July 2001 Archives
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium 133 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 4 MB 3D video card, 4x CD-ROM
Grim Fandango describes itself as "An epic tale of crime and corruption in the land of the dead," and it truly is. The game combines Mexican folklore and film noir crime drama to create a stylized experience that is as engrossing as it is entertaining. The game's protagonist, Manny Calavera, is a travel agent for the Department of Death. All souls must journey through the underworld to come to their final resting place. Depending on the quality of one's life, that journey can be fast by express train, pleasant on a luxury ocean liner, or on foot through perilous terrain. As more-than-mortal perils lurk in the land of the dead that could prevent a soul from ever achieving rest, the cushier the journey, the better. The Department of Death is responsible for harvesting souls that have recently met their demise (a task for which Manny has a Grim Reaper outfit with his own scythe), and fixing them up with a mode of transportation that befits the quality of their life. Manny is hoping to harvest and help enough good souls to earn himself an easy trip to his final rest (financed with commissions on each ticket).
Oddly enough, Manny only ever seems to collect the dregs of humanity, and appears doomed to spend eternity without a decent commission. When Manny steals a good lead, he stumbles upon a conspiracy that has doomed good souls to eternal slavery and given their just rest to the wicked. Obviously in love with his scooped client, Mercedes Colomar, Manny sets out to save her, and by doing so, untangle the web of deceit that strangles the underworld. Along the way, Manny learns to give florists a wide berth.
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium II 166 MHz, 32 MB RAM, 2 MB video card, 220 MB HD space
The Longest Journey is the story of April Ryan, a young art student recently arrived at the vast metropolis of Newport. Having fled a troubled family life, April is living and studying in Venice, an anachronistic neighborhood of Newport mostly inhabited by students and the homeless, and characterized by sludge-filled canals. Initially, April's greatest concerns are the occasional nightmare and an art assignment for an upcoming exhibition. Her life quickly gets out of hand.
As events overtake her, April discovers that the Earth was split into two parts in the distant past. One world, April's world, was left to pursue science, while the other followed a course of magic. These worlds are held in harmony by an ancient Balance, protected by a Guardian. Each Guardian watches the balance for one thousand years from an inaccessible tower. When the current Guardian's replacement failed to materialize, he was forced to abandon his post, lest he lose his soul. Without a Guardian, both worlds are rapidly falling out of Balance, and into a state of Chaos.
April is a Shifter – a rare individual with the talent to pass between Stark (the Earth of science) and Arcadia (the Earth of magic). She must reconstruct the magical key that opens the Guardian's tower, and restore the Balance to all things.
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Diablo II, Pentium 233 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 1.75 GB HD space (including Diablo II installation, 4x CD-ROM
You have defeated Mephisto and Diablo, but Baal, Lord of Destruction, escaped your clutches... until now. This add-on package for Diablo II brings you a brand new Act V to explore, two new character classes (Assassin and Druid), a king's ransom of new items and treasure, improved hirelings, and... 800 x 600 resolution. Call in sick to work – you've got some playing to do.
At least since the advent of fighting games like Mortal Kombat and first person shooter (FPS) games like Doom, both individuals and groups have expressed concern over the effects of video game violence on the mental and emotional development of the children who play them. For such individuals, the Columbine High School shootings confirmed what they already knew. As it spread through the media that the two teen Columbine killers had played FPS games (what other games they played went unreported), mere concern and uneasiness about violent video games hardened for these people into moral certitude. According to them, whatever other events may be contributing to violence in our society, these video games are certainly part of the problem.
It is not the purpose of this article to debate the merits of the proposition that violent video games breed violent children. For these purposes, the important points are that some people believe this proposition to be true, and, among them, those with legislative and judicial power have undertaken to act upon their belief. Two responses, one in the U.S. and one in Germany, to the "threat" of violent video games form the subject of this article. It is worth noting that while the actions in both countries were confined to the (attempted) regulation of arcade games only, there is no particular reason why the logic of these actions would not also apply to console and PC games.