192 GAMES REVIEW : HARRY'S GAME; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ALL FORMATS ****.
IT'S the way of the future. If you saw Daniel Radcliffe at the premiere of the Chamber of Secrets, you'd know that, by the next one, he'll be Hairy Potter, with a voice like Barry White.
The only way to keep Harry forever 13 and specky is digitally - and the game of the movie is the way forward.
What you get here is the movie, with you at the wheel, from the moment you pilot the flying car for a second term at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to the final battle.
It's out on every format, but the "movie" is the same - a free-roaming 3D environments from Harry's world right into his head, via an internal "voice".
You don't just talk to yourself, you get to converse with unique characters such as Moaning Myrtle and Dobby the House Elf, all with vital information.
You get to shop in Diagon Alleyand explore the convoluted corridors of Hogwarts and, better still, you get to make the decisions on where to go and what to investigate.
It's large and impressive and, depending on the format, visually enthralling. The Cube is a bit more cartoonish than most, the Xbox is jaw-dropping and the PC would win hands down if it wasn't for that perennial problem of waiting for it to crash because your chip isn't up to it, or the graphics card clashes.
The Xbox, then, is my value for money buy, if only because the likes of PC World expect you to know whether your machine is up to spec before you take the shrinkwrap off a PC game and won't refund the considerable cost if it doesn't work.
The gameplay is also spectacular. Harry can, of course, cast spells against foes - but these spells must be perfectly executed, or they could be miscast with humorous or critical consequences.
Mini-games within levels can be revisited, so players can help Mrs Weasley with "de-gnoming" her garden, challenge other students in Professor Lockhart's Dueling Club, or go back as many times as they like to get it right.
Boasting an entirely new engine, the Game Boy Advance game showcases rendered elements from the console titles.
Utilising the GBA Link, Game Boy Advance players can hook into their Game Cube game, transferring maps, magical items and secret spells for added value.
The Game Boy Color platform features RPG-style gameplay - admittedly in 2D, but you can while away the hours in the back of the car flying to Hogwarts.
So, you have everything in the movie, from Aragog the spider and the terrible basilisk, to old friends such as Hermione and Ron and new faces Moaning Myrtle and pompous Professor Lockhart
And you don't have to just sit there with popcorn stuck to your chin.
Crash Bandicoot PC ****
WHEN Naughty Dog started out with Crash Bandicoot back in the mid-1990s, it was fun, pure and simple.
Since then, the franchise has taken off and, with his mug on everything from T-shirts to, well, mugs, Crash got corrupted.
When Universal took control, you could be forgiven for thinking Crash was about to disappear in welter of hype.
Instead, this is everything you have come to expect from the old Crash. It's simple platforming fun.
You are also promised two extras with the Cube. One is Nintendo's cross- linking, which presents a bonus mini-game buried within this that you can transfer to your GBA.
The other is lightning-fast load times, presumably to thumb their nose at the PS2, whose loads times for this were clunky.
With a solid 60 frames per second run, the resolution is high. In other words, it looks polished and pretty.
N-one lives forever 2 PC ****
SHE was pretty and wore next to nothing and had some amazing pixels - but most of her initial admirers gave her the elbow.
Yep, the original No-One Lives Forever, with the female equivalent of 007, was a shambles of bad gameplay.
No-one would have though that the sequel would see her strut back to give us all a seeing-to.
The start has a massive Bond-style homage before launching into Austin Powers-esque music and credits. Each of the next 15 chapters is split into a number of missions, where you have to locate something, kill something, or escape. It's sometimes necessary to backtrack to solve puzzles, or liaise with one of your contacts but it also means that the stealth aspect actually works. Lastly, if you're really stuck, look around. Chances are if you're getting really, really frustrated, you've missed something, since the gameplay is that cunning.
Summoner 2 PC ***
SHE may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but she has the heart of a queen.
Actually, the Queen of Halassar has the body of a Page 3 stunner and the heart of a serial killer.
For centuries, her subjects have fought and died for a glimpse of her favours and looked to her to save the day.
You, as Queen Maia, have to step up and sort out the bad lot. The game slams you into the middle of this epic story and the gaps are filled in for you as you play.
It's an approach that's more complicated than the trial of a royal butler, but the game combines fast-paced exploration, story-driven action and insane rucks with the bad guys.
The mix of strategy, adventuring and battles works, though a reliance on beardy-weirdy names and a tendency to monotonously repeat fight sequences is frustrating. But you'll probably enjoy this anyway.
CIVILIZATION III (it's a trademark, so you are stuck with the American spelling, whether you like it or not) is subtitled Play The World and is an expansion pack to the existing game.What it gives you is full multiplayer support, eight additional "civilizations", new maps and a scenario editor to let you sort out your own megalomania.
You also get, for the first time, a Turnless Mode where you just keep on going in real-time.
OUT now, a demo for the next operation in EA's ongoing WW2 drama, Medal Of Honor (more US spelling, by design). We've had Medal Of Honor, Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault and now Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault Spearhead. This is another expansion pack, this time, as you can probably guess, for the PC version of Allied Assault. The downloadable demo, from www.mohaa. ea.com/ will feature the multiplayer level Malta, a level exclusive to the demo and not included in the full version. Well worth getting hold of, for a taste of what's to come.
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Nov 14, 2002|
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