April 2003

Serious Sam

April 29, 2003

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/serioussam/cover.jpg[/floatleft]Now I don’t know what you have heard about his game, but for twenty bucks this game is quite entertaining. Serious Sam was first introduced to me by The Wraith at EB. He had mentioned that his wife really was entertained with Serious Sam’s “Quake” like game play. With massive killing and very little plot, this seemed like a game that I should try out. It’s important that you know that I am the biggest FPS fan you will every meet, so needless to say you are probably going to read good things about this game…MAYBE!!

Once you pop the game into your Xbox it will seem that it may have a good story behind it. IT DOESN’T!!! Somehow the world has been taken over by freaky looking aliens and other extremely odd creatures and the only person that can save the world is none other than…yes you guessed it…Serious Sam!! Some how, Sam is then sent back in time to destroy the creatures, and also he needs to collect some elements that are similar to the ones in the movie “The Fifth Element”.

[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/serioussam/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatright]I have put in close to ten hours playing Serious Sam and I have not beaten it yet. It usually takes me about that much time to beat a game. It is impossible for me to beat this game, the game continues on forever with no end. I’m sure this game has an end, but I haven’t seen it yet. Serious Sam is an all around shoot ’em up game. With tons of enemies and guns, the carnage never ends on every level. Each level is set up with certain weapons that are given to you, so that means that only certain types of creatures are after you. As you progress throughout the game, the creatures become more intense with insane numbers. If your worried about power ups or armor…don’t! Each level has an insane amount of armor, power ups, extra life, and ammo everywhere. What’s really hilarious about this game is that there is no pivotal point to the game except getting an insane amount of points. You can literally run through each level without shooting one round. Unfortunately, if you do that you won’t receive one point or extra bonus stuff. Every level is filled with secret passages, treasures, and extra weapons. Serious Sam can carry insane amount of weapons and ammo, that’s another thing that I really enjoyed about this game. While your running around blowing up psycho looking creatures, you can scroll through your list fifty or so weapons as the game progresses. Rocket launchers, miniguns, canons, sub-machine guns, flamethrowers, laser guns, the list keeps going. So if you’re worried about variety, don’t stress, this game has it. Another entertaining option about this game is its multiplayer. Mass chaos is also very fun with sixteen of your friends if your wanting to system link that is.

I have pretty much summarized the simplicity of the game by now. So you would think that if the game play is simple, the control scheme must be. The controls in Serious Sam are very user friendly with very little management and responsibility. You don’t have to worry about reloading, because it’s done automatically for you. Once you do run out of ammo for that particular weapon that you are using you are automatically switched to the next weapon with ammo in your arsenal. The only management on your controlling pad that you have to worry about is deciding what weapon you want to use. Strafing, running, and jumping are the basic movements on your toggle sticks.

Now comes the bad part of the game. I’m not planning on spending much time on explaining the graphics aspect of this game. Why you ask…because the graphics just plain suck on every level of the gaming spectrum. I mean there is not much to describe because it sucks so damn bad its not even funny. I laughed so hard when I saw them at first. However, I did not buy this game for the graphics. I bought this game for the sole purpose of running around and blasting things to death.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/serioussam/ss05_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]With that said I can move on the overall challenge of this game. This game is completely insane on normal difficulty. Serious Sam has about four different difficulty levels to choose from. Currently I am playing on normal, and the levels take me almost thirty minutes to an hour to complete because of the wicked battles that I encounter. Creatures just never stop respawning. More than anything you will need to play this game is stamina. Bosses at the end of the levels are easy to get through. Trust me, it will only take you one time to kill every boss; it just takes a long time.

There is really no point to out develop one aspect of the game if the other part sucks. The sound is no different than the graphics, they both suck, the sounds of the creatures are horrible, Sam’s dialogue is corny and cheesy, and the music sounds like it was ripped off the soundtrack of a porno. One thing I want to warn you about in this game, is the distant screaming that starts really low then gradually becomes louder and louder. That sound is the sound of “The Al-Qaeda suicide bombers”. They run around each level with their domes lopped off and with two bombs in their hands ready to explode when they are in close proximity to you.

For twenty dollars I think that Serious Sam is a very entertaining game if you’re into the cheap FPS genre. It’s simple, cheap, and fun. I suggest renting it if your not convinced to purchase it. However, its only twenty bucks and it seems like a never ending game with great possibilities for sleepless nights.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/raven/cover.jpg[/floatleft]Tactical games are not my really my specialty, hell I seem to want to run and gun more then anything. When the Rainbow 6 series came out at first I did not take to the game, but like all good PC games it really does grow on you. The latest addition to the series is Raven Shield, a culmination of the previous two game’s efforts, with some new options, and on the fly team commands. Like the previous games you are in charge of various missions, where you lead a team of utter badasses into hostile territory to complete particular objectives. Back is the briefing room where you gather the info you need for the upcoming missions, as well as your editing your team, their gear, and their plan. You can still edit your plan and save them, or just use default plans to go about completing your mission. Some missions require specialists to either defuse bombs or snipe, and each character has specific stats that group them in demolitions, assault, or sniper categories. Knowing how to use these specialists, and harder yet, keep them alive is where the challenge lies.

One of the first things I look for when a sequel comes out is whether or not they have improved the graphics and character models. By looking at screen shots early in development I was worried that we would not see any improvement in this area, not that the previous ones were very bad. When I loaded this game up however and saw my team I was very please with what I saw. The character models still look crisp and the FPS presentation is sharp. The details in this game are much improved as you can actually see how many grenades the other team members have or what kind of side arm they pack. Great details were given to the motions as well. When climbing up ladders the characters move their primary weapons to their back, it looks fantastic.

The environments are still top notch. Again you will see many factories and some good outside maps as well. You are able to blow out doors as well as shoot through some to take out some enemies that may be hiding behind them. The maps vary in size, some being massive, while some being very small, and better for multiplayer. Outside environments are done very well, and lighting looks good.

[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/raven/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatright]Sound is where I am usually the pickiest. I always think every game could do better with their sounds but FPS games usually seem leave this area the least focused. Don’t get me wrong, the ambient sounds while outside are fine, however you will be forced to listen mostly to your footsteps and the sound of your gear clanking. Ricochet sounds will fill the air as well as the sound of your guns blazing. The muffled silencer sounds are done right; however nothing beats the sound of a PSG-1 .50 caliber sniper… KABOOOM.

The games controls are legit. Like any FPS the same rules apply, however it’s the team management that is simplified to the point of A

Rayman 3, the sequel to one of the greatest games ever…Rayman 2. There was Rayman 2, a fantastic game, then in between there were a few terrible Rayman games, and now finally a sequel that wasn’t put together in a night. A really deserving sequel, a game that even Ubi Soft decided to fully credit being a sequel and not a piece of crap. Rayman has always been about fast action platform fun. Rayman 3 is a good game but it still has it’s shortcomings in some areas.

[heading]Graphics – 9.0[/heading]
The graphics of the game are very good. The FMV cut scenes are really nice and quite well done. The levels just shine in terms of beauty. They look like fully pre-rendered levels, but clearly they are not. Smooth frame rate and not even a hint of slowdown. Great simple clear colors, brilliant effects and amusing animations sum it up.

[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/rayman3/ss01_thumb.jpg[/floatright][heading]Sound – 9.0[/heading]
The game sound is really good. The music in some areas is really good, and in other areas it is okay, but overall it is good. The voice cast is great, and the voice acting is superb. The people really act it out well and overall put a lot of effect into this funny game. Yes, the game is very funny, and it may not have been as funny had the parts not been acted out so well. The only downfall would be that the music in some areas is not as good and can very rarely be even irritating; but as a downfall, that is a very small one.

[heading]Control – 8.5[/heading]
The controls are just fine. They are standard for any platform. The camera control with the C-Stick just isn’t enough though sometimes. There are some pre-set camera angles in some areas and sometimes they just don’t work, and the camera with the C-Stick just doesn’t move around fast enough sometimes. The R button works as an A


April 21, 2003

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/ikaruga/cover.jpg[/floatleft]Well, I will begin with a brief history of the game. The game was originally released for the Sega Dreamcast in Japan but never brought to the US, till now. On April 16th, 2003, Ikaruga was released for the Nintendo GameCube; a very popular game in Japan that US audiences were very happy to finally have. In a world of 3D games and immersive worlds and many dynamic modes of gameplay, it is a great change of pace to have a two dimensional fast paced shooter that all of us old school gamers can sit down with and have a great time with. We’ve all played and cursed at the screen playing our Gradius and our Galaga and all of it. Now we can experience that all over again with this wonderful new game.

[heading]Graphics – 8.0[/heading]
There really isn’t much to say about the graphics. It’s a 2D overhead shooter with very nice background visuals and many effects on the screen with not a bit of slowdown or anything. The game is as graphically impressive as you could hope for from a game like this. Although it is nice, it is not perfect. It does the vertical line of travel, and many of us who have previously fallen in love with Gradius and other such titles, really do prefer the horizontal mode of movement. Well, the game does come with an option to play horizontally instead of vertically, but unfortunately it doesn’t accommodate the controls for this change. Up on the analog stick is still forward and so it becomes impossible to play unless you lay down while playing the game. That being said, most people will probably stick with the normal vertical modes of gameplay. The graphics are as good as one could hope for, but not perfect.

[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/ikaruga/ss02_thumb.jpg[/floatright][heading]Sound – 8.0[/heading]
There isn’t much to be said about the sound either. The background sound fits the game well and can make the game fun and action packed, but the music isn’t anything truly memorable or something that sticks in your mind even after you are done playing. The sound effects of shooting and explosions and everything are also just fine.

[heading]Control – 8.0[/heading]
The controls are “standard”. The only issue with the controls are when you try to play in horizontal mode. That is all. I will use this portion then to also talk about the innovative ship control modes. You can play as either “Light” or “Dark” ship mode. You can simply change the polarity or your ship and this innovative mechanism allows many different ways of gameplay. The enemies you encounter also have a polarity that fire energy as the polarity of their ship. The polarity that your ship is changes or effects that the rest of the enemies and fire does to you. It will start upon the firepower from you hitting an enemy. If you shoot a ship that is opposite polarity as yourself, you inflict double damage, but if you shoot a ship with the same polarity, if fires back at you with firepower of the same polarity. Now, the polarity of your ship and how it takes firepower. If you get hit by energy of the same polarity, you absorb it, and charge up your missile or power shot bar. You can fire these out at any time but the more it is charged up, them more missiles it fires. So using this ability on similarly charged enemies to charge up is a very clever mechanic. You can either burn through enemies faster with double damage, or charge up your energy bar to inflict major damage later. Now, if you get hit by a shot of the opposite polarity, you die. These clever game mechanics allow for you to play the games in many different ways, and also have you keep track of a lot of things in the game all at once, making it a lot of fun, and very challenging.

[heading]Challenge – 10[/heading]
Speaking of challenge, this game is challenging. There are options to play it that can make it harder. There is a mode called bullet-eater mode where you can try to play the whole stage without firing a single shot yourself. If you pass the stage without dying or firing a single shot, then you will be rewarded with ample points. That is all on top of the fact that there are three modes of difficulty, easy, normal, and hard, and hard is very hard, and a lot of fun. It will be difficult and it will take most people a while to beat the game, no matter how or what difficulty they play it on. The game is designed so that you can get good enough to eventually beat it, but then after that, you can also keep playing to get a really high score. These scores can then be entered via a code online on the Ikaruga Net Ranking website. This does allow a lot of replay value with incentive, not to mention that it’s a helluva lot of fun.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/ikaruga/ss05_thumb.jpg[/floatleft][heading]Fun Factor – 9.0[/heading]
The game is a lot of fun. The many different ways to play and the difficulty settings allow a lot of unique games. On top of all of the fun that can be had playing it alone and getting better just to beat it, there is a very good score keeper so you can hone your skills and try to get the perfect score. Then on top of all that, you can do it with a friend. There is a two player mode where you and a friend share the screen and share the action.

[heading]Conclusion – 9.0[/heading]
This great game gives something that you can always play. Bored? Pop in Ikaruga and play for half an hour or so. Grab a friend and play 2 or 3 games, see how far you can get. This fast paced fun shooter is something you can always come back to and play for a bit. Is it worth the 50 bucks? In my opinion, yes, but lucky for you it only costs 40.

[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/dw4/cover.jpg[/floatleft]If I had to describe Dynasty Warriors 4 in one word, it would definatly be “fun.” There’s something to be a said about a good hack A