192 GAMES REVIEW: NAZI BUSINESS; MUTANTS FREAKS ZOMBIES AND HOMICIDAL BABES IN BLACK LEATHER - JUST ANOTHER DAY AT THE CASTLE.
Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Operation Resurrection PS2
GREAT, I thought. A new Wolfenstein ... more shooting, mayhem and Nazi business.
Then I realised it wasn't so new. Shiny and brand-new for the PS2, but old-hat to PC players like me.
Return To Castle Wolfenstein was released on the PC earlier this year and Raster Productions, the Texas-based game developer who brought Quake III Arena to the Dreamcast, have worked hard at converting this to the PlayStation 2.
It's the plot familiar to PC fans everywhere - yer mad Nazis are using the occult to raise some mutant freaks, cyborgs and zombies in an attempt to help Germany win the war.
When the game starts, you are fighting ordinary Nazi soldiers, but later on, you'll eventually come across some of the creatures seen on the right.
Needless to say, if you don't enjoy killing weird monsters you probably won't like Return To Castle Wolfenstein.
Incidentally, I can think of no better developer than Raster for this conversion - half the mutant zombie freakoids in this could have stepped out of Quake's worst nightmares.
During the course of Operation Resurrection, you'll battle your way through Egypt, Norway, and bits of Europe during World War II. Your final stop will be Castle Wolfenstein, the place you start off in (you have to escape, unarmed, from their lowest dungeons) so that you can put a stop to Himmler's evil experiments.
Is it up to the benchmark PC version? Graphically, not quite, but good enough. In gameplay, the normal Nazi soldiers are a bit vanilla compared to what comes later, but the A.I. still makes them fun to fight.
They work together in groups, hide to reload, toss your grenades back at you or dive on top of them, knock over tables to create cover, and run like hell if they see you pull out a flame thrower.
The shield-armed zombies, who crouch down to use it as cover, are bad, since your bullets riccochet off the shield right back atcha.
But worse - oh, yes, much worse - are the lithe, black leather-clad Nazi superbitches, who leap and roll so fast you can't hit them unless you expand vast amounts of ammo (and sometimes not even then).
The most noteworthy additions are new Egyptian levels that act as a prologue to the story, introduce you to your partner Agent One, and set you against new mercenary enemies.
Other new foes include the Tesla energy- empowered occult priests in the crypt levels, and cyborg Alsatians in the X Labs. To help combat these creatures, you'll gain a holy cross that destroys zombies, an EMP device that stuns the cyborg X creatures, and the X shield, which creates a temporary force field around you (don't remember that lot in the PC version). Slight alterations are made to some of the levels, mostly splitting them into multiple parts so the PS2 can load them separately.
As a result, Raster took the opportunity of adding a bunch of new hidden areas to many levels, but it's a shame that we're going to have yet another PS2 title that doesn't take advantage of the PS2 Network Adaptor - there's no multiplay here.
AS if to make up for the PS2 lack, Splash Damage, Ltd and executive id Software have created Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory, a multi-level online version.
It is available, free of charge, at www.castlewolfenstein.com and does not even require the original PC version of ReturnTo Castle Wolfenstein to play.
WELL, patriotic if you are American - but the pinball part is accurate enough and this has more flashing lights than Sauchiehall Street on a Friday night.
Discover the USA, get out on the highway and take a Road Trip Coast to Coast or pop on your fatigues to join America on Duty. Yes, those are the titles, so you know what to expect.
Each table has its own unique theme, 3D rendered images, animated backgrounds and seven levels, if that's quite the right word, taking in the landmarks of the good ol' U. S of A., from the the Gold Rush through to Muscle Beach, via Mount Rushmore's sculpted presidents and beyond.
In this, you get to flip your fingers during The Battle of Gettysburg and Boot Camp.
It's brilliantly rendered and surprisingly more-ish - but, in the end, it's mere bagatelle.
Empire of Magic
YOU take on the role of Artemian, a minor mage hunting for the great teacher Adu, last seen heading into the desert.
Artemian doesn't know where Adu is and is only half-trained, so you have to wonder why they send him. Don't they LIKE Adu?
This is a sort of Neverwinter Nights meets Diablo with a dash of RPG but, sadly, with none of the attractions that made the first two great from what I have seen.
The movie opener for this has a spectacular action sequence of warrior fighting furiously and going down under pressure, but the gameplay is pedestrian - if you follow the initial desert scenario, including side-adventures (necessary if you want experience and some essential helpers) it will take you about six hours or so - and that's speeding up movement (thank God for THAT button).
The battle system is a simply designed interface allowing you to use the same spells you can on the map, even on the units inside an enemy group itself. There is an auto fight button (why? It's a game consisting almost entirely of fighting, so why would you want to bodyswerve it?)
The storyline is a nice Dungeons & Dragons style adventure and there is no resource management in this game simply because there are no resources. You cannot create new units just by gathering resources and that, for me, what makes this. It boots the resource management out of the strategy arena and replaces it with a popular role-playing twist.
FANCY yourself as a Thumb King? The Sci-Fi channel's Ultimate Gamer show has launched a competition to find the country's top game player.
You get to play endlessly on forthcoming new release The Hulk, meet the gorgeous Emily Newton-Dunn, ex-Bits girl and now presenter of Ultimate Gamer and, if you get to the grand final, play The Hulk at the UCI Leicester Square, London - on their cinema screens.
With prizes of more than Pounds 50,000 up for grabs - Pounds 15,000 to the overall winner - it's well worth getting to grips with.
The Scottish heats are being held at Virgin Megastore, Union Street, Aberdeen, Princes Street, Edinburgh, The Wellgate Centre, Dundee and Argyle Street, Glasgow on June 13. The lucky qualifiers will then go through to the semis, which will be thrashed out on the big screen in six major UK cities, one of which is UCI Cinema Edinburgh on June 28.
The competition entry deadline is June 8, so stop twiddling your thumbs. For details on how to enter check out the website: www.scifi- ultimategamer.com or call 09069 122 644.