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Value of TS1+Inginuity of TS2=Future Perfect
Obviously, this game is the latest installment in the (undeservingly unpopular) TimeSplitters series. This game has all the makings of a great first-person shooter, whether you just want to do a quick 5-minute romp-a-thon, or you actually plan to go on a rewards scouting session. But, the reason why the game doesn't get so much attention is because these games fall off the radar rather quickly, since this one fell off the radar within a few weeks as games like Halo 2 and Half-Life 2 get coverage and credit references every two hours.
GRAPHICS: Much like the previous two installments, the game sports a cartoon-ish look, especially with the character models. Though it's a debatable issue as to how bland the environments are, you probably won't care. I read that part in other reviews, and I had trouble noticing, much less caring. UNlike the previous two, the game now incorporates blood, which solves my question as to why this game got an "M" rating. I don't know why Free Radical decided to do this now, but it's there. The weapons look much better this time around, and this time, YOU CAN SEE YOUR HAND! Also, each weapon has its own fire/reload animation, unlike the previous two, which had standard firing animations, and if you reloaded, your gun would just drop off the screen with the sound. Here, reloading now requires a more strategic approach, because taking cover is essential when reloading something like a rocket launcher. The game still maintains its hilarious quality by keeping up with the weird characters (like giant gingerbread men and being able to play as a cow carcass).
SOUND: Some of the gun sounds are pretty much recycled from the other two games, but they sound very good nonetheless. Voice acting in this game is superb (and funny), and the sounds the characters make when shot or killed are funny to listen to (as usual). You haven't heard anything until you've shot a duck in the head after he's been chasing you through a hallway. Along with the new orchestral score (which is kinda boring), the game retains most of the music from TS1 and TS2 (notice I said MOST, so only some of the best songs made it onto the game, probably to save disc space or something).
GAMEPLAY: Partly the same way as the other two, but with improvements. Alongside the ability to customize the controls, most of the features from the other games are retained and some have been changed. For instance, weapons can't be fired with primary and secondary fire with the press of a button. Now, you have to toggle between the two modes. The Temporal Uplink has also been retained from TS2, but in a (slightly) better form. The map on it is actually a hologram that projects from a pod on your arm. This is both good and bad. The good is that...well...it looks cool. The bad is that sometimes the map doesn't say much of what you need to know, and if you're standing against a bright background, you can't see the map. The uplink also doubles as a physics claw that allows you to grab certain objects and project them back at enemies, or just to throw stuff. There's also a huge variety of weapons, and most of them do have secondary fire functions (like handguns can have silencers equipped to them). The game also has Story, Arcade, and Challenge modes. Story allows you to play the main story, Arcade allows you to customize matches or play the pre-set Arcade campaigns for rewards, and the Challenges that have you do random things for more rewards. The MapMaker is perhaps the best part of the game. It functions the same way as the TS2 map, but there are more detailed components added, and the interface is MUCH less sloppy. There are a variety of different things to do and create, but you pretty much get the idea now. You can also play friends online, but I'm a little bit afraid you won't find many people, since the game gets as much buzz as free samples.
STORY: This time, the game actually has a good story. In TS1, there was no story. In TS2, there was a story, but it was about as noticeable as brown cookie crumbs on an oakwood floor, and about as easy to understand as Physics. Here, the story got the same amount of attention as the rest of the game. Sgt. Cortez is just coming back from his Time Crystal gathering mission, and when he returns home, his ship is attacked and he crash lands on the planet in the middle of a war between the humans and the TimeSplitters. From here, you are sent on missions across time to find and eliminate anyone involved with the production of the 'Splitters. You even run into your future and past self throughout missions and he will help you out in reference to time paradoxes (you'll get it).
BOTTOM LINE: Just because a game barely gets any more attention than any other game out there doesn't mean it's bad. It just means people were expecting too much or they simply didn't like the game. The single player itself was enough to turn people off, because I heard this was one game that people bought, played, and returned within the same three days. Halo 2 seems to have caught everyone in the "groundbreaker" flux. Though Halo 2 was an attempt as pushing the FPS genre forward, TS3 is a game to play and enjoy, just enough to keep you awake. And, come on, you bashers! The single-player wasn't THAT bad! You all say it like it really was that big of a problem. 9.25/10.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (2005)
Sam Fisher...sneakin' around since 2002
Right now, it's pretty clear that Sam Fisher has what it takes to stand up to the likes of super-spy Solid Snake. Both have the gizmos. Both have the gadgets. And both have the charisma and lasting value of Asian monks. I have played MGS3 not too long ago, and it feels like Contra but with a stealth attitude. Nonetheless, the stealth half is the most emphasized part. In SC, Sam Fisher holds his own in a game that's strictly a stealth adventure. Don't expect to have legendary boss battles or lightning-fast game play. What you can expect is a solid, above-average stealth/action adventure that makes almost anyone who plays it feel like they can go out and really be a spy. Breakdown! GRAPHICS: As expected, SC delivers the most detailed and crisp environments ever shown off in a video game. However, I am sad to say that the PS2 version doesn't look quite as good as the Xbox and PC versions. For instance, on the Xbox/PC, night vision mode is crisp-clear and basically highlights dark areas in the game (and trust me, there will be A LOT). In the PS2 version, the night vision mode is unusually blurry and static clouds the screen as you try and find your way around the environment. I don't know why Ubisoft made this change because I don't see why the PS2 couldn't have handled the Xbox/PC versions' night vision modes. Oh, well. The damage was done. Anyway, aside from that, the graphics are still as spectacular on the PS2 version as they are on the PS2 competing consoles.
SOUND: Yes, there is music, but throughout most of the game is complete silence. This is a good thing because it would just be ridiculous if DMC3 rock music was blaring through your speakers while you were trying to sneak through a hallway. The only time actual music plays is when the mood of the environment changes. If guards are getting wise to your scent, the music will play very softly while the guards search you in the darkness. If the guards are on alert, tense music will start playing, telling you that you'd better do something before you end up as a big black stain on the floor. There are also points in the game where you can interact with the music, mainly with radios that play unusual music that can also be used to help cover your footsteps (I'll get to that in a moment). Michael Ironside and company also return for another voice-over session, and it is some of the best voice acting I have ever heard before. Sam Fisher's one liners are well written, and the script fits well with the story at hand.
game play: The boys and girls at Ubisoft know certainly well that it will take more than revolutionary graphics to make a game good. They bring back some of the old game play elements we know from the older SC titles, such as spying on secret meetings with optic cables and laser microphones, and more importantly, having the vision modes. This time, there is an additional vision mode...the EMF. The EMF certainly won't help you find your way around a dark room, but it does help point out shootable lights and objects. It also points out interactive objects such as control panels and circuit boards, not to mention computers. You can also do things like pick locks (or break them, if you're in a rush), and you can hack control panels and retinal scanners. There's also a sound masking system that measures how much environment noise there is, and how much noise you are making in the meantime. If your measurement exceeds the environmental noise level, nearby enemies can hear it, and may either investigate or not, depending on what kind of characters they are. The AI is very unique and varied. Enemies will be afraid of you if you happen to catch them off-guard. You can also shoot enemies if things get heated, but ammunition is scarce because you're not necessarily expected to have a gunfight with EVERYONE. Sam also have a complex variety of ways to take out enemies in the most exotic fashions possible, but you probably won't be needing them all, because I rarely found any times where I needed to do a wall split to surprise an enemy.
STORY: It's your typical Tom Clancy war-torn world...Sam Fisher is out to save the world again from the brink of a war. His crew, mainly his boss Lambert, his professional hacker Anna Grimsdottir, and his "Q-Labs" William Redding. That's really all that needs to be known from here. Also pay attention to the "news highlights..." it's like the stuff is actually happening! BOTTOM LINE: If you are a fan of the SC series, DEFINITELY pick this one up. If you like pure action games like Metal Gear Solid, you can still play this and have a good time. However, if you only play fast-paced action games, you probably won't enjoy this, or any of the SC games for that matter. For me, this game gets a 9.25/10.
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (2004)
007 Everything or Nothing...$40; GoldenEye 64...$10; GoldenEye: Rogue Agent...Painful
Let me start off by saying that it wasn't the game itself that made me angry at it...it was this one level that was near impossible to pass. After that, I quit on the game until getting Action Replay codes. It also tarnishes the name of the original GoldenEye utterly, which is part of the reason I didn't like it.
GRAPHICS: The graphics are standard. Don't expect anything spectacular. Also, almost all the enemy models are the same. Even though there are some different levels here, you'll be spending most of your time shooting soldier clones and blasting rockets into airborne machines. The level design is wretching. Each level is different, like I said, but in a way, they're all the same. You'll basically be doing the same thing over and over...shooting things. So, they should've just made each level one big early level because that's the whole game. And why is it when I shoot an enemy, blue sparks fly out of him?!
SOUND: SOME of the sound is good. The problem I have is that handguns sound like peanut blasters as automatic rifles sound like rapid-fire Super Soakers. The only sound that is actually pleasant to hear is the shotgun blast from the Mamba gun, which was also my favorite gun for as long as I was playing this. I don't really have much of an opinion about the background music since I could barely hear it throughout the game. However, everyone else seems to like the music (I don't know why), so I'm not going to say much else there.
GAMEPLAY: Here's where the game falls flat...the game is nothing but constant running and gunning. This is why the game is so bland and generic, because each level is a carbon copy of one another. There are hardly any objectives to do other than killing enemies. In the original GoldenEye, each level had something unique about it. In GoldenEye 2, the entire game is basically just shooting things to death. There are only about 7 or 8 weapons in the whole game, unlike the original, which had about 20 or 30 sets of weapons to choose from. This game also has automatic weapons, but they shoot spray rounds. That requires you to really get in an enemy's face in order to make automatic rounds register. Another problem is that there's no diverse way of taking out enemies. Instead of, say, using tanks to roll through a level, you're SLOWLY running through it while shooting everything. Find a heavy rocket launcher and you'll move even slower. You've also got 4 "Eye" powers to choose from, but each of them don't have any real requirements except the "Shield" ability. In fact, levels are so repetitive, I started getting sick of it by the final level. The first thing I said was, "oh, jeez, this game isn't over yet?!" Lock-on targeting is brutal (at least you can turn it off), and there are only two cheats through the whole game. Neither of them enhance the game any more. You do get to dual wield different weapons, but you have no inventory. You can only use weapons as you find them. However, this is the only thing the game capitalizes on. Halo 2 does the same thing, but at least that game has more variety. Honestly, GE2 makes H2 look like the Word of God. What really made me mad about this game was the Dam mission where you have to escape across a dam platform in search of a bomb. I played that mission about 20 times, trying every spy technique in the book, whether it be taking cover behind structures or vehicles or blowing hordes away with the rocket launcher. Since nothing worked, I went to my Action Replay for advice. Once I got that invincibility code, I felt better about myself. I know it's cheating, but hey...as Corey Rouse always says, "when life's got you down, throw in God Mode and keep on kickin' butt." Don't even bother avoiding gunfights because it won't work.
STORY: So, let me get this straight...I'm an MI6 agent with no name, and I got kicked out of MI6 just because I let James Bond die in a V.R. simulator? Now, like the whining baby I am, I go off to work for Goldfinger just to fight with Dr. No and fight a bunch of bad guys that James Bond could dispatch himself? The ridiculous part is that I'm doing James Bond's job for him. In the original game, you could shoot civilians and scientists with a penalty attached if you kill too many. Here, there are no civilians to shoot. It's just a bunch of army guys wanting a piece of you. If I'm supposed to be so big and bad, why isn't 007 coming to hound me? Other than all that, there isn't much else to say about the story. There is one plot twist, but believe me, you'll probably see it coming from miles away. We do see a lot of familiar faces, such as M, Oddjob, and Francisco Scaramanga, but that doesn't do much to help the game.
BOTTOM LINE: This game is only worth a 2-day rental. I'm not trying to put anyone down, but if you like this game, you either can't tell the difference between a good game and a bad one, you're too young to understand, you've never played the original GoldenEye, or you're a mainstream gamer who only plays games just for a few hours of anything but being completely bored. 4/10, certainly not what I've come to expect from EA after EON. (I would've given it a 6, but that's minus 2 points for tarnishing the original game's name.) I suggest sticking with the older 007 titles. Even TND was better than this.
If you want the real GoldenEye "sequels," turn to Perfect Dark or TimeSplitters.
Silent Hill 4: The Room (2004)
Not as original as its predecessors, but still decent (possible spoilers)
First off, I was REALLY excited about this game, since I've been a long time fan of the Silent Hill games since the first entry. Now, the first three games were basic protocol, and not much changed between them. In SH4, however, Konami decided to take the game in a different direction. In fact, with some of the things that go on, it isn't necessarily a Silent Hill game after all...
GRAPHICS: Not very much improved since SH3, but that's a good thing. The graphics are still excellent and the amount of detail is stunning. Lighting effects haven't been much improved either, but how can you improve on something that needs no improvement?
SOUND: People say the score is a lot better than SH3's, but I don't see how, seeing as how the games bear no real music. At least not SH4. I didn't really like the final boss music, come to think of it. I liked the final boss tunes from SH1, SH2, and SH3 better. SH4's final boss song had almost no real taste in it. Sound is very realistic in some areas, such as rushing water and howling wind. The sound does glitch, though...highly unlikely in an SH game. For instance, in the Prison World, the sound from the pipe water sometimes cuts off, so you'll be watching water spill onto a concrete floor in complete silence.
GAMEPLAY: Though I let the scheme change slide, I still had a small problem with the controls. The controls in the first 3 games were consistent, changing their scheme only a bit between them. In SH4, the control scheme has COMPLETELY been switched around. You are always in 2D control mode, and you must use the analog stick to move the character. You run with the circle button (PS2) and watch the character flail a bit while he's running (not a huge problem, but in the previous installments, the characters ran realistically), and the game HEAVILY influences using melee attacks more than guns. Yes, in the earlier SHs, using guns were your best bet. Here, using guns is typically a waste. You only have 10 inventory slots in your inventory this time, and that inventory is accessed as a real-time window instead of an inventory screen. When you get ammo for your gun, prepare to be throwing your gun off to the side every now and then to use a melee weapon in its place. Every ammo pack takes up one space of your inventory, and the guns aren't even that useful. You only get two guns...a handgun and a Revolver. You'll have a hard time managing your guns and ammo while maintaining inventory, so like I said, prepare to be dropping your guns off to the side to use a melee weapon in its place. The Revolver is even more useless than the handgun...it's more powerful, but you'll only come across 3 or 4 ammo packs through the whole game. Also, your health will be displayed on screen, next to a "Power" bar. When using a melee weapon, you can adjust the strength of your swing to deliver serious damage to enemies. In this game, you only get one save point and one item box...your apartment.
Spread throughout the stages are holes marked by red markings. Step through these holes to reappear in your apartment and do whatever you have to do before you continue your quest. The Room is viewed in First-Person View, allowing you to carefully examine every specific location of your apartment. And don't worry about riddles much...the only real riddle I've seen is matching up the water pipes in the Prison World on Hard Mode. Enemies are almost unrelenting...especially ghost creatures. There's a certain way you must defeat them, but since they're ghosts, they can't be killed. The game has a creepy atmosphere to it, too...strange things can happen, such as your apartment being possessed after a few level completions, and strange images...one of those images being an enormous head of one of the main characters staring at you with googly-eyes.
STORY: Henry Townshend moves into Room #302 to have a life in happiness in solitude. Apparently, the room ain't too happy about him, so he starts having nightmares. Once they start, he finds himself locked in his apartment with his door bolted shut from the INSIDE. He tries to call for help every now and then, but he can see and hear outside his door. No one can see or hear inside. Even when he goes through all this craziness with monsters and ghosts, when he looks out his windows, he finds that the world is still passing before him like normal. He finds a hole in his bathroom. Trusting this could be his only way out, he proceeds through the hole and embarks on his adventure. The problem here is that even though this game specifically says it's a "Silent Hill" game, it really isn't. They refer back to Silent Hill every now and then, but that's all that's said. What keeps the game Silent Hill-based are these references, plus the game puts more light on who Walter Sullivan is (you know, the nutbag who wasn't really that much news in SH2...and probably SH3, but I don't remember).
BOTTOM LINE: Though the game is pretty decent, I'd recommend the first Silent Hill entry for beginning fans, and SH2 for those who want a story that doesn't do with any of the others. It wouldn't hurt to try this one, though. 8.25/10.
Perfect Dark (2000)
Return of GoldenEye...starring Joanna Dark as 007
Yeah, you are right. Perfect Dark IS modeled right after GoldenEye (though the rights for the James Bond games were swiped by EA at this time). However, the elements of GoldenEye still belong to Rareware, since EA hasn't even dreamed of recreating the original GoldenEye (though they are releasing their own version of the game next month; now they're buying up most GoldenEye knock-offs, like TimeSplitters).
GRAPHICS: Not really improved since GoldenEye's reign of terror, but there are some add-ons, such as how every gun has its own reload animation and now you can see your hand as you're holding the gun (unlike GoldenEye, where you could only see your hand on handguns. With bigger guns, you could only see the gun). Other than that, same stuff. Environments are pretty big, especially in the multiplayer levels.
SOUND: Improved over GoldenEye, but only slightly. At least this time you can hear your footsteps as you walk around. An amusing thing about the sound is how you can hear the simulants in the combat arena shooting at each other in the distance, letting you know there must be one heck of a blazefest going on across the building. The music is also gloomy and a little Gothic, but it's necessary. I think there's a function that changes music pace as tension changes, but that's an Expansion Pak extra. It wasn't built into the cartridge itself. I had to play without the Pak, so I'm missing all the yummy-ness the game was supposed to be built with.
GAMEPLAY: Again, same as GoldenEye, except this time, the Deathmatch multiplayer allows one player to pit themselves with or against teams of computer-generated beings called simulants. You can have up to 8 simulants, but in order to get that 8, you must work for it (preferably in the Challenges). The only gripe I have is how unfair challenges seem to be after a while, like this one I'm stuck on where I have a simulant to work with against one enemy simulant, and there are one-hit kills. That simulant seems to have a really big shield, but it can cap both of us easily. Also, you need the Expansion Pak for the N64 in order to live the entire Perfect Dark experience. Without that Pak, you can only do Challenges and Deathmatches. This is probably because there was enough information already on the cartridge, and everything else had to be loaded in through a different resource. Hey...that's why cartridges suck.
BOTTOM LINE: Though this is a LITTLE better than GoldenEye, I wouldn't say too much. It was modeled after it but it still feels a little...misplaced. Overall, you can check it out and see how nice it is, and it should be real easy to get used to if you've played GoldenEye before this. 8.5/10.
Enter the Matrix (2003)
Glitch in the Matrix
Since I'm doing reviews right now, I might as well review this one, because no one seems to see the problems I have with it. I don't know...though the game got a bit of praise, it still didn't come together right. I was expecting a joyride of thrills but I didn't...quite...get what I asked for.
GRAPHICS: The ONLY things graphically impressive are the clothes Ghost and Niobe wear. The environments were not done with much care, and believe me, they weren't. As the name of this review implies, yes, there are literally a lot of glitches inside this game, such as distant objects disappearing and objects just changing shape after coming in close to them. There are also points where you see huge globs of flames, but they are not even close to impressive. In order to give the impression they are big, their directions are fixed to the camera, so if you turn, the fires will turn in match to the camera. Also, for those who know the Matrix series well, you'll know how bullet trails look. You won't see that here. Though the motion blur during your Focus moments is decently done, the bullet trails aren't. Instead of actually making a trail following a bullet, there's a white zig-zag of smoke following a silver stud. The bullet trail is actually HANGING off the bullet as it follows it, not like the real bullet trails that actually jump out of the bullet to show it ripping through the air at the speed of sound. The motion-capture is also limp and lackluster...when characters run, it looks like they're running on a high-speed treadmill, and when they fight, it looks like they're dancing. Hit detection also sucks badly, because punches and kicks don't necessarily have to connect in order to make damage (though that's what it looks like...punches and kicks don't connect. When they do connect, your body goes right through their character models).
SOUND: Pretty decent, but I don't know why people are missing the fact that the music skips at given points (the PS2 version, anyway). And, no, the disc wasn't scratched. It was practically brand new. One of the songs actually repeated it's ending once as the song ended. The music is supposed to be randomized so each song sounds different every now and then, but it was done better even in the N64 games. However, the music is based on the Matrix movies themselves. At the point where you're running from the Smith clones, you'll actually be hearing the song that played as Trinity was running from the Agents during the opening sequence in the original film. Gunshots sound realistic, too, such as the handguns, which actually sound like the blazing gunfire coming from the guns in the films.
GAMEPLAY: Play through the first 20 minutes of the game and you'll automatically be in awe. Play through the first 2 hours and you'll start getting sleepy. Yes, gameplay is repetitive through the whole game. The game basically relies on shooting enemies and dodging their bullets along the way. That's another glitch...when you're dodging bullets, you're telling the game you're SUPPOSED to be dodging them, so if you're flipping around in Focus mode and bullets are flying through you with 10 bullets a second, they'll go right through you and they won't hurt you. You'll start thinking about that after a while of gameplay. There is not auto-targeting system, either. You basically position yourself so you see an enemy and shoot. That probably won't bother you because of the game's play style, but be sure to go into Focus mode often. It's the only thing to save your life, since some enemies have dead accuracy. However, the first set of enemies at the beginning of the game are so stupid you shouldn't even waste bullets. You can just fight them with hand-to-hand combat, which is another element of the game. Sick of shooting people? Beat them up instead! Also, driving missions are terrible. Ghost's side of the driving missions are easier, but as Ghost, you'll have to suffer the dreaded driving mission where you chase the plane through the canyon. Your car LITERALLY glides all over the place after hitting bumps and curves, so if you hit one little bump, expect your car to go flying down the street a few meters.
STORY: This is actually the side story next the Reloaded's story. You play as Niobe or Ghost (minor characters in the Matrix sequels) and see what their jobs were while Neo and company were playing Catch with Smith and the Merovingian. The events in the game actually take place after the "Final Flight of the Osiris" mini-movie, and 3 days before the events in Reloaded. In fact, the first mission in ETM follows what the Osiris had to do before the unfortunate happened to them...one of the crew members (it was a woman, I forget her name) was jacked into the Matrix and was to send a package with information warning that the machines were getting on the offensive. It goes to the post office, and this is where ETM comes in. In a nutshell, the story actually creates the balance that adds up the plots of the later films.
BOTTOM LINE: Rent this game first. If you're not satisfied after 5 days, take it back. Otherwise, if you think you can suffer through what I just mentioned above and still enjoy the game, buy it if you will. 6.75/10, and that was actually being nice.
GoldenEye 007 (1997)
It's agreed between most Bond fans this is the best Bond game ever developed, or quite possibly the best FPS game on the N64 (with Perfect Dark in mind). Amazingly, everything that's been released on systems afterwards have NOT YET BEATEN this game, though some have come in extraordinarily close (however, opinions matter there).
GRAPHICS: These were very impressive graphics during the N64's term in everyone's homes. Though the character models are a little blocky and bland, you probably won't even care. The environments were nicely detailed, though. This game was only a 1997 game, but even PS1 games that were released afterwards had more bland graphics than this one (compare GoldenEye to PS1's World is Not Enough, and you'll be surprised).
SOUND: Sorry, you won't be hearing a lot of blazing gunshots here. That probably won't surprise you seeing as how sound on N64 games was low quality, anyway. It's the music that will catch your attention, though...after hearing some level tunes, you'll automatically be notified you're playing a Bond game. Personally, my favorite level song is the "Cradle" stage at the end of the game. I play through the level every now and then just to chase Tevelyan through and listen to it while shooting at him.
GAMEPLAY: Though some games have come close, I still haven't seen anything this good. You've got an entire boatload of weapons at your disposal, and you've got a few gadgets, but you only get those gadgets in certain levels. In most levels, you won't be using gadgets, though. The pause menu is probably THE most original of all time...pressing "START" will make Bond go into his Q-Spec watch and tune options to your liking. You can also customize your controls and fool around with miscellaneous things, such as play the game in Widescreen. Not many games have done that (at least not without a GameShark).
STORY: The game follows the same story as the movie, which means it's actually a pretty good story. Warning, though...you have to have seen the GoldenEye movie in order to fully understand the game's story. It's not always clear when playing through it (I played the game before seeing the movie, so I should know).
BOTTOM LINE: Though this is an exciting game, it gets a LITTLE dead after playing it for a really long time. Don't worry, the death factor probably won't kick in for years. It's not TOO perfect, but it does the job in terms of excitement and thrill. The game does present a passable difficulty system, and it could take a while to unlock everything there is to unlock. 8.75/10.
Sweet 16 (PS2 Version)
I just finished playing the entire series on this disc recently, and thought I'd start some reviews here. Now, I'm a HUGE fan of the MegaMan series, and I was practically dying to get my hands on this. This is probably one of the passable MegaMan releases since this whole "16th Anniversary" thing began. And the breakdown, though there shouldn't be much to say...
GRAPHICS: All of the games get their own slot here, but one thing can be said about all of them...all the games keep their original graphics. No graphical enhancements here, and if you really liked MegaMan, you could care less. MegaMans 1-6 maintain their 8-bit style, and MegaMans 7 and 8 maintain their 16-bit style. The two bonus MegaMan games (MegaMan: The Power Fighters/MegaMan 2: The Power Battles), have those PS1 16-bit graphics. The anime intermissions in MegaMan 8 have been kept (though there is that DVD "grain" that you see on low-quality DVD videos), too.
SOUND: Most of the music for MegaMans 1-6 have been remixed, using the mixes from the second MegaMan fighter game. MegaMans 1-3 only have some of their music remixed, but MegaMans 4-6 had ALL their music remixed...probably to drop the drab music they used back in the NES days. However, MegaMans 7 and 8 maintain their original music with no remixes involved.
GAMEPLAY: The same type goes throughout all the games...shoot, jump, slide.
However, some things have been added to MegaMans 1-6...you can press Triangle to rapidly fire 3 Mega Busters, and you can use L1 and R1 to switch between weapons. Same goes for the other games, really. You can also unlock extra bonuses, like unlocking a cartoon episode from the MegaMan cartoon series, and listening to special music for some of the game characters. You can also receive help tips during gameplay to help you overcome traps and obstacles. They probably won't help out a lot in the first few games, but in MegaMans 4-6, you'll be glad those help tips are around.
STORY: All games are the same...fight 8 Robot Masters till reaching Dr. Wily. The first MegaMan game is the most original...Wily's Castle is not map-oriented, and the 6 Robot Masters there will be confronted as you make your way through the fortress. From MegaMan 2 and beyond, the castle is map-oriented, and you must first the 8 Robot Masters by moving through a teleportal room. From MegaMan 4-6, there are new "final" enemies, but it always turns out to be Dr. Wily's doing. From MegaMans 7 and 8, it goes back to battling 8 Robot Masters until ultimately reaching Dr. Wily, but in each game, you start off on a disturbance mission before being thrown into official battle. In the MegaMan fighters, you basically select a course and fight Robot Masters until reaching Dr. Wily.
BOTTOM LINE: This is a must-have for MegaMan fans alike. I've only checked out the PS2 version, so I have no idea what you'll find out on the GC version. I give MMAC 9/10.
Silent Hill (1999)
Not bad for the first entry (spoilers herein)
All right, without even picking up a Resident Evil game in the first place, I did see out this game. But the first time I played it, I didn't know what to expect. I first picked it up from a box of games that someone I knew brought over just for me to check out. I played through all of them and saw this one game called "Silent Hill." I've NEVER heard of the game before then, and after reading the name, I actually thought the game took place on top of a quiet hill where nothing would happen (yeah, I know..."what an idiot"). I popped in the disc and went through the usual opening sequence and menus until coming to the actual opening action of the game. Harry Mason (who I at first thought was a woman) is the person you play, but as you go along, the story gets more involved. Now for a comment on each element here...
GRAPHICS: Not the most extraordinary graphics on the PS1, but they do the job. The playfield camera is well done, here, and there are 3 different camera modes to chose from (one can be unlocked after beating the game). These 3 camera modes are: normal (stationary camera that follows you everywhere), search camera (the camera looks ahead and locks onto nearby enemies), and shoulder-view camera (close to 3rd person view; locks onto oncoming enemies, but this mode points out unfinished polygons that you can't see with the other camera modes). There's also one little problem with the graphics engine...low-resolution. The low-rez lines will cloud your television screen greatly, but these low-rez lines are most evident when the game is set in broad daylight. At night (or in dark areas), the low-rez lines are least evident.
SOUND: Very good sound here. This isn't the most thrilling or mind-blowing soundtrack of all time, but it does the job. I personally like playing the game sometimes with the music on 0 volume, but that's just me. It's nice to run around an empty town hearing nothing but Harry stomping around and hearing monsters come after you. You also have a static-producing Radio that emits static when enemies are close-by. It's very useful, but after playing through the game a few times, you'll want to keep the Radio off because you won't be needing it if you know when and where enemies will show up. The Radio doesn't work in the middle of Boss fights, though. The sound is also in Stereo, and that's useful for finding out which direction enemies are in.
GAMEPLAY: It's extremely similar to Resident Evil's play style...you can run, walk, and shoot enemies while keeping an eye on your health status. The only differences are a) you can move while shooting enemies, b) instead of limping around and clutching your stomach if your health is low, the controller will vibrate. The lower you are on health, the more violently the controller will vibrate. And believe me, you WILL know you're dying if the controller vibrates out-of-control. The health system works very much like Resident Evil's, also...green is for "fine" condition, yellow is for "caution" condition, and red is for "danger" condition. Except here, you won't be mixing herbs to refill your health. You will be using health drinks and first-aid kits. Expect end game bonuses, but after playing through the game about 10 times, every playthrough will be pretty much the same.
STORY: Harry's on vacation with his daughter Cheryl until Harry has an accident trying to avoid a mysterious woman who steps out in front of his car on the street. When Harry comes to, it's daytime, snowing, and Cheryl is missing. When you take control of Harry, it seems as though you're doing absolutely nothing but running around looking for her. This is what I thought of at first, too, so it's nothing surprising. You then follow "Cheryl" around the town until she leads you into an alleyway. As you move through the alley, it gets darker, and rain starts to pour (don't try to go back into the town at this point, because the path has been blocked). As you run along, you start running into scary displays, such as an abandoned wheelchair, a bloody hospital gurney, and a corpse hanging on a fence by half-limbs. After investigating it, baby zombie demons lurk out of the shadows, wanting you dead. At this point, you don't know what's going on. If you run back the way you came, it's no use...the path has been blocked by a fence. You have no choice by to succumb to the demons' power, and you wake up in a cafe with a police officer. She gives you a gun, then it's time to save your daughter...or so you hope you will, because the story gets deeper and deeper as you go along (you will meet up with the zombie demons again, but next time, you'll be "better prepared").
Also, this game takes a different approach at horror than RE...RE uses a modern approach...biological terror and military experts save the day. SH follows another line...psychological terror. No evil biochemists here. Instead, everything happens on a logical case, like the result of some cult tradition.
BOTTOM LINE: This game is a classic. You probably won't be surprised with this because of all the other games like it, but it did serve its time well on the PS1. I just wish it were longer. It barely takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to beat. I give it 8/10.
Metal Gear Solid (1998)
One of the PS1's superior beings (spoilers herein)
After having played and beaten this game numerous times over the last few years, I finally decided to review it. More details will follow:
GRAPHICS: Your standard PS1 graphics, but a LITTLE improved over many other PS1 titles. Motion capture got a lot of focus, and seeing how big this game is, that's no surprise (look at the end credits and tell me this isn't a huge title). However, you will see the normal cluster of pixelations and graphic "swerving" (a PS1 graphics bug that seems to make objects "reshape" if the camera is at a certain angle or distance), but you really won't be blown away by this. However, the graphics do just fine on their part, so no complaints. And don't expect the character models to have facial expressions, because everyone has on the same face throughout the game. And the characters just bob their heads whenever they speak, but you gotta have some way to tell they're talking if their mouths can't open.
SOUND: The sound is actually well composed here. The music score is not the most legendary music you will ever hear, but it suits the atmosphere of whatever is going on. Probably the most lively music is the Boss music, and that's one of the songs I like the most. Also, the weapon noises are well-done, too. The SOCOM handgun sounds like an actual handgun going off, and the Stinger missile launcher actually sounds like shooting off a mini-missile...and you get it. The voice acting is also well-done, from David Hayter's scruffy voice for Solid Snake, to Cam Clarke's charismatic British accent for Liquid Snake. If you die in a VR mission, you can enjoy the remix of the "Game Over" tune resurrected from the original Metal Gear game.
GAMEPLAY: Basically the same premise as the previous Metal Gear games...stealth is an important key. Getting caught by any guards or patrols will make them flock around you until you run and hide in a safe place. You can avoid being caught altogether by just shooting everyone in sight, but shooting an enemy with an un-suppressed weapon will be the death of you. However, if there is only one enemy in the room and you still haven't found the suppressor for you SOCOM, shooting the enemy anyway can avoid getting you caught. So, the gameplay retains its legendary stealth mechanics. Be grateful, because there are only a few game series out there with passable stealth mechanics. Boss fights are your classic "deplete his/her health till he/she dies" battles. But, when it comes to these boss battles, each boss battle requires a certain strategy; for instance, during the Psycho Mantis fight, you must plug your controller into the right socket in order to be able to beat him. Other than this, there isn't much else I can say.
STORY: Someone's up to no good with Metal Gear again. Piggybacking off the previous Metal Gear entry ("Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake," not "Snake's Revenge"), Solid Snake is called back into battle once again, and he is off to Shadow Moses island, a fortress nation out around Alaska. The reason why Snake was picked for the mission was because a), Snake knows what's up with Metal Gear and is able to stop it, b), he is the only one worthy enough to stand off against Liquid Snake, the leader of the terrorists who took over the base. We all know the prime enemy here...the Metal Gear prototype. As the story unravels, Snake is told everything there is to hear about what the Metal Gear is capable of (most of you may remember that the same specs that were used with the first Metal Gear are once again being used with Metal Gear REX), and eventually faces off with it, and then faces off against Liquid in a final fight. In the end, Revolver Ocelot (one of the terrorists) is the one who survives the entire ordeal, and lives to fight it out once again in MGS2.
BOTTOM LINE: I've been trying a good while to keep this game in my collection, because I either rented it or borrowed it. Now that it's mine, I've been able to check out all the nice extra end-game features, like the effect the different endings have on your next game. The gameplay does succeed more than other games on the PS1, so there's really no room to complain there. I give this game a 9/10.
Rockman DASH 2 (2000)
Improving over the first (may be spoilers)
I bought this game the summer after it was released. Didn't get a lot of hype, though, but it paid its due. Aside from screwing up the fresh data side testing it on the Game Doctor I bought with it, the game played out just fine (despite the skipping and disc read slowdowns). Well, I guess it's time for another breakdown, huh?
GRAPHICS: Greatly improved over the first. Textures have been smoothed as opposed to the original, and we are once again looking at the above-par animations and facial expressions. MegaMan's look has been altered, though, from the all-blue plain look from the original, to a more technical and colorful look of the sequel. MegaMan looks taller though, but I'm not sure.
His facial complexion changed, and his hair seems to be a lot bigger. He also runs around with an orange bag on his back, but I really don't know what it's for...
SOUND: The only change in the voice acting cast is that MegaMan has been replaced by a woman, which some were hoping he would maintain his original voice actor. Also, Barrel has a lot less pep inside of him, this time. In the original, it was easy for him to get excited. Here, it seems as though nothing surprises him. Other than that, everyone from the original is back in action to take over their prime roles once again.
game play: Significantly altered from the original. Aside from the fact that MegaMan can now kick things with both legs, he can also lift things. Another change is that the mode customization window has a more interesting look. In MML1, you had your basic pause menu. Here, it looks like a computer program selection window. More things can be altered for game play, such as the use of the vibration function, BGM and SFX volume, and all that jazz. Some weapons are making a re-appearance, such as the Active Buster and Shining Laser. New weapons include the Hunter Seeker (probably the most interesting weapon of them all. You can fire auto turrets around the room, and they will automatically fire at a locked-on enemy), and the Aqua Blaster (a fire extinguisher...might be more useful than you think). Speaking of lock-on, the auto-targeting system has been upgraded. In the original, locking onto enemies was exceptionally difficult, because you couldn't move while in the targeting mode, nor was the camera precise when it came to targeting). This time, not only does the camera transfix to its target, the target is identified by a targeting reticle. You can also move freely even while in auto-targeting. Another little tidbit is that MegaMan already has his jump springs wrapped and ready to go, so there's no need to go looking for jump spring parts. Also, you will not only be exploring one island. You will be exploring multiple islands by moving through the world on your Flutter.
STORY: It's continued straight from the plot of the original...the heroes are out looking for the Mother Lode, which is said to be a legendary treasure hidden out somewhere. Roll wants to find it desperately, and MegaMan intends to help. But there's someone (or perhaps something) in the way. Yes, the Bonnes are back to stir up more trouble, but since we already know them, they're making an immediate appearance in the sequel. Once again they are standing in MegaMan's way to solve the mystery of the Mother Lode, and once again, MegaMan beats them in their persistence. However, MegaMan can give less of a care about them, because he's determined to find the four keys that will open the Mother Lode, according to legends. To obtain these keys, you must dig inside the islands' ruins and fight for them. Once the story starts taking a different wing, MegaMan finally finds out just who he really is...a soldier from the Planet Xenoic sent to Earth to stop Lord Shaphwan from destroying the islands with one sweep of his mighty fist! ...okay, that that wasn't even close to the truth, but MegaMan is an ancient soldier whose prime mission was to defeat the ancient Mistress Sara. MegaMan's body was reconfigured to a baby after the battle, and was discovered in a ruin by Barrel on one of his digs. Data (the drumming monkey) spills everything later in the game, and a cut scene plays out revealing everything about MegaMan. He then goes to Elysium to reconnect with his past, and investigates the ancient technology.
In the end, MegaMan fights the final battle with an enormous Sara, and he is then stuck on Elysium. Meanwhile, the Bonnes have joined hands with MegaMan's gang to rescue him (yes, it's true). I didn't believe it myself at first, but the Bonnes and the Casketts are developing a rocket to try and get MegaMan down from up there.
BOTTOM LINE: This is a great improvement over the original, with the more precise plot line, and a detailed look at MegaMan's past. If you've played the original, you'll definitely be drilling your money into this. I give this game 8/10.
Rokkuman DASH (1997)
Fairly Decent (possible spoilers)
Though I've played this game about 10 or 20 times since I bought it, I felt I needed to say something on its behalf. However, though I am a die-hard MegaMan fan, there a still a *few* things I'll reconsider...
GRAPHICS: Not a lot going on here, really, though it is the first 3D MegaMan game. The character motions are above par, for the PS1, that is. The motions are actually fluid and realistic. The character model faces also have real expressions, which is something else you normally don't see in PS1 games, since most games on it have blocky character models with wooden face models, along with the aid of "frozen" motion capture movements.
SOUND: I'm not poking fun at it, but *some* of the music does sound a little drab. However, some of the music does the job due to the atmosphere of the situation at hand. Some of the music sounds so much like they should have been in SNES games, though. The voice acting is well-done, too. Not bad for a first entry in a separate series.
GAMEPLAY: Classic MegaMan run-and-gun, but I'm not talking about Robot Masters as bosses (besides, that's another universe). Join MM as he runs, jumps, shoots, and saves the day from bad guys. There are a few extra toys for him to utilize outside of his Buster, but you have to find or "dig" for parts in ruins to turn them into weapons. There is a diverse array of weapons to find in the game, but you probably won't be finding all of them on your first few play thoughts. In my recent game, I only found the necessary parts to make the Powered Buster (a weapon that fires a large fireball), the Active Buster (a homing missile launcher), the Splash Mine (self-detonating land mines that you will be receiving eventually), and the Drill Arm, which is a power drill, useful for destroying false walls. There are MANY other weapons, such as a Machine Buster and a Vacuum Arm, but I didn't find all those parts. This brings on the RPG element, you know...collecting money (or zenny, in this case) from battles or finding them scattered about, and using them to enhance yourself or upgrade weapons (which is costly, by the way).
STORY: MegaMan and company (Roll and Barrel) are cruising through the sky in their Flutter airship, up until the engines on the ship give away, and they settle on Kattelox Island for repairs. However, what isn't known is that the story gets more involved as you go through. What starts off as a small engagement with the air pirates (the Bonnes, which have become my all-time favorite villain troupe), turns into a fight for the future. MegaMan stops the Bonnes from attacking the city and the ruins on every attempt (thus bringing up the Team Rocket clause...the villains keep coming, knowing MegaMan will flush them out anyway), but apparently at the end of the game, the Bonnes aren't the real problem. MegaMan stepped into a lot more mess than he anticipated. After involving himself in a lot of dangerous situations that really weren't his business to begin with, he discovers something about himself once he faces off with MegaMan Juno (the final boss). Once he saves the island from the disaster set up by Juno, he finds out there's a greater significance to his life...he actually has a deeper purpose. Unfortunately, we're not going to figure all that out until "MegaMan Legends 2," so until then, the gamer will be left shrouded in wonder. "MegaMan has an alternative purpose? What could that be?" Ironically, none of this was ever meant to happen. They landed on Kattlox because of their busted up airship, but like I said, once MegaMan went off exploring the ruins further, he started moving in over his head.
BOTTOM LINE: This is a likable treat for all MegaMan fans, but if you don't like MegaMan, you probably won't accept this too much. Being the MegaMan fan I am, I'll give this a 8.25/10.
The World Is Not Enough (1999)
After "TND," I know what I've been missing...ALL OF IT!
After waiting YEARS to finally see "Tomorrow Never Dies" on basic television last night, I finally realize what's been missing here "World is Not Enough."
"TWINE" nearly crushed my interest in the James Bond movies (only the games rekindled that interest), mainly because of... ...well, mainly the plot. Viktor Zokas (a.k.a Renard) is out to destroy the world, and what sucks is that we don't know WHY he wants to destroy the world. Don't you just hate it when villains have no real reason to do anything? See, in "TND," the villain actually had something to work for...the reason why he wanted to start a war is to have news for his newspaper, and to be able to control all media as a result. In "TWINE," Renard doesn't own a famous business, nor does he have interesting Goons (some noteable Goons from the previous James Bond films are Nick Nack, OddJobb, and Jaws), but Renard has NO noteable Goons. So technically, he's just some schmoe with a bullet in his head and a mind to kill people.
Then, there's the action and presentation. Bond does have some of his quippy one-liners here, but they aren't as noteable as in most of his other films. The action in "TWINE" is also sub-par...the gunshots are not any fun to listen too, gunfights drone on with no real excitement, and Bond doesn't engage in his epic car-chase scenes. Remember the action scenes you saw in "TND" and whatnot? Remember the fast-paced city chase in "The Man with the Golden Gun?" Don't expect to be "wowed" as much here.
To summarize, "TWINE" is just candy with no taste to it...a Tootsie-Pop with no chocolately center. It might be nice to look at a bit, but turn to "TND" and "GoldenEye" for better plotlines and action.
Okay game, but too many things missing (possible spoiler)
For everyone who has played from "X-Men: Children of the Atom," you already get the gameplay mechanics here. However, this game is NOT like the last installments of the (very expansive) series. I'll explain better in my natural breakdown:
GRAPHICS: VERY different from what you're used to. Instead of 2D backgrounds, you've got fully-rendered 3D backdrops. This is only the first time it's been done, but for those who have played Resident Evil, you'll notice it's another one of Capcom's "stick fake models against a realistic background" system. The graphics are Dreamcast-par (which explains why it wasn't released for PS1), but the game still uses character sprites. The sprites are nicely detailed, and animation is fast-paced. However, the sprites are a bit pixelated. Attack effects are superior, too...instead of hand-drawn "blast" effects, you get 3D-rendered particle effects.
SOUND: Still contains the same grunts and yells from the previous games, so nothing new here. It's satisfactory, and there's nothing to complain about (at least I don't think so). The characters' respective American and Japanese voices make their presence known once again, but the disappointing thing is that these guys weren't billed in the credits. Perhaps Capcom tried to screw them over...?
GAMEPLAY: It works the same as the gameplay from "Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter" and "Marvel vs. Capcom," with the easily-executed Specials. But here's the saddening part...NO VARIABLE CROSS-OVERS! How can it be any fun if both partners can't beat the snot out of their opponent at the same time? This is probably because there are now 3 team members to a team, which would be a little confusing for a Variable Cross-Over. Speaking for the Dreamcast, MvC2 is the only home version of an arcade game that is EXACTLY like the arcade version (unlike the previous home versions in which the gameplay was changed around in order to be a watered-down system). Chain Specials make a re-appearance, though...the maximum number of Specials you can perform in one chain is 3, but in Training Mode, you can pull off an infinite number of Specials in one chain. Not very useful there, though. The only thing close to the blitz-fast Variable Cross-Over system from MvC is the ability to have all 3 of your members perform their Specials on one enemy simultaneously. Pick your team members wisely because not everyone's Special is a useful one in a 3x Special Attack. This time around, you can "snapback" your opponent and bring out an alternative teammate of theirs (not useful if the opponent has no team members left). Unless you REALLY want to bring an alternative teammate out and you have Special power levels to waste, go ahead and snapback. The buttons you press to snapback will determine which teammate will come out. Also, the Final Boss is hardly even challenging! In the last installments, the Final Boss actually needed work to fight (i.e. Cyber-Akuma, Onslaught), but the boss here, Abyss, is nearly a cinch. He may have 3 forms for you to fight, but there's not much careful play against him. His final form may be a big bad monster, but believe me, you'll have a more difficult time getting hit by his attacks than for YOU to hit HIM. There are also no other unique gameplay elements. You fight till you win. In other games, there were actually extra elements thrown in (like, in X-Men vs. Street Fighter, you have to fight your partner at the end, and in Marvel vs. Capcom, Onslaught tries to stop you before reaching his stage, and he actually has beef with the characters). In MvC2, there's nothing to do but fight.
STORY: Okay, THIS is where the game fails miserably...THERE IS NO STORY. This is how it goes...you select 3 characters, play through to Abyss, and that's it. In the previous games, all characters had epilogues to their stories, and they had special reasons for participating in the fight. In MvC2, like I said before, you fight until you're done. You get NOTHING out of it except Credit Points you can use to purchase more characters and stages from the Secret Factor. None of the characters have reasons to be here...they're just HERE. It would have been nice to know why Tron Bonne decided to fight Abyss, but the only ending we see is during the end credits. The Marvel characters and the Capcom characters seem to be having a party on a boat, and the party is told through still pictures. That's what you see no matter who you select during the game.
BOTTOM LINE: Only get this game if you're just looking for a decent fighting game to play (buying or renting is your choice, depending on how good you think it is), but if you were waiting to see what everyone was up to after the Onslaught trials quieted down, you'll want to pass this by.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10
Silent Hill 2 (2001)
Nice game, but something's still missing...
I recently bought this game and the original Silent Hill to start my collection of SH games. However, I found myself playing SH1 more than SH2, because SH1 had more..."zazz"...to the game (despite the dated graphics and low resolution).
When I first heard SH2 was on the verge of release, I was both happy and saddened...I was happy because, well, this is Silent Hill! The first one practically blew Resident Evil out of the water. I was saddened because...it was being released for PS2, and I didn't have that yet. So, after a couple years of kicking and pouting at my PS1, I ordered the PS2, rented, and played SH2 for the first time. Believe me, this game may be an improvement, but it's still not the whole show as much as SH1 was. Now it's time for the breakdown (if you've seen my reviews, you know this is coming):
GRAPHICS: HIGHLY improved from the original SH, and still hold up as the best-looking graphics compared to any other PS2 game (some complained that the graphics were still bland and ugly. Shows how much they know). The lighting was a definite touch-up (with real-time shadows and darkness casting), and realisitic reflections. This time, the game has a Noise Effect...it supposedly makes the picture fuzzy and distorted by making it seem like a classic horror movie. I personally find the Noise Effect a bother with the brilliant graphics, so I just shut the Noise Effect option off.
SOUND: Konami's still using small voice actors, but no bother...they get the job done. However, my first impression of James was that he had a Prince-like voice. You'll get used to it, though. The music is also drab and bleak, which is actually appropriate in a game like this. Only in most areas will you trigger some more decent music. There's just one sound that I don't like...the Handgun gunshot. Seriously, I thought I was going to go Scarface all over Silent Hill with that gun, but the first time I fired the gun...all I heard was a "pop" noise and the nozzle flash. I thought it was silenced, but I saw there was no silencer. So, I stood there for a moment and wondered "what kind of gun is THIS?!"
GAMEPLAY: The controls are pretty much the same as the last entry in the series, except "Pause" is the Select button, and the "Item" Window is the Start button. If you have any health equipment leftover, and your health is down, you can press "R3" (right analog stick) to restore some of your health without opening the inventory. Also, shooting things are no longer a serious problem...although the manual says that James does a better job at close-range, he can still hit targets dead-on from across the room. This is unlike Harry Mason's misfortune, as you can miss shots even when the nozzle is pointing dead at an enemy. Speaking of targets, the monster variations have been downsized...remember that quick dogs, flying creatures, and demon children from the original SH? They made the game challenging to actually fight a monster. You also had to fight multiple bosses at certain points in the game. In SH2, there are not very many variations in monsters...most enemies are the same size and identical make-ups, forcing them to shuffle after you...slowly. Not much challenge there. The only challenging enemy is the Doorman, who is the biggest monster you'll have to fight. In SH2, boss fights are barely existent. Your main nemesis is the Pyramid Head, a guy (or monster) in a dirty beige suit and an enormous red cone on his head (or that may BE his head). You only confront Pyramid Head certain times throughout the game, but don't worry too much about him. He doesn't run very fast (but he ran the speed limit in the Hospital), and attacking him enough times will slow him down. I didn't say let your guard down, though...he carries a huge knife that can kill you in one swipe. The other boss is the final boss who is a creature in a bed that can strangle you are shoot killer butterflies at you. It's not a challenging boss on any other mode outside of "Hard" mode. If you fight it on "Hard" mode, and you don't have more than 20 Health Drinks, 10 First-Aid Kits, and 7 Ampoules, be prepared to hit the Power switch on your PS2. So, the only real complaint here is the downsize in variation of enemies. This game also takes place on another end of Silent Hill, not the same end Harry Mason had to explore. This end is smaller and less sophisticated, although the game relies on backtracking just to do one task...you have to run all over town just to find a key.
STORY: It's a simple story, but it's told in a complicated way. James Sunderland lost his wife to an illness 3 years ago, and he receives a letter saying that she's waiting for him at Silent Hill. However, it gets deeper than that...James finds out the truth before the game ends. While he's exploring, he runs into the Pyramid Head (personally, I like the name "Judgment." "Pyramid Head" sounds like something a kid came up with), who is actually sent to Silent Hill in order to punish James for...what he did (I'm not spoiling it. You'll have to find out for yourself). At first it is not known what the P.H.'s purpose is, but it becomes apparent later on. James also meets his wife's opposite likeness during his adventure, but her purpose is more defined than you think. Sorry, but you'll have to check in on a plot guide to find out what that is.
BOTTOM LINE: Although I did buy this game and play it (for the simple fact it's Silent Hill), it did not live up to the standards of the original. If you liked how the first one worked out, you might be a little disappointed at what you'll find in the second entry. Most fans of the genre will still enjoy it, though.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10
The World Is Not Enough (2000)
Misses at a wider arc than a hit (PS1 Version)
Without even bothering to see the movie yet, I picked this game up when I saw it in video rental stores. Now, wasn't HUGELY into James Bond at this time, but I played GoldenEye with my friends (along with the sag known as "Tomorrow Never Dies"), and thought this game would be good. So, I rented it, took it home, and prepared to have THE WILDEST JAMES BOND ADVENTURE OF MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!
Okay, maybe that wasn't the case, but I will break it down (as always) and tell you how this all went down:
GRAPHICS: Decent, but the character models are blocky and the backgrounds are blandly made. Although graphic clipping occurs rarely, there is a lot of graphical "swerving" going on. I call it "swerving" because if you go up to a wall or something and turn, you will see the wall "move" a little. It's not a big problem, but sometimes swerving occurs even when you're simply turning. The backgrounds are mildly detailed (light fixtures are literally "glued" to the background), and about the only thing "realistic" is Bond's hand or the gun he's holding up. Everything else is blandly detailed. And don't expect enormous Terminator explosions...explosion effects are barely even noticeable. Sometimes blowing up gas canisters only makes the screen flash, and the canister disintegrates with a response of black smoke.
SOUND: Though TND didn't have as much gameplay appeal as TWINE, TND did have decent and pulse-pounding music. The music in TND was fast, exciting, and some songs lasted as long as 2 or 3 minutes. However, in TWINE, no one gave a flying piece of sludge about the music. The songs last at least 20 seconds long, and the music does not get you in the mood for a gunfight. The music practically gets you in the mood to go to sleep. The silenced handgun Bond has makes another appearance, but continues to sound like a silenced weapon. Other weapon effects have nice sound effects to them (like the sniper rifle and the Kazakovich assault rifle), but don't expect much from actual explosions. Accompanying the screen flashes are mainly no other sounds other than the bullet hitting the canister. There may be some explosion sounds, but even THOSE are barely noticeable.
GAMEPLAY: Your basic role is to just go out on SUPER short missions and either kill things are sneak around. There is, however, ONE unique mission in this game, and that is the casino mission that forces you to win a game of BlackJack in order to pass. That's the ONLY unique mission. And...what happened to the driving missions?! In this game, you only use the car to stock up on video camera rockets on this one mission where you have to fight helicopters on the docks. Other than that, your BMW Z8 is useless. There was no real problem with that in GoldenEye (at least I think there's no driving mission there), but here, it suffers terribly. The game is short enough, so it wouldn't hurt to put two decent missions in. Cheat codes also work differently this time...instead of inputting controller codes, you have to get near-perfect scores on missions. The PS1 version also suffers from a lack of multiplayer (as with TND, but according to my GS Pro snapshot archive, there is a multiplayer screen in it somewhere). Replayability is non-existent...the game's just not a good enough hit to play over and over again.
STORY: Exactly the same as the movie's...you're sent out to stop a madman from bombing the world, only this guy is no real madman...he just spits up insults to you and runs. In all the other James Bond games to date, you have to fight the final boss with a special strategy or with just all-out gunplay. However, TWINE has no last boss...in this game, the last boss is just you shooting out reactor panels while blasting away hilariously slow bad guys. Do all that, and you'll already have beaten the game. So, you don't necessarily fight Renard...you're just fighting his plan until he dies.
BOTTOM LINE: Only RENT this game. Do not buy it. If you're a James Bond head who plans to fill your game collection with James Bond games, be my guest. If you're just looking for a good game to pass the weekend, this game is right for you. If you want to go out and buy good James Bond games, try getting the latest James Bond: Everything or Nothing. THAT'S the James Bond game you should waste your allowance on.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10
Syphon Filter 2 (2000)
Makes SF3 look like a complete waste of time
This was not my first Syphon Filter game, but it was my OFFICIAL first Syphon Filter game. I played SF1, but I never beat it, nor did I bother to try to. I borrowed SF2 from someone back in the summer of 2001, and I immediately got into it. Let's break down why:
GRAPHICS: Certainly not the BEST graphics ever seen on a PS1 game, but you have to admit, this game looks a lot better than most other PS1 games. Even the explosion effects are nice to look at. No complaints here. However, the only complaint I have is the character models. For some reason, most of the characters don't seem to have faces, and in one cutscene, Gabe and Lian's pictures are on a news broadcast, and both of them look like a faceless Bonnie and Clyde. The problem with the faceless character models was remedied in SF3, though, but if you're like me, you won't care about the missing faces.
GAMEPLAY: The physics engine is not a legendary make-up, but you won't find yourself complaining, either. Since this is 2004, people expect better from a game's physics engine, but this game was made during the PS1's final breaths, so of course it might feel a little...off. I haven't played the newest SF game "The Omega Strain," but that game may prove these physics obsolete. Also, the targetting system of SF2 is perfect. You have two target modes...manual and auto fix target. Holding L1 down will switch you to 1st-Person View, and fix the green target reticle on what you want to shoot.
Hold down R1 to automatically fix your target to nearby enemies. You will find that auto fix will be THE most commonly-used function. You also get an enormous selection of weapons to choose from. You'll only run across certain weapons at certain points, but if you access all weapons into your inventory at once, you will see there's enough guns to do your secret agent bidding. Even when you pick out a target, a small info tab will point to them, telling you what's happening with them. So, if you aim the target reticle at someone's head, the info tab will tell you you're about to make a headshot. Info tabs will also tell you if the enemy is wearing a Flak Jacket. This will force you to perform a headshot. There's also a multiplayer mode, but don't expect an iteration of GoldenEye or TimeSplitters. You and a friend are chucked into the playing field, and are forced to shoot each other for points. That's basically all the multiplayer is about, but you still might have a LITTLE fun doing it.
SOUND: The sound is probably the best ear party you can possibly have. Shooting un-silenced .45s as others fire back practically sounds like a war.
And don't complain about the music...at least it sounds better than SF3's quiet and unexciting tunes.
STORY: Simply put, the Syphon Filter virus runs rampant for the second time around, and it's Gabe Logan's and Lian Xing's job to contain it. The game is long enough...it'll probably last you quite a few hours if you die a lot, but if you know what you're doing, it will certainly be no problem. There's also a lot of agent/spy talk, which contradicts how the actual CIA would work. Gamers who just play something to shoot something will probably be turned off by the dialogue in this game, but if you actually like listening to secret agents talk about shipments provided by the NSSOAA after NASDAQ collapsed in 2007, and the CIA requested a peace treaty with the Taliban (by the way, none of that ever happened in the game), then you'll be engulfed into the storyline and dialogue.
BOTTOM LINE: If you're looking for a good PS1 Syphon Filter game, get this instead. Don't be a fool like me and blow $45 on SF3 when it wasn't that great...take your time now and spend $20 or $30 on a far more superior secret agent adventure. Though the game does not put a candle to the James Bond games (the GOOD ones, anyway), it's still enough to keep you gun-totting CIA-style for a few hours.
The Best Bond Game Yet
I was finally able to rent this game out yesterday, and I have to say, this game is breathtaking. I haven't beaten it as of this moment, but I've seen enough to say just how incredible this game is.
GRAPHICS The graphics are nothing short of spectacular. Lighting is geniusly done, and having to use the Thermal Vision every time you walk into a dark area is a nice touch. Particle effects have also been perfectly integrated, from bright flashes to EXPLOSIONS (and believe me, there will be a LOT).
SOUND If you've played the Max Payne games, you already know of the ear-splitting gunshots and explosions (which is a good thing), but if you haven't played the Max Payne games, you're in for a surprise. From the sound of your P99 going off, to the sound of a huge BOOM from inside a building, the sound is monstrously integrated. Also, for those who have played the previous James Bond games, you will get a twist here: the actual cast from the live-action films have signed on to voice the characters in this game (that's right, no more Pierce Brosnan sound-alikes). The star-studded cast will give you the feeling that something has finally been done right. The introductory theme song is highly addictive, too.
GAMEPLAY I'll say this right now...there's a lot of cover shooting going on. Unlike in the other James Bond games, you can't just run into a huge gunfight and expect to walk out without a scratch. You must use the environment to your advantage, and fire. It is sometimes safe to run out with guns a-blazing, but only do that if you're absolutely sure you'll win. Stealth is an important factor, too. You must keep yourself well-concealed on most missions in order to at least have a dying chance at completing a level. There are also vehicle levels here. These levels are so fast-paced and exciting, I immediately became obsessed with the "Train" mission. Try and play that mission with your finger on the "X" button as long as possible...I assure you, you'll be in for a wild ride. Unlike all the other James Bond games, this game includes a Training Level that allows you to get the feel of the game before actually playing through it. The gadgets are also well-done...the Q-Spider is probably THE most useful and most fun gadget to use. There's even a level where you have to fall down the side of a mountain to catch your partner in mid-air...they did the same thing in Operation: Surma, but that way sucked badly. Leave it to this game to show them the RIGHT way to do it. The Multiplayer game is also here with a vengeance...not only can you battle others, you can also team up with a second player and play story missions. If you're a hardcore gamer, you WILL find yourself returning to previously-completed levels to obtain Platinum ranks and unlock cheats and rewards.
BOTTOM LINE: This game is worth your money, whether rented or bought. If you're a huge Bond fan, you'll definitely want to pick this up.
Final Score: 10/10
Better than I thought
I've seen a review for this game in Game Informer Magazine, and saw that they gave this game an unearthly 5.75/10 score, which turned me away from this game, since I normally listen to their opinions. I rented out this game anyway just last night, and boy, was I in for a surprise.
This game was actually better than such a score. The mag gave Dawn of Fate a higher score, and that was WORSER than this! T3 was very well-done in my opinion, and is probably the greatest Atari achievement to date. The graphics are spectacular, and the sound is bearable (the Terminator theme song is also here, which adds to the sound goodness). Even though gameplay is SAID to be frustrating, once you start getting into it, you will not have a problem at all. Speaking of the gameplay, the environments are interactive, but don't expect everything to blow wide open upon smacking it with a Micro Rocket Launcher. Also, if you press the Select button, you can go into the T-850's famous Infrared Vision mode, allowing you to see just what a Terminator would see. I'm only on the first few levels of the game, but it's already looking very nice. Also, if you play through the game enough, you will be able to unlock two classic Atari games, "Centipede" and "Missile Command." They can be unlocked through cheat passwords, but you can also find their arcade consoles lying around some levels (so far I've only found the Missile Command game).
The disc also includes a demo of T3: Redemption, and upcoming Terminator game. From what I've played on the demo, Redemption looks VERY good enjoyable, which is actually a level where you get to play as the T-850 (this time in 3rd-Person view) and track-shoot your way through, allowing you to fire your weapon and control the vehicle at the same time, also being able to acquire new vehicles to commandeer (even enemy vehicles!). It seems as though Atari is going to further places with the Terminator than one would expect.
One more thing: I take back what I said about this game in my Operation: Surma review. I played O:S BEFORE playing this game, and I was just running off with what I've been told about this game.
T3: Rise of the Machines--7.25/10 T3: Redemption Demo--8/10
Like breaking your back and taking painkillers
I've played the first M:I game for the PS1, and that was okay, yet showed great room for improvement. When I heard Operation Surma was coming around, I really wanted to see what the game had to offer. Little did I know, I was in for a big disappointment.
The gameplay mechanics are okay...for about the first 10 minutes. You're expected to keep your eye on the radar AND watch out for what's ahead of you, but you can't do both, now can you? The radar works very much like MGS's Soliton radar, except in does not tell you where enemies are stationed or their field of vision, leading to easy frustration. You have no idea if an enemy can see you or not. Sometimes, it doesn't even matter. If you hide behind a wall out of enemy vision, he will still see you, regardless, often making you fail your mission miserably. So, to summarize, the stealth mechanics of this game are HORRENDOUS. Why is it that every time a certain game company attempts a stealth game, Konami always kicks that game off the shelves with Metal Gear Solid? Because Konami knows what they're doing. Atari hasn't made 1 decent game since Driver 2. Not even Enter the Matrix was all that interstellar.
Also, control is clunky, and control interface is just not worth the bother. There's no telling how many times I told Ethan to stop grabbing the frigging ladder every time I try and run away from it. Also, bad guys have a tendency to swarm in LITERALLY out of thin air, meaning that this is one of those games in which pop-up infects the game if you turn the camera away from a certain spot. That's how enemies constantly get the drop on you. And every time an alarm goes off, you either fail the mission, or spend 30 seconds trying to hunt down the alarm shut off module, just so the alarm can be raised again for no real reason. It's a painful experience. There's also a skydiving mission that requires you to dodge missiles while getting to your target. Thanks to the clunkiness and an awkward control scheme, getting shot with missiles in mid-air is as easy as A-B-C. There were LOTS of good ideas going for this game, but they were badly implemented...just what you would expect from Atari. They did it with Enter the Matrix, T3, and Driver...and here we are.
Now that I got the bad out of the way, it's time for the good. Missions are thrilling and give you that feeling that tells you that this is good CIA training. The classic "repel down the down the room via rope and hack the computer" mission has been retained, but sadly, I only wanted to do it once. It's only a marvel if it only has to be done once, not 15 times. Also, the gadgets are superb and match Ethan Hunt's skill as a CIA agent. Surely, Splinter Cell does it better, even though Splinter Cell had its ups and downs. Also, lighting effects work acceptionally well (play the Silent Hill games for REAL realistic lighting effects), and the story is followable and acceptable, even though I'm getting tired of blackmailing just so the bad guy can wipe out an entire civilization for no reason. Come on, Atari, we're getting sick of this "I'm going to take over the world!" nonsense!
Another good thing is that the Mission: Impossible theme song is back with a vengeance. It's been remixed to keep that "improving" feeling alive. Mission: Impossible fans will enjoy this remix, and should definitely but on loud TV volume.
Also, one problem is that the game is TOO SHORT. You only pass through 5 missions and beat the game. I was expecting party missions or driving and track-shooting missions. Instead, you spend hours losing and passing missions, and I got no satisfaction from the ending. This is an age of end-game bonuses, and every game should have extras unlocked for beating the game. All 5 missions are infiltrate, do your business, and out-filtrate. Repeat for about 4 more times. When I beat the game, I looked at the end credits and said "THAT'S IT??!!"
If you want a longer, less trial-and-error mission-based game with more action, pick up a James Bond game. However, if you believe that everything I just talked about can be considered, get this game. I'm just warning you before you drop your controller and start stomping on it.
RPG tsukuru 3 (1997)
Great game, but up until a point...
This is one of those "fantastic" games that start to tick you off after playing it a while. I'll admit, I was hooked on this game when I first got my hands on it, and blew 40 bucks on it. But...let's stop there. That's where my expectations began crashing down. After grabbing the basics of this game, I started finding ignorrant flaws, like, sometimes the computer of the game would reprogram your creation if you push a wrong button. In one game I created, I set locations from the game dungeons to the locations on the World Map. All of a sudden, the computer of the game switched the location addresses around. So, instead of leaving a forest dungeon and end up on the forest dungeon location on the World Map, I leave the forest dungeon and end up on the ocean dungeon location on the World Map. And, sometimes, items you put in a dungeon don't show up in their specified locations, so you have to copy and paste the same item everywhere until you find that item that was missing at first. This is not something good for this type of game. I'm not telling you that this game is a lame excuse to go blow your money...I'm telling you what to look out for when you play this game. If you look past these flaws, it may be the greatest game creation tool you've ever experienced.
A great potential
This game dishes up anything you can get from it, especially a shoot-'em-up with challenge and fun factor. The graphics and gameplay are one of the greater factors of this game; the graphics are smooth, slick, and geniusly-animated, and the controls can be re-mapped for your own pleasure. Also, even though the small number of gameplay modes doesn't make up for being a small game. The modes are still fun and worth your time. The only thing is that trying your best in some challenges just isn't good enough, and requires you to bust your knuckles open trying again and again. Also, the "story" is repetitive and time-consuming, also with the threat of death on your tail. You do each "story" mission by fetching objects and returning to the start point. But, the real find in this game is the extreme multiplayer. You, along with 10 other AI Bots, can go at it either on teams or against one another in a pre-constructed battlefield, or you can create your own battlefield, but nothing adventurous since the memory bar is very short. But all-in-all, this game is still worth your time in every area it offers. This game deserves an 8.5/10.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
What more could you ask for?
This movie has everything you ask for in an action movie: invincible and relentless bad guys, teens being chased by tow trucks, and a robotic protector that wields a shotgun with a nice reloading style. One of the best aspects of this movie is the CG effects, which are related to T-1000's animation. The ironic part about this is that the graphics are waaaaaaaay ahead of 1991's time, and I cannot tell you how many times I watched the part where T-1000 is chasing John Connor on the motorcycle. This great movie deserves a 10/10.
Syphon Filter 3 (2001)
What happened to the music?
When I played Syphon Filter 2, I was blown away. The music fit the atmosphere of the game, but the only drawback was the characters' faces, which only showed a pair of "lines" for eyes and that was it. Moving to SF3, they finally added faces to the characters, but now the MUSIC is empty. If you heard the disco music on the Moscow Club mission in SF2, you will listen to the SF3 music and wonder where they went wrong here. You can actually TELL the music has been downgraded from its predecessing game. The unique thing was that they kept the same theme song for SF2 and SF3 (I haven't played SF1, so I wouldn't know). Hopefully, in the soon-to-be-released Syphon Filter: Omega Strain, they'll stab this game with better music.
Those were the good old days
When I was little, I used to play this game a lot...but now, the SNES is outdated, and PS2s, Xboxes, and GameCubes are in. This was actually one of THE greatest games of all time! But, for some reason, once these "next generation" consoles were developed, starting with the PSX, developers started forgetting about these side-scrolling brawlers. Can someone PLEASE tell those developers to re-locate their roots!