Test Drive: Off-Road 2 (PlayStation)
Accolade and Pitbull hit the mud in a average racer
While the first Off Road felt like Need for Speed 2 in a off-road environment and in circuits rather than point to point, let's pretend the sequel to be what the first one should've been: Some good course and vehicle selection, vehicles that can be upgraded, slightly balanced AI (though I was able to get first in some races), good sound and music, though the announcer gets old fast (see The Bad).
The graphics look bad by today's standards and the announcer gets annoying (each time you land a big jump, you hear "Awesome!" or "Whoa!"). The controls take time to get used to and the time limit is so tight that you can't even beat the first track on Hard.
The Bottom Line
An above average racer, but if you want to splash into some wet mud, you'd better get Wide Open on the PS2.
By BlaringCoder on November 14th, 2017
Porsche Challenge (PlayStation)
A licensed game based on Porsche's 'new' (at the time) model
While being a fan of the Sony PlayStation and liking the console that much, I liked the tracks, but not all of them though, and the only car you use is a Boxster, but the only difference is the colour and the driver. But, I pretty much liked the "interactive" tracks idea, patterns change every lap. While some are confusing to navigate, and others easy, you'd better think twice learning the tracks before that. The graphics are quite good for a PS1 game that aged well in my opinion. On the other hand, sound is the best part. I liked the music as much as the vehicle sounds, so the music is the best part by far.
There isn't a map, so the radar which has colour-coded dots is really weird. There's only one car you drive and that's bad. Why not the 911 series? It coulda been a lot better. The controls are the worst part that kills it for me. Pressing the up button on the D-pad honks your horn. So why it's there? Or even L1? It's so confusing what button does.
The Bottom Line
A rather decent PS1 title, but if you want a better racer, you should probably get Need for Speed on the same console.
By BlaringCoder on November 18th, 2016
Microsoft Soccer (Windows)
An mediocre Kick-Off clone that tries to be like the early FIFA games, but falls flat
The menu presentation is alright and the menu music gets boring real fast. As you would expect, you'll play only on national teams, but without club teams at all (see The Bad), on a stadium that you would change its condition in the rules menu. The players are pre-rendered and are motion captured, similar to FIFA '96. While there is no way to have a night time setting in the game, you can change the weather as well, but it's limited to rain. The sound is mediocre at best, complete with team-specific crowd chants, and the menu music is really limited to 3 songs. Despite that, Dino Dini, who made the Kick-Off series, is credited in the help/about section, so it explains why the game was based off the series. Depending on the team, players look different at least, with hair and skin options in the player editor, or you can change their home and away kits, including the goalie. You can play by modem or internet (since the game is forgotten, play it alone), but no matter what choice you do it's the same.
There are no club teams, and you'll get bored of it after 15 minutes. Unlike FIFA '97, there are no adboards with real life companies (Only MSNBC is present, while in FIFA '97 there is only HP). The tournament mode is a bit long, and the AI often scores goals on your team, and they would intercept the ball if you try to score.
The Bottom Line
Buy it for cheap, put it on your old computer and play it for an hour. Overall, it falls flat on its head.
By BlaringCoder on August 9th, 2016
Streets of SimCity (Windows)
The concept is executed decently. That's pretty much all.
Where the devil do I even start? The graphics are atrocious in DirectDraw mode. If you use 3DFX, it doesn't look any better. The people in the last game that shared the same engine (Simcopter), people were a mix of flat shaded polygons for the body and 2D for their heads. But here, they're sprites compressed in Smacker video format. The cars are just vehicles made around the 1960's and 70's, if you compare it to Interstate '76, which was their competitor at the time of release. The scenarios are really awful with no set time of day or weather. It's just daylight (or nighttime) in clear weather all the time you start a scenario. The gameplay is just 'shoot, take package, deliever it, kill more cars', repeat. The AI just drives around, tries to shoot, and on some occasions on hi-end systems, they just use the Hopper due to the engine not allowing you to handle the frame-rate on a new PC. The voice acting in the scenarios is just awfully made. While it's a K-A rated game, expect a bit of mild language here and there. The music is repetitve, five or six songs per station, and that's it. However, there is a mix function that plays songs in order, and a option to play only music, DJ announcer toggle on/off and adverts between songs on/off. The sounds are just some sound effects recycled from Simcopter, along with a sound effect shamelessly taken from the film The Junkman. However, the sounds are awful to hear. The glitches are the worst thing that kills this game. The physics are broken, the turning is wrong, and braking is as if you let go off the gas pedal. The clipping is really terrible, you go through gas stations, trees and power lines. If something goes wrong with the game, it goes into an "unrecoverable error" and the game quits. Has someone playtested the game? Nobody.
The Bottom Line
There's nothing I could describe it. It's a mess that some people bought it when it came out, and no sequel to either Simcopter and Streets of Simcity was done. If you see it on a store, and online, don't buy it.
By BlaringCoder on July 4th, 2016
Done excellently, needs better stuff
First made as a prototype for the seven day FPS Jam, this title had a kickstarter after the prototype and many people crowd funded it, up to two million US dollars. The visual style, which has white and blue (sometimes black and red) all over it. Sometimes it feels like the movie Matrix, most of the time, if you stay still, the time slows down, without a push of a button, if you move, it speeds up. The menu also has the system clock time when you fire it up. After the first few settings, the application gives an "unauthorized access" message and glitches out, then you'll get told by the supplier that the file has been updated. Then, the game becomes tougher. It took me a lot of tries to get some of the levels done. The weapon selection is really nice, raging from your fists (much like Chuck Norris, but without his trademark roundhouse kick), the baseball bat (which breaks after some hits and it's useless), katana (for slicing people up), semi automatic pistols, double barrel shotguns, assault rifles, and so on. To make the player not bored, the developers added an endless mode, which is you trying to kill as many adversaries as you can, a really impossible no restart mode, which is even harder than the standard, and a katana only mode. The audio is done really well, enemies shatter like glass after being killed, guns sound really powerful, and the ambient audio is okay.
The progressively hard story mode, which hurts this game for me. I would be very annoyed if it gets harder and harder, but then again, it goes "easy at first, hard later" style.
The Bottom Line
Suprisingly, this is a very good concept and I would recommend it for some people who didn't play it before. Overall, a really good entry to the FPS genre.
By BlaringCoder on March 9th, 2016
Rally Championship (GameCube)
Completely mediocre port of a PC game released only in Europe that doesn't hold up well to the original title
As Rally Championship Xtreme came out only in Europe, Conspiracy and SCi Games teamed up to make a console port of Xtreme, which looks a bit better than the original, but a little worse. The graphics for the most part are quite impressive for 2002, it looks dated nowadays. The gameplay is the same as I played the original game which was based on, and the sound is much better, you can hear airhorns from the crowd, engines sound accurate, and the co pilot sounds better when you can compare to the PC port of the game. It looks decent, but...
..the music is just terrible, the developers tried to add really good music but it falls flat. Sometimes the music is a mix-up between techno and rock so it goes really badly as the game doesn't loop them right, the song ends and it plays back from the beginning. The rest of the music is the same like Xtreme, nothing special. Some bonus cars are slow, like the Mini Cooper which is a red herring because it is so slow, and its Rover engine won't help. On the other hand the tracks are mixed up, I don't remember a level from the Wales rally being in the Scottish rally which is not fitting, as it's a port of a 2001 game. The tracks are the same as in Xtreme, nothing special.
The Bottom Line
Well, as it turns out, the port is just a mixed bag. A port of a Europe only PC game, but it turns into a mess as it got a one year delay in the US. If you want a good rally game, stick to V-Rally 3 or get Pro Rally on the same console.
By BlaringCoder on February 18th, 2016
Snow Break (PlayStation)
A above-average NTSC-J and PAL snowboarding game. Don't expect anything more
First of all, the game first got a Japan release in January 1998, and it got a PAL release two months later the same year. In Japan it was published by Atlus, while in Europe it was published by Microids (now known as MC2-Microids). It was developed by Visual Studio Entertainment. The game is a downhill snowboarding (or skiing) game in five (one locked) courses which are: The Valley, The Forest, The Cable Way, the Castle and the Town at nighttime. If you beat the game you get a sixth course, which is really hard. There are four available characters at the start but you can get a hidden character if you beat the game on the hard difficulty, even the AI is easy on all difficulties. The gameplay is straight forward, with obstacles in the way. The music, while in CD audio format, really adds in to the atmosphere. On the other hand the sound is okay at best.
The camera itself, which gives you a headache, and it zig zags most of the time. There is a little replay value. You beat the game, that's it. Turn off the system and you're done for.
The Bottom Line
I would recommend this game if you haven't heard of any games from Microids during the 1996 to 2001 era. However, get Cool Boarders 2 if you want a downhill snowboarding game. It never came out to the US, if you're interested, you would import it. I could give this game a 3 out of 5.
By BlaringCoder on February 6th, 2016
Wirehead (SEGA CD)
An above-average Mega CD game
The game came out in late 1995, with the Saturn being the new Sega console, and the controls are straight forward, the D-pad being the direction, and the A and B buttons to punch or kick. The plotline is told by a opening cinematic, where it is explained by the doctor who gave you the implant device, that the FBI is after you. There are multiple paths, sometimes you need to go 'trial and error' each time to remember which way to go. If it is a wrong path, you lose a life. When all of your lives are out, the game is over and you have to start from the first area. The indicator is handy so if it is off, you are completely screwed. The film's acting is quite good, so you need to hear it loud and clear. The musical score which is composed nicely sounds well, but the sound effects all sound pretty stock, even for a late 1995 game. There are three car chases, a scene where you eject from the plane via raft, escaping with three vehicles (wagon, motorcycle and a jeep) to get to the doctor's flat, using the zodiac to get to the shore and two driving (buggy and fish truck) sections to get to the Times newspaper company buliding.
The film quality which looks grainy, even for a Mega CD game, the game gets short, so you have to beat it for 30 or so minutes if you are well to memorize the paths, or an hour if you are terrible at it.
The Bottom Line
A quite average game with lots of quick time events which occur, and it is one of the last Mega CD games, until it was discontinued and taken over with the 32-bit Saturn.
By BlaringCoder on November 27th, 2015
Need for Speed: Porsche Unleashed (Windows)
Best of the series so far
The vehicle amount is quite big, 80 cars without downloadable cars, but there are more when you got to the official website at the time of release. I enjoyed the track layout and missions add to the replay value. The music was very usual for EA, mix of funky songs in between but then it drops from good to absolutely terrible, that I got stretched like wire when I hear a bad song here. Thankfully you can manage the playlist in the option menu The tracks are based around Europe, France and Germany. There are also five circuits around Monte Carlo (though all five circuits are in night). Each track has its own time of day too, but it is static. There are details here and there which range from rain to animated people. For example in Normandie you can see a old woman sitting on a chair, and a man cleanning the junk on the floor. Engines sound well, horns sound like they should, background noises like rain, animals etc. There are extras like slides, videos and showcases for each car.
Tracks are very limited, lack of custom tournaments, driver models are limited, and have about four models each. Some Factory Driver missions are nearly hard to beat. The AI seems to have catchup but it annoys me alot. Sometimes the vehicles spin out of control, so you lose the pack very often and you will keep an eye for the damage meter.
The Bottom Line
It is the best of the series, it is simulation like but looks arcadey. Get it in any way you can and enjoy it. Trust me.
By BlaringCoder on November 8th, 2015
Alone in the Dark (DOS)
A fantastic game, better than the remake
The plot which was explained when you selected your character, the wire-frame backgrounds and the CD music (on the floppy release, there is MIDI instead). The sounds are well recorded, you can hear creaks if you step on wood, background sound effects like drips, opening doors, and the digital speech. The graphics of the objects look well and have plenty of textures. These were flat-shaded, way back before the later games which had full textures and these were state of the art back in 1992.
The combat and the poorly made control setup. The control is delayed slightly, which means that you must press and tap the up arrow key to run. The monsters look hilarious looking when you can see them for the first time. It could last for some minutes around 10 or so if you are fast enough, or an hour if you readed the books in the game you picked up. There is replay value though. You can try the game once more with a different character.
The Bottom Line
It is a great game back then and it had the best enviroment so far. Sadly the remake was poorly done, resulting in Eden Studios going down after the 2008 remake was made.
By BlaringCoder on October 13th, 2015