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Tom Robinson (Norwich, Norfolk, England)
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Speed 2: Cruise Control [1997] [DVD]
Speed 2: Cruise Control [1997] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sandra Bullock
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: £7.39

21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How could it possibly go wrong?, 24 Jun. 2004
The sequel to one of the decade's defining action blockbusters should have been pretty straightforward. All Jan De Bont (the film's director) had to do was follow five rules. One, come up with an immensely high concept. Two, maintain the action at a relatively swift pace. Three, give Annie (Sandra Bullock's character) plenty to say because audiences love her. Four, introduce a psychotic villain to scowl and yell like Dennis Hopper. And five, give us plenty more of Keanu Reeves character, SWAT boy Jack Traven, to woo the hearts of the female audience and bust the balls of anyone who gets in his way.
Rule one receives a big fat tick, as the filmmakers come up with a neat reversal of the original. If the newly chosen mode of transport DOESN'T stop, then everyone is in trouble. From this point on though, everything else receives a big fat cross. Rule two is immediately stuffed up by setting the forthcoming events on...wait for it...a cruise ship, meaning the action now progresses with the momentum of a wounded snail attempting to navigate through a puddle of treacle. Rule three also screws up with the screenwriters' decision to relegate Sandra Bullock to the sidelines, oohing and aahing as the men battle it out.
Rule four dies the moment that Willem Dafoe begins to gurn like Jim Carrey with severe constipation. Worst of all, we are informed that his nutjob has a strange blood disease that requires him to apply leeches at regular moments throughout the film...to think that someone actually got paid to write this stuff. And as for rule five...well, it appears to have been thrown out of a very tall building, as it is goodbye Keanu Reeves and hello Jason 'mahogany' Patric. Add dialogue that lands with the thud of a computer instruction manual, as well as clumsy and quite simply pathetic directing, and you are left with a film that sinks to the ocean floor. A one star film at best and it was lucky to get that.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (GameCube)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (GameCube)

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars For Turtles fans to rent and the rest of us to ignore..., 23 Jun. 2004
The TV show was good. The films were good...sort of. But more importantly, the games were brill (particularly 'Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles IV: Turtles In Time' on the SNES). So the idea of a second coming from Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo in a shell-shaded (gettit?) format certainly got me excited. I was expecting carnage on a huge scale. No tactics. No plot. Just pure slaughter from start to finish. But then I remembered that games have evolved since the days of the 16-bit era, and gamers are after something a tad more groundbreaking nowadays. Which made me realise that a 3D scrolling beat-em-up might not have you desperate enough to click the 'Add to Shopping Basket' button.
Let's at least look at some good points. The graphics. The game makers wanted to adopt the visual style of the latest cartoon series and they actually look pretty smart for a change, although they don't match the superb visuals in Zelda: The Wind Waker. The sound of weapon inflicted suffering, along with an accompaniment of words like 'CRASH' 'BAMM' and 'THOK', is also good. Unfortunately, these are the only appealing factors that I can find about the game. The game is fun and fluid and is definitely worth blasting through a couple of times. But blasting through it even once will take up an hour of two of your time at the most, and that is fairly poor value, especially for £30. Of course when you complete the Story mode, you may want to indulge in the Versus mode. And there are a handful of bonus stages where your ninja skills are tested against a time limit. But when the game play is this pitiable, will you really want to?
Now let's get one thing clear: this is a game where you run around and beat people up. Nothing wrong with that. All you do in Tekken is beat people up. All you do in Dead or Alive 2 is beat people...and stare at women's breasts of course. But at least they took advantage of a significant number of buttons on the control pad. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles takes two into consideration. The control stick and the A button. That's it. The instructions may as well read, "When enemies are in sight, abuse A button ferociously until they fall to the floor and vanish in a puff of smoke. Repeat until game is complete". You want a little bit more skill when you are whacking an enemy or someone in the Versus mode than just battering A over and over again.
But these aren't even the worst points, because whoever was responsible for deciding the maximum number of game players in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a serious problem...or a death wish, either of the two will do. There are FOUR, repeat, FOUR Ninja Turtles. There are FOUR, repeat, FOUR joypad ports on the front of every single GameCube. Doesn't that sound kind of perfect to you? Doesn't the sound of having a group of mates round to hack and kill simultaneously also sound perfect? And doesn't the sound of countless late nights, laughing and stuffing your face full of pizza while you mash people into a pulp also sound perfect? It did to me. But, hold the phone. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a TWO-player game. Does 4 go into 2? I don't think so.
This game could have been great. Currently it is fun for an extremely short amount of time, and with more levels, a bit more finesse in the combat and FOUR PLAYERS (a hint to any Konami employees who happen to be reading this and are considering a sequel), it would have been an absolute killer and certainly worthy of four stars. As it stands though, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has as much 'Turtle Power' as an existing turtle.


Beyond Good & Evil (GameCube)
Beyond Good & Evil (GameCube)

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just wait until you meet the reggae rhinos…, 26 April 2004
From time to time, there comes a game where we witness some pretty strangethings, strange enough in fact that the only response we can give is:“What the...?”. This one begins with an alien warp hole, random mutantthings trying to disembowel you and even a talking pig as your uncle. ThisI could handle, but once I progressed to the section where a group ofJamaican rhinos offered to mend my hovercraft, I was pretty close toswitching the game off. But in an unusual way, this was actually apositive thing. Because the games that completely overwhelm you at thebeginning are often the best ones. Think back to when you first playedOcarina of Time or Final Fantasy VII and exactly how huge it felt. To saythat about Beyond Good & Evil doesn’t really cover it, because from themoment you begin the game, you are living in an entirely differentuniverse, complete with its own races, politics and history.
Anyway, the story (in a nutshell) is about an alien race (the Domz)attacking your home planet, Hillys. Luckily, the Alpha Sections, the elitefighting force of Hillys, are protecting the planet from these invaderswhenever they attack. Then you (you being a tomboy reporter called Jade)and your sidekick (the talking pig called Pey’j) hear of a secretorganisation called IRIS, who claims to be fighting against the AlphaSections in order to expose their supposed alliance with the Domz.Naturally you fall in with them and set about gathering information on theAlpha Sections. Now, journalists on Hillys are brave and are basicallyprepared to risk their lives for whatever illegitimate cause that anyonesuggests to them. Uncovering the truth involves pressing buttons, talkingto people, unlocking doors, infiltrating enemy bases, fighting AlphaSections and Domz cronies and collecting Pearls to give to West Indianrhinos. The pearls are like a black market currency for upgrades on yourhovercraft, which is vital in getting around on Hillys, as most of it iscovered in water. It is all traditional action/adventure stuff with a feworiginal elements shoved in for good measure.
The graphics aren’t revolutionary and they certainly aren’t the mostamazing visuals you’ll see this year in the world of computer games, butthey are packed with style and oozing with atmosphere. I thought of Raymanwhen I first began playing; the whole game has that typical Ubisoft feelto it. Slightly cartoony, yet gritty at the same time and highly appealingbecause of this. Each and every character has personality too, and adistinguishable one at that. Buildings are actually fun to explore too,and in some places, the atmosphere, scripting of dialogue, attention todetail and even humour reminded me of the 2D point-and-click adventuresfrom the days of old (i.e. ‘Monkey Island’ or ‘Bud Tucker’).
I didn’t find any of the combat or puzzle solving sections to beparticularly strenuous on my brain. The combat primarily involves beatingthe living daylights out of monsters with a giant stick, simply bypressing the A button, so it’s essentially like Star Fox Adventures. Youmay complain about the simplicity this entails but this isn’t just acombat game, so learning a long list of complicated moves would makesthings unnecessarily...well, complicated really. Your sidekick will oftenaid you in the combat elements too, and it’s rare that their presence willbe annoying. The puzzles are predominantly straightforward as well. Thereare lots of sneaking sections in the game too and though they don’t matchthe definitive sneak-em-up titles of Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell,they are still pulled off surprisingly well. Overall though, the puzzlesdidn’t cause my brain to overheat, so if you have a strong phobia ofinsanely difficult puzzles then you can rest easy.
But what makes Beyond Good & Evil really fun is the way you have to useJade’s camera to gather info and even receive money. If you’ve ever playedMetroid Prime then you’ll find Jade’s camera is just like the scan visorthat Samus uses. You basically receive salary for taking pictures of theanimals and monsters that inhabit Hillys, as well as using the camera togather evidence on the Alpha Sections or even the Domz. I found it usefulthat it doubles as a first person view mode too, which is obviously agreat help when the game camera won’t go where you want it too. You canalso use the camera to take pictures of maps that correspond to the areayou are in, so a bird’s eye view of the location is automatically placedin your inventory. And once you pick up an animal or pearl detector,you’ll want to find all of them, and this is what IGN meant when they said“Its Zelda for grown-ups”.
Talking pigs and alien warp holes are nothing like Zelda, but the highlytempting distractions from your main quest are and this is precisely whatmakes Beyond Good & Evil so much fun. Don’t get me wrong, the mainstoryline is still strong and this is helped a lot by the good actorvoices and original soundtrack. But you’ll probably spend a lot more timecommitting yourself to the side quests. Despite all it’s good pointsthough, Beyond Good & Evil won’t last a great deal of time. If you’ve seenthe film Blade Runner, you’ll know of the quote “The light that burnstwice as bright burns half as long”. It’s likely that you’ll complete itin 10-15 hours, but these 10-15 hours will be some of the best you haveever played. Besides, games like these aren’t meant to last; they aresimply made to be enjoyed.
Beyond Good & Evil is dark, funny, mystifying, gripping and is pureescapism from start to finish.


Resident Evil Code: Veronica X (Gamecube)
Resident Evil Code: Veronica X (Gamecube)

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another dose of classic Resident Evil…, 8 Mar. 2004
The final re-issue in the Resident Evil saga is finally here. It is by far the jumpiest and most brilliant of the classic Resident Evil games, before the recent GameCube incarnations blew them all out of the water. But more importantly than that, it brings us closer to the release of the eagerly awaited Resident Evil 4. Code: Veronica X begins on an island prison that is under fire from an unknown attacker, and naturally the attack causes a T-Virus outbreak and the place becomes overrun with zombies…it was expected really wasn’t it?
To fend of these terrors are Claire Redfield, her brother Chris and a fellow stranded islander called Steve. But it doesn’t who the main characters are, as this still carries all the bad traits of the series. To begin with, the way you are restricted to carrying just a handful of items hasn’t changed and remains the games biggest problem. You can only discard or swap items at the Item Boxes that are scattered few and far between. Arriving at a puzzle and knowing precisely how to solve it, but not being able to because there aren’t enough slots in your inventory is just plain annoying. Fighting zombies is still that little bit clunky and you can’t even dodge them at the last minute like in ‘Resident Evil 3: Nemesis’. These are the key drawbacks with the game, and in a way it is easier to overlook them because you know what you’ll expect.
Thankfully, Code: Veronica X carries the good traits of the series too. The gameplay is certainly gripping, so gripping in fact that even at midnight I found it difficult to turn the game off, despite having to attend college that morning. The cut-scenes are fantastic too and the story is dramatic, even if weird in places. And if you thought Nemesis was tough, Code: Veronica X hosts it’s own bad-ass boss known as the Tyrant, which could probably annihilate the Nemesis blindfolded…it is that difficult. In fact, the mid game battle with the Tyrant as gone down as one of the most difficult in gaming history.
The graphics have hardly been improved, but this was released on the Dreamcast and PS2, so it is slightly better for the eyes. The game comes on 2 discs as well and is most certainly one of the longest Resident Evil games. And even with the standard faults present in practically all of the games, the story is brilliant stuff. For many fans, this represents the pinnacle of the series. It’s gripping, dramatic, frustrating at times and pretty scary too. It’s a shame no GameCube exclusive features were added, but it’s still great fun. Definitely worth 4 stars.


Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (GameCube)
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (GameCube)
Offered by excesssales
Price: £50.00

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best of the PSOne Resident Evil games…, 8 Mar. 2004
Most people would assume that the number 3 comes after 2, but in the case of ‘Resident Evil 3: Nemesis’, it actually acts as a prequel to ‘Resident Evil 2’. You play as Jill Valentine and she has to escape a swarm of zombies that infest Racoon City, and if that wasn’t bad enough, a genetically engineered abomination called Nemesis is after her too. Though this game has been released for players who want to catch up with the entire Resident Evil saga, there is still plenty to enjoy.
The classic gameplay and control style make a return of course but there is an increased amount of exterior zombie hunting to do. The streets of the city are where many of the puzzles of the tried and tested formula make an appearance, and they work well too. But ‘Resident Evil 3: Nemesis’ manages to keep its appeal after all these years because of the introduction of the deadly Nemesis. This is simply a bad-ass boss who makes repetitive appearances, sometimes by smashing through walls (yes, I do mean those huge brick or concrete things that usually can’t be penetrated). If you presumed that this old Resident Evil game wouldn’t scare you, then you’ll be in for a fair shock.
But for all the good ideas in this game, there is one that really lets the game down. You can collect different ammo components that are scattered about the place, allowing you to combine and create alternative types of firepower to use against your foes. This would be an excellent idea if your storage space weren’t so limited, as it takes up too much in your precious inventory. It is also repetitive and ultimately too much of a pain to become enjoyable, so there is little wonder why it hasn’t been re-used since.
Nevertheless, it plays just as good as any recent Resident Evil title and the Nemesis is simply brilliant. It is also worth getting because it fills in much of the Racoon City section of the Resident Evil storyline for the new generation. But if you’re picky with your games and want absolute perfection, then you may want to avoid this one. Like in ‘Resident Evil 2’ the visuals haven’t been improved and it doesn’t do GameCube’s graphical capabilities any justice. It doesn’t carry any outstanding revolutionary features either, unlike ‘Resident Evil’ or ‘Resident Evil Zero’.
It does look naff compared to the more recent titles and it is expensive for what it is, but for the obsessed Resi Evil completist it is essential, and cracking adventure for anyone else. Overall, 3.5 stars.


Resident Evil 2 (GameCube)
Resident Evil 2 (GameCube)
Offered by STOCKTASTIC
Price: £69.95

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Are lego bricks still scary?…, 8 Mar. 2004
The first version of this title was released on the PSOne in 1998. PC, N64 and Dreamcast ports have been released since then and now GameCube receives a taste of Resident Evil 2, probably one of the most sought after games on the Playstation. Fans of the survival horror series have been drooling over the prospect of a GameCube remake of Leon and Claire’s zombie hunting adventure since they first played ‘Resident Evil’ and ‘Resident Evil Zero’ on the lil’ purple box of wonders…at least they would be drooling if it was actually a remake.
Putting it simply, this game is exactly the same as in 1998 and has not changed. It appears to be an N64 port, so the graphics are smoother than the PSOne version. But that isn’t comforting; if anything it’s an insult to the prequels that showed exactly what GameCube was capable of. After seeing and playing the amazing ‘Resident Evil’, and witnessing the incredible noir factor of ‘Resident Evil Zero’, you’ll look at this and laugh so much it will hurt. The truth itself also hurts, but the fact remains is that a game that looked ultra real and ultra scary in 1998, now looks like a fuzzy, low-resolution mess that couldn’t even frighten a newborn. Think about the impact shock from a real zombie with decaying flesh, compared to a collection of lego blocks which occasionly lets out the odd groan and you’ll have a good idea of Resident Evil/Resident Evil Zero compared to Resident Evil 2.
It’s not to say this game is all bad. It’s still a vital part of the huge storyline that spans the series of games and if you’re interested in what happens after Resident Evil, or you’re a Playstation owner and simply want to experience déjà vu, then you’ll probably want to invest in this old classic. It still deserves three stars because the storyline is decent, and even if the graphics are poor compared to what GameCube can conjure up, it is still a good game to play. But because the graphics are poor, the jump or scare factor is practically non-existent, especially if you’ve played the GameCube prequels. It’s expensive for what it is too. Unless you are an absolute hardcore fan who eats, drinks and sleeps Resident Evil games, this will disappoint you.


Ikaruga
Ikaruga

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This game requires the reactions of a Jedi Master…literally, 12 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Ikaruga (Video Game)
You reckon you are a pretty good gamer, eh? You’ve collected all 120 Shine Sprites on Super Mario Sunshine, aced every stage on Super Monkey Ball, finished Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on European Extreme mode and even completed every Final Fantasy game to date 100%. You are a natural born gamer. So, you shouldn’t find it too difficult then, to pass even the first stage of this trivial shoot-em-up. You turn on the GameCube, begin the game and effortlessly shoot down a few harmless spaceships that approach you. Then several more approach you, beginning with three at once…then nine…then double that…then double that again…then enough to fill the screen…all of which are firing lasers towards you like a snow storm at blinding speed, leaving you just about enough time to blink, before your craft is destroyed by an onslaught of evil beams. All of this by the way, has happened within a minute.
Ikaruga is a top-down scrolling shoot-em-up, with the same principles to other top-down shoot-em-ups like Tyrian, or the side-scrolling Super R-Type. Lots of spaceships to shoot down, lots of power-ups and lots of fast paced action; such was the way with retro games of its genre. The visuals are sweet. The highly detailed backgrounds look brill as do the explosions and the sheer amount of enemies and lasers on screen at any one time is simply breathtaking. However the advances in 3D graphics and special effects should be revolutionising modern games, hence the differences between Super Metroid and Metroid Prime or Mario Bros. and Super Mario 64. So, if Ikaurga doesn’t have incredibly lush three-dimensional graphics, then what makes it so special?
Well, the main feature of its unique brilliance is the puzzle element you have to concentrate on while trying to stay alive. Tapping the A button changes your ships colour between white and black, and your type of laser is dependant on your ships colour. The enemies themselves vary between black and white as well. If you are shot by an enemy of the opposite colour to your own, you explode and lose a life, but a laser from the same colour will become absorbed by your ship, which in turn charges a power bar; once full this can unleash a lethal laser attack. It all sounds simple enough, until you are attacked by both kinds of enemy at the same time. Absorbing all white bullets that you come across sounds like the best tactic, but then you need to consider the mass of black ones as well, hence the constant need to switch colours.
The real challenge of any stage though is the boss. A warning message flickers on the screen and at this point you know you are in trouble. A giant boss consuming the entire screen with enough firepower to crack the world in half suddenly appears and it’s that versus your little ship. Each fight is as much down to tactics as skill and the next one always makes the previous seem like a complete wimp. You can see that to succeed, you must be patient and your progress itself is dependant on how quickly you can learn the enemy patterns of attack and the most effective way in which to counter them.
But any game is not without its downfalls. In the olden days, games were solely about blowing things up, and when 3D arrived, everything suddenly began having a plot. This game is on a reflex level basis only, so if you are looking for depth then Ikaruga’s simplicity is not for you. Another downfall is the lack of stages. Although insanely long and difficult, there are only 5 and a handful more might have given this a five star rating. Plus, it is a little bit overpriced for an arcade conversion with a few new features. If it is released on Player’s Choice anytime soon, then you should definitely invest in this title, otherwise buy it second hand or at least consider whether it is really worth £30. Besides these drawbacks though, this is constantly testing your skills and is a pure gaming rush from start to…whatever point you can reach because it certainly will not be the end.
To cut a long story short, Ikaruga is the ultimate title for hardcore action junkies who love the games of old and if you haven’t lived through the retro shoot-em-up era, you should experience this genre before it dies out.


Super Monkey Ball 2
Super Monkey Ball 2
Offered by STOCKTASTIC
Price: £49.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Monkey Madness!, 3 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Super Monkey Ball 2 (Video Game)
Super Monkey Ball has been a firm favourite of mine since I first laid my hands on a copy, and I can safely say that the sequel has even more primate action packed into the miniscule disc than the predecessor did. Being a sequel, it obviously carries the same layout and structure of the first game. Roll a monkey in a ball around some fiendishly difficult floating obstacle courses, or compete head to head against friends (or computer if you don’t have any) in the 6 original mini games as well as 6 brand new ones.
The obvious difference with Super Monkey Ball 2 is the graphics, as they have been improved vastly. The backgrounds are more sophisticated, as courses are now set among forests with huge waterfalls, fiery volcanoes, even inside a whale with wrecked ships surrounding you. Generally, it is a lot more satisfying to look at and makes the original game look bland (although it wasn’t immensely detailed anyway).
New to this instalment is the Story Mode, where you progress through the stages and worlds like the previous, but cut scenes act as a transition between them. A new character called Dr. Bad-Boon has stolen all of the bananas, so AiAi and pals have set out to stop him. There are 150 brand new stages to play through, but there are no lives or continues in this mode however, so it’s essentially a glorified Practice Mode. It may be a relief to some people that you get unlimited attempts at an insanely difficult stage, but to those who crave a challenge they will prefer having to start the entire process again once all of your lives are lost, as the feeling of satisfaction is infinitely greater. Basically, it’s up to you whether you find this feature a blessing or a burden.
The original mini games return with some new features, like the wacky lanes in Monkey Bowling or a team of formation monkeys in Monkey Target. As well as this, 6 brand new games have been included, which are tennis, boat racing, baseball, soccer, dogfighting and shooting. Some aren’t so great, but others like the tennis, baseball and boat racing games are great fun when wanting to entertain up to 3 friends.
The difficulty of the single player from the last game makes a return in Super Monkey Ball 2, but the stakes have been raised. The later floors on Expert Mode were tough, but the new stages are far more complicated, involving fast moving obstacles, warp doors, ramps and even catapults. This can make completing some floors a matter of luck rather than skill, but the extremely hard ones can be great fun.
Super Monkey Ball 2 is an improvement on Super Monkey Ball. The improved graphics with massive, luscious backgrounds and special effects just make the game feel more exciting and alive and the mini games will be entertaining you even when Nintendo’s next console is released. Plus the general concept of a monkey in a ball is just pure genius. On the downside though, some floors are frustratingly difficult and some of the mini games, like soccer and shooting, aren’t as fun as they could have been. The constant techno music hasn’t changed either, and if you weren’t too keen on the first game’s soundtrack then your own CD collection will have to make do for this game.
Overall, Super Monkey Ball 2 is one of the most addictive games on GameCube and if you enjoyed the first edition, then you will receive a wealth of entertainment from this one. It has all the monkey magic of the original and enough new features to justify a top spot on any gamers’ list.


Resident Evil Zero (GameCube)
Resident Evil Zero (GameCube)

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally we discover how it all began…, 21 Jan. 2004
Six years is quite a wait to see how the whole disaster began, so with anticipation and relief, I was finally able to discover exactly how the events in Racoon City came to be.
Resident Evil Zero is set one day before Resident Evil. It’s the 23 July 1998, and passengers on the Ecliptic Express are enjoying their first class train journey to the Umbrella Corporation facility. Suddenly, a group of creatures pounds through the windows and begins devouring the unfortunate souls on the train. 2 hours later the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team are approaching Racoon City and as they pass over the lifeless train on the tracks, the engines of the helicopter suddenly explode. They crash in the nearby forest, somehow survive and discover a nearby police van with dead passengers surrounding it, minus the killer they were transporting to death row. A survivor of the helicopter crash, Rebecca Chambers, conducts a searchlight tour and stumbles upon the train. The minute she enters two people approach her…and they sure as hell didn’t want her ticket.
It was developed alongside the first GameCube adventure, which means I was expecting the same level of graphical detail. My expectations were excelled as Zero goes one step further down the photo realistic route. The last game was indeed a Noir experience but Zero has a dirtier hard-edged feel, thus the realism is even greater. The fine detail is very impressive, with empty or broken bottles on restaurant tables and bodies slumped over seats. Pre-rendered backgrounds may not be as advanced as fully interactive 3D environments, but they sure look gorgeous (or in this game’s case grimy).
Where this title differs from it’s predecessor is in two new features. The escapee from the police van, Billy Coen, is your alternative character, but that doesn’t mean you can only control him or Rebecca individually. The X button switches between the two and I found this to be useful for very taxing puzzles when both of the character’s attributes are required. The feature itself is brilliant, although I had to make sure that each character wasn’t close to being disembowelled when I pressed X, as you can’t rely on the computer to control the other character if a zombie is nearby. Naturally the puzzles that force you to look in every nook and cranny make a welcome return, but the randomly placed ones don’t, as they still only exist for the sole purpose of annoying you.
I was promised a brand new Resident Evil game, so I was surprised to see that the control system still hasn’t changed. The problem isn’t present if you are just browsing for something or exploring the area. But when a mutated creature is after your brains and all you can do is stare at a wall while performing a twenty-three point turn, you’ll be seeing Game Over shortly after. The controls aren’t as annoying as they seem but they do take getting used to, especially if you haven’t played any of the previous in the series either.
Hopefully the game’s plot will make you forget about the controls, as the plot is strong. The interaction between the two protagonists is well scripted and I was surprised how attached I grew to the partnership. You may have heard Cypher say to Agent Smith in The Matrix, ‘ignorance is bliss’ and this definitely applies to this game. The more you discover about the story, the more urgently you will need a new set of underwear. This is pulled off especially well when you come across journals containing entries from Umbrella Corp. employees, as they add genuine tension, particularly when they mention a monster that was created and you know that you’ll meet it sooner or later.
To put it simply, Resident Evil Zero carries all the features; gore and horror of the first GameCube title, but adds more Noir and a more appealing storyline. I’m not criticising Resident Evil, but Zero is a brand new adventure and a prequel at that; prequels tend to have more ‘PLAY ME’ appeal compared to sequels. However I was promised ‘the best Resident Evil yet’ but all it appears to be is an extension of the franchise and there are signs of the series beginning to fade. I can forgive it with this game because of the new features and genuine brilliance of it, but only if Resident Evil 4 is the game that Resident Evil Zero promised it would be, otherwise only die hard fan will care for Capcom’s survival horror series in the future.


James Bond 007: Nightfire (GameCube)
James Bond 007: Nightfire (GameCube)

4.0 out of 5 stars Will leave you shaken and stirred…, 19 Jan. 2004
Like Agent Under Fire, Nightfire isn’t based on any particular James Bond movie. But like Agent Under Fire, Nightfire still has all the trademarks of the series: exotic locations, fast cars, gorgeous girls, guns, gadgets, notorious henchmen, gorgeous girls and a madman intent on world domination…not forgetting the gorgeous girls of course.
This game sees Rafael Drake attempting to taft a satellite guidance system so he can hold the world to ransom. Naturally, it is up to you to foil his plans. It may not sound as exciting as some of the film storylines, but the plot is actually very strong and character portrayal is excellent. Character animation is brilliant, facial expressions actually convey their desired emotions and Bond looks so much like Pierce Brosnan that even your mum will want to play. The attention to detail thankfully extends to the remainder of the game, as the scenery is stunning enough to make everything solid and real (as is Electronic Art’s trademark).
Controlling James is just like Agent Under Fire, with the two sticks handling moving and turning, while the R button fires. The L button switches to manual aim and a good feature is that crosshairs don’t automatically centre, so long-range shooting is much more precise. A is action, B reloads and Y jumps. The one objection with the controls is the D-Pad, which still hasn’t changed since Agent Under Fire. The time delay between selecting your chosen item and waiting for it to appear in James’s hand is a serious disadvantage, especially when Bond is left to dodge an onslaught of bullets while he fusses around to find the required weapon or gadget.
Speaking of which, what would a Bond game be without Q’s trademark toys? An electric razor that doubles as a Stun Grenade, and a credit card that contains computer hacking equipment are some of the gadgets on offer, as well as Bond’s Aston Martin being tooled up with the latest equipment (i.e. smoke screens, homing missiles and the Q Wedge, which enables the car to jump onto two wheels and slide through tight spaces).
But the game’s best feature is it’s pace, as it’s very similar to the best Bond films. After an action-packed opening sequence, the game opts towards a stealth environment where James must sneak into Drake’s Austrian castle. The following stage has James on a snowmobile armed with an automatic and several stages later you are back to your sneaking mode attempting to stop a gang of Japanese assassins. It’s great to see a variety of action and stealth blended together keeping you on your toes, unlike Agent Under Fire. It wasn’t a bad game, but I did find myself blasting everything in sight.
When the 1 player makes you sleepy you can try out the multiplayer. There’s a comprehensive choice of game modes, like team battle, Capture the Flag and so on, and the weapons, characters, enemies and playing time can be tinkered with to suit your requests. It’s essentially Agent Under Fire’s multiplayer, just that little bit better. Sadly, like Agent Under Fire’s multiplayer it is pedestrian at best, as it lacks the fun of Timesplitters 2 and the pure genius of Goldeneye or Perfect Dark. It is still a solid attempt and it is fun, but if you were expecting another great like Goldeneye, you will be disappointed.
Nightfire is a quality game, and until Everything or Nothing is released, is the best Bond GameCube title you can get your mitts on. But there are a few things that stop it being a high quality game. The cut-scenes help develop the strong plot but there are too many that interrupt the flow of action. If they occurred in-between stages then I wouldn’t regard this as problem, but an experienced gamer will find themselves playing a minute of game, then a minute of movie and so on. The Bond humour is missing too. The absence of the odd joke and one liner take away the light relief. As a result it’s just a straight-ahead shoot ‘em up, so my overall feeling is that the game takes itself too seriously.
Nightfire is a definite improvement on Agent Under Fire. I felt like playing a Bond movie even though it isn’t one, as the action is fast, the storyline is strong and the wide variety in the levels make each element fun to play and not tiresome. But the lack of humour means the game can feel a little dry and although the multiplayer is better than Agent Under Fire, it’s still not as great as Goldeneye. It may seem like I’m nitpicking but if these problems had been rectified this would have definitely deserved a five star rating.
Even if it’s missing the fun of Timesplitters 2 and the greatness of Goldeneye or Perfect Dark, and even if there are faults, the bottomline is that it is a serious First Person Shooter with a lot to recommend. Better still, it beats Agent Under Fire, and if you enjoyed that, then Nightfire is definitely a worthy purchase.


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