Everybody already knows Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved is brilliant. It's all wireframe, neon, mad fuzzy, whizzy stuff that's looks beautiful. It's insanely and increasingly intense, and everybody knows it's brilliant. So how do you make it better? After it originally appeared within Project Gotham and become an instant classic on Xbox Live Arcade, where can Bizarre Creations take it next? Well actually they're not taking it anywhere. Someone else is. Vivendi Games and Kuju Entertainment are. They're taking it to the Nintendo Wii and DS, creating a sequel of sorts called Geometry Wars: Galaxies.
Smash Court Tennis 3
Hot Pixel is a collection of super-short mini-games that borrows almost all of its design from Wario Ware Inc. In case you were in any doubt as to how far Hot Pixel borrows from Nintendo's Wario Ware, the game spells it out at the very start: "get what to do... find how to do it... finally perform!" That's how, according to the opening video, you play Hot Pixel, and, you may recall, it's how you play Wario Ware too. You wait for your next mini game; you try to work out what to you're supposed to do, and how to do it, and in the next five or six seconds you do it.
It's a little known fact about me that I came fifth in my year at the University of Oxford. That's something that only my close family and a few friends know. It's not something that I boast about down the pub, after a few beers. It's also not something I slip into any conversation with any stranger at the earliest available opportunity. And it's certainly not something I'd ever dream of boasting about to a few million people on the internet under the guise of commencing a videogame review. But yes, if you must know, I got the fifth highest first class degree in the school of modern history in 1997. And everyone knows you can't get better than fifth. And that was back when exams were difficult. So obviously I'm massively clever. Or massively good at history.
Free things are great, right? I mean, they're free! Except a lot of free things are free because you wouldn't pay money for them. Like all those papers they give out on the stairs while you're trying to get the tube in London. And at least half of all the free games on the internet. So you'd be forgiven for feeling a little bit sceptical when you hear that there's a new matchmaking website called SkillGround that reckons it's offering retail-quality games, for free, that you can play against other people for real money.
You might remember a game called Resident Evil 4. You might remember it because when it came out on the GameCube it was an instant action classic, reinvigorating the Resident Evil series and bringing it right up to date with a massive bang (and then a sort of slippery noise as an exploded head drenched the floor). Then, when it came out on the PlayStation 2 with extra content, it took one look at the law of diminishing returns and gave it a massive roundhouse kick to the head, to became even more of an action classic, full of moody camera-cuts, conspiracy-theory cultists, shambling, leprous villagers, and some of the most heart-stopping set-pieces and frantic firefights in videogame history.
This unlikely alliance between the biggest creators of family entertainment and the most notable creator of apparently drug-addled videogames turns the original Meteos on its head. By which I mean, you have to hold your DS vertically, like a book (or a brain training game) to play it. Apart from that, and a handful of other differences, this is the original Meteos that you know and love, wrapped up with artwork and characters from various Disney films that you know and love. Which is a lot of love.
PSP Game Roundup
Wartech is one of those 2D shooting games that's unlikely to trouble the upper reaches of western sales charts, in spite of the rave reviews it received in its native Japan. Originally developed for Sega's Naomi arcade board, then given a few upgrades, then released on Xbox 360, it's now coming out over here thanks to Ubisoft's impressive eye for quality.
Having transformed its free-roaming motoring franchise into a Driv3r-shaped car crash of almost epic proportions, Atari attempted to put things straight with last year's Parallel Lines. Unfortunately the steering was still slightly off, and it wasn't quite enough to redeem a racing game that had become a write-off. Enter Ubisoft and $24 million dollars, and now, less than a year later, arrives the latest attempt to breathe life into the still-ailing brand: Driver 76. It's a prequel to the previous game, and as the title suggests, it dispenses with the dual-timeline structure of that game, sticking with New York in 1976 instead.
First impressions? Familiarity. Well, that and the fact that at 900MB it takes a while to download. When it's finished downloading and you first pick up your pad to play the Halo 3 beta, your first thoughts will probably be that the game looks, and feels, like Halo 2 (and, come to that, the original Halo). The maps feature a visually similar mix of arctic wastes and red sandstone gulches. Your initial payload is the same assault rifle that served so well in the first game. The controls are only subtly different. And the range of play modes is pretty similar to Halo 2. Clearly then, this is another case of combat evolved. That's no bad thing, of course. Indeed it has one key advantage, which is that the first two Halo games were brilliant, especially in multiplayer, and if it ain't broke don't fix it. But it does mean that it takes a while before the various new additions begin to make themselves felt.
What a brilliant sales pitch: "Feeling lonely and bored?" asked the email newsletter. Of course I am! I'm sitting at my computer, aren't I? I'm reading a newsletter about import games, aren't I? Well then, the email went on, why not check out some newly available English-translated Japanese Adult Dating Games? Why not indeed? Up until now, if you wanted to feed your Hentai videogame fix you'd have to brush up on your kanji and search out seedy game stores in the side streets of Akihabara. Not any more. In recent years, companies such as Peach Princess and JAST USA have been making English-language eroge (as it's also known) available to American gamers. Now, Play-Asia is making them easily available to us European lot.
Microsoft's preview event at the Raceway Docklands allowed Eurogamer to get its hands on Forza Motorsport 2. First though, there was an opportunity to sit down with the series Game Director, Dan Greenawalt.
The night before going to see Forza Motorsport 2 I ran nine miles. It was fairly tough. But not, as I was to discover, as tough as the all-over body and cardio-vascular workout you get from driving for 20 minutes round the UK's biggest indoor karting track, which is where Microsoft decided to show off the game to a bunch of games journalists. Fortunately, Forza 2 is rather more forgiving, in spite of its hardcore simulation credentials. In fact, speaking in one of the raceway's swanky corporate-hospitality meeting rooms, Game Director Dan Greenawalt declares: "The goal of this game is to really turn gamers into car lovers and turn car lovers into gamers and create a really big community that gets excited about games and excited about cars."
Once upon a time, Burnout games were about driving fast and close to the edge. They were literally about the burnout: successive speed boosts triggered by following a racing line that steered perilously close to the path of danger for far longer than was sensible. With the third game in the series, the focus shifted away from this knife-edge racing line and towards a brash blend of bumper-car takedowns and slo-mo vehicular violence. It didn't make the games any less enjoyable, but it certainly made them different. Burnout Dominator, however, turns the clock back a little. While it does take some of the design sensibilities from Takedown, it blends them with the return of the burnout to create a game that's not half bad.
You'd almost think the folk at Activision are a bit paranoid to judge by their demo of Spider-Man 3, what with the controller being snatched away at various points and the console getting switched off with a dramatic flourish at the end of the presentation. However, it's not the folk at Activision who are paranoid, but the folk at Sony Pictures, who are at pains to make sure that no grubby games journalist is going to spill the plot secrets of its forthcoming summer blockbuster. That's because Spider-Man 3 is, like its predecessors, based closely upon the events in the film.
The last time Eurogamer looked at SEGA Rally it was little more than a tech demo. This time around it looked a bit more like a fully-fledged game. That's partly because this time they were showing off the game's 'adaptive AI' and 'bumper to bumper close competitive racing'. Along with the persistent track deformation that they wowed us with the last time, the super-detailed, lushly tropical visuals, and a physics engine that's been developed internally from the ground up, it's a mix that SEGA's new Racing Studio hopes will capture the arcade essence of the 12-year-old original.
During the latest presentation of The Club, SEGA refers to it as 'gladiators with guns', which is a pretty reasonable description. So is 'a third-person shooter with a mature theme and a pick-up-and-play sensibility', which is used later in the presentation. Neither description does justice to the range and diversity of influences on the game though. The key influence is, of course, Project Gotham (as you'll know if you read Eurogamer's E3 preview). Specifically, the game's creator, Bizarre Creations, wants to do for the shoot-'em-up what its Gotham series did for the racing genre. The Club is an attempt to impose a unique scoring system and innovative game modes upon the shoot-'em-up genre to produce something fresh and novel. But still, that's selling the game short. There's a whole load of other unlikely influences, ranging from TimeSplitters to Tony Hawk's by way of the odd beat-'em-up, a bit of Manhunt and back to SEGA's own OutTrigger.
Luxor is a city in Upper Egypt. It's also one of those casual games available on the internet, that also mustered a release in the shops and on the PSP. Now it has a sequel that's available on Xbox Live. Having played through it though, it's difficult to see why somebody thought such a sequel would be necessary. It's even more difficult to see why someone thought such a sequel would be suited to Xbox Live (except for the fact that the associated fanfare when it went up would shift a few more micropayments). Luxor 2's natural habitat is the office, tucked away in a window that can be handily alt-tabbed away when a colleague strays too close. It might be perfect for soaking up the hours in the office, but devoting your free time to it just feels wrong.
World in Conflict started life two years ago as a multiplayer concept: specifically, it was born from the desire to recreate the accessibility of first person deathmatch games but in a real-time strategy game. The game's developer, Massive Entertainment, wanted to create an RTS title that's as easy to pick up and play as an FPS, and the key to doing that, it reckoned, was to emulate the respawn function that's a hallmark of most arena combat games. And it's this that gives the game its defining characteristic: when your units die, the credits they cost to produce are returned and can be used again to produce further reinforcements. Thus, every player has the same amount of resources and is competing on a totally level playing field.
This review was supposed to be written two days ago. Then it was supposed to be written yesterday. Then it was supposed to be written this morning. Now it's the afternoon and it's still a struggle to stop playing Picross DS for long enough to review it. So it's not just Slitherlink. Picross DS is the latest in the long line of addictive logic puzzle games on Nintendo's handheld that monopolise your every waking moment and imprint themselves on the inside of your eyelids when you're hoping that sleep might offer some respite. So while John Walker gave up on the Game Boy versions of Picross to spend more time with Slitherlink, the release of Picross on the DS might make him want to reconsider.
Like all the other games in the Call of Duty series, Roads to Victory is bursting at the seams with cinematic intensity and gritty historical realism. It depicts World War Two from the perspective of the American 82nd Airborne Division, the Canadian 1st Army, and the British Parachute Regiment, and it's full of nasty Nazis, big explosions, shouting soldiers and lots of shaking cameras. And it's probably one of the best first person shooters on the PSP. But like all the other first person shooters on the PSP, Roads to Victory is constrained by the technical limitations of the platform.
The real Spartans were some of the Ancient World's most brutally effective soldiers; a fiercely disciplined and heavily armoured military force. In Zack Snyder's movie of Frank Miller's graphic novel, 300, they wear swimming trunks and sandals and have CGI six-packs tracked on to their abdomens as they swan around spilling gallons of Persian blood with balletic grace and slow-motion abandon. The game of the film of the comic book is an attempt to distil that Hollywoodized historical violence into a handheld battlefield brawler with a similar sense of style.
By far the worst games among EA's inevitable collection of back catalogue hits are Syndicate and Wing Commander. Which is odd, because both games are also among the most fondly remembered of the selection. But that's because they were fondly remembered on the PC. The versions included here are the console versions, which are hampered by reduced functionality, inferior visuals and rubbish controls.
Once upon a time, Sony's Phil Harrison demonstrated that games offer better value for money than movies by dividing the length it took to play various games by the amount of money it cost to buy them. So he must be hugely pleased with Formula One Championship Edition because the latest title from the Sony Liverpool production line of officially licensed F1 games goes on forever. Fire up the game's career mode and it'll likely be a good half hour of practising, warming up and setting up the car before you get to the starting grid of your first Grand Prix.
Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom is pretty much exactly the same game you've played as Diablo, or Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance, or Champions of Norrath. Yes, it's one of those games that require you to repeatedly press or click a button to thrash your way through thousands of bad guys you view from an isometric camera angle.
So get this. Samurai Warriors 2 Empires is actually the third game in the Warriors Empires series, but it's the fifth game in the Samurai Warriors series, and about the 19th game in the overall Warriors series, depending on how many spin-offs you include when you're counting. But despite that 2 in the title, it's actually the first Samurai Warriors Empires title, which means it's the first time that Koei have applied the strategic dimension introduced in Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires and refined in Dynasty Warriors 5 to the Japanese setting of the Samurai Warriors series. Got that?
After getting a chance to check out FASA Interactive's fantasy cyberpunk online-only arena-based first-person shooter first hand, Eurogamer sat down for a chat with the developer's studio manager, Mitch Gitelman to discuss how to turn an 18-year-old pen and paper RPG into a fantasy cyberpunk online-only arena-based first-person shooter.
Since Microsoft announced plans to create a third videogame based on the pen and paper RPG Shadowrun, the fans have made their disappointment clear.
Lumines Plus is, basically, a straight port of the original PSP release of the game that spawned about a billion thousand-yard stares. It's pretty much exactly the same as Tetsuya Mizuguchi's original Tetris-alike; the game with which millions of PSP owners have worn out their eyes and thumbs on their way to racking up insanely high scores. Sure, there are some extra skins, but this is essentially the game that launched a Lumines bandwagon that's (so far) seen the production of a PSP sequel, an Xbox Live Arcade version, a mobile phone variant, and plenty of freeware homebrew imitators.