Monday, 16 August 2004

Archive Review: Catwoman

(PS2/Gamecube/Xbox review)

This cat has no lives.

It's funny how things attract to you. For some reason I tend to get a hold of really bad games. Or is it that I actually am meant to receive them? Providence? All I know is that the more I see it, the more it makes me laugh. EA have done it, yet again, and brought out a totally inept, shocking, and yet at the same time hardly surprising, computer game. Catwoman the game is about as good as the film, if not worse. This means, incase you are still not with me, that this game is one bad damn creation.

Here we have a classic case of the old formula - bad movie = worse computer game. But here the game is so bad it takes my memory sweeping back to the days of... The Mummy Returns! Charlie's Angels!

Catwoman is a third person action game. You play as the cat herself and get a whip. The Halle Berry factor is the "only" reason to consider picking this crap up. If you really like her then go see the weak movie. If you totally worship her, fetishistic-style, then maybe buying this game is worth it. This is simply due to the fact the main effort here it seems was put into modeling her body, and particularly her rear department.

This effort ended at this point. I guess EA went to the developers who created such evil pieces of gaming dung such as The Crow from the 1990's and asked them to do it again - make a lacking, flimsy, excuse for a game and get it made fast, ready for the movie release. So, those developers done it for EA again and made this infidellic mash, whilst likely doing pot and seeing the green triangles.

Where to start with this game... if it wasn't for the total lack of a challenge and absolutely terrible, totally linear, map design I might have given it more than 15 minutes of my time. But unfortunately the bugged, and wholly frustrating, camera system added to me grief, as did the lack of acceptable enemy A.I, and the boring locations. The game starts with a brief FMV sequence which explains the story to Catwoman and tries to make the implausible plausible. This sequence is probably as good as the film, it's the best bit of the game that's for sure.

You will find yourself sneaking around dark backstreets in this game within linear maps with no exploration factor. The third-person view is cursed by an example of a poor camera angle system. This is yet another game that fails to let you control the camera Splinter Cell style and this is totally stupid since the actual automatic camera system is so bugged you often can't see what your doing. It will spin around on a vertical pan and then stop, zoom in, and halt behind a corner of a wall your 're behind.

You will get to use a whip to hurl at parts of the terrain in order to swing around. This is one good factor and it can prove quite fun using it to glide around. But even this is hardly sound for the game requires you to negotiate some tough jumps. If you fall from a jump and die, you start again! After moving around a linear map for 10 minutes and then falling from a small jump from a box onto the floor and starting again you soon give up with this title.

The enemies you will encounter come straight from the selection of stock "streets of rage" punks, thugs, and random fat bosses. Why Catwoman is taking these guys on is not something you need worry about, or question! It is hardly clear, maybe the movie ties it all in? But you can't actually fight them freely. Instead you use the analogue stick of whatever of the consoles you play it on and the direction determines the move - kick, throw etc. The moves look impressive but the system is downright naff.

Not that the punks straight out of EA's designer bad guy catalogue need fancy moves to flaw them. The A.I is bordering on being taken away in a white van. These guys are dumb. They seem to be on some form of highly inducing drug. Even the bosses seem stoned, either just standing around doing nothing or running into you... and doing nothing.

But the stoned punks (the developers I mean this time) have one other card to stun gamer with. In Catwoman you can't kill the bad guys. Instead "EVERY" time one of them is stunned enough to not get back up you see a cut-scene of them scratching their head and either running away or somehow seeing the error of their ways and fading into non-existence. If you hurl one off a building they get back up, every time. If you beat one to a pulp (and you are dressed as a Dominatrix after all) they just recover.

The animation is fluid but this really is no big deal in the modern day scene. We want gameplay! (EA take note). There is a system in the game called Cat-Sense. Here you can go into a first-person view and paw icons or prints mark clues around the view you have within the map. These are meant to act as guidelines to what it is your meant to be doing. Personally I didn't need some eccentric system to tell me that I needed to "go to that door and open it", "swing from that obviously blatant pole", "push that big RED button" or just proceed down a linear and simple path!

The Cat-Sense feature seems to me like some pointless display in the games own simplicity. The developers have basically said to the gamer "hey look at how simple and basic this map is... see my linear creation in all it's clarity".

You collect "Bling" items whilst moving around Sonic style (rings). Why is another question, maybe to convince you there's a point to it all. Bling is a funny name to use too, word up da hommies' gonna get dem jewels yo!

This game is trash. It's total trash. The graphics are purely average, the sound is very poor with hideous music and a small amount of sound effects. The only reason I can see to why this might be worth buying is because you want to look at a digital Halle Berry's behind. Word of advice... subscription sites are a better deal than dishing out the cream for this cat.


+ Ass'tastic

- Linear

- Buggy camera

- Boring gameplay

- Weak combat

- (Crap)


I'm a dog man

By Joey T 2004

Sunday, 15 August 2004

Archive Review: Soldner: Secret Wars

(PC review)

Piece of...

Action games can be great fun. Just look at realistic military FPS games like Battlefield 1942, Joint Ops, and Raven Shield. I accept that they are more than often a case of love or hate but the fact is... someone always loves them. When I heard about Soldner: Secret Wars, Encore's new title which has been developed by Wings Software, I heard many particularly interesting rumours about what these intelligent, highly paid, professionals were planning. I heard that this FPS military game would offer destructible environments and even an ability to blow large craters into terrain which would stick on the map. I imagined this, if done well, would bring a great new potential into multiplayer gaming - the ability to create cover like soldiers are trained to do in real life through throwing grenades into fields and diving into the explosion's crater for some quick safety.

The computer game known as Soldner (pronounced zold-ner, apparently) also offered some neat other aspects that caught my attention. I was waiting for Joint Ops to come out but noticed how Soldner's team were managing to get some e-headlines with their boasts of the titles promising features. Without going too deeply into what they claimed, which was mostly the destructible elements, I can now see clearly that not one of the features made the final code.

I guess at this stage I better mention the story. This game has one and it's about as clever as a Tom Clancy novel. These "prophets" have forged a future where super powers of the world no longer need armed forces. Instead they use small groups of mercenaries and give them as many ex-soviet tanks and choppers as they need to wreak havoc in small, isolated, battles. It's just an excuse for small-scale warfare with jets thrown in.

Soldner is quite frankly a downright, classically and comically, bad computer game. Once you buy it the first thing you must do is download a patch to... get it to work. Enough said. So, once the patch is downloaded and your game is ready it's time to give it a try (being somewhat surprised by the forced patch download). The first thing you will experience is a German male shouting at you in some wild bellowing tone. After this the cheesy military themed music cranks into action, which meant I quickly turned the music off. I then fiddled with the basic options screen and entered the training mode.

Normally in training modes you get an outline of what your meant to do and learn. Soldner takes this system, and..., well it actually just takes it. What Soldner offers is a completely unexplained tutorial that you, the player, will have absolutely no idea about. So I just ran about the abandoned warehouse and fired a few shots before stumbling across a plank of wood that brought up an option to play a mission. Wow I thought...

The list of missions was completely un-inspired and lackluster. For example in most games of this type the missions are given fancy names and flashy briefings. Raven Shield was a prime example of this. Instead of this Soldner is not afraid to be blunt with you. The mission is to "destroy a radar dish in China" so by heck that's all you need to know. Son, go destroy a radar dish in China. You click accept (like you would deny it) and your soldier spawns into the middle of a map. Before this point you get to customise your soldier. You can select what "he" wears and this is actually quite in-depth, including an ability to select armour, camo netting, boots, hats, all sorts. The actual outcome always resembles some modern day mercenary, so don't go trying to forge some comical yet "l33t" look, you can't with the options offered. Funny thing here is that there are all sorts of old ex-Nazi Germany garments to be had. You can make yourself out to look like an SS troop quite easily. This Nazi aspect has no links to the story, it's just a little addition. Apparently people like dressing up as the Hun in multiplayer games. (I have a skin pack for Counter Strike that makes the terrorists various evil henchmen).

The tried and true Evil-Soviet look

The single player is terrible. The missions are basic and easy. I went and found that radar dish and destroyed it and completed the mission with almost no effort needed. There is some attempt, well I think, of enemy A.I though. I noticed at one stage whilst heading for the dish a bunch of characters hanging around the immediate area. I let them live since they didn't seem too bothered about my Western Ass turning up in a killer jump suit and planting some TnT on their evil radar dish. Maybe the A.I likes getting their base pWn3eD!

I tried multiplayer out, which is the real point to the game. Two factors came into mind here. The first was that there were only about 30 or so active players on when I tried it. This was not a huge problem though as they were mostly all in one server. I entered the game and the second factor hit me. The small amount of players I had come across were literally all German or Swedish "l337 r0x0r Ub3r" players who were likely all trying to hack each other at the same time as playing the game. The framerate was so low it was almost non-playable and the lag was extreme. Even ignoring this I gave the game a go and realised that there was some "economy" system that worked like Counter Strike. You make money by killing and buy guns with money at the spawn point for your team. Personally I just didn't have the incentive quite explained to me to play on some laggy server like this for 5 hours only to then be able to have enough to buy some big gun. I didn't care.

The combat was basic and hardly impressed me. No iron sights, no real feeling of realism in the physics or bullet impact. You just drill. The sound is at least acceptable. The draw distances are too narrow to offer long range sniping and there is no real point here doing anything more and strafe shooting and bunny hopping in and out of cover.

There are vehicles in this game and the truth is simple - you either drive or pilot something or die. There is no point being on foot, what-so-ever. the coding is so bad that you don't seem to be able to kill anyone. The bullets fail to register, the framerate adds to your hellish gaming experience, and then some hacker-kid flies over your face with a Jet fighter. Soldner, you can tell I love it!

During my tour of duty the talk bar consisted of such good team talk as;

-Antonio_l33t-101st: How do I get a jet?

-No Hold Bars: Blow me and I will tell you!

-_'_: You're so fUx0red, stop talking like a fUx0rerzing poser and go home, ub3r-n00b

-Antonio_l33t-101st: F*ck you lamer

This riveting example of team co-ordination is just another feather that must be rightfully added to the hat that makes up Soldner: Secret Wars. My theory is that the name says it all. This is a "Secret" war, and only those dumb, or unlucky, enough to fall into this manhole of depravity will ever be able to account for the low frame-per-sec carnage.



+expensive, yet effective, screen saver.


-very bad graphics

-very bad gameplay

-very weak story

-bugs, issues, patches, stability, "uber boys"


Keep it a secret

by Pai Mai 2004