Back To The Noughties
Nick has touched down in January 2002. It’s a brand new-year people!
The gaming press rang in the new year with cries of, “It’s the second coming!” – for indeed, Metal Gear Sold 2: Sons Of Liberty had finally arrived in the form of a shiny PS2 disc. After what seemed like endless hype, the game arrived and it was best described as divisive. Edge awarded the game 8/10, asserting that “the level of detail that has gone into this is staggering”, but noting that “ignoring most of the game’s hints […] and relying on your intelligence instead makes this a significantly better game”. It did also note that it “feels as though it would be much happier being a film”, but praises it for including “some of the most convincing cinematic sequences seen in a videogame”. Notably, Edge’s review featured exclusively first-person shots and screenshots showing Solid Snake, never letting on that Raiden is in fact the main protagonist of the game. Gamesmaster adopted a similar approach to spoilers on the first three pages of its review, before spilling the beans on the fourth. It lavished praise on the game, handing out a whopping 96% score despite criticisms of control, the plot and the use of cutscenes – the last of which it bemoaned with the claim, “You spend as much time watching and waiting to do something in MGS2 as playing it.” Still, the mag claimed that it would be wrong to pick holes in a masterpiece, and that MGS2 was “one of videogaming’s greatest moments to date”.
Play’s impression, though certainly not negative, was not nearly as effusively positive. The magazine might not have gone so far as to declare the emperor to be shockingly nude, but it was definitely prepared to say that his clothing was not as seasonally appropriate as advertised. It also went straight in with the Raiden reveal, comparing it to “paying to see a Bond film before discovering that 007’s only in it for the exciting intro”. The magazine complained about sequences reprising the original Metal Gear Solid, feeling that they “ultimately serve to pad out genuinely inventive content in a rather obvious manner”. The story
was also criticised as being “woefully inept, consisting of such high-calibre nonsense that there’s absolutely no point following it”, and the reviewer asserted that “Kojima-san has not the slightest notion of how to deliver narrative in a manner appropriate to any medium known to man”. Ultimately, the game was awarded 77% and described as “the Metal Gear for which Kojima bravely discarded the rulebook to create a game which is both simultaneously fantastic and absurd”.
Major releases for the new consoles on the block dominated review sections elsewhere. The visually astonishing Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader was awarded 87% in Gamesmaster, with reviewer Geraint Evans praising the game’s “gob-smacking beauty” but criticising it because “the gameplay is pretty much exactly like Rogue Squadron”. Edge felt that the game possessed “first-rate graphics and superlative sound effects” but also “a handful of technical flaws and a number of sloppy game mechanics”, and scored it 7/10. Also on the Gamecube, Super Smash Bros Melee made its import debut. Gamesmaster loved the party brawler and gave it 94%, asserting that the game’s multiplayer appeal and plentiful options meant that it “won’t have the stench of staleness until, ooh, at least 2008”. That estimation seems rather conservative in hindsight. Edge wasn’t so keen and gave it
6/10, describing the game as having “question marks over the subtlety of strategy”, being “riddled with the problems of its predecessor” and being “ultimately monotonous”.
Fans of the Xbox got their first great fighting game with the arrival of Dead Or Alive 3. Edge praised the game design, noting that it makes “graceful, balletic combat seem simultaneously so attainable yet so, so far away”, and that, “Patience, control and observation are as crucial as timing and memory.” Yet the reviewer awarded the game 7/10, due primarily to the scarcity of new content, noting that series veterans would be “contented rather than elated”. XBM felt that it was the best fighting game on any machine and awarded it 8.6/10, with the reviewer particularly impressed by the “mind-blowing visuals”. Readers were also reassured that they could “perv away at some of the largest virtual chest pillows you’re likely to see this side of a Tomb Raider game”, because apparently it’s impossible to talk about Dead Or Alive without bringing that up.
Return To Castle Wolfenstein was the biggest PC game of the month, described by Gamesmaster as “the digital Blitzkrieg we’ve all been waiting for” in a 94% review. Ever contrary, Edge gave it 6/10, feeling that “the game embodies the pure-pc shooter, acting as both its paragon and its scapegoat.” Over on the old Playstation, still chugging along despite its age, David Beckham Soccer couldn’t break the dominance of FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer – Gamesmaster gave it a score of 61% and complained of visual ugliness and unimpressive AI.
Join us again next month as we look towards the local launch of the Xbox and that odd season where nothing’s really coming out because all the publishers wanted to hit Christmas. It will be thrilling.
[Playstation] David Beckham Soccer possessed none of the skill or flair of the man who endorsed it.
[PC] Return To Castle Wolfenstein was unapologetic about its old-school PC roots.
[PS2] Evidence of Kojima’s genius, or overhyped letdown? The press couldn’t decide.
[Xbox] We’d sympathise with Zack, who is about to get punched in the face, but he probably deserves it.
[Gamecube] Who would have guessed that Melee would gain a competitive audience and remain popular in 2018?