Ever wondered what it?d be like to cause vehicular mayhem to the tunes of Thrice, Bloc Party and The Chemical Brothers? Beginning mid-September, you can bring that flight-of-fancy to life ? virtual life, of course.
Gaming powerhouse Electronic Arts revealed the in-game soundtrack for ?Burnout Revenge? Tuesday, showcasing a mix of over 40 punk, metal, hard rock, alternative rock and electronic songs from bands around the world.
Yellowcard will headline the soundtrack with their new single ?Light and Sounds.? The song will also be featured on the band?s in-progress new album, due early next year.
“EA continues to drive video games to the forefront of musical discovery by launching new songs through the games,? said Steve Schnur, worldwide executive of music and music marketing at EA, according to Gameplanet.
?We are really excited that Burnout Revenge will be the first place for music fans worldwide to hear Yellowcard’s hot new single.”
The soundtrack also includes acts such as Fall Out Boy, Maximo Park, Avenged Sevenfold, Comeback Kid, LCD Soundsystem, Finch, The All-American Rejects, The Bravery, Timo Maas, Goldfinger and We Are Scientists. BT contributes a remix of ?Break On Through (To The Other Side),? originally recorded by The Doors.
The in-game music soundtrack for ?Burnout Revenge? is a part of the EA Trax music initiative. The programme, which debuted in 2001, is aimed at exposing gamers to popular music through EA videogames.
?The break-neck pace and bone-crushing intensity of (Burnout Revenge) could only be matched by a high-energy mix of new music,? said Schnur.
?Last year, the soundtrack was characterised by indie, emo and punk ? this year, we are building on that foundation and delivering an even broader mix of mind-blowing music.?
The sequel to 2004?s critically-acclaimed hit ?Burnout 3: Takedown,? ?Burnout Revenge? challenges gamers to cause maximum destruction in rush hour traffic and against rival racers as they zoom to the finish line. A vast selection of online modes and features allows gamers to be creative in displaying their driving skills ? or lack thereof.
The game, which is developed by Criterion Software Limited, hits stores Sept. 13 for PlayStation 2 and Xbox. It will carry a $49.99 price tag and a rating of E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older.
It seems to me that we seldom examine the impact video gaming has had on our lives. And why would we? Many of us cannot recall a time when video games did not exist. Needless to say, my first memory of a video game is Super Mario Bros. for NES. When I consider how fantastic I thought that game was in it?s time ? and it still is today ? it becomes apparent that the gaming industry has evolved into a true force to be reckoned with.
In fact, it has had such an impact that the Museum of Science and Industry, which is situated in Chicago, is currently the proud host of Game On – a look into the past, present and future of video games.
Jean Franczyk, the Museum?s vice president of education and guest services says ?many children today have grown up with video games, but now they have a chance to learn about the history, science, art and technology that is behind those games.? Read more…
In my youth, tennis was a favourite pastime of mine. Anyone who’s ever tried the act of hitting the spongy fluorescent green ball knows how difficult it truly is. You need to be able to dash across the court, come to a complete stop and position yourself perfectly before you even begin to have the slightest dream of connecting with the ball. In some ways, I could see how it might interest certain mature gamers to embody some of this strategy in a tennis video game, as oftentimes the more realistic the sports game, the better.
Outlaw Tennis, which is available for Xbox and PS2, is not a realistic sports game but in a specific crucial way it sure does pretend to be one.
With Outlaw Tennis it seems to me that developers took a stab at making the gameplay realistic but it turns out to be frustrating instead. It took me too long to score my first point and hours to really get the hang of simply returning the ball. The main problem is too much emphasis is placed on positioning your character in order to return the ball, so it becomes impossible to return it in a specific direction. Even after getting the hang of it, I still found myself running to where the ball was going to land, only to find myself then running away from the ball or past it because I had apparently started to aim my return too soon or too late.
Games such as Virtua Tennis and Mario Tennis were easier on the gameplay and in response players had the full opportunity to take advantage of curving, placement, rallying and power – everything that makes tennis fun. Forget that in Outlaw Tennis because you?ll just find yourself stumbling across the court cursing at the computer triumphing over you quite unfairly.
Opportunities to win turbo seconds, in which case your character can blast back the ball and teleport across the court, come in the form of specific challenges, such as coming back form a love-forty disadvantage for example, or if you win a fight. You or the opponent can choose to instigate fights typically two times each per game.
I will give the game credit for compiling a broad variety of game modes, unlockable characterscostumes and online capabilities. And for those of you that are into the gratuitous use of sex in a video game then look no further. Female characters in this game are large breasted, scantily dressed and of great abundance; Outlaw Tennis also makes sure of their exploitation.
As progress is made through Tour mode, more levels are unlocked in the Drills mode, so that you can build up things such as your character?s stamina and power. Drills include scenarios in which the opposite court will have things such as land mines, a puzzle or even an evil robot – all demanding precise returns.
I return to my main point however, that in a madcap sports game with exploding tennis balls, 2-D fighting and more cleavage than you can shake a stick at ? no pun intended ? I don?t think it makes sense to have such difficult game play.
Have you ever stayed up late and caught one of those hardcore Japanese action anime flicks? I’m talking about the kind with eerie music, a seemingly gothic atmosphere, thought-provoking dialogue and an artistic use of death and blood. This is exactly what I was reminded of when I finally got my hands on a copy of Killer 7, available for Gamecube and PS2.
Both bloodcurdling and manga-violent, I cannot stress enough that this game is not for children. If you enjoy being absolutely terrified, Killer 7 will have your heart pulsing with its cold, dark and particularly cunning mystique. I?m willing to admit that this could be due to the simple fact that this game is in essence, a hefty dose of culture shock.
The story of the game is a reality in which world peace has been accomplished but a terrorist threat by the name of Heaven Smile seeks to disturb this. The world government in response sends Killer 7, a group of lethal assassins led by Harman Smith. Accompanying the group on the journey as a guide is a ghost named Iwazaru ? he provides hints and information on how to defeat bosses or penetrate difficult areas in the game.
Killer 7 puts you in control of seven Smiths who can be alternated will. Each alias has different weapons, specials, abilities and even a different body. In the first level for example, Coyote Smith, a large oafish man reminiscent of the show Trailer Park Boys, needs to be used in order to pick a lock while in another level Kevin Smith, a buff but sickly looking character who can turn invisible is used to sneak past lasers; this is part of the game?s strategy, figuring out who and when to use a specific assassin.
The controls are definitely awkward. You only move back and forth on a path without the use of the directional pad or joystick and see your character from a third-person angle. When approaching intersections, which appear in the form of interactive characters, save-points, objects or different rooms and hallways, mini-menus come up on the screen allowing you to choose where to go or what to do.
Enemies such as ghosts cannot be seen and need to be scanned prior to being killed. In this case, you need to toggle out of the third-person view and into first person – again, this takes some real getting accustomed to. A Joker-like laugh indicates there?s an enemy in the room and suitably intensifies the atmosphere. The brief half-second scan, which can be done repeatedly as needed, can reveal an enemy?s weak spot. As Iwazaru suggests, “go for the gold” and your enemy will explode into a thousand drops of blood.
The graphics are crisp, cartoony cell shading, which works well with the game?s style. The use of sound is undeniably harmonic with Killer 7′s tone: ghosts who appear with no eyes speak in an unrecognizable yet devil-like whisper, dead-ends and clues are accompanied by sudden jolts that make you jump out of your seat and when blowing an enemy’s head off your character will curse with satisfaction.
When enemies are defeated blood is absorbed and divided automatically into thick and thin. By using the Harman rooms, which appear frequently, thick blood can be used for levelling-up while thin allows health restoration.
I?ll give credit to Capcom that all in all Killer 7 is fun to play once you get used to the controls but I find myself more entertained by the game?s utter obscurity than its game play. I still haven?t beat it – I?ve been taking it steady because it really freaks me out – but I hear it takes about twenty hours to finish. There?s no multiplayer mode so you?ll have to crap your pants by yourself.
This week I had the pleasure of renting Fantastic Four for PS2 (also available for Gamecube and Xbox). As a comic gamer it is essential that I had to watch the movie and essential that I had to play this game.
I?ve never been to big a fan of Fantastic Four but now I can certainly say with the utmost sincerity that thanks to both the movie and this game that?s not going to change any time soon.
Fantastic Four operates an awful lot like and looks an awful lot like X-men Legends to me – not too surprising since both were made by the good people at Activision. For the most part of this action adventure game you have the whole team ? Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, the Invisible Woman, and the Thing ? at your disposal and take control of one character at a time.
Each character can punch, kick, grab, block but depending on a character?s abilities he or sue will be stronger or weaker in certain areas. The Thing can pick up heavier objects whereas Mr. Fantastic can stretch to pick up objects from a distance for example. Each character also has upgradeable combos and upgradeable cosmic attacks.
There are times in the game when a specific character must be used in order to defeat special enemies or perform certain tasks. In these circumstances, a specifically coloured ?Four? indicates whom to use and you?ll have to move your character over and either repeatedly tap a button or rotate the analog stick. Other times you?ll move your character over and press one button to just watch them execute the move. For example, I recall a level in which after moving above one of these symbols the Thing would leap in the air, grab onto a balcony and you?d have to start tapping a button to make him rip the balcony down with an enemy along with it. But imagine if could cling on to anything and tear it down, smash through any wall, pick up any object, after all, the Thing is comparable to the Hulk, he?s a big, dumb, walking, talking, ugly bulldozer of a man made of rocks.
Fantastic Four pretty much mirrors the movie in terms of level-progression and story except a few sub-plots have been plugged in with enemies from the comic books such as the Mole Man for example. Fantastic Four is also packed full with movies and there are cameos from comic book characters such as Nick Fury, who interestingly enough appears in his Ultimate form.
To cut to the chase now, I think I can summarize the Fantastic Four video game in one word ? meh. For starters, I don?t know why game developers still insist on making cut-scenes where game models are used because it looks awful. It?s always a nice touch to have most of the actors from the movie doing the voices in the game but ho-boy does it look bad when you hear a voice and see a Thing model standing there opening and closing his mouth; ironically enough, in truth, this typifies the movie in terms of acting.
The graphics in general were just fine but I imagine the game looks smoother on Gamecube.
The game doesn?t take long to fire through in order to see the ending but at least there are plenty of things to unlock such as interviews with movie?s cast and levels. The co-op mode is actually a blast but it?s only two players?I mean, shouldn?t a game titled Fantastic Four allow I don?t know?four players?
As mentioned before this game feels an awful lot like X-men Legends but that game had the feel of something that developers took their time and put in some real effort to make. With the exception of Spider-man 2 and perhaps the Punisher, with games such as the Hulk, Wolverine?s Revenge, Batman Begins, and Catwoman, it?s getting downright obvious to the point that it?s insulting that these comic book movie games are getting slapped together in an effort to make sales off the movie hype.
I definitely don?t recommend buying this game before trying it but if you like Fantastic Four you might enjoy it.
It was just a week ago that my little brother came home with a copy of Goldeneye: Rogue Agent for Nintendo DS but it certainly took less than a week to finish it, in fact, it took me about five hours. Now, I am well aware that this game did come out last month but I deem that there are several considerable lessons that can be acquired from it.
The game has a fantastic premise: after a bullet in the head from Dr.No, a former 00-agent undergoes surgery in order to receive a mechanical eyeball, hence Goldeneye. Having been dismissed from British Intelligence for reckless behavior Goldfinger becomes the new employer ? how convenient as he is racing to build an empire against the mutual enemy, Dr.No. Progress is made through six levels, which are 007-ish locations such as casinos and volcanoes, and at the same time unlock virtual campaigns that allow upgrade of your Goldeneye with utilities such as the MRI for example, which allows you to see through walls.
My first impression of the game was that the resolution was a tad choppy, I was actually reminded of Wolfenstein 3D, the very first first-person shooter. This first impression was only reinforced thanks to the enemies being absurdly brainless and unrealistic. Nine times out of ten, a foe will stand there with his gun aimed straight forward and will nail you the split-second you turn a corner – thus at times there is no strategy at all, you can?t strafe left or right and avoid at least a couple of bullets. Instead it all comes down to standing directly in front of an enemy and responding with a barrage of bullets to the head.
Overall, I have never fancied the use of the stylus on the Nintendo DS but surprisingly I must admit that this game is an exception. Thanks to the stylus the game grants the same precision when it comes to aiming ? a crucial factor in this genre ? as a mouse. The massive setback in turn is the fact that your entire hand is dedicated to the stylus and the other hand has the directional pad for moving and one button to fire your weapon; as a result you are left with no other buttons to work with except the ones on the touch screen. This really makes things difficult when running out of bullets in a melee attack, are in desperate need of picking up a new weapon, which is the case in this game because oddly enough you can?t carry an inventory of weapons, and have to glance at the lower screen to see where to tap in order to pick one up. I also think that it?s sad that although you hold two guns at a time and can mix and match, with a few exceptions such as the sniper rifle that acts as one, it?s difficult to use them alternately.
In essence then, game play is fun but not because the game was properly designed but ironically enough due to the fact that the uncomfortable controls are in perfect unison with the enemy?s lagging A.I. In theory, the game would be too easy if the controls were more accessible, or too hard if the enemies fought with superior tactically.
Rewards for beating the game in various difficulties include character skins, arenas and weapons for the multiplayer mode. I was unfortunately unable to try the multiplayer mode but having played computer-controlled bots in the arenas I might be able to believe that this game could be a good investment. The best part of a first-person shooter is oftentimes dependant upon a well-developed multiplayer mode with lots of weapons, maps, skins and scenarios, such as in this game. It is actually possible to have a game with eight players but in this case every system needs the cartridge, this of course being an unlikely circumstance.
To close, what I hope this blather has proved is that you can never EVER trust a game by it?s title because with this one it is so blatantly misleading; Goldeneye 007 for Nintendo 64, which was developed by Rare, was strictly based on the movie and the greatest first person shooter in its time. Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, which was developed by EA Los Angeles, isn?t based on any movie and is overall a sub-par game.
I was arguing with a friend recently with regards to Nintendo’s upcoming new system titled the Revolution. I explained to him that having felt shafted by my investment in the Gamecube I could no longer trust Nintendo. I reminded him that when video game magazines were feeding us tidbits of info way back in 1995 about Nintendo 64, we were overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation. Looking back, I can easily count the number of great games that came out for N64 using two hands.
Then came the Gamecube, gaming sites claimed it was the system that was going to redeem Nintendo for its lost years of providing loyal enthusiasts with the well-deserving hours of video-game gratification reminiscent of the days when Super Nintendo reigned supreme. But alas, once again as I look back, or in this case as I look at my stack of Gamecube games, I see that give or take a disappointment or two ? enter super Mario sunshine and Mario Kart: Double Dash ? I can easily count the number of great games that came out for Gamecube using two hands. Now, I will admit that I am certain the next instalment in the Zelda series scheduled for release this November will make up for a lot but this is my point: less than ten great games is not enough.
I suppose that part of the problem is that Nintendo has been catering more and more to a younger audience hence we see less than three releases of the Nintendo champs such as Zelda and so many bothersome sequels to Mario Party. Regardless, now that Gamecube is nearing obsoletion Nintendo is going to have to level up its status and hopefully it can when the Revolution is released sometime in 2006.
I somewhat feel guilty for trying to tackle the Revolution when we still know so little but it only seems fair since Xbox 360 and PS3 having been pumping the masses with raw synergy and hype.
So let’s get started.
Apparently Revolution is the code name and not the official name (note, Nintendo said the same thing prior to the official release of the Nintendo DS). The system itself is about the size of three DVD cases stacked on top of each other and has a custom-built IBM CPU that we don’t know anything about just yet.
In terms of connectivity the Revolution has built in Wi-Fi meaning you need a wireless router – an innovative idea but also a risky one as not everybody has one.
Just like with the Gamecube, you will not be able to play DVD’s on it but a DVD support device will be sold separately. The case Nintendo is making with this ? and I must say, I agree ? is that most people own a DVD player nowadays and to manufacture the system without it makes it inexpensive to manufacture and inexpensive for the consumer; expect the revolution to be priced no higher than $350.
The system will be backwards compatible, accepting the new 5-inch discs and Gamecube 3-inch discs. In fact, a cover on the top of the system opens to reveal Gamecube controller ports and memory-card ports. This is an interesting idea except one of the main reasons the system is named revolution is rumoured to be the new controller ? of which we still know nothing about! This actually scares me a bit in view of the fact that I still haven’t got into the swing of using the stylus with the Nintendo DS. Consequently the Revolution could be quashed before it starts, which is the fate of so many revolutions these days, if Nintendo gets just a bit too imaginative says I. But then again, Nintendo hasn’t disappointed with controllers, console-wise so far.
Unlike PS3 and Xbox 360 the Revolution is not specifically designed for HDTV as Nintendo believes most gamers could not care for it. Also worthy of mention is that the system has two USB ports, a first for a Nintendo system.
Lastly, the Revolution’s internet subscription will apparently be free, a move that could single handidly turn the tide in the ongoing console wars. Games from previous Nintendo systems as far back as the original NES will be available for download but this, I’m certain, will not be free.
To finish, if you read my column a few weeks back in which I ranked the number one games for the current systems, I ranked Super Smash Bros melee the victor for Gamecube. Now, I’ve always said ? and most people agree with me ? that nothing would have been finer than an online multiplayer version. So although I’ve taken a considerable amount of time to condemn Nintendo for its mistakes with its current and previous systems, I will whole-heartedly admit that if done correctly, an online Smash Bros for revolution will undoubtedly give the Nintendo the best shot they’ve had in nearly a decade at completely turning the tables in the North American market; a revolution that is desperately needed.
Gaming has become quite the luxury these days. Some people have plenty of money to spare and some people don’t mind skipping meals and cutting down on haircuts but it seems to me that a person invests in only one system. Interestingly enough, rivalries between system owners are as heated as those between the developers themselves.
So now that the consoles of today are just about obsolete and new ones are on the way, who?s side are you going to be on?
Sure, there are people who have been loyal to Nintendo since the first Super Mario Brothers game, thus they are sure to buy their next system. Sure, there are people who love Halo so much they?re going to invest in Xbox 360, heck, I know someone who?s trying to pre-order it.
But for the most part I?m finding that from the people who play video games so much that they should seek medical attention to the people who buy a game once a year ? PS3 is the system of choice.
If you read my column last week about the Xbox 360 you know I went into a lot of detail with regards to its impressive hardware specs and PS3 is no exception. The key to the power of the PS3 is it?s exclusive Cell processor technology developed by IBM. The Cell processor is composed of a PowerPC processing element (PPE) and eight Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs). Basically, information flows from the PPE to the eight SPEs; as a result the PS3 is capable of concurrently processing eight threads at its full speed of 3.2Ghz.
Similar to the Xbox 360, to truly appreciate this kind of a CPU you?ll need a High Definition television but the PS3 will still operate just fine on any modern TV. The definitive difference between the Xbox 360 and PS3 has to be that while the Xbox 360 is sticking with a DVD drive, PS3 will boast a Blu-ray disc drive.
Blu-ray, which employs a blue-violet laser to read and write data technology, is apparently the format aimed at replacing DVDs. Once again, this all goes back to the push tech-developers are making towards HD television as Blu-ray is hoping to become the standard of high-def DVD flicks and consequently making us all jealous of the bourgeoisie.
A single-layer Blu-ray disc holds 25Gbs and a double-layer disc a whopping 50Gbs. Now first of all, if this is true, for all the people who invested thousands into building DVD collections ? I told you so. Second of all, although this technology will obviously make the PS3 a powerhouse it is still quite the gamble.
Blu-ray discs are very expensive to develop and consequently for this medium to pick up PS3 itself will have to do most of the work and frankly, nobody has been in a rush to buy minidisks so that they can watch movies on their PSPs so far. Sony is hoping that Blu-ray becomes the standard so that buying a PS3 becomes easier but has made sure that its compatible with CR-ROM, CD-RW, DVD, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD+R formats
As if the Blu-ray factor wasn?t dubious enough it also looks like you will have to purchase the hard drive separately. Now this right here is what I like to call the low-blow: to buy a system and then more for extras such as memory cards or RF switches is quite the annoyance, but just imagine how much hard drive is going to cost.
Now in terms of connectivity, the PS3 has built in Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet connections. In english, the PS3 will be able to connect at an incredible speed, ten times that of the Xbox 360?s. Speed is not as important to multiplayer gaming as people think so it?s likely PS3 has it?s site of expanding into other markets – rumours have it Sony plans to eventually distribute movies online. There hasn?t been an indication as to how much the online service will cost but I?m betting that it definitely won?t be free.
Making use of Bluetoooth technology the PS3 will have wireless controllers and will be able to interact with the PSP With the six USB ports you?ll be able to plug in anything from a camera to an mp3 player and likely a keyboard; similar to the Xbox 360, PS3 will operate as a multi-media centre.
In the end what really matters are the games and PS3 is going to have a solid selection such as the next instalments of Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy, Killzone, Metal Gear Solid, and Tekken.
Clearly these are examples of what made the PS2 a huge success: the very fact that Sony has always made sure to provide a selection of games that span such a wide range. On the contrary, catering mostly to a younger crowd is what led to the Nintendo Gamecube?s poor success in North America. How fitting it is that the title of their next console is exactly what Nintendo needs – a revolution. Come back next week to find out more.
November. Students have settled into their classes and can procrastinate reading and assignments no further. Flurries start appearing on the streets and people begin to brave thoughts of a cold, bitter, winter. NBC shows live coverage of the Macy?s Thanksgiving parade and Canadians everywhere, simply, couldn?t care less. Plastic decorations of Santa are pinned up in Wal-Mart stores and employees walk around with huge smiles, smiles of being pushed to the brink of insanity, as Christmas jingles are played over and over.
But this November is going to be different ? Microsoft is counting on it.
The Xbox 360 is the first of the fresh batch of video game consoles poised at blowing us away. Indeed, gamers both young and old have high standards so it?s no wonder the games will run in at least 720p with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. That technical jargon means to truly take advantage of the Xbox 360?s graphics capabilities you will need a High Definition (HD) television. Fortunately the Xbox 360 will operate just fine on your standard analog 4:3 TV ? the television most people own ? but it still goes to show which market consolegame developers have their sights truly aimed at nowadays.
Gone are the days when consoles are comparable to powerhouse computers. Microsoft has ensured that the Xbox 360 is a technological juggernaut; the CPU consists of three 3.2GHz processors, each able to run two threads at the same time. If you do the math, the CPU can actually process six threads simultaneously, in turn, this is sure to grant game developers an unprecedented amount of freedom.
Expect the typical compatibility with DVD-Video, CD-RW, WMA CD, MP3 CD, and JPEG Photo CD just to name a few, but the fun doesn?t stop there, it?s called 360 for a reason. This time around there?s a huge push to expand into more markets hence try not to think of the Xbox 360 as a partner for your entertainment theatre or PC but rather the nucleus of the two.
With a built in Ethernet port and compatibility with broadband getting things rolling with an internet service provider will be effortless.
Two USB ports at the front of the system make it so that toys like an MP3 player can be plugged in to transfer songs to the 20GB hard drive, which comes with the system, and vice-versa, or maybe hook up a digital camera and have a slide show of favourite pics for an online profile.
Current Xbox Live subscribers will be transferred over but it will be divided into two levels, Gold and Silver. Silver will be free and will provide gamer profiles, access to Marketplace (where demos, new game levels, maps, weapons, vehicles, skins are available for download), voice and text messaging, video messages, and of course, massive multiplayer online games. The Gold level is paid and is basically Silver with more features such as access to Live special events.
Also worthy of mention is the sleek, silver and very sexy looking system has made wireless controllers as its standard.
As I discussed in a previous column, Microsoft has been the only developer so far who has provided gamers a complete online-gaming experience, this has attributed to the current success of the Xbox. In an attempt to carry over that success, every game to be made for the 360 will have online compatibility.
It?s evident that Microsoft is out for blood because not only will 360 be released just in time for Christmas, but the next instalment of Halo ?the best game for Xbox, I have argued ? will be released this fall as well.
I hate to sound like all I?ve done so far is help Microsoft rake in even more money but it really does seem to me that the next generation of systems, especially this one, is going to completely reform the way we play games. I would almost deem it the upcoming gaming renaissance but I?ll save such a bold statement for when we all start jacking into the matrix?or jack out?whatever.
At any rate, Microsoft hasn?t hinted as to how much the 360 will cost but it seems to me that a consensus between gaming magazines, sites and blogs alike estimate it will cost roughly $400 Canadian. What with the success of bundles these days I?d be ready to spend $500 but hopefully not a penny more.
One thing the 360 doesn?t have in common with the two competitors is a portable device out there right now compatible with the consoles of the future. Nintendo has the DS, and Sony has its PSP ? the newcomer. Coupled with PS2?s current domination what can we expect from the PS3 scheduled for release next year? Find out next week.
If you own a PS2, an Xbox, a Gamecube, or two systems, or even all of them, by this time you?ve had the chance to play a slew of solid titles. But for every system there was the game. The game that took hours to beat, the game you bought the sequel(s) for, if any, the game that you don?t play so much anymore but no matter what, you could just never trade it in – the game that made you run out and buy the system in the first place.
Indeed, the consoles of today have had a good five-year-run now and it is at this time that I implore you to take a look at what I deem to be the games that put their respective systems on the map.
For PS2, coming from the action genre, it was the Grand Theft Auto series. When GTA first came out for PC and Playstation in 1997, it had a 2-dimensional top-down view. Comparably the same way Mario blew us away when he made the transformation from the 2-dimensional side-scroller to the 3-dimensional 360 degree environment. Grand Theft Auto III did the very same when it first came out.
In short, GTA was a game that championed doing everything that the dark crevice of a person?s mind could lust for: murder, pimping, street racing and robbery just to name a few. The true beauty of the game was the fact that players could choose to either make progress in the underground world via missions or simply run around and create their own fun and havoc.
Although Xbox and PC versions came afterwards ? GTA?s developer Rockstar had a contract with Sony allowing them a six-month advance release ? this title clearly became a blockbuster on PS2. Running with the success of GTA III came the sequels Vice City and San Andreas offering the same freedom of huge interactive environments but also raised the bar with the addition of cooler vehicles, such as a harrier in San Andreas (unnecessary but fun) and fully customizable characters.
For Xbox it was undeniably the Halo series. Your classic scenario: aliens invade planet and ridiculously large, noisy and dangerous armaments are the only way to stop them. This was the same premise for Half-life, but since then no first-person shooter has had such smooth-game play, an extremely comfortable and accessible button configuration set-up and an absolutely superb multiplayer mode.
Typically, first-person shooters are championed for their multiplayer capabilities but the single player and co-op mode for Halo and Halo 2 provided its owners with an extremely long-lasting title. Even the magnificently orchestrated and high-quality cut-scenes for these titles are worthy of mention.
For these reasons this first-person shooter made waves in the gaming industry and allowed Microsoft to claim itself as the superior machine in terms of online gaming. Keep in mind, prior to coming out, every system?s developer made the promise that we were in for the revolution of online gaming and to this day, thanks to the Halo series, only Microsoft has kept that promise.
Finally we have Nintendo Gamecube and the fighter Super Smash Bros. Melee. This game offered more than twenty Nintendo characters ranging from Mario to Pikachu and allowed you to pit them against each other and by any means necessary, smash each other out of the screen.
As a result, this sequel to the Nintendo 64 original became the best multiplayer game for the system.
Other than Zelda: the Windwaker, no other game has boasted the graphics power of the Gamecube like Smash bros has ? characters in it for example, are detailed right down to the retinas of their eyes. And with more than 200 trophies, which could be unlocked by single, but also multi-player challenges, this game managed to provide a decent long-lasting factor.
But here?s my beef: despite the success of this game, Nintendo never made a sequel for it. With the troubles Gamecube has had competing against Xbox and PS2, a sequel with perhaps online capabilities could have completely turned the tables.
Compared to deciding on the best titles for PS2 and Xbox it was no easy task what with smash hits such as your Tony Hawks, Final Fantasies, Metal Gear Solids and Need for Speeds. But for Nintendo it?s clear that Super Smash Bros. melee stands on top because frankly, Nintendo never released enough epics.
The real reason why I?ve taken the time to ramble on about old games is because it?s no big news that the three big developers, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have finalized what?s going to be the next generation of systems. And every single one of the games I?ve taken the liberty to nominate as the top pick is going to have a sequel on their respective up-coming console, be it the Nintendo Revolution, PS3 or Xbox 360.
I?ve taken a look at the technical capabilities of these powerhouses and I must admit it?s easy to drool at the thought of how many hours of nirvana these fun new toys are going to provide but lest we forget that a poor selection of games trumps the technical power of a system.
Come back to andPOP all next month because I?ll be giving you the skinny on what to expect from the next generation of systems starting next week with Xbox 360.
Johnny Keogh’s gaming column can be read every Wednesday on andPOP.
Since the days of Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, most of the big time comic book heroes have in one way or another had a video game out for one of the latest systems; some for all.
Sometimes an animated series such as Justice League will get decent ratings so we see a game come out for Gameboy Advance. Most of the time, superheroes hit the big screen and we see games such as the Punisher and Hulk on store shelves. And sometimes a comic book character is popular enough all by him or herself that a game gets made such as Superman: Man of Steel for Xbox.
But one Superhero has had a game come out for all these reasons and for the most part ? even on the older systems ? they have not been too spectacular. If you haven’t guessed already, I’m talking about Batman.
It has been a long time since anyone has made a great Batman video game. Spider-man was done justice in his movie-based game after the sequel came out; the game for Spider-Man 2 was a third-person action game with the freedom of an interactive and very accurate New York City.
In my opinion, with Batman Begins (available for Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube), now would have been the perfect time to offer a similar game.
Imagine, the freedom to be able to go down into the Bat Cave, choose your costume, hop in the Batmobile and head into Gotham to swoop from rooftop to rooftop, track clues, rough of some thugs, and maybe catch a little tail with Catwoman. Alas, I’m not a game developer… just yet.
Now enough of my ranting and let us get down to business. With Batman Begins, much like the theme of the movie, the theme of this third-person action game is fear.
It’s nearly impossible to fight enemies before scaring them and a heart-rate meter, which automatically appears when Batman puts up his dukes against a foe, suggests when is the best time to strike.
Players have to stealthily creep through ceiling vents, climb across rooms by monkey-barring pipes and dart straight up to building ledges via bat-grapple. Nearby enemies will chat amongst each other about how they heard that “the bat ate this guy’s soul last week.”
Typically, a batarang has to be thrown at an object in order to startle enemies so that they get freaked out and drop their weapons. I recall the Arkham asylum level specifically, when a few thugs were chatting by the morgue and after throwing a batarang at a locked chamber, I got a cut-scene of dead bodies flopping on the floor ? I’ll admit, it was the perfect touch.
After a while though, I started to realize that other than the Batmobile level, the strategy of the game is extremely repetitive: sneak through room, chuck a batarang to make muggers run around in circles, beat the crap out of them and move on. Sometimes you’ll have to interrogate an enemy in order to get access codes to doors for example, but the game makes it so that there are only certain characters who can be interrogated.
This has to be one of the fundamental flaws of Batman Begins: the game allows no creativity whatsoever. You can’t just throw a batarang whenever you want or at whatever you want, nor grapple up to just any rooftop. Instead you have to look for the automatic crosshair that will indicate when you can do any of that fun stuff. Thus, in theory, there’s only one pole you can climb, one window you can jump through, one way to beat the game and when you play this game you will be quick to learn what I’m talking about.
Graphic-wise the game looks beautiful. Not only is it thrilling to tear through Gotham’s streets in the Batmobile ? especially when you hit the button for nitrous, in which case the engine fire will turn blue and cars and buildings begin to blur right by ? but I do appreciate it when game designers recognize the importance of details. The environments are always dark and murky: black trees stretch over the streets, warehouses remain dimly lit with rustic looking lights, heck, when you look outside a broken window you can see a skyline over Gotham in which case the dark grey clouds move.
Characters in the game are nicely modeled after the actors in the movie ? you can see the freckles on Morgan Freeman’s face for example. Coupled with the fact that it’s the real actors’ voices in the game, I found that it helped to get me immersed. If you have one of those six-speaker home theatre set-ups, this game offers Dolby surround sound, a solid bonus.
For the most part, I seemingly comes down hard on Batman Begins but I assure you, I did enjoy the game. The fact of the matter however is that I purchased the game and beat it in less than ten hours. Once you beat the game you unlock movie trailers, alternate costumes and access to the Batmobile levels whenever you like but even for a comic book nerd like yours truly, these options get old fast.
Thus my advice to you is to rent this game if you’re thinking of buying it. My ten year-old brother is still working on it but a mature gamer will surely zip through it in no time. Believe you me, there’s nothing worse than having a brand new game collecting dust the day after you buy it.
Johnny Keogh’s gaming column can be read every Wednesday on andPOP.