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1995-2000
GamesFirst! Magazine

Sarah's E3 2001 Picks:
PlayStation 2

 

Xbox       Multi-Platform     GameCube

ICO
State of Emergency
Twisted Metal: Black
Simpsons: Road Rage
James Bond 007 in...Agent Under Fire
NBA Street
Herdy Gerdy
Silent Hill 2
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy

How to use these lists: You'll notice that each of the lists are preceded by an index of the titles covered. Click on those titles and you'll get to a blurb about each game. At the top of the blurb, the title is again linked, but this time the link leads to a preview page where you can get more screens and (usually) more in-depth coverage of the game, including the release date.

ICO
stairs-01.jpg (6932 bytes)ICO (pronounced "eye-ko") made my best of E3 list last year. It never hit the stores, but this year it’s back and better at E3. Last year I had a thing with comparing everything to Resident Evil (please forgive me), and I mistakenly said that ICO was kind of like Resident Evil. Talk about crummy journalism. ICO is much more innovative than that. It tries to include something from every game genre: RPG, strategy, puzzle, fighting, adventure, and more! You play as Ico you’re generation’s horned boy. Having horns is not as cool as it sounds, at 12 years old you’re slated to be sacrificed to cleanse your community. But before that fate befalls you, Ico slips into a dream about the princess. Ico must save the princess from the evil queen, thereby saving all the land. The problem is that the princess is a bit of an idiot and needs constant help and attention. ICO includes a controller button completely devoted to calling the princess and holding her hand, and many of the game’s strategies and puzzles stem from the problems caused by leading the very dense princess around. If she is left by herself too long the queen’s evil sprits will come and encompass her, and sometimes they’ll be bold enough to attack her while she’s with Ico. The game play rewards cleverness over strength and encourages protecting the princess over attacking the bad guys. The story itself is interesting and original: is it real, is it Ico’s dream, or is Ico already dead? It sounds a lot like Occurrence at Owl Creek. SCEA has succeeded at making a game that looks and plays like no other.

State of Emergency
SOEimage0.jpg (7913 bytes)State of Emergency emulates sheer pandemonium. It is the near future and the evil ATO (American Trade Organization) has declared a state of emergency in their plot for world wide domination. You are just a normal citizen braving the urban riot torn streets in search of justice, or a really nice and easily looted TV set. The ATO can only be brought down by one thing, utter chaos, and it’s up to you to create it. I like to think of State of Emergency as a super brawler; you can fight through swarms of cops, giant SWAT teams, and hoards of fellow rioters. State of Emergency promises street brawls with over 100 characters at a time. The environment is loaded with weapons, from flame throwers and rocket launchers, to dismembered legs and cash registers. The more mayhem you create, the better, and don’t worry -- the violence is not life-like. The characters and settings look a lot like the cartoony style of Dreamcast’s Crazy Taxi. If you’ve ever fantasized about running amok, this is your game: cut loose, run wild, get State of Emergency.

Twisted Metal: Black
tmb1.jpg (6015 bytes)The original Twisted Metal team is now gathered under SCEA, and man does TM:B look good. It seems like it’s been years since we’ve been able to play a decent car battle game. Sure there have been many Twisted Metal imitators (a few published under the Twisted Metal name), but none have been as playable as the real deal. Don’t expect big changes; the fighting system is the same as well as the general premise (kill all the other cars). The graphics have been greatly improved, the frame rate is screaming, and the levels are bigger, badder, and more detailed than ever. The PS2 has been waiting for this type of multi-player deathmatch game to come along, and it is finally here. Twisted Metal: Black isn’t an innovative game but it is a highly playable game, and it is a must have for any multi-player fan.

Simpsons: Road Rage
Almost nothing tickled me more at E3 than Simpsons: Road Rage. I was so happy to see a Simpsons game that looked playable. Simpsons: Road Rage actually looked more than playable, it looked downright fun. I’m a huge Simpsons fan and over and over I’ve been crushingly disappointed in the quality of the Simpson’s games. Let’s not even talk about the Simpson’s Wrestling game. But this time Fox has taken a different approach, they’ve taken the gameplay style of Crazy Taxi and worked it into the wacky world of Springfield, USA. The ever evil Mr. Burns has taken over Springfield’s buses and converted them to nuclear power, consequently the fare has been hiked up to $99. The citizens of Springfield have banded together to form a taxi service, to compensate for that lack of buses and to make enough money to buy their public transit back. When I say this game is a lot like Crazy Taxi I really mean it, but Crazy Taxi was a really great game that deserves to be "honored." This game has over 20 playable characters (and yet more cameos); all of the Simpson favorites will be there each with there own catch phrases and style. I just found it super cool to drive around Springfield, drop Apu off at the Kwik-E-Mart and get Willie back to his shack behind the school. Finally a Simpson’s video game worth playing. This game is a must for any Simpsons fan, but it might be fun for anyone that enjoyed Crazy Taxi (which in my mind should be everyone with a console and a pulse).

This game will also be released on the Xbox.

James Bond 007 in...Agent Under Fire
scrn_11-01.jpg (7130 bytes)As I was walking through the immense EA booth at this year’s E3 I caught James Bond 007 in...Agent Under Fire out of the corner of my eye. I was hooked. I was drawn in not by the 007 franchise, but by the killer action happening on the screen. As I picked up the controller I was immediately thrown into the hottest car chase I’ve ever had the pleasure to play. I wasn’t driving, but it was up to me, my machine gun, and my rocket launcher to fend off the bad guys and secure my escape. I launched rockets into the pursuing cars causing massive carnage and giant explosions on the streets. The chase met it’s climax at a fireworks factory adding more fuel to the explosive frenzy. After that five minutes of game play I was truly hooked, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. Agent Under Fire includes more than 10 exotic locations and promises a well-balanced mix of furious action and cunning stealth. Add to that a multi-player mode, more diving levels, lots of 007 spy gadgets, tons of innovative missions, and you’ve got a hell of a game on your hands. If you want lots of action Agent Under Fire is your game, the fact that it’s a Bond game just makes it cooler.

NBA Street
nba_st1-01.jpg (9341 bytes)I’m not a big sports game fan; I’ve always been of the mind that it’s more fun to go outside and play soccer than it is to play it in the living room on the TV. If I can do it in real life, why do I need a video game to emulate it for me? This is not to say that I can perform an excellent bicycle kick or slam dunk a basketball, but I could try. For me video games allow me to do things I could never do in real life, so when I play a sports title I like it to be over the top, if not just downright silly. NBA Jams threw emulation to the wind and came up with a highly playable and additive game that remotely resembled basketball. Well all that was nothing compared to NBA Street. I like to think of it as a basketball game meets a fighting game. EA is pushing this game as "street" and wants all the "ballers" out there to go "hook up" with a copy. To me street has a sense of authenticity, but NBA Street is not at all about real basketball; it’s about special moves, slam dunking, power meters, last minute victories, and super charged lighting. In other words it fulfills all my B-ball fantasies and excludes any of that pesky reality.

Herdy Gerdy
108_herdygerdy-01.jpg (10161 bytes)You play as Gerdy, the apprentice herder. Gerdy’s father has fallen under an evil spell and it’s your job to save him. But in order to save his pop you must master all of the many herding techniques. This is no easy task with 12 unruly island species, each with their own intellects, personalities and behavior patterns to contend with. Herdy Gerdy is no fighting game, it’s an environmental game (like Pikmin or Munch’s Oddysee) where understanding the environment and using strategic thinking solves problems. Acquiring tools, getting guidance and experience from NPC’s, winning challenges, and successfully completing side quests progresses you through the game and closer to Gerdy’s father. This unique gameplay is combined with some of the nicest graphics found on the PS2. The world is complete, highly detailed, ful of life-like characters and animals, and completely loadless. On top of all that it is said to include 27 expansive environments with more than 200 non-playable characters. Herdy Gerdy is on the forefront of the new environmental game genre, and I won’t be surprised if it becomes a gaming classic.

Silent Hill 2
FIGURE5-02.jpg (5008 bytes)Konami is bringing back one of the scariest games ever made, Silent Hill 2 looks like it will have twice the terror of the first installment. While the first Silent Hill was easy to compare to Resident Evil, this second installment has really come into it’s own. (Yes, I did compare them and I’m very sorry about it. I had a problem with comparing everything to RE, but I’m over it now.) You play as James, and James has just been summoned to Silent Hill by his dead wife. The killer creepy ambiance of the first game is back with a vengeance in this follow-up title, but this time the action is way more intense. James is armed with a flashlight, but the comforting glow only illuminates a small chunk of the screen at a time. The darkness outside the light is full of ghouls and the worst things your imagination can come up with. The darkness breeds paranoia and lends itself to overall scariness of Silent Hill. Judging by the few cut scenes I’ve gotten a peek at, Silent Hill 2 might be the goriest console game ever. Silent Hill 2 has a slightly more cinematic look to it this time around, mainly due to the beautiful graphics, real time weather effects, and incredible facial expressions of the characters made possible by the power of the PS2. Finally the survival horror genre is alive and kicking on the next-gen systems. Horror movies are for sissies, for some real terror try stepping into the characters shoes and see if you can make it out alive. Silent Hill 2 looks like the scariest story of 2001, scarier than any X-Files or Friday the 13th , even scarier than Tammy Faye’s Eyes.

Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
village-07-01.jpg (7579 bytes)The Naughty Dog team, famous for their excellent Crash Bandicoot series, has been working on Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy for over two years now and all that hard work shows. While it is essentially an action game, Naughty Dog has worked hard to incorporate parts of almost all of the other game genres. From platform puzzle to racing, Jak and Daxter seems to have it all. You play as Jax, who is looking for the solution to his best friend Daxter’s problem. Daxter was knocked into a vat of Dark Eco, some real nasty stuff, which has transformed him into a ferret type creature. Now the two must set off in search of the sage that might be able to transform Daxter back to his real self. The graphics are breath-taking, and to make them more spectacular the world is seamless, no loading. From one end of the world you might be able to see a mountain top, and after five hours of play you might be on that mountain top looking back to your original position. Never before has a world been so complete, so connected, and so full. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy is sure to be a game that makes you glad to own a PS2 or makes you go get one, because this game finally makes the PS2 worth owning.

Xbox        Multi-Platform      GameCube

Sarah Wichlacz

 

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