June 07, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

HUNTER: THE RECKONING (Xbox, Interplay, Mature, $49.95) Steeped in spraying blood, adult language, and churning guitars, Hunter: The Reckoning chronicles a day in the life of four folks with the ability to see the dead — and the power to do something about it. Characters include Judge, a Latino priest with a crucifix sword; Martyr, a young backpack-totin’ raver with a penchant for Magnums and Matrix-style acrobatics; Avenger, a burly biker guy; and, lastly, Defender, a female cop-turned-mobile Cuisinart. There’s precious little story here, but the occasionally excellent voice acting lends the game a slightly tongue-in-cheek air that makes the carnage less a dire bloodbath than a surreal, cinematic nightmare. THE ASSIST Gameplay’s much more manageable if you refrain from spastically jabbing buttons and pulling triggers. And learning to strafe is key. THE LAST SHOT Don’t write off Hunter as Gauntlet for the Marilyn Manson set. This well-crafted game aspires more to the work of George Romero than to any dim-witted dungeon mash. Be warned: When you’re done, your Spidey senses will be tingling almost as much as your tired fingers. THE GRADE B+ — Aaron Ruby

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