Suddenly the bushes some 30 yards away move. You hear a bloodcurdling growl. Your vision blurs as something dark leaps at you, tearing at your body with deadly claws. You open fire blindly, stumbling backwards. Just as the creature's about to go down, you see a flash of brown to your left…
That, comrade, is just another moment in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.-one of the most atmospheric, immersive shooters I've played.
You play the "marked one," and courtesy a nasty case of amnesia, remember zilch about your whereabouts or even who you are. First up you'll be given a mission from the trader in the bunker you wake up in, and armed with a peashooter (at first), you're off.
The "zone" as it's called is huge, and you'll spend hours traversing it on foot. You can stick to the roads and paths, or feel free to explore the countryside. But remember the zone lives and breathes (just like you) and you'll come across hostile mutants of various kinds, heavily-armed stalkers who'll be either neutral or hostile, and various deadly things-not to mention equally lethal, highly radioactive zones.
This is where S.T.A.L.K.E.R. really comes into its own. A first person shooter / RPG, this game is the first of its kind. Its not about upgrading character stats, but improving your own gameplay skills. The storyline revolves around the main missions, although there's a goodly dose of side missions in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. enough for some 40 hours of gameplay. What's unique is the sheer freedom the game allows you in pursuing the missions. There's never a feeling of being forced into a particular mission, nor any limitations on how you achieve your objectives.
It's the sheer eerie beauty of the zone that will grab you though. Gnarled trees, rumbling thunderstorms with intermittent lightning bolts, junkyards of dead vehicles, and abandoned buildings in various states of disrepair are all part of the eerie atmosphere you'll experience. You have no friends except your gear, and death is only an empty magazine away.
With the right kind of hardware, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. looks absolutely stunning. It has one of the most immersive soundtracks I've ever experienced. The growls from mutants, rustles in bushes, the constant moaning of the wind, among other indefinable ambient sounds through the trees will leave you constantly on edge, just as the developers intended.
Skirmishes with mutants and rival stalkers are common, and you'll need to watch yourself: The AI is extremely nasty, with enemies using cover as intelligently as you, ditto the tactics. Some of the mutants lack AI for the most part, but they more than compensate with raw speed and agility.
While I won't spoil any more of the plot, I can tell you the game has seven different endings-open-endedness unlimited!
Will absolutely realistic weaponry and damage models, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is as close to the real thing as you can get. Need a verdict? Play it! Right after a system upgrade, of course…
Burnout Dominator Almost Infamous
No game has endeared itself to us the way the Burnout series has. Perhaps it's the insane speeds. Or the rewarding feeling (and points) you get when you introduce opponents to the friendly pillar on the corner of the road. There's that sweet taste of revenge as you descend from the skies onto the bonnet of the unsuspecting fool who thought he could get away with taking you down. Ah, good times…
|Rating : 7/10 |
Price : Rs 2,499
Publisher : Electronic Arts
Distributor : Milestone Interactive
Contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
Developer : Criterion
Platform : PS2
It never occurred to us that Criterion would try and mess with the near-perfection that was Burnout: Revenge-they've added a bunch of new game modes in Burnout: Dominator, but one of the best features has now been disowned. Traffic checking is gone, so you can't use the hapless public as pawns in your game of death and destruction anymore. Worse, you have to avoid them! The gloriously destructive Crash mode
is gone as well. On the plus side, you can now chain burnouts-drive like a maniac while boosting, and you'll get an instant boost recharge that will let you go even faster. This is all as fun as it sounds, but definitely tougher, what with the going boom every time you hit traffic bit. The overall gameplay hasn't changed enough to warrant comment, other than that we're glad it all feels the same.
Dominator looks amazing, and is a testament to the fact that the old PS2 still has life. For someone new to the franchise, it's an excellent game to have; Revenge owners, buy this only if you're bored with the same old locations-it's no quantum leap ahead.
Heatseeker Simple Joys For Simple People
We wonder if IR Gurus consciously decided to forego any sort of depth when they made Heatseeker. This arcade-style flight simulator (we use the term loosely) gives you no story to live through-well, nothing worth mentioning, anyway-and strictly average voice acting. What you do get, however, is good, solid adrenaline-enriched dogfighting action in an aircraft of your choice, including the beautifully destructive F-22 Raptor.
|Rating :7/10 |
Contact : email@example.com
Developer : IR Gurus
Price : Rs 2,499
Publisher : Codemasters
Distributor : E-Xpress Interactive
Platform : PS2
Heatseeker proudly touts the Impact Cam, which follows your missile right to the aircraft it's headed for, showing you the fate of your victim in all its up-close and slow-motion glory. If you like watching big explosions unfold in slow motion, this should feed your appetite like your first meal after a day-long fast. Trouble is, while you're watching the impact cam in glee, your aircraft switches to go-straight-without-thinking mode, meaning that you may well find your bird headed for the water when you get back. This can get annoying after a while, especially the fact that you enter impact cam when you hold down your fire key-taking you out of the action for those few precious moments.
Wherever else Heatseeker might fail, it doesn't disappoint in terms of action. You'll be met by barrages of enemy aircraft, and you get but a few seconds to breathe between waves. In-flight effects like afterburn are well-styled, and you'll be playing the Top Gun theme in your head in no time. Sink your money into this one for mindless entertainment, seen after a long time in a flight sim.