Saturday, December 31, 2005

Impressions: Sonic Rush!

Sonic Rush is a new game for the Nintendo DS platform. If you've been shut out by the crap Sonic has been taking on consoles lately, you might want to see this. The 2 screens function as one, with Sonic switching between them if he's launched into the air or takes a big fall. This doesn't function as confusingly as you might think, and can sometimes let you peek to those other unreachable areas as you run through that you'll try to get to next time. SR does introduce 3D elements for boss battles but the main zones stay pretty clearly as 2D gameplay. Shadow, Knuckles, Tails, and all the rest of the more frustrating Sonic Adventure crew don't pop up as playable characters this time, which is cause for rejoice! Blaze the cat, a new character, does factor heavily and as much as half the game will be played as her. Oh well. She does control much like Sonic, and won't bog you down with item hunting and gunplay. So far I've the game... kinda hard. The first boss managed to kill me 5 times before I made it past him, and I keep missing jumps or hooks to swing to the next platform. I'm sure with a little practice I'll get better, and these are really bad things. After all, if I could just hold right and make it through an entire level with only a couple jumps, it wouldn't even be a game. So timing and aiming have to factor in. There is a multiplayer game and support for single-card download play. I'll have to test that out later. I'll post more impressions later if something comes up, but Sonic games tend to be all about those first few levels, so consider this my definitive review.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Throwback Thursday: Transformers (PS2)

Transformers isn't that old, but its so damn good and was slept on this generation. Its available for less than $20 everywhere, and is the perfect game for any PS2 player who wants a taste of Halo. It rips pretty heavily on Halo, but the big free roaming levels and boss battles give it its own flavor. Here's my original review, posted on the old powet.com

There has been much fuss about this being the first good Transformer game, but I would simply say this is a flat out GOOD game. 2004 marks the 20th anniversary for the franchise, and what better way to celebrate it than with the release of a massive shooter that more than captures the spirit of the recent Transformers Armada series. The game isn't directly based on the show or comic book, but the names and faces are there. Optimus Prime, Hot Shot, and Red Alert are the playable Autobot heroes, with Megatron, Cyclonus, Starscream, and Tidalwave comprising the Decepticon menace. While it would've been nice to see more playable Autobots or more Decepticon bosses, by sticking with a smaller cast, Australian developer Melbourne House was able to greatly expand on the characters that did make the cut and fine tune the gameplay. The game takes place on Earth, and Megatron has ordered a full scale invasion to search for the lost Minicons robots. Minicons are pint sized Transformers who can attach or "powerlink" to a larger Transformer and enhance his abilities with new defensive, offensive, or perceptive capabilities. Naturally, the Autobot mission from the get go is to beat Megatron to the punch, and with each Minicon you gain, you'll greatly improve your chances of survival. An addition exclusive to this game are Decepticlones. These drones make up the bulk of the enemies you'll encounter over the course of a level. They're simple robots that don't transform but more than make up for it by sheer numbers and weaponry. The levels are few, but gigantic. You'll be dropped into hostile territory immediately and it might be a while before you see the end. Transforming to vehicle mode and driving (or in later, flying with the assistance of a Minicon) is the best way to make it from checkpoint to checkpoint. Transforming will allow you to plow straight through small enemies and evade large ones you might not be in any condition to fight at that point. I found myself speeding across the Antarctic with Red Alert the other day with at least a dozen enemies on my tail in the air and on the ground, but since I was low on energy the best course of action for me was to just keep moving and grab as many Minicons and Datacons as I could find before they landed enough shots to throw me into stasis lock. You might come back to the same level a half dozen more times after a boss fight to clear out the remaining Minicons and Datacons. Whats a "Datacon" you ask? Another fine invention of the developers of the game. Datacons are also hidden throughout the levels of the game, but instead of giving you combat capabilities, they enable special features you can view from the games "Extra" menu. You'll find production art, toy prototype shots, music, and even 5 classic Transformer Public Service Announcements encouraging the children of the world to wear lifejackets on a boat and not steal cars. A GREAT incentive for an otherwise standard item hunt scenario. Atar's Melbourne House development team defintely knows their Transformers and their video games. Fans will easily spot dialog directly from "Transformers: The Movie" and sound effects a voices directly from the Armada cartoon series. But, I also spotted similarities to games like Metroid Prime (an elevator shaft, and crashed starship), and the game controls using both analog sticks and shoulder buttons, not unlke a first person shooter. Driving and flight physics are just what you'd expect out of a giant robot, including the tumbles you take when you're knocked down. On the easiest difficulty level, it should take an average gamer little more than 10 hours to complete the all the major goals and watch the credits. But the fun is going back to the levels and finding ALL there is to find and try out new stunts like flying up to and landing on Decepticon Dropships and using a sniper rifle to pick off enemies on the ground. As a Transformers fan, this title is not to be missed. If you don't have a Playstation 2, you owe it to yourself to find someone who does. But any gamer with a passing interest in shooters should also consider taking Transformers for spin. Its great fun and hopefully it'll do well enough to warrant more installments in the Transformers franchise to make it to game consoles.
Transformers headed for Next-Gen

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Mario Kart DS: 100%

I got the RED DS bundle on Dec. 13. I had to return it a few days later due to a dead pixel, which was sad. In doing so, I ended up returning the game and starting over, which wasn't so bad. But after yesterday I'm proud to say I have completed Mario Kart DS for the Nintendo DS, and it is by far the best entry in the series. I'll get my complaints out of the way first and fast. The courses chosen for the Retro cup are all great, but theres so many shortcuts missing! Yoshi Island is missing the tunnel, Mushroom Bridge is missing the pipe and the bridge arch (not to mention the bomb, wiggler, and mushroom cars), and even Koopa Beach 2 lost its feather shortcut! The sacrifices to get these tracks in and make them work for the MKDS play mechanics are not that big, but it makes me wonder why Nintendo didn't just select courses that could be ported perfectly. Also, the Shy Guy racer may not be anything special, but I'm bugged that he can only be used for others in download play. Other than that, the cart selection, new track design, and the brand new mission mode all make this the first real "must have" game for the DS. Not that the handheld hasn't had some good games so far, but its obvious that MKDS is the realization of the technology within. The WiFi networking, the touch screen icons, and the map/play screens all bring home that this is a game developed specifically for the DS, and not ported or half-assed or leaning on a gimmick. Controls are tight, and you don't miss the analog stick much. I do miss the more ergonomic controller, but thats a DS issue. I am glad that power sliding, item dragging, and even the hop are plenty easy to do once you've played a couple races. I know its been over a month since adam posted his review, but I couldn't just let my experience with the game go without saying. Nintendo has removed its biggest stumbling block (online play) with ease, and given their handheld a game that Sony's shiny and powerful PSP cannot duplicate. This won't turn everything around, but it does solidify their position as the rulers of portable gaming.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Michael Jackson vs Famicom World

Michael Jackson takes on the entire Nintendo catalog, as well as some others. This is from the same guy who did another excellent flash movie Sega Fantasy VI, where consoles and handhelds from all generations take on the dastardly PSP!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

$20 game of the week: FIre Pro wrestling 2 (GBA)

Consolewise, this generation has been a bit lacking for wrestling fans. With the main WWE games ranging from just okay to mediocre, the few avanues for non-WWE gameplay (that isn't Def Jam) are even worse (Backyard wrestling and Legends of wrestling). This leves many to turn to one of the hidden gems of the Game boy advance, the fire pro wrestling series. THis is hard to find, but it's cheap and well worth it. You'd be better off playing this than most of the console games. With a surprisingly in-depth character editor, plenty of match types, and a large amount of characters to choose from (many must be unlocked), this will keep GBA wrestling fans hooked for days. Also of note is how a lot of characters closley resembe real-life stars such as Stone Cold, kane, and the dudley boyz except for a few minor name and costume changes. Old school wrestling fans will geek out big time. It's too bad this game didn't do as well in the main stream. One can only hope that they bring this series back with a better publisher. It would amazing to see a game of this caliber on the current or next generation of systems.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Throwback Thursday: Crappy Rare Games

PDZ and Kameo aren't setting sales records or getting rave reviews. But, things could be a lot worse. Battletoads, one of Rare's first big hits wasn't that good. In fact it remains one of the most impossibly hard games ever made. Ask around and all most people remember is the "Pause Music" from this Ninja Turtle knock-off. Amazingly, things went downhill from there. BattleToads VS Double Dragon matched the amphibious avatars with Billy and Jimmy Lee for a race into video game obscurity. This game was and is a horror to behold. Nintendo then handed them Donkey Kong and Rare hit it big with a masterful reinvention of the big ape. Donkey Kong Country was great. DKC2 and DKC3 followed quickly with diminishing returns and less likably characters. GoldenEye is still held up as a triumph, but a quick look at Rare's other N64 titles. Diddy Kong Racing wasn't bad, but certainly not loved like Mario Kart. Banjo Kazooie came out in time for players thirsting for more games like Mario 64... and it worked if all you liked about Mario 64 was collecting shit for the sake of collecting it. Donkey Kong 64 more or less ruined any progress made with DKC, and is probably the reason we haven't had a real DK game since. Jet Force Gemini... I know I played it but I can't remember anything about it, which is worse than being bad because its like the game doesn't even exist... Looking at their timeline on the official Rareware page, I see a lot of forgettable stuff. Thats probably true of a lot of developers and maybe they don't deserve a whole post dedicated to their less great games. But who am I kidding, this post about one thing, and one thing only... They helped killed Star Fox. Star Fox 64 was hands down one of the best shooters I've ever played and deserved a worthy sequel. I won't blame Rare for all of this, since they were developing a different game called Dinosaur Planet and then were asked by Nintendo Corporate to put Fox in it. They are guilty of half assing the flight levels, turning in another bad adventure game, and not even bothering to explore Star Fox's universe at all by rehashing the ending from the last game. Star Fox Assault might never have happened if Fox didn't get out of the goddamn ship. If Rare hadn't released its 5th crappy 3D platformer in a row, Star Fox might've had a chance. Now one of Nintendo's greatest potential franchises is risking falling into complete obscurity since Star Fox 64 is the only really good game in the series (the SNES original was groundbreaking and fun, but its too primitive to warrant being a classic). Goddamn you Rare. I really hope Microsoft cracks the whip and gets some better stuff out of you because I know you're capable of it. You don't want your studio being constantly damned by Grabbed By The Ghoulies and the Conker remake.

DS Friend Code sharing

I know you don't have enough DS friends yet on Mario Kart. I know you want trade more items in Animal Crossing. Thankfully, number of sites have popped up to encourage just this. DS Meet DSconnect DS Play Wifico and don't forget the Powet Forum to find DS players too!

Now you're playing with a power supply

Sunday, December 18, 2005

On Mario Kart DS and the future of NiWiFi

A recent conversation...

Zachery Shipley: are friend codes different for different games on DS? Zachery Shipley: hi, i've got add aDam: Ah. Yeah it's different for each game because it's for both teh game and DS. aDam: Not sure how portable it is if you change systems and try to use the same guy. Zachery Shipley: damn. I was going to try to make some form for profiles on the board where you just just have your friendcode or xbox live tag or whatever just be part of your profile aDam: Ah.. yeah don't think that would work. would need to have all the different games in there which is a bit annoying. Zachery Shipley: well... i guess we'll just have to come up with an interesting way of sharing them via signatures or some big thread. aDam: Hm.. yeah I don't really know... a pinned thread would work I suppose. Zachery Shipley: I hope nintendo comes up with a better account situation for the Rev. i mean, I don't expect something as robust as xbox live for free, but i'd hope that I don't have to enter a good friend's new info every time we get new games aDam: Yeah. It's quite annoying. Plus I find it difficult getting games organised with friends the way it is. Zachery Shipley: I spoke with caleb about this Zachery Shipley: once I get a wireless router in my apt, I'm going to try to organize a game night like once a month aDam: Solid idea. Zachery Shipley: get everyone online on whatever Zachery Shipley: i mean, I know more people with Mario Kart than with Halo 2 now, but I can see my xbox friends list on a web page without firing up the game so finding friends it easy. aDam: Damn... good function they have there... aDam: And for Mario Kart you pretty much have to be sitting there trying to connect to the friends network for anyone to see you. Zachery Shipley: thats kinda bullshit. aDam: And we were 4 trying to go at once. Could never get more than a 2 player friends game. I'm not convinced such a thing is possible using the wi-fi. Zachery Shipley: I was informed only race is available and that battle maps are left for ad-hoc wireless connections Zachery Shipley: I can see they still have a LONG way to go with this thing. aDam: Yeah. Was no option for battle when I did it. aDam: Yeah. And since MK is launched I don't htink there's much they can do about the existing system. Zachery Shipley: well there will be another MK and it'll get better aDam: Well yeah but you don't want to buy a new game every year just becuase that's their way of patching. Zachery Shipley: i mean, MK has has hit GBA, GCN, and DS in the space of 4 years aDam: True enough. Zachery Shipley: I'd kill for an MK game that came with a map editor or a means to download new tracks 11:20 PM aDam: Oh yeah. That woudl be sweet. aDam: It would be hard to do with the DS but maybe with the revolution that would be possible. aDam: But if there's no HD it might be hard to save a whole map on a memory card depending on their size. Zachery Shipley: storage is a big issue. aDam: w0rd! As much as I hate the X-Box their HD idea is good. An expensive way to go though. Zachery Shipley: Its not like the xbox and nintendo are right or wrong Zachery Shipley: theres just this way of doing things, and each are right aDam: Yeah. Good point. Zachery Shipley: microsoft keeps going bigger. it drives the price up, but you get what you pay for aDam: I think the gamecube is a really solid system. Cheap with good games. Zachery Shipley: nintendo flat our refuses to make something that expensive, and i gotta applaud that aDam: Yeah. X-box is good for the shooters and sports games and such. They're not my bag but it's more stable than a PC for sure. aDam: Well they have a point. Do most nintendo gamers really care about the processor's speed or anything like that? They just want some fun gmae. Zachery Shipley: skimp some features, but you'll never go broke on launch day with nintendo aDam: w0rd! Zachery Shipley: well even the cube's design and internal workings were pretty exciting when they were released. it is stronger than the PS2. aDam: HAhaha. The curse of coming out first. Perhaps X-Box will carry that burden this time. Zachery Shipley: but its never been important to someone who wants a Zelda game aDam: OH yeah. they did a good job technially with this one.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

$20 dollar game of the week: Metal gear solid 2 - Substance (PS2 and Xbox)

Convulted storyline aside, Metal gear solid was a huge milestone of gaming for this generation much like the original was a milestone for the last generation. The unique characters, soundtrack, and the plot twists all made this a standout gaming expierence, and we expect no less from Hideo Kojima and Konami. For those wishing for more MGS action, Konami has loaded this up with extra content that is longer to play through than the game itself. You get your choice of either Snake or Raiden, (along with several unlockable costumes such as the ninja and tuxedo snake), over 200 VR missions and alternate missions (just link the VR, except they take place in actual game environments and are a lot harder), that involve everrything from regular action to stuff like photographing and sniping, first person missions, and 'Snake Tales', which are fan fictions of sorts that basically allow players to use SOlid Snake in certain sections of the game. Even more stuff is unlockable, check out the boss battle mode as well as the Theatre. Even if you played through the original SOns of Liberty, the extra stuff on this disc is more than enough to warrant a second purchase, and it will help pass the time until MGS4 comes out.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Status Ain't Hood: Game Soundtracks

My brother's buddy Tom Breihan writes in the Village Voice: Video Game Music Supervisor: Best Job Ever? And speaks with Activision's Tim Riley about compiling the massive soundtracks for True Crime and Tony Hawk titles. While its true that the expanded legnth and continued replay of a video game demands a more pleasing audio experience, I worry about the future. Custom Soundtracks come in handy for titles like racing games where your favorite upbeat music keeps you going, but very story driven games being given customs might ruin the experience. And even though a lot of this licensed music in games is getting good, is it better than having great original music?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Game Rag

The Game Rag is positioned to be to game news what The Onion is to real news. VGMW interviews Nathan Smart about the site. One thing sorely missing is photoshop images to go with the stories. Frequently the images are the funniest bits of the onion! Maybe I should send the guy an email offering services...

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Throwback Thursday: Mortal Kombat II

This is probably one of the most important games ever made. Mortal Kombat stormed arcades with a level of graphic violence unseen in video games before. It arrived on consoles as the first game to ever be given a rating, and was toned down quite a bit. The controversy didn't stop Ed Boon or John Tobias, the fathers of MK. They came back with MKII, adding 7 new characters, 2 new bosses, and greatly increasing the number of finishing moves. The arcade edition was the first game I ever followed versions of. Updates adding new moves and fatalities were added regularly and you did well to know what versions did what in my town because Mortal Kombat II was the only game worth playing. The web was in its infancy and few of my classmates had computers that went online, so moves lists printed out were a hot commodity. This also gave birth to a lot of complete bullshit moves, combos, and fatalities that you might waste 5 bucks playing trying to do thinking that you're at the wrong distance to do Sub-Zero's polar bear 'animality.' I can only guess that these schoolyard rumors are what inpired MK3's animalities. Its worth noting that MK3 mostly sucks. The run button and dial-a-combo changed the game dramatically, and it just didn't resonate the way MKII did. MKII hit consoles in a fantastic manner, giving SNES and Genesis gamers all the moves and blood of the final aracde version, and no more quarters. There was a Game Boy version, but as you can see it was pretty dumb looking. I actually knew a loser who had this turd, and not only did it play terribly, have only a handful of characters, and look messy, but the fatalities were actually just random punches or kickes with no real gore or death. They cut out the entire game! MKII also hit the Saturn and while it was an arcade perfect port in the looks and sound department, the loading times were about as bad as any first generation CD-ROM game, and went double for selection Shang Tsung and doing any morphing. The SNES was the version of choice for many. Graphics and sound were just right, and the 6 button control standard avoided the pitfalls of getting all the moves right on the 3 button Genesis pad. Basically the game wasn't as good on Sega systems! Ha! MKII is now pretty widely available under the budget priced Midway Arcade Treasures Vol 2, and as a bonus unlockable for the newly released PS2/Xbox title Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, a game that itself bridges the gap between the first 2 games. As I mentioned before, MKII was an improvement over the original Mortal Kombat in just about every way. As time went on MK suffered some embarassments. MK4 wasn't really bad for its time, but like many early 3d games it hasn't aged well. Special Forces and the Sub-Zero solo game were about as horrifying as you could imagine, and really helped bury the franchise while Tekken, DOA, VF, and the new generation of 3D fighters were really taking off. Thankfully Midway didn't give up and came back strong with Deadly Alliance in 2002, and then MK Deception in 2004. Sure, the series had to let go of its arcade roots, but the complete overhaul to the game didn't go unappreciated by serious players because now they could go online. MKII was the best kind of fun: dumb fun. It didn't take a lot to master the controls, the moves were mostly easy to do, and your payoff for having quicker reflexes than your opponent was to shamefully turn them into a baby or offer them an autograph as they wobble about in a haze. It holds up well after a decade, and offered the kind of content that paved the way for some of the best and worst moments in gaming today. Now DANCE! DANCE, BARAKA, DANCE!!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

$20 game of the week: Silent Scope complete (Xbox)

I'm a big fan of light gun shooters, and Konami is the top innovator of the genre (much respect to sega and namco's virtua cop and time crisis series as well tho). From lethal enforcers to police 911, their shooters add an extra kick to the tried and true formula of blasting the shit out of things while moving with the camera. Silent scope is probably thier greatest contribution to the genre. It added in a sniper rifle to arcade cabinets, enabling PC sniping jackasses to live out thier battlefield 2 fantasies without actually having to sign up for the military or worry about catching a case. THis triple pack from konami (actually 4 - pack since Silent scope Ex is included with silent scope 3) features lots of shooting action and a few hidden features. There is even a sinper rifle periphal you can pick up to bring the John Lee malvo goodness home. The dialogue may be cheesy and some moments may be goofy, but this is another notch on konami's belt. Now if only we could get a new lethal enforcers game.

Friday, December 09, 2005

So You Want a Revolution?

Recently the specs for the Nintendo Revolution have been leaked by one or more developers who are still working on incomplete kits. The reports say that, in terms of system and graphics memory, the Revolution is only 1.5-2 times more powerful than the GameCube. More importantly, as many suspected, the system does not support any kind of high definition output. MOST importantly, the specs pretty much preclude any chance of the system ever supporting HD standards, as there's simply not enough graphics power to push those resolutions. Then there's Nintendo's official release on the subject, which claims that they understand that high definition graphics are part of the next generation, and they promise that Revolution will still look crisp, regardless of whether it's on a standard definition set or high-definition one. Unfortunately, this is an outright lie. Xbox 360 owners can disprove this firsthand. It does cost more to make these games in both standard and HD. It's going to cost more in development, it's going to make the console cost more to have the hardware to manage the output, and it's going to make the games cost more. The HD sets still cost way more than a standard television. Even if you don't have an HD set (like me... so far), you're still going to have to pay for a capability you don't yet have. I can't say I'm a fan of that. Nintendo actually took the HD port off the back of the GameCube later in its life cycle, which I think clearly signaled that they were going to drop HD altogether in the future. Ultimately, though, I feel this is a mistake. It's one on par with coming in to CDs late, and scoffing at the avenues online play could open up. Now there's this. It might not make a difference the first couple of years, when a majority of households will still have standard definition sets. However, the US is slated to go totally HD by 2007. That doesn't mean that standard definition sets will be useless, but they'll require special adapters to be able to read the new digital signals. And that doesn't mean than standard definition outputs on consoles will suddenly be useless. It DOES mean that people will start switching over to HD en masse because 1) it will be cheaper than it is now, and 2) they'll pretty much have no choice, but the choices will still be 1(again)) comparably affordable to what they are now. It might not make sense for 2006 or even 2007, but what about 2009? Sure, the Revolution might output more polygons and skin them with higher resolution textures -- the storage medium and increased power bear that out. But it can't honestly be compared to the same power under HD output. Nintendo can say that their graphics will be crisp until they are blue in the face, but there's a simple technological fact that goes against this claim -- standard definition simply can't fill the number of lines available on an HD set. It's just not possible. They're missing, at best, about 1/3 of the total space. That means that for every seven lines they output, they're missing three. Those three have to be filled somehow, and it's done by duplicating pixels in the existing feed. No matter what they do, they can't overcome the blurry effect this creates on HD sets. If you have a high-end laptop or desktop LCD that's meant to run at 1400 and you try to run it at 1024 you'll know what I mean. The typical lifespan of a console generation is 5 years. While the difference might not be important for the first two or three years, can they really claim that by 2010 or 2011 this difference won't be the biggest tech gap (and therefore selling point) that they'll never be able to close? Is it unreasonable to expect that a majority of households will have HD sets simply out of pure technical need? Maybe Nintendo will change their minds when the NEXT next gen console launches and there's no reason why they shouldn't support HD exclusively (and totally strip out standard definition support). That's assuming this present decision won't be too damaging in the intervening time. I don't think Nintendo is going anywhere, but this will damage their reputation as a serious competitor. But even by Nintendo's admission they don't want to compete in the arena that the 360 and PS3 are vying for. I don't think that graphics are what's going to make or break this next generation, but I think it's perfectly reasonable to provide support for something that's going to be common within the next six years. To say that there won't be a marked difference between standard-def Revolution graphics and HD PS3 or Xbox 360 is disingenuous. Why try to claim that their graphics output will be competitive if they're not even interested in that competition? It boggles the mind. I'll still get a Revolution, but the likelihood that I'll wait to get a second console to "fill the gap" is severely diminished. I might even get a PS3 or 360 FIRST, without even waiting to see what Nintendo has to offer. And then they'll be indirect competition for my dollars when it comes to buying titles for one or the other. That's not a competition I'm sure Nintendo will win, even with me.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Ballmer doesn't have a 360

The Washington Post reports Microsoft's CEO will have to shop for his Xbox. It is unkown if he threw a chair or threatened to kill anyone when he was handed this news.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Video Game Controller Family Tree

A fella named Sock Master has assembled theVideo Game Controller Family Tree. Far from complete, he does draw a line from some of the most remembered and influential controllers to their natural descendants. Of note is how many bad Atari controllers where were. Hey, they were amoung the first, so we can blame them for not having it right, but that Jaguar pad sticks out like sore thumb as one of the worst designs ever.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

$20 game of the week: Unreal Championship 2 - The Liandri Conflict (Xbox)

While everyone is creaming themselves over Halo 2, Doom 3, and Half life 2, here is a worthy addition to the FPS genre that you might have missed. I use the term FPS quite loosley becuase you can switch to 3rd person combat and a big emphasis is put on special moves and meelee combat. If you adapt a mindless run and gun strategy, you'll get beat quick fast by a meelee expert. It's almost like a new genre has been invented here, and the closest thing I could compare this to is Capcom's Spawn and Heavy Metal games that were released for the Dreamcast(Although they don't combine shooter and meele combat as fluidly as Epic did here). The new story mode, challenges, and Xbox live portion (Including downloadable characters and arenas) will keep players into theis game for months. Midway was right to pick this up from Microsoft studios, and it even benefited from the addition of Raiden from the Mortal Kombat franchise. Hopefully we'll see more of this style of play in future editions of Unreal.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Throwback Thursday: Crazy Taxi

While this game is only about 6 years old, its gameplay is very much rooted in classic arcade racers. But the best thing is, its not a traditional racer! Instead of making laps around a set course, you're dropped on a city street in a taxi and charged with picking up passengers and getting them to their destination as quickly as possible. The more crazy shit you do while driving, the bigger your tip becomes! Driver on the wrong side of the road, the sidewalk, take ramps, drift turns... just don't crash or your passenger will yell at you and you'll lose that tip! Graphics were some of the best of its time, with very little pop-in and LOTS of on street activity. Few games today have as many people and cars on the screen at once. Soundtrack was handled by The Offspring and Bad Religion, and though they aren't exactly my favorite bands "All I Want" and "10 in 2010" definitely helped set the tone of the game as a fast paced thrill ride. Crazy Taxi started as an arcade game from Sega arrived on the Dreamcast in spring 2000. While the console version lacked the fun of the wheel and pedalsi n the arcade, it was only $40, which is a lot less than what I'd spent playing the game the previous summer at the arcade. Sega added an entirely new city, and options to extend the time limit to really explore. There was also a challenge mode, giving you specific pick-ups and time limits and grading your performance. Doing well meant unlocking a BIKE, which handled the same as your car, but was still fun and goofy to drive around in. Shortly after the DC was abandoned for Sega to go multi-platform, they licensed Acclaim to publish the game in PS2 and Gamecube. With Acclaim belly-up, and Sega's less than stellar sequels, its hard to say where the franchise might head in the future if it even has one. It did inspire a massive rip-off in Simpsons Road Rage. Burnout 3 is a very different game, but certainly rewards some of the same type of driving as Crazy Taxi. Considering the cult following the Dreamcast has and the availability of this game in bargain bins all over for PS2 and Gamecube, theres no reason not to play this game. It doesn't glorify violence, doesn't offer a story, and theres no multiplayer mode, but its about as much fun in a video game car a single person can have. Crazy Taxi Techniques maintains a massive strategy and tips guide for the arcade version, and Crazy Taxi Trailer Crazy Taxi PC demo Sega Japan Crazy Taxi site