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Hunt: Showdown is a competitive first-person PvP bounty hunting game with heavy PvE elements, from the makers of Crysis. Set in the darkest corners of the world, it packs the thrill of survival games into a match-based format.

When I first saw the advert for HUNT:SHOWDOWN I had expected a game in the mould of RED DEAD REDEMPTION, a classic Cowboys versus Bad Cowboys (and probably Indians) in 19th Century America, the land of Jesse James and Doc Holliday etc. I had absolutely no idea it was a Man versus Monster game, so when the first Undead came bursting onto the screen it was a shock to my system - not the PS4 system.

The plan was to play for a short while, take some notes for the review and then return to the game later on. Then the game started for real and I became engaged in its intensity. I soon found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, buttocks gripping the leatherette, and hands glued to a PS4 controller. This may look like so many other zombie genre games but it isn't like so many, or any, other games; it is an entity on its own. 

The characters are fun to play, the monsters are crazy dangerous. They can come at you head on, from the shadows, in groups, solo or even from an ambush. You can smash them with your rifle butt, blast them with a variety of hand-weapons or blow them to smithereens with your shotgun. Some of them fall down and stay down, most that are not head-shot get up again and require several more rounds in the gut or a good one in-between the eyes.

One thing you cannot be, is careful enough. Sneakery and stealth are two of your main weapons, undead creatures act and react to noises like 'regular' zombies. Shoot one when it isn't necessary and you will have many to deal with. Take one out with a rifle from a distance though, or try to sneak past one, and you will be unlucky if you attract any unwanted attention.

Like the majority of combat games in this genre you need to keep reloading your weapons or/and finding new ones. To begin with there are weapons and boxes of ammunition as well as healing in abundance. The problem is that if you have played sensibly you hardly need any of this until you are out in the wilds, the swamps, the forests, the farms of Louisiana, and then there is never enough of anything when you really need it.

The player/s is/are a Bounty Hunter and you can select to play solo or in a team, with up to 5 teams or 10 solo players at the beginning of each Bounty Mission or Hunt match. The idea is to find and destroy the vicious creatures that plague the Louisiana wetlands. When one has been hunted down and killed the player/s / team/s receive the posted reward. However, gaining the reward for being heroic, or just plain, dumb, lucky, you will and instantly become a target for every other Hunter left on one of the two maps. Watch your back or invite the knife. Lose your prize, lose all you have, lose your life, dead is dead; making a mistake is dealt with extremely savagedly. 

Your Hunt may be in the daylight, or anytime of the 24 hours that make up a day in this exotic hell-hole. Night time brings the fear of the shadows and an ambush, whilst daylight means it's harder for you to move around without being highly visible. Luckily (if you have a strange idea of 'luck') the monsters are also easily visible during the day. Sometimes they will give away their position by grunting or making a disgusting noise as if they are eating the insides of an animal or human that is still alive - sometimes that is exactly what they are doing.

This is a powerful, edgy game that is not for the feint or light hearted.

Too many games, movies or TV shows where the Undead feature are blatantly obvious and formulaic. Take the much-loved-by-millions Walking Dead© show. The hero group wander the roads killing walkers until they find an encampment (of some sort or another) where humans live in apparent safety. The settlement (whatever) has plenty of food, fresh water, strong surrounding walls with men and women capable of firing all manner of guns and rifles etc plus have no qualms about cutting the heads off rampaging walkers that somehow they come into contact with.

The people there appear friendly towards the hero group but of course behind the scenes there is something evil going on and before long the heroes have either killed the settlers or run off leaving the walls destroyed so the walkers can breach and have a good meal. Then they go on down the road, meet another group of humans and hey-ho off they go again.

HUNT: Showdown has more edge-of-seat terror in one game session than any of those TV shows or films. You never know what horror is around the next corner. It plays out in the deepest, darkest, dirtiest places imaginable with elements of PvP and PvE.

Bounty Hunting for Zombies is scary stuff. Zombies eat flesh, inner flesh and outer flesh, none of that "Brainz, Brainz" the movies would have you believe. Like foxes in a hen-house these undead kill for the sake of it and leave a total mess wherever and whenever they are ready to move on. Remember though that there are other Bounty Hunters around and you are as likely as not to be in their sights while you have an Undead creature in yours.

 

There aren't many different types (species?) of undead, but how many do you need? There are three main Boss Monsters:
1. The Assassin: This beastie has the Dracula effect of being able to change its form into that of a swarm of insects.
2. The Butcher - remember the Butcher in Diablo, how tough he was, well this one makes that one look like a wimp. Speaking of looks, he wears an animal skull as a helmet.
3. Lastly is mother of all arachnids, the stuff of nightmares, a Spider so terrifying it is hard to endure the time it is on the screen.

Of course there are also the PvP hunters who have played longer than you and know the routines better than you and are happy to hide in the undergrowth just waiting for you to show your face.

 

This has the reality of the Hunger Games, the eerieness of  Southern Comfort, the brutality and gore of The Wild Bunch and requires the survival instincts of Deliverance

As a colleague said when we were playing "This sure is some scary far out sh*t!" Now that's how to end a review!

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015