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Editorial: Dac's Picks - August

Posted on Sun, Jul 25, 2004

When choosing a video game, I tend to research it a good bit before actually making the purchase. Well, as we all know, this can become a boring task, but somebody has to do it. I consider myself the average gamer; I’m not really biased towards or against anything (unless you count the N-Gage…). So, I’ve decided to start a per-monthly editorial entitled “Dac’s Picks,” where I, Dacvak, pick the top five or so games coming out in the current month. And don’t worry, people, my picks cover all three game consoles, as well as PC and GBA. Alright then, let’s jump right into it!

5. WWE Day of Reckoning – GameCube – August 30th
If you’re a fan of wrestling and owned an N64, you most certainly remember the fantastic titles like WCW vs. NWO and Wrestlemania 2000. More recently, the Wrestlemania series has made its way to the GameCube, which has done a laudable job of keeping wrestling games popular. Well, the masters are at it again. THQ, the good people who brought you these bloody brilliant games, are now releasing what may be the greatest wrestling game… Ever.

Day of Reckoning, developed by Yukes (who’s responsible for the Wrestlemania series), has kept the aged standards of former THQ titles while also managing to add a few new features to the mix. For those of you who’ve played Wrestlemania XIX, the gameplay has stayed virtually the same (If it’s not broken, why fix it?). However, slight additions like realistic damaging weapons and a profusion of fresh attack moves make this game more and more appealing to fans.

All of your favorite wrestling modes make a return, as well as a few new ones, such as “Bra and Panties.” In this mode you’ll control a female wrestler with only one intention: to rip the clothes off of the opponent (…Sweet). In addition, a full story mode with an extensive Create-a-Superstar option keeps Day of Reckoning standing strong. Many different wrestling venues are being included as well, such as No Mercy and Royal Rumble, each with their own particular wrestling feel.

Graphically, Reckoning has it down. Using primarily a highly upgraded version of the engine from Wrestlemania XIX, the game looks more realistic than ever; character models are finally the way they should look (including the women!). The wrestlers’ appearances are susceptible to damage as well, showing bruises and cuts where appropriate. And with far more cinematic intros among colorful taunts and hecklings, it shows massive potential.

If you like wrestling and own a GameCube, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t buy this title.

Hype Rating: 8.9/10

4. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow – Xbox – August 3rd
If you’ve tried out any Tom Clancy game, you already know that quality is a major factor in them. Likewise, if you’ve played any Rainbow Six game, you know that they're all about squad-based swat action. Ubisoft’s third installment to the Rainbow Six 3 series is about to hit the Xbox, and it couldn’t look sweeter. The immensely popular Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield broke new grounds in the PC world with its incredible gameplay and stellar graphics. Later ported to the Xbox, console fans finally get a taste of what they’ve been missing.

The newest addition to the RS family, Black Arrow, is by far the most polished in terms of gameplay. Small glitches found in previous titles have been fixed along with added realism to firearms and enemies. Going on about the terrorists, their AI has been completely redone, and very well, I might add. Each foe now will act totally differently than the other; while one may hide from you, one may attack you. While one is sniping, another’s chucking flash bang grenades. Also, every time you start up a new mission, each terrorist’s AI resets and changes, making replaying the same mission frenzied yet fresh.

Many of the same gametypes make a return as well, along with a few new ones to the mix. One of the most anticipated modes, Lone Rush, has a player run through one of the ten campaign mission with only a minute and 30 seconds on the clock. Basically, any time you do something you’re supposed to – kill a terrorist, rescue a hostage – you add precious seconds to your clock. This can make the game get very frantic since you no longer have the option of taking your time and waiting for the right moment. It’s a nice addition, considering the other campaign modes aren’t time-based.

Even the visuals managed to get updated in Black Arrow. Again, if you’ve tried the RS3 games already, you know the graphics are absolutely stunning. The newest addition is no different; added textures to guns and buildings truly bring out the title’s realistic feel (but unfortunately can add occasional frame skip-age). Also, character models have made improved changes, along with giving the HUD a makeover.

If you like yourself a good squad-based first person shooter, then you, quite frankly, need this game. With Xbox Live support and the random AI, Black Arrow promises to have some of the best replay value as well. Ubisoft’s success in the past guaranties quality in the future, so we can expect a tremendous new title.

Hype Rating: 9/10

3. Madden 2005 – GameCube, Xbox, PS2, GBA – August 9th
Grown men howling at the TV screen, heaving the remote across the room, and getting into fistfights with best friends, all while kicking back a few brews… Ah, football. There’s nothing like a great game to sit back and watch, unless, of course, you’re controlling everything on the screen already. Well, EA makes getting into The Game a whole lot easier with their continual and annually released Madden series. Known for its utter perfection, the Madden titles remain the most popular and rightfully greatest football video games around.

Quite frankly, aside from the new features, there’s really not much to say about this game. It’s just a pure game of football. Odds are even non-sports fans have tried out the Madden games at some point or another, and for the most part, if you’ve played one you’ve played them all. However, that doesn’t make this a boring game by any stretch of the imagination. Fans don’t simply buy this game because they think “Oh, this one will feature totally new things we’ve never seen before!” They buy it mainly because of the updated rosters and stats, but also along with the slightly enhanced graphics and gameplay.

Since EA truly knows how to make a football game, you can expect nothing short of perfect gameplay and controls, as in previous Madden installments. The series isn’t known for its graphics or sound or even its semi-witty commentary (sorry, big guy), it’s known for allowing players to jump right in on the action. This means you don’t have to worry about which button does what and how exactly to use the control stick, because it all comes naturally after playing a while. So you can spend a lot more time developing strategies and taking note of specific evasive maneuvers instead of having thoughts like “Dammit, now which button throws!?”

Yeah, yeah… There are a few new modes and features and the graphics got a tad bit better. Big deal. That’s not why you’ll want to pick this game up. If you’re a fan of football, like an updated roster, and really want to see Ray Lewis get injured (You know, the “Madden Curse”), then go reserve this game right away, because odds are it’ll sell out fast.

GT's preview: Madden 2005

Hype Rating: 9.1/10

2. Shellshock: Nam ’67 – Xbox, PS2, PC – August 24th, 31st
“Let me tell you a little somethin’ about how we used to do things, boy. Back in the day, there was no new-fangled TV. We didn’t have no Pacman to play. Back then, all we had was war, and war was hell, boy.” All right, a game for… old… people… War games have been hitting shelves for some time now (like Battlefield Vietnam and Call of Duty), and they are usually commended for their play value and realism. Finally, the grandpa of all war games will be available to the public, near the end of August. Shellshock: Nam ’67, developed by Guerilla Games (the people who are making Killzone) looks to be the most realistic war game yet, proving that sometimes realism is too much to handle.

You start off as a recruit-in-training, with a few other combat-ready comrades. The teammate aspect is as crucial as in games like Rainbow Six 3, so focusing on the AI’s actions becomes a project as well. And what would a war game be like without realistic strategy and unexpected turns? Shellshock keeps you on your toes and your eyes open with surprise attacks, not to mention deadly environments. You’d best acquire a keen eye for details since trip wire, land mines, and other enemy traps are scattered in the most unexpected areas.

When on the battlefield, enemies are relentless. Even after you’ve put lead into their flesh, they’ll try to even up the score with a few last-second blasts. And injuries that occur between yourself and your teammates can seem almost too real. When a friend – or foe – gets shot in the leg, they’ll be on the ground in a matter of seconds, yet they are far from useless (though they’ll obviously required assistance.) Even the sounds are true-to-life in Shellshock. Ear-shattering screams of pain when an ally takes a bullet are only accompanied by the symphonic sounds of detonating land mines and exploding grenades.

Progressing through each mission truly feels and looks like you’re back in Nam, almost 40 years ago. The visuals are simply astounding, with utterly substantive armaments and garbs. Though the HUD has not been finished, it will be relatively simple with only a health bar and ammo indicator. When it all boils down, the graphics, along with gameplay are just simply about realism. We’ll see more of what this game has to offer later this month, but as of now, the hype is up and the game looks good. Damn good.

Hype Rating: 9.3/10

1. Doom 3 – PC – August 3rd

If you’ve been following GT’s previews, you probably have noticed we’ve already covered Doom 3, as far as telling you all about it. Well, my good friend Stealth is here to recap this soon-to-be-legendary game. Stealth?

Calling all marines! Looking for some action? Some adventure? Searching for the simple life of blasting through offending zombies and cacodemons at your slightest whim? Well, my ambitious cannon fod—er… friends—have I got a treat for you: the newly-built Union Aerospace Corporation’s scientific installation on Mars. As of late, the scientists there have been experiencing a tad bit of trouble from a number of pesky, Hell-borne entities that seem bent on destroying the UAC’s facility and sending the entire human race straight to the depths of Hell. Oh, but you needn’t fret! With an assortment of assault rifles and that macho, “born to kill” attitude of yours, these critters shouldn’t be a problem. Eat guts and piss tacks, as they say!

Oh, but I’m afraid that a few poor marines have been led astray: the UAC installation on Mars (placed in the larger, scarier-than-hell Doom 3 universe) shan’t be as easily cleared of evil as it’s been made out to be. Damn recruiters. Maybe with a bit of elbow grease and some essential information, I can save a few of those poor, doomed souls. It’s worth a try.

In development since the new millennium, the people at id Software (developer of Doom 3) have had plenty of time to create a world chock full of monsters of every ilk. Along with the obligatory zombies, cacodemons and imps, players will also be seeing a cast of more twisted, fiendish creatures. Heading this horrifying line-up are bipedaled revenants, which will creep through shadows in hopes of luring players to an early, rocket launcher-induced grave. Joining these skeletal monstrosities are fearsome hell knights; ‘trites,’ which, skittering incessantly, regularly make their presence known to players; and, most notably, ‘hell cherubs,’ the bastard children of large arachnids and some human-ish infants.

As far as gameplay goes, be expecting some changes from this Doom. Gone is the single-minded, run-n-gun gameplay of the series’ previous titles; in its place is a deeper, more methodical strategy to exterminating demons. In short, Doom 3 will be taking a fairly steep horror/survival twist, so be expecting a game that plays with your mind and not just your trigger finger. “The pacing is intentionally slow,” says Tim Willits, lead designer of the game. “After all, we put all this work into [the game] and we want to give people the opportunity to explore [it]. Otherwise, what’s the point?” Palm pilots (acting as notes and diaries did in the Resident Evil series) will reveal to players Doom 3’s backstory, along with allotting them electronic passkeys and some nifty high-resolution maps. Strategies for killing certain monsters, shortcuts through levels or handy personal info about the game’s characters can also be found on these PDA’s.

With the addition of a few bad-ass weapons like a plasma rifle, a few shotguns, and even a chain saw, Doom 3 is looking pretty darn cool thus far. And due to the game’s all-new, slower pace and some of the most frightening video game monsters yet, I have no doubt that this one set more than a few milestones in FPS gaming. Eat guts and piss tacks, soldier!

Thank you, Stealth. Be sure to catch this game the beginning of August (if you have an amazing computer, that is).

Hype Rating: 9.8/10

Honorable mention:

Pikmin 2 – GameCube – August 30th
With the release of the GameCube, a few years ago, came an abnormal game; a game where you guided little flowerish creatures referred to as “Pikmin” through back-yard-like environmental puzzles in search of rocket ship pieces from a crash landing that took place early on. Did I mention this is a Miyamoto game? In any case, this zany adventure has returned in the form of a sequel: Pikmin 2. This time around, Captain Olimar has a side-kick to help him guide his little plant-like friends. With added cooperation capabilities with other players, Pikmin 2 promises to be a very interesting title, to say the least. You and a friend will take control of over 60 different types of Pikmin to guide you through what looks to be one of the most fascinating strategy-puzzle games to hit the market. Look for this game the end of August.

Gundam SEED: Battle Assault – GBA – August 10th
Finally! A Gundam game I can fit in my pocket! Gundam SEED: Battle Assault falls under the category of story-line-based-fighter. Similar to the older SNES game, Gundam Wing Endless Duel, Battle Assault will feature numerous different mobile suits from the anime counterpart. Along with all of the characters and ships come the same epic storyline that encompassed the TV series. Players will be able to combat in 7 different modes of play, battling in locations true to the show. Fighting with friends is also made possible through multi-pack linked play. Controls are tight and the big metal robots are highly responsive and even come with individual Special Attacks. This is a game that Gundam and fighting fans alike won’t want to miss out on.

Bottom line: August promises excellent titles all through the month, ranging from sports to first-person-shooters. Even if you’re not into the genres listed, you’ll still find buried treasure in each of these titles. So next time you walk by your local game shop, peek inside and check out these hot new games. If you have a little extra cash (or if you’re like me and need to borrow from your younger brother), pick up a new disc or two; it’ll be worth every penny.

‘Til next month, this has been Dac’s Picks.

Posted By: Dacvak - 1748 Reads

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