:: gamedata :: holiday previews

SO I WAS INVITED TO PLAY GAMES that the masses have yet to see. XBox's Holiday Preview and Sega's preview took play a day after. Lots of fun, but in the end, it's about the games, isn't it? XBox's do was one of those "impressive" parties, but since I couldn't tell what game people were playing at times, (what? no signs or even open cases to let me know what's on screen?), and playing games in such cramped spaces isn't appealing, I didn't get alot of play time. Great freebie though.

Sega's thing was much more low-key and less of a "lookitme!" event and more of a "checkitout!" About a 1/3 of the number games than at XBox, but then again, this is all about Sega. Say it with me now, "SEGA!" And there were plenty of games that I wanted to get my hands on here.

note: I took a look at the sports games, but didn't write 'em up. Not my thing, but if you're dying to know, I'll transcribe my notes for ya. Drop me a line here.

Keep in mind that the following comments are based off of five minute play-tests, and off of incomplete games. Also, I've capsulized most of the PR material and thrown in my impressions for you, but this is far from a thourough review!

...and finally, here's what I thought:


XBox Live! - is out in November as you know, w/an MSRP of around $80 Canadian. Not positive. it's in the press kit somewhere and I'm too lazy to find it. Comes with the headset. Nice touch. I forgot to ask about international servers though. crap. I just remembered.

Blinx - looks good. Though the vacuum thing reminds me of Luigi's Mansion. Great for the kiddies. Nice effects, and I like the way time is used in this game. You are able to collect power ups that allow you to "control" time. Neat. I'd buy it, but I'm partial to cute.

Unreal Tournament - admittedly, I suck at FPS, especially on consoles. But the graphics look nice on this one and especially so on single player mode. The network was having some problems when I was playing, so there was major lag kicking in. I died. lots.

Buffy - In-game Buffy moves like TV Buffy. Except the eyes/face. Very stiff in what I saw. Didn't play this one, just watched over some shoulders.

Whacked! - is exactly that. This is one of those "cute at first glance" games, where after watching a little you realize that it's quite off it's rocker. You, a critter, are a contestant in a game show where it's a free-for-all combat in different arenas. I was in one where you were the size of a small mouse running around a kitchen sink with the garborator on. Not pretty, the three times I didn't manage to avoid that. Power ups, weapons, (rubber duckies? Staple guns?! Large red buttons!?), and chaos gives you Whacked in a nutshell. Good party game, but I don't know many details.

War-type games - lots of 'em. Saw quite a few out on the floor, but didn't play them. Splinter Cell looked pretty slick from where I was standing.

sport-type games - lots of these too. NFL was on the special RCA tv-made-for-XBox. skweeet lookin'. very smooth, but I'm not a sports-gal, so my interest didn't really peak here. Updateable rosters, franchise mode, and lots of new player models. Though the faces still freak me out. People talking should have faces that move, not frozen masks. *shudder* too freaky for me. Hope they fix that before release. 3D renders for sidelined teams and ESPN branding everywhere. Once graphical difference I noticed in the PS2 was that the ice was waaaay to reflective... like a polished mirror. Very odd to look at. XBox did a much better job of the "ice" look.

notes: CS on XBox, anyone? And a spiffy laptop bag, embroidered with the XBox logo, location, and date.


Super Monkey Ball 2 - fun fun. Great eye candy and addictive games. New this time around is the single player story mode with +150 new Main Games stages. 6 new party games makes it into SMB2 for more party action fun.

Panzer Dragoon Orta - The animation on the dragon looks damn spiffy. Nice, smooth, flight paths and great fluid character animation makes a first great impression. Pay attention to that radar screen, not to mention your sense of sound - the 5.1 Surround sound kicks in here as an additional warning someone's on your tail. Morph your dragon on the fly to whatever you need during game play. Each form has specific abilities and will develop with use as well as affect plot. Multi-paths gives you different story elements on a given level to expand and flesh out your story line. Sub-quests include playing as the Empire and unlock secrets with perfect level completion.

House of the Dead III - You know the drill. Shoot 'em good and preferably, in pieces. This third installment takes you 20 years into the future in the HOD time line and gives you the new shotgun to not only take out the zombies, but take them out in groups. Branching paths are now user defined, rather than event defined. Don't be dawdling now, or you could find yourself running out of time, no matter how good your aim is. Ramped up graphics and effects round out this game. 3rd party guns are in development, most likely with feedback and memory card slots.

Phantasy Star Online II - Actually, it's "Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II" Included is the original Dreamcast game for those not familiar with this title. For the veterans, you can pick up where the original left off in Episode II. The downside is that they weren't able to make the Dreamcast and the GC talk. New 4-player offline action makes this a fun option to play with other PSO fanatics, but does decrease your screen real-estate. Testing it out in 2-play mode, it was difficult to see the ground and where you were going at times. Challenge Mode and Battle mode make their stamp on this release.

Take note, XBox will also be getting this title around the time of its Live! release, so gamers will have to choose. While 3rd party peripherals will be out for the GC (keyboard… need… keyboard), XBox Live! use of the headset will eliminate the need of a keyboard, but takes away from the international factor or emoticons and set phrases that made the Dreamcast version so unique in MORPG's

Toejam & Earl III: Mission to Earth - The Irreverent duo return with a new friend Latisha to retrieve the 12 sacred albums of funk. The dynamically splitting screen for two-player action is a great feature, though it takes a little of getting used to. A small, but nice thing is being able to jump that second player in at any point of the game. No more restarting the level. Mini-games and side quests will keep things moving along in the candy-coloured levels and stages. New levels, skins and items can be downloaded with XBox Live!

:: gamedata :: holiday previews
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