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Richard Burns Rally (PlayStation 2)

By re_fold on March 28, 2008

Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Operation Resurrection (PlayStation 2)

By re_fold on October 4, 2005

Killzone (PlayStation 2)

Killzone is a highly enjoyable, epic soldiers-heroes story.

The Good
Killzone's introduction promises an epic war story. The leader of the Helghast speaks to his soldiers, about how they will crush their enemies who drove them off their home-planet. While listening to his speech, we see short scenes that hint at a rich background story, as well as furious firefights between the Helghast and the ISA. These set the mood, and start pumping the blood of the gamer.

Killzone delivers plenty of hard action, with enemies (the Helghast) that take many hits before finally falling to the ground. They look suitably sinister, have rough unhuman voices and brutal-looking vehicles and weaponry. But you never forget that they are humans, somewhat transformed by their planet's environment. We hear them scream when injured, shout rallying cries when rushing to your position et cetera. They are a great foe!

All the while i was playing , the great atmosphere and tough combat really pulled me into the gameworld. Expecially during a mêlée attack, the weight of your punches and kicks is shown with the swaying motion of your vision, truly a joy to watch and play. And the yelps of the poor Helghast that you kick in the nuts! Hilarious and slightly painful to listen to. The sound is also an impressively crafted aspect: crunching snow, howling wind, hot muzzle blasts, deep rumbling explosions. There is excellent music in cutscenes , and these are also of high quality. However, the use of polygon models limits the amount of expression in faces, and they do not show the natural motion of real human bodies. Motion capture has its limits.

The firefights are very memorable, and its so refreshing to see rich tactical opportunities. Being a quarter of a team, they alert you to dangers and function as extra eyes and ears. Cooperating with the other soldiers is a good way to keep the gamer emotionally involved with the firefights: having to protect not only his or her own life , but the lives of others as well. It also discourages reckless behavior with grenades…

You won't be fighting the Helghast in boring corridors that all look alike and only allow one tactic. The environments are awe-inspiring. Beautiful parks with the leaves falling softly from the trees, depressing slums with dirty streets, huge hi-tech structures to enter and shoot your way through, misty swamps to wade in : very varied, detailed and convincing design.

The Bad
The AI is very challenging, and rarely messes up. So when it does mess up, you are painfully reminded that it is a game.

The visuals come with a price. Killzone's graphics are very advanced, and the PS2 can not keep them flowing smoothly all the time. This is annoying because it stresses the eyes.

There is lots of data streaming while playing through levels - the PS2 constantly makes annoying loading sounds. However, this doesn't affect gameplay. It's just annoying to listen to it if I'm not using headphones.

The Bottom Line
I have played many First-Person-Shooter games, both on consoles and PC, and i can say now that Killzone evolved from the history of the FPS, inheriting all the good things, and none of the bad. I started playing this game without expectations, but i found plenty of memorable gaming moments, and i was very much amused throughout the entire trip. It's such a rich experience, i want to recommend it to all who enjoy the virtual hunt.

By re_fold on September 28, 2005

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six (Windows)

By re_fold on June 18, 2005

The Sum of All Fears (Windows)

By re_fold on June 15, 2005

Dethkarz (Windows)

By re_fold on May 11, 2005

Skiing (Atari 2600)

By re_fold on March 29, 2005

Mafia (Windows)

By re_fold on January 19, 2005

Tron 2.0 (Windows)

By re_fold on January 3, 2005

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Windows)

Plenty of hot and cool spy-action to be enjoyed here.

The Good
Many tense moments did i experience: softly and ever so slowly stepping closer and closer to the guard in the doorway... only to have him turn around at the last moment! Or, running swiftly through a hallway, quickly whipping out the lockpicking tools, unlocking, opening and then hearing the door close just before a soldier enters this hallway. Phew! Splinter Cell has lots of these moments. As well as exciting combat, beautiful locations to sneak through and an adequate story.

You can use lots of gadgets, look cool using them, admire the sights of a simple light beam rolling over your character 'Sam Fisher' and enjoy figuring out the environment - 'where to go next? and how to get there?'

The Bad
Almost every mission has only one path through it. Rarely have the designers included choices to approach the levels. But, there are still plenty of choices to be made. For example, at what moment to pull a soldier into your shadow.

Sometimes, the behavior of the computer characters is very sharp and observant, at other times they seem to lack eyes and ears.

Some levels have odd (unnatural or illogically constructed) layouts or solutions.

The difficulty levels are the only incentive for playing this game again. If you like to play games on 'Hard' expect only one run through. I don't mind, perhaps you do?

The Bottom Line
Very fun, exciting and thrilling game experience. It has no significant difficulty, so enjoy the ride!

By re_fold on December 28, 2004

Myth II: Soulblighter (Windows)

By re_fold on December 25, 2004

Planet of the Apes (Windows)

By re_fold on December 22, 2004

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

By re_fold on December 16, 2004

The Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon & Tribunal Duopack (Windows)

By re_fold on December 10, 2004

Grand Theft Auto III (Windows)

By re_fold on August 24, 2004

Wario Land II (Game Boy)

By re_fold on August 9, 2004

Sub-Terrania (Genesis)

By re_fold on August 5, 2004

Bram Stoker's Dracula (SEGA Master System)

By re_fold on June 22, 2004

GeneRally (Windows)

By re_fold on June 9, 2004

TrackMania (Windows)

Instant-classic, one to last many years.

The Good
This game is very similar to 'Stunts' the 1990 game of mad racing over crazy tracks you can create and share with others. However, TrackMania adds so much to this idea, enough to last another 13 years!

The time in the Stunts game was slowed down to allow for precision using the keyboard, but Trackmania goes full speed, and you need an analogue controller to keep your car under control. Its tracks test your limits in both reaction time, smoothness and precision!

Trackmania's play consists of three environments, each of them has a unique car and physics, as well as track parts (blocks) unique to it (for example the looping is only available in the Desert environment).

The physics are excellent; not realistic, but very fun and deep. The finer details of controlling your car are learned over many hours of playing time. You can grow into a better driver.

Even though TrackMania would appeal to me if it had filled polygons, the graphics do add to the experience, especially in the Rally environment.

The solo experience is very large and challenging; Puzzles, Racing, and Survival modes (the latter one added in the Power Up! patch) give you plenty of ways to spend some hours.

  • Puzzle Tracks start in the Track editor; you see an almost finished track and you have a few blocks you need to place. Then, race it for the fastest time. These challenges change the way you think about racing in TrackMania. They prepare you for making fast times, looking for holes and shortcuts, and teach you to have a critical eye toward any track.
  • Race tracks are simple enough; these tracks can be won even without knowing the tracks. These challenges deal with the racing techniques, on-the-spot decision making, finding the right entry point, speed et cetera. They also teach you about the car physics in TrackMania (which are amazingly deep).
  • Survival mode has you racing against three ghost cars, over twenty tracks, to see how far you can get. By winning a race you rise in rank and only if you finish last is the survival game over. It's essentially a test of your skills, to beat your high score.

The multiplayer experience is excellent! On a single computer, TrackMania sadly does not support split-screen racing, but it does offer multiple people a chance to race each other, in turns only. For networks, TrackMania has Round mode , Team mode and Time Attack mode. The other players are depicted in their cars but you can not bump into each other; you drive through them. This is good as there is less need for fast connections and you can focus on racing instead of fighting. However, for LANs, i would like to see an option to turn on car-to-car interaction. But then again, i might as well ask for rocket launchers..

The track editor is very easy to get into, although it could be improved (see the BAD section). The many blocks are grouped by type, and are easily laid out.

Everyone can create innovative, fun, stunt and race tracks, huge or tiny, and created tracks are mostly 5 to 10 Kb.

The Bad
The track builder has been made easy to use for the initiate, but to be more effective it should have an advanced mode in which one can use shortcuts such as CTRL-C etc. At the moment it strains my wrist when building for more than half an hour.

What will happen when TrackMania's central multiplayer server is shut down and multiplayer isn't possible anymore?

No split-screen support, a shame.

The Bottom Line
TrackMania is a truly outstanding game, one to last many years because of its varied and deep gameplay.

By re_fold on June 1, 2004

Operation Flashpoint: Resistance (Windows)

By re_fold on May 2, 2004

James Pond 3 (Genesis)

You're a fish on a mission to stop cheesefarming in space. And its fun!

The Good

  • Great controls as well as plenty of moves and interaction with the environment.
  • Big world with a great amount of varied levels, including a fair amount of hidden levels to discover.
  • Solid graphics and animation.
  • Humorous (fish walking on a cheese moon, visual and textual jokes).
  • A bit of puzzling with bombs, guns, umbrellas...
  • Finding many types of hidden items for extra points.
  • Medium difficulty (but could be tricky for untrained gamers)

**The Bad**
  • The password system is a pain. Imagine this; spend three minutes entering this password; "red fish, blue teapot, red cup, yellow cup, green ball, purple star, yellow james, red cookie, blue fish, blue cup,..". It takes too much time to write it down when quitting the game, as well as inputting it when you just want to start playing right away.
  • The colouring seems a bit off in levels and objects, as well as in the total design of the game.
  • Levels with cheese names and cheese themes.

**The Bottom Line**
It was a quality game when it was released, but i can't see a reason to play it after experiencing games that did it better.

By re_fold on March 21, 2004

Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis (Windows)

By re_fold on March 12, 2004

Wild Metal Country (Windows)

Tanks do battle in slow-paced retro-arcade game!

The Good
Rockstar (the new name of DMA Design) offered this game for download in exchange for some personal information they can use in their marketing. A great way to benefit both the company that created it and the gamer, in addition it gives the older games a chance to reach a new audience. Great move!

The physics incorporated into this game give it a unique flavour; it makes the driving much more interesting, it adds to the combat tactics (using the shock-wave of explosions to flip over a hostile tank, the need to constantly correct your aim because the recoil slightly changes the heading of your tank, etc), and it is refreshing to see this in an action game.

Although the action can be played fast, there is also time to approach the challenges as puzzles. The levels hold varying challenges. It is addicting!

You can choose several vehicles. There are plenty of different hostile vehicles and stationary artillery.

It is a pity i didn't find a multiplayer game, because i think this is a great game for people to play together! But if i really wanted to, i could organize such a match.

The Bad
The landscapes do not vary in their emptiness. Even though the textures and height map change often, making you change your approach to completing the level, i would have loved some aesthetic additions, such as bushes, to break the monotony.

The land-textures could be improved.

Finding your way around the map requires a navigation skill, which is good, but it can get frustrating when a lot of the environment looks similar.

After a few levels, i was slightly bored, knowing that the objective was the same as in the last.

I would have enjoyed playing a tank with faster movement and less mass (the available vehicles do not differ a lot)

A split-screen option for multiplayer. This feature should be a standard one, even in modern games that primarily use network connections.

The background story. I prefer a game that doesn't pretend to have a story, if not present.

The Bottom Line
It is no grand experience, but fills a niche. The physics add to the fun and are a great challenge to discover how to use them to your advantage. A game that builds on arcade mechanisms.

By re_fold on March 6, 2004

F-Zero X (Nintendo 64)

By re_fold on November 16, 2003

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