Given the current political climate, you'd think that a game about a relatively inept bunch of soldiers being visibly shot to pieces in your back garden would be rather a hot topic. And yet, strolling down to the newsagent this morning to buy some crumpets, we discovered that games like The Suffering, and not Army Men: Sarge's War, were gracing the front page of a certain reactionary newspaper under a banner of Ban These Evil Games (and, curiously, a picture of a Swedish football manager).
Joining The Suffering on the cover were a number of old trusties including Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto, but, equally puzzling to us, we also saw Doom III on there. How, this column feels compelled to demand, is the process of mastering the efficient slaughter of Satan's most fiendish minions anything less than a crucial life skill? What happens if hell really does break loose and we're forced to try and crush them with our feeble My Little Pony related first-person grooming skills and our experiences of team-based not-having-sex-before-marriage? What will we do then?
Still, with Doom III still a fortnight away, we're going to leave that one for now. The other abovementioned games though - Army Men: Sarge's War and The Suffering - should be out this week, on PS2 and PC respectively, although they're not joined by too many others. If we had to pick a particularly evil game for the weekend out of the two, we'd go for The Suffering. Shameless linearity aside, it has some clever ideas, nicely executed (yep) from time to time, and although it plods a bit in the middle it's still worth playing if you like grime, gore and cheesy "It could be real" style documentary extras that probe the recesses of disused and supposedly haunted American prisons. (And if they cut that out of the PC version, take it back and buy Manhunt.)
Alternatively, if you own a GameCube and nowt else, this is the week that you can finally get your hands on Ubisoft's celebrated Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. This writer doesn't like Splinter Cell at all, so you'll get no feeble attempts to convince you of its worth out of What's New this week, but obviously if you liked the first Splinter Cell, this is what our yankee cousins would refer to as a "no-brainer". After all, what else are you going to buy? Another copy of Twin Snakes? You can't even buy Manhunt on the GameCube!
Xbox owners, meanwhile, (who can buy Manhunt) also have only one option this week as far as we can see - Take-Two's budget-priced Wings of War, out on the PC and the black box. Now, we haven't played this, nor do we know anything about it other than it has a biplane on the cover and costs less than 20 notes, but our exhaustive research (we read the blurb) indicates that it includes "All of the deadly drama and intense aerial duels of World War I" and that it is both high speed and high intensity, which admittedly makes it sounds like pogo stick-based pornography, but nevertheless implies that it involves arcade-style dogfighting rather than the other kind.
Of course, we'd be fools if we didn't qualify that last comment by pointing out that Xbox owners can also still buy the exceptionally enjoyable Live-enabled Crimson Skies: High Road To Revenge (home to "swashbuckling" and "the thrills of low to the ground air combat") for around the same price, and that owners of PS2, Xbox and PC can still get their hands on the arguably even better Secret Weapons Over Normandy for a bit more (or an absolute pittance on the PC). And since that's about World War II and features "daring" missions, surely that trumps both of the others.
Finally this week, there's Formula One 2004 on the PS2, which, rather like this column, is about one man's brilliance in the face of non-stop antagonism from his superiors and the people who govern his profession. This one features all the latest official data and tracks, PS2 Online-based ghost cars, and seems to be getting relatively positive reviews. That is, however, something of a moot point, because the 40 pounds we were going to spend on games was swallowed up earlier this week when we accidentally penetrated Ken Livingstone's inner circle and got whacked with a fine. Something to do with 'congestion', apparently, which we took as a compliment.
Anyway, in conclusion, buy Manhunt. (Actually, don't - it was too much even for us.) And have a nice weekend.
- PAL Releases
- Army Men: Sarge's War (PS2)
- Formula One 2004 (PS2)
- The Suffering (PC)
- Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow (Cube)
- Wings of War (PC, Xbox)
- Key US Releases
- There are no keys in America.