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Metaltech: EarthSiege (DOS)

A fun and absorbing giant robot game with lots of atmosphere

The Good
Where to begin? Earthsiege did many things right. The graphics were amazing for its time, as was the sound on the CD-rom version. The HERCS you control in the game were nicely texture mapped, the weapons effects were colorful, and there was locational based damage. The location based damage was not only cool, but of great strategic importance. Because it was necessary to salvage as much as possible from your fallen giant robot enemies, the best strategy was to blast out their legs from under them, thus preserving the rest of the machine for salvage.

The atmosphere in this game was incredible, and in my opinion it outclassed Mechwarrior 2. The animations and graphics in the briefing room and garage were excellent and really gave you the feeling of being part of a HERC battle unit. In the CD-rom edition, you get nice, pseudo full motion video of your commander during the briefings, and this also helped immerse you in the experience.

The AI, while not brilliant, provided a nice challenge. This was the first game that challenged me based on the AI alone, instead of having to rely on puzzles or sheer numbers. The enemy robots try to get behind you and out of your line of fire, and they use appropriate weapons for specific situations.

The Bad
The storyline to the game, while providing you with reasons to fight on all kinds of different planets, really kind of takes a backseat to everything else. They could have done a whole lot more with the idea of machines really oppressing mankind, but instead it just kind of provides a reason to fight an enemy. While their machines look different from yours, the story really doesn't flesh them out well enough, so you could pretty much be fighting any enemy and it would all be the same.

Also, the game was relatively complex for a game in 1994. It was almost necessary to have a joystick and keyboard combination to play. There were a plethora of keyboard commands, and the torso could move independently of the legs, so controlling the big HERC required some practice.

The Bottom Line
Metaltech: Earthsiege is not only a game of giant-robot tank fighting ala Mechwarrior 2, but also a game of strategic thought and planning. Before each mission, you choose which HERC (giant robot) you want to take and then customize with a variety of high tech weaponry ranging from missiles to various energy and projectile weapons. Once you've chosen your HERC, you choose a wing-man or two and plot some waypoints on the mission map before embarking. During the mission, it is important to collect salvage to repair your HERCS and gain access to bigger and better robots. In this manner, it becomes vitally important to preserve as much of the enemy robots as possible. Shooting out their legs from under them will leave a lot more salvage than simply blasting them to pieces.

The storyline is pretty standard stuff: man creates computer, computer becomes too intelligent, computer tries to eliminate man. Your enemies have giant walking robots similar to your HERCS, but also employ tanks and smaller, infantry based robots. They provide interesting enough enemies. While the storyline of the game is standard, the atmosphere is superb. Throughout the mission briefings and prebattle planning, you actually feel as if you are locked in a difficult struggle against a superior enemy. The mission briefing room and garage where the HERCS are worked on are very detailed and, if you have the CD-rom version, come with very nice sounds and voices.

The graphics and sound during the battles were top of the line when this game came out in 1994. Not only this, but there is accurate locational based damage, so it really matters where you shoot your enemies. And it was oh so fun to shoot off all the weapons of an enemy robot and then watch him helplessly run around.

So bottom line: Good atmosphere, deep gameplay, average story, good graphics.

By MojoHelperMonkey on December 22, 2005

Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger (DOS)

A worthy successor to the Wing Commander franchise

The Good
With the large, multi-million dollar budget for this game, the cinematics are obviously top notch. The acting by the large cast of professional actors is right on the money, as are the special effects and digitalized set pieces. I can remember watching the introduction to this game, and for the first time I felt CGI in computer games was able to match up to Babylon 5 and Star Trek on television. There was obviously a lot of effort put into directing the movie portions of the game, kudos to Chris Roberts. The characters are convincing (with the exception of Ginger Allen) and most situations are plausible and interesting.

The story is also of professional writing caliber. Throughout the game the player really gets a feeling for the state of despair that has befallen humanity. The various weapons and strategies employed by the humans against their Kilrathi aggressors give you a sense of grandeur and purpose, you really feel like you are a part of this war. Without spoiling an plot-lines, there are quite a few surprises in store for the player, including a betrayal that really will strike a nerve with longtime Wing Commander players.

The ships in the game are a departure from previous Wing Commander games, but I didn't find this distracting at all. Instead of the more colorful, fanciful fighters of Wing Commander 1 and 2, the ships of Wing Commander 3 have a more washed out and used look to them. They also appear as more practical, with few superfluous edges and extra parts. A good example is the new Thunderbolt, which basically just looks like a big V with a cockpit. Players could go either way with this, some may dislike the new fighters, but I found them acceptable.

The fighting portion of the game does not disappoint on any level. Finally we were given polygons to destroy in space! There may have been a game or two before WC3 that used full polys in space, but WC3 perfected it. The physics are similar to other space sims, very relaxed without a shred of Newtonian realism, but that suits the game nicely. The detailed ships and polygon hit detection give you real sense of dogfighting, and the satisfactory explosions look very nice as well. Not only that, but you can now fly right through the landing bays of some of the capital ships! How great is that?

The graphics in the game were ahead of their time at its release, and I believe they still hold up nicely today.

The Bad
There are aspects to Wing Commander 3 that I thought were annoying or downright stupid. First off, some of the situations Christopher Blair is put into are ridiculous. A scene where the player has to choose which girl to make out with really doesn't belong in the game, I found it juvenille and silly. The whole romance part of the game, while successful in both previous Wing Commander games, falls flat here without Angel from Wing Commander 1 and 2. While I can see why Chris Roberts wanted to include it in the game, I don't think he handled it all that well.

Part of that problem is Ginger Allen. She plays a love interest, but not very well. Her acting is quite flat and unconvincing and cliched. I was not impressed with her performance.

Gameplay wise, the ground attack missions were unimpressive as well. While I applaud the developers for attempting the ambitious task of including a bit of atmospheric fighting in a space sim, it really doesn't work out too well. The graphics for the planet surface come across as bland and textureless, while the physics of flying seem to not have changed from the transfer from space to atmosphere. It would be a difficult thing to do correctly, and as it is, it feels quite tacked on.

The grey-scale in the game seems to be quite high as well. The entire game has a grey/blue haze to it that I found annoying. Space is not black in this Wing Commander universe, its blueish. This also includes your cockpit as well, everything has this hazy blueish grey color to it. I always wondered at the purpose of this, it was fixed in Wing Commander 4, which used parts of the same engine. I don't know.

The last quibble I have with the game involves a very important plot-line spoiler. Thus, I will just say towards the end there is a betrayal that, while emotionally intense, seems to come out of no-where. I read that the explanation for this betrayal had to be cut from the game due to time constraints, but dang, what a crummy thing to remove from the game.

The Bottom Line
Wing Commander 3 is a continuation of the Wing Commander series of games. It's a space combat simulator/action game in which you play the role of Christopher Blair, a hero (or villain depending on what you believe) of the war with the catlike Kilrathi. While the gameplay consists mostly of what you would expect from a spaceflight simulator, where this game really shines is in it's acting and story telling.

The game features a full cast of professional characters, spearheaded by ex-Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill. Other notables are Malcom Mcdowell, John-Rys-Davies, and Tom Wilson from Back to the Future fame. In between missions, and occasionally during them, the player is treated to some of the greatest FMV (full motion video) scenes ever created for a computer game. Through the multi-million dollar budget, the developers tell the tale of humanity struggling against the ruthless Kilrathi. Humanity is becoming desperate, and throughout the game smaller subplots evolve between characters as well.

Wing Commander 3 was a new standard in space sims when it came out, and I'm a firm believer that no game, save for its own sequel and Freespace 2, have ever topped it. While some say Wing Commander 4 was a good movie interspersed with an average game, Wing Commander 3 most definitely is a good game intersperse with a good story.

By MojoHelperMonkey on August 16, 2005

Project IGI: I'm Going In (Windows)

A solid FPS...but why no in mission saves!?

The Good
There are many things to like about Project: IGI. For starters, the graphics at the time were quite nice. The models for the enemies are relatively low poly but the outdoor areas and architecture are very well done. With a good 3D accelerator the graphics held up nicely to the competition. It is quite a sight to look down on a base and be able to plan your way through it, although most of tthe time the missions were linear.

The gun models were my favorite part of the game. The guns feel heavy and sound powerful. Not quite reality, but close enough that it really gives the guns weight and makes combat all the more intense. Speaking of combat, IGI handles it very well. The enemies take only a few shots to take down, so you won't be pumping whole clips into bad guys like some other FPS games. The player can take a bit more damage. Different weapons suit different styles of play. There are smaller guns like Uzis and pistols that work perfectly while indoors, while the sniper rifle and AK-47 work well when dealing with distance and outdoors.

The large number of different weapons is also a plus. You can take any enemy's gun and use it, something you almost have to do because of the ammunition problem in the game.

I found the AI to be pretty smart for a game like this. They would pursue you around corners and through doors and throw grenades when appropriate.

The Bad
LACK OF IN MISSION SAVES! That says it all, its what all the other reviewers complain about as well. The game just isn't suited for this type of save system. Its a very difficult game and it doesn't take many shots to kill you in the game. Many missions involve you slowly making your way through a base, just hoping there is no one around the next corner. Many times, you'll come across a bunch of guards and before you know it, you're dead. Then it's back to the beginning! A game as difficult and slow paced as this should allow to save anywhere you like, or at least give you a large number of predetermined save points.

Another bothersome aspect of the game is the lack of ammunition. I repeatedly found myself running low on good ammunition, which forces you to any other weapon you can find. Not sure if this was intentional or not, but it doesn't really fit well with the rest of the game.

Another problem is the lack of mission variety. Too many times the player is tasked with infiltrating an enemy base. It can get repetitive, especially because there are so many military buildings you can see before they all start to look the same.

The Bottom Line
Project: IGI is a combination of many different styles of first person shooter games. It combines huge, outdoor levels with normal run and gun action, and then adds a lot of steal into the fray. There isn't too much a story, it is reminiscent of a Tom Clancy story, with terrorists and other bad guys threatening the world.

The game plays like many FPS games, with a large amount of weapons ranging from uzis to rocket launchers. Most of the weapons are based on their real world counterparts, as the game takes place in modern day. Your missions involve differing objectives, but many times consist of infiltrating an enemy base. This allows the game to use both outdoor and indoor gameplay modes, as you have to first approach the base, then move throughout it before finishing the mission.

It's a fun game. The engine is based off the Joint Strike Fighter flight engine, so outdoors especially look fantastic. Going in and out of buildings is seamless, something other FPS games still struggled with at the time of this game's release.

The big show stopper for Project:IGI is the lack of any sort of in mission save system. Why oh why do developers decide to leave this simple feature out? Is it to add artificial length to a game? To make it more difficult? Whatever the reason, once you start a mission in Project: IGI you have to finish it. This can make for some very frustrating gameplay experiences, which is a shame because behind this annoying feature is a pretty intense game.

Bottom line: Project: IGI is an above average first person shooter game.

By MojoHelperMonkey on July 8, 2005

Myth II: Soulblighter (Windows)

Real-time tactical strategy at its best!

The Good
Myth 2 is not like other RTS games. There is no base-building or resources gathering, instead, you begin with a certain number of units, and those are what you use to do the mission. This is what makes Myth 2 so much fun to play: the missions themselves are very tense and will have you glued to your screen. Every unit is important in the missions, and during a big engagement with some zombies, you'll be desperately moving your men around, trying to save the more valuable ones while getting others in position to utilize their best skills (ie archers in the rear, close combat soldiers up close, dwarf grenade throwers in the back, etc.).

Combat itself is very frantic and quite bloody. When a dwarf's bomb blows up in the middle of a bunch of undead, you will find body parts and blood strewn across the ground, so the game is not for the squeamish. Where you place your soldiers impacts the combat greatly as well, there is real strategy here. Elevation can give your archers and bomb-throwers a great advantage, but don't let any get to close to them, they are terrible fighters. Likewise, get some swordsman up into those undead and they will chop them up into pieces, but if your dwarf lands a bomb near your own men, its lights out for them too.

The story in Myth 2 is surprisingly engaging for a fantasy RTS game. Normally I don't follow the stories of these game, I just play them forget about them but this is different. The cutscenes are splendid, all hand-drawn animation, and they tell the story of an awakening evil very well.
The graphics during the game are good. The sprites for the soldiers look attractive and the terrain is varied and detailed, despite the low resolution.

There is a huge variety of missions available, much more so than in Myth 1. 2 personal favorites of mine were an ambush level where you must set up your dwarf to rain bombs down on an unsuspecting undead army, and another where you must desperately defend an outpost from wave after wave of enemies.

The Bad
Myth 2 can be quite hard, to the point of being frustrating. I noted one of my favorite missions involved defending an outpost, but that mission also took me about a week to complete, playing it over and over. At the time I hated it, but now I realize it is actually a pretty fun level.

The camera movement can get quirky and is difficult to master. Until you really get the hang of it, you'll find yourself getting the camera in all the wrong positions and losing track of combat, so it takes some getting used to.

I also felt there were too many Go from Point A to Point B missions. Some people may enjoy these types, but I just personally did not like them.

The Bottom Line
Myth 2 follows the events of Myth 1 60 years after they took place. Once again There is a growing evil of undead that needs to be wiped out, and its up to you to lead an assortment of dwarfs, elves, and the like to conquer them.

The game plays out from a isometric view, with a fully 3d camera, mean you can move the camera in close to your units, or scroll it way out and swing it around.
And you will need this camera movement too. The missions in Myth 2 will have you moving across a variety of different terrains, from snow-capped mountains to woodlands, to buildings. Each mission starts with an allotted group of units, and that's all you get. No resources gathering or base-building. You just take what you have complete the mission, its actually quite refreshing as it forces you to use your brain to win a mission.

The graphics are quite nice, the soldiers are sprites but they are lovingly drawn and the environments look great, with wildlife running around and visible scars and body-parts left over from battles. Myth 2 is not a ground-breaking game like its predecessor, but it definitely improves on almost every aspect, making it a worthy strategy game and a blast to play.

By MojoHelperMonkey on July 8, 2005

Monster Truck Madness (Windows)

Monster Truck Arcade Racing at its best

The Good
Monster Truck Madess is a fun game to play. The lack of realism is not a hinderance to the game, but only enhances your experience. It is great fun to go flying off a jump, only to land right in front the opponent you had been trying to overcome throughout the race. A nice aspect of MTM is the open maps. Many times there are short cuts to take or just fun little ramps and jumps that you can go off of just for the sake of doing something off the wall. Some elements of the environment are destructable, such as hay bales, signs, barrels, and other obstacles meant to keep you on the road but which really don't serve their purpose. It's great fun knocking over a bunch of signs, and then seeing your opponents get hung up on those objects on the next lap. The handling of the trucks is very arcade-like and simplistic, but I feel this is a positive for the game. It makes hitting those jumps and driving across mud and dirt all the more easy and allows you to focus more on the fun aspect rather than the "trying to stay on the road" part that makes most hardcore sims difficult and frustrating.
There are a wide variety of tracks to race on, from country side to mountains to hawaiian with lava and everything.

The Bad
MTM is a game that you will like from the get go or not at all. The game exhibits an air of redneck, monster truck loving from the get go. The music and announcer in particular can get on your nerves over time. The driving in the game is very simplistic, and some may consider it too easy and arcade-like. There are no spin outs (unless you are on mud) and you can take corners quite fast. BUT as I said before this is an arcade game, not a simulation.
The graphics are quite poor by today's standards. This game came out right when 3dfx cards were just hitting the market, so it can take advantage of the most basic acceleration while not providing much else in the way of eye candy. Also, the stadium mode, where you can take on different events like car jumping and racing around a track, feel rushed and just tacked on. There isn't much to them, and most can be completed in a matter of minutes.

The Bottom Line
Monster Truck Madness was the first in a lone line of "Madness" games which included Monster Truck Madness 2, Motocross Madness 1 and 2, and Midtown Madness 1 and 2. In Monster Truck Madness, the player chooses a monster truck from a list of licensed trucks, and then takes to the tracks in various races and events. The events range from racing around a track, to jumping over cars to racing on a long continuous rally style track. The physics in this game are VERY relaxed, your truck flies through the air with the greatest of ease and takes no damage. There is some nice redneck monster truck music and an annoying monster truck announcer that interjects his thoughts whenever you go off a jump or smash into someone particularly hard.
MTM does not try to be a simulation, and it revels in its own ridiculousness. Its a fun game for arcade racing fans, as well as anyone who just needs to let off some steam for a while. Driving around the tracks, knocking down signs, and jumping over bridges is fun to do, especially in a monster truck.

By MojoHelperMonkey on July 7, 2005

Freespace 2 (Windows)

The greatest of the newer space-sims

The Good
Freespace 2 takes size to a whole new level. The capital ships in this game are HUGE, and they have neat beam weapons that they use to cut eachother to pieces. There is also flak cannons on them, which makes big battle really intense to be a part of. The game has very good graphics, with highly detailed ships, colorful space backgrounds, and my favorite, thick and soupy nebulas that you must navigate through from time to time. It features voice acting from professional actors, and the storyline follows the progression of the war closely, you really feel a part of it. The sound in Freespace 2 is great as well, with strong EAX booming from your speakers during the larger battles. Hits rattle your cockpit and flak exploding outside your ship has to be heard to be believed. The music is equally absorbing, thrusting you into the moment. There are a large variety of missions, and the game is LONG. Some missions have you sneaking through a nebula with no radar trying to locate a missing ship while others are all out attacks on an enemy fleet. The flight model is what you would expect from a Wing Commander type Space sim, there's no newtonian physics here. Bottom line: Turn on EAX sound, crank up your 5.1 surround sound, turn up the detail and graphics and use a heavy force feedback stick and nothing else will compare.

The Bad
The larger battles can be a chaotic at times with so many ships on screen. You will sometimes find yourself frantically searching for buttons on your keyboard to target the next enemy or open communications. Some missions involve some degree of timing which can be frustrating. Otherwise, I see very few faults in Freespace 2

The Bottom Line
Freespace 2 is the sequel to Descent: Freespace which was originally an offshoot of the old Descent games. My how far they've come. Freespace 2 is a fantastic game. Great story, great graphics, perfect force-feedback, voice acting by famous actors, and huge sweeping battles between capital ships with fighters swarming all around. I love this game

By MojoHelperMonkey on July 6, 2005

Echelon (Windows)

A very boring futuristic flight sim

The Good
The graphics are quite nice, good lighting effects, water effects, and high res textures on the fighters. The weapons effects are nice too, with good explosions. There is a pretty good variety of environments with day and night time missions, and it works very well with my force-feedback joystick.

The Bad
Well for starters there is little to no story. You get in your fighter and do your mission and fly back. Repeat many more times. There's just no substance to the game. The flight model is very simplistic, no stalls or spins. You fighter turns on a dime with little speed loss. Granted its not supposed to be a hardcore flight sim, but this isn't space here people. I also didn't notice much variety in the enemies you fight, and most dog fights turned into turning fests until someone got off a lucky shot.

The Bottom Line
Echelon is a very boring flight sim that takes place sometime in the future on some planet somewhere between some two people or factions. That's about all you get. It was one of Buka's first games I believe, or one of their first games to be published in the US. It's an average start I suppose, but I wouldn't recommend it. Basically it appears to be a demonstration of a nice graphics engine and a poor flight model with some nice pyrotechnics thrown in to boot.

By MojoHelperMonkey on July 6, 2005

Postal² (Windows)

Don't judge the game yet...there's fun to be had!

The Good
This game is FUN. Its not fun as in I have to complete this next mission to see where the story goes, its not fun as in I have to show off these graphics to my friends, its fun because you can run around and cause havoc in this town. There is a huge variety of weapons to use, and the unreal engine provides adequate environments to use them. Everything can be blown up, and cars especially go flying up into the air and land with a gratifying crash after a good explosion. Some missions can be tackled from a number of different perspectives. Example: In one mission you must infiltrate the police headquarters to obtain something, I can't recall what. One way is to use a police outfit to fit in with the other officers and just waltz right up and take it. Another is to go in guns blazing. Another way is to take some "catnip" that slows down time, thus allowing you to run by all the officers, grab it, and run out. Or there is another way, I sat on the roof of the police station, found a skylight window, and lobbed grenades, molotov cocktails, and gasoline into the headquarters until there was no one left to stop me!
The game has a...distinct...sense of humor as well. Gary Coleman makes an appearance if that gives you any idea as to the basic scope of the game.

The Bad
The AI is this game is legally retarded. Basically the people in the game just stand and shoot at you until they are dead. Occaisionally they will run for cover, but most often not. The graphics are also quite lame, weak textures with low poly models most of the time.
The biggest detractor from this game is the load times. LOOOOOONG. Moving from one section of the city to the next can take forever as the level has to load ala Half-Life and Half-Life 2. Also if you don't appreciate this kind of humor, you may be very offended by the game.

The Bottom Line
Postal 2 gets a lot of bad press because of its content and tongue in cheek attitude. You play the Postal Dude, you live in a trailer, and throughout the game you are trying to go about your business (ie picking up a pay check, getting grocceries, etc.). Eventually you get into some pretty hairy situations that require the use of bazookas and flamethrowers...must've been a pretty bad week eh? Its a first person shooter based on the Unreal engine, although it is not optimized very well. It is fairly open ended, you have a whole town to walk around in and cause mayhem, although bits of it are locked and must be opened up at later levels. Its a very politcally incorrect game. You can pee on people and yourself, douse people in gasoline, use a cat as a silencer, at smoke a "magic pipe" that somehow heals you temporarily. You can kill a whole marching band and shoot up a circus. But it's fun!

By MojoHelperMonkey on July 6, 2005

BioForge (DOS)

A unique and absorbing adventure game

The Good
Bioforge has really, really good textures and graphics for a game from 1995. The player's movement looks motion captured, and he shows varying degrees of damage depending on how beat up he gets during combat. The game works similar to a horror-survival game from modern days. You use the numpad to move your character around the map. When you come across a guard or other baddie, pushing CRTL or ALT brings you into combat mode. In this mode, the different numpad keys represent different kicks and punches. The animations during these fights are awesome, and it really feels satisfying to land a good punch or kick. I found the combat to good enough for the game, but I know many people dislike it.
The story has you basically moving through the base trying to find out who you are. It may not seem like much a story, but the secret is in the little details. Picking up journals reveals pages upon pages of entries by former or current detainees. Through these journals you learn of the horrible experiments performed at the base, as well other important information and codes. But beyond all this, the graphics are what steals the show for Bioforge.

The Bad
I know many people did not like the combat in the game, it can be slow and unresponsive. At times you feel like you are just watching yourself get beat up, with little you can do about it. Indeed, you must wait until the current kick or punch as been landed before initiating a new one, so a bit slow. Also, if you aren't willing to do some reading, the game's story will seem pretty shallow. Not a whole lot is explained as there aren't many cutscenes, so it does require a fair bit of reading.

The Bottom Line
Bioforge is an action/adventure game that takes place on a moon/planet base where a maniacal doctor is having patients flown in to be converted into cybernetic assassins. He is unsuccessful on the first patients he operates on, including the player, you. You awaken in a prison cell on the base, with no memory of who you are or why you are there. Throughout the course of the game you move throughout the base, into the sewers, and out on the open terrain of the moon. Along the way you fight guards and bizarre monstrosities, solve puzzles, and discover what is really going on in the base. The game has wonderful graphics, great sound, an average control scheme using the keypad, and a enough of a story to keep you playing.

By MojoHelperMonkey on July 6, 2005

BattleTech: A Game of Armored Combat (Genesis)

VERY difficult but fun mech sim

The Good
When Battletech was first advertised, the ad touted the game as being the first 32 bit graphics on the Genesis. The graphics are quite good for a Genesis game, with a lot happening on the screen at once. While walking around the mission map, you will be attacked by other mechs, tanks, helicopters, soldiers, jeeps, jets, etc. There are variety of explosions and many, many buildings to blow up. it is nice to be able to choose your weapons before each mission as well. One other nice aspect is the ability to play the game cooperatively. Once person can control the mech and the other controls the turret, it makes for some funny multiplayer sessions.

The Bad
The controls in this game are very hard to master, and the lack of any in mission saves make it overly difficult. You routinely are attacked from all sides, and from the ground and air. Add to this some levels are populated with mines and other hot spots, and you will find yourself restarting the missions over and over. Just watching that internal heat of your mech rise as you are attacked again and again can be very frustrating.

The Bottom Line
Battletech is a game in which the player controls a giant robot tasked with various missions ranging from eliminating an enemy spy to destroying whole bases. It is played from a top-down isometric view. Before each mission the player chooses which weapons to take on the mission, and then a drop ship drops the player's mech on the mission map. If you have played Jungle Strike or Desert Strike, it is similar to those games. It is a very difficult game because of the lack of in mission saves with missions can take up to an hour to complete. Control can be difficult to master as well, but if you are patient a surprisingly deep game lies underneath it all.

By MojoHelperMonkey on July 6, 2005

Creature Shock (DOS)

Great graphics, poor gameplay

The Good
The most noticable aspect of this game are the in-game graphics and atmosphere. Whether wandering down a dark corridor and being ambushed by a big one eyed worm or shooting oncoming aliens in an open air field, the lovingly crafted graphics draw the player in. Everything is done in CG, and the cutscenes blend in well with the in game graphics. The environments are not very varied, but they are very well presented.

The Bad
This game is very simple. You walk forward, shoot whatever pops up, then repeat. Sometimes you shoot a lot of things, mostly its just one or two. The flight sim part of the game is a joke really, almost an afterthought. The game can be incredibly difficult as well, with limited save points and much trial and error going through many of the tunnels.

The Bottom Line
Creature Shock is a first person point and click adventure game similar to Myst with a bit of arcade space flight thrown in for good measure. Although the game is first person and you move around by clicking forward, backward, left, or right, it really isn't a Myst type game. It is based on action, your mouse curser acts as your cross hairs, and when a monster pops up in front of you, you blast it until it is dead. There are variations where the player stands still and shoots aliens in a shooting gallery type situation as well. The game has amazing graphics, even by 2004 standards, but the gameplay is so simplistic and frustrating it can get old quickly.

By MojoHelperMonkey on July 6, 2005

Ascendancy (DOS)

A wonderful game, a classic

The Good
There is much to like about Ascendency. Although it is a relatively deep space 4x strategy game, it does not take itself too seriously. The aliens are clever, with interesting drawings for their portraits and creative ship designs. The planet graphics are as well pleasing to the eye, although they don't hold up well to today's textures in games. The music is a joy to listen to, wonderfully put together. Above all else, Ascendency is just plain fun to play. It is easy to get the hang of, and yet difficult to master (with a patch that updates the AI above the intelligence of a rock). The sheer numbers of technologies to play with throughout the game will keep you busy for hours. How can you hate game that lets you enlarge the sun in a solar system and thus slingshotting your enemies ship way out into deep space? Its one of the those games that makes you say "just one more turn". The interface is so intuitive that you'll find yourself flying back and forth between menus with easy, making the time just fly by. Creating fleets and moving them around the universe is simple, as is colonizing and attacking. Battles are fought in the same game system and interface as the rest of the game, so there is no second learning curce. Sound effects are pretty standard, some of the weapons sounds are pretty cool though.

The Bad
I gues there are a few things wrong with Ascendency, but its hard to hold them against it. For one, there is really no difference between aliens besides one special power unique to each race. All technology and buildings look the same. Now you may think this is a terrible flaw, but it really isn't. Each special power comes in handy often, and every game plays out differently. There is little in the way of ship modification. You select a size, then fill it with stuff, then its off, not much to it. As I mentioned earlier, you need to download the "Antagonizer Patch" for the game to update the AI. It shipped with dumb as nails AI, but this patch fixes that up quite nicely.

The Bottom Line
Ascendency is a game that should not be missed by an strategy lover. Some are put off by the lack of diversity between races, but those people are missing out on quite a gem. The game was never made to offer completely different play styles with every race, it was made to offer a completely different gameplay experience, while keeping the basics the same. So find the game, buy it, and lose yourself in the universe that is Ascendency

By MojoHelperMonkey on July 6, 2005