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Retro Gamer - - CONTENTS -

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.

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