Replaying the Classics: Star Wars: Bounty Hunter

“I was recruited by a man called Tyranus on one of the moons of Bogden.”

In Replaying the Classics, revisits Star Wars games of yesteryear, examining why we loved them then and why they stand the test of time.

Released six months after Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, LucasArts’ Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is the ultimate Legends-era Episode II prequel. With Temuera Morrison and Leeanna Walsman reprising their roles as Jango Fett and Zam Wesell from the film, the game also costars Clancy Brown (Savage Opress) as the ruthless Mandalorian Montross and Corey Burton (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as Count Dooku. Originally launched exclusively for the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube, the game was given the royal treatment in November 2015, when it was included as part of a special Star Wars Battlefront bundle for PlayStation 4.

In terms of narrative and presentation, Bounty Hunter delivers the goods. It’s got high-quality cinematics rendered by the special-effects wizards at Industrial Light & Magic; it’s got original music by Jeremy Soule, who later composed the original score for Knights of the Old Republic (2003); and it tells a story that adds color and depth to some of Jango Fett’s best dialogue in Episode II.

Darth Sidious speaks with Count Dooku in the game Star Wars: Bounty Hunter.

At the outset, Dooku (“Tyranus”) is still a Sith in training under Darth Sidious. The seedy galactic underworld, meanwhile, is slipping into chaos under the influence of factions like the Bando Gora, a Force-worshipping death cult led by Komari Vosa, a former disciple of Dooku’s. Two tasks are laid out before Sidious’s new apprentice: eliminate the threat of the Bando Gora, and find a suitable host for the Grand Army of the Republic, which of course the Sith intend to use for their own nefarious purposes.

The Count of Serenno puts a bounty out on Vosa: five million Republic credits. Whoever manages to kill Dooku’s former Padawan will become the template for the Republic’s clone army. (To further flesh out this epic prequel story, LucasArts’ Haden Blackman also wrote a tie-in comic, Jango Fett: Open Seasons, that explored Fett’s relationship to Montross, his longtime rival among the Mandalorian people.)

From a gameplay perspective, Bounty Hunter’s built on a classic, tried-and-true formula rarely seen in more modern action titles. Jango’s primary weapons are his dual blaster pistols, which can be rapid-fired as quickly as you can press the gamepad’s square button. The twist is that you can lock on to targets, making survival less about precision aiming and more about agility. With Jango’s jetpack, which requires a slight cooldown after being used for a certain length of time, you can essentially fly over enemies’ heads as you rain down blasterfire on them from above; crouching and strafing also let you keep the upper hand in a straight fight on the ground.

Darth Sidious in the game Star Wars: Bounty Hunter.

The game includes several exciting boss fights against characters central to Fett’s backstory, as well as an optional bounties system that allows you to scan, identify, and hunt down wanted individuals hiding out in the galaxy’s underbelly. Progressing through the story also unlocks fun bonus content like comic-book pages, Fett-related Star Wars Trading Card Game scans, over a hundred works of concept art, and a few minutes’ worth of humorous outtakes from the game’s voice-over sessions, which have been animated to various degrees by ILM.

Uprezzed to 1080p high definition and featuring additions like PSN Trophies support, the PS4 port of Bounty Hunter is the definitive version of an already stellar game. Many fans remember it as probably the best Clones-era tie-in game — alongside Pandemic’s Battlefront predecessor, The Clone Wars (2002) — and I’m pleased to report that it’s aged phenomenally. With the game’s fast, fluid framerate, intuitive control scheme, and smooth third-person camera, it’s effortless to slip into the armor and feel like a simple man tryin’ to make his way in the universe. And well worth your time.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunter is available on PlayStation 4.

Alex Kane is a journalist based in west-central Illinois. He has written for Fangoria, Polygon, the website of Rolling Stone, Variety, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.