So why talk about an exploitative FPS wherein gamers are asked to eradicate America’s top shopping-list of bogeyman villains? Why revisit an old game that (some would say mercifully) slipped beneath the radar? Simple: to enjoy the best the world has to offer we must occasionally stop to appreciate the worst. For your curiosity, the video game barrel does have a bottom and this is what you’ll find if you get there.
As an interpretation of the ‘War On Terror’, Fugitive Hunter is uncanny. Ill-conceived, jingoistic, morally destitute and otherwise appalling, it embodies every ounce of America’s campaign against both the Middle East and the minds of its own people. Whatever you do, however, don’t be led into thinking you can play it.
What exists here isn’t really a game – it’s an impression of one. By definition, a game should stimulate mental and/or physical interaction through the provision of challenge and vision; Fugitive Hunter doesn’t. Instead, it presents us with a checklist of gaming clichés piled randomly upon an ugly and convenient framework. Behind the PS1-quality graphics, the game’s design and implementation bear all the strength and cohesion of a house of cards. Drab weapons, pitiful AI and near non-existent production values are the order of the day. To find a comparable alternative would require a time machine, a fiver and a map of every bric-a-brac shop in the country.
Missions occur within the native territory of the fugitive in question. Short and lifeless, each of these linear routines culminates in a head-to-head with your target. At this point, as is typical of the classic gaming clanger, things take a rather bizarre turn. Fugitive Hunter’s ‘innovation’ as regards apprehending its villains is such that, come the final showdown with Osama Bin Laden, this reviewer endured a laughing fit so intense that his head almost prolapsed through his anus.
Apparently, to apprehend the world’s most dangerous man, you have to roll up your sleeves and entertain him with a side-on dose of good ol’ fashioned fisticuffs.
In more ways than one, this is gob-smacking. The world has gone mad. The apes are in command. The airplane that ferries us between one title and the next has spiralled into a giant, shimmering rectum that protrudes from the gaming landscape. That this fight system contains three moves, a block and absolutely no technique somehow seems inevitable; against the backdrop of what has gone before, it is also entirely academic.
Like a song by the Lighthouse Family, Fugitive Hunter: War On Terror is so simplistic and exquisitely banal that your senses mightn’t even be able to detect it. Repeatedly during the game’s pathetic duration you’ll jerk upright, cast a quizzical look at the screen and wonder where a portion of your life just went. Further details of its comprehensive failure would be exhaustive in every possible sense of the word.
Of course, this is an experience you’re highly unlikely to endure. Who but a lunatic, after all, would voluntarily embrace a visibly hopeless endeavour such as this? Who but a panderer to cowboy politics, violent nationalism and race-driven paranoia? This is a review, yes; but it offers no specific recommendation or warning. Instead, consider this a bottom-line on the gaming barometer – a reference point where gaming simply does not get any worse.