2003 REDUX – Time Crisis 3

Time Crisis 3

time-crisis-3
Developer(s) Nex Entertainment (as Nextech) [1]
Publisher(s) Namco
Designer(s) Hajime Nakatani (producer), Takashi Satsukawa (director)
Platform(s) Arcade, PlayStation 2, Mobile phone, iOS
Release date(s) PlayStation 2–  October 31, 2003
Genre(s) Rail shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer
Arcade system Namco System 246

 

Joel: What a game, what a series! Any arcade with a Time Crisis machine is a decent arcade in my books. I’d prefer TC2, but 3 is damned good too. I think it’s fair to say I have spent more coins on playing Time Crisis games in the arcade than any other.

So, as you’ll know, this is the replacement for 2003, given the dismal reception we got with Simpsons Hit n Run. I can’t really argue either; this is simply a better game, sorry Mr. Groening.

The Time Crisis games are largely similar to one another, but it’s a great formula so why not? You and your (either AI or real) buddy are enforcers of all things good and wholesome, charged with taking down legions of baddies for whatever reason is relevant to the story. In the case of TC 3, they have occupied the fictional island of Astigos. In this third instalment, your rather mundane pistol is supplemented by a veritable arsenal of weapons comprising a shotgun, machine gun and grenade launcher. Which is great news! The premise is simple enough. Shoot. Don’t get shot.

As some of you may be aware, special arrangements had to be made for this game. As it uses light guns (yup, I have a pukka, beautiful condition pair of G-CON guns) we are forced to use an old-style CRT television to play this game, just to add to the logistical nightmare Rachael will have to deal with on the night. It also meant I had to lug a CRT television all the way across town on the damn bus, which was just awesome.

On the night, we’ll be playing this on a television kindly donated by my parents (though I can’t help but think it was just an excuse for my dad to buy a TFT:)) It will be a bit smaller than what we’re used to but totally worth it.

I’m very fortunate to live walking distance from not one but two arcades with Time Crisis machines so I play this game a lot. I think I’m going to win this one, assuming I retain enough strength to hold the gun that is.

Liam:  So poor old Simpsons: Hit and Run has been the victim of a coup d’état. It’s our fault really. When we started the process we put a prototype list together which was mainly full of placeholders. Simpsons Hit and Run was one of these placeholders that seemed to slip through the net and get into the main list. It was a good game but the multiplayer was very limited and on reflection we agreed that something better could have taken its place.

We had a few great ideas to replace it with (SSX and Mortal Kombat being the main two – although I did try very hard to sneak Tiger Woods Golf in) but we thought that as the proposed games were sequels or similar to games we already had on the list – that we were not 100% confident with any of them being in. We needed something fresh, something that was truly enjoyable and if we were going to make a change then that new game would have to be undeniably excellent. Then we came up with the idea of Time Crisis.

Along with the House of the Dead franchise Time Crisis is the de-facto arcade game of our generation, especially for me as someone who dislikes racing games. Players shoot the screen with a plastic gun to dispatch enemies which controlling the ‘cover mechanism’ with a foot pedal. Many hours of my life were spent in smoky, run down arcades pumping my modest pocket money into a Time Crisis machine so I could hop around in front of a screen with a bright pink plastic gun – the best part being that all the arcade machines had two player ‘link play’ where you and a friend could team up against the nefarious Zagorias Federation – ultimately causing arguments when one of you dies and leaves the other with screen after screen of bad guys.

Sadly the old light gun games that run on home consoles have been made obsolete by advancements in television technology. New LED, LCD and Plasma screens render the traditional light gun ineffective – a huge pain for someone trying to organise a charity game marathon with the additional stress of sourcing an old style CRT monitor required to play this game. Also Rachael will have to pick up the logistical nightmare of swapping TV screens forward and backwards at 3am.

Time Crisis 3 is perhaps unsurprisingly the third in a line of very successful rail shooter from Japan. I’m not 100% sure I have played this version before which should be a nice surprise for me. I did own the original on my PSX so I am pretty familiar with the concept. Really glad this game has forced its way onto the list and I think it will be a very enjoyable hour.

2005 – Need for Speed: Most Wanted

 

Need for Speed: Most Wanted

nfs

Developer(s) EA Black Box
Publisher(s) Electronic Arts
Composer(s) Paul Linford
Series Need for Speed
Engine EAGL 3
Platform(s) Nintendo DS,Microsoft Windows,PlayStation 2,PlayStation PortableXbox,GameCube,Game Boy Advance,Xbox 360PlayStation 3
Release date(s) November 25, 2005
Genre(s) Racingopen world
Mode(s) Single-playerMultiplayer
Distribution CD, DVD, GameCube Game DiscGame Boy Advance cartridge, Nintendo DS Game Card

 

Joel:  Awesome – we’re back on the racing games! I especially like them because Liam’s rubbish at them so they are almost guaranteed wins, though after 22 hours that might not be the case… What’s to say about NFS:MW? Well, according to Wikipedia it’s the ninth release in the franchise, which sounds about right.  I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship with this series – I played a few of the really old ones on PC through and they were alright, if a little arcade-y. The series got a massive overhaul with NFS:Underground which was awesome and horrible at the same time. Pros included Lots of cool cars, lots of customisation options, a pretty large city to roam about and I think it was the first game I played with a decent implementation of a drag race system, where winning was based on decent gear changes and well-timed use of nitrous. The cons however were that you were forced to bolt ridiculous neons and hilariously large spoilers to your car in order to progress, not to mention hideous car paint. The physics were at times infuriating, often resulting in you getting what became affectionately called “nubbed” – this was where your car might clip a tiny nub of scenery and come to a dramatic screeching halt, or flip over or something else equally ridiculous. Anyway, I seem to be talking a lot about the wrong game. The follow-up, NFS:UG2 was basically the same game. I quickly grew to hate it. Then, however, came this, NFS: Most wanted.

After a pretty decent graphical overhaul, a soundtrack featuring rock giants such as Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Killswitch Engage and Mastodon and the removal of Drift mode (I hate drift racing in games… so much) and some physics upgrades we were given a pretty decent game. The premise is reasonably simple: escape the five-o in progressively faster cars whilst they become smarter and more aggressive. There is of course a “story” featuring some melodrama and a little deceitful twist at the end, but as with most of the NFS games, the plot is paper thin and largely irrelevant. Major publications gave this game very decent reviews and rightly so – it is indeed pretty decent.

So I think I’ve got a pretty good chance of coming out on top here. But the pressure will be on as we’re quickly running out of games and if Liams predications are correct, I’ll be a bit behind overall here. Still, we’ll have MarioKart Wii in a couple hours so that should be OK.

 

Liam:  Shockingly I actually quite like this game, although if you have been reading my reviews on the previous driving games you can probably understand why. To me, games like Forza and Grand Turismo are for driving enthusiasts… purists who really care about weight to power ratios and torque. If these games are the anoraks wet dream The Need for speed series (not all of the games in the series, but generally) is more like Top Gear. In fact I am waiting for my caravan destruction mini-game.

NFS:MW is pretty indicative for the series and includes the high octane arcade thrill that fans of the series will recognise. This game was also a launch title for the xbox360 (and I used to own a copy some time ago) and has been recently rebuilt and released. The games plot is awful. Some guff about beating a series of other street racers to win back the BMW you lose in the opening few minutes of the game.

In my not so humble opinion there are two reasons why this far superior to many other driving games:-

1, Visuals. The game looks stunning. We will be playing the PS2 version which is graphically less impressive than the xbox360 version which was a launch title for the console but is still a massive leap forward. The game is slick, colourful and most importantly fast. Neon signs whirl past your screen, reflecting off your paintwork as you whip through checkpoints at breakneck speeds. When you brake, you don’t ease onto the break pedal before slowly pulling away. You use your handbrake, going sideways round the corner revealing the shiny broadside of your suped up motor – complete with lurid graphics and neon under-lights. This all happens subconsciously as you concentrate on getting round the tracks but this bombardment of stimuli (aided by a pumping soundtrack) really keeps you on your toes.

2, Pursuits. One of the main mechanics of the game, as you would expect from a street racing game, is that the fuzz occasional get a bit peeved with you dicking about on the public highways and decide to try and stop you. This leads to a Smokey and the Bandit style cat and mouse chase complete with destructible scenery to smash up following police cars. Massive fun!

I think in a straight point to point race I will probably struggle. I am a dab hand at the more creative games though. Speedtrap being my favourite where you set aggregate speed records at various traffic cameras. We don’t know exactly what we are doing with this game yet but I really hope we get a bash at this.

 

2004 – Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel

Combat in Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
Developer(s) Interplay
Publisher(s) Interplay
Series Fallout
Engine Dark Alliance Engine
Platform(s) PlayStation 2Xbox
Release date(s)
  • NA January 14, 2004
  • EU April 2, 2004
  • JP April 28, 2005
Genre(s) Action role-playing game
Mode(s) Single playerMultiplayer
Distribution DVD

Liam: As we have both lamented in previous articles, the decision to cut both single player and PC games from the line up was unavoidable. Sadly this meant the loss of many great games that mean a good deal to me. Fallout Brotherhood of Steel may not be the biggest game, or important in the grand scheme of things but it allows me to bring a little Fallout to the marathon.

I started playing Fallout one in the late nineties after reading a preview in PC Zone and was not disappointed. As well has having a very detailed RPG system with varied playmates promoted by the SPECIAL system allowing players to take various approaches to playing the game. You can go through the game as an evil gun-slinger, dispatching all in your path, a sneaky assassin hiding in the shadows waiting for the perfect opportunity or a silver tongued diplomat. The game itself does force you into combat situations but many aspects of the game can be solved by speech or investing heavily in one of the multiple non-combat skills. Some of the most fun to have in the game is to have a low intelligence play through where the dialogue spoken by your character pays a light-hearted homage to Lenny from Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’. Hilarious when running around one-shotting people in the groin with an electric sledgehammer.

Fallout is set in the aftermath of a massive nuclear war sometime after World War Two. The detailed world created in the game series balances the ‘apple pie’ 1950’s Americana that the world is somehow stuck in, with a bleak, desperate and often quite savage depiction of the post war landscape shadowing the paranoid cold war attitudes at the time. The initial attraction I had to the game was centred around the mature content. Drugs were a vital part of the game, both as a game mechanic improving various statistics and as a social commentary. Drug addiction, manufacture and the organised crime it supports being used as multiple plot devices. Sex and prostitution (homosexual and heterosexual) were rife in the game and it even touches on a false rape allegation. Slavery, torture, kidnapping, extortion, the Mafia, gambling, alcohol abuse… they all had a part to play in the Fallout world, sometimes with an element of humour but always with that desolate feeling bubbling underneath.

After Fallouts massive success a sequel was developed by Interplay and Black Isle imaginatively named Fallout 2 – considered by many including myself to be the best in the series. Interplay continued to develop two spin offs, this game and Fallout Tactics before the IP was acrimoniously acquired by Bethesda who took the franchise away from it’s isometric, turn based roots with the still very excellent Fallout 3 a decade after the original. Fallout New Vegas was released two years later developed by Obsidian Entertainment, staffed by many original Black Isle developers.

I have a feeling that playing this game for one hour is not going to do it justice. I’m hoping that my knowledge of the series (although I have not played this game) will help me a great deal.

 

Joel: This is a bit of an odd one – Despite being a fan of the Fallout franchise, I’d somehow managed to go about my life without even knowing this existed until Liam suggested playing it when we were deciding on the list. I’ve put a lot of time into Fallout 1 and 2 and recently gave Fallout 3 a go – I’d owned it for years but knowing it would likely consume a serious portion of my life I’d put off starting it – within 3 hours of starting it, my PS3 died. My second PS3 died, more specifically. So because I’m superstitious, that’s gone back on the shelf, where it will probably stay until you can buy a PS3 for less than £50. Which is a shame, I was enjoying it as much as I thought I would. But we’re not here to talk about that.

So with Liam not having played it either, it seemed prudent to have a go on it, get a feel and come up with some reasonable challenges for the night. Rachael kindly jumped in to be my player two and we set to it. It’s actually pretty good, once you get used to the weird third person, top down viewpoint. It’s quite similar to the previous iterations, you interact with NPCs, achieve objectives, develop your character’s stats and all that good stuff. The only real differences are the viewpoint and the combat not being turn based, though you can opt to do that once combat has started, but honestly it made the game quite slow and clunky.

Two player mode is exactly the same as single player except for the fact that there are two of you. As you would expect from a Fallout game, there is a lot of story and the progression is fairly slow, at least to begin with. The time we’ll have to play this will really only allow for the completion of the first main objective – clearing a large warehouse of radscorpions and giant rats, but it’s good fun, presents a reasonable number of potential metrics for measuring a “winner” and has the added bonus of the boss fight music being a Killswitch Engage track – I’ve got a lot of time for that! We’ll have to press pretty hard and skip a lot of the cutscenes to achieve it within the hour. This, however, is not the end of the world as it means avoiding interactions with possibly the most annoying NPC I’ve ever “met” – the delightfully named “Armpit the bartender.” John Mariano has a lot to answer for. He makes Navi from Zelda seem like a pleasure.

This is going to be one of the less heated games in our list. Although we will be competing in some ways, friendly fire is ineffective and we can only complete our main objective by working together. We Haven’t fully decided on the challenges – it may be XP/level based, kills based, item based – we just don’t know yet. I wouldn’t like to call a winner ahead of time here as we are both pretty green on this one. Definitely looking forward to it though and to playing it properly after the marathon as it really does seem pretty good.

2003 – The Simpsons: Hit and Run

The Simpsons Hit & Run

 Hit and Run
Developer(s) Radical Entertainment
Publisher(s) Vivendi Universal Games
Distributor(s) Fox Interactive, Gracie Films
Designer(s) Debi Laezman, Darren Evenson, Chris Mitchell. Joshua Mitchell, Jeff Plumbly, Sheik Sahib
Artist(s) Vincent Chin, Jaroslav Chorny, Anshin Chu, Dustin Condie, Brad Dixion, Kevin Fink, Aryan Hanbeck, Eric Madill, Mike Marraffa, Sanela Mickovic, Robert Peet, John Zhongyi Wang, Ross Young
Writer(s) Matt Selman, Tim Long, Matt Warburton
Composer(s) Swallow Studios (Marc Baril)
Platform(s) PlayStation 2, Xbox,GameCube,Microsoft Windows
Release date(s) PlayStation 2, Xbox & GameCube
NA September 16, 2003 EU October 31, 2003 AU 2003 (PS2)  JP December 25, 2003 (Xbox)
Genre(s) Action-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Distribution CD-ROM, DVD-ROM,Nintendo optical disc

Joel: I played a few of the early Simpsons games (anyone remember Bart vs the Space Mutants??) over the years and was fairly unimpressed. I remember spending a fair bit of money playing an upright cab in a restaurant in Ibiza once, many moons ago, but I don’t recall which (Simpsons) game it was and I think it may have been borne out of desperation for something to do that I spent so much on it. So when I received Simpsons Hit and Run as a Christmas present one year, I was a little apprehensive. I have to say though, on first glance, I was pretty impressed. The main menu screen is a dynamic scene of the Simpsons’ living room, which changes theme on special occasions like Xmas and Hallowe’en -Which brings a wee smile to the face.

Firing up the single player mode, you’re provided with a decent length, well-polished cutscene to set the story in motion (something to do with townspeople being spied upon by large robotic camera-wasps or something IIRC) and you’re off. The actual gameplay, graphically, is a pretty decent representation of Springfield and its residents. The city is on a fairly large scale for a game of this age and as you would expect of any Simpsons brand product, the attention to detail and inside jokes are all there. The objective of the game really is to get to the bottom of and ultimately stop the aforementioned wasp-powered spying, gallivanting about the place GTA-style. Sadly I never made it to the end of this game and not for a lack of trying. I’ve had it for at least eight years and still can’t beat the same point in the game, to my eternal shame. But I had a good time trying, visiting all the landmarks, finding the hidden gems and interacting with all the various Springfieldians.

Apparently you have to reach a certain point in the game to unlock the multi-player mode. I don’t remember this specifically, but I’m sure I have already unlocked it. I will check before we go live, naturally. But… The reason I think this is because I’m sure I’ve already played it. I think they are sort of top-down mini races, not remarkably related to the single player mode, or even the Simpsons really. More like the Micro Machines games.

2003 was a tough year to decide on – There were a good number of notable releases – Max Payne 2, Silent Hill 3, Midnight Club II, Devil May Cry 2 to name just a few, but there were reasons against many of them being used – we may already have had another game from the franchise, being single player only or, tragically, being PC based. We decided early on to avoid PC games because the last thing we need “on the night” is for some game to inexplicably crap out because it’s running on something modern. Personally, I would have picked something else if I could, but we couldn’t find anything better. Though I have just spotted that both SSX3 and Time Crisis 3 came out this year… Shame the old light-guns won’t work on modern TVs.

Liam: Bit of an odd one this one. Generally TV/Movie game tie ins have left us with some of the worst games in the history of gaming – as anyone who has played King Kong will happily testify. The Simpsons franchise has led to 26 games currently, of which I am ashamed to say I have played around twenty of, and a few are surprisingly quite good (Bart Simpsons Vs. The Juggernauts being my personal favourite). The game itself may not be the most memorable game on our list, but there is no denying that if you have grown up in the past 30 years the Simpsons is a cultural behemoth that deserves recognition. Many of the games have heavy involvement by the Simpsons scriptwriters and some of the shows humour seep through into the playing experience.

The single player game is pretty fun, an open world adventure and driving game which plays a little like a tame grand theft auto. The multiplayer mini-game which we will be playing on the night is also pretty fun. It’s a very simple top down racing game where you can play as any of the four main Simpsons characters (I assume Maggie is in the car next to marge playing with her pretend steering wheel) and for no reason at all – Apu. Not that I have anything against Mr Nahasapeemapetilon, in fact he is one of my favourite characters in the show and I would be playing as him, but his inclusion here as the only non-Simpson character always seemed a little odd. If anyone it should be Hank Scorpio! If any video game developers are reading this you should totally make a wacky races Simpsons games, and Hank Scorpio should be in it. I would buy it.

2003 was a bit of an odd year for us, we put this game in as a placeholder as we already owned a copy and just plain forgot to review it afterwards. We are still considering picking up a Gamecube and playing Mario Party 5 or switching to either SSX tricky, Mortal Kombat or Tiger Wood Golf. It’s still under discussion so we may be losing the Simpsons and switching to another game – watch this space. For the meantime through Springfield’s famous residents will be a good diversion for an hour.

Scorpio!
He’ll sting you with his dreams of power and wealth.
Beware of Scorpio!
His twisted twin obsessions are his plot to rule the world
And his employees’ health.
He’ll welcome you into his lair
Like the nobleman welcomes his guest
With free dental care and a stock plan that helps you invest!
But beware of his generous pensions
Plus three weeks paid vacation each year
And on Fridays, the lunchroom serves hot dogs and burgers and beer!
He loves German beer!

2000 – Tekken Tag Tournament

Tekken Tag Tournament

 Tekken Tag Tournament
Developer(s) Namco
Publisher(s) Namco EU SCEE
Director(s) Katsuhiro Harada (voice actor)
Series Tekken
Platform(s) Arcade, PlayStation 2,PlayStation 3
Release date(s) Arcade July, 1999
PlayStation 2JP March 30, 2000 NA October 26, 2000 EU November 24, 2000

PlayStation 3 (Tekken Hybrid)NA November 22, 2011EU November 24, 2011 EU November 25, 2011 JP December 1, 2011

Genre(s) Fighting
Mode(s) Single-player, Multiplayer
Media/distribution CD-ROM, Blu-ray (Tekken Hybrid)
Cabinet Upright
Arcade system Namco System 12

Liam: When Bryan Adams sang that he played it til his fingers bled, I always assumed he was talking about Tekken Tag Tournament. I certainly am, when I get drunk and sing karaoke.

Smashing our way into the naughties – Tekken Tag hit a perfect sweet spot with me. Tekken 3 was probably the finest fighting game up until that point, TTT took it just a little step further utilising that same engine with the PS2 hardware and expanding the roster. The tag team fight system created an element of strategy to the fighting that brought an extra level to the game – not enough to detract from the core mechanics but enough to make it more interesting.

Myself and Joel were both pretty handy at this back it the day and one thing is for certain, neither of us are anywhere near as good as we used to be at this game. We actually managed (playing as a tag team) to beat the game on the hardest difficulty multiple times with me playing as Hwoarang and Joel as Yoshimitsu. We had the benefit of literally hours of this game non-stop always playing as random characters. That was the best thing about a cast of around twenty or so fighters meant that no two fights were the same and we got to learn the relative merits of all the fighters. Sadly it also meant every once and a while someone drew Eddy – fuck Eddy.

I actually used to think I was quite good at Tekken, that was before I saw the level people play to online. People take this game very seriously with frame timings down to split seconds making all the difference. Personally I always feel that momentum has a large part to play in games like this. The winner of a fight is the one that controls and bosses the momentum with even fights few and far between.

Joel: For me, this is the crown jewels of beat-em-ups. I haven’t played a better one than this.

Featuring just about every character (to-date) from Tekken lore, this game had more player choice than anything before. That, coupled with a kick-ass soundtrack and upgraded graphics, meant this one was in for the long haul. If you were in my circle of friends in the early 2000’s, you had to be good at Tekken and Tony Hawks PS – that was about all we did in those days. The feeling of absolute superiority when “Doing a room” (beating everyone present, back to back, without a loss) was great, especially when you had four or five people playing. The only downside was having to relinquish the controller afterwards, though that did free up your hands for a victory celebration of your choosing.

It got to the point where we decided that we would always have to play with randomly selected characters rather than our chosen favourites – this added an interesting new dimension – and meant learning a lot of moves. Given that Liam and I have pre-chosen our teams for the 8-man team battle, some of that challenge should be eased but for the rest of the hour I suspect we will be doing randomly generated tag teams so it will be very interesting to see how many of the moves have stuck in memory.

Given that I’ve been playing TTT:2 since xmas AND Tekken Revolution comes out TOMORROW :D, I have much more recent play experience than Liam so I’m hoping this will give me the edge, but I’m going to need any advantage I can grab, as Liam is certainly a formidable Tekken’er. Time will tell…