Publisher: Sierra (2001)
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, violence)
Publisher: Capcom (2005)
Rating: Mature (blood, suggestive themes, violence)
Publisher: Toka (2002)
Rating: Teen (violence)
Judging from the screenshots on the box that show large crosshairs and chunky character models, it's easy to mistake Hidden Invasion for a low budget light gun game, but it's really a third-person beat-em-up along the lines of Fighting Force (Playstation). Hidden Invasion tries to deliver high-octane arcade thrills, but it's just awful. The graphics are lousy, the control is detestable, and the gameplay is terribly repetitive. You play a cop in a typical terrorist storyline that quickly degenerates into an alien infiltration scenario. A typical stage involves running around a non-descript maze of rooms while collecting items and disposing of an endless parade of thugs. Making matters worse is a schizophrenic camera that's disorienting in the single-player mode, and absolutely bewildering in the two-player mode. The thug regeneration system is obnoxious to say the least, having the audacity to send goons out of empty rooms
you just cleared out. You'd like to flee, but the game creates invisible walls that prevent you from proceeding until you've killed everything. Can you believe that crap? Technical glitches often cause enemies to become stuck in solid objects. I actually had a shoot-out with a gang of bad guys that were all embedded in a single door! There are plenty of weapons lying around, but the most effective move by far is the "grab and throw" which kills just about anything with one shot. As bad as it is, Hidden Invasion does a few things right. For one thing, the bad guys go down spraying bullets, which looks pretty cool. I like how you can kick a thug when he's down, and the hand-to-hand combat isn't bad. But the basic gameplay gets dull in a hurry. Hidden Invasion can be found lurking in your local bargain bin - avoid it at all costs. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
High Heat Baseball 2002
Publisher: 3DO (2001)
Hey, this looks suspiciously like a PS1 baseball game! The stiff players look pretty dorky, the stadiums aren't accurate or realistic, and the two-man commentary is weak. That said, High Heat is still a decent baseball game for your PS2. Why? It's the gameplay - fast, realistic, and simple to play. The presentation might be a little sloppy, but 3DO put the most effort into where it really counts. There aren't any crazy plays or fancy animations, but the baseball action is pure. Pitchers can't find the strike zone when they get tired. Coaches visit the mound. Players get ejected. Third strikes are dropped by catchers. These are the kind of details that real baseball fans notice. The controls are intuitive and responsive, and for your hyperactive friends, you can even set the game speed. Other nice options include a replay frequency setting and "view stadium" mode, which lets look around at your leisure. After each game, there's a load of statistics including a full box score and a complete game summary! With awesome control, realistic gameplay, and fast action, High Heat is not a bad bet. © Copyright 2001 The Video Game Critic.
Hot Shots Golf 3
Publisher: Sony (2002)
Rating: Everyone (Mild language)
The Hot Shots Golf series hasn't changed much since the first two editions (on Playstation One), but that's a good thing. With its lighthearted theme, simple controls, and beautiful rolling courses, Hot Shots has always been a joy to play. The graphics are much more impressive on the PS2. The six courses are splashed with color, the backgrounds are photo-realistic, and there are some truly innovative camera angles. The fifteen "off-the-wall" golfers are less impressive. They tend to be bizarre caricatures, and many are very unappealing. Sure I love the blonde in the tight red dress, but I could have done without the nerds, hillbillies, and other assorted freaks. Need more proof the characters are weird? Marilyn Manson
is a hidden character. Even, Hots Shots 3 delivers in terms of pure gameplay. You'll be playing this game all day long just to unlock golfers, courses, and other goodies. Each round moves along swiftly and smoothly, with very few lulls in the action. There are only a few minor annoyances worth mentioning. Some of the sound effects, especially people yelling, get on your nerves after a while. The new addition of "caddies" is worthless, and the character reactions tend to repeat a lot
. Hot Shots hasn't evolved much over the years, but it's still the best golf game around. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Hot Shots Golf Fore!
Publisher: Sony (2004)
Rating: Everyone (mild language, suggestive themes, comic mischief)
Publisher: Sony (2007)
Hot Shots conquered the world of golf with its lush anime graphics and arcade style, and now it's poised to do the same with Tennis. It's funny - after playing so many state-of-the-art tennis games, my friends all prefer this bargain bin PS2 title hands down
. Hot Shots Tennis offers bright, sunny courts in unusual locations including a farm and sandy beach resort. The player selection is very limited at first, but unlocking new characters is fun thanks to the addictive challenge mode that lets you scale the ranks through a series of quick matches. A lot of the female characters look really cute! Unlike other tennis games that try to be realistic (Top Spin 3) or over-the-top (Sega Superstars Tennis), Hot Shots Tennis manages to nail that ever-elusive "sweet spot". The action on the court is fast and fun, and there are only three buttons to worry about: normal shot, slice, and lob. Despite its whimsical style, Hot Shot's brand of tennis is arguably more
realistic than "serious" tennis games. For one thing, it's fairly common to hit the ball out of bounds or into the net if your timing is off. Drop shots and lobs are extremely effective, and overhead smashes are immensely satisfying. You'll develop a good bit of technique as you get comfortable with the game. Although it's nearly flawless, I hate having to skip those lame player reactions after every single point. Fortunately you can turn off the instant replays from the options menu (what's there to see anyway?) Hot Shots Tennis is easy to overlook, but this throw-away title blows all of the other tennis games out of the water. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Majesco (2003)
I didn't have high expectations for this, but for under $10, it's hard to resist. Hypersonic looks like a third-rate Wipeout clone with derivative gameplay and mediocre graphics. There have been tons of other futuristic racing games with floating cars, so there's hardly a demand for another. When I first started playing, all I could notice was the touchy controls and sparse scenery. But I stuck with it, and eventually realized this isn't bad at all. The secret lies in the insanely twisted, vertigo-inducing tracks - a few rank as some of the best-designed tracks I've seen. The sense of speed is palpable as you whiz through corkscrews and fly off gigantic ramps, often barely reaching to the other side. Once you master the turbo (hold it and the accelerate button at the same time) and side thrusters (hold L2 or R2 in the direction of the turn) you'll feel in total control. There are no weapons, but your vehicle will explode if you take too much damage by hitting the walls of the course. The arcade mode is fun, but I especially like the Slalom mode that lets you compete in a series of quick, one-lap races. Majesco even went the extra mile and included an intuitive track editor with a helpful tutorial. Hypersonic Xtreme really impressed me, up until it froze
in the middle of one race. That's pretty bad for a PS2 game, and it really ruined an otherwise fun racing experience. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sony (2001)
Ico is an adventure in a dreamlike world. You control a little boy who has been imprisoned in a huge, old fortress at the edge of the sea. You soon discover a mysterious girl who is physically weak but possesses magical powers. Taking her by the hand, you must solve a series of puzzles in order for you both to escape. Occasionally you encounter evil spirits that attempt to drag the girl into another dimension, requiring you to beat the living crap out of them. The graphics are breathtaking. Fortress walls rise hundreds of feet above the sea, and the views from some of the higher platforms are enough to make you dizzy. I often had to stop and marvel at the level of detail. The architecture is amazing and the artistic direction is first-rate. The shadow-like spirits look both creepy and amazing, and the fluid animation is a feast for the eyes. Characters swing from chains, run hand-in-hand, and help pull each other up. Sure, you've seen smooth animation before, but nothing that looks this natural. The puzzles are interesting and fair, and there are ample save points. The vibration feature of the controller is used extremely effectively. Ico is a quiet game unlike anything else. While the slow gameplay and puzzles may bore action fans, thoughtful players will find Ico to be a very satisfying gaming experience. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: RedOctane (2005)
From the makers of the high-quality dance mats comes this surprisingly strong Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) clone. While its name and cover art may be painfully generic, In The Groove serves its purpose very well. The gameplay is familiar to many - simply step on the up, down, left, and right arrows as they float to the top of the screen. But this game has a few new tricks up its sleeve. Special effects cause the arrows to swerve, freeze momentarily, accelerate, and exhibit other unpredictable movements, thereby spicing up the action. The number of modes and customization options are extensive. A single player can play several songs in a row via the "marathon mode", or try his hand at two mats at once. I favor the "fitness mode" that displays a live counter of the number of calories burned. So how are the 70+ songs? Pretty good, if you like the bouncy, club style of music. There are no big name musicians, but hell, there aren't very many in DDR either. So if you're into dancing games and need a new fix, don't hesitate to get In The Groove. Note: You'll need to own at least one dance pad to enjoy this game. © Copyright 2005 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Crave (2003)
Rating: Everyone (gambling)
Publisher: Sony (2003)
Rating: Teen (comic mischief, mild language, mild violence, suggestive themes)
Jak X Combat Racing
Publisher: Sony (2005)
Rating: Teen (crude humor, fantasy violence, language, use of tobacco)
Publisher: Sony (2001)
Yes, it's another 3D adventure, where you jump on creatures, collect items, open new areas, etc. But Jak and Daxter is one of the best I've ever played. You'll recall Naughty Dog as the team that developed the stellar Crash Bandicoot games for the Playstation, and they haven't lost their touch. Not only is game a fantastic technical achievement, but it's loaded with charm and personality. Jak is the young adventurer you control, and Daxter is his little furry sidekick who provides ample comic relief. Your goal is to collect power cells on an island, which you discover through exploration or earn by doing favors for the local villagers. Exploring the island is fun, and there are plenty of interesting missions, vehicles, and hidden areas. The graphics are absolutely stunning! The scenery is lush, beautiful, and often fascinating. The lighting effects are particularly outstanding. The time of day gradually changes as you play, and at night little tiki lamps light your path. Even the enemies are fun and imaginative, and you can dispose of them with your Bandicoot-ish charge or spinning-kick moves. The control is dead-on, and even hopping between platforms is relatively simple. I only wish that the camera (controlled by the right joystick) was a little more versatile, because this game provides some incredible panoramic views. The gameplay is fun and addicting, and game saves are frequent and transparent. Best of all, there is virtually NO loading time!! Another innovative aspect is a lack of BOSSES. Believe me, you won't miss them a bit. The game has a fine sense of humor, and if Daxter doesn't make you laugh out loud, you will at least smile. Granted, there are a tons of other 3D adventure games out there, but I'd rather play Jak and Daxter. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Sony (2002)
I'm a real sucker for Jet Ski games, and Jet X2O is a solid but unspectacular water racer. Instead of weaving through buoys, Jet X2O gives you the full run of the course. There are gates to pass through, but these are only there to provide you with turbo power. I like this system because it provides opportunities for alternate paths, shortcuts, and secret passages. You can also earn turbo by performing SSX-style tricks off ramps. The gameplay is fast and challenging. The ultra-long courses careen through all sorts of exotic environments, including submerged ruins, volcanic islands, a desert gorge, and a high-tech city. The steering controls take some getting used to, and the flip and roll tricks are a real pain. All too often you wind up soaring through the air upside down, unable to right yourself. The water effects are mediocre, and occasionally the water looks unnaturally hilly and even blocky from a distance. Your competitors are wacky stereotypes from various countries, and I found their smart-aleck comments to be pretty irritating. Jet X2O has an addictive world tour mode and a fun two-player split screen mode. It's not the best jet ski game ever, but it was fun enough to keep me occupied for a few hours. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Namco (2004)
Kids Next Door: Operation Videogame
Publisher: Take Two Interactive (2005)
Rating: Everyone (cartoon violence, crude humor)
Publisher: Sony (2001)
Rating: Teen (mild violence, suggestive themes)
King of Fighters 2000/2001
Publisher: SNK (2003)
King of Fighters 2002/2003
Publisher: SNK (2005)
King of Fighters 2006
Publisher: SNK (2006)
Rating: Teen (mild language, suggestive themes, violence)
King of Fighters 98 Ultimate Match
Publisher: SNK Playmore (2009)
Fans who worship the original King of Fighters 98 are likely to lose control of all bodily functions upon witnessing the splendor of this Ultimate edition. The menus have been loaded up with all of the modern amenities and the backgrounds have been given a complete facelift, yet the heart of the game features the same amazing fighting engine. Easy to grasp but difficult to master, this is 2D fighting at its best. In addition to the "advanced" and "extra" control schemes, you also get an "ultimate" option that lets you cherry pick features from each. The 64-character roster is the largest ever for a KOF game, so you're sure to find all of your old favorites including Terry Bogard (with trucker hat), Geese Howard, King, Blue Mary, Mai Shiranui, and Wolfgang Krauser. I was never impressed with the quality of the stages in the original KOF98, but these 3D rendered versions look absolutely sensational. The Korean boat harbor in particular looks like an absolute paradise. The soundtrack has also been turbocharged, sounding more forceful and energetic. Playing modes including arcade, practice, endless, and a challenge mode. High scores are automatically saved, along with various statistics based on characters usage and fighting systems. King of Fighters 98 Ultimate is a fine example of properly updating a classic title without sacrificing the gameplay that made it one. As icing on the cake, the original KOF98 is also included. This is all the King of Fighters action you need. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.
King of Fighters Maximum Impact
Publisher: SNK (2004)
Rating: Teen (suggestive themes, violence)
King of Fighters XI
Publisher: SNK (2005)
King of Fighters: The Orochi Saga
Publisher: SNK (2008)
King of Route 66, The
Publisher: Sega (2003)
Rating: Teen (comic mischief, mild violence)
This is the sequel to the surprise hit Eighteen Wheeler
, first released on the Dreamcast and later on the PS2. Eighteen Wheeler was all about driving a rig through different parts of the country within a time limit, and the graphics were astonishing. The only thing people complained about was the replay factor, because the game was admittedly short. Route 66 addresses that problem, but falters in nearly every other respect. The main mode consists of a series of very
short races against the clock or a rival trucker. You'll need to sit through plenty of boring intermissions and skip through a ton of silly dialogue as the game tries to convey a weak storyline about an evil gang of truckers. The stages tend to be very uninteresting with mediocre graphics to boot. The scenery lacks detail, and the tornadoes that were so awe-inspiring in the first game look like moving tree trunks here! Worst of all, the rival truckers are incredibly cheap, weaving like crazy and keeping up with you no matter how well you drive. Only by cutting them off or using a well-timed turbo can you defeat them. Route 66 includes several other modes, but these are simply collections of mini-games, many of which take longer to load than to play. Some involve collecting tokens in a certain amount of time, which is incredibly tedious when you're driving an 18-Wheeler. The two-player split screen "race" is absolutely no fun at all. Route 66 is an uninspired game with mediocre gameplay, ludicrous AI, and excruciating load times. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
Publisher: Square Enix (2002)
Publisher: Namco (2001)
Publisher: Midway (2005)
Rating: Teen (language, mild violence)