August 2003 Archives
Developer: Reflexive Entertainment
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium III 700 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 8 MB video card
Long ago, magic suffused the Earth, and supernatural creatures such as spirits, goblins and titans made of rock wandered the verdant forests. But mankind's facility with magic quickly outstripped his wisdom. A mage of surpassing skill recognized the danger, and inundated the world with water, in an event that became known to all cultures as the flood. For thousands of years, non-humans were banished from the world, and humans had little knowledge of magic. In the closing years of the twelfth century that changed, as the conflict between Christianity and Islam seeded the possible destruction of the mortal world.
Pope Gregory the VIII called for a Third Crusade, ordering Western Europe to seize Jerusalem. Richard "the Lionheart" (King of England) joined Philip of France, ultimately laying siege to the city of Acre. Disaster set in when one of Richard's advisors (a disguised demon) convinced Richard to gather together holy artifacts for a ritual to bless the crusaders and curse their foes. The advisor also convinced Richard to slay three thousand prisoners when Saladin failed to pay tribute. Together, the two acts began a demonic ritual that brought about the Disjunction – a catastrophic return of magic to the mortal world. Thus, in the summer of 1191, history branched, creating a world in which dragons torment the populace, demons and daevas stalk the land, the islands of England are shattered and citizens of the world are increasingly tainted by magic and exhibit unnatural traits.
Now the year is 1588. Expeditions sent to the New World have been repelled by powerful magics and returned broken. The Inquisition is working to eliminate practitioners of magic, and humans with obviously magic-tainted heritage are scorned and abused. The Spanish are assembling an Armada to assault the English, who refuse to completely denounce magic and embrace the Inquisition. Mongol hordes have pressed across Europe, and their goblin-comprised forces have nearly reached the walls of Barcelona, Spain. For all the despair in Europe, even darker forces are rising in power, assembling ancient and powerful relics for their own nefarious purposes. According to Nostradamus, the fate of the world depends upon a "spinning coin," by which he means a distant descendent of Richard the Lionheart, who hosts a spirit that aided Richard nearly four hundred years earlier.
Like swallows returning to San Capistrano or buzzards to Hinkley, Ohio, I have returned to my native land &ndash Texas. While FI headquarters remains in New York (at least until I persuade them of Texas' virtues), one of the majesties of modern telecommunications is that home base can be anywhere you are. I am a one-man mobile outpost. I assume it is only a matter of time before I turn into a Snow Crash gargoyle, collecting and disseminating information, spewing data back to central command with the hope that some of it proves useful. Or perhaps I'm getting carried away. Nevertheless, the idea of maintaining a Texas outpost strikes me as an amazing thing. That paperless office that technophiles promised the world is nowhere in sight, but, at least for folks in a business like ours, the mobile office is very much a reality. In any event, in celebration of my return to the mother country, permit me to blurt "y'all" loudly. Y'ALL!
Developer: Pivotal Games
Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation 2, PC
Reviewed on Xbox
Late in World War II, the most skilled Allied escape artists held by Axis forces were relocated to Stalag Luft III. Luft III was created to be proof to escape, and was intended to conserve the resources of the Third Reich by focusing the best troops on the most clever prisoners. Based on a true story, the 1963 film The Great Escape told the story of an epic plan to break hundreds of prisoners out of Luft III. Now the game follows the prisoners' ringleaders through the events that got them interned in Luft III, and their efforts to flee Germany while simultaneously disrupting the German war machine.
Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation and PC
Reviewed on PlayStation 2
Codemasters puts the official Indy Racing League license through its paces with this IndyCar driving simulation. Inside you'll find actual drivers and courses modeled for both quick races and full seasons, as well as a master class designed to teach you how actual Indy races are won and lost.
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium II 400 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 8 MB video card, 550 MB HD space, Warcraft III installed
The land of Azeroth has recently been cleansed of the threat posed by the Burning Legion at the climactic Battle of Mount Hyjal, but the world is not at peace. With their common foe dispatched, the alliance between the Humans, Night Elves and Orcs has become tenuous. Each group is husbanding their resources carefully, healing wounds inflicted upon their people and the land. As the humans grow increasingly xenophobic, the former Night Elf Demon Hunter Illidan Stormrage has forged an alliance with a new power from the depths of the sea, and with a master who could yet tear Azeroth apart.