Back To The Noughties

Retro Gamer - - CONTENTS -

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?

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