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Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns (Windows)

Stands out in a genre full of me-also's

The Good
Kohan's original game mechanics make it more akin to a real-time Heroes of Might & Magic than another of its endless RTS contemporaries. Instead of base construction we have cities that you have to conquer, defend and develop, and which project a radius of troop support and military intelligence around them. instead of manufacturing countless nameless units, we build a small but importat number of armies, each commanded by a potent hero.

The Bad
the graphics were only adequate for its time, and didn't convey scale well. the computer wasn't agressive enough, making the game too easy - something which i am told was fixed somewhat in the standalone expansion pack. finally, the story, while having potential, was told mainly through boring monologues and left underdeveloped.

The Bottom Line
If you were at any stage searching for a game combining some of the strengths of Warcraft on the one hand and Heroes of Might & Magic on the other, know that Kohan is a good attempt at it.

By ududy on June 18, 2003

Star Wars: Jedi Knight - Dark Forces II (Windows)

At the front of the pack for its time

The Good
Where are all the FPS gamers, giving credit where credit is due? Jedi Knight was THE First Person Shooter to own at the time, Star Wars fan or not. It excels, like Dark Forces, in level design, though the 3D engine here allowed for a definite increase in geometrical detail. Vast environments also helped achieve that epic Star Wars quality. The battles were exciting, in no small part thanks to most weapons being beam based (we're talking Slow beams, as in cinematic ones), so you could dodge and leap to avoid fire, and had to lead your targets, as opposed to just laying the cursor over them and squeezing. Great music, as always.

The Bad
They took the wrong path by deciding to film the story, instead of portraying it with animation or story book style. It doesn't sit well with the graphical style of the game, and also suffers from mediocre acting and not good enough integration of video and computer graphics. The script was also quite boring. So, don't play it for the story.

its also a pity they allowed for saving everywhere, and designed the levels in light of that decision. As a result, instead of the concentrated, tense challenges that were the Dark Forces levels, which were designed to be playable without saving, we got levels designed on the quicksave/quickload principle.

The Bottom Line
I don't know how it stands up today, but it was a blast to play in 1997, even for a jaded FPS player

By ududy on April 29, 2002

Evil Twin: Cyprien's Chronicles (Windows)

By ududy on November 10, 2001

Drakan: Order of the Flame (Windows)

A relatively overlooked action gem

The Good
Even playing this game 2 years on, the expansive environments are enough to impress - especially the way interior and exterior space is combined. The maps are huge, somewhat non-linear, and filled with interesting nooks and crannies, many times holding bonus items, and sometimes special items or encounters. The RPG element, where the different kinds of weapons and armor degrade over time and you have to keep an eye out for replacements, adds to the tension and makes exploration meaningful beyond just experiencing the environment. With some simple puzzles and traps, and well-staged set pieces, Drakan manages to keep you curious and entertained through quite a long quest. The enemy's AI, while easy to mislead in some instances, has some interesting behaviors - running away, picking up and using nearby allies as projectiles (in the case of the giants), switching between long and short range weapons - the sort of detail that distinguishes between colorful and vanilla enemies. The voice acting (for the admittedly trite dialogue) is mostly good, better than average for games. And let's not forget that feeling of power when you let out a stream of intense fire and fry a group of creatures that on foot would have meant mucho trouble.

The Bad
Dragonflight is generally exciting, but should have been more. Arokh's collision detection is flawed and makes him bump into invisible barriers. And bump is the right word here, because you get no impression of the force that should have been released by the huge mass of a dragon crashing into rock at a good rate of miles per hour. In the sequel, which is now in production for the PS2, i hope the results of a brush with the terrain take into account the points of contact, the mass and the vector of flight. In the same vein, the aerodynamics for the dragon not only feel wrong, but he is also too easy to maneouver to be as interesting as he should. Arokh is best described as a very nimble helicopter - he can hover, turn on the spot, maintain height even in extreme turns without effort (okay, so maybe he's a flying saucer, not a heli), and go from full speed to reverse flight in a second. As a result of the shallowness of the flight model, there is no challenge in flying, even in constricted spaces. It also affects dragonback combat, which degenerates into the dreaded FPS circle strafe. Story is passable, barely (only because we have very low standards for story telling in games)

The Bottom Line
An action hack & slash game with two-tiered gameplay - on foot and dragon-riding - that works well. The player that likes to explore will find that Drakan can emphasize exploration not less than combat, and provide a lot of entertaining moments.

By ududy on October 14, 2001

Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura (Windows)

By ududy on October 9, 2001

Clive Barker's Undying (Windows)

By ududy on October 4, 2001

The Longest Journey (Windows)

Let me be the party popper here and express my disappointment over "The Longest Journey"

The Good
The heroine is likable enough, if a bit simple, and the story tries to be epic and universal while also lingering on small human moments. Except for the characters, the graphics are great. There's also a lot of game here.

The Bad
The main things for a game of this sort are Story and Puzzles, and they both fail. The puzzles are mostly tedious affairs, almost without that magic moment of insight that a good puzzle's solution gives you. The story is clearly not written by a professional. If it followed other amateurly written adventures by adapting the form of a tongue in cheek game, it wouldn't suffer so much for it, but here the plot tries to achieve much more than the writers' skills allow for. It makes a caricature out of the depth and breadth of emotion that it tries to convey.

The Bottom Line
Most adventurers like this game, so go ahead and give it a whirl. It's large, beautiful and it tries hard. For me, the story was uninvolving and the puzzles just tired.

By ududy on October 3, 2001

Duke Nukem 3D (DOS)

Inventive and colorful, but still not as good as Doom

The Good
Duke 3d is for many THE Doom beater. I cant deny that it has quite a bit more variety in environments and is richer in all kinds of cool things to discover. Great graphics for their time.

The Bad
Too foolish to provide an atmosphere, certainly not as tense as Doom. And in the end its combat, the first principle of an FPS, is inferior to the classic it rivals. Duke's weapons don't have the impact of Doom's, and enemy shots are many times too fast, creating battles of constitution instead of Doom's skillful dodging moves.

The Bottom Line
After a while you'll just want to see the next level, without going through the tedium of the battles.

By ududy on August 13, 2001

Oni (Windows)

Oni, while not as great as it could have been, is a very good game

The Good
I completely disagree with the criticism of this game on the Featured Game column. The criticism states that Oni looks great but plays poorly. I claim the reverse is true. Oni's graphics were drab and disappointing (except for the smooth and varied animation), but its hand to hand combat system created a playing experience that is both unique and superior to most other 3d action games. Intuitive controls (after a short adjustment period), a great range of effective movements and intelligent enemies combined to create some of the most thrilling fights i ever had in an action game, 1st or 3rd person. the save system works perfectly most of the time, with the duration between saves short enough not to frustrate, long enough to be challenging.

The Bad
I expected much more from the story, which was left underdeveloped and cliched. the game's environments were its weakest point - repetitive, underwhelming, with very little interaction.

The Bottom Line
no game is like Oni, no computer combat is like going 1 on 3 in Oni and throwing your opponents left and right, and no gun toting two bit hero can equal heroine konoko's combat fury and finesse. the game does not live up to its full potential, but it is a remainder that new gameplay experiences can still be created if designers stop thinking by the formula. if you're tired of aiming and shooting, strafing and blasting, get Oni and teach those goons a thing or two about female power.

By ududy on July 10, 2001

DragonStrike (DOS)

There aren't many fantasy simulators to compare this one to, but even if there were, it would have been tough to beat

The Good
The 3d graphics were excellent for their time, especially the complexity of the terrain (the 3d creature models lacked character so i preffered the bitmapped versions) missions were varied and tense role-playing elements made it more fun - you could have taken on special challenge missions to improve your and your dragon's statistics, and advanced through more and more powerful dragons

The Bad
at the time i was in love. playing it a few years later i came to dislike the claw to claw battles, which usually just amounted to endless turning around until you got lucky. also, it was way too easy to outdistance most enemy dragons. the flight model was also too simplistic.

The Bottom Line
Dragon Strike is a classic, and we're long overdue for a new dragon simulator. Maybe "ozzy's black skies" will fit the bill?

By ududy on March 16, 2001

Dragonsphere (DOS)

By ududy on August 31, 2000