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2441  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Name that Game, Graphic Edition on: October 01, 2004, 07:17:03 PM
Ecks vs Sever?
2442  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / [60 minute shakedown] Armored Core: Nexus on: October 01, 2004, 07:15:54 PM
It's got really good production values.  Most of the Armored Core games I found were almost worth regular price.  Unless you're gaming on a budget, I wouldn't wait.  This one is quite the challenge.
2443  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / [60 minute shakedown] Armored Core: Nexus on: October 01, 2004, 06:01:12 PM
Armored Core: Nexus represents the next installment of the Armored Core series. This makes 8 games published in this series in the US by AGETEC. The Armored Core series (referred to AC from here on) represents one of the most well liked robot combat games in the US. Armored Core: Nexus does not disappoint in the least, providing two disks of material for players to work with.

This is my impression after three hours of play of the game last night.  It was supposed to just be sixty minutes, but I was so pulled in by the style and challenge this game offers that I failed to notice how much time had passed.  The game promises 150+ missions according to the back of the box for the user to play through on two disks. Disk one is labeled Evolution and disk two is labeled Revolution. Evolution represents this version's storyline and primary source of missions and money. Revolution is a disk of remixed missions from all the previous AC games. It is not all of the missions, but about 70 of them, with the maps redone with the current graphical engine.

The biggest change in the game flow on Evolution is that even if you fail a mission, the game generates appropriate events. I had an opportunity to act as an agent for O.A.E (the corporate equivalent of the U.N., as far as I can tell) to help clear out the pathway to a mine that one corporation controlled and another insisted upon investigating. Due to my own lack of ability in either customizing my AC or piloting in a situation where there are sniper MT units around, I had my bolts blown back to the Raven's Ark three times on the mission. Each time I failed, the world changed and the balance between the corporations and O.A.E changed. Having only played three hours of the game at this point, I couldn't say how scripted this is, but the feel I get from it is that they've created a decent mission system to account for changes in the world. The game may play out completely different if I only played corporation missions and ignored the O.A.E requests.

Revolution, on the other hand, flows completely differently. The mission menu presents you with fifteen different chapters, each labeled with the name of the mission and game it is from. Each chapter has two to four missions based on the map it represents. For example, AC 1 has a destroy gun emplacement mission early on in its campaign. The Revolution disk has it, and has you destroying the guns on the island to capture it from Murakumo for the Chrome corporation. Once you have completed this task, you are rated, and some features are unlocked. The unlocked items could be items for your AC, or a poster, or music tracks and movies from the previous games. It also presents an "Extend" version of the map. In this case, you now have to protect the island from Murakumo's bombing attempt. The "Extend" version of the map is more difficult than the Remix map that you first completed.

The good news is that you use the same save file for both versions of the game, so if you find the Revolution disk too hard, you can go earn money in Evolution to upgrade and improve, then come back. From what I have seen, there are no money rewards in Revolution, but you can access the shop on the disk and buy stuff if you have money from the other game mode. The other good news is that this game is on two disks, and you can use either disk to play in link mode. Even better (though untested until this weekend), a friend can use the second disk to join you. This is helpful in lowering the cost of entry to the wonderful multiplayer mode of AC.

The graphics are really well done in any mode of AC: Nexus. The colors vary, from bright and clean to dark and murky. The colors and details all fit the environments they are placed on. There are some good environmental effects on some of the levels, with dust storms raging about, or heavy rainfalls blanketing a city. Not too much fogging is used to keep the view distance down, and they've gotten better at having aircraft and AC units fade in as they come in from off the map, rather than just popping up and suddenly appearing at the edge of the map. There are no huge graphical leaps over what players saw in AC3: Silent Line, but I don't think this hinders any of the development of the game.

The controls are a mixed bag. This is unfortunate as this version of AC was the first version to support the analog sticks on the PS2 controller. I attempted to use this mode for awhile, and found that I just wanted the standard controls back. The default analog controls use the left stick for move forward/backward and strafe left/right. The right stick is your look up/down and turn left/right. The right shoulder buttons become your fire button and switch weapon button, and the left shoulder buttons are your right arm fire and the jump jet activation. This isn't bad, but I just found I could not adapt to the new controls in the time I have played. I'll go back again and try it later as I play more, but for all my complaining about not having analog support, it doesn't help me much once I do have it. The basic controls work quite well, and you can even use the left stick for movement control, which works well. The basic control setup is the same one that has been in use since AC1.

The sound in the game is nothing overly special. For the most part, they are using the same background and mechanical sounds they have had since AC3 at least. The music is also pretty standard fare, with the techno themes and style they have used for some time. It all works together, and makes an acceptable soundscape without being annoying. It is nice that they included speech for the Revolution mission introductions.

Armored Core: Nexus makes for a good package for most players. For the people who have not played any of the games in the series up until this point, I would advise finding a copy of Armored Core 2 or 3 and play it first, as the difficulty in this one is not forgiving to anyone out of practice. If you liked any of the previous games, then this game should not disappoint. It provides what makes Armored Core so much fun, and that is the missions, storyline, and giant robots. This one is a no brainer for a rental, and is hard not to suggest as a purchase, even at 50 USD.
2444  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / SW Battlefront = Gold on: September 02, 2004, 07:51:41 PM
I'm looking forward to this one, especially if it contains the cross platform connectivity they had originally planned.
2445  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / [CG news discussion] Game Sales Down? on: September 02, 2004, 05:45:44 PM
And to add to that logic,  

Most businesses set a time frame in which they work to make their money back (usually 1.5 to 3 months after release).  The way I see it, we're looking at about fifty-ish titles in 90 days.  Most of those titles may not get the chance to make their money back in the (IMHO, artificial) time frame that the publisher is setting on the title.
2446  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Acclaim is sunk...but what's going with it? on: September 02, 2004, 05:18:03 PM
It's also a shame that Juiced and Res Star are basically on hold or vaporware now..even though they were just weeks from release.  Who knows, they may work out a deal to get those out for potential revenue.
2447  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / [CG news discussion] Game Sales Down? on: September 02, 2004, 05:15:28 PM
Puhleeze...Ecks vs Sever wasn't even worth my time. ('swhat you get you when you speak 733T around me.)

See the problem I have is that it seems that some dev houses (or publishers..take your pick) are pushing out a whole bunch of titles in hopes that a few make it big.  The problem with that is that none of the titles from a particular publisher may make it at all, or if they get a big hit, it won't cover the costs of the other games that they produced/developed.  This month is going to be a crap shoot on what sells and what doesn't....Star Ocean is lucky, it has a fair bit of positive press leading it into the marketplace, and with the comparisons to the already popular Tales of Symphonia it should do well.  Other titles on the other hand, I just haven't seen the same level of press.  X-Men Legends is getting a little more of that press right now..but it's going to be tough for the non-murder row titles.

The next three months are going to be telling as to what makes a AAA title.  I still  believe that they are trying to create a demand that just won't develop.
2448  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / [CG news discussion] Game Sales Down? on: September 02, 2004, 04:45:58 PM I didn't.  Fable would do me no good.  It won't run on my PC.

This is from Andrew Mallon on the GG forums ...he brings up a good point:

There was a Bank Of America industry report a few months ago that covered this same topic. It postulated that there is a "Murderer's Row" of ultra-AAA titles coming out in October and November that will completely crowd out the rest of the field.

Murderer's Row is comprised of the following titles:

GTA: San Andreas
Halo 2
Metroid Prime: Echoes
Half Life 2
Doom 3 (Xbox)
Gran Turismo 4
Metal Gear Solid 3

Given how many copies these seven titles ar expected to move, the article speculates that the rest of the field is going to get creamed. Established franchises will be lucky if they match sales of previous titles and most new titles and marginal franchises are going to be totally ignored.

This is going to be the msot competitve holiday season ever. Bottom line for the article was that there's going to be a lot of losers this Christmas.
2449  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / [CG news discussion] Game Sales Down? on: September 02, 2004, 04:22:11 PM
(Related news posting: )

Is anyone else feel their wallet scream with the amount of games coming out this month?  I've got no less than six titles I'm looking forward to

Dynasty Warriors IV: Empires
Armored Core: Nexus
Star Ocean 3:TtEoT
Evil Genius
Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War
Kohan II

And there are more that I have forgotten.  What concerns me is that I will be able to buy, oh, maybe three of the titles I want.  I don't understand this September crush that is going on.  From what I can tell it goes into part of October, then almost silence until Middle November, Dec for Christmas.  You would think that companies would look at what's being released and delay a little bit (week to two weeks) so that people might have money to buy their titles.  This would seem logical to me.

On the other hand (this just occured to me), the first games out are the ones people talk about, and the people marketing the games could be thinking 'Lets get our game out ASAP, so people talk about it and play it.'  Maybe they're hoping for some sort of snowballing effect.  But I'm not convinced that it will happen.  

Call me pessimistic about sales.........(I'll wait here for the crowd to respond)......but I think this month might dissappoint some developers.  I'll stop here before I go into my 'corporations are evil' mode, mostly because it's not totally justified, and I want to see what other people think.
2450  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / The Post your Collections/Favorites/Games finished thread on: September 02, 2004, 02:28:31 PM
I have finished these games so far:

Tales of Symphonia
Metroid Zero Mission
Metroid Fusion
Dynasty Warriors IV (All but one musou mode)
Wind Waker
Shining Force: Ressurection of Dark Dragon

Minish Cap

My Collection:

    Zelda: Minish Cap *
    Zelda: Link to the Past (Four Swords)
    Phantasy Star Collection
    Golden Sun *
    Golden Sun: The Lost Age
    Super Mario Advance 3: Super Mario World
    Final Fantasy Tactics Advance *
    Final Fantasy Dawn of Souls
    Metroid: Zero Mission *
    Metroid Fusion *
    Shining Force: Ressurection of Dark Dragon *
    Advance Wars

    Heroes of Might and Magic
    Dragon Warrior I & II
    Dragon Warrior III
    Metroid II
    R-type DX
    Zelda: Oracle of Seasons
    Zelda: Oracle of Ages

    Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II
    Phantasy Star Online: Episode III C.A.R.D. Revolution
    Evolution Worlds
    Skies of Arcadia Legends
    Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door
    Harvest Moon: A wonderful  life
    Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
    Tales of Symphonia
    Soul Calibur 2
    Zelda: Wind Waker
    Zelda: Bonus disk (OOt, OOt Master, Majora's Mask)
    Baiten Kaitos

Playstation 2
    R-type Final
    Dynasty Warriors 3
    Dynasty Warriors 3:XL
    Dynasty Warriors 4
    Dynasty Warriors 5
    Final Fantasy X
    Phantom Brave
    Katamari Damacy
    Freedom Fighters
2451  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Acclaim is sunk...but what's going with it? on: September 02, 2004, 01:59:13 PM
Now that we've seen that Acclaim is shark bait at this point,  what is this going to mean for the games and franchises that they were going to release this year?  Combat Paratroopers was one, but it was bogged down due to litigation with BattleBorne Entertainment.  Were there other titles people were looking forward to, and have we heard what might come of them?
2452  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / 60-Minute Shakedown - Star Ocean: Till the End of Time on: September 02, 2004, 01:55:22 PM
"You keep using that word.  I do not think it mean what you think it means."
2453  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Wow..didn't expect to find this entry in Wikipedia... on: September 02, 2004, 12:46:37 AM
Yup...found the random page item, and I've actually learned some nifty things about mathematics.  Wikipedia is my new favorite addict site. smile
2454  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Wow..didn't expect to find this entry in Wikipedia... on: September 01, 2004, 05:30:20 PM

The video game player.
2455  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / [PC-PR] KOHAN II GOES GOLD on: September 01, 2004, 05:29:25 PM

  Were you responsible for some of the art in Kohan?  If so, bravo!  That's the main reason I still like playing the game.  The style of the art and the character portraits were soo cool, and I liked the etched stone look of the interface.
2456  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / [PC-PR] KOHAN II GOES GOLD on: September 01, 2004, 04:44:34 PM
I'm soo there Ron.  *clutches his amulets*  Yesssss...they will serve my will again!!!
2457  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Video File Problem [no sound] on: September 01, 2004, 11:25:56 AM
Something you might look at....

I find that one of the Xvid codec files on my system gets locked by the system, so that when I install a new version, it doesn't properly update.  You might uninstall Xvid, then go look for the files in your Windows\system32 folder and see if they're still there.  If they are after a reboot, move them and then reinstall the codec.  I usually know I need to do this when the video stutters..not a sound issue though.

On a side note,  does anyone else think of the Metal Gear series when they see codec?
2458  Non-Gaming / Off-Topic / Star wars notes: Semi-official on: August 26, 2004, 06:38:03 PM

From the article:

    Opening Crawl Redone To Match Color/Quality of PT Opening Crawl
    Lightsaber effects fixed (Colors more vibrant and appear in ALL shots)
    Binary sunset shot now has clouds to match later POV shot
    Greedo still shoots first, however HAN’s reaction firing is much more realistic
    R2’s panels will be blue in all of the space shots, instead of just a few of them
    The Dianoga now appears more lifelike and not so Stop-Motion like
    The matte painted hall in the detention block has been fixed
    Lettering on Death Star panels written in Aurebsh
    Jabba fixed

    Ian McDiarmid mentioning in an interview during the production of "Episode II" that he's recorded scenes of the Emperor addressing the Senate for "Episode IV".
    John Williams mentioning in several published interviews that he's "re-recorded sections of the score for Episode IV to include THE IMPERIAL MARCH". News appearing in Corona Upcoming Attractions in 1997 listing that an ILM animator was contracted to do "work on Obi-Wan's death involving state of the art CGI" which was obviously not included in the 1997 Special Editions...
    Door closings/openings frame jumps smoothed out
    Aliens and other creatures blink now to make them look non-mask like
    Supper dupper fight sequence between Vader and Obi-Wan
    Stormtroopers voices are redubbed by Temuera Morrison (Jango Fett)
    SOME new shots will be added
    Battle of Yavin shots recomped

    No Bail Organa seen before Alderaan blows up

I'm annoyed at the thought of them re-recording the stormtrooper's voices.  Also, I hope they didn't remove the classic 'Trooper hits head on door' scene. smile
2459  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / d and d coing to ps2? on: August 25, 2004, 05:07:57 PM

  If you want D&D done right, grab Temple of Elemental Evil.  They got the table top game run by a DM nailed in that one.
2460  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / d and d coing to ps2? on: August 25, 2004, 02:44:52 PM
Everything I've seen pegs it as a single player game.  You can switch the character you are playing on the fly, from Fighter to Thief to Sorcerer (I believe).  It's a shame.  It looks nice, but any single player D&D title makes me go, I'd like to adventure with my friends too..  *sigh*
2461  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / [60 Minute Shakedown] Crimson Tears on: August 14, 2004, 03:15:58 PM
That's what I'm still working on finding out.  I'm continuing to play the game so I can build a full review later (prolly gonna be a couple of days for that though.)
2462  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / [60 Minute Shakedown] Crimson Tears on: August 14, 2004, 03:40:31 AM
Crimson Tears Shakedown


  This is a short term review, made on two hours of game play.  (Why call it a 60 minute shakedown then?  Why not? )  This is to help those on the fence to decide weather to purchase or buy.  My understanding of the game, especially the late gameplay options is incomplete.  Please note, I may reveal some story information in my review, but it is all focused on the early game and should not affect your enjoyment of the title....much.

  The game opens showing the three protagonists escaping from a facility.  They move to a safehouse garage in the city, and discuss how they are going to free a Professor from the facility.  They are aided by a voice from beyond.  This voice is also apparantly a friend of theirs who is still held in the facility.  All four of these people seem to be genetically modified humans with special powers.  They discuss how they will return to the city areas, and argue about which one of them can go.

This is where I was first thrown when I discovered this game.  From the box packaging, I was expecting a game in the vein of Final Fight, or Eve of Extinction. When I was finally in control of the characters of Amber, Tokio, and KAdie, they had neat little level indicators over their heads. I then found that I could only control one of them as they decended into the 'Dimension Maze'.  Imagine my surpsise, Crimson Tears is a action RPG! I discovered Capcom is taking their knowledge of the fighting genre and combining it with a dungeon crawl game.  This results in a unique, but slighty unpolished game.

  The graphics are really nice.  Most of the cutscenes are movie files, but they are created in the in-game engine.  The character models and details for most of the scenes are of decent quality.  The characters themselves are cell shaded, as are the monsters (or Bios as the game refers to them).  This results in flashy recognizable characters (a hallmark of Capcom games).  The dungeon areas are crisply rendered, but the cell shading on most of the objects helps avoid the jagged edges that haunt many Playstation 2 games.  

  I have played through the intial dungeon, an abandoned water works area, and the start of the next area.  The rooms are pretty standard fare, with just enough to support the theme of the dungeon level you are in.  They repeat often, due to the random nature of the 'Dimension Maze'.  It works, but not having seen more areas, this could suffer the same issue other console based hack-n-slash games do, with the areas getting old by the end of the game.

  So far, the sound effects are pretty standard fare, with some moderate voice acting to back them up.  The music is forgettable.  Ten minutes after putting the game down, I can't even tell you if it was symphonic music or techno-dance music to back the sci-fi nature of the game.  The voice acting is okay, but only the faceless voice, and Amber are voices that don't make me cringe.  Of course, that only lasted until the first cutscene after I beat the first boss.   The false angst the voice actors used made me cringe.  I'm still trying to determine if it's the combination of the absurd outfits, the voicework, and the dialog they were given.  I'll get back to you on that.

  Welcome to ... any generic hack and slash that you've played recently.  That's the game.  One player enters the 'Dimension Maze', picks an area, and moves through multiple floors in the area and defeats the boss.  Repeat this until your character has leveled up enough to move on to the creatures in the next major area, or has completed the game.  
  Okay, I'm not being completely fair to the gameplay in this game.  True to Capcom's style, the fighting in the game uses two buttons, and different combinations of those buttons will cause your character to chain up multiple nifty combos against the enemy.  You also have a super attack that causes increased damage, but pushes your body hotter and hotter each time you use it.  It works really well, and it is has been much fun to mix and match combos and super moves against the enemy just to rack up the chains.
  The interface is pretty simple.  There is a meter for your HP, and your body heat.  You also have a mini map screem showing the layout of the floor you are on.  Press start, and the inventory screen and your currently equipped weapons appears. Quick to navigate through, and easy to tell which items are for item creation, and which are useable items.
   Each character can equip different weapons, and each different weapon has a different combo tree that you can upgrade.  I've only upgraded a few, but it amounts to longer bashing of the enemy to make sure it goes down.  It works, and looks stylish the whole way through.
   Another gameplay note:  The game can only be saved at the garage.  You can only exit the Dimension Maze by  defeating the boss, or using an item called a 'Returner'.  Either way you are sent back to the garage with full health.  If you die in the dungeon, the next character you choose has to come in and rescue you to recover the items that you had.  It gives you a two minute timer, and the faceless voice directs you near the person.  Interesting gameplay choice, as failing to rescue the person puts them in 'Recovery' for a level or two, and all the items they had are lost.  
   Finally, the gameplay point that had me scratching my head as to weather it was a good or a bad thing:  These characters are genetically modified people.  Apparantly when you're super modified like this, and fight and run around too long, you enter the 'Universal Soldier' phase and overheat.  You begin to take damage over time, but you move really quickly and basically are a berserker for about 45 seconds.  Then when you cool off, you have 25 hit points (a single creature can knock you over) and the cooling meter clears.


  Definately a single player rental for a week.  Still not sure how the sci-fi dungeon crawl will hold up, but it's got my attention for now.  Storyline seems to be average, and the character designs are so absurdly dressed I can't take them seriously.  I mean, hot pink highlights, and punk rocker leather that is barely a string bikini don't mix well.  Gameplay is good, and I want to go back and bash some more Bios just to see what happens to these three.
2463  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / I had been eyeing this one.... on: August 11, 2004, 07:29:25 PM
Are you interested in a shakwdown/review combo on this one?  The game has caught my eye, and I was thinking about picking it up this weekend.
2464  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / AARRGGHH!!! Why Midway?!? Why? on: August 04, 2004, 05:10:11 PM
It was a press release that was posted to the news page.   I didn't notice it on Monday when I checked my email. Look here:
2465  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / AARRGGHH!!! Why Midway?!? Why? on: August 04, 2004, 03:06:47 PM
Why did you remove two really good games from the Midway Arcade Treasures two?  S.T.U.N. Runner and Steel Talons are now missing from this title.  Those, along with Hard Drivin and Narc were some of the reasons I was looking forward to this pack.

This was the original lineup:
    Arch Rivals
    Championship Sprint
    Gauntlet 2
    Hard Drivin’
    Mortal Kombat
    Mortal Kombat 2
    Mortal Kombat 3
    Pit Fighter
    Primal Rage
    Rampage World Tour
    Spy Hunter 2
    Steel Talons
    STUN Runner
    Total Carnage
    Wizard of Wor

And this is how it looks now:
    Arch Rivals™
    Championship Sprint™
    Cyberball 2072™
    Gauntlet® 2
    Hard Drivin’®
    Kozmik Kroozr’™
    Mortal Kombat® 3
    Mortal Kombat® II
    Pit Fighter™
    Primal Rage®
    Rampage World Tour®
    Spy Hunter® 2
    Total Carnage™
    Wizard of Wor™

Now, don't get me wrong.  There are some good titles out there in this pack, but Talons and STUN Runner are both based on the Hard Driving hardware engine.  I don't see why they were dropped.
2466  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Should I pick up Kingdom Hearts? on: July 27, 2004, 06:24:28 PM
I think he meant Tales of Symphonia...Tales of Destiny was an earlier PS1 title in the Namco RPG line.
2467  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / So what the heck is Growlanser? on: July 27, 2004, 06:10:27 PM
I don't think it's the 2d syndrome.  I believe it's a matter of marketing.  From what I understand, they won't let *anyone* package a PS1 and a PS2 game in the same set.  They're concerned with brand image and questions that might arise on the game because PS2 needs one type of memory card, and another for the PS1 version, and so forth...
2468  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / X-Men Legends Hands-on on: July 27, 2004, 06:07:10 PM

I want!!!

I can't wait until October for this one. smile
2469  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / So what the heck is Growlanser? on: July 26, 2004, 12:27:35 PM
Actually, I'm banking on the Sept release.  The information and such that they have posted makes this one look like it's really almost finished this time.  That, and they've been working on it for over a year now (might be more, but I'm not sure).  It's a shame that they couldn't include Growlanser 1 in the package.  From what I understand, Sony won't let them package a PS1 game in with PS2 games.
2470  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Favorite Genre on: July 15, 2004, 03:48:33 PM
Strategy!!! My inner overlord demands that I command armies of soldiers to do my bidding and obtain many nubile women for my harem.....uh....I picked Strategy because I like the mental challenge.
2471  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / DOOOOOM 3 Gold! on: July 15, 2004, 01:52:01 PM
Quote from: "Eco-Logic"

Because I'm in the mood for a horror FPS.  It really depends on when it comes out though.  There are so many games coming out between now and the end of the year.

Now that I can understand.  I personally don't go for the creepy games (can't play through System Shock 2 without it being multiplayer and having friends there), but it does seem to have good atmosphere.
2472  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / DOOOOOM 3 Gold! on: July 15, 2004, 01:15:54 PM
For what it's worth, I noticed no pauses while playing the Xbox version at E3.

Also, it didn't make it into my top 5 games of the show.

Still, this is exciting because I will more than likely purchase it regardless.

Now this is what I don't understand.  Why would you purchase it regardless?  What feature of the game makes it so that it is an instant purchase?  I'm not trying to be antagonistic here, but more understand why people are willing to suspend their normal rules for analyzing a game and it's merits based on its brand.
2473  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / 60 minute Shakedown Premiere: Tales of Symphonia on: July 15, 2004, 01:13:24 AM
The 60 minute shakedown:  Tales of Symphonia

   Welcome to the first installment of the 60 Minute Shakedown here on console gold.  I'm aiming to let people see  the initial impressions of the game, both for people who want to compare initial perspectives on the game to the reviews that contain much more playtime, as well as for people who are looking to buy or rent the game.  This is your disclaimer at the start:   I will be revealing some information about the game, but only what I have seen in the hour I have played it.  Technically it is an incomplete review of the game, but we are doing this to help people decide if it is a wait-and-see title, or a must-go-buy-now title.

Tales of Symphonia brings Namco's Tales series of RPG to the GameCube for the first time.  The game starts off with the main characters attending class at the local school.  They discuss the role of 'The Chosen' and the world's history.  It quickly moves to group of kids off to save the world, or more standard fantasy adventure fare, which is a little cliche, but the production values on this game are high enough for this two disk game to make it seem worth it.

   Tales of Symphonia brings Namco's Tales series to the Gamcube with some very impessive graphics.  They are very subtly using cell shading and standard 3d graphics to provide a very lush world that looks hand drawn, but doesn't look pre-rendered or sprite based.  The game makes much use of traditional cel animation for the introduction, and seems to imply that it will be used throughout the game for some cutscenes.  There are several places where 'Skits' occur, similar to the 'Private Action' scenes from Star Ocean: Second Story, in which you see partially animated heads with text discussing certain minor situations.  The images decpicting the characters will change depending on the discussion that occurs.  Most of the rest of the talking and non-interactive scenes are rendered in the game engine.  This led to a minor disturbing detai during several of the scenes, in which the 3d models looked like out of focus sprites rather than the nice models they were at a different camera angle.  This only seriously occurred during one major scene outside the temple.  Hopefully it is a limited event.  
   The one dungeon that I went through was well done, but a little lacking on detail.  I'm not certain if this was due to the method they used to put the textures on the dungeon, but time played will tell how this might be viewed.    These two little details didn't distract from the overall gameplay or suspension of disbelief, but instead made me go 'Huh.' for very short bits.

   For one hour, the music was not terribly bad, but it didn't leave a lasting impression on me.  It stood as a nice symphonic score for the events going on.  It rose and fell during combat, and provided background to the events occuring.  
   The voice work in the game was top notch, and made the characters seem even more realistic and robust.  None of the voices I heard were overdone or obnoxious, though there were two that could have been.  The language used was clean and thought out, and didn't sound stilted or unusual.  I found myself wanting to hear the voices more, even in the 'Skits' that appear at some locations, and was disappointed.
   Battle and monster noises were pretty standard fare, adding to the atmosphere without causing issues.

   The controls for this game are solid and responsive.  I found it easy in combat to retreat and advance as I wanted to.  Moving around town or the one dungeon was easy to do.  The field map was well done, and had a relatively standard minimap which helped in learning where to go (not that I had much choice this early in the game).  
   The battle system is nice, and feels like a proper melee should be, with attacks going off and spells being cast.  Once you have targeted an enemy you can move towards it and away from it, but not side to side (even though it seems to imply you can...most likely a misconception on my part).  Attacks are carried out by hitting the A or B button in an almost fighting game fashion.  This makes battles almost too simple in comcept, but timing is key.  Once you learn the attacks of some creatures, it is easy to duck back out of range of their next attack then dive in and hit them again.  Control of the other characters was automated, but it seemed that with three more controllers, I could get my friends in on the action.  This feature remains untested at this time.
   The dungeon was standard puzzle fare that didn't take long to figure out, and combined with the encounter system allowed me to take it at the pace I wanted to.  Having the monsters visible on the map actually made it nice to avoid some battles inside.
   The menus were easy to navigate and read, using a nice large font.  The equiment and spell settings were pretty standard RPG fare, but it fits the game.  There were two options on the menu I could not access in the first hour, though I would assume they would unlock rather quickly.

Final Verdict:
   This one looks to be a must have for my cube collection.  Absolutely beautiful locations to visit, with nice character designs from one of my favorite artists (Of Oh My Goddess fame) made this game I want to visit again.  The game also boasts some deep character customization, but I did not see that this early in the game.  No telling how cliché the plot might be in the long run, nor how the gamplay would hold up, but it certainly looked promising.  My recommendation:  definitely rent if the kids saving the world plot is cliché to you,  buy if you want to add an outstanding RPG to your collection.
2474  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers on: July 07, 2004, 07:35:01 PM
Quote from: "Bullwinkle"
If this is the game I think it is (using the Baldurs Gate console engine), it just got a terrible review in either OXM or XBN (you'd think I would do a little research before posting this...oh well, here I go again).  I think it got a 4.5 or 5.1 or something.  The main complaint is that the engine was designed more for hack 'n slash and magic than guns.  It makes sense, I remember using the bow was always a pain in the ass in Baldurs Gate: Dark Alliance.  Big bummer because I was looking forward to this one.

Is there an online posting of this review?
2475  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers on: July 07, 2004, 04:52:15 PM
I read a magazine review that said something kinda funny about the game: "Why is there no parachuting in a game with Paratroopers in the title?"

"We're surrounded, sir."

"We're supposed to be surrounded.  We're paratroopers."

You know...considering at what point the parachute was used.....aww..nevermind. This is game, screw realism.
2476  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / AAARRGGGHHH! on: July 07, 2004, 03:44:15 PM there's no telling when this will be released. *sigh*

Acclaim doesn't seem to be in calm waters lately.
2477  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Combat Elite: WWII Paratroopers on: June 22, 2004, 06:22:20 PM
Anyone else following this game?  It looks like Silent Storm in realtime.  No idea how deep the gameplay is, but even a good looking third person shooter would be lots of fun.  The fact that it is multiplayer capable isn't half bad either.

Gold Guide Entry

I'm just disapointed that the release has slipped twice now.
2478  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Phantasy Star Online EP 1&2 or Ep 3? on: May 06, 2004, 07:22:14 PM
I'd recommend it.  It's decently done, and a nice pace from the dungeon crawl that PSO 1&2 is.   One note...if you want to play online and use the same hunters liscense for both games (IT doesn't cost anymore) make sure you use your already signed up serial number when it asks you.  For example:  If you already have access with PSO 1&2, and you just got Ep3, make sure you put your PSO 1&2 serial number in the Ep3 setup.  If you put in your EP3 serial in, you will start an all new Hunters liscense account and have to pay 9.00 a month for both games.

If I'm not clear on this, let me know.  I'll try to clarify.
2479  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / Phantasy Star Online EP 1&2 or Ep 3? on: May 06, 2004, 01:12:31 PM
Yes,  each one has their own cards and will need to create their own collection.  It is not possible to play as a player and play one of your decks against another one of your own decks.  Your player will not be selectable once you have chosen the deck and team they will be on.
2480  Gaming / Console / PC Gaming / New pictures of upcoming Breakdown? on: May 06, 2004, 10:45:00 AM
ACK!!! IT's out already?!?!  Serves me right for not noticing the release date in the system.  *sigh*  I'm new to paying attention to what's out for the X-box.  I don't actually own one and never really had to pay attention before.
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