Forget bad Boys: the MEN are here

Published Date
01 - Feb - 2007
| Last Updated
01 - Feb - 2007
 
Forget bad Boys: the MEN are here

 

You're Marcus Fenix. A former COG (Coalition of Organised Governments), now declared traitor, serving sentence. The game starts with you being rudely busted out of the can by some of your former teammates. Battling your way out of the jail pens, killing locusts (what else?). Your aim at this point is to rendezvous with one Alpha squad who are in possession of an unknown artefact of immense power.

Its 14 days after Emergence Day-the day the locust horde first emerged from the bowels of the Earth; their mission the obliteration of humanity; reason unknown… Incidentally, these locusts are humanoid, with the same weapons you have, and they can use 'em too! The locust army has a number of variants-you'll go up against Drones, Hunters, Berserkers, Boomers to name a few…

What will strike you first is that the action is fast, furiously so. Tactics are of paramount importance-you cannot achieve anything with blazing guns alone. Cover and how you manoeuvre around it is perhaps the most important skill you will need to learn, headshots notwithstanding… You are as vulnerable as your enemies, and peeking around corners will cause others to take potshots at you, while your intended target lays low. Cover, cover, cover…I've said it before…I'm saying it again!

Rating : 9/10
Developer : Epic Games
Publisher : Microsoft Game Studios
Distributor : xxxx
Contact : xxx
Price : Rs x,xxx
Platform : Xbox 360

You move as an individual, covering your squad mates as they cover you: every hunk of concrete is tactically significant, as is every corner. Death lurks in abundance in every splendidly-done level of GOW, and your wits are the only thing you've got going for you.

Graphically brilliant, the combat ultra-realistic and 100 per cent brutal… you will frequently see oodles of gore on-screen. By gore we don't mean just bullet holes in corpses and splattering skulls via headshots, but actual chainsaw action courtesy the ripper-an assault rifle with a (you guessed it) chainsaw melee attachment. Then you can actually melee an enemy with a grenade (these grenades have spikes that penetrate armour and hide…ouch! Clinging to the baddie while he jumps around, the grenade will explode after five seconds…splat! The storyline, while not the deepest I've seen, is good enough not to cause an "Aw, I knew that would happen."

One of the biggest pluses for GOW is its control system. Initially difficult to control, GOW is perhaps the best third-person implementation on the X360 to date. Camera angles don't disappoint either. Just as well. GOW punishes all but the most observant of COGs.
                                             
Did I mention GOW's multiplayer rocks? This game has been touted as a console seller, promising to do for the X360 what Halo did for the X-Box!


TOM CLANCY'S

SPLINTER CELL
DOUBLE AGENT                              


Brilliant. Twice Over

The maestro of stealth is back as Sam Fisher returns for a fourth innings. This time it's Fisher getting (surprisingly) locked away for hitting the ceiling owing to some terrible news and subsequently hitting something else (no spoilers). The jail thing turns out to be a setup, as Fisher's incarceration was planned by the NSA. Turns out all this is done to get him into the good books of the JBA (John Brown's Army), a heavily-armed terrorist group.



Escaping along side a JBA agent plus Sam's own considerable skills means the JBA accept Fisher into their ranks, his loyalty unquestioned. But he's still an NSA operative. So throughout Double Agent you'll be given missions from both parties. Complete missions from the JBA and they trust you more. Lose trust of any one party completely and your game's over. Some objectives later on will conflict, so you need to juggle around priorities a bit. A couple of significant gameplay changes-no health kits, Sam recovers health automatically when not in combat. Secondly there's no stealth meter, you'll have to watch the lights and shadows around you. 

The missions are (thankfully) varied, as are the locales Fisher visits. However, on the whole, there's nothing in the way of path-breaking differences between Double Agent and earlier versions, except for the trust factor, which does add depth to the gameplay, if not replayability.
Graphics still look much the business some four years after the first game; brilliant use of HDR and shadows and gorgeous textures will make upgrading to a new graphics card worth every rupee! The aural engine is right up there, with voice acting to match. Enemy AI is sharp, but I hardly noticed any changes over Chaos Theory. Multiplayer has been spruced up.

Overall, Double Agent delivers the goods doing everything that the previous three games in the series did, with a little extra. One downside is the system requirements, which aren't as forgiving as the earlier versions. If you have a beefy rig, however, nothing should stop you from picking this one up.


PS2

In a rare occurrence, the PC and PS2 versions of Splinter CellWhere to buy 499 499 749: Double Agent are actually two completely different games. The story remains the same, but is told differently, complete with different missions. The PC and Xbox 360 versions are "next-gen" and the PS2 and Xbox are the (seemingly shunned) "current-gen" versions. We've noticed that the current-gen version isn't getting Ubisoft's love the way the next-gen is, which is a shame.

The PC version is definitely more stylised, and the PS2 version takes the academic tell-it-like-it-is approach. While the former makes for more entertainment, I prefer the latter, which doesn't leave any unanswered questions in the overall picture.

The first mission is easily the best training mission for any game we've played here. Not only does it tell you exactly what to do, it also walks you through the procedure, prompting you to hit the appropriate controls when the time comes. You're thus taken through every single move Fisher can pull off-a feature sadly lacking on the PC.

The PS2 version also retains the HUD, which tells you how exposed Sam is or how much noise he's making-thankfully. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of the game, and is one less headache to manage. You'll also be using gadgets more often, including the trusty EMP gun to disable cameras and lights.

On its own, the PS2 version is an excellent game. It may not look as good, but the gameplay is pretty solid. The trust meter is obviously there-tip the balance too much to one side and you'll have an intense, time-limited mission to complete to show that you're still loyal to the other. The difficulty is a tad forgiving-while staying stealthy is challenging, once you're exposed, the enemy does take its time to get an accurate shot at you. Unlike the PC version, your health doesn't regenerate over time-you'll need the same old medkits-and this adds another bit of tension to the experience. Level design is fantastic as usual, and you're presented with ample opportunity to pull off some crazy, acrobatic kills-upside down neck-breaks, split-jumps and a whole lot more.

One nag with the PS2 version is that the console's age is clearly showing-save and load times are painful, especially considering that you'll need to save your game compulsively. You'll also be overwriting each save, so there's no going back to a better time. Also say bye-bye to the prospect of replaying the game from a favourite point once you're done.

The soundtrack is brilliant, and music fades in the second you're spotted, adding to the already tense atmosphere of the game. Overall, this makes for a good buy if you've hung on to your PS2 and have found nothing wrong with the old Chaos Theory-style gameplay.

Vegas

After last year's insultingly easy Lockdown, the Rainbow Six franchise had pretty much fallen in our eyes; Vegas, however, redeems it, and then some. While the approach has definitely shifted in favour of action rather than tactics, it retains most of its don't-go-in-with-guns-blazing heart. You play Logan Keller, the new Rainbow Six squad leader, and you must take your team through gruelling missions in the slums of Mexico and beneath the lights of Las Vegas. The game follows a (very weak) storyline, rather than just a bunch of unrelated missions-stop the terrorists before they can unleash their Doomsday Deviceâ„¢ upon the world. Yawn.

Undoubtedly the best feature of this game is the new "cover" system. Hold down the right mouse button, and Keller hugs the wall, and you switch to a third person view, from whence you can survey the situation by peeking round corners, or just sticking your gun out and randomly firing to suppress the enemy. All this is very reminiscent of
Gears Of War, and works just as brilliantly. Switching between third- and first-person views is seamless, but does get disorienting if you do it too much.

Rating :9/10
Developer :Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher : Ubisoft
Distributor : E-Xpress Interactive
Contact : sales@e-xpressindia.com
Price : Rs 1,299
Minimum System Requirements : P4 3GHz or AMD Equivalent,
1 GB RAM, 128MB, Shader Model 3 and DirectX 9.0c compatible video card 

Vegas is also a good bit tougher than Lockdown, though you won't notice this initially. Your health now regenerates while not in combat, albeit very slowly, so don't expect it to be your ticket to clearing a mission with ease. Normal difficulty is challenging, but it's Realistic that you want to play-three or four bullets (or a single head-shot) are enough to take you down. However, if you use cover properly, there's no reason for you to get killed even in Realistic mode. You now have some cool moves up your sleeve, including the ability to rappel down buildings, either to survey the situation or score some kills. You can also heal team members when they're down, but the blighters don't return the favour. The enemy AI keeps things interesting, but they're not exceptionally difficult to take down  when you keep track of their tactics.

When you get done with the Story Mode, try out the Terrorist Hunt-these are exactly what they sound like-skirmishes with bands of terrorists-and you can choose any of the game's environments to play out. Plenty of action and insanely fun, these add a lot to the game's replay value, and are good practise for multiplayer mode, should you have the bandwidth.

The game looks gorgeous, environments are well-engineered, enemy AI can be nasty at times, team-mates aren't idiots, and gameplay is elegant-there's little reason, if any, for you to not buy this game. 


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