Thursday, 8 July 2004

Archive Review: McFarlane's Evil Prophecy

(Gamecube review)

Evil's the word.

Action figures become a computer game? It use to be that games had figures made for them. So if this game becomes popular they won't need to, their already made. Hmm. So anyway let me introduce you to McFarlane’s Evil Prophecy. This is a game based on plastic toys. These are some very detailed, expensive, plastic toys mind. They are more than just toys in truth. A toy is what a child chews and gets bored with in 30 minutes of it being bought. Mcfarlane figures are true gems of design. It's a shame the game isn't.

Even those of you who own every one of Todd's figures and love them, to bits, will hate this game. From it's weak graphics and weaker gameplay to it's lack of depth and inspiration.

In the main Story mode, you command a ragtag team of monster hunters led by renowned scientist Dr. Hans Jaeger. Joining you in your quest to save the world from utter inanity is the buxom werewolf hunter Delphine, Logan the pirate, and the African warrior Sundano. Since there is no voice work whatsoever in Evil Prophecy whatsoever, the plot plays out through lots and lots of dialogue boxes in which Delphine says saucy things, Logan says grouchy things, and the Doctor and Sundano take turns telling both to shut up. You’ll do the same.

The story leads you into a world of monsters. As a monster hunter it seems clear what you must do. Kill the monsters. So you do this, continuously, until the game is completed. To begin with the game is so easy you just need to walk around pressing X in order to pull it off. Each character has an elemental alignment: Logan is Fire, the Doc is Lightning, Sundano is Magic and Delphine is Light. Enemies also have elemental alignments, which you’ll want to try to exploit through combination attacks. If you press the R2 button and the analog stick towards one of your teammates, you’ll execute a combo attack that will potentially do massive damage. You can switch between characters at the touch of a button which is nice.

You gain levels as you kill more and more. This RPG element is an illusion though. It doesn't matter how Ub3r your stats get, your still going to kill the enemy without much hassle in the same way as you did on level one - stage one, get me? The maps during this monster killing fest are appalling in every way. They start off dark and linear pre-set paths with spawning monsters. They end up dark, burlesque mazes, made to drive you made as you get totally lost. Mazes are good for a few maps, but the very nature of a "maze" is to create frustration - sure the dev team managed that, well done guys... err gameplay?

From stupid maps to stupid spawning monsters. A.I ? A.I can be summed as in this review as follows;

A.I - N/A

So picture, if you will, this game. It starts and ends in the same way, a mass of mindless spawning monsters coming at you continuously in either linear maps or impossibly biased mazes. Add to this weak, blocky, graphics and no significantly impressive sound and you get a picture of McFarlane’s Evil Prophecy. It certaintly is evil, but should really be called McFarlane’s Evil Con.

If its blood is green, it's a monster

There is a real lack of voice acting in this game too. There is none. This means story is driven by dialogue boxes. Bad, bad, naughty. The game claims to have multiplayer but not for a co-op mode. A game like this either has a co-op feature for single player or it doesn't and is therefore a waste of everyone's time, and money. Developers should know by now that squad based third person action games simply must include a co-op mode, full stop.

Rather, you and some friends can play Dungeon Mode, where you just fight monsters until you all die, or Battle Mode, where you just fight each other until you all die

Don't go anywhere near this tragic waste of binary code. Rent it and lose out on your pocket money, buy it and just be prepared for me to come around your house with a big sign and stick it on your back. The sign says "Fool".



Atleast children can't chew on cd's and swallow small parts!


-level design -repetive gameplay -abysmal A.I -drab story


You'd be better off playing with the figures

by Mojo Jojo 2004

Wednesday, 7 July 2004

Archive Review: Singles: Flirt up your life

(PC review)


I don't have much luck with girls. Then one day this hot little number slides up on to my desk. She’s hip, she’s sexy, she’s got modern sensibilities, and though she’s got a couple hangups, getting her naked is as easy as clicking your mouse. Her name is Singles: Flirt Up Your Life, and she’s the latest thing from the perverts who brought us Lara Croft so many years ago.

For those of you who haven’t heard the buzz, since its oh so loud, Singles is the first game in ages from a major publisher to get the dreaded AO (Adults Only) rating. This is because its so graphically violent and twisted that not even the most... actually nah. It's because it features full nudity and simulated sex, but for all that, it’s not particularly pornographic. In fact, it doesn’t even come close to the government’s own definition of obscenity because it appeals to more than prurient interest. This isn’t the latest version of Virtual Valerie - it’s much more like The Sims, but without all those blurry censorship squares.

Just or unjust, the AO rating still means that no major retailers (outside of Europe) will carry Singles. Instead, the full game is available for download around the net and you can play it for a couple hours, after which you have to buy the game online in order to keep playing. And more than a few people will probably want to keep playing to achieve the ultimate goal of making two virtual people have sex.

The game is a “relationship simulator,” assigning you the role of caretaker to a pair of roommates who can either develop a healthy sexual relationship or fight constantly over who drank the last beer in the fridge. In truth, the roommates in Singles behave frighteningly like a real couple; they work, play, eat, sleep, exercise, crap, and watch TV just like we do. However they don't steal your money, call you to ask where you are when they know, insist it was you who moved their hairdryer and ...ah look at me, I'm getting confused - that's my relationship!

Anyone who has played The Sims will have no trouble at all figuring out how to play Singles because the interface is nearly identical. The personality and relationship meters are eerily familiar, as is the building and buying mode where you can rebuild the apartment and purchase any of a couple hundred other household objects to make their lives better.

The particular Singles you’re (probably) trying to influence into erotic situations are chosen from a dozen different pre-set models, which fit into predictable stereotypes, from the computer nerd to the tough chick. The women are much more appealing than the men as they seem more like normal people, while the guys are a collection of scumbags with goth hairdos and attention-seeking tattoos. One should have been named Sanchez. You've also got the typical Colin D.I.Y man, the Kev, and a definite Karl - spelt with the "K".There’s also one gay character for each sex, so you can try for a same-sex relationship, but they fall prey to the same stereotypes with a bull-dyke and a seriously flaming queer guy. It’s a little frustrating, made worse by the fact that you cannot create your own character. This is a pretty serious oversight as it removes a sitgnificant chunk of the replay value. It's so serious an oversight I want to repeat it, you can't create your own character.

No matter whom you choose, playing with your Singles is again almost exactly like The Sims. You’ll have to manage plenty of little meters - fun, hygiene, hunger, sleep, etc. – which need to stay at acceptable levels to keep them happy and flirting successfully. Eat when you’re hungry, or watch a movie when you need to take a load off.

This isn’t particularly hard, however, as the Singles seem pretty easygoing overall and smarter about doing things on their own without being instructed. Singles aren’t as picky as Sims, and about the only thing they’ll ever fight over is the housework, such as who left more dirty dishes on the table and who has to clean the toilet more. A little flirting and a little teasing eases the tension and everyone is happy again.

Most of the time, however, you’ll be less concerned with squabbling and more concerned with salaries and finding free time outside of work. During the week you’ll run around like a maniac, fixing the sink and trying to get to work on time (sounds familiar). Meanwhile, you’re falling behind on the housework as the floors start to get visibly dirty. Luckily, the weekends make up for it, a feature that was sadly missing from The Sims. The weekends allow you to play catch up, or perhaps even lie around on a lazy Sunday watching movies and making out on the couch with your girl. This sounds a lot like my real life weekends, except without the "girl" part and having a couch.

Unfortunately, while the relationship options here outnumber The Sims, the game loses a lot of depth in other areas. Rather than cooking to become a better cook or working out to improve your physique, the Singles simply get an experience point at regular intervals that they can apply to any skill they want. Want a promotion? Just toss a point at your job. Lame. Want to meet some other Singles and hide a secret relationship or deal with jealousy? Forget about it. There’s no “playing the field” in Singles since there’s nobody on the field other than your two chosen characters, and they never leave the apartment except to work. Without any other goals or characters, there’s really only one way to play this game.

Well, I suppose there is one big goal: the dirty deed, the home run, nookie, bumpin’ uglies, knockin’ boots, the horizontal mambo…or as we used to call it in the third grade, sex. Get your Singles close enough and yes, you can make them do the nasty. Hop on the good foot and do the bad thing. Play locks'n'keys (yeah don't ask). Make Love.

Which, it turns out, is ironically anti-climactic (no comment). It’s actually less explicit than much of the rest of the game, as your Singles’ lower halves are always covered by a modest blanket. There’s no visible penetration, no erections, and only two positions: her on top or him on top (the same sex couples have the same two options, which, when you think about it, is ludicrous). There’s no oral sex, or games, or toys, or experimentation, or interesting positions. The rest of us know that sexual relationships evolve long past the first time you “do it.” Haven’t these people heard of the Kama Sutra? Basically it's very basic and very unworthy of an AO sticker. No foreplay? You mean no lovecuffs? Forget it!

Though the action is dissatisfying, the Singles look terrific. The system requirements might be pretty high, but they’re well used. The roommates feature incredibly detailed facial expressions and eye movements, not to mention all their fully-rendered naughty bits. How many polygons in that penis? Only the developers know for sure.

While the graphics are leaps and bounds beyond The Sims, the sound is nearly identical. Innocuous background music (except for the atonal opening song) provides a canvas for the incoherent babble that passes for conversation. The game may have been made in Germany, but the language is straight Alpha Centauri. Fortunately for everyone, the moans of pleasure are a universal language.

At the end of my relationship with Singles, I was only moderately satisfied with my new partner. The game looks hot and puts out, so if you just want a fling, it’s not a bad choice. But for a long term relationship, I need much more depth. She ain’t getting a ring, that’s for sure. I don't usually do one night stands but in this girls case, I'll make an exception.



+Nice graphics +Sex +Many options


-Boring Sex -No foreplay! -Sanchez? -No character creation -Depth?


A good one night stand

by Underdog 2004

Tuesday, 6 July 2004

Archive Review: DRIV3R

(PS2/Xbox Review)

Driven around the block.

I like driving in my car. Even if its actually not going very far. When I play DRIV3R, which is really Driver 3 to be precise, I tend not to go very far at all. In fact, I don't like driving. This is because DRIV3R is likely one of the most disappointing games to come out so far this year. It heads away from the areas that made the original Driver good and instead copies the mistakes of the weaker sequel Driver 2. It tries to go all "GTA'ish" and gives us third person roaming which is as badly implemented as it was in Driver 2. What is so strange, and annoying, about this is that DRIV3R comes from the original developers of the original title, Reflections.

The developers have taken no things and advanced no things here with DRIV3R. It is a jazzed up Driver 2 but with all the flaws of that poor game. For a start we have a downright tedious control system which is bad on both formats the game was made for. The Xbox version's works slightly better in terms of the controls, but only due to the controller design.

You reprise your role as the slightly crooked cop Tanner, who now is trying to crack an international stolen car ring. Your investigation takes you from the warm shores of Miami to the crusty French loaves of Nice and the narrow alleys of Istanbul, where you must navigate a complex web of confusing double-crosses, shady accomplices and plenty of brutal murders. The truth here is that the story is actually rather dull and just a cliche of bent cop inspired, Gene Hackman wannabe, men running around with shiny badges. It feels like the story from the movie Gone In 60 Seconds... but without Angelina Jolie! Enough said.

When you get into this game it doesn't take long to realise the playing field. It's a linear game set solely on linear missions. Without any of the freedom of games such as GTA: Vice City you drive around and take mission after mission. These consist of the usual old thing, chasing cars that seem to zoom ahead only to stop and mysteriously wait for you to catch up at the next corner, running about on foot taking on hordes of street punks, and getting chased yourself - either by cops or gangs. You get a map during this which allows you to make your own way to a destination which, as you can imagine, really impressed me. You can't freely roam around in this main mode (called Undercover mode) to the game though. What happens upon completing a mission is a cut-scene and then your automatically placed into a new area - to start a new mission. After playing games like the GTA series playing DRIV3R feels like returning to an old decrepit shed after spending a fortnight at the Hilton.

You will drive 70-80% of the time in this game and it will not be much different to the earlier games. The realistic physics are fun and cleverly implemented. You can powerslide around corners, ram into oncoming cars, and start a fight with a wall and lose in realism. It does have an arcade feel to it though and is made in a way where it seems more fun orientated than the original. Throughout this adventure through crowded roads your soon be cursing at one thing - the controls. They are quite simply one hell of an annoyance. Swerving in and out of traffic is hard enough, but struggling to keep you car going straight as it bucks like a bronco after hitting the smallest bump isn't so much fun as it is nerve-wracking. This really bogs down to the fact that you need to be in a good car to have a fun time. Although you get to drive all sorts of vehicles there are only ever a few you really want to be in.

On a slightly different note this game is one of the first I have played where the training level enemy element proved more of a challenge than the live games excuse for A.I. The automated wooden targets seemed better trained and more prepared for an encounter with player. The punks you come across in the streets of DRIV3R are about as tough as the traffic lights.

The Cop A.I is as bad. It is as if there is no true A.I in this game at all, just scripts and cut-scenes there to fool you into believing this lie. The boys in blue will either go out of their way to hunt you or will go out of their way to drive into walls and die. Sometimes they will get out of the police cars and run repeatedly into a wall, fence, tree, anything really. They will also shoot the for said structure, bang, bang, bang. They also have that amazing advantage that many enemies seem to rely so heavily on in games nowadays. That is unlimited ammunition. This is subjective to them though for when you kill one and take their gun it's always only got a few rounds left...

Really the only way around this issue is to hop into the game’s other modes. You can Take a Ride to explore any of the three big cities at your leisure, which is handy for learning the maps but somewhat pointless as there aren't’t really any goals or anything to act as incentives. A few driving games make a return, most notably the ruthless Survival mode in which you must dodge waves of cops for as long as possible, which proves to still be a fun diversion.

If you own a new controller then think twice before buying this. You will find it being constantly thrown to the floor in a mix of anger, despair, rage, and sheer frustration at this game. Sometimes its so easy you yawn, other times you can't help but ask if it was even playtested. The graphics for both versions are simply average. The textures are pretty basic but give the desired impression of a city without any real problems. They're just not anything more than acceptable. It all seems rather 32-bit to me though, old and hardly flattering.

The sound fares far better thanks to a high-profile assortment of celebrities voices, including Michael Madsen, Ving Rhames and Mickey Rourke. Most of the music is intended to match the feeling of the cut scenes and carries less weight during the action, but generally works well enough.

Even the replay system is bugged. Say you end up in some really cool looking crash and pause to go watch the replay of the collision. You can do this fine except there is one little nag. After viewing the replay the mission will end and you start again, from scratch. Why? Well, there is no obvious reason as to why. I assume it's a bug.

It's a real shame this game is so weak in virtually every area. It could have been so much better. If only they'd listened to the fans and implemented more detail but without feeling the need to throw in so many poor extra elements.



+Good damage modeling and physics +Moments of fun +Good voice acting


-Weak A.I -Archaic graphics -Overly linear -Weak control system -Buggy


Drive me home

by Joey T 2004