Devilry, splittery and the like. Well, not "the like" at all really. "And other games" would've made more sense.
As I was putting some things on the washing rack wojim in the other room just now, out of the window I noticed an old man wander up our road, spy a near empty whiskey bottle discarded on the curb, pick it up, examine it, glance around, put it in his pocket and then walk off. In my mind, I imagine he'll now go home, scrub it clean, fill it with something wonderful and sit down to cherish its contents in a way its previous owner clearly did not.
Which is a bit like what Capcom's done with Devil May Cry 3, really. Because, you know, you'd polish the second game off in an advanced state of inebriation and then feel like tossing it to the curb. Credit to 'em, the chaps at Capcom picked it up again, dusted it off and filled it with the sort of intoxicating gaming-nectar DMC fans expected from the sequel in the first place. If DMC2 was a bit too devil may care, DMC3 sounds like it cares about the devil again.
We'll be reviewing it in due course, but for the time being all the signs are positive. As positive as half-demon rockstar action heroes who chop up gothic nasties can be. It's meant to be relentless and demanding, with a lot more to think about than last time around. People are calling it the PS2's Ninja Gaiden in that respect - frustrating yet satisfying and extremely divisive as a result. If that sounds like your kind of caper, dodge the collection plate and cry devilish havoc instead. Otherwise...
Perhaps you'll take to TimeSplitters Future Perfect instead. Although maybe you won't. Review scores have been uniformly positive, but the wording of the reviews has been less convincing. Indeed, there's a distinct "Angel of Darkness" vibe to some of them. In other words: "Meh, meh, meh, ooh but GO ON. 8." I'm staring at a boxed copy of the Xbox version right now (which makes it hard to type), so you'll know when I know. But the fact that Kristan previewed it then hardly seemed bothered when I snaffled up the review code is quite telling. This is a man who blags games I've already bought and reviews them before I've had a chance to take the cellophane off the case. He also takes games I've bought from the US and reviews them. And he HITS ME. He said it isn't that challenging, isn't that different. Something's going on.
Oh well, at least I know I'll like the control system. TimeSplitters has long been my favourite console FPS series on the grounds that I find it so much more comfortable to play than any of the others. Halo included, I'm afraid. I'll pre-emptively chuck a "How can it be bullshit to state a preference?" in there just to ward off that particular thread of backlash. My soon to be singed buttocks aside though, you might want to be wary of the Splitters single player experience (it is said that the multiplayer saves it, though). Just a thought.
Equally if not more so with the likes of EyeToy: AntiGrav, The Bard's Tale and The Punisher, which make up the rest of the exciting PAL releases this week. AntiGrav involves jumping, punching, skipping and generally frolicking to control your hoverboard along a series of tracks. Literally. In front of the camera. Besides EyeToy: Put Down The Fork or whatever the dietary one's going to be called, it sounds like the most energetic of EyeToy endeavours to date. But, you know, 77 per cent isn't a fantastic score average, particularly as I'd imagine the technical adventurousness counts for a little something extra in a lot of reviewers' minds. I find it easier to believe reviews that use phrases like "interesting experiment" and "worth a rental". EyeToy games have proven themselves to be innovative time and again, and Harmonix (maker of the phenomenal FreQuency/Amplitude rhythm-action titles) a skilled developer, but perhaps it's a case once again of a game striving to escape classification as a novelty and not quite getting there. Or not quite jumping high enough, if you wanted some sort of pun.
The Bard's Tale, meanwhile, is an RPG featuring a drunken lead who quests after money and boobs and mocks the conventions of the genre openly and amusingly despite, er, rehashing most of them in the process. That's a problem with doing satire in games - it can be like watching The Day Today to actually get your news. Still, we appreciate Ubisoft picking it up for European distribution because it sounds intriguing, and we'll get one of our resident drunken adventurers to letch his way through it in due course. If only so I can use the strapline "You're Bard".
Unfortunately that's less likely to happen with The Punisher. Partly because there are so many more pressing things to look at at the moment, and partly because drunk people should not be encouraged to drill holes in people's heads. "Tell me where the toilet is." "Right over there! Stop!" "I shed! Where's the TOILET!?" "There! There! Look!" "Uh?" [Lets go.] "AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!" Plus, obviously, we wouldn't want to encourage people to make games about forcibly inserting spinning hot metal rods into each other's foreheads anyway. Especially not ones with Thomas Jane in them. Poor chap. After Deep Blue Sea it all went downhill for him.
Speaking of going downhill, the increasingly unloved GameCube (Resident Evil 4 in at just number five in the charts? NUMBER FIVE!?) welcomes Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2 this week, a game that involves using your squad of elite people to kill other people who are less elite and ideologically unacceptable. So presumably it's about hunting down whoever it was who thought putting Pac-Man Vs. in with R: Racing was a good idea. Ooh if I ever find you...
All of which leaves us with a few odds and sods (which can sod off, oddly; I'm supposed to be on holiday today) and this week's US releases. No reason to talk PSP here - you've plenty to read about that elsewhere - but it is worth saying hello to the final version of The Matrix Online, which is out in the US this week and over here in early April. Forget all the negative publicity surrounding films two and three in the trilogy and you could very well get into this; SEGA and Monolith are really pushing the boat out (there is no boat) with live actors playing in-game characters (the irony of employing real people to act as machines pretending to be real people in an AI construct isn't lost on us, natch) and a whole range of new ideas that are distinctly Matrix-like - including a more spectacular combat system than your average massively multiplayer game.
Remember trying to decipher the website clues back when you first bought The Matrix DVD? It seems to have been made in the same spirit as that. And not, thankfully, as the gaming equivalent of philosophising over whether the paint you're watching dry is paint at all or whether you are the paint or whether it would make a lot more sense if these technologically savvy hacker types who've built a futuristic civilisation next to the core of the earth could perhaps do with learning how to make something more imaginative than a dirty grey sweater to keep them warm at night. Some of them can interpret streams of binary code as video feeds but they can't seem to build a sewing machine or handle iron-on transfers. Tsk.
Right. All that remains is for me to wish those of you who noticed it a Merry Easter and a happy new love handle. Me? I need an exit.
- PAL Releases
- Devil May Cry 3 (PS2)
- Disciplies II: Gold Edition (PC)
- Duel Masters 2: Kaijudo Showdown (GBA)
- EyeToy: AntiGrav (PS2)
- Greg Hastings Tournament Pinball (Xbox)
- Gunbird Special Edition (PS2)
- Hellforces (PC)
- Hidden Strike 2 (PC)
- SpinDrive Ping Pong (PS2)
- Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams (PS2, Xbox, Cube, GBA)
- The Bard's Tale (PS2, Xbox)
- The Punisher (PS2, Xbox, PC)
- TimeSplitters Future Perfect (PS2, Xbox, Cube)
- Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2 (Cube)
- Yu Yu Spirit Detective (GBA)
- Key US Releases
- PlayStation Portable - US launch coverage
- The Matrix Online (PC)