Aliens Vs. Predator: Extinction
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2003)
Rating: Teen (blood)
Publisher: Microsoft (2002)
Publisher: Microsoft (2003)
The first Amped was a respectable snowboarding title that could have benefited from some polish. Amped 2 looks better on the surface, but flaws with its underlying gameplay remain. As in the first game, you race down mountains and execute tricks to earn enough points to unlock new courses, characters, sponsors, and gear. Amped 2's visuals look much cleaner thanks to smoother textures and softer edges. The night courses look particularly inviting. The game's increase in speed is a less-welcome new development. Your snowboarder glides along almost too
fast, and the steering feels "squirrelly" as a consequence. It's really
hard to line up with those narrow ramps! Amped 2 adopts a dual-stick control scheme that employs the right stick to perform grabs. It sounds good on paper, but I never felt completely comfortable with the controls. It's still easy to get caught up on the scenery, but at least now you can press the "back" button to reset yourself. Amped 2's difficulty progression is good, so you're less likely to get hopelessly stuck in the early stages of the game. A wide variety of challenges will hold you interest, and I loved plowing through all of the snowmen I could find. Amped 2 falters in some regards, but it's still an enjoyable combination of wintry realism and arcade thrills. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: TDK (2003)
Publisher: Midway (2002)
Rating: Teen (mild violence)
Publisher: Acclaim (2002)
Rating: Mature (comic mischief, nudity, strong language, strong sexual content)
Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance
Publisher: Interplay (2002)
Rating: Teen (blood, violence, use of alcohol)
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2005)
Rating: Teen (Language, violence)
Batman: Dark Tomorrow
Publisher: Kemco (2003)
Rating: Teen (violence)
Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu
Publisher: Ubi Soft (2003)
I picked this one out of an FYE bargain bin, and from the box it looked like a pretty slick beat-em-up. Batman: Rise of Sin Tsu tries to combine old-school fighting with 3D graphics, but the results are disappointing. While the basic formula is similar to the classic 16-bit Batman titles, the 3D perspective takes its toll on the fun factor. For one thing, since the camera is tilted overhead, there's little if any eye candy to be seen. In fact, the only visible scenery is concrete streets and marble flooring. The thugs take far too many hits to defeat, even when you employ special moves! The controls are very much geared toward button-mashing, evident by the fact that many moves require tapping the same button in rapid succession. You can assume the role of Batman, Robin, Batgirl, or Nightwing. I like how you can fight alongside a friend, but that doesn't make the action any less repetitive. The thugs come in several varieties, but they all behave pretty much the same. One type likes to unleash gas bombs which makes the screen very wavy. While this effect seems impressive at first, it's so overused that I found myself getting nauseous
from it! Between stages you can save your progress and use the points you earn to purchase additional moves. The graphics mimic the style of the cartoon series, but tend to be a little bland. Rise of Sin Tzu is pretty dull in the early going, but while I expected it to become more interesting as I progressed, that never happened. I suspect even Batman fans will find Rise of Sin Tzu more taxing than it should have been. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Battle Engine Aquila
Publisher: Atari (2002)
I reviewed Battle Engine Aquila just after playing Mech Assault, and couldn't help but notice a lot of similarities. Both are mech shooters with similar control schemes, but in terms of looks, Aquila wins hands down. The visuals are more polished and well defined, and the shimmering water looks particularly good. You view the action from a first-person point of view, and there's much more emphasis on flying around. Unlike Mech Assault where you can only hover momentarily, in Battle Engine Aquila you'll spend half of the time in the air. Although flying is pretty easy, you have to be careful not to land in water because your mech can't swim. Unfortunately, the first person view sometimes makes it hard to determine if you're over water as you come in for a landing. Some missions take place almost completely over water, so you'll have to land on a ship to restore your energy, which can be tricky. Unlike Mech Assault which is basically a bunch of small skirmishes in confined areas, Aquila puts you in the middle of a huge war, with an expansive battleground loaded with other vehicles engaged in battle. To help tell the good guys from the bad, your allies are rendered in shades of blue, and the bad guys are all red. I enjoyed Battle Engine Aquila a lot, and found the two-player cooperative mode especially addicting. I don't think this game got a lot of attention when it was released, but it's very worthwhile. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Microsoft (2001)
Rating: Teen (violence)
When was the last time you played a game of high-speed gunboat warfare? That's what I like about Blood Wake - there's nothing else like it. You're a modern-day pirate trying to sink everything in sight. There's a nice variety of realistically-modeled vessels to choose from like speedboats, catamaran, gunboats, and hydroplanes. Weapons include chain guns, torpedoes, mines, and rockets. An addictive story mode takes you on a series of exciting missions, most involving blowing ships out of the water and destroying structures on the shoreline. There are also some exciting four-player death matches and team modes included. The boats and the water are graphically impressive. Minutely detailed, the ships look properly aged and weathered. The shimmering water looks beautiful, and it varies in roughness. Enemy boats explode convincingly before slowing sinking into the depths. While the action is always silky smooth, slowdown does occur, especially if your ship goes airborne. The controls could have been better designed. Using the left "steering" joystick to thrust and reverse is awkward, and you often shift into reverse when trying to make a tight turn. Still, Blood Wake is quite satisfying overall, and fans of vehicular combat games will certainly approve. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Majesco (2004)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes, strong language)
Bruce Lee: Quest of the Dragon
Publisher: Universal (2002)
Rating: Teen (Suggestive Themes/Violence)
As a long-time Bruce Lee fan, I was bitterly disappointed by Quest of the Dragon. This mind-numbing button mash-a-thon is poorly designed and just doesn't make much sense. You simply guide Bruce through different areas beating up one gang after another. First it gets repetitive, and then it gets boring, and finally it starts hurting your wrist! Quest of the Dragon might have been a fair game if the developers would have incorporated some interesting storylines or characters from Bruce Lee's movies. But all you get here is an incoherent plot and a parade of generic thugs! Dialogue like "Let's teach him a lesson!" doesn't help matters. In each stage, you methodically beat up each gang, collect coins, and purchase more moves between levels. The instruction manual is loaded with hundreds of moves, but in fact, little technique is required. This game is a button-masher's dream. Sure it's fun to watch Bruce go postal and dispatch dozens of thugs at first. The action is fast, but there are frequent "hiccups" in the framerate. The targeting system sucks, and you'll often find yourself facing some off-screen guy instead of the two thugs that are punching you on-screen. The game is strictly linear, although it's still hard to tell where to go next thanks to the awful camera system. The environments are not interactive at all - they just provide new scenery for the same monotonous fights. The graphics are below average. The characters aren't very detailed, and with the exception of the bosses, they all look the same. The scenery varies from a fishing village, to a restaurant, to the streets of Hong Kong, but it's nothing special. Even the lives/continue system is confusing. All in all, Quest is an uninspired game that won't hold your interest for long. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Microsoft (2003)
Rating: Mature (blood, violence)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2002)
Rating: Teen (blood and gore, mild language, suggestive themes)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chaos Bleeds
Publisher: Vivendi Universal Games (2003)
Rating: Teen (blood and gore, suggestive themes, violence, mild language)
Burnout 2: Point of Impact Director's Cut
Publisher: Acclaim (2003)
Rating: Everyone (mild violence)
Burnout 2 is one hell of a racer - arguably even better than Burnout 3! This "Director's Cut" plays just like the original GameCube version, but extra tracks and mild weather conditions have been incorporated. In addition, more vehicles are available from the get-go and you aren't required to take the "offensive driving" tutorial. In terms of gameplay, Burnout 2 is sensational. As you weave through traffic at high speeds and drift around corners, you'll experience an adrenaline rush few other video games can match. And unlike titles like Gran Turismo with their multitudes of license requirements, Burnout 2 provides a refreshing degree of instant gratification. The single-player mode offers a series of increasingly difficult races through scenic locations, and there are even a few police-chase stages to spice things up. My one complaint is that this mode is a little too easy, and it takes a while to build up to the real challenge. Burnout 2 also includes a fantastic "crash mode" which in of itself is worth the price of the game. As you and your friends take turns plowing into busy intersections, you'll want to strategically aim your collision to initiate the most destructive chain reactions. Burnout 2 is one of the most best arcade-style racers I've played in years. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Burnout 3: Takedown
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2004)
Rating: Teen (mild violence)
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