Although video game consoles and personal computers only first pervaded homes during the early eighties, I am convinced that we are reliving that decade. Transformers are back. Care Bears are back. Schwarzenegger never left. Actually he only got stronger, as evidenced by Conan the Barbarian ruling “Califonya.”
There are so many games in development that it’s pretty tough cutting down the list, so I try to emphasize ones with unique twists. Also, in honor of ColecoVision (1982) and Nintendo Entertainment System (1985), I will only mention new games for current next-generation consoles.
Top Six New Video Games
“Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict” for Xbox
Unreal Championship 2 will be the latest installment of Epic’s multiplayer first-person shooter game. Get your buddies together and compete against each other. If you don’t have any friends, then find opponents via XBox Live or just play against the computer. Run, double-jump and strafe while firing rockets and throwing grenades in order to frag opponents over breathtaking landscapes.
Besides introducing new game modes, Unreal Championship 2 has its own retro tricks up its sleeve. The electron-endowed Raiden, from Midway’s legendary arcade fighter, Mortal Kombat, will be one of the selectable stars of the show. As Raiden, you can enjoy wild acrobatics, lightening effects, and the ole “shocker” fatality.
“Resident Evil 4” for GameCube and PlayStation 2
Considering that this story is completely different than previous installments, and fixed cameras have been replaced with a dynamic over-the-shoulder view, can this game really be part of the Resident Evil family? After your first jump from terror, you’ll soon be answering, “Oh, yeah!”
Resident Evil 4 still emphasizes aura, suspense, and surprise, but it also throws in a ton of action. One look at the graphics and one note from the music will tell you that this game will be the survival-horror game to haunt you in 2005.
“Gran Turismo 4” for PlayStation 2
I love to drive, and I love driving games. Let me clarify… one of my hobbies is amateur club racing with real cars on real tracks, so I am very particular about my driving games.
The highly anticipated Gran Turismo 4 promises improved physics, tighter graphics, more than 50 tracks in 15 locations, over 700 cars from 80 manufacturers, and a new way to race. The new “B-spec” mode lets you act as the race team manager, instead of the driver himself.
While the computer handles the mechanics of driving a car, you’ll command how risky to drive, when to attempt a pass, when to pit, etc. For those that enjoy racing strategy, but find racing simulations daunting with frustrating control, B-spec mode may be your key to winning trophies.
“Donkey Kong Jungle Beat” for GameCube
In this game, you’ll make a gorilla run and jump his way through levels by playing the bongos and clapping your hands. The bongo controller, same as from Donkey Konga, includes two drums (left and right), a start button, and a microphone to detect when you clap your hands.
Pound the right drum to go right, the left one booms your monkey left, hit both skins to jump, and clap to interact with the environment. The object will be to grab bananas and beat bad guys silly. Dynamic camera work will automatically zoom out for platform hopping, yet get in close for fist fights.
“Death by Degrees” for PlayStation 2
Take the hottest blonde from Namco’s Tekken series, give her some weapons, add a generous dose of Kung Fu, stir in a story, liberally sprinkle some puzzle seasoning, and you’ll get an adventure destined to be quite a delicious dish. This third-person action game should have plenty of attitude and pizzazz.
Nina’s martial arts melee exudes style, while her arsenal also includes various firearms. Although frantic free-form fighting is fun, ample puzzle elements, integrated mini-game-like challenges, and role-playing character development balance flavors to create a unique experience.
“Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath” for Xbox
It ain’t easy describing any of the Oddworld releases, and this one may take the cake for originality. Unlike most games, Stranger’s Wrath actually has two primary cameras. Third-person mode lends itself well to platforming sequences when panorama eases environmental interaction.
When bullets start flying, however, playing like a first-person-shooter gets the job done. Adding gunfights to traditional Oddworld-style problem solving varies your venture. But, with Oddworld’s typical humor and morality, our hero hates guns. Instead, this bounty hunter shoots whacky animal projectiles, like trash-talking chippunks that anger enemies to lure and distract them.
Seth Higgins spent the 80s playing King’s Quest, Red Baron, Dark Castle, and Enchanted Scepters on his “Fat” Mac (so named because of 512k RAM, instead of 128k standard). He now dedicates four networked PCs just for gaming, and all three next-generation consoles adorn his big-screen.
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