June 2003

Let me recap some news you may have already seen me post and then we will get to the other stuff. Enter the Matrix became Atari’s best selling game with over 2.5 Million copies having been sold. Nintendo won a $641,000 settlement against Hong Kong company Lik Sang for their involvement in the selling of devices that make it easy to pirate Gameboy games. Vivendi posted their teaser site for the upcoming game, The Hobbit. Awesome new screens were posted this week for the upcoming TMNT game. Ubi Soft has set March 2004 as the month to release Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. *whew* Now, for the other stuff.

Capcom has announced that they will be bringing out a compilation of the Resident Evil games for Gamecube. The compilation is set to include GameCube versions of Biohazard 0, Biohazard, Biohazard 2, Biohazard 3 Last Escape, and Biohazard Code: Veronica Complete. (*psst* Biohazard is what they call it in Japan) It is set to retail for $165 and as a bonus it will include a booklet containing Wesker’s Report 1 & 2. It is slated for release in Japan on August 7th.

The ever popular Sim City 4 has been shipped for Macintosh. Yay?

In continuing on with the 007 series of games, Pierce Brosnan and a slew of other actors have signed on to do the voice acting for the newest game, Everything or Nothing. It is currently in development for all major platforms and should hit store shelves sometime this fall.

To cash in on those 12 people who have yet to purchase a PS2, SCEA (Sony) has signed on to sponsor this years Ozzfest. Demo games, prizes, and more are all part of Sony’s plan to take over the world….err, I mean, make people aware of the newest games out for PS2.

In some of the most anticipated news, Star Wars Galaxies has shipped. Our very own Pickle has been sucked in and we expect to see him in 18 months. I can’t say that I am not excited about this game, but I am not going to be playing it. I have been an advocate from day one that I should not be forced to pay an additional $10-15 a month to play a game that I paid $50 upfront for. Freaking developers think they can slap Star Wars on the Everquest style gameplay and get my money. Not this time guys! The launch was off to a rocky start, but things seem to be improving as time goes on.

That is all the news for now, till next time.

Being the FPS fan that I am, I had to get my hands on Soldier of Fortune 2 when it came out. The only thing that I had ever heard about SOF was the famous magazine, which bears the same name. Since I have not played the first SOF on PC, I was really excited to see what the next installment had to offer, especially since it was released on the Xbox.

Needless to say I look for several things in any FPS. There are different aspects in a FPS game that I look for. They are: graphics, weapons, AI, sound, and environmental destruction. I was eager to see what this game had to offer as an FPS compared to the recent release of other games in the same genre.

When the game begins you are playing the character of John Mullins, a respected combat veteran turned professional consultant. A private organization called “The Shop” contracts you for covert operations around the world to combat terrorism. The Shop has gathered intelligence that a worldwide terrorist group has developed a deadly virus, and is planning to spread the virus around the world without mercy. You have been called to eliminate the threat at all cost. The missions are in different environments such as jungles, urban locations, frozen tundra, deserts, and many more locations around the world. Each mission that you encounter is actually very long and drawn out. There are very few to zero objectives in each mission. The objectives can vary from rescuing a hostage, collecting intelligence, or just eliminating an entire army of terrorists. But 98% of the time you are just mowing people down. You literally have to destroy huge regimes of terrorists, which is actually quite funny. Honestly, the game is not very involved beyond eliminating mass numbers of terrorists. Because SOF fails to draw you into the game, the diversity of the game play does not go beyond massacring people and blowing things up. Just in case you get a little bored of slaughtering people in small numbers then you can up your difficulty in the settings menu, which by the way, will only increase the number of terrorists in a mission.

Activision, the creators of the SOF games, is known for helping gamers out during game play, for example in the earlier released hit Return to Castle Wolfenstein. In SOF’s case, hint icons will appear at certain times to inform you that you can operate or interact with an object. Right below your hint icons is your health and armor status bar, and on the bottom right of your screen is your weapon and ammo status bar. One thing I love about first person shooters is the amount of weapons you can carry at one time. SOF allows you to carry up to 10 weapons, and before each mission you can customize your arsenal to your likings. I personally enjoy playing any FPS that allows you to carry a weapon in each hand at one time. SOF gives you that freedom to carry two pistols, Uzi’s, or whatever else you can get your hands on. This aspect of the game really makes it a tad bit more fun.

The controls in SOF are very similar to the controls of RTCW. Your directional pad helps you scroll through your weapons and lean to peak around a corner. You also have a quick grenade button, just in case you feel like causing more damage. Basic movem
ts are done by using the toggle sticks forward, backward, and strafe, which can be inverted if you prefer. Both triggers are used to fire and zoom with scoped weapons. You have the option of changing the mode on certain weapons with the white button. For stealth purposes you can press down on the toggle buttons for crouching and proning. As a side note, stealth does not help you in any way, shape, or form in this game. You can also customize your controller to your personal preference of gaming. The responsiveness of your controller is very quick, sometimes reloading can be a pain but it’s done automatically when you forget.

This will then lead me to the games A.I. and its graphics. I have not been able to experience a FPS hat will allow me to continue to dismember a corpse once I have killed it. SOF will allow you to riddle the corpse with bullets or completely decapitate its head with your assault rifle. Very gruesome I might add. It’s fun to watch as you kill your enemy, and then proceed to see parts of his head come off as you shoot him at point blank range. And yes folks, blood will flow like a river in this game. Just to add a little bit more of knit-picking, all the characters wear the same outfits and they all look identical. This really annoys me because I believe that variety in a game is a must. It seems that the graphics engine used in this game was similar to that of RTCW. The games color is very cloudy and dark with very little detail given to the objects. The lighting effects in this game caused it many times to clip continuously, especially as I walked down a hall. Overall the lighting effects in this game are horrendous. Another quality of graphics and game play that I search for is environmental destruction. SOF
limits you to destroying several things in the environment, which I think is lame. The environment was also not smoothed out properly and not given enough detail.

As you get closer to walls and trees, they become exaggeratingly pixilated and lose even more detail. On the other hand, the weapons look absolutely realistic and very fine. Each weapon has its own slick style and finish that make it look very appealing.

SOF’s AI is not very satisfying at all. The enemy will run at you, screaming who knows what, with a huge cannon in their hands and once they are in point blank range they will crouch and proceed to fire at your knees. That’s just horrible AI in my book. After sniping an enemy from afar, another guy will run to the exact same spot where you sniped the last guy, only to meet the same fate. Thus killing about 10-15 guys in a matter of seconds. This process happens on every mission countless amounts of times – again the game’s AI is very annoying and very unsatisfying. It will take an enemy anywhere from 3-5 seconds to fire upon you once you have fired at them during a mission. It was obvious that Activision did not spend a lot of time on the game’s AI, maybe didn’t spend time on the game at all.

Double helix also fails to bring great sound effects to the mix. The music is rarely heard, the dialogue is extremely pointless and flat, while the ambient noise is dead. SOF was obviously not mastered properly and poorly mixed all around. Although, the only good aspect to the games sound is the weapons being fired. Every weapon being fired sounds like you are sitting next to a .50 caliber machine gun. I mean you literally have to turn down your television every time you shoot your weapon.

Soldier of Fortune 2: Double Helix failed to satisfy me overall wit

h a lack of involvement. Activision decided to rush into this game and leave out many elements of involvement including creativity, graphics, and a descent challenge. Since I have purchased SOF I have not seen a single soul on LIVE playing SOF. To make matters worse, the game is not multiplayer capable unless you system link. This then brings me to my conclusion; just stay away from the game, unless you are bored and have nothing else to play, but even still it will only add to your boredom. On the other hand, if you like first person shooters then by all means rent it and give a shot. Overall, I would have to say that SOF 2 was most certainly a big disappointment in my book.

Fast and the Furious was enough of a hit at the movies to warrant a sequel. I never really knew, but I guess street racing is really a hot thing in America. I can’t really see the reason for spending your life’s savings to make a car look like something out of a freaking anime, but you know different strokes for different folks. Games come out of the wood works to catch the latest craze, and street racing can be very marketable in the gaming world. Rockstar must have seen it coming, knowing that racing games where the player drives on tracks were going to get old and boring. Midnight Club 2 tries to capitalize on street racing’s popularity by developing a game that can be played by those who don’t geek out over Nitrous. Personally, I am no speed demon but I found that this game has a flare that even I could enjoy.

Find a challenge

Ok, now I love not having to do time trials, I love not having to qualify in order to race. In Midnight Club 2, you get to roam a city and find a challenge. There are a few street racers out at night that you drive up to and flash your highs at. Once you do, the race is on and that particular set of events starts. For instance, you find a street racer and race them. They then challenge you to a few races and ultimately, you race for pink slips. After you win and get your new ride you find a challenge again. The levels are different as well, some are check point oriented and some your objective is to lose the cops! I really love the non linear feeling that they use with this aspect of the game.

Physics 101

The game drives wonderfully. Each car has its own distinct way of handling itself on the road. Some hug corners and some haul ass but can’t turn for crap. The game offers a choice on which car you will use to take on each level. This feature is useful, as some levels call for quick reflexes and others for top speed. You will find yourself using all the vehicles at your disposal. The way the vehicles handle in the rain is so real that it is as much a pain in the ass as driving in the rain in real life. Don’t expect to make a quick turn without hydroplaning, or go from a dead stop to full speed without spinning some tires.

Don’t use Nitro on turns

No really; don’t try it.

You will hate other cars.

You will learn to hate the other cars that are racing you. They will intentionally run you off the road or into oncoming traffic. When I first saw this I was in awe because it is exactly what I would do if I were playing the game with my pals. Do anything to win is the whole point. The other non-racing cars on the road will react to the racers too. For instance, if another racer got in the way of one car it veers to miss it, and your car gets the brunt of its punishment, often times setting you way back in the race. The other road block you run into is the police. The sole purpose of the police is to run you off the road. They will try to block you in or veer your car off course, all the while racing down the wrong side of a highway!

Try; try again…and again…and again

You will find yourself doing races over and over again. You will lose more close races than you can imagine and sometimes you will win via a complete blow out. It all depends on
at happens to you and/or the other racers. You may be lucky and the first place car runs into traffic giving you the split second you need to pass him up and take the win, or at the last second you hit an oncoming car and lose the race by mere seconds. This is not really frustrating as it is luck. You will pray that lady luck is on your side through out the race.

Team Pickle

After playing I want to start my own racing team. I think I will name it Team Pic, and have all the cars green with Japanese writing all over them. Then again, maybe not and I will just stick to getting my racing fix on Midnight Club 2. The game offers a lot in the way of crisp graphics, big level design, and a wide selection of vehicles, not to mention motorcycles, and yes, Xbox live compatibility. If you are a racing fan this game is a buy. If not then pick it up as a rental. The game is not the perfect racing game, but it’s damn good.

Dark rooms, scary thunder storms, long spooky hallways, rats that chase after you, ghosts…no I’m not talking about Fatal Frame. I am talking about Luigi’s Mansion. Not to mention vacuums with the power to suck up ghosts, a little mad scientist guy, and, oh yeah, Toad is back too.

Luigi’s Mansion was one of the launch titles for the Gamecube. You may then ask yourself, why Dots, if the game is so old, are you reviewing it now? Well, I just played it and it is new to me. I am only recently a Gamecube owner. Paired with the fact that there is really nothing new out there that I want to play or review. SO, with that out of the way, I give you the Luigi’s Mansion Review!!!

I will start this review with a brief history about my relationship with Luigi. It all started with the original Mario Bros. game. I always played Mario and made my younger sister play second player, thus, she was always Luigi. She would get mad because I A

Soda is the hizouse! I know how much everyone needs their monthly
dosage of Soda in the WIR so I won’t deny you any longer. I wanted
to give everyone a heads up as to what’s going on with the SB lately
and in the near future. If you’re a regular reader of the site than
you probably have already heard about the Austin
Gaming Expo
we’re scheduled to attend. I have to admit that
I’ve had mixed feelings about us having a booth there, but as the
event gets closer I am getting more excited. Cone came up with some
pretty good ideas for our booth and some things we could give away.
If you’re going to be in the area come by and give us a shout. It’s
only five bucks and we’re always excited to meet a fan. We were
also hoping the have our t-shirts ready for the show. In a way we
do, but it’s not exactly what we were hoping for. We released our
first T-shirt designs this week in the forums, for those of you
who didn’t catch it here
is the link
. I already explained to everyone in the forums that
they are iron-on’s, not screen-printing. I have my shirt already
and it looks pretty nice, The Wraith informed me that his washed
really well too. Everyone is more than welcome to check them out
and we hope that you guys are willing to sport our logo and support
our site. Of course all this recent marketing we’ve been doing is
all leading up to one big event; the unveiling of Snackbar V.2.
We’re trying to keep everything about it as much of a secret as
possible so I’m just going to tell you that it’s going to be sweet.

Last week at EB I picked up a copy of NFL 2K3 for the Xbox.
The main reason I bought such an old game is that it was really
freaking cheap, and I’m a sucker for a sports game. I figured that
I’m more than likely going to be the one to right the reviews when
the 2004 football games come out and I haven’t had any experience
with Sega Sports football since 2K1 on the Dreamcast. I played if
for a while, I defiantly got my ten bucks worth out of it. The reason
I mention it is that Sega Sports made an announcement this week
that their sports line will no longer carry the 2Kx title. Since
they already use the “ESPN style presentation” in their
games Sega decided it would be a good idea to try and capture a
larger audience by using the ESPN namesake in their game titles.
For example; this years Sega Sports football game will be titled
ESPN NFL Football 2004. I would tend to agree with Sega Sports
that this is a good move since they are desperately trying to keep
up with EA Sports. Since EA has already told us that they aren’t
going to offer sports games on Live I say anything that increase
Sega Sports’ budget for future games is a good thing.

Mace Griffin Bounty Hunter hit the Xbox and PS2 this week.
I know that many people have been anxiously awaiting this game,
Pretzel included, but I have to go on the record as saying that

I’m not terribly excited. While I don’t dislike First Person Shooters,
it just seems like they are cranked out these days. Every week someone
is all pumped up about another FPS, last week it was Soldier
of Fortune 2
. I’m sure that Mace Griffin is going to be a pretty
good game, and I’m not going to jump to any conclusions before I
even play it, but isn’t it time for some creativity? I guess as
long as people keep buying them, companies will keep making them
and we’ll keep reviewing them. It’s a vicious cycle.

In all honestly I’ve pretty much covered every bit of news from
the previous week that I consider important. It seems that I keep
getting stuck with uneventful weeks. I wanted to take a second to
talk about something personal. When Cone, Pic and myself came up
with the idea for Snackbar we never dreamed it would become what
it has in such a short amount of time. The response we’ve gotten
has been overwhelming positive and inspiring. Over the past six
months we’ve welcomed many people into the SB family, and we hope
that our readers have enjoyed seeing our characters develop and
find our style and place in the internet community. The fact that
we’re about to take this thing to the next level is both exciting
and unnerving, we can only hope to receive a fraction of the success
we’ve had so far. Above everyone else I wanted to give The Wraith
a gigantic thanks from the SB crew. He’s the manager at the EB Games
we all shop at and the more involved he’s gotten in the site the
better it’s been. I just wanted to let all our readers know that
he’s one of the major factors that helped us keep ticking and all
the EB guys can take a lot of credit for the success we’ve had in
our first 6 months.

Until next month, Soda Out!