(This week's new releases.) The calm flapping of arms before the storm. Get up in dat bitch yo.
It's been a while but, after a fairly sizeable hiatus, up and down the land today people will be flapping their arms vigorously in front of groups of others, making complete fools of themselves and reminding the world that EyeToy still exists, and, yes, it has given us some games that are worth buying.
Unfortunately for SEGA and Konami, whose EyeToy offerings hit store shelves this Friday, the incessant flappers will in fact be the retailers themselves - busying themselves trying to convince punters to cough up a dollop of cash the week before Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas adds another few million quid to the national debt.
And for once they have a point. There are some decent games out this Friday. You might want to buy them. But, in all likelihood, that depends on whether you've budgeted enough for whatever you want this week and your inevitable ticket to Los Santos. If you have, then let What's New be your guide.
Vying for attention this week we have a pair of EyeToy offerings (one excellent example, and one that we're using as a draught excluder), a couple of footy management sims from Codemasters and EA, a gaggle of hackandslashing superheroes, a jetpack-toting first-person shooter, and a hardcore rally simulation that would rather steamroller your thumbs with rollcages to the tune of musical pace notes than give you a second's margin for error. Oh, and a Vietnam game.
Of the EyeToy games, SEGA SuperStars is the obvious choice over U-Move Super Sports on the basis that it is fun and inventive and stands up to replay value. But then we've said more than enough about Sonic Team's camera caper already. PS2 fans can also get their hands on World Rally Championship 4, or WRC4 as it seems to be labelled in preference, which is a testy little number that plays very well on its lonesome and also features 16-player PS2 Online support. It really left us wondering if there's any more 'vrrroom' for improvement.
Speaking of improvement, there's some debate afoot as to whether Tribes: Vengeance - Aussie dev Irrational Games' attempt to breathe life back into the multiplayer FPS series - is better or worse than its predecessors. As little more than occasional skiers we wouldn't dare to cast spinfusor discs in either direction, but from our perspective there's a solid single-player FPS game there with a well-realised, thoughtfully balanced multiplayer game that makes solid use of the best bits of the previous Tribes games whilst managing to untangle some of its fiddlier aspects. It's streamlined, you might say (unlike the previous sentence), and the tighter level design is bound to keep the action-to-travelling ratio at a sensible balance. Granted, your mileage may vary, but with about 17 demos available you're probably more than capable of making your own mind up about that.
Of this week's other options, X-Men Legends is so good that Activision has already commissioned a sequel, an-- No, hang on, that's no measure of anything. It is however, according to Pat, an enjoyable way to slash away at things for an evening dressed as a mutant. And the multiplayer angle is bound to tickle people who found Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance to their tastes, or who mashed their way through Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel as much as Pat did.
Vietcong: Purple Haze, sadly, is a less than enjoyable way of mashing up an evening, having lost a lot of the elements that made the (already ageing) PC game stand out in translation to PS2 and Xbox, and fudged over several of the things it did bring along. There are countless other Vietnam games around at the moment, some of which are actually good, and more to come in the shape of promising games like Men of Valor, so you could probably do better. GTA: San Andreas probably has a Vietnam section anyway; it seems to have everything else.
Future Tactics, likewise, fails to grab your money with any conviction, but it deserves an honourable mention at least. It's cheap, it's a nice blend of the sort of turn-based strategy ideas that made games like Advance Wars enjoyable, and, well, did we mention it's cheap? Okay so it's not that great - it doesn't really develop much beyond what you're doing for the first couple of hours, and it has some serious AI and balance issues - but if you're in the mood for something different this weekend and you happen to have 20 odd quid burning a hole in your backside, you could do worse.
Skipping off this continent briefly, this week in the States saw the release of Otogi 2 and a new Ape Escape. But don't be fooled; Ape Escape: Pumped & Primed is actually a party game, and shouldn't be confused with the third game in the platform series announced in Japan earlier this month. Yes, there are monkeys; no, they're not as enjoyable. We're far more interested in their appearance in Metal Gear Solid 3 next month, and yes that is because this is all being written by a colossal MGS fanboy. Who still has ketchup on his face.
Otogi 2, meanwhile, has been well received, and it seems if you liked the original then you won't have any complaints about this one. And since we won't see it officially until early 2005 you might well want to pick it up on import if you can play it. Unless you're saving your money for Halo 2 or something, but we imagine that most of you have had that particular wodge of cash frozen in carbonite and stored safely in preparation pretty much since March 2002 when you first got to play the original. We have. This week we've been rubbing our launch party badges against it. They look like radiation tags; appropriate really given the black hole effect the game's likely to have on disposable income...
But that's a subject for another week. Now, if you'll excuse us, we're off to flap our wrists at an attractive space lady, punch people in the face, scream at taxi drivers, and hold our arms steady to relay streams of goop into cup-shaped containers on either side of us. SEGA SuperStars: it's so much like a Friday night you'll suddenly feel like you need a kebab. Which reminds us: lunch!
- PAL Releases
- Future Tactics: The Uprising (PS2, Xbox, Cube, PC)
- GT Racers (PS2)
- kill.switch (GBA)
- LMA Manager 2005 (PS2, Xbox, PC)
- Pacific Fighters (PC)
- Scrabble 2005 (PC)
- SEGA SuperStars (PS2)
- Total Club Manager 2005 (PC)
- Tribes Vengeance (PC)
- Trivial Pursuit Unhinged (PC)
- U-Move Super Sports (PS2)
- Vietcong: Purple Haze (PS2, Xbox)
- World Rally Championship 4 (PS2)
- X-Men Legends (PS2, Xbox, Cube)
- Key US Releases
- Ape Escape: Pumped & Primed (PS2)
- Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors (Xbox)