(This week's new releases.) A good week for the PC, and not-so-PC PC titles.
Another week, another list of games half of which I know very little about. Such is life (especially when your editor skives off to go to Alton Towers with his girlfriend, and your neighbour accidentally locks herself out and goes for a wander so you decide to stand outside waiting for the bike courier her husband's sent with the keys to turn up for half an hour). Fortunately we've reviewed enough of them already that I can fudge through my word count. Ah, the magic of games journalism. Hey, at least I'm not just copying IGN.
So then. IGN reckons that Spikeout: Battle, SEGA's button-mashing party game, isn't good enough value at $30 to earn more than a very middling write-up. So is it worth £25? That's a question I'll be aiming to answer early next week.
Slightly higher profile amongst today's PAL releases are Empire Earth II, Guild Wars, Haunting Ground and StarFox: Assault. I did say "slightly". Of these, Empire Earth II is apparently quite a nice real-time strategy game with some progressive thinking that our Gillen (who is a bit "RTSed out" after the last few weeks, apparently) reckons will pretty soon start to permeate the rest of the genre. Stuff like window-in-window tech that allows you to control things in two locations at once. Yes, that is the main bit I remember from editing and publishing his review.
Guild Wars, meanwhile, is supposed to be very good. But then developers always say that. What's quite impressive though is that we know people who have actually taken today off just to play it. People who don't really care that much for MMOs half the time anyway. What's so good about it? Well, let's ask the skiving sonsof - actually, what is it with all the skiving today? - on my Messenger list. In bed? In bed!? Fine, I'll look it up myself. According to the blurb (saves you reading it in the shop), it aims to eliminate item-camping, kill-stealing and long lines in front of quests by letting you form impromptu parties with your own unique copy of the quest map per-party, and you can also magic up some bridges and pathways, burn down forests and rip up the ground too. Guild Landscape Gardening is out now. (Perfect weather, too.)
Haunting Ground is one I would love to have done, being a bit of Capcom sympathiser and all, but Kristan took a liking to it instead, despite some early reservations. Indeed, we spent most of the first half-hour giggling at the poor lass's ridiculously bouncy bosoms. Because we're rubbish and men. Once Kris noticed there was an ICO-style companion in the shape of an Alsatian and spotted some puzzles though, he got hooked in - and really took to the manner in which the game has a lecherous old perv pursue you through the halls of your own mansion. I'm saying absolutely nothing.
As for StarFox: Assault... I'll happily say something about that. I simply didn't like it. It's too straightforward, too far from what it used to be, and I can't believe Namco actually made it. Particularly since Nintendo had shoot-'em-up specialists Treasure do Wario World the other year. Why couldn't Namco do that, and Treasure this?
Moving on, my friend Simon from the Isle of Man would berate me endlessly if I didn't give a mention to TT Superbikes, which is out on PS2 today. You lot would berate me too, in fact, because you're all fetishistically enamoured with motorbikes. I am only aware of one review, in the UK print press, which gave it 82 marks out of 100. Who knows. Wheel see. [I sensed that from all the way up here. You're fired -Towering Ed]
Moving further out to sea, the US is awash with pretty interesting things. Or half-interesting, anyway. FIFA on PSP I am interested in because it's supposed to be a bit on the "where the hell out loud is the optimisation?" side, whereas NBA Street: Showdown and Rengoku I am interested in because I bet they are very shiny. Slightly more seriously (only slightly), Pac-Pix gets a US release this week. Drawing Pac-Man is a gimmick, but the way Namco structured the rest of the game is not; in fact it's one of the most able demonstrations of an E3 DS tech demo drawn out (yawn) to the size of a proper game to date.
Psychonauts' US release on the PC, finally, gives me the opportunity to share with you some more thoughts on it. First: it's a pretty damn good 3D platform game. Done as well as any other I've seen in recent years. And, thanks to the wonderfully quirky sense of humour throughout that binds the curious story to the mostly problem-free gameplay, it's laugh-out-loud magical in ways that most PC-owning people can barely remember. The ridiculous, completely incidental conversations that add colour throughout are often gold-dust, and it's a bloody good thing it's out on the PC too, because a UK release could be a ways off if indeed it happens at all. If the name Tim Schafer means anything to you, or you even remotely like 3D platform games and, well, laughing, then you should seriously consider importing it. Expect a full review of the Xbox version - which can't be that much different - in the near future.
Also, from now on, I think I'll try and end on cunning game-dialogue quotes so I can look all thoughtful and contemporary (and because most of my endings are, as has been pointed out to me by a number of people, totally stupid and rubbish). So then. Enjoy your weekend. Have a picnic or something. Just watch out for bears. (Here it comes.)
In Soviet Russia, bear much smaller. More hair.
- PAL Releases
- Close Combat: First to Fight (PC, Xbox)
- Guild Wars (PC - yes, yes, it's been out since the other day)
- Cold Fear (PC)
- Empire Earth II (PC)
- Haunting Ground (PS2)
- Spikeout: Battle Street (Xbox)
- Sprint Car Challenge (PS2)
- StarFox: Assault (Cube)
- TT Superbikes (PS2)
- Key US Releases
- FIFA Football (PSP)
- NBA Street: Showdown (PSP)
- Pac-Pix (DS)
- Psychonauts (PC)
- Rengoku: The Tower of Purgatory (PSP)
- Resident Evil: Outbreak 2 (PS2)