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The Year So Far...and What's Next

The Year So Far...and What's Next


Thursday - July 15, 2004
Baseball just had its mid-season break for the All-Star game which got me thinking about the first half of this year and all of the games that Allison and I have played. I figured that today I could give you a quick run-down of the all-stars in the video game world so far this year and tomorrow I could give you a preview of what to expect for the second half of the year. And away we go...

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Spider-Man 2 (Purchase): "Spider-Man 2" has received rave reviews from video gamers all over. However, neither Allison nor I thought that it was a particularly good game. As Allison says, "I am rarely impressed by video games based on movies. I am rarely impressed by video games based on super heroes. I am rarely impressed by video games published by Activision. Combine all of this and you have "Spider-Man 2", the least impressive video game I have played in months." Sure, the webslinging is fun for a bit, and hearing Tobey Maguire's voice is cool, but it soon becomes tedious. The graphics are terrible, there is little or no background music other than the annoying stereotypical Italian accordian music during the "pizza missions" and the gameplay itself leaves a lot to be desired.

Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (Purchase): Released on the Xbox in March and on the PS2 in June, "SC: PT" is the follow up to the blockbuster original, "Splinter Cell." The sequel is excellent, if a bit short, and will definitely satisfy every covert military action impulse you may have. Again, you are Sam Fisher, super duper covert ops guy, on a mission to rid the world of a nasty terrorist, Sadono. Made by Ubisoft, our favorite game publisher, "SC: PT," excels in controls, gameplay, and pure fun. There is also a very addictive and revolutionary on-line feature to the game. Just make sure you are uber-skilled before you attempt it or some XboxLIVER will kick your sorry butt.

DRIV3R (Purchase): "DRIV3R" or "Driver 3" is the third in Atari's "Driver" series; the series that inspired the "Grand Theft Auto" genre. Like "GTA (Vice City and III)," "True Crime: Streets of LA," and, "The Getaway," you play in a large city environment with the ability to enter and exit vehicles in order to get to your destination any way you choose. Although it's not nearly as open-ended as "GTA" it's still a ton of fun. You play as Tanner, a rogue cop, in three different cities, Miami, Nice, and Istanbul. The production quality of the game is movie-like and the soundtrack is excellent. The game itself is frustrating because it could've been a lot better. Despite that criticism, it's still a very fun game, better than everything else in the genre other than "GTA".

Thief: Deadly Shadows (Purchase): "Thief: Deadly Shadows" is a long, convoluted medieval stealth/action game. This game surprised me not only with how much fun it is, but with how long it took me to complete. Yes, I did write an 82 page walkthrough for the game. Oy vey! Anyway, if you've played previous "Thiefs" you'll love this one. If you enjoy a good challenge from a game, stealth, action, medieval weaponry, a slight hint of magic, and a twisted and arcane plot, then this game is for you. This game also contained one of the scariest levels I've ever played in a video game. Beware.

Hitman: Contracts (Purchase): Neither Allison nor I care too much for the "Hitman" series of games. It's a frustrating experience as you play through a level a number of times to try to figure out how you're "supposed" to kill a target. Once you figure it out, you simply do it. Playing this game feels like doing a paint-by-numbers painting; it's already done, you just have to put the right color with the right number. To extend my metaphor, I would rather be given a set of water colors and some paper and told to "go nuts." This would translate into more open-ended, non-linear games such as "GTA," "Splinter Cell," etc. There are too many other good games in this genre to waste your time on this one.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Purchase): "HP: POA" was launched alongside the blockbuster movie of the same name. Being huge Harry Potter fans, Allison and I had to play it. So far the "Harry Potter" games from EA have been disappointing and this one is no different. Sure, it is fun, but the people playing these games, Harry Potter fans, expect more. You see, the Harry Potter world is so enchanting, magical, and detailed, that it would take one heck of a game to live up to the expectations of its fans. If only EA could use the "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" model for future Harry Potter games. And, not necessarily the RPG elements but the essence of "Star Wars" that "KOTOR" was able to capture. Now that would be wik!

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (Purchase): With the GameBoy Advance being an integral part of the game play experience and a unique multi-player gameplay environment, "Zelda: Four Swords" was marketed as the ultimate in multi-player games. Well, throw that out the window because Allison played it in single player story mode. Allison, who wrote the walkthrough for it, says that it is fun for the first two levels and then becomes extremely redundant after that. By the time her guide was done she was about ready to rip the game out of the GameCube and send it flying to the nearest trade-in video game store. Unless you're a huge "Zelda" fan (which both of us are), or you have three other people to play with (who won't annoy you) then you should probably pass over this game.

James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing (Purchase): "Bond: EON" is by far the best EA Bond game to date and a very close second to best Bond game overall, with "Goldeneye" edging it out. This game is pure fun. The controls feel right, the graphics are excellent, the missions are varied and entertaining and the voice acting is great. It is everything a game should be. This is a great game for the beginner or experienced gamer alike. If you haven't played it yet, pick it up. You won't be disappointed.

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes (Purchase): "MGS:TS" is a remake of the 1998 hit, "Metal Gear Solid." Combining the exact story from "MGS" and adding "Metal Gear Solid 2" gameplay and movements this game is a good time, especially if you never played the original. Considered a stealth/action game, this is another game with huge plot amibitions of a nuclear toting terrorist. The controls can get a bit annoying, but the gameplay makes up for it. Not a great game, but a fun idea and well worth playing.

Posted by Jeremy at 12:35 PM | TrackBack |


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