Back To The Noughties
Nick’s time machine stops off in December 2001. Care to join him?
Who’s bad? Microsoft’s bad, where bad is used in the colloquial sense meaning ‘jolly good, actually’. The first batch of Xbox reviews arrived in December and the clear leader of the pack was Bungie’s landmark first-person shooter, Halo. Edge elected to award a full 10/10, an award previously given out just three times. The game was praised for fine control, AI which “constantly creates situations similar to Half-life’s best setpieces” and multiplayer which surpassed Goldeneye as the standard for the genre on consoles. Most of the other early games fared well, too. Project Gotham Racing and Amped each got 8/10 scores and Oddworld: Munch’s Oddysee received 7/10. Bringing up the rear was Fuzion Frenzy, which received 3/10 and was described as offering “no imagination, no innovation, no impact, no fun”.
If you liked Microsoft products but hadn’t been convinced by the console, then you were in for a treat – as long as you liked strategy games. Civilization III had arrived to claim the lives of anyone not already consumed by the previous game. Edge gave the game 9/10, praising it for its focus on cultural creativity, noting that the game offered “those players of a more passive persuasion an alternative to the spear and the stealth bomber”. Science fiction fans may have been more enamoured with Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds, which PC Zone awarded 84%. Reviewer Keith Pullin felt that although it was just “Age Of Empires II with Star Wars graphics”, the game was “a coup for Star Wars anoraks” and “a fine RTS game”. He also liked space strategy game Conquest: Frontier Wars, awarding it 82%, and Rhianna Pratchett was enamoured with Command & Conquer Red Alert 2 expansion pack Yuri’s Revenge, which she said “renewed my zeal for the style and all-round gaming experience of playing a Westwood title” in an 80% review.
PS2 owners were in for a delightful Christmas. Criterion’s arcade racer Burnout was hailed as a “much-needed adrenaline-filled syringe passionately thrust into the exhausted heart of the videogame racing community” in
Edge’s 8/10 review, and it scored 77% in Play. Edge also awarded 8/10 to firstparty offerings Jak & Daxter and Ico, and 6/10 to Time Crisis II – something
Play disagreed with, offering 90% for Namco’s lightgun game. Half-life also arrived on the system to a 7/10 from Edge and 92% from Gamesmaster. Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 was good but couldn’t live up to the high standard of its predecessor, earning 76% from Play and 6/10 from Edge. Play felt that Capcom Vs SNK 2 was worthy of a mighty 95% score, describing it as “the best 2D fighting game ever released”, despite criticising the poor 50Hz PAL version. The oddity of the bunch this month was Sega’s abstract on-rails synesthesia-inducing shooter Rez, which received a 9/10 review from Edge and was described as “a creation with a demonstrable cultural significance”.
Rez was also available for the Dreamcast, and the system was clearly going down in a blaze of glory. The system’s final Christmas offered up the superb sports sequel Virtua Tennis 2, which got 8/10 from Edge and 92% from Gamesmaster, with the latter praising the game for its “brilliant mix of minigames and tournament options”. The long-awaited Shenmue II also arrived and was awarded 90% by Gamesmaster and 8/10 by Edge, the latter of which called Ryo Hazuki’s trip to Hong Kong “a vast and rewarding experience”. 17 years on, we’re still waiting for that sequel. Speaking of formats in decline, Playstation owners were treated to Syphon Filter 3, which received 9/10 from Jamie Dolling in Official Playstation Magazine. The stealth action sequel was lauded as “the best title to hit Playstation for some time” and was reportedly “resoundingly replayable”. The magazine also gave Worms World Party 8/10, despite the lack of online features seen on other systems, and Play was suitably pleased, too, giving it 78%.
Still, it was hard to ignore the games on the newer platforms that would define the coming years. Nintendo’s lightweight strategy game Pikmin proved to be another solid addition to the Gamecube’s early lineup, scoring 7/10 from Edge and 87% from Gamesmaster. Reviewing the game for the latter, Mark Green felt that the game’s simplicity worked in its favour, commenting that, “It’s not even a tenth as complicated as Starcraft and the like, and that’s why we love it.” Strategic shenanigans were going on elsewhere in the Nintendo universe, too, with the cutesy turn-based game Advance
Wars receiving 9/10 from Edge. The magazine was full of praise, describing the battles as “tense, yet fascinating” and the game as a whole as “the game the GBA was made for”.
So much for 2001, then. What’s coming up in 2002? The Xbox and Gamecube make their way to new territories, Samus Aran returns, Disney meets the Final Fantasy universe and Rockstar goes totally Eighties. Oh, and we finally get a new batch of magazines to cover all this good stuff. See you next issue, where we’ll crack on with January.
[Dreamcast] The Williams sisters have had remarkable careers – and they’re going strong today.
[Xbox] Microsoft would have had a much harder time establishing Xbox without a game of Halo’s quality.
[PC] The problem with playing Civ games is that you don’t tend to stop – at least until the next one arrives.
[PS2] Darting between taxis at a crazy angle? Just a regular, everyday stunt for a Burnout player. [GBA] War shouldn’t really be this cute, should it? These people are being blown up!
[Gamecube] If only we could pluck out a disposable earthy army to help take screenshots for the mag.