. Kyle sees this as an opportunity to make peace with an old enemy and perhaps make some money as well. Little does he know the truth...
Leia: "I though you had decided to stay..." Han: "Yeah, well that bounty hunter we ran into on Ord Mantell changed my mind."
Not many people notice this short exchange between Han and Leia in ESB, and even less understand what it means. Somewhere along the way to Hoth Solo ran into a bounty hunter from Jabba the Hutt, who convinced him he needed to pay up soon. Now we finally get to hear(and interact with) the story of that incident.
Without giving too much away, I can safely say that you get to go up against just about every bounty hunter in the book in this level, each one of them competing for the same prize. Not only does the story the author has crafted fit well with what we know from Star Wars, it also gives us a nice idea of what happened to Kyle later on. And the story gets deeper and more complex (read: interesting) as you progress through the level.
But enough of that. This level has a lot of stuff you'll want to check out. Lots of really nice architecture is employed around the station. The whole level is constructed to fit the design of the station, which keeps the level from feeling random. And contrary to lots of other levels where the design is fixed, you can see different parts from windows, look back to where you've been, and it all continues without giving you a sense of monotony. That's a flaw most levels can't seem to overcome, but the author here does a good job.
There are lots of other nice touches that keep you from getting bored. My personal favorite is an elevator stretching from the main section to a tower. One side is open to the outside and you can watch the lower half of the station fall away as you rise. It's rather reminiscient of the Space Needle here in Seattle, or other towers where you reach the top via elevator. It's a pretty impressive piece of work that looks great in motion, not to mention the Imperial Star Destroyer hovering just outside.
Another nice bit is a grate that you can walk across over some sewage. Other authors might have been content to make it a platform, but here you can look down and see the sludge below. It's a small touch that pays off big.
And you needn't worry about not having enough to shoot at. As I mentioned earlier, all the bounty hunters you can think of are here, and you face off with them all. All of the WAXes are nicely done, especially the Boba Fett WAX. It's the first time I've seen the walking Fett in action, and it really looks great. Of course I can't forget to include the station personnel out to stop the hunt, or the Imperials in pursuit of the Rebel fleet; you need to get by them as well. There're also a lot of civilians to populate the station to make it feel full. This was something I thought was missing in LucasArts rendition of a space station, and I'm glad the author corrected it.
The puzzles aren't terribly complex, but the author more than made up for it with a challenging force thrown against you. And with everything that's going on around the station, I didn't really have time to notice when I was playing.
This level does have a couple problems. The VUEs are pretty jerky sometimes, something that could be fixed pretty easily. It isn't quite the same when the ship comes to a sudden halt or changes course rapidly while in flight. It breaks the spell the level has put over you. And the biggest problem is that the level will only run on Easy right now. Something seems to be missing in one of the more difficult levels, and of course that makes the thing crash. If the author would kindly remedy this, I would be hard pressed to find anything else wrong.
This is a great level, with some really nice architecture, cool effects throughout the station, and a great story to tell. Top that off with the professional looking cutscenes he's pieced together and you've got a real winner.
In the Bounty Hunt, the author has strived to create a completely original piece of work, with an involving storyline and intricately detaild design. He has, for the most part, been successful. The storyline and the way it has been integrated into the level is extremely good. Unlike most levels, you don't know the whole story before starting the game, and therefore as the story changes so does your mission, which adds a great degree of mystery.
One of the main highlights of this level is the beautiful cutscenes, they are without doubt the best made for any add-on level. The cutscenes are also consistent with the design of the level. For example the design of the space station you see in the cutscene is the same as the layout you see if you look out the windows of the space station in the game. Another nice thing is that the author has managed to integrate Star Wars characters (in this case Chewie, Han and a wide collection of SW bounty hunters) effectively into the level.
This level does have it's faults though, including one major fault. The texturing, for a good part of the level, is not very good at all. The textures of adjacent walls don't flow which results in a 'patch-work' appearence to rooms and corridors which are real eye sores. While other parts of the level use too much of the same texture.
Some of the VUEs in the level are often jerky, but for the most-part effective enough. The VUE of the A-Wing landing while well done technically, is just completely out of place and disturbs the tense atmosphere ot the level. But some of the other VUEs were pretty good, but also consider he used a BETA version of VUECAD.
This level does have some terrific scenes in it though. The part where you can look outside and see TIE fighters attacking the station, with subsequent explosions is brilliantly done. As is the end sequence where you're flying away in the Crow with a TIE fighter chasing you.
All in all, this was a very good level with a movie-like storyline and terrific suspense, the only thing in my mind that prevents this from being rated with the best ever add-on levels is the texturing, which just really lets the rest of this otherwise excellent level down.