|Games Reviewed in 2000||Games Reviewed in 2001||Software Reviewed in 2001|
|Seven Kingdoms 2||Tropico
|Nocturne||No One Lives Forever||Office XP|
|GTA 2||Serious Sam||Opera 5.12|
|Midtown Madness||Baldurs Gate 2||Red Hat LinuX 7.1|
|Prince of Persia 3D||Nox||Directory Opus 6.1|
|Quake 3||Diablo II||Hardware Reviewed in 2001|
|Unreal Tournament||Max Payne||Mainboard Aopen AX6B|
|Games reviewed in 1999||Star Trek Armada||Mainboard Abit BP6|
|Age of empires II||Black And White||Mainboard Gigabyte 7zx-1|
|Dungeon Keeper II||Arcanum||Mainboard MSI 6380 LE|
|Outcast||Operation Flashpoint||Gfxcard Voodoo 5 5500|
|Populous 3||Art of Magic||Gfxcard Voodoo 3 3000|
|Alpha Centauri||Games Reviewed in 2003||Gfxcard TNT 2 M64|
|Kings Quest 8||UT 2003||Gfxcard Kyro II|
|Half Life||Neverwinter Nights||Gfxcard Voodoo Banshee|
|Championship manager 3||Age Of Wonders 2||Gfxcard Voodoo 2|
|Heroes of Might and magic 3||Age of Wonders||D-Link DSC 350 - Webcam|
|Might and Magic VII||Civ 3||Creative Jukebox 20 Gig - mp3 player|
I know what you will say about this review. Chand is complaining again as he usually is. But yes I am. Not that UT 2003 is a bad game its just not Unreal enough. OK, here we go, The engine is updated and updated beyond belief looking extremely well and beautiful at times. I don't know if it is level design or the engine but a lot of the "unreal" look is gone. Just such small details as lovely magic sky, is replaced with dead texture. The taunts are re sampled but mostly the same as before except the best of them all: "I am sorry I blew your head apart" UT 2003 tries to be a politically correct game (sick). The voices sound dull and to much high tech this time around. The same goes for the music. Even if the game supports the much superior OGG format the music sounded and felt more "unreal" using the old .MOD formats. Now the music just dies on you several times during game and you just feel lonely. So to the ultimate question: What about guns? GUNS ? GUNS! I think UT is one of the games that had most complains about the arsenal of weapons. Although being a superb arsenal of "unreal" weapons, adding to the perfect blend of unreal feeling. Problem is UT 2003 tries to much to be just another game like the others, being more correct, and having more balanced weapons. So what you end up with is most weapons are a bunch of rubbish. I still like Unreal but I am loosing out my love for it - if this is the way it goes.
Being the first?? 3D top down view RPG, we had quite some expectations to this game. Just before its release Microsoft had its Dungeon Siege out which also featured top down view light RPG style game play. Dungeon Siege in itself being superior engine wise to Neverwinter Nights (I am talking about look and feel now) but the game being as dead as a fish to play. What about Neverwinter? Well 3D gfx, 3D sound and high demand of the system doesn't by itself make it a great game. Being developed by one of the masters of RPG's should. But it all falls trough. The story is sick thin (even if better than Dungeon Siege) and you always (and I mean always) KNOW what will happened. The game play itself take you to much into the explore this part of the city, kill everything and explore next part of the city - approach and along your tangle is a few small quests here and there. Problem is: You en up hacking slashing most of the time. The engine (and the D&D game play) being slow it feels like it takes forever. Just to end up doing the same again and again. Its a small edge when you know that all that's needed is to make you feel you are progressing. I still like NWN and I am looking forward to see what our RPG friends can make out of this game in the future.
This is the best RPG I have ever played. It has the humor from Monkey Island and other Lucas art series, just darker, darker and funnier. (The skull being the easiest Monkey Island reference ever) What makes PT the best RPG ever? Is it gfx, music, game system? No it is story. The story in this game is such beautifully (or probably most of the time quite ugly and confusing) and extremely well done, into every little detail. The fun is everywhere keeping you interested and smiling like there is no tomorrow. I have always been week for RPG's that can keep you going and going without focusing to much on warfare. While many gamers like warfare the most I just find it boring in the end (read: Diablo). There is not enough I can do to praise this game. You need to go out there and get it. Right now, you fool s..!!
I have always (like many others) been fan of the Civ series, all the way till Alpha Centauri. But with Civ 3, I am out of the game. Because just like Championship Manager, Simcity, The Settlers, etc the game play has grown too much into a Hardcore gamers oasis. Its just become too detailed and sophisticated to such a ridiculous extend its just not enjoyable for the common gamer. Such a pity seeing Civ 3 ending the series with a fall. And no doubt Civ 4 will probably be more of the same. Now all my hopes are for a Colonization 2!
Age of Wonders
This being a old game, I came over it by mistake. And by surprise what a mistake! This is probably the only game that mixtures elements from the HOMM series with Colonization and other similar series and blends it all into a prefect mix of its own. At the same time as the game has a certain realistic feel to it, it also pops up wondrous creatures like the Penguin (??) and it works. It works the way it should be. The single player levels is made the way they force the player to play fast and go for attack most pf the time. And hence making your empire wider and earning more gold. The implementing of magic, skills, heroes and such is unique but extremely well done. The gfx is not at all the best of today but its and oldie, what ya expect. The music is wonderful, Dreamy and has several references to old Amiga and C64 music!! Its a pearl, its a classic and it should be quite cheap to get a copy nowadays. So come one. Buy one.
Age of Wonders II
Ok, the first AOW is a great game - a classic! However there is immediately loads of stuff that could be improved to the sequel. Gfx for one is probably the only side of AOW2 that's better. The rest is junk. Its a bit like making Heroes of Might and Magic 4 and screw up. The game play is totally gone with the "new improved" (juck) focus on wizards. Wizards not in self being bad, I love wizards and often choose these when I play RPG's. But its more the way its done. And that's about it, this mistake makes the game unplayable and so what more is it too it?? Well for first this game (for some odd reason) got lovely reviews almost everywhere. So there must be more? Well if you get by the less intuitive user interface and the mage thing the game can still be enthralling. The Gfx is quite good and music is ok albeit not nearly s good as the original. Lets hope they make a third installation of this game so the mistakes can be re done..
Software reviewed in 2001
A lot of lame nerds(!!!) say that you need XP because of IE6.0, the new mediaplayer, and so on. But to be true the quality of an OS has nothing to do with external application. No matter how much Microsoft tries to implement these applications as a part of the OS they are still add on programs. Funny to think about when Mac OS X launched the major critics was the lack of DVD software - really sick. The OS is whatever works in the background interacting with the hardware/software and the user. A good OS is one that you don't even see is there! I like to run the best applications.. Not waste space and such on having installed shit applications from MS. So I would use Opera/Netscape for browsing. BS player for video. Winamp/Realjukebox for sound and so on. Is it user-friendly for the user to have MS applications preinstalled/integrated? Or is it just making the users more stupid? Dummies? What about the size? Well thinking about you can run an GUI (AmigaOS/QNX demo/MacOS) on a single DD floppy one really has to be stupid to think an OS needs about 2Gig in its initial install. Something is seriously wrong. Yes it is true that LinuX installations often also comes on 2-6 CDs even more than windows XP and it consists of a lot of applications. There is a few major differences: LinuX is free. It gives you options to install down to the smallest package/application. A linuX distribution can fit on a floppy! So what about the new lunatic look and feel. I guess the best part of it is its name: Luna. Windows do now officially look like a 4-6 years old children application! Congratulations Bill! If we strip all this down to the OS itself and see what does Windows XP offer? Not much, updated hardware support and a few bugfixes and tweaks. A new demanding hardware waste of resources. Its reported that WinXP performs about 20% slower than W2k and that it gets worse the more workload you put on it. I say you should better use Win98/ME/2k according to your need. There is no secret that the Windows GUI is a bad rip of from mac. This time they stole again.. Mac OS X - Windows XP - Get the point?
The biggest enemy of Office XP is Office 2k and Office 97. Because somehow MS have to convince us to upgrade the Office version. If you take all the small enhancements of Office XP over Office 2k its maybe a few things that sound cool and stuff, but in the end you probably don't need them. Personally I think the new look and feel makes Office XP look duller than ever. And the activation program sucks big time. Stay away. Maybe time to choose something like Star Office (free), WordPerfect Office (even if MS has been meddling there as well) or maybe KDE office for Linux?
Opera has come a long way. With the 5 version its the first time we could download it for free. Before Opera was one of the few web browsers that people actually paid for to use. And as all know the webbrowsermarked is dominated by free applications like IE/Netscape and Konqueror(best of these 3). The new free version of Opera is a sponsored version so you still have to pay if you wanna get rid of the commercials. Opera boosts an almost full grown web browser (of course MS keeps making their own standards all the time that is not always supported) including an e-mail program and instant messaging. Personally I keep using Eudora for e-mail and ICQ for messaging. But hell, that's all up to you. It comes with an search-bar on the right side..With Google as default search engine. Really a nice touch. It features magic moves with the mouse ala Black and White - this might be a bit frustrating at first but rulez as soon as you get hang of it. And you can easily turn it of if you want. Opera is capable to identify itselves as number of browsers included IE, Netscape. IE is default which sucks - everybody should give Opera some credit at make it identify as itselves. Of course Opera is the fastest and smallest really kewl browser - only browser that really gives Opera competition is Konqueror for LinuX so for Windows... there is only one thing to choose.... lets go to the Opera!
Red Hat LinuX 7.1
Red Hat got some critics about 7.1 because of some faults in the GCC compiler. But of course that can be fixed with autoupdate or similar. In many ways I don't think 7.1 boosts much from 7.0 however that's normal . upgrade. The most important thing is how it looks in the battle against Mandrake and Suse LinuX. I only take these two in comparisation as they are the other most user friendly LinuXes. Corel LinuX tried very good but will not be considered before a new version is out, if ever. Mandrake LinuX is the most user-friendly one so that battle is already lost. So why choose Red Hat then? Well Red Hat has a name popularity and support. Mandrake LinuX require more hardware resources. And if you are used to Red Hat there is no real reason to change. All in all 7.1 is another quality product that can give you a lot for free or almost for free.
Directory Opus 6.1
Even if I hate windows explorer like a plaque I usually do not use or install explorer replacements because most of the time I don't think it gives back enough. However the Directory Opus has strong roots way back to Amiga and I wanted to check it out. Lucky me! It doesn't look much like the old Amiga Opus but I will try to forgive them for that. It has the possibility to configure everything the way you want it - which gives the user power. I could probably wish that this was made a bit easier and maybe a bit more configuring - but then again its possible to make it look almost like your old Windows Explorer if you by strange reasons wish so. Directory Opus boost ease and features from the point of a fingertip! And it gives you all these extra nifty function you always wished you had in your explorer. Zip folder, integrated picture viewer (plug in support!), removes read-only tag when copying from CD, choose colors and background pictures for all windows (called listers), Copy and rename with filters (normally only possible trough DOS), dos prompt always at your hand, advanced replace/rename function, etc. As old Amiga programmers know how to use little space to give much usability Directory Opus is fast yet very small and dose not hog up much of your computer. The file functions like copy and move are about 100% faster than Windows explorer own. I can nothing but recommend this product to everybody!
Hardware Reviewed in 2001:
Mainboard Aopen AX6B
This 440BX mainboard is still the best and most reliable motherboard I have seen. OF course it is getting old. But the speed and reliability that it manages to drive gives my system a fair boost. Its is of course no secret that the 440 BX chipset is one of the most magnificent chipset there is. The best feature of this card (undocumented!) is that it automatically adjusts the power core when you overclock to the board. No need to mess around try different settings. The overclocking possibilities is a dream. And yes - if you're looking for a slot1 440BX board you can safely go for this one! The only small negative thing I have to say is that some versions of the mainboard might have a slightly old AGP standard so Some newer cards has to be run at AGPx1 and not AGPx2.
Mainboard Abit BP6
This mainboard is unique because it was the first one to make it possible to use dual socket 370 processors. Before the BP6 this was meant to be impossible. The mainboard boosts the famous 440BX chipset and that should in itself call for quality. All in all doing something impossible and giving you a cheap dual processor system this is not a bad mainboard. However there is a few limitations. The board is not good for overclocking at all because its not stabile enough.
Mainboard Gigabyte 7zx-1
The raw power of this mainboard is quite good. However the mainboard is not good for overclocking. Overcloking possibilities are few. The chipset is not that stable. Its good for users that like good speed without dealing with much of BIOS setting and overclocking. But there is better choices out there so stay away.
Mainboard MSI 6380LE
Again a good motherboard from MSI. Its a cut down version but hell it has almost everything the full versions has except USB2.0 (which is a bit of a drawback I shall admit that! - but nothing a PCI card add on cannot do later) and if you upgrade the BIOS even more of the restrictions are opened. Its not really an overclocking board but can still cope with pretty good overcloking when taking the unstable VIA chipset in account. The only thing I really don't like with this motherboard is that its almost impossible to get Voodoo 5 5500 to run stable on it - tweaking!
Gfx Card - Voodoo 5 5500
This card is highly underrated by the Nvidia Geforce hype. Hardware T & L is the biggest bluff the hardware industry has seen. It might be that 3dfx tried to bluff they're way with the FSAA but really at least FSAA does something. Even Max Payne can be played with full settings (except 32 bit of course) on a just beneath 1 Ghz machine with Voodoo 3 with no flaws at all. Because running T & L trough a modern processors can do the job just as well. It is true that Voodoo 5 was launched a year to late and that seemed crucial for 3dfx. Nvidia kick their ass down and 3dfx died. A moment of sorrow for 3dfx! But Voodoo is not quite dead yet. Voodoo 5 has better 2D gfx than Matrox G450! The 3D is beautiful. It can handle most games without any problem as long as you keep FSAA of. Older games you can put 2X FSAA on and enjoy enhanced gfx. Voodoo makes games like Carmaggedon 2 look like a totally new game! Dreamy. And of course you have the glide support to give you the best UT experience! This card is of my choice - of love!
A hail to everybody that keeps tweaking Voodoo drivers and keep the magic alive!
Gfx Card - Kyro 2
Kyro 2 is not exactly one Gfx Card but a rather a chip. However I choose to review is as that. Kyro 2 does something strange but brilliant. It sucks and slow chip with power that amazes everybody by not rendering things you cant see. Most people judge this chip down by the lack of T&L but fuck T&L. Before Kyro 3 and Radeon 2 this is the best gfx card you can have for less than what Geforce 3 - and its really, really cheap!
Gfx Card - Voodoo 3 3000
I do think that 3dfx did a mistake when they made Voodoo 3 series as upgraded Voodoo 2s with no new features. The one with no 32bit gfx to be the worst. I don't really care that much between 16/32 bit gfx but of course I would like to have 32 bit if possible. However after a while Voodoo 3 tended to be a low-cost card that gave you a lot of power. And as that it was a popular hit. But it could have been much better. Except for that its still a good card that should not be overlooked!
Gfx Card - TNT 2 M64
Nvidia tries to create low cut cards by giving TNT2 with less bandwidth. And I will say the card sucks. Its not up to do any real job and you'll better waste your money on something better.
Gfx Card - Voodoo Banshee
Actually I liked this card better than the Voodoo 2, because it could reach the same resolution as SLI with only one card - with lower speed of course, but that's a tradeoff. Its kinda old now so I would use it to play any new games. However for UT it works ok...
Gfx Card - Voodoo 2 8/12Mb
This was an extremely popular card. Maybe not as much as the overhyped Geforce but then again, different times. The kewl thing was that you could combine two of them in so called SLI mode and get high raw power. (3dfx did this again on Voodoo 5 but this time integrated on one card) This was the ultimate solution.. But really has seen they're best days.
D-Link Dsc - 350 - webcam
This 3 in 1 camera costs 25-50% less than most other webcams that gives the same functionality. And frankly I wouldn't pay more for a webcam with VGA resolution. D-Link performs best when its hooked up to a computer as a webcam. Because it doesn't need to perform task intensive compression of the picture but just unleashes it on the USB. So as a webcam it works quite nice but you must make sure you have enough light. As a stand alone camera it gives heavy compressed JPG pictures in standard VGA resolution. The quality of the pictures is what you can expect - OK for fun/non serious use. The camera has no flash and is very sensitive for light so the best pictures will be the ones taken outdoor. With its 8Mb memory you can however take between 100 and 200 pictures with no hassle at all. It also have the option to use higher resolution but then only trough interpolarization which means most of the time that the picture looks worse - quite useless function. As a standalone videocamera it takes about 3 pictures pr second and that gives kinda laggy video, but for fun/Internet use its OK. All in all this is a toy for toy use - and a good one as well!
Creative Nomad Jukebox 20 Gig
To boost 20 gig of Mp3 music on a device of the same size as an discman is a great dream come true. Creative was the first out with this device and therefore they didn't have much competition until now. Mp3 players with harddrives is suddenly looking to take off and you can already get players with up to 80 gigs. (Its only a hard drive so it really doesn't matter!) What does Creative have then? They have of course the technology from their everlasting soundblaster series which means that most PC users rely on them. The player comes with build in surround support, EAX (This you don't really need, more like a gimmick - and it lowers the volume when used), IR (future support) flashable bios/software for future upgrades, possibility to record music wherever you are. The sound output of the player beats most other mp3 players and there is no doubt that this is a serious piece of hardware. However Creative is not really know to be racers when it comes to software/drivers. Every time you deal with a soundcard of theirs there is really hell to figure out the drivers, and very often the newest driver wont work, etc. The Creative Playcenter 2 tries to be a serious music program but has a lot of small flaws when it comes to userfriendlyness and power. The software inside the player suffers from the same. When you push a button to see the details of the song you are playing and then go back the player can use 15-20 secs to go back to the playlist, if the playlist is big enough (a few thousand songs) it can even start skipping! The device crashes too often, almost as unstable as windows. The userfriendlyness of the software is not really brilliant and a lot can and should be done to make it better. It has 11 buttons plus a volume wheel - feels more like 3. The volume wheel should be designed as multifunction (whenever you write names/text the wheels should be used to scroll letters!). In many ways I don't think Creative even care as you get 20 gig of space so you have to live with the rest. The player supports Windows WMA format which means you can even make smaller files than with mp3, and you can fit up to 6000-8000 songs on the device. But how will the HDs performance be when the HD is full? And why don't they supply some defragmentation tools? Creative - you need to get a bunch of really skilled software programmers and revamp most of your software. Batterytime is low, really low. It needs Creatives own special extra ampere batteries to run (but you do get 2 sets with the player!). To max the play time to the hyped four hours you should make the playlist in advance on your PC and then let it play without interruption. Whenever you start changing songs and deal with the player - it sucks power out of your batteries. And you might as well turn of the light function. It would have been better to use one of the buttons for light when you really needed it. But hell 6000 songs - I can live with most shit when I can put most of my music on it hand put all my CDs away. I can use it on my Stereo, Car and on travels. Yes I like it! A lot! Despite all flaws.
Games Reviewed in 2001:
Don't even bother with this game. It seems like a cool game on the advertisement and stuff. I usually would like games like this, with management and a bit of drug dealing in it. But this game has bad gfx, and stupid gameplay. Steer away!
RPGs... has gone a long way. Probably longer than most other game types that still are popular today. The predecessor to the Ultima series - text based DoD, can still provide fun even today! However Arcanum is the first RPG to sees the mission to beat the glorious Baldurs Gate saga. While Baldurs Gate delivers an AD&D world, arcanum delivers a world where technology and magic lives together as enemies or friends depending on the balance. Its of course ancient technology like old firearms and such. In the non PC RPG world this kind of ideas are not very new, but it is nice to see it on the PC platform. Since you do not really select type of character in the beginning but raise your characters with 1 or 2 points every level. Your character can evolve from being a magician till ending up as a technology freak or a thief. Maybe not advisable, but for the fun. Arcanum is a far easier game than Baldurs Gate and non hard-core games as me find that good. I do however think that the Hard-core gamers can still find a lot of gameplay in the game. A lot of the quests can actually be solved just by talking (if you have high enough charisma or intelligence) as usual thief skills (pick pocket and lock pick) will give you a edge on most quests and non quests. The find trap and disarm trap is however almost useless. Arcanum boasts a big map - a huge world with a lot of freedom and non linearity. Or at least the feeling of it. And as I have said many times before an RPGs biggest goal is to give freedom to the player to do what you want. Since the game has such a different character and world system - its very easy to do a lot of beginner mistakes. The dialogue is well made however Virgils (the first guy you meet) dialogue is overplayed and doesn't really fit into the rest. But then the openness of the game often make you wonder what mood they try to make, if they are trying to be totally serious or are just playing around (hence you can go to a brothel and get kinda perverted services). Its only a few characters dialogue that is recorded. I would wish more of it was, it would definitely cover over the nasty dramatic music that the game plays. I think the music is probably the weakest part of the game. When are games gonna give you the option to play your mp3s or CDs? Well the music and the effects are kinda middle of the three but the dramatic play can really drive you crazy after several hours of play and I think most people know what I mean. With its huge freedom and openness it is a Baldurs Gate beater! And with the news that the new Thorn game is halted (really a pity!!) Arcanum can probably have the crown for a while. Cant wait for the expansion pack. Nice to see Sierra doing so well again!
Another war like first person shooter. But a bloody good one. The game gives you interaction and cut scenes with immense quality on the design of the persons and dialogue! The missions boots high level of interaction and changes always happen during the mission just to fuck ya about. The missions have a lot of different settings and you steer tanks, choppers, or just run or crawl. The gfx of some of the surrounding specially trees and bushes do not reflect the same quality as most of the other design and looks more like something from a PD game, made last weekend. It looks like this is a failure that is quite common in games today. Get a grip developers!! The difficulties of the levels changes all the time and do not really follow a line as is usual, however this can be an advantage as well as a flaw. I would certainly choose Operation Flashpoint before DF3 or HD2. The biggest error of the game? The US flag is positioned the wrong way on the soldiers! Get a grip developers!!
Art of Magic
This is the Magic and Mayhem sequel. The game is a small beauty when it comes to gameplay and interaction. However some of the dialogue is sparse and unrealistic. The real problem with this game is that it has most of the ingredients that could have made it a gem. However it suffers from something so big just like Ultima IX (shit userinterface) and this time it is that the game is just to slow. Waiting for you main character you can grow a beard, or wash dishes in the mean time. And good forbid that you have to wash dishes! So there you have it - if there is no patch to make some speed adjustments, then the game is doomed.
No one lives forever
Litech engine? The girlie answer for James Bond? Well the game is some kind of spy story featuring 1st person perspective and a fair deal of stealth. The strongest part of this game is the variations of the levels. Beside the shooting and the high pressure you have on you to keep quiet (stealth) you'll suddenly end up in gaming scenes like you'll never done before in 3D. The storyline of the game is a strong part of the game and you have the options to choose lines at a few places in the game (funny). A few things is however to obvious and can be like a plaque. And therefore I will say that even if its pretty well done - the end is bit to weak. Fans of Thief II and Deus Ex will probably like this game. I am not a fan of Thief II but still liked it - funny me!
Doom all again! And damn time for it ass well. The game makes you pump adrenaline like notime before. Just like it was in old Doom I & II days but with a new and highly visual inferior 3D engine. And what an engine. Not UT but really something to drool over. The music takes my adrenaline even higher. The weapons and the monsters give me the thrill and I just want to kill more! and more! Weaknesses? The required specs are quite high, to enjoy all of it. But that all I have for now. Lets have some violent fun!
Baldurs Gate 2 and expansion
The RPG masters are out again with the final chapters in the Baldurs Gate story. As usually we get the top notch best there is isometric top view RPG with strong story lines. I am always overwhelmed by the gameplay the length and the value for money this game is. Except for Planetscape Tournment this is the best there is! The expansion is simply mandatory to get the end of the story.
The announced Diablo beater finally arrived the shelves. But what is it. It doesn't look, play or feel like Diablo at all. Did Westwood fail? No. The game can stand on its own feet. The storyline is extremely strong and you get so involved in the game like a good book or movie that you just cant stop to see what's next - and that means the game is a success. I have a feeling though that the game never sold as much and never got the fame it deserved. I could hardly get up to work anymore. Because of this I would say that the game is actually a bit better than Diablo II (the first time you play it.)
Diablo II and Expansion pack
Blizzard seldom fuck up their games. Diablo 2 is very much Diablo 1 but at the same time very much MORE. I stopped playing Diablo long time ago because the gfx was to old, not looking good enough for today's standards, so I was happy to find that Diablo 2 had all new gfx even if only 2D, boosts and creates a magical slash slash scenario. I have a feeling that the music is everyway as spellbinding as last time. The dialogue is maybe a bit crap sometimes, but at least it can be nice with small breaks from hitting the mouse buttons repeatedly.. The quests are quite easy in the beginning but the game gets eventually harder after a while. The game is very well balanced in usually Blizzard style and is without any doubt the best hack n slash game there is. The weak side is that I can get a bit bored for the slashing at times. The Exp pack features game upgrades and a new act that really gives new life (again) to the Diablo series. Good going Blizzard!
Its Max! Its Pain! Its Matrix on PC! I have to admit that this is the kewlest 3rd person shooter ever made and has to share its Game of the Year award with Black and White ... if no other games passes it in the end of the year. How Remedy have dealt with the controlling issue with 3rd person shooters is brilliant - its basically a 1st person shooter, with the modeling of Max Payne in front of you. He adapt your wild controls and throws himself backwards while unloading rounds. The gfx engine is supposed to be one of the most appealing ever. I have to say that the Matrix style of gameplay and the details on this makes the game rule. However I have tested the game on all from mid-end to high end systems and the games required specs are not as bad as they want us to believe. Beside the hardcore Matrix style some of the level design sometimes look daunting and repeating, but I can forgive all that. This is a big step in action games - and definitely the savior of 3rd person perspective games. I am really looking forward to more like this.
Star Trek - Armada
Many people critiqued this game for being a 2D game in with a 3D look. However I really think this trick is what's make the game good. The optical view of 3D, but the ease of gameplay of a 2D RTS makes this game one of the coolest Star Trek games and RTSs I've played. The storyline might not be totally up to Star Trek quality, but almost there. Hell, I prefer this against most C&C games anytime!
Black and White
An eagerly awaited game without the Populous title, but we all know that this game is some kinda Populous 4. The game boost some really new and interesting twist when it comes to gameplay. Playing God with one or more villages, having your own favorite pet and throwing magic around. To begin with the game frees up to all your expectations. So much freedom to be evil or good, or just a bit schizo in between. So much fun! And yes it really is so much fun. The Gfx engine is quite extraordinary and I have never seen anything quite like it. Beautiful and special! The control takes a while to get used to, and you might end up with a mouse-arm. The story line, and the way you interact with your villagers and animal is quite quite and the satisfaction of hitting your pet just to be cozy with it later on is Kewl! I could easily given this game The Game of the year award. But the game has a few weak points: In single player mood the game tend to end up to much as a standard RTS because you get to much involved gathering recourses and pleasing your villages and building that you barley have time for the fun aspect of the game - exploring. The new technology and the new aspects though! Definitely a good move for RTS gaming. And I am looking forward to B&W 2 or whatever it will be called.
Games Reviewed in 2000:
Seven Kingdoms 2
I remember playing the first game on a far to fast PC, so I never actually managed to get the grip of the game as the enemy attacked me by the time I only had put up a few houses. However I know that Seven Kingdoms is known to be a special and quite good RTS. I don't believe the gameplay of the sequel has much to do with the original gameplay (prove me wrong) but that doesn't matter much either. Truth is: Seven Kingdoms really makes its own way in the way to standardized world of RTS and in many ways I have not seen anything like it. The games gfx, music or UI doesn't show much of but after playing it for a while you just get gripped. Gripped by exploring a game that twists the RTS genre and makes you wanna see more. Full pot for creativity! However I sometimes have a bit of problems understanding the point. This game is definitely for people involved with strategy gaming, both real time and turned based one. In many ways a game you'll either really like or despite like hell.
Nocturne tries so much to be a Resident Evil beater and it might all be true. There is no doubt that the games manages to create a noir and scary world that really grips you. I think the story is incredibly well done, thinking of how many times this theme has been used with poor results. Anyone recalling looking at old movies with lot of zombies walking around and zumming, late night RTL? As usual I have to admit that I am not a fan of playing these kinda games. (As I don't have patience for them) but I really love seeing others (who really know the way) play it. The main reason behind this is the involving story and the great gfx which Nocturne possess. You like Resident Evil and want something like it on a PC? Go grab Nocturne!
Grand Theft Auto 2
Well, never change a winning team. GTA2 is much like a huge expansion pack to the original. So huge in fact that it can be called a sequel - thanks for that! The difficulty level has been increased. GTA2 tries to reason blind violence and car theft by putting some more story to the game - making it a bit more linear. The story and the new improved gangs, is of course both good and bad. Bad because its much harder to play a nonlinear game just living like The Animals: "It's my life and I'll do what I want". Good because else it wouldn't have been a sequel. Many have critiqued the gfx to be to much the same, but the truth is that the gfx is really much better than last time, and I really love the top-down view. Escaping the law can really be tedious as harder and harder law-enforcment units try to get your skull. With my way of playing I all to fast end up in a fight with em, and it gets boring real soon. So either I have to change gameplay into a more mature and hidden criminal kinda way or I have to stick with the old GTA. Choice is yours....
While most driving games is linear and looks like any other driving game, Midtown Madness freshen up the genre with non linear gameplay and mad real city driving. Midtown Madness has to share its throne with the great Driver. In many ways Midtown Madness is kinda like Carmaggedon II with better gfx, and damned fast pedestrians - too fast really. So instead of wiping down whatever tries to walk in the city, you just spend your time - driving like maniac and escaping from cops. Despite the fact that this is a Microsoft Game, and the blood you shed is your own: A great game - worthy of several hours of gameplay.
Prince of Persia 3D
I must say that I never been a fan to the long time beloved Prince of Persia games. Yes they had motion capture, but that was about it. :) So in many ways I wasn't expecting much when the 3rd game was released. In many ways I was wrong, what a great game this fails to be. The intro is quite damned good! When you start to play the music, and scenery gives just the right atmosphere! Its almost like being there. But then you start to see the glitches. It just seems like the game is released 2-3 months before it should be . They knew people would by it because of its name so why bother? Well, they should because with a bit more time this game would really rock. Instead it has become a poor half finished game - they just cant get away with that poor gfx.
It's a pity for ID that they lost the developing race and UT came first. Yes, Quake 3 certainly has it edges on some points but something is missing, and that something you find in UT. If Q3 had been first things had been a little different though. Q3 thrills you like UT does, the gfx engine is far superior UT, but the level design just looks better in UT. I had to reinstall and install drivers like a maniac just to get the gfx working. However I do believe this sophisticated gfx engine somewhat show the ways of future.... So I am expecting to see many other releases based on it. Q3 has a really neat selection of characters and you wont get bored by killing the same dudes. I must say that Q3 is almost as good as UT (and that's not bad at all!) So you should definitely have them both so you can determine yourself!
I have not been thrilled like this since the now so ugly looking Doom. The adrenaline pump make you weaver, shiver, choke, scream. Once again a game makes me feel fear. Oh feels like coming home. Killing Spree. Well the games ultimate goal is to kill all faster than they kill you, get the flag, dominate places and become the finest killing machine. And as you run, shoot 'n jump you'll shoot the head and limps off your enemies and friends, get some better weapons so your killing can continue. The gfx rulez just as in the singleplayer Unreal, but frankly you do not have time to look at it. The music pumps out and works on you similar to the music in Doom. Gets you more afraid, and the only way to survive is to pull that trigger faster and faster. I haven't played Quake 3 Arena yet so I can't say which is best. But I think Unreal Tournament wins with an bloody edge.
Games Reviewed in 1999:
Age of Empires II
Another RTS, but hey at first it looks more like The Settlers. Age of Kings is kinda a joint between The Settlers and an RTS an makes it one of the more interesting RTS games out there. The Settlers likeness comes from an rather sophisticated development system. However it is rather confusing to have to detail control all your villagers and soldiers at the same time. Is it realistic that an idle villager just stands there? That you have to tell a farmer to fix the farm when it is exhausted? And why do you need wood to plant seeds? The gfx is quite detailed but I am sorry to say: It doesn't look all that good, reminds you of some not-3D golf game. The AI isn't to great either. But in spite of all those weaknesses Age of Kings is quite interesting and is without a doubt the right way to go with the RTS arena. The marked is a very important part of the game and I think that's bad. I don't know who got this idea that marketing and diplomacy had to be an part of a RTS (Guess origins from Civ) but it is rather stupid. You play an war game and end up with negotiating food.... Leave marketing where it belongs: The Stock Games... And even after all this criticism I will advise you to get this game if your the RTS guy or want to try RTS out. And you'll have to learn how to handle your mouse quick and steady.
Dungeon Keeper 2
Well, Bullfrog anno 1999 makes sequels to old classics... Not very mature but when we can forgive it. DK2 is a winner even before it's made. The great use of 3D just sums up and makes this a dun curiosity. Even if it is a sequel I have to say, too bad there so little of the creativity in most games nowadays that shines through in this brilliant game. Yes, it's an RTS but it has it's own twists, It's dark, you rule a evil dungeons and all kinds of evil Creatures. It's Good to be Bad! It's one of those games that you need to play a while to get the hang on and you you just cries out and say "Wow" Jackpot again. How big an Casino can I make? Las Vegas anyone. The AI corky and a bit stupid. The thing about having to mark the land as your property before you can drop your warriors there (and they might even run away instead of fighting) is quite confusing but after a while you learn ho to do it. The learning cure is to steep, the difficult level of the game is a bit to hard and the really interesting levels doesn't arrive until the end of the Champaign.
It's a shame - that there's so few games like this... This is as close as you get to Zelda on a PC(If you're not emulating the real thing). Outcast is however much more an adult thing with stealth and shooting. It's a shame that so few games have sound like this! Specially orchestral music beating Lucasarts IMUSE system big time. And the sound effects really make you feel like you're there.... I know Outcast got only decent reviews of game-magazines mostly because of the difficult (new invented) language and amount of blah blah blah (Talking...) But you get it all wrong... This is an fantasy adventure! - (With elements of action and platforming too!) And adventure games have a lot of talking. If you do not like it, skip it..... Maybe you'll end up with a heap of loose ends... but what are ends for. Simply the best game I have played since Zelda.... :) GO and GET it NOW!
Might and Magic VII
It's a shame that you can find something like this as a full prize game nowadays. Well I wanted to find out if 3D could make the RPG as bit of what they should be... Well the 3D is not much to call up your friends about. Its true that the RPG world is definitely evolving, but might I say: "Magically slow..:" (Ok bad joke...) What I mean is, real life RPGs (books and dices) main advantage above all other games is its freedom and the ability to take place anywhere and anyhow. Computer RPGs seems a bit limited to pure fighting and character involving. Which is only parts of the truth. MAM VII gives you freedom to wander, because somebody is always standing in your way (Bummer!). To survive in the game you'll have to carefully select the right characters, skills and weapons and you'll often have exploit the bugs of the game to survive (Bummer again!) The music is the far best part of the game, if I just could find out why it suddenly turns off.... Ok, ok, ok, I shall admit that I had some fun hours playing it. The problem is you soon get sick of it all (!) when the game shows its real face and you are tired of pressing the 'A' button in. Suggestions to make the game better: Give us freedom! Eat the bugs! Real 3D with the choice of isometric (Diablo like) view and strategic positioning system when fighting.... Lets hope you get all that for your number eight!
Kings Quest 8
When I heard that the KQ series where moving to 3D, I feared the worst. I feared that the KQ universe would suffer a quick death. (And maybe it would be time too.) But I was so wrong. The task of bringing adventure and 3D action gameplay together is not a a easy task. But KQ8 have done remarkably good. Grim Fandango for example didn't to nearly as good but is still a great game because of a good story and the usual Lucasart fun. Well, KQ8 gives you 7 worlds to explore. Persons to talk to, puzzles to solve and a bunch of nasty monsters to kill. Luckily the fighting interface is done very simple and its all about clicking the mouse faster than the foe. So you have plenty of time for exploring. In many ways it feels very much like the traditional adventure, just with better gfx. The gfx is not awesome in any way. But generally good enough by today's standards. And then there is the loading times - How did they think they would get away with those s l o w loading times? Every time I restore a game, I have to wait wait wait and wait..... Yah yah yah.. Well, I am trying to forgive it... but... why can't they make a patch to fix it? Well KQ was never my favorite of the Quest series, but nr 8 is definitely the best one yet!
Championship Manager 3
Before you read this - or - before you start to play CM3:. Take a deep breath, count to ten and forget....forget everything.... everything you ever learnt about anything. Forget about loading times. Forget that you have a monster of a PC. Forget that funky music. Forget all that beautiful gfx. And forget half of your spare time the rest of this year. Well, in many ways this is the only game for footie fans that likes to be a manager. I am not really a footie fan but I've always liked the manager concept. But have been inactive the last years as the managers have become so darn complex... And this is the most complex and detailed of them all. It runs slow even on a high end system - calculating which foot nr 12, kick the referees leg with..... hmm hmmm. As always this kind of game wile either hook you up for nights or you will avoid it like hell. In additional requirement to the Hardware specs is your patience or devotion.
Well this is supposed to be the game of the year, I do not agree all to that. Yes the games bring up a whole new set of improvements. But the improvements fail. I never liked Wolfenstein 3D either. It was the child to Doom, but it had to be Doom that did the major break trough. Well you got a new improved AI, that I personally think sucks. Is it intelligent just because they can run faster than you? And have a some premade attack waves... well play Space invaders again and find out... The 3D mapped sound is also jerky. It is like, you go to a person and you can not hear what he said because your not standing close enough to him. Action I want action not to talk to this silly professor. The lines are also a bit repeating. Shame. The Graphics are not impressive at all. It looks even worse than Quake 2 sometimes, how come? Well the monsters and professors look well done but that's also it. Weaponry? Well I am not impressed at all. Not much to call home about, one weapon are worse than the other. Gets kinda boring after a while. Interactive? Well following a linear story, touching people and they talk. Using the crowbar to smash windows... What's new about it? Game of the year? Nope. I like Unreal and Sin better.
Well, at first sight I was impressed. Finally someone that understood what the 3 stood for. Even if it is a prequel. But after playing it a bit I soon understood that the greatness of Populous was gone. Instead of being unique with the indirect control of your people and having main focus on making good surroundings and the use of naughty spells we get just another RTS. Oh sometimes I wish Dune 2 and Red Alert somewhere not nice. Well ok, Populous has become a standard RTS but it is a good one. The graphics kick butt! And the gameplay is addictive. Gets a bit boring after a while though. I am thinking what could this game had been, if the uniqueness of Populous had been kept within.
Time for strategy, time for Civ the third time. Well at first look it looks like a coop between Utopia and Civ and I was all excited to play. But after playing it for a while I am not as impressed anymore. This eagerly awaited 3quel (?) is just like a major wrap of Civ 2. Well yes it is a great game. The improvements like the new research system. Which is almost like the old one just with new names and graphics.. Yes you can not research on one special knowledge anymore. But only decide which direction. Doesn't matter as the names of the technologies is Greek for most of us. What I always felt as the most irritating part of the previous Civ games was that after a while you get so many towns and units... And one turn suddenly takes a lifetime to finish just to do almost nothing at all. It was a bit better in Civ 2 than the original and Alpha Centauri takes it a bit further. You have governors to handle cities for you and the units can be set to auto. However the governors are rather stupid and pours out non usable units. You can put a order of preordered units yourself. Very useful but you need to play the game some times to get the hang of it. And the Automation of units is also not anything to call home about. The fighting is done much the same way as always, with improvements though. Here Sid Meyer has a lot to learn from HOMM. The new graphics, sound and wrapping is good. The same game in a new shape. Well the graphics is not all convincing. What about some 3D? Still, Alpha Centauri was a classic before it even hit the shelves. And in many ways deserves it as this is the best of the series. The phrase: "Just one more turn" is more close to you that you know.
Heroes of might and magic III
Yes Yes Yes, I never played the first HOMM but the sequel was enough to get me hooked. The third version is basically just more of the same,and much of it too. And that is good. This game is something all strategy game makers have a lot to learn from. From the beginning of computergames to now many have tried to make games based on the fantasy world (like the one described of JRR Tolkien) but most of these games was crap and still is. I mean really like trash. But HOMM is just so brilliant. By the time you use to get into the interface you are hooked. And you can play for days and nights before you stop. When you are forced by the real world to take a break, your mind is still playing HOMM 3. A bit dangerous and very Addictive.