Starcraft by Blizzard Entertainment

Editor's Rating: 5.0/5
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At the time of this article, StarCraft is 10 years and 10 months old, yet far away from being abandonware. In the past week, Blizzard has released an official patch, probably making it the oldest updated game and last Thursday UC Berkeley started teaching StarCraft courses to its students.. Given the recent buzz, here is GameGoldie’s review of StarCraft!

Overview

This is a real-time strategy game like Age of Empires, Command & Conquer and some of the other titles, such as the Warcraft series, that Blizzard has produced. You play one of 3 races: the humanoid Terrans, the bug-like Zerg or the reptilian Protoss. Each race has its own advantages, with unique units, graphics and personality. There’s actually a fairly well-developed storyline for the game in the players’ guide, with histories of each race and run-downs of the characters you’ll encounter in the campaigns. The setting is 24th-Century futuristic, after Earth citizens have burned themselves out and have migrated to other parts of the galaxy. They run into the Zerg and the Protoss while fighting for planetary dominance on the Galactic Rim.

Read more about StarCraft: how to download and gameplay review with screenshots…

Posted in Real-Time

Snowmobile Racing by GT Interactive & Second South Studios

Editor's Rating: 3.6/5
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Overview

Merry Christmas! Strap on your goggles and open the throttle — Snowmobile Racing brings high-speed snowmobile racing to the PC. This new release from Second South Studios lets you rev up one of five different high-performance sleds and go screaming across the frozen wilderness. While its straightforward approach may not come up to the demanding standards of fans of top-end racing games like Need For Speed III, Snowmobile Racing does provide simple, easy-to-use controls and fast, fun gameplay.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

This is one of the easiest games to play that I’ve seen in a long time. The sled controls are simple enough for anyone to play, even younger kids. After selecting your sled and track, you take off for five laps around one of four tracks ranging from Iowa Farm Fields to a twisting race through Yellowstone Park. More tracks would have been nice, but the four available do provide a good balance of difficulty. There are five snowmobiles to choose from, including the ultimate snow racing machine — the GOAT Highmark. There’s also a hidden sixth vehicle to race — click on the small red ATV in the background of the sled selection screen to tear up the snow on four wheels. You can opt to race alone or race against four computer opponents. At the hardest setting, even experienced racers will find it challenging to beat the computer racers around the more difficult tracks.

A fun arcade racer that will keep you going back to the snow for more.

Posted in Racing

X-Men: Mutant Academy by Activision

Editor's Rating: 3.7/5
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Overview

The X-Men. From comic books to the big screen, these larger than life heroes have been a part of our popular culture for nearly 40 years. A band of mutants led by the pacifistic Charles Xavier (Professor X), the X-Men fight against anti-mutant hysteria and all other forms of racial prejudice.

Mutants, the next evolution of humanity, are appearing everywhere, as human beings express their latent genetic potential. These gifted beings have unique abilities, essentially superpowers, that allow them to perform astounding feats.

Although the X-Men fight prejudice and the trouble it causes, they are not alone among mutantkind. There is another team, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, who seek to raise mutants above humans and usher in a new age of mutant supremacy. The Brotherhood is led by the evil Magneto, a former associate of Professor X. Like all good comic book heroes, the X-Men oppose the Brotherhood and seek to integrate mutantkind and humanity, and prevent a war between them.

Thus is the story set for X-Men: Mutant Academy, where you can play many different heroes and villains from the X-Men comic series. From Cyclops, a mutant that can project energy beams from his eyes, to Magneto, the Master of Magnetism, there are twelve different characters to play. Graduate from the Academy and you might prove your skills as an X-Man. Defeat the Brotherhood and you’ll prove your skills as a hero.

If you are a hardcore X-Men fan, then Activision’s Mutant Academy won’t let you down…

Posted in Fighting, PlayStation

SimCity 3000 by Maxis and EA

Editor's Rating: 4.8/5
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Overview

One of the best in the SimCity series, SimCity 3000 (SC3K) is a very grown-up version of the game with tons of features and a glossy look. One of the best improvements of the franchise is the huge library of actual landmarks included with the game (with more available for download.) It’s kind of cool to have a simple one-horse town with the Arc de Triomphe sitting in the middle of it.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

The control panel has been completely revamped from the preceding version, with an RTS-style playing field surrounded by controls. You also now have a ticker across the bottom of your screen with news and advice from your various advisors, instead of having to monitor the newspaper as in SimCity 2000 (SC2K). Access to charts, maps and graphs is much easier, too. The game speed is easier to control, as each time you load a city you start out in pause mode, and the various speeds aren’t so hugely different from what they were before.

You can even load in cities from SC2K, though there are some things that have been changed that will make them rather different in this version. Otherwise, the basic gameplay is the same as always and most of the strategies you’re familiar with for building cities before will work here. The biggest problem in SC3K was dealing with traffic congestion…

Posted in God Games

Star Wars Rebellion by LucasArts

Editor's Rating: 3.3/5
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Overview

Discover a planet, send a reconnaissance Y-wing to check it out, send in the troops to take it over, then build some construction facilities, mines, refineries, training facilities, and orbital shipyards that will cater to your every whim to increase the forces in your army. Star Wars Rebellion (which was billed as Star Wars Supremacy in the United Kingdom) is a real-time grand strategy game that will have you managing everything from mining resources to recruiting missions to launching full scale assaults on enemy planets in an attempt to take control of the galaxy!

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

The game starts with some wonderful cinematic sequences in the tradition of all Star Wars movies to date. It then puts you in the cockpit of a shuttle where you must make the decision to command either the Rebel Alliance or the Empire. Once a side is chosen, you will be taken to your Command Center where you will be briefed by your protocol droid (C3P0 if you are commanding the Alliance or IMP-22 if commanding the Empire) about the current situation and, more importantly, about the Galactic Information Display (GID). This old real-time game is divided into two modes: strategy and tactical. It begins with the strategy mode.

It seemed to me that there was just too much reading and managing with not enough action to make it worthwhile. I absolutely love Star Wars, but am not a die-hard strategist, which is why I gave this game a score of 66.

Posted in Strategy

Formula 1 by Psygnosis

Editor's Rating: 4.0/5
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Overview

Formula 1 is Psygnosis’ entry into Grand Prix simulation racing on the PC. How does it fare compared to the likes of Grand Prix II and Indy Car Racing II? Despite one major annoyance and one major omission, it’s not all that bad. You get 17 tracks fully modeled after real world circuits, 35 drivers, and 13 teams also modeled after the real thing. Among the 17 circuits you will find enough variety, including track layouts for racing, and different surroundings for scenery, to keep you from getting bored of this title any time soon. You also get to choose between Arcade mode and Grand Prix mode with various levels of reality (difficulty) to choose from. You can go for a quick race, a full-blown Season of 17 races, or a "Ladder" option which puts you up against one other car for a series of 12 rounds. For a single race, you can select whether you race against one car or the full set. The one major omission in Formula 1 is multiplayer support. The odd thing is that when you are selecting your options for your race, the screen titles state "Single Player Race" as if there is a multiplayer option.

Despite some major complaints, Formula 1 by Psygnosis ended up being a heck of a lot of fun for me.

Posted in Racing

Duke Nukem Zero Hour N64 by GT Interactive

Editor's Rating: 3.8/5
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Overview

This day has been a long time in coming. I have been sitting by waiting for the arrival of my all-time hero and his latest N64 exclusive adventure. It seems like it has been an eternity, but my wait is finally over. I now have the chance to control the world’s biggest badass to save humanity in the past, present and future. What a great day this is.

Duke Nukem Zero Hour sends our hero on a mission back in time, through the present day and into the future in an attempt to save humanity and, more importantly, babes. There is plenty of pig blasting, lizard splattering and smart-ass commentary to put this game up there with the best of the past Duke efforts. Unfortunately, there are some issues that will keep this game from reaching the heights that it should have reached. Most of the pieces were in place, but the missing pieces may keep anyone but die-hard Duke lovers from ever making it through this game.

If you get frustrated doing the same thing over and over again, you will not be happy with this game.

Posted in 3D Shooters, Nintendo 64

Amerzone: The Explorer’s Legacy by Ubi Soft

Editor's Rating: 3.8/5
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Overview

Comic author Benoît Sokal is revered in his native France and throughout Europe, but is not well known in the United States. Amerzone: The Explorer’s Legacy hopes to change that. A new game billed as a graphic adventure and distributed by Ubi Soft, Amerzone is almost totally Sokal’s brainchild. It begins on the cold, gray Brittany coast and ends in the fictitious South American country of Amerzone, a lush tropical paradise ruled by a tin-pot dictator.

You play the game as a journalist (is it just me, or is the journalist character becoming ubiquitous in adventure games?) who has come to interview Professor Alexandre Valembois. In the 1930s, Prof. Valembois made a journey to Amerzone and discovered the existence of some white birds, once thought to be mythological, which spend their entire lives in flight. While there, he stole the only egg of the white birds and returned with it to France, only to be mocked and discredited by his peers. When you find him, Prof. Valembois is a broken man, sick, feeble and near death. He begs you to take the egg and return to Amerzone in his stead, to right the wrong he feels he has caused.

Feels more like an interactive graphic novel than a graphic adventure.

Posted in Adventure

A Bug’s Life by Sony Computer Entertainment

Editor's Rating: 3.9/5
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Overview

Hit movies always lead to hit games. Wouldn’t it be great if that were the rule? Usually the opposite is true. Having an existing intellectual property that sells is usually a license to throw a pile of dung inside the wrapper. A Bug’s Life is actually only a few marks shy of a very good game.

Gameplay

A Bug’s Life is a comic action game with different goals in each of 15 levels. Most of the goals deal with getting Flik to do events that match the storyline of the movie. When you finish a level, you earn the right to go to the next level. Each new level starts with a new short animation from the movie. If you collect all of the bonus items in a level you get a bonus movie. Bonus items include 50 pieces of grain, four letters that spell F-L-I-K and permanently finishing off each enemy bug. To guide you through levels there are little floating telescopes that will show you areas you want to make it to.

Earn weapons by collecting berries…

Posted in Action, PlayStation

Battlezone by Activision

Editor's Rating: 4.4/5
Cover of Battlezone CD: A tank that fires, and the game logo on top.
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Overview

During the early part of the Cold War, a meteor shower hit the Earth and several other planets in our solar system. American scientists discovered a material in the meteor fragments that they named Bio-Metal. They found that Bio-Metal had a certain amount of sentience and could remember what it used to be. With just a little encouraging, it would change back to what it had been before — alien vehicles, weapons, and ships. While Neil Armstrong was getting ready for his first visit to the moon, the Americans were already in the process of colonizing other worlds. The good news was that these new technologies would give them incredible power. The bad news was that their enemies at that time, the Soviets, had found the Bio-Metal too. Now it’s up to you, and only you, to gain the upper hand.

Read more about the gameplay, controls and interface of Battlezone…

Posted in Real-Time