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1995-2000
GamesFirst! Magazine

Sarah's E3 2001 Picks:
Xbox

 

Multi-Platform     PlayStation 2     GameCube

Munch’s Oddysee
Bloodwake
Halo
Mad Dash
Jonny Drama
Star Wars: Obi-Wan
Fuzion Frenzy

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.

Munch’s Oddysee
munch_cesNEW0121-01.jpg (4470 bytes)If you haven’t heard about this game by now you are so out of the loop. Oddworld was made famous in the PlayStation/PC titles Abe’s Oddysee and Abe’s Exoddus. These 2-D side scrollers were some of the most imaginative and beautiful games to grace the PlayStation. Munch’s Oddysee was going to be released in glorious 3-D on the PlayStation 2, but the Oddworld Inhabitants development team was unhappy with the with the PS2’s hardware and made the controversial switch to Microsoft’s Xbox. They must have made the right choice because this game looks gorgeous. Our old Mudokon friend, Abe, is back this time with his aquatic Gabbit pal Munch. You must play as both characters to defeat the evil Glukkons and save the creatures of Oddworld. Abe plays a lot like he did in the previous games; he can possess the bad guys, use "GameSpeak," but now he can interact with the environments far more than ever before. There are exciting vehicles, new capitalist "weapons," and power-ups that charge special moves. Munch doesn’t have Abe’s powers of possession but he is equipped with a "Sonar Plug" that allows him to jack into the many machines of Oddworld. Oddworld is living breathing world with days and nights, seasons, and dozens of wacky species to interact with. The Xbox is lucky to have such an amazing title coming out at launch. Munch’s Oddysee might just be the most important game ever made. We’ve come a long way from the days of Pong, and Munch’s Oddysee really shows us know just how far.

Bloodwake
Screenshot-05-01.jpg (6323 bytes)I’ve played a ton of driving and shooting games (Twisted Metal) and I’ve played a lot of boat racing games (Hydro Thunder), but I’ve never played a shooting boat game until now. Bloodwake was one of those nice surprises you get sometimes at E3 -- before the show I hadn’t heard any thing about this title, and now I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. You play as a naval lieutenant who has been betrayed by your government. Now a modern day pirate, you fight alongside your outlaw clan trying to restore order to the land. The game is mission-based, you will do everything from attacking and destroying to undertaking stealthy recon missions, all by boat. There are ten different playable boats and lots of different weapons from chain guns and rockets to torpedoes and mines. There is also going to be a multi-player mode with deathmatch as well as team play. The Xbox makes this game really shine; I’ve never seen better water effects. Each boat makes wake that interacts flawlessly with other wakes, the shoreline, and the natural waves in the water caused by the awesome weather effects. The enemy AI is eerily lifelike and the story is captivating. Expect Bloodwake to be a surprise hit on the Xbox this winter.

Halo
Screenshot-07-01.jpg (6437 bytes)There was much buzz about Halo at this year’s E3, Microsoft seemed to be pushing it as the Xbox’s killer app. To me, it looks like it’s the game that will actually get hardcore PC players to shell out the cash for an Xbox. It’s a first person shooter mixed with a lot of vehicular combat. You’ve been sent the alien planet of Halo, to uncover the secrets of the Covenant and to destroy them. Halo is mission based, and missions range from attacking enemy outposts, raiding underground labs for advanced technology, rescuing fallen comrades, and stealing alien vehicles to gaining weaponry and sniping enemy forces. The weaponry available is amazing, stealthy (semi-automatic pistols, alien plasma swords) to powerful (rocket launchers and flame throwers.) The variety in vehicles is just as amazing, jeeps, tanks, buggies, hovercrafts, and even stolen enemy crafts. All of the environments are lush and highly detailed, from realistic interiors to vast outdoor areas. The many multi-player options are sure to delight PC and console fans alike. Halo supports multi-player in either split screen, cooperative, or LAN modes. Two players can play the missions in a cooperative mode, or battle as a team in a deathmatch. Of course there is still the frenzy of free for all deathmatches, with up to eight players supported with two Xboxes. When I say multi-player you might think that you know what I’m talking about, but you don’t. Halo has taken multi-player to a new level for a console system. Whether or not your teammates are real or AI, cooperating with them is essential to succeeding in the game. For instance most vehicles are best utilized with a driver and at least one gunner; most tasks are best divided into subtasks and tackled as a team. Halo is guaranteed to be one of the best-selling Xbox titles this year.

Mad Dash
Screenshot-02-01.jpg (7455 bytes)This Xbox original game mixes frantic kart racing with a 3-D action adventure. Single or multiple players combat race against the evil Hex in a desperate attempt to save themselves. Mad Dash is essentially a kart game without the go-karts; the characters must madly dash to the finish line. Each character has their own special ability that gives them access to special areas, power-ups and shortcuts. Because the characters are not bound to go karts they have more mobility, they can jump, glide, bash, slide, swim, climb, and attack. This freedom allows Mad Dash to transcend the kart genre, if only just a little bit. Like all of the other Xbox titles, Mad Dash has truly beautiful graphics. The animated/interactive backgrounds include killer water and fire effects and the characters are carefully detailed. There are nine characters to choose from and at least eight tracks to race. Every console needs a killer kart racer; good kart racers bring wacky multi-player action into the living room in a way PCs never could. The Xbox in particular needs to emphasize that console feeling if they intend to rival Sony and Nintendo in the living room. Mad Dash is bringing that console feeling to the Xbox on the system’s release date.

Jonny Drama
Screenshot-01.jpg (7389 bytes)Cel shading is all the rage this year, Jet Grind Radio on the Dreamcast showed us just how cool it could be, now many game developers are rushing to utilize this new technology. Cel shading is so because finally games don’t have to look like they were created by a computer, now they can look like they’ve spilled from the hands of a thousand Korean animators. Jonny Drama uses the style to great effect; Jonny is a spy in a ‘60’s world. Think old James Bond meets Austin Powers, rendered in a old Warner Brothers style and you’ve come close to imagining Jonny Drama. It combines the cartoony style of action adventures with the stealthyness of games like Metal Gear Solid and Tenchu. Jonny will have the opportunity to don multiple disguises, use cool spy gadgets, and innovate weapons. Jonny will travel on foot and in vehicles including sports cars, tanks, and UFOs. Jonny Drama also promises to give us cat-suited vixens, troublesome pet monkeys, and evil robot butlers; my god I can’t wait. There will also be a multi-player option to fill out this already action packed game.

Star Wars: Obi-Wan
5-01.jpg (6086 bytes)LucasArts has done this game right; battling with lightsabers has never been better. You play as pre- Star Wars: Phantom Menace Obi-Wan, you must unravel a devious plot that could dramatically shift the balance of power in the universe; an assassin droid project. The story, graphics, and style of Star Wars: Obi-Wan are all top notch, and matched with the power of the Xbox it is sure to be an incredible experience. From Coruscant and Tatooine, to the lush city of Theed, Obi-Wan must use the forces and his saber to bring justice to the universe. The control scheme is unique: the right analog stick works your lightsaber, so for the first time in gaming there’s a real relationship between how you’re moving your hand and how the character moves the weapon on screen. Not only does this give you a greater sense of interactivity, it actually makes fighting easier and personal skill building much more rewarding. Obi-Wan is also able to use the force in many ways: pulling guns out of the hands of enemies, deflecting laser shots, and pulling off the sweetest specials moves. Obi-Wan is one acrobatic guy; his flips and jumps rival his force power in coolness. The special moves are high flying sparkly super combos that are executed in Matrix style slow-mo. The fifteen plus giant levels might not be enough for me; I mean who wants a game that looks this cool to end. I think that this might be the game that makes me feel the coolest. Everyone has wanted to be a Jedi, and you start to really feel like a Jedi after skillfully deflecting a droid’s laser bolt, flipping over a bad guy, slicing into a droid on the right and then left, using the force to pull a gun out of a guard’s hand as you fling your lightsaber right into his chest, still managing to catch the lighsaber on it’s return, then as a grand finale you whip out a special move: in sparkly slow-mo you jump and flip, driving your lightsaber through the necks of four battle droids. Now that’s what I call cool.

Fuzion Frenzy
clusteroids-v1.jpg (5380 bytes)Party games aren’t just for elementary school sleep-overs anymore. Fuzion Frenzy is taking the old Mario Party cuteness and replacing it with adult urban edginess. Grown-ups need not be ashamed any longer when they get the hankering to engage in some mini-game madness. Fuzion Frenzy includes six arenas, more than 45 mini-game, and works with up to four players. It is played in real-time rather than turn based, which means that there is never a dull moment for anybody. The mini games look a little more complex and strategy/skill based than those found in previous party games; but they’re just as fast paced and fun. The graphics are not the center of the show, but they are beautifully rendered and take full advantage of the Xbox’s capabilities. The games are also scaleable meaning that you can easily pick how long you want to play for or just play a mini-game or two. Anyone that’s been stuck playing Sonic Shuffle for four hours knows how important this feature could be. Perhaps Fuzion Frenzy is best described as Windows games meets the closet of unplayed board games. At any rate Fuzion Frenzy is sure to make video party games something that even us refined grown-ups can play.

Multi-Platform      PlayStation 2      GameCube

Sarah Wichlacz

 

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