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Ciarán Lynch @glorious

Reviews

Princess Maker 2 (PC-98)

By Ciarán Lynch on July 12, 2010

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox)

By Ciarán Lynch on September 7, 2005

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Windows)

By Ciarán Lynch on September 7, 2005

Red Dead Revolver (Xbox)

It’s good, it’s bad but it ain’t ugly

The Good
Perhaps it’s not every kids dream, but I always dreamed of being Clint Eastwood. To be more specific, the spaghetti Western Clint Eastwood.

If I was only a bit taller, a lot cooler and could convincingly wear a poncho in public I’d make my dream a reality. Distraught I had resigned myself to wait until the fashion world discovered the retro qualities of mid 19th century clothing… until I stumbled upon this game.

The action in the game comes fast. After a brief tutorial level you’ll find yourself getting into the thick of it. When it comes to the later levels however the real challenge begins as you will be facing insurmountable odds in order to survive. All in a days work for a gun slinging bounty hunter I suppose…

In all honestly though the gameplay, while action filled and enjoyable can be said to be highly repetitive. You start the new level/setting, walk forward kill the enemies that appear until you end up at the level boss character, Repeat this 10 times and you’re finished the game practically.

The “Dead Eye” ability while initially difficult to use is a feature that brightens up the sometimes repetitive action. Essentially it works in a similar fashion as the bullet time in , time slows down giving you the extra time to make precision hits on your enemies.

The showdown moments of the game are a nice touch. Few Western themed games have attempted to have a proper showdown element to them and I think it’s a credit to the games developers that they’ve created a solid draw system with a good cinematic quality to it. It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly the best attempt I’ve seen anyone come up with so far. The showdown situations are used to great effect in the game, especially in the Duelling Tournament in the later game stages, in the style of The Quick & the Dead.

By far the greatest quality of Red Dead Revolver has to be it’s faithfulness and reverence to the Western film genre. You can tell that the creators and staff who worked on the game were big fans of the Sergio Leone classics. The grainy film quality of those first Spaghetti Westerns has been incorporated into the games cinematics. It’s this attention to the small details that makes Red Dead Revolver one of the best Western games I’ve ever played, though I’ll admit there isn’t many of them.

The music - while it’s not for that of Ennio Morricone's famous Western music, my guess is that it was pretty damn expensive to get the rights to use the music – adds a lot to the atmosphere of the game. According to the games credits comes from other obscure Spaghetti Westerns and it’s just another example of the lengths Rockstar went to create the sense that your playing a Western movie and not just a Western themed game.

Another example of this is the level where you play the Mexican General Diego. The level is almost completely lifted from a scene in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. As for the games protagonist, Red, it obvious from the intro alone that he’s modelled on Clint’s mysterious stranger of the Sergio Leone movies. For fans of the Spaghetti Westerns I must say that this game is pretty much as good as it gets.



The Bad
As I mentioned earlier the gameplay can be repetitive. This trait isn’t helped by the fact that the enemy AI is pretty poor, with perhaps the exception of the third last mission your opponents don’t offer up much of challenge. It’s only on the optional “Bounty Hunter” side of the game - a post game completion mode which allows your character to earn extras in the regular game, infinite ammo, invincibility, etc. – that provides a real challenge.

The opportunity of creating a lively Western environment for your character to inhabit in between missions is wasted. While the Brimstone setting between levels is a nice idea it doesn’t work as everyone you meet has only two set phrases to say. It’s a pity that the developers went to the trouble of creating a fairly decent Western town only to populate it with cardboard cut out characters. In the town the only options available to you, besides listening to the same dialogue from the non–player characters again and again, are to buy extra weaponry or items that affect the multi-player or extra material aspects of the game.

Red Dead Revolver has a bit of a schizophrenic character about it. At times it appears to be a somewhat gritty Western type drama that deals with greed, betrayal and revenge. Other times it descends into farce with the Professor Perry interlude of the game, with its circus freaks and clowns. It’s a pity as its moments like that take greatly from the main plot of the game.

This brings me to the games plot. It’s fine, a few bad moments like I said, but overall it’s ok. Perhaps this is not fair to say, but I felt that there was a lot more potential in the story then what was used in the game.

The Bottom Line
Red Dead Revolver is classified as a Western themed game, but I think it’s more appropriate to classify it as a movie inspired game seeing that it draws so heavily on the Westerns of the big screen. Unlike such movie inspired games such as which attempt to simply cash in on the fan ban for a movie, Red Dead Revolver is a Western game for Western fans. Really if you’re a fan of the Spaghetti Westerns, like me, or a big fan of Westerns in general go out and buy the game and you’ll be enjoying it before you can sing “wa-ah wa-ah wa-ah, wa…wa…wa.”

By Ciarán Lynch on August 15, 2005

Red Dead Revolver (PlayStation 2)

By Ciarán Lynch on August 15, 2005

Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares (DOS)

Crafted, polished and sublime.

The Good
After the magnificent failure of Master of Orion III I re-installed this game to see was the Master of Orion franchise really all that I remembered it to be.

It's nearly a decade since this game was first released and after all that time I still can be out-witted, out-classed and out-played by Master of Orion II.

Every few games I find myself immersed in a galactic struggle as I rush ship production in order to get my fleet ready for the inevitable war, or I'm putting the squeeze on scientists to get that vital bit of research done so I can construct a ship capable of exploiting the enemy's weakness.

Master of Orion II is immense. Playing it you'll be dealing with everything from basic colonial management and supply, to research and development, ship design, fleet logistics, tactical combat, diplomacy, espionage and racial assimilation.

While this aspect of the game frightens many potential players, personally I think it's the games greatest strength. One can take up to ten minutes planning, massing resources and micro-managing everything before hitting that turn button. Fast paced this game is not.

Tense, deep and immersing Master of Orion is.

The Bad
While Master of Orion II, in my opinion, is still one of the greatest games ever made it is not without its flaws.

Let's face it; the music is far from inspired. The same tune looping endlessly? It's a petty criticism I'll admit but something that defiantly could have been improved upon.

Some of the alien races attributes are laughable in comparison to others. The advantages of an Gnolam compared to a Sakkara are an example of this. The weaker races rarely present any threat to the player when computer controlled however they pose an immense challenge for the player to use, especially on the higher difficulty levels.

Many feel that the games fails to sufficiently improve on Master of Orion and in the process of adding greater detail and depth to the game the developers made the game too complex for beginners to enjoy. It's a valid point, for anybody starting with this game it will take weeks just to understand what's going on and months for them to know what they should be doing!

The Bottom Line
Master of Orion II makes my list. Anyone who has ever played computer games has one. Ok so it might not be written down, but it's a list of the few computer games you have good memories playing.

For those who love detail and the joy out beating an opponent fifty times stronger than you by tactics, technology and a little bit of luck; play a bit of great gaming history.

By Ciarán Lynch on August 12, 2005

Fight Club (Xbox)

Read the book. Watch the film. Don’t buy the game.

The Good
It's cheap! But remember kids you get what you pay for! The first five minutes are alright until you start to realise that you've actually experienced everything this game has to offer. O and the soundtrack is from the film so that's a plus. As for anything else...hmm...nope, can't think of anything.

The Bad
Ok, before I demolish this game I want to set the record straight. I’m a big fan of Fight Club, the book and the film, even the soundtracks just superb. So when I saw this game on the market my hopes weren't all that high. I figured it was a cynical attempt by a company to cash in on the popular appeal of Fight Club, so I steered well away. One day I see it in the bargain basket so I buy it just to see if it’s as bad as I thought it would be. In all fairness it wasn’t as bad as I had thought, it was much, much worse. After your first fight, there's the second which was very like the first. Then there's the third which surprisingly is like the previous two. See where I'm going here? As for the much lauded body and bone damage all I can say is overrated. There's only a few occasions where it comes into play and once you've broken someone's leg, arm or back 50 times and seen the same slow-motion sequence well it all begins to loose its impact. Don't even get me started on the "Story mode". Seems to me that it was a developer's afterthought and a very bad afterthought at that.

The Bottom Line
Fight Club, the game, is a product of four or five brain storming sessions. The makers of this game take the basic premise of the book/film, the physical Fight Club part and well… that’s pretty much it. Everything else that made Fight Club what it was; the moral ambiguities, the twisted philosophies, warped logic and some truly great speeches are discarded to make a sub-standard and unimaginative beat-em up which Street Fighter II would surpass. In fact the only things brought from the movie are the music and some of the settings. You could argue that the characters are transferred but to be honest they are just cardboard cut-outs of the originals. One of the strangest things about this game is that as a movie inspired game, its main audience will be fans of the book/movie. Yet this game makes such an unadulterated mess out of Fight Club’s main themes and characters it can only alienate them. If you don’t believe me watch the ending for the narrator’s (“Jack’s”) character, picnics with Marla? Somehow that just doesn’t fit with the Fight Club I know...

By Ciarán Lynch on August 11, 2005

Outpost (Windows 3.x)

Why didn't they just go to the Moon!?

The Good
Outpost does display remarkably good graphics for the time of its release. These 3-D Studio rendered graphics are an impressive feature, and they have an air of realism about them. Industrial factories continue to be an eyesore even on a barren planet devoid of life.

The game is littered with interesting features that add to the realism of the game. The sewage recycling plants that convert crap into multi-purpose goo that’s used in almost every task possible is one of my favourite examples of this! Further realism is that because of the inhospitable nature of the planet everyone lives underground and giant underground caverns must be excavated before the building can begin.

The game has some original building that can be built, who would have ever thought that building red light districts would have proved to be so beneficial for the populace, well one half of it maybe...

The Bad
I’ve got to say that this game has some extremely unusual features within it, playing it you’ve got to wonder about the developers sense of humour and their sanity.

Take for example the production of “luxury goods” for those invisible colonists to enjoy. After building my factory especially designed for producing these goods I clicked on the menu of items that the place could mass-produce for the luxury starved colony. I was expecting classy things, but what had the place to offer? Fuzzy dice! Maybe it’s just me, but fuzzy dice ain’t my idea of anything luxurious. If it was a joke it just succeeded in pissing me off.

Another unusual feature of this game is the fact that you can take multiple turns. Now with turn based strategy games - well, good ones - or any turn based games for that matter, there is never enough time or money available in one turn to get everything you possibly want done, done. Outpost allows you to take huge turn jumps. Why bother waiting five turns to see if the game gets interesting? Nah, just throw in 500 hundred on the old turn counter and wait a couple of loading hours to discover that, despite their being enough food and air for millions of colonists, the small number of them upped and died anyway. Maybe I just didn't make them feel loved…

Looking through the contents of the outpost cd there is an absolutely huge amount of data. Original Dialogue from the Apollo missions (even the infamous "Houston we have a problem" Apollo 13 dialogue) and other dialogue that appears to be from the game are hidden in the cd. I say hidden because it is, all this data just doesn't seem to be part of the game. I've changed the sound setting but got nothing new. To be honest I got the impression that the game wasn't really finished when at the time of its release. How else can you explain the large amount of extras on the cd, extras I might add that are not mentioned anywhere in that pathetic manual.



The Bottom Line
Two words: hideously flawed. Outpost promises much but fails to deliver due to bad design, bad planning and most of all bad gameplay. I just can't help but to compare it to another recent - and heartbreaking- disaster, Master of Orion 3. Both games had great potential and could have been complete successes if only the developers had spent a little more time and a lot more effort on making something worthwhile.

By Ciarán Lynch on May 27, 2004

The Getaway (PlayStation 2)

By Ciarán Lynch on May 25, 2004

Fallout (Windows)

By Ciarán Lynch on March 18, 2004

Pacific Strike (DOS)

By Ciarán Lynch on March 16, 2004

Colony Wars: Vengeance (PlayStation)

A gritty conflagration!

The Good
I'm a fan of the Colony Wars series. Ironically I played them all in reverse, noticing how each one had improved upon its predecessor. Red Sun has the best graphics and gameplay but without a doubt it is Colony Wars Vengeance that is by far the best game out of the trilogy. The strength of Vengeance is the plot, or to be more exact, the feeling that you’re immersed in world of the plot, the world of the Vengeance War.

You play the role of a Navy pilot, Mertens, who is the narrator throughout the game. Mertens is a survivor of the terrible civil wars that erupted in the Sol system due to the success of the League of the Free Worlds, all this happened in the first game.

The one thing you'll notice straight away about this game is it's dark tone. Like the title of this game suggests this game is all about Vengeance. The sole purpose of the Colonial Navy in this game is to wreak vengeance upon the League of Free Worlds for defeating them in the previous game. As you complete the missions and experience the full horrors of the Vengeance war, you go through his journey as well. You’ll go from adoration of your leader Kron to becoming more and more disillusioned with the war. The change is very gradual but adds to the games sense of realism.

To be honest I liked this dark tone from the start. I'm fed up of plucky rebels fighting for a good cause! I loved the sense of hatred directed towards the league that emerges in the opening scenes of this game. The opening cut scenes work as they're supposed to, they're propaganda. As the game progresses Mertens and therefore you begin to see beyond the propaganda and question the motives of Kron, leading to the biggest plot twist imaginable...

The opening missions are very impressive, flying your fighter in high Earth orbit, the planet taking up half of the screen, fighting off rival factions as you help to rebuild the shattered Navy. As you get further and further into the game, and further and further into the war, the variety of missions is staggering. You can go from dog fighting, to dodging capital ship heavy lasers, to covering planetary invasions in ground missions. Every now again you'll have to face a "boss" like figure, for example giant interplanetary relays or even the deadly Widowmaker...

The Bad
Colony Wars Vengeance improves over the first Colony Wars game. However many of the worst faults of the first game have survived. Sadly, just like the first game, Vengeance is un-winnable. Really, just forget trying to get that final mission done. It's not going to happen. Get the cheats and save yourself a lot of frustration...

Similarly, some of the missions during the game are impossible to complete! Thankfully you don't have to win them all to progress, but it is still pretty annoying. There's one mission in particular, which to this day I still haven't been able to complete, despite my best efforts...

One could complain about the cut-scenes in this game. Don't get me wrong they're done extremely well but there is a lack of them. You're treated to one every three missions or so. For me though it was a bit of incentive to struggle on in order to get to the next chapter of the story...

I mentioned earlier how many of the original game's faults have been kept in this game. Well this is true of your space-fighters shields. They don't regenerate! You can be unlucky and get hit by a missile and there go all of your chances of completing the missions, time to hit restart. Trust me, that'll be something you'll be doing very often.

The Bottom Line
It's a great game! Not without it's flaws but defiantly well worth playing. While the story of the first game was very similar to that of Star Wars. Colony Wars Vengeance truly distinguishes itself separate from the Star Wars mould. As the game progresses the plot takes its dark turns, it is great to play a game that has believable twists and turns, one that has a dark plot of murder and vengeance.

I picked my copy up second hand, but there are still a lot of copies of this game out there. If you see it around buy it! Experience the thrill of a good game...

By Ciarán Lynch on March 1, 2004

Colony Wars (PlayStation)

Not another evil empire!?

The Good
The first thing I thought was this game is just another Star Wars clone. We're faced with a small band of righteous rebels fighting against the evil, tyrannical galactic empire. Yawn...

To be honest for the first couple of missions the game does disappoint. You're introduced to the rebellion as the evil colonial empire closes in for the kill. However imagine my surprise when I discovered that this is a game that gets better the further you progress. You go from cheery rebel to a war-hardened veteran to understanding the viewpoint of your enemy. The more you play the deeper you'll get into the plot of Colony Wars. Really the more hours you put into this game the harder it'll be to leave it alone.

The huge amount of information available on the universe of Colony Wars is truly staggering. It's a credit to the game's writers. It's refreshing to see that the developers spent some serious time writing and researching a decent back-story for the game.

Another factor that distinguishes Colony Wars from other space shooters is the continuity between missions; you can fail the mission and continue playing. In fact half of the games plot can only be accessed by failing the first few missions of the game. If you fail too many the game will end but this'll depend on the act you're currently playing in. There are nine different endings to this game. In fact you can win the game but loose in a broader sense. You'll have to play the game to understand what I mean!


The Bad
The game narrators voice! All credit to the guy who did it, he does a good job but I couldn't keep thinking that he was a cheap version of James Earl Jones!

The save system of the game is fundamentally flawed. You're only allowed to save at the beginning of each act (roughly every three missions). While this does sound fair in theory in practice it's one of the most frustrating aspects of this game as many of the key missions rest near the end of each act. If you fail you have to return to the beginning of the act and retrace your progress.

Probably the most annoying factor with this game is that a number of missions are impossible to complete without the aid of cheats. This is especially true of the final mission which can ONLY be done with the aid of cheats, believe me not even Topper Harley could fly out of that battle...

The Bottom Line
I'd have to say that Colony Wars is one of the best space shooters for the playstation. It has good graphics (well for it's day anyway), an excellent plot and will keep a fan of the genre entertained for some time. The game is pretty easy to find in the bargain bins seeing that it's an old playstation game, my advice is that it is well worth purchasing...

By Ciarán Lynch on March 1, 2004

Master of Orion (DOS)

By Ciarán Lynch on February 27, 2004

Grand Theft Auto 2 (PlayStation)

GTA revisited...

The Good
Rockstar made a number of improvements with GTA2. There's an added police threat, as your wanted level goes up you'll be chased by F.B.I. agents and eventually the army. The new concept of respect within the rival gangs works well at times, if you're really respected within one group, for example, they'll attack any the those pesky police officers attempts to catch you. The introduction is great to watch. To be honest it's one of the best features of this game. It's just what GTA would be as a movie really. As always the soundtrack to the game is above par. While the music might not be up the standard of the first game, it is the advertisements that you're bound to remember. Where else can you hear about "Orgasmo bars" or the burgers at "Crazy Cj's"!

The Bad
The missions for GTA2 are pretty weak when compared with the first game. Expect no surprises really. The idea of having rival gangs is a good one, but the fact is that that there are no real differences between any gang's missions. There's no improvement on the graphics. Usually a sequel attempts to improve on the standards set in the previous game. Sadly with GTA2 this is not the case.

The Bottom Line
Really when it comes down to it, this game is just a repackaged GTA. If you're a huge fan of the original or if you want to have the complete GTA series, it's worth a look. Just don't expect to be surprised.

By Ciarán Lynch on February 25, 2004

Metal Marines (Windows 3.x)

Ah the joy of mass destruction...

The Good
Metal Marines plays very well, missiles fly from one part of the screen to the other (a nice touch by the way), and interception rockets rush to knock them from the sky. I’m telling you watching your missiles slip through his interception net and the following explosions is just one of those gaming moments that you’ll be remembering for days afterwards Even though the plot is poor, there is a wealth of information on the game's world in the help file. It's interesting and helpful to read about the enemy commander's life and preferred combat tactics

The Bad
The plot is really, really laughable. Just take a look at the introduction for a laugh. I just don't understand why they didn't stick to a standard post-nuclear war format. It might not be original, but it works. One problem with the gameplay of Metal Marines is that when there’s a lot of action happening on screen there’s a tremendous lag. This is just part of the game, it doesn’t matter if you’re running it on a 386, 486 or Pentium 4. It’s a serious flaw that takes from the game. Graphically Metal Marines isn’t spectacular. Adequate is about the best word. The game is easy on the eye for the most part but the graphics do break down when a lot of action is taking place. And those much lauded metal marines? These titanic, robotic, towers of steel emerged as tiny smudged blobs on the screen. A big disappointment…

The Bottom Line
If you’re a command and conquer junkie looking for one of the hardest strategy games around, this is it! Really, I have never encountered a game half as hard as this one. It could be described as a fault of the game, because the enemy generals start out always with way too many advantages. Every battle is an up hill struggle. While most gamers will whine about such difficulties, for the hardcore gaming generals out there this game is well worth giving a chance...

By Ciarán Lynch on February 24, 2004