You've heard this one a gazillion times already-average young 'un thrown into a world of "brutality, greed and lust" (to quote the box-cover), who must avenge wrongdoing with the help of a well-endowed lady of flexible morals.
Well, not exactly. Colton and pa Ned are unfortunate passengers on a riverboat overrun by renegades led by Reverend Reed, an… unconventional… man of the Cloth. Before heroically sacrificing his life, Ned hands Colton a token-a pass to the Alhambra, the elite bordello in Dodge City, whence he must begin his adventure, directly linked to a mysterious artefact whose secret dies with Ned.
Gun's storyline is right up there with some of the more engaging stories of the game world: mystery, double-crossing, pretty girls-they're all there. You're taken through the journey with more cutscenes than you'd wish, but there's an upside. We have to give a comradely pat-on-the-back to Neversoft for nailing the voice-acting right on the head. Even better, you aren't bombarded with the awfully clichÃ©d dialogues and random Western "buzzwords." Accents aren't artificially thick either, so rest assured-you won't be hearing taunts involving the colour of your belly and/or liver. The graphics aren't really as good as we'd expected, but the attention to detail-leathery, scarred skins and so on-is impressive.
You don't always need to follow the story if you don't want to-Gun offers you many side-missions, including taking down wanted criminals, healthy poker games and some gold mining, too. The entertainment value of these missions is limited: they finish faster than you can think of a corny Clint Eastwood quote.
You'll be gun-(obviously)-fighting against the scum of Dodge and Empire City, as well as the Apaches, making for a nice variety between the brutish Americans and the swift and deadly Indians.
The guns themselves are quite realistic, but the auto-aim feature on all weapons is insultingly forgiving. Aim a goodish bit away from a guy's ear, and you'll still blow his head apart-did they think we play games with blindfolds on? If you want to get rid of the bad guys all quick 'n' all, use the QuickDraw mode-Gun's own version of… you guessed it… Bullet Time! To save time in the QuickDraw, though, there's a nifty feature that lets you quickly target the next enemy for a quick kill-so you get the chance to maximise your bullet-time kill count. To keep adding to your QuickDraw meter, you need to score as many headshots as possible.
Combat is considerably gory, with generous doses of exploding heads and spilling brains, and the bloodthirsty will especially relish the gushing fountains of blood that spew forth during a melee attack with a trusty knife.
And now our favourite part-horse-riding! It's one of the few unique things about the game, and was the first thing we'd expected to go wrong. Instead, you are treated to one of the most fun you're going to have outside of real horse-riding. You can battle from atop your steed with surprising ease, too. What's more, you can even use it to trample your enemies to death-it's plenty of fun to watch them bounce across the landscape like little rag dolls.
Gun will probably keep you occupied no longer than two or three days: the story isn't quite as long as one would hope. There are also plenty of annoyances, like the bizarre boss-fights-where you'd use two bullets to kill a regular bandit, bosses die with 20; that's about it. The good does surpass the bad, though, making it worth a good few hours of your time.
POP:TTT has all the good stuff in the previous two instalments, and then some. What's not to like?
Prince Of Persia: The Two Thrones (TTT) is the last game in the Ubisoft Prince of Persia trilogy. It almost brings a tear to the eye knowing this is the last game, but I can think of no better way to end such a series than with a game as fun as TTT. The game, in many ways, is a synthesis of all that was good in the previous two. It returns you to the bright and fairytale-like environment we saw in The Sands of Time, and largely retains the combat system of Warrior Within. The Prince himself, who was said to have become arrogant and uncaring in Warrior Within, starts to return to his old noble self, while retaining some of the darkness that's come over him in the course of his past experiences.
Home Sweet Home
The beginning of TTT might seem confusing for those who did not unlock the alternative ending in WW-it starts with the Prince returning to Babylon with his new love, Kaileena, after having changed both their fates, finally looking forward to some peace and quiet. Unfortunately, as he returns, he finds that Babylon is under siege by a mysterious enemy, who captures and kills Kaileena, releasing once more the sands of time. A chain-like weapon called the Daggertail gets fused onto the Prince's arm, energised by the sands. Furthermore, he discovers that a "Dark Prince" has awoken inside him as a result of all the trials and tribulations he has faced, and his experiences while on the run from the Dahaka and on the Island of Time.
The Dark Prince isn't really all that evil, strictly speaking, as one might find after listening to the many conversations that he has with the Prince throughout the game. In fact, he's a rather cool character. Though usually cynical and mocking, the Dark Prince also helps the Prince out here and there, providing the Prince with explanations concerning events, and suggestions on how to kill various types of enemies. The Prince also undergoes a physical transformation into the Dark Prince, and can change back only upon contact with water. The character development of TTT is very nice; the Prince experiences several moments of conflict between his two personas as you play.
As we've mentioned, the game retains the combat system of Warrior Within, which is a good thing. If you enjoyed brutally hacking your enemies in half, decapitating them or strangling and then gutting them with their own weapon, you shall not be let down. A new addition, however, is the stealth system. As an alternative to fighting every enemy in a room at once, you can choose to take them out from behind or above when they're not looking. The screen flashes to indicate that a stealth kill is possible, and then you can initiate an attack sequence where you must press a button at key moments when time will slow down for a moment. If you fail to do so, the enemy will knock you away, and every enemy in the room will be alerted as well!
The system isn't terribly complicated, but attaining success requires a certain amount of concentration and care. The same system is also used in the boss battles, in an attempt to address the complaint that the boss battles in Warrior Within were too monotonous. The attack sequences vary depending on the kind of enemy, and you can even do quick kills on two enemies simultaneously. Stealth kills sometimes tend to become monotonous-if you repeatedly encounter the same type of enemy-but that's about the only complaint that comes to mind. I liked this addition, but luckily for those who don't, it's optional, except for the boss battles.
What would a POP game be like without the Prince's legendary acrobatics? TTT continues the tradition of presenting players with numerous acrobatic puzzles, with improvements and additions. The Prince has a few new tricks up his sleeve; he can now, for example, stick his dagger into wall-plates (among other things), thus making for extended acrobatic sequences. It's now much simpler to figure out where you have to go, thanks to the landscape camera, which will indicate your objective. Of course, the game also sports a fair share of environmental puzzles (since puzzles are an integral part of the POP series), ranging from simple ones where you have to find a lever to open a door, to more complex ones that require you to run around manipulating multiple levers or switches. They often require a bit of thinking-but they're never overly frustrating; I found them a welcome experience.
Welcome To The Real Dark Side
Every so often, the Prince transforms into the Dark Prince who, instead of having to use a secondary weapon to attack enemies, can use the Daggertail. This results in some beautiful, swirling attack animation. The Dark Prince is a very strong melee fighter, and is nearly invincible in combat since his health is completely replenished every time you collect Sand. (Which enemies drop at death.) However, like the Sandwraith in WW, his health constantly decreases, which often makes for some tense acrobatic sequences.
The Dark Prince comes with his own stealth kills; he likes to strangle enemies with his chain, and can also use the Daggertail to grab and swing from objects such as lamp fixtures. The playing style of the Dark Prince, therefore, brings variety to the gameplay.
Pretty Prince, Poor Polygons
Graphics-wise, the game is definitely a notch better than WW, but the improvement isn't dramatic. The Prince's model looks more detailed (and more princely too; he no longer looks like the scruffy ragamuffin he was in WW), but when you see the in-game cutscenes, it's easy to notice that many models suffer from a low polygon count. You don't notice it outside the cutscenes, however, and the fighting animations, as before, are quite smooth and realistic. But where TTT really excels (as did the previous two games) are the environmental graphics. The dusty streets and burning rooftops of Babylon, the dark sewers underneath the city, the palace of the king, the temple, and the moonlit hanging gardens of Babylon-none of these will fail to disappoint. The lighting effects are particularly impressive, and everything seems immersed in a beautiful glow. It's a real pleasure to see the effect of light streaming down into rooms from windows or cracks in the ceiling.
|Rating : 9/10 |
Platform : PS2
Developer : Ubisoft (Montreal)
Publisher : Ubisoft
Distributor : E-Xpress Interactive Software Pvt Ltd
Contact : 022-28850245
Price : Rs. 2,999
Throughout the game, players will be kept entertained by the conversations and arguments between the Prince and the Dark Prince, or Kaileena's insightful, softly spoken narratives (yes, even though she's dead), which really help keep the story alive.
Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones successfully reduces frustration and monotony, and introduces a number of interesting gameplay elements, ensuring that the game truly lives up to the high standards of, and provides a highly fitting end to, the entire Prince of Persia series. If you liked the previous games, you'll surely like this one. If, however, for whatever reason, you didn't like Warrior Within, you probably won't like this game either.
pider-Man is one of our favourite superheroes, earning respect for being truly unrecognisable (unlike some, who think that eyeglasses are a perfect cover), and more importantly, for keeping his underwear on the inside where it belongs.
A few years ago, two comic-book illustrators decided to re-invent the Spider-man we all knew and loved to create the Ultimate Spider-Man series, giving Peter Parker and his arachnid self a more contemporary teenage look. It might look familiar, too-it airs (or did, at least) on one of our cartoon TV channels.
The story comes right out of the comic, with 15-year-old Peter Parker and friend Eddie Brock discovering a suit their fathers were working on before they died-a suit that could cure cancer. Peter tries it on, and discovers himself twice the Spider-man he used to be-but there's something sinister about this suit: it begins to consume him. Superhero that he is, Peter escapes its clutches, but Eddie isn't so fortunate when he has a go-the suit turns him into the vicious and brutal Venom.
It's three months later now, and while Peter Parker goes about his superhero responsibilities somewhere in Manhattan, Venom has returned from oblivion to terrorise the city. The story follows the expected comic-book plotline-save the innocent and kick supervillian arse. You're pretty much free to roam the city, taking up challenges like races and gang-fights as you please. While such silly side-missions feel optional (we'd love to give races the pass), they are in fact the way to unlock further story-related missions and other cool stuff like swing speed upgrades. This didn't go down too well-we'd expected a game that was more strongly focused on story. Instead, what you get is a lot of unnecessary missions that may or may not take you forward in the story.
Thankfully, the few story-related missions that are there are quite intense, and make some of the torture worth it; Spidey fans are sure to enjoy the inclusion of a huge assortment of favourite characters-the Green Goblin, Wolverine, R.H.I.N.O, The Human Torch (of the Fantastic Four), Mary "too-hot-to-pass-for-fifteen" Jane and loads more. While swinging about the city, you can also pick up "tokens" to unlock things like concept art, landmarks, and even cool costumes.
The game uses the 3D Comic Inking Technology, a cartoon-style 3D Cel Shader. The effect is an awesome mix of the two-standard 3D effects like dynamic lighting and shadows, and the brilliant-looking comic style, especially appealing in Venom. Cutscenes are also presented in comic-style panels, bringing the theme full circle.
|Rating : 8/10 |
Minimum : System Requirements
Windows : 2000/XP Pentium 4 @ 1.4GHz/Athlon 1500 256 MB RAM 32 MB DirectX 9.0 video card
Developer : Treyarch
Publisher : Activision
Distributor : Worldwide CD ROMs
Contact : 022-56973895
Price : Rs. 999
What really sets this game apart is that you'll be doing missions as Spider-Man and as Venom! The two characters have really different fighting styles-Spidey's agile, acrobatic moves and Venom's raw, brute force keeps you entertained no end. After you've finished the story missions, you can free-roam the city and switch between the two. Playing as Venom is no less fun than as Spidey himself-you can throw cars, slap cops around, and generally descend upon Manhattan with carnage on your mind. He's deadly strong, so you don't need us to tell you how entertaining this can be!
The acid-test for the game developer is the oh-so-critical web-swinging, and Treyarch pass with flying colours. It gets the adrenaline circulating nice and strong without being too disorienting or difficult. Getting used to the keyboard layout takes time, and it's probably a good idea to tweak the controls to something you're more comfortable with; but while this helps to get comfortable with the web-swinging, it still doesn't help the combat much. In short, you'll need a game controller to get the best out of this one.
Somewhere Over The Rainbow Six
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Lockdown (R6L) is the latest instalment of the Rainbow Six series. The popular tactical shooter series has long been a favourite amongst gamers. It's basically a port to the PC of a game made for consoles, but it's still a pretty good looking port.
For those of you who aren't sure why this game is called Rainbow Six: you play the game as a squad member of Team Rainbow, the world's best counter-terrorist unit. In Rainbow Six: Lockdown, you lead your men through various maps that are set in various cities across the globe, and attempt to eliminate hostile forces that are targeting the Rainbow Six elite squad. You go through levels killing the bad guys, rescuing the good ones and retrieving data and securing biochemical stashes along the way. The concept is simple: protect the world from evil!
Let's start with my first impression…
I was surprised at the eye-candy! The graphics are pretty good. They're still not as good as my all time favourite (thus far) Half-life 2, so forget about comparisons to Doom 3, Quake 4 or F.E.A.R., but they're great for a tactical shooter.
The shadow effects and the lighting are nicely done and water reflections are also really cool. I played this game on an AMD Athlon 64 3200 with 1 GB of DDR2 memory, an 80 GB SATA hard drive and an ATI Radeon X850 (128 MB) XT graphics card. I set all graphics settings to their highest possible values-the game loaded quickly and never framed once.
You should be able to do the same with any of the current generation cards-an NVIDIA 6600GT, or an ATI X850, or newer.
There is no AI to write home about. Enemies are stupid, even at the higher difficulty level, and your squad mates even sillier. When a member of your team faces enemy fire, even if he or she (yes, this game is not sexist) is outnumbered 10:1 he/she will continue to fight until death! Is this the famed bravado of the Rainbow Six clan, or is it just stupid AI, I still can't decide.
Even at the highest difficulty level, enemies can't seem to hit the side of a stationary 18-wheeler, leave alone kill me, and yet I can get in headshots (one shot kill) four out of every five tries! For those of you who have played and mastered tough FPS games, or even Counter Strike, this game will be a little too easy for your liking.
There are times when you sneak up behind enemies, shoot one of them, and the rest keep looking the other way-apparently deaf to have not heard the burst of sub-machine fire that I let rip from just a few feet away, and oblivious of the fact that I am carefully setting my sights between their ears. It's like those shooting ranges at fairs, where you shoot balloons or cute ducks.
No Tactics Required
Though a tactical shooter, there's no real tactics needed here. Perhaps it's slotted into this genre because you have to peep around corners. True, you'll get shot up if you're the type to go running blind around corners and into a horde of terrorists-but does anybody actually do that? If you're used to playing Counter Strike, playing R6L is like playing against a team of "campers"-they don't move enough strategically, and generally move about in circles, ducking for cover! The fact that you can get in headshots from miles away doesn't help you develop any "tactics" either.
Though there are a lot of weapons to choose from, they don't really handle that differently, or give you any more or less accuracy. So, if you're choosing a machine gun, you can pretty much just pick up the gun at the top of the list and just get on with the game.
There is the option of changing your uniform colour, but, again, this isn't anything to write home about. You can only carry two weapons at a time, so make sure you choose a sub-machine gun as the primary weapon and a shotgun as the secondary weapon. The pistols are just too underpowered against terrorist firepower. You should also know that you seem to have unlimited ammo for your secondary weapon-pistol or shotgun, but ammo for the machine gun is limited.
There are a few things that would have you tear your hair out, or in my case, make wish you had hair to tear:
1. You cannot jump!
Yes, you read that right, you just cannot jump! There's no control for it, and your way is often blocked by a fallen over potted-plant, or something equally ridiculous. It's really irritating when you can see another way across a map, but cannot use it because of an obstacle that even a two-year old midget would hurdle with aplomb.
2. You cannot pick up ammo or weapons!
You're running low on ammo for your machine gun-the reason for this shortage of ammo (the terrorists) are strewn all over the floor, dead! Yet you cannot walk up to a corpse and just pick up his weapon or his ammo. There's no "switch weapon" option, so even after finally killing that pesky RPG-toting terrorist, you're forced to continue on your way clutching your miniscule pistol, which would probably do more damage if you hurled it at your enemies!
3. You can kill team mates, but shoot a civilian and you start the level from scratch.
Whatever happened to "acceptable losses"? So what if I "accidentally" kill a civilian or two on route to "saving the world", do I have to be punished with playing a mindless level all over again?
4. You cannot jump!
Oh wait, I said that already! But it deserves a second mention because it's ridiculous enough!
This game is probably a lot of fun on the console platform; unfortunately, it's not that great for the PC. It's like buying Counter Strike (CS) with much better graphics. There's nothing new here for most people. The multi-player is possibly a much better option, at least when it comes to combating the boring AI. Unlike in CS, however, die while playing and you do not get to follow your comrades about using the camera mode-in R6L you just have to sit and twiddle your thumbs until you re-spawn about 30 seconds later.
|Rating : 5/10 |
Developer : Red Storm Entertainment
Publisher : Ubisoft
Distributor : e-XPRESS Interactive
Contact : 022-2885 0245
Category : Action/Tactical Shooter
Website : www.rainbowsixgame.com
The three of you gamers in India who have not played Counter Strike should definitely buy this game! For the rest, if you have money to burn, and like great graphics with CS-style multiplayer action, buy the game; if you're looking for a story-based single player game for entertainment, flip the page, there's more interesting stuff to read!