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Quentin Tarantino meets Bruce Lee meets a bunny in Lugaru HD, an updated version of Wolfire Games’ 2005 shareware cult hit. Like the original, you take control of a warrior rabbit named Turner, who vows revenge after finding his family and friends slaughtered by a raiding party. A fascinating and highly political plot evolves from there as the game pushes you to fight other animals equipped with knives, swords, bo staffs, feet, and fists while working to uncover the underlying conspiracy and bring justice back to the island of Lugaru.
Though five years have passed since its original introduction on the Mac, Windows, and Linux platforms, Lugaru has aged fairly well. The HD version available via Valve’s Steam online storefront has added new textures to the models. So the graphics are still reasonably good, and the game’s use of environmental sounds and music contribute to a foreboding tone accentuated by bursts of action during combat.
Sharp dagger or not, you’re still going to need to sneak up on your victims for a clean kill…
Lugaru’s combat physics were always a highlight, and it’s still fun to jump into a fight and throw your opponent around like a rag doll (or vice versa)—the game uses a smooth attack, block, and counterattack system to reverse attacks as well as disarm your opponents. Timing is a key element within each fight, and a blow delivered too early won’t land while a block activated too late will stagger or knock over your character, making them much more vulnerable.
That sense of realism makes Lugaru addictive; the lack of an ultimate weapon or fighting technique that can instantly destroy half a dozen opponents makes strategy tantamount to survival. If you’re approaching a camp filled with half a dozen wandering sentries, you’ll have to ask yourself which opponent to attack first; how much noise you’re making that might alert other opponents to your position; and what weapons and terrain are available to you. Like a real-life battle, you’ll almost never be able to fight off a small mob intent on beating you to death. Instead, you’ll have to find a smart, more practical way to fight multiple enemies.
Even though it only takes a couple of hours or less to complete Lugaru’s central campaign, three difficulty settings plus 14 challenge levels add to the replay value—and it’s fun to sneak in 10 to 15 minutes of “Watership Down Meets Bruce Lee” gameplay.
Unfortunately, you’ll be forced to contend with serious bugs. While the game ran well for the most part, a small update automatically snagged via Steam rendered it extremely crash-prone under both Mac OS 10.6.4 and 10.6.5 when we tried to pick up or use a weapon. This, combined with a strange bug in which dropped weapons would fly wildly about the landscape instead of staying in place, made the game less enjoyable.
The bottom line. Lugaru HD improves upon the terrific original, and the game is as fun as it ever was, but it’s probably best to wait for a bug fix (we played version 1.06). Then the kung fu rabbits shall seek bloody vengeance once again
Requirements: 1GHz or faster PowerPC or Intel processor; Mac OS 10.5 or later; 512MB RAM; 128MB OpenGL-compatible video card; 40MB free disk space
ESRB rating: Mature
Graphics, sound, and gameplay have held up well over the years. Interesting storyline, good replay value, and well-craft combat physics mean this game is still a fun time killer.
The version we reviewed (1.06) is intermittently crash-prone as a movement bug sends dropped weapons flying about the landscape, making them unusable.