Ah, the sights and sounds of Game Stars Live. The persistent throng around the Halo 2 and Pro Evolution Soccer 4 stands; the persistent thong around the chiselled backsides of legions of rent-a-totty, as they squeeze up against gold chain-wearing chavs and get their picture taken; and of course the hotpants-wearing silicone adverts doling out PlayBoy merchandise to ten year-olds. We shall miss them all - assuming we don't wander back over at some point this weekend to pick up one of the man-size Spider-Man cutouts we forgot to collect before we left last night.
Fortunately, this Friday's releases are just about enough to satisfy our heightened lust for new things. We shall certainly throw some love at Second Sight, in particular, whose salacious psionics tickled us consistently and delivered something we've been after ever since we played the first TimeSplitters game: a proper, narrative-driven shooter from Free Radical Design. Don't get us wrong - we're looking forward to TimeSplitters Future Perfect as much as the next man - we just vastly prefer FRD's wonderfully honed play mechanics and art style to any other console shooter setup, and Second Sight took those and wrapped them around a varied and interesting tale and a set of abilities that also play to our other buzz du jour - 'throwaroundable enemies'. We should trademark that before EA does.
Second Sight is clearly the pick of the week's releases though, to return to topic, and we're not just saying that because we've been violently penetrated on a subconscious level by some sort of rampaging psychic wrongwang, either. In fact, we're impervious to the perverse practices of psychic and/or coked up marketing men. Beer would do it, admittedly, but Codemasters didn't even give us beer. Second Sight must be good, eh?
It's also a good week for fans of Vietnam. Or, er, actually, fans of Vietnam games. We doubt any actual veterans in the audience will be all that thrilled by the respective exploits of British publishers SCI and Eidos, but - they'll tell you - it's all harmless entertainment. Assuming the games are good, that is - we should have reviews of both ready for consumption in the next week or so. In the meantime, we've been trying to think of a new location for the world of war-based FPS games. World War II - it was a real event, apparently, according to Ubisoft's Brothers In Arms presentation - has clearly had its day, and even Vietnam is a bit long in the tooth after numerous tours of all the hotspots. And don't just run back to Mogadishu, developers, because you can get away with swarming but unthinking AI. Anybody got any suggestions? Minus five points to the first "Humans versus the Ants" comment. [Perhaps 'smarmageddon' - where I come in and punch you in the face for still writing about the ants despite promising you wouldn't? -Ed]
If you'd rather keep most of your money in your wallet this week though (perhaps you've been eyeing up the fairly impressive release list for the rest of September and October), another option would be Nintendo's Cube version of Wario Ware. Particularly if you never played the fabulous Game Boy Advance original, since this effectively builds on that, featuring largely the same 'micro-games' and a collection of sometimes-brilliant multiplayer modes. This column's favourite remains the "Ask the Doctor" one, where some toony-atrician stands there and demands one of the players complete a mini-game whilst doing something - like sticking his tongue out, laughing boisterously, or staring at one of the other players. The others are then encouraged to hammer the A button to applaud if they feel the 'patient' lived up to his remit. Remember: they can't stare at you if you hide behind the couch. Expert tip there.
Of course, taking a few steps back, if you haven't already bought the original GBA Wario Ware then you are to go out and buy that immediately. In fact: as well. And think about what you've done. We've played Second Sight and Psi-Ops, remember, so we'll know if you don't. Of course we can't really force you to go out and buy things (imagine if we could; we'd be an advertiser's dream), but hey. You might. You also might do well, Cube fans, to rush out, realise your mistake, rush back inside, open up a web browser, track down your favourite importer, and grab a copy of Pikmin 2, which has just spawned in the US following a few months of Japanese exclusivity. It's been reviewing better than the original from what we've seen, which is good news for any 'budding' plant-pickers in the audience.
So. Choose wisely, gentle shopper, and remember that there are plenty more treats to come between now and December 25th during the traditional "festive season". Burnout 3 is out next week, for example, and we love it dearly, and want the plastic PlayBoy lady we stole from Game Stars to bear its even-more-beautiful offspring. It is, in fact, the future. Next week, that is. And we'll see you there.
- PAL Releases
- Conflict: Vietnam (PS2, Xbox, PC)
- Crimson Sea 2 (PS2)
- Digimon Battle Spirit 2 (GBA)
- Megaman Battle Network 4: Blue Moon (GBA)
- Megaman Battle Network 4: Red Sun (GBA)
- Megaman Zero 3 (GBA)
- Ribbit King (PS2, Cube)
- Richard Burns Rally (PC)
- Second Sight (PS2, Xbox, Cube)
- Shellshock: Nam '67 (PS2, Xbox, PC)
- Spellforce Gold (PC)
- Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Party Game$ (Cube)
- World Championship Pool 2004 (PS2, Xbox, PC)
- Key US Releases
- Pikmin 2 (Cube)