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Archive for October, 2016

Ten Spooky Games For Halloween

October 31, 2016 Leave a comment

It’s the most terrible time of the year, when spooks and ghouls and beasties roam the earth looking to scare poor unsuspecting people. And also beg them for sweets.

If this is too stressful, it might perhaps be best to stay in and play some appropriate video games to celebrate the most spine-tingling of holidays. But what do you play?

That’s what I’m here for, dear reader. I have picked ten of the best, most appropriate video games to play on Halloween, and I have ranked them in order of spookiness on a scale of plastic skeleton bought from a pound shop up to demonic hellbeast intent on severing your soul from your body in the most violent manner possible.

It’s a wide scale. Read more…

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Chronological Game Challenge – Fear Effect 2

October 25, 2016 1 comment

Hello! Sorry it’s been a little while since the last review, but I had some major computer issues that led to me buying and subsequently setting up a new system. But it inadvertently put a break between two years, as the last post was the final game of 2000, meaning today we finally start on 2001!

And we’re back on the PS1 for a moment. Oh.

Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix
Publisher: Eidos Interactive | Developer: Kronos Digital | Year: 2001
Original System: PlayStation
Played on: PS3 (PSN release)

Goal: Discover the history of the Fear Effect crew and complete the mission

Actual Outcome: Well that certainly was an ending, I guess???

The first Fear Effect was an interesting experiment of a game that tried to blend high-quality FMVs with gameplay in a new spin on the survival horror genre, in ways that didn’t always work effectively. Retro Helix, a prequel released a year later, largely sticks with that formula but tries to improve on it, with mixed results.

Read more…

Chronological Game Challenge – Dark Cloud

October 18, 2016 Leave a comment

Hello! The Chronological Challenge catchup continues, and today we reach the end of the year 2000, and coincidentally enter a new console generation at the same time. That’s if you don’t count the Dreamcast, but then again I don’t. Enjoy!

Dark Cloud
Publisher: SCE | Developer: Level-5 | Year: 2000
Original System: PlayStation 2
Played on: PS2

Goal: See how far I get in a single setting

Actual Outcome: Built the first village

And so we finally reach our first true PS2 title, and not just one that was a port from another system. Released a few months after the system’s launch in Japan, Dark Cloud was the first major title developed by Level-5, the beloved developers who would later go onto create the Professor Layton series, but their early years were dominated with cult RPGs made for Sony, including this one. Read more…

Chronological Game Challenge – Tomb Raider Chronicles

October 17, 2016 Leave a comment

With 2000 almost done, it’s time to look at one of the very last PS1 games too. It’s Lara’s last appearance on 5th gen systems, but is it any good?

Tomb Raider Chronicles
Publisher: Eidos Interactive | Developer: Core Design | Year: 2000
Original System: PlayStation
Played on: PS3 (PSN release)

Goal: Find all secrets and complete the four stories

Actual Outcome: Realised I missed a major secret early on in the second level and decided to just move on

Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation was the pinnacle of the classic series as far as I’m concerned. Core Design gathered all the things that made the series great up to that point and pieced them together into what I feel is the definitive Tomb Raider experience.

It was also clearly meant to be the last game. Lara ends the game trapped inside a tomb, presumably dead. But Eidos were having none of that. Tomb Raider was their cash cow, and they needed new games. They had annual releases, dammit, and that’s what they’re keeping!

Read more…

Chronological Game Challenge – Driver 2

October 15, 2016 Leave a comment

A bit of a shorter one today. I honestly didn’t have a lot to say about Driver 2, in all honesty. But we’re almost at the end of 2000! Two more games left after this and then we’re in 2001!

Driver 2
Publisher: Infogrames | Developer: Reflections Interactive | Year: 2000
Original System: PlayStation
Played on: PS3 (original PS1 disc)

Goal: Beat all missions

Actual Outcome: Moved on somewhere in Cuba

Driver was a title about criminal driving set in various American cities that was ultimately kind of dull and has gone on to age very badly. It had a sequel though…and it too is kind of dull and has aged very badly. Oh.

Driver 2 has made some improvements over its predecessor. First of all, the story is more coherent and easier to follow. The acting is still ropey in every way, but at least now I can properly understand what Tanner is doing as an undercover cop, and at least he resembles a human being this time rather than a doll made from matchsticks.

The environments are also a major overhaul from the first game. While the first game often felt like you were driving past grey cubes forever, this second game has cities that feel like the cities they’re supposed to be. Chicago is a gritty, cool urban environment, and the shift to Havana feels like a shift to a poorer environment with Caribbean stylings and 50s muscle cars. It’s a huge improvement to the bland environments of the first game and contributes to the world and the story feeling more vibrant.

Problem is, the core gameplay has barely improved. While the car handling is still as fun as the first game, the mission types continue to revolve around a few core ideas, and generally the times they try and break away from it, it ends up more frustrating and annoying than anything you could classify as an improvement.

Driver 2 also tries to move into GTA’s territory by letting Tanner get out of the car and steal other cars you find. Great idea in theory, but awful in practice. Tanner looks like a stickman, and his animation is so stiff and silly it feels like an afterthought (it most likely was). It also barely adds to the gameplay, as most of the time it’s used to get out and push a designated button before returning to the car. There are no real on-foot sections and the ones that are there are short and/or fairly pointless. I mean, I accept that a game called Driver isn’t exactly going to focus on ways to move around that aren’t driving, but they added it and did nothing with it.

And that’s all I really have to say about Driver 2. It’s a boring, occasionally frustrating mess of a game that barely improves on its predecessor.

Chronological Game Challenge Review – Spyro: Year of the Dragon

October 13, 2016 2 comments

Hello! Yet another Chronological Challenge review for you! I will catch up to my position to 2002 soon if it kills me! For now, we’re still in 2000 and revisiting a dragon friend. Enjoy!

Spyro: Year of The Dragon
Publisher: SCE/Universal | Developer: Insomniac Game | Year: 2000
Original System: PlayStation
Played on: PS3 (original PS1 disc)

Goal: See how far I can get in a single setting

Actual Outcome: I believe I got to the second hub world

It’s hard to dispute the idea that Spyro 2 was such an improvement over its predecessor that it’s easily one of the best 3D platformer titles of the 5th generation. But this presented a problem to Insomniac, who had to try and improve on it with Spyro 3, rather sneakily titled Year of the Dragon due to good timing around its release (2000 was the Chinese year of the dragon, after all). But did they manage it?

Read more…

Chronological Game Challenge Review – Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2

October 12, 2016 Leave a comment

Yo, today’s review is totally rad, dude! Yes, I know that it was embarrassing when I did Jet Set Radio, but I don’t care. Just read today’s review, please?

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
Publisher: Activision | Developer: Neversoft | Year: 2000
Original System: PlayStation
Played on: PS3 (original PS1 disc)

Goal: Complete all challenges in Career Mode

Actual Outcome: Got as far as Philadelphia

In our coverage of 2000, we’ve already seen the early 2000s interest in extreme sports with Jet Set Radio, but there was another big hitter of that era that many hold up as a classic – the Tony Hawk series. It’s a series that must have been doing something right at the time as I have three of the games in my collection, starting with this one. So let’s revisit it today and forget all about that rather terrible sequel that came out last year (which thankfully I skipped). Read more…