That old adage about comic book games all being rubbish is certainly, well, an adage, but thanks to the efforts of developers like Neversoft, Treyarch and Capcom it's never likely to become a complete truth. Which is SUPER news for Marvel, whose trust in directors like Sam Raimi's also seen the one about comic book films all being rubbish take a hit too. Pity they decided to ruin things again by taking the beat-'em-up licence away from Capcom and giving it to EA - a company with, at the time at least, absolutely no real beat-'em-up credibility whatsoever.
We weren't optimistic enough to expect much, so we can't claim to be disappointed that Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (PS2, Xbox, Cube) is a travesty where all the characters have the same move commands, there are no combos, and the end boss is called Hope And Justice and you beat him by standing in a game shop in the mid-90s convincing people not to buy Marvel vs. Capcom, but we can at least make up unpleasant things about it and append them to the end of reasonable observations like we did just then. For the record, there is no Hope And Justice in Marvel Nemesis.
Elsewhere, it is actually a SUPER day for Marvel, because the two other Marvel-based games, Ultimate Spider-Man (PS2, Xbox, Cube, PC, DS, GBA) and X-Men Legends II Rise of Apocalypse (PS2, Xbox, Cube, PC, PSP) are to be praised. USM is gorgeous, cel-shady, and sounds like a fun and colourful extension of the occasional genius of Spider-Man 2, while X-Men Legends II has online modes and widely refines the hackandslashy action of the first. The common element here is the option to work with the bad guys. In X-Men Legends' case, you're fighting with the naughty mutants (Magneto et al), while in USM's case there are Venom missions where you have to eat people to avoid dying and plod around a bit. With no webbing it's not as entertaining, says the Internet, but we'd rather a game where you try to avoid biting your own arms off than one like Nemesis, where biting your own arms off is a much-missed feature.
Enough of that though. Dipping back in time, Empire today publishes Taito Legends (PS2, Xbox). "We are proud to have a company of such strong repute as Empire representing us," said Taito GM Hironori Ishii, "and trust they will do their best with this title," he added, presumably adopting the concerned vocal characteristics and down-the-nose head-tilting of an English teacher while doing so. You can get Bubble Bobble, Space Invaders, Rainbow Island, Operation Wolf, New Zealand Story and others all on one disc. That said, this being a month of Big Exciting New Games (BENG!), you might prefer to look to other tasty gaming treats like, I dunno, DRIV3R (GBA).
OOOOOOOOOR, maybe those wishing to take out their frustrations by killing indiscriminately and not while being smashed in the face by pop-up lamp-posts might prefer to take a look at BloodRayne 2 (PC, Xbox) or Serious Sam 2 (PC, Xbox). Sequels both, and neither's perfect, but SS2 probably has the edge - its particular brand or reactionary ultraviolence is the perfect vessel for ferrying aggression to the lands beyond your fingertips, and if there's a Revolution version it'll probably involve thrashing your arms and screaming lots. Although it'll probably lose marks, in that, for being too much like, oh I dunno, some rubbish game. BloodRayne 2, meanwhile, does lots of that anyway - it's as fine an example of half-vamp-women versus total-nazis as any of the others we've seen, which is to say it's better than the first game but not by a massive amount.
Finally on the PAL front, a quick word for SpyToy (PS2), Sony's odd little blend of CCTV and mini-games, which gives us another reason to try and work out where the EyeToy went after we got bored of SEGA SuperStars. Latest suggestion: inside a pillowcase. Also, moving overseas, nobody's likely to have an OBJECTION!!! to us mentioning Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (DS) again, especially since my copy's literally moved overseas. Having lent it to John so he could review it, he did, and then quicker than you (or indeed I) could say HOLD IT!!! he was off and away to Chicago. Git. Anyway, the game may be flawed and eccentric in places, but John's been furious with the adventure genre for an entire generation, so if it's compulsive enough for him to risk my calling in a favour at Interpol and having his plane hijacked, disassembled and the parts spread around Bermuda while he's forced to scrub all the saved data off my game card with a microscopic sponge and then himself disassembled and the parts spread around my house in some sort of agreeable floral arrangement, then it must be good. And is.
Join us again next week for more of the games which are good, hopefully.
- Blitzkrieg 2 (PC)
- BloodRayne 2 (PC, Xbox)
- Bratz Rock Angelz (PS2, Cube, Xbox, GBA)
- DRIV3R (GBA)
- Heart of Empire: Rome (PC)
- Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects (PS2, Xbox, Cube)
- Metal Slug 4 (PS2, Xbox)
- Serious Sam 2 (PC, Xbox)
- SpyToy (PS2)
- Taito Legends (PS2, Xbox)
- Ultimate Spider-Man (PS2, Xbox, Cube, PC, DS, GBA)
- Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (PS2, Xbox)
- X-Men Legends II Rise of Apocalypse (PS2, Xbox, Cube, PC, PSP)
Key US Releases
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (DS)
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