007: Agent Under Fire
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2001)
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2002)
Publisher: Sony (2001)
This instantly playable off-road racer strikes a nice balance between realism and arcade action. ATVs (All-Terrain Vehicles) are small, four-wheeled buggies that race around dirt/mud tracks. Soaring off hills lets you perform insane tricks like "air walk", "tail grab", and "cliffhanger". The scenery is sparse but those smooth, wide hills are inviting enough. You'll race through deserts, old mills, snow-covered mountains, and forests. I was a little disappointed that the "Salem's Back-lot" track was little more than a moonlit forest. Responsive analog steering lets you turn on a dime and hilly sections of a course let you get into a rhythm. Clever "preload" controls let you maximize your jumps, and a chaotic leapfrog effect occurs as other ATVs fall out of the sky around you. The physics is convincing and it's fun to watch opponents crash and bounce around like rag dolls. Braking is important not only to maintain control around sharp turns, but also to ensure you land on the downward slope of each hill. You need to get a feel for it. I love how the number of seconds you're running behind the leader is displayed in the corner - in real time!
ATV Offroad's high-octane soundtrack kicks ass with artists like Alice in Chains ("Them Bones"), Soundgarden ("Spoonman"), and Anthrax. The addictive career mode lets you gradually unlock new tracks. Some races run a little too long, but at least CPU opponents occasionally wreck to give you a chance. The four-player split-screen is great feature, even though messages on the screen can get in the way of the road ahead. Offroad Fury is just plain fun, and even those not familiar with ATVs can appreciate this cool arcade racer. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
ATV Offroad Fury 2
Publisher: Sony (2002)
ATV Offroad Fury 3
Publisher: Sony (2004)
Rating: Everyone (mild lyrics)
The previous entry in this series, ATV Offroad Fury 2
(Sony, 2002), emphasized on-line play and superfluous customization options. I'm happy to report that ATV Offroad Fury 3 (ATV3) places the focus back on the racing. ATV3 does a remarkably good job of conveying break-neck speeds, high-altitude jumps, and the feeling of momentum. It's exhilarating as you careen through trenches, launch off hills, and sail over opponents. I love landing on some poor chump's head and hearing him make that weird croaking sound. The tracks tend to be narrow but banked turns make it easy to round corners without taking your thumb off the accelerator. The scenery is unspectacular but it's fun to drive through abandoned industrial facilities and ride over creaky wooden bridges. Weather effects add to the fun in the form of blowing snow and rumbling thunderstorms. I like how the raindrops bead on your goggles. The races often feel like competitive rollercoaster rides. Sometimes the game tells me "You got the holeshot!" Am I supposed to know what that means? ATV3 gives you the option of using the right stick as you accelerator and brake, but I prefer the buttons. The soundtrack incorporates popular artists like Good Charlotte, Keith Urban, Garbage, and Joan Jett. On the down side, the load times border on extreme. I also noticed that the game has an annoying tendency to improperly orient you on the track after a wreck. When selecting tracks in the multi-player mode, there's no picture or preview of the track - just a non-descriptive name. The four-player split screen is nice but there are some frame-rate glitches here and there. It's a shame ATV3 has so many minor, nagging issues, because at its core this is a thrilling racer. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
ATV Offroad Fury 4
Publisher: Sony (2006)
Rating: Everyone (mild lyrics, mild violence)
This final installment of the popular off-road series kicks the fun into overdrive!
ATV Offroad Fury 4 (ATV4) adds a new dimension to the chaotic racing with the addition of bikes, buggies, and trucks to complement the usual selection of ATVs. Each vehicle exhibits its own distinctive handling characteristics, making ATV4 feel like four games in one! I love power sliding around gravelly corners in a buggy, and the extra weight of the trucks gives them a half-way-out-of-control, reckless feel. The bikes and ATVs clock amazing hang-time, allowing you to perform insane daredevil stunts 50+ feet in the air. Points earned let you purchase and upgrade vehicles. For vehicles that can't perform tricks, points are racked up by performing extended power slides. ATV4's physics feels convincing which makes the action all the more satisfying. The courses are wide, easy to follow, and the scenery is rich with natural beauty. A new story mode puts you in the role of a washed-up racer trying to make a comeback, and the main villain has an outrageous accent. It's entirely unnecessary (the mode and
the accent), but it's just one of many modes available. The soundtrack plays less of a role in this game, and you'll probably need to adjust the settings just to hear it. Otherwise it's pretty hard to find fault with ATV4. As a sweet bonus, the game also includes its own track editor. A fitting conclusion to the series, ATV4 throws in everything but the kitchen sink. I guess you could consider this a prelude to the Motorstorm series for the PS3. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Namco (2001)
If you're looking for a realistic air combat simulation for the PS2, keep looking. Underneath its sophisticated HUD and photorealistic scenery Ace Combat 4 packs pure arcade action. If you need any more proof, look - your score is displayed on the top left, along with the value of your current target. Case closed. A highly unnecessary background story is conveyed between missions via narration over artistic hand-drawn illustrations. Mission briefings offer detailed maps and diagrams, but it usually boils down to destroying all enemy planes and ground installations. In the cockpit you barely need to look at any instruments, as a helpful arrow keeps you pointed to your next target, a la Rogue Squadron. The graphics are breathtaking at times, and responsive controls give you a visceral sense of freedom as you effortlessly perform crazy maneuvers. Heck, I was even able to land on an aircraft carrier on my very first try. Your radio not only broadcasts your squad's dialogue but picks up your adversaries as well. Controller vibration is used to good effect, with thrust providing excellent force-feedback. If you own the Flightstick 2 controller (released with Ace Combat 5) you can use that too. The missions are only moderately difficult but the timer can bite you if you don't pay attention. Ace Combat 4 is the ideal jet fighter, combining the realistic visuals of a simulation with the gameplay of an arcade title. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Namco (2004)
Publisher: Namco (2006)
Rating: Teen (mild language, violence)
Publisher: Activision (2002)
All-Star Baseball 2002
Publisher: Acclaim (2001)
Publisher: Sony (2003)
With all the first-person shooters and gangster games out there, it's nice to play a musical game for a change. Amplitude is the successor to Frequency, the low-selling title that never lived up to its potential. Frequency's gameplay involved moving along instrumental "tracks" and pressing buttons in sync with notes on the screen. Amplitude is nearly the same, but offers streamlined gameplay, better control, and best of all, a more impressive roster of recording artists. The high profile artists include Garbage, Pink, David Bowie, and Blink 182. You even get Run-DMC's classic anthem "King of Rock". Amplitude's visuals have a psychedelic look, which when combined with music can put you in almost a Zen-like state. Each of a song's "tracks" represent a different sound in the song, like voice, bass, or drums. To maintain your energy level, you'll need to compete "phrases", or sequences of notes on a track. This causes that instrument to kick in for a while, making the song sound more complete. Some tracks are easier than others, so it's wise to move out of a tricky one you're having trouble with. Pressing three shoulder buttons to match the rhythms on the screen is not easy, but at least this game is more forgiving than Frequency. You also have the option of using the square/triangle/circle buttons, but as the training mode explains (correctly), one thumb isn't enough when the action gets fast. Amplitude is a cool game to kick back with on a Saturday night after you've had a few drinks. It's not very deep, but its flashy visuals and excellent soundtrack are mesmerizing. If you're a popular music fan, you owe it to yourself to check out Amplitude. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Midway (2001)
Rating: Teen (mild violence)
Publisher: Agetec (2000)
Rating: Teen (13+)
Art of Fighting Anthology
Publisher: SNK (2007)
Rating: Teen (animated blood, violence)
Publisher: Capcom (2003)
Publisher: Ubi Soft (2001)
It's been quite a while since there's been a good Batman game, but fans should take note of this one. Vengeance combines the award-winning animation of the popular Batman animated cartoon series, the voices of the actual characters, and a pretty good storyline into a nice cohesive package. And unlike every Batman game since God knows when, this one is even fun to play! The action isn't too repetitive, thanks to a healthy supply of gadgets in Batman's ever-popular utility belt, and you'll love pelting the Joker with batarangs shortly before kicking his ass with a little hand-to-hand action. The fine voice acting includes Mark Hammill as the Joker, trash talking and mocking you as you attempt to uphold justice. You'll also face Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy, along with a boatload of henchmen and women. For transportation, you can ride either the Batmobile or the Batwing! Vengeance contains over 40 minutes of cinematics that blend nicely into the storyline. There are over 20 levels of punching, jumping, flying, diving, and puzzle solving mayhem. The only things holding this game back are occasional camera difficulties and the fact that Batman's partner is Batgirl. What happened to Robin? © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance
Publisher: Capcom (2005)
Rating: Mature (blood, strong language, violence)
Beyond Good and Evil
Publisher: Ubi Soft (2003)
Rating: Teen (realistic violence, comic mischief)
Blitz: The League
Publisher: Midway (2005)
Rating: Mature (blood, strong language, suggestive themes, use of drugs, violence)
Bode Miller Alpine Skiing
Publisher: RTL (2006)