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since 07/12/2000


Sega Rally (Sega Saturn) 03/07/2002

Who taught YOU how to drive

Sega Rally (Sega Saturn) Rallying. In recent years, the ancient art of driving a car around the world in hazardous conditions has really caught on in gamers’ minds, and the recent flurry of PS2 rallying titles (the highlight of which is the awesome WRC, incidentally) indicate that videogame rallying may soon overtake Formula 1 as the dominant motorsport on games consoles. Not hard to see why, of course – rallying is a far more down and dirty sport than Formula 1 will ever be, and there’s only so much you can do with the F1 courses every year. So, has rallying always been so popular on games consoles? No. And its origins can be traced back to a certain little arcade game… AM3’s Sega Rally in the arcade really showed that when it came to arcade racing games, no one could beat Sega. The graphics were awesome, and the racing action was out of this world. But how would the Saturn handle a conversion of this game when Daytona, another arcade conversion, had turned out to be such a graphical mess? No one need have worried – Sega Rally on Saturn is as close to perfect as Sega Saturn arcade conversion get. We’ll get the graphics out of the way first. Sega Rally is, minus a lower resolution and some missing transparency effects, arcade perfect. The game runs at a phenomenal 30 frames per second, meaning it looks super smooth. The graphics are very bright – just like the arcade version, and pop is minimal – you’ll only see scenery pop-up once or twice in the whole game! The car models are nicely detailed ...

Mission: Impossible (N64) 28/06/2002

Mission Inoperable

Mission: Impossible (N64) Ah, the IMF. For many years I was under the impression that the espionage carried out by the Mission: Impossible team was for the good of the International Monetary Fund, until I played this game on the Nintendo 64, and realised IMF stood for Impossible Mission Force. Makes more sense, of course – I never could work out why the IMF was spying rather than lending out money – but doesn’t conjure up quite the same mental image. A mental image that was further damaged by the rather poor film, and finally laid for dead by this utterly appalling spy sim. Ocean always did have a hard task ahead of it, of course. GoldenEye had been released on the Nintendo 64, showing gamers that film licenses need not be pale imitations of the film itself, but excellent games in their own right. No amount of tweaking could have made Mission: Impossible a better film license than GoldenEye, but Ocean could have at least tried to make a decent game. Mission: Impossible is utter tripe. I could, of course, leave this review here – I wasted several hours of my life completing this game, why waste more writing this opinion on it? But I was always told that arguments needed to be supported by evidence, and so here is my step-by-step account of why Mission: Impossible is so bad. I’m not the sort of person who rates graphics highly – I own a Saturn, for crying out loud. Yet the graphics on Mission: Impossible deserve special mention not because they’re so bad, but because they’re so lazily done. ...

Blast Corps (N64) 28/06/2002

Runaway Nuclear Truck seeks Building

Blast Corps (N64) There are some jobs that I would simply love to have. Being supreme dictator of the World is probably the most obvious one but sometimes, when I have a less inflated opinion of myself, I like to picture myself in the job of Blast Corps’ designer. I can picture the scene now. Gathered together with the Rare software development team, I attempt to explain the premise of my game: “Well, you see, this nuclear-weapon carrying truck leaks, and so the steering wheel jams, and you have to save the world by preventing any collisions between the truck and buildings.” “And how do you prevent these collisions?” asks the manager. “Simple – you destroy the buildings”. Perhaps a better job for the designer of Blast Corps would be Supreme Dictator of the World, although on this evidence, I’d hate to see the mess he’d make of it. But regardless of Blast Corps’ weak story line, this is one of the finest Nintendo 64 gaming moments around. As I explained in my little story above, the premise of Blast Corps is to prevent a catastrophic nuclear explosion (as opposed to a non-catastrophic one, I guess), thus saving the free world. The method of doing this is to destroy any buildings that stand in the truck’s path, which, as the radiation has fused the steering wheel in a straight position and the doors tightly shut, cannot be brought under control. To aid the destruction of the buildings, you are provided with a number of different vehicles, ranging from construction vehicles to huge ...

Sonic Jam (Sega Saturn) 27/06/2002

Welcome to Sonic land

Sonic Jam (Sega Saturn) Everyone remembers Sonic the Hedgehog on the old MegaDrive. The little blue, spiked mammal with attitude, who just happened to bear no resemblance to the humble hedgehog at all, became a huge success across the world, and gave Sega the mascot it needed to tackle Nintendo head on. The hedgehog seemed to represent the difference between consoles - Mario was the slow plodding Nintendo, solid but unadventurous; Sonic was the dynamic Sega, reckless but cool. He sold Megadrives in the early 90s alright, but just how does he fare up today? This is where Sonic Jam comes in. You could, of course, get the old Megadrive out and play the old games. But that can pose problems - do you have all the games? Do the pads still work? Can you bear the poor quality picture from the Megadrive's RF lead? And what if the games weren't as good as you remember them? What if they were subject to slowdown, flickering, or a poor learning curve? What you need is Sonic games as you remember them, not as they were - what you need is Sonic Jam. Sonic Jam consists of all 3 sonic games - Sonic 1, Sonic 2 and Sonic 3, as well as the add-on cartridge, Sonic and Knuckles. Sold with just thess, Sonic Jam would be well worth your money. But wait - there's more. Sonic Jam comes with it's own, very impressive, 3D gameworld. Although the sub-games within the gameworld aren't exactly Mario 64-beating, you will play them, just to find the secrets. What the gameworld does offer, however, are little museums, each ...

Virtua Cop 2 (Sega Saturn) 30/05/2001

Please don't shoot!

Virtua Cop 2 (Sega Saturn) I must admit to having a very poor human rights record. You see, I have the annoying habit of shooting innocent civilians in the head, even when they beg me not to. Needless to say, this plays havoc with my reputation. Fortunately, the killing in this case is confined to Virtua Cop 2, a light gun game on the Sega Saturn. You get a plastic gun, in this case modelled nicely on the actual Sega arcade light gun, and you point it at the TV. Should your aim be accurate, the enemies will die by a mystical force that is invisible to the human eye. I have no idea how a light gun works, but I like them! Virtua Cop 2, however, has to rate as the finest light gun game ever, and there are a number of reasons why. Firstly, this game has you shooting terrorist. Call me sick, but it is a lot more pleasurable killing humans than it is killing zombies (House of the Dead) or Koopas (Yoshi’s Safari). It also brings up the scenario described above, where innocent civilians get caught up in your gun battles, and have to be avoided at all costs. This element adds a little bit of thought to the proceedings. Just a little, mind… The graphics are also nice. They are solid, bright and atmospheric – a reverse of trend for most Saturn games. There are also a multitude of incidental animations, such as rocking chandeliers, bursting melons and smashing glass, and this helps to add to the immersive feel of the game. Animation of the characters is also quite good, with the enemy ...

Perfect Dark (N64) 18/04/2001

This is the new God

Perfect Dark (N64) In 1997, Rare's GoldenEye 007 game showed the world that first person shoot em ups could work on a games console. The game provided amazing graphics and superlative game play, and went down as the best console shooter - possibly even the best first person shooter full stop. Now, however, Rare have launched Perfect Dark - and it's in direct competition with GoldenEye. How will it fare? And can it possibly better GoldenEye? The first thing that hits you is the quality of the quality of the graphics. Right from the start, with a spinning Nintendo Cube morphing into the PD logo, you know this is going to be special. The menu screen is unbelievable - in effect, you wander around an entire building, accessing computer terminals to enter the different game modes. While you're there, though, you can engage in the training mode, which consists of holographic training, a shooting range and a hover bike. Quite a range, I'm sure you'll agree. Perfect Dark's training mode is the best you'll see, putting Half Life's to shame. While wandering the building, you get a real sense of scale, as employees will come up to chat to you, or try and get about their daily business. This further adds to the feeling of realism. All this, and we haven't even started the game! This game requires an expansion pak to run properly, and the effect is instantly obvious: in h-res mode, this game makes the Dreamcast's finest look old hat. It really is beautiful. Lighting effects are amazingly done, floors ...

WWF No Mercy (N64) 13/04/2001

Another wrestling game

WWF No Mercy (N64) WWF No Mercy is a wrestling game. You know the type: half naked men grapple with each other until one of them gets tired, and the other can then pin them down on the floor for 3 counts to win the match. There are already more N64 wrestling games than N64 owners (maybe a slight exaggeration), so what makes WWF No Mercy stand out from the crowd? Firstly, it's the most up-to-date WWF wrestler out there, and new favourites like Tazz, Rikishi and Kurt Angle are included. It also has more options than it's predecessors, and the theme music has been updated. So, like the FIFA series, the stats have been updated - but what abut the game? Graphically, it's a mixed bag. The wrestlers are nicely done, but polygon joins are poorly hidden, creating an action-figure look. The sad excuse for entrance vidoes constitute a two-framed animation of the wrestler in question, using very blurry photographs. The wrestling arenas are, though, very nicley done - the ring, backstage, carparks and specialist arenas such as the cage, are all very nicley done. The only problem here is the two-frame animation crowds, which look sighly dodgy. The entrance music has been included for the wrestlers, although they are cut-down versions. The music played while wrestling is truly awful - wrestling fans are recommended to put a WWF audio CD on during the matchs. Grunts are nicely done, though. As for speech - forget it. Speech bubbles are used instead - they look tacky and slightly camp, but are at least ...

Wipeout 64 (N64) 15/03/2001

The future of racing is here

Wipeout 64 (N64) To be honest, I had doubts about buying WipEout 64. The PlayStation versions were renowned for their crisp, clear graphics, and fantastic sound tracks. On the Nintendo 64, however, how would these graphics fare after the texture blurring process? And surely those soundtracks will disappear? Wrong. Graphically, WipEout 64 is superior to both the original WipEout and WipEout 2097, although it looks nowhere near as good as the recent WipEout 3. The textures are crisp, and the frame rate is smooth. However, there is certainly a low polygon count at play, as many of the cliff faces and stadia look quite rectangular. Possibly the biggest issue with the graphics, though, is the awful pop-up. In WipEout 64's case, you can often see the track drawing itself up ahead, which is quite disconcerting when entering what appears to be a short tunnel, and finding out it is longer than you thought. However, the PlayStation versions also suffered dreadful pop-up, and so I feel obliged to ignore it for this conversion. So, what about the sound? Amazingly, the music HAS remained intact. The Propellorheads and Fluke have both provided "proper" music to the game, and compression experts PC Music have also provided some. The quality is superb, mainly due to the large amount of compression on the cartridge. The compromise: there is actually a loading time while the music decompresses, and the output is in mono. Although the loading time is only about 5 seconds, it is all the more noticeable due ...

V-Rally 2 (PlayStation) 01/01/2001

Easy left into medium right

V-Rally 2 (PlayStation) V-Rally 2 is the sequel to V-Rally, a game that received mixed reviews when it came out on PlayStation a few years ago. The problem with the original V-Rally was the erratic handling - simply clipping a piece of scenery would cause your car to spin out of control. While practise made avoiding these collisions easier, few people bothered, and V-Rally was soon bettered by the likes of Colin McRae. So what about it's sequel? Well, for starters, it is graphically awesome. The cars themselves are modelled in high resolution, and come complete with see-through windscreens and personalised number plates. In replay mode, you can even see the drivers moving about within the car. Depending on the mode you are in, your car can be affected by damage. This looks extremely realistic, far better than Colin McRae's damage system. The course graphics are well detailed, and the serious pop-up of the original game has now virtually disappeared. However, the graphics for the courses are quite low-resolution, giving them a "gritty" sort of look. While the graphics here are nowhere near as good as those for McRae or Gran Turismo, they are by no means bad, and still look very realistic. Looks-wise, then, V-Rally is a winner. This winning look is carried on through the presentation. Loading bars are replaced by a heart beat graph (you know, the ones on the start of casualty), and menu screens are in high-resolution. It does take some time for them to load, though, especially of you have the ...

Dual Shock Analog Controller 30/12/2000

PlayStation Dual Shock vs N64 Pad

Dual Shock Analog Controller The Nintendo 64 Pad Vs The PlayStation Dual Shock Pad ROUND ONE - ERGONOMICS PlayStation's Dual Shock Pad feels far firmer in the hand. It is heavier, the plastic feels sturdier and the fit is simply more comfortable. However, the Nintendo 64's pad has the advantage of three prongs. What this basically means is that there are three different ways of holding the pad, therefore offering different levels of comfort depending on if you are left or right handed. As far as button layout is concerned, both pads have their advantages and disadvantages. PlayStation offers 4 "Action" buttons in a diamond layout, combined with 4 shoulder buttons, 2 on each side. This diamond layout of buttons is farily common, as it is shared by the SNES, Dreamcast and, to some extent, the Nintendo 64. The four shoulder buttons, though, are innovative. The bottom one is made larger, as it is harder to find, showing good farsight from Sony. The use of four shoulder buttons instead of two also means there is far more option for in-game control, and takes the load off the action buttons, as overuse of these require an uncomfortable finger layout. Nintendo 64 has only two action buttons. While this may sound like a serious disadvantage, it is not at all. For starters, the N64 pad also comes complete with four "camera" buttons, set out in the diamond shape. While these are smaller then both the N64's and PlayStation's action buttons, they are still responsive, and can be used without problem for ...

Nokia 3210 29/12/2000

Sex bomb

Nokia 3210 The Nokia 3210 is the most attractive phone on the market. It has style, sophistication and a wealth of features. Each network tailors it's phones ever so-slightly, so I will be placing focus onto my own Orange 3210e, but obviously the majority of this article applies to the Nokia 3210 range as a whole. First things first, though. How does the Nokia 3210 look? Well, in my opinion, it is very sexy. It has a very large screen, an internal aerial, a two-colour front and plastic buttons. The Nokia 3210 comes in a number of colours - BT, Vodaphone and One2One tend to use grey covers in their packages, Orange use blue. The blue fascia is gorgeous: it has a textured, grained finish, and appears to be very sturdy. The fascias also have a silver border around the screen, which looks excellent. The back of the Nokia 3210 is black. Unlike it's predecesor, the 5110, the 3210's battery is not part of the back cover. The obvious adavnatge of this is that now the back covers can be changed as well. The plastic buttons are also a boon, as they are far more responsive then rubber ones. They are also nicely done - although they look black when the phone is idle, the backlight shines through and makes them look green while the phone is being used. The internal aerial s great, as you will no longer have the inconvienience of an aerial. Which is a way of saying this is a bit of a gimmick, but it doesn't half make the phone look good. The Nokia 3210 interface is the best I've seen in ...

Grand Theft Auto (PlayStation) 29/12/2000

Not one to show your parents

Grand Theft Auto (PlayStation) Grand Theft Auto looks likea Mega Drive game. It is a hideous mess, pixellated, flat graphics are combined with awkward stick men and badly drawn cars. Yet it is also one of the most addictive games you can play. Vitually everyone knows GTA's premise - drive around and break the law to earn money, respect - and the next level. It is simple and effective. The graphics may be bad, but they do a fair job of conjuring up a busy city. Sound wise, GTA is excellent. The music tracks are very good, and play like they were on the radio, complete with news broadcasts, trafiic reports and break-up as you pass under bridges. This attention to detail makes up for the lack of graphical. The game is very fun, but can get boring. The problem here is that to get to the next level you need to make an awful lot of money, which means it takes hours to advance to the next level. The chnaces are, you'll more likely play the game as a quick blast from time to time. Either way, it doesn't matter. It's not a game for everyone. Sensitive people may be put off by it's "mature" content, others will get a thrill form it. At £20 Platinum, though, you can afford to find out.

Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation) 29/12/2000

Kills all sense of time

Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation) Final Fantasy VII is a very large game. It spans 3 discs, and has a lifespan of 80 hours - although it took me a lot longer to complete it. Final Fantasy VII is a role playing game. This means you take control of a number of characters through a heavily story driven adventure. Plot is crucial in these games, and Final Fanatsy VII has one hell of a plot, and in true movie style, it thickens through the game. The basic premise, though, is that you command a group of warriors on their search for Sephiroth, a soldier gone bad. There's a lot more too it than that, though, but it would be a shame to ruin the experience by describing the plot here. Graphcally, the game is outstanding. Pre-rendered backdrops are used for the most part, and these look stunning. Some look computer computer generated, and others look hand drawn. It all adds to the atmosphere. When combat is initiated, the graphics go into real time mode (ie. PlayStation's own graphical power), and while these are a bit pixellated, they have a sort of gritty realsim to them that the pre-rendered scenes and characters lack. Final Fantasy's combat system is also worthy of note. Basically, a time bar fills up in the corner of the screen. When this is full, the character can attack, using weapons, magic or items. This cross between turn-based and real time combat works very well, and is a strong compromise between traditional turn-based RPGs and the combat style in the Zelda series. Sound adds to the ...

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (PlayStation) 29/12/2000

Never heard of him, but love the game

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (PlayStation) Tony Hawks Skateboarding is easily one of the best games on the Sony PlayStation. The premise of the game is that you choose one of a number of skateboarders, take them to a skate park, and perform tricks for points. However, pulling off tricks is far from easy, and it is here where the pull of the game arises. The 4 action buttons on the left of the pad are used to pull grinds, grabs, spins and jumps. When combined with the D-Pad, the possibilites are almost endless. Then, however, you can link more than one move together. These linked-moves, called combos, increase the score you get for pulling the stunts. Eventually, you will leap onto a rail, grind across it, pull a linked grab/flip, and then continue grinding onto the next rail. Not surprisingly, this game requires hard work, but rewards it tenfold. Graphically, the game is lush. There is some pop up, but the arenas are well detailed and full of incidental detail. The skateboarders are very well detailed. The graphics obviously coem down a peg for two player, although surprisingly it suffers little - only a shorter draw-distance sets the two apart. Sound is also excellent, performed by real bands. Superman ranks as one of the best tunes in the game, but all are worthy of a listen - you won't be putting on a CD over this game! The sound of grinds, and the way each surface sounds different when ridden over, show an amazing attention to detail. The career mode is the highlight of the game. Here, it s your aim ...

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (PlayStation) 28/12/2000

One for the family

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (PlayStation) Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is a strange game. On one hand, it is hard to dismiss soemthing that so accurately represents the TV gameshow. On the other, it hardly offers the same sort of pull that something like Gran Turismo has. So should you buy Millionaire? Well, as a part game, Millionaire succeeds brilliantly. Most of the multiplayer games require only one pad regardless of the number of players, meaning that 4 player games don't require 4 pads and the multi-tap. The quick fire round does require a pad for each player, but as this is only an option, it is not neccessary to own more than one pad to play. The game mimics brilliantly the format of the show. The studio is rendered in 3D, although you'll be staring at a computer screen most of the time. Control is intuitive: D-Pad moves the cursor, X selects you're answer, and Circle brings up the Life-Line screen. Chris Tarrant is on hand for the vocal talents, and has actually done a superb job. The annoying "are you sure" questions are, fortunately, still there. Phone a Friend is also worthy of note. The friend's answers are actually stored on the disc, and there are quite a few comical regional accents. These enforce the image that this is a true British game - PAL Millionaire could quite well have been a rehash of an American version. There are, of course, problems. Firstly, the slow-paced gameplay does not lend itself to repeated play. This is certainly a game that will only come out at parties and ...
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