July 2004 Archives

Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Mix Max

Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox
Reviewed on PlayStation 2

MTV Music Generator 3 is the third installment in what is arguably the only successful MTV video game franchise, a sequencer simulator for consoles. When it boils right down to it, a console "game" is never going to be as deep as one of the programs professional producers use, such as Cakewalk or Cubase, but the MTV Music Generator audience is comprised of the type of person who is interested in making music but isn't ready to drop a few hundred bucks on professional software. In this respect, MTV Music Generator is a wonderful tool to acclimate a novice to the world of mixing music, but won't turn you into the next DJ Tiesto.

Catwoman Review

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Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Electronic Arts

Platform: PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, PC
Reviewed on PlayStation 2

Patience Philips was once an artist employed by a cosmetics manufacturer. On a simple errand, she stumbles across a dark, corporate secret, for which she's killed and her body left for scavengers. But a supernatural cat named Midnight revives her, endowing her with superhuman cat-like abilities. Gifted with newfound talents (and a skimpy leather costume) Patience goes to exact revenge and halt the release of a dangerous product – as Catwoman!

Publisher: The Adventure Company (DreamCatcher Games)
Developer: Lexis Numerique

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium II 333 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 8x CD ROM, Windows 98 or more recent, 56K or better internet connection

Jack Lorski, a journalist for the SKL Network, has disappeared. The SKL Network produces television and internet video features for news organizations around the world, so it's not unusual for Lorski to be on extended assignment – but this time the SKL Network's CEO received a CD ROM and video clip at his home indicating that Lorski (and a companion) had been kidnapped. Lorski's captor, a man who calls himself The Phoenix, has demanded that the SKL Network release the CD – part of his so-called Great Work – to the public. The Phoenix's goals are mysterious – he has killed before and may kill again – Lorski and his companion may already have become his next victims. But there are hints that they are still alive and that The Phoenix has a message to communicate to the public, in his own sinister way.

After considerable debate, the SKL Network has agreed to distribute The Phoneix's black CD to the public. Accompanied by a white, installation CD that includes security and legal protocols, you are invited to join the community working to decipher The Phoenix's Great Work. Aided by a like-minded troupe, you will have support from folks at the SKL Network and around the world, with whom you can communicate via e-mail or web pages. It remains to be seen if by playing The Phoenix's game you can save Jack Lorski and Karen Gijman, who have been Missing: Since January.

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo

Platform: Game Boy Advance
Reviewed on Game Boy Advance

Mario vs. Donkey Kong may be a remake of a ten-year-old Game Boy game, but it has quite a few more features than we're used to seeing from a GBA port. Particularly if you missed the original, it's hardly noticeable that Mario vs. Donkey Kong is not a completely unique game. The concept and the controls are as fresh as if they had been thought up in a post-Mario and Luigi: Superstar Saga universe.

Gamers have been waiting since 1997 for a true sequel to the PlayStation game Final Fantasy VII. Despite the many Final Fantasy games released since then, none have resolved the events begun in that game. While the final release date is yet unannounced, the sequel is on its way. And it looks as staggeringly beautiful as Square Enix's CG sequences typically look. But it isn't interactive. As many of you have known since this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is a film that will be released on DVD.

Publisher: Encore / JoWooD
Developer: Wings Simulations

Platform: PC
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium 4 1.4 GHz, 256 MB RAM, CD ROM, 32 MB DirectX 9.0b-compliant video card, 1 GB HD space, Windows 98 or more recent

A scant six years from now, world powers like the United States have tired of acting as the world's peacekeepers. As most of the planet's nations have chosen to forgo building up conventional standing armies, mercenaries have taken up the slack, serving as the commanders and foot soldiers in the covert conflicts that spring up around the globe. Purchasing weapons ranging from pistols to tanks to helicopters out of their own paychecks, these mercenaries now do battle in secret wars.

Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Codemasters

Platform: Xbox
Reviewed on Xbox

In some respect, every title is a niche title. No matter how polished the series may be, a hardcore first-person-shooter fan who hates football just isn't going to pick up a copy of Madden NFL 2004. Racing games have always been a popular niche of console games, ranging from arcade-style action, in which you can crash half a dozen times and still finish first, to simulation titles, in which perfect handling and nerves are required for a win. IndyCar Series 2005 is an exacting simulation of a sport that requires hundreds of laps to differentiate between minute differences in skill and equipment. Playing such an exacting game as this requires patience, skill and enthusiasm. IndyCar Series 2005 is a successful recreation of Indy Racing on the Xbox – it's simply that the game is designed for Indy Racing fans, not all Xbox owners.

Publisher: Midway
Developer: Midway Sports/Point of View

Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox
Reviewed on PlayStation 2

From the same family tree that includes NBA Jam and NFL Blitz, Midway presents an over-the-top, adrenaline-infused, arcade-style baseball game in MLB SlugFest: Loaded. Batters or pitchers who are on a roll will burst into flame, proving that they are "on fire," as in Midway's NBA Ballers. Violent fights can break out on the base paths; pitchers will have a number of physics-defying pitches at their command; and fielders can use turbo effects to make gravity-defying leaps at the wall to rob hitters of home runs. Clearly swinging for the fences, Loaded includes a dynasty mode and online play in an effort to compete with the more down-to-earth baseball sims available.

Company: Saitek
Platform: PC

Only a few short years ago, you were a failure as a PC gamer if you didn't have a joystick at least gathering dust somewhere on your desktop. How else could you have hopped into your X-Wing fighter or taken on a Kilrathi ace in style? Of course, most of those joysticks were simpler affairs – a stick and a few buttons. These days, joystick-based games for more casual gamers are fewer and farther between than once they were. At the same time, increased computing power has helped games like flight simulations reach a new zenith. And when taking on a game like IL-2 Sturmovik or Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and its numerous add-ons, you don't just need a simple stick. You want hat switches. Lots of hat switches. And a serious throttle – with rudder controls. And buttons (with button combinations) so that you don't even have to touch the keyboard if you don't want to. That's what the Saitek X45 Flight Control System offers.

The Suffering Review

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Publisher: Encore Software
Developer: Surreal Software

Platforms: PC, Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube
Reviewed on PC
Windows System Requirements: Pentium III 1 GHz, 128 MB RAM, 4x CD ROM, 32 MB DirectX 8.0-compliant video card, Windows 98 or more recent

Carnate Island is a grim and desolate place. Located ten miles off Maryland's Atlantic coast, Carnate is currently home to Maryland's highest security prison, and is also where death-row inmates are sent to suffer their final punishment. But you can't say that inmate executions are the worst thing to happen on Carnate. A seventeenth century Puritan village once perpetrated a series of horrific witch burnings, before being disbanded. A slave ship once crashed on the shores of Carnate, and the crew left their captives to be consumed by rats, chained in the hold, rather than be outnumbered by escaped slaves. In 1877, a wealthy family built an isolated estate on the island, which was converted in 1899 into the Carnate Institution for the Alienated. Until it closed, the asylum was presided over by a doctor whose techniques were both radical and cruel.

In the mid-twentieth century, Carnate became a base for the US Army and a prisoner-of-war camp, where a commander is rumored to have ordered firing-squad executions. The Maryland Department of Corrections took over the island and built a prison on and around the remnants of the army base, pressing inmates into labor in nearby stone quarries for brutal, twelve hour shifts. Since becoming a penitentiary, Carnate has played host to executions by electrocution, gas and lethal injection, alongside more casual inmate and guard homicide. For four centuries, people have met gruesome ends on Carnate Island – usually at the hands of others.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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