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Aug 5, 2006

Dungeon Siege II: Broken World


Dungeon Siege II: Broken World picks up right where Dungeon Siege II left off with an all-new campaign mode, a new playable race, more items to discover and a brand new multi-class character development system. Players must hunt down the Dark Wizard to exact vengeance and undo the evil brought to the world of Aranna during Dungeon Siege II.
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gas Powered Games
Platform: PC · Genre: RPG
Release Date: 08/04/06 · Origin: U.S.
Original Rating - the rating the source gave this game as originally published on their site and/or publication. Adjusted Rating - the rating the source gave this game, adjusted for the GameStats rating scale. (0.0 to 10.0).

GameSpot 08/03/2006 6.3 /10 6.3

1UP.com 07/31/2006 6 /10 6.0


Average Press Score:

6.2
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Italian Job


In 1969 the film 'The Italian Job' was released in the UK and almost immediately achieved cult status. In the last 30 years it has become almost legendary.

The film revolves around Charlie Croker, who is out of jail and on the make again. He is attempting to steal $4,000,000 worth of gold in broad daylight and from under the noses of the Turin Polizei and the Mafia.

Gamers now have the chance to do the same thing in this amazing new driving game. There are a total of 6 playing modes, with the players thrashing the 3 Austin Mini Coopers and 11 other vehicles around 2 massive, free form areas - London, Turin and the Alps. Road, off-road and rooftop driving all feature in the game that delivers the ultimate mix of high-speed pursuit and thrilling chases.
Publisher: SCi Entertainment Group
Developer: Pixelogic
Platform: PC · Genre: Racing
Release Date: 08/20/02 · Origin: U.K.
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Hoyle Puzzle & Board Games 2007

In Hoyle Puzzle & Board Games, you'll enjoy more than 45 classic and new games--fun for the whole family! An official rulebook for every game come included.

Features:
* The best traditional board games and the best challenging puzzle games
* New games include Sudoku and Kakuro
* More than 100 challenging sports crossword puzzles
* Robust collection of classic games, including Chess, Backgammon, Pachisi, Hangman, Mahjongg Tiles, Word Searches, and more

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Aug 4, 2006

Motocross The Force V 0.900

Motocross The Force is a motocross game featuring advanced physics simulation. Race against the clock, ride your dirt bike as fast as you can, but not too fast or else you may fall and crash. The racing takes place in large outdoor terrain environments…

Version 0.900
- 5 different bikes
- 25 different tracks
- Baja and National tracks
- Improved physics simulation
- Improved sound
- Dynamic shadows
- Advanced artificial intelligence techniques applied to NPC bikes
- User friendly graphical user interface
- Track editor
- Fully tested
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Aug 3, 2006

Fifa Street 2

game review: Prove you have what it takes in four on four gameplay action. Humiliate your opponents with the new trick stick beat system, over-the-top juggling moves and all-new gamebreakers that allow you to win a game like never before. Beat the best in the world by traveling to new International locations ranging from the famous Westway Leisure Centre in London to the beautiful beachside of Brazil. Featuring all new authentic tricks, FIFA Street 2 provides new gameplay experiences by making over the top moves and skills even bigger in this fast paced sequel. Take to the streets, unleash your tricks, and humble your rivals with or without the ball.
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Canada
Platform: PlayStation 2 · Genre: Extreme Sports
Release Date: 02/28/06 · Origin: Canada

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Miami Vice


game review: Miami Vice was one of the most popular TV series of the '80s ,taking millions of viewers on under-cover missions through the streets of Miami with characters like the cool Sonny Crockett, his trustworthy partner Ricardo Tubbs and the demanding Lieutenant Martin Castillo. The Miami street scene, the atmosphere of the series and the thrilling adventures of the detectives give an ultimate setting for sensational gameplay. Play Sonny Crockett and/or Ricardo Tubbs in this action-packed third person shooter, spanning 14 missions. Players fight, engage in shoot-outs, collect clues and evidence, break in and solve puzzles to complete each mission. The ultimate goal of these famous detectives is to dismantle the organization of drugs lord Ortega. Features include 14 different weapons and a unique partner AI system.
Publisher: Davilex
Developer: Atomic Planet
Platform: PlayStation 2 · Genre: Third-Person Action Adventure
Release Date: 12/03/04 · Origin: U.K.
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Ghost Recon Collection

Ghost Recon:

about:
If you meet them in combat ... you're already dead.
Russia has fallen under the control of ultra-nationalistic leaders intent
on rebuilding the Iron Curtain. This leads to conflict with NATO as Russia
attempts to reclaim the breakaway republic of Georgia, and the Baltic states
of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. As the war escalates, casualties mount,
hostages are taken and the Ghosts are sent in.
Take command of "The Ghosts," an elite squad of military personnel equipped
with the cutting edge in weaponry. Whenever there is military conflict, the
Ghosts are the first on the ground.

Ghost Recon Desert Siege(Expansion):


about:
East Africa, 2009. A 60-year conflict boils over as Ethiopia invades its
smaller neighbor Eritrea, threatening the world's most vital shipping lanes
in the Red Sea. An elite team of U.S. Army Green Berets, known as the
Ghosts, moves in to safeguard the seas and free Eritrea. As the war rages
on, the Ghosts are drawn from Eritrea's shores to the heart of Ethiopia in
their deadliest battles yet.


Ghost Recon:Island Thunder(Expansion)


about:
Cuba, 2009: Castro is dead, and the first free elections in decades are
thrown into turmoil by a drug-funded warlord. The Ghosts, an elite team
of U.S. Army Green Berets, are sent to Cuba as part of a UN peacekeeping
force to destroy the rebel forces and their mercenary leaders and secure
the elections for a free Cuba.

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Aug 2, 2006

Splinter Cell: DOUBLE AGENT (Preview)


I CAME TO SHANGHAI TO SEE THE LATEST FANCY HIDE-AND seek
espionage game, but I sure won’t be slipping under anyone’s radar: Texas tall in my trusty cowboy boots and shamelessly flashing a big, dumb American grin everywhere I go, I stick out like the neon signs that paint the purple skyline of this Chinese New York City. It’s easy for Fei and Lan, my new best friends, to pick me out of the sea of people surging down Nanjing Road.
“Hello.” Lan, twirling her umbrella like a natural southern belle, matches my pace. “Where are you from?”
“California…the U.S.” “‘Hotel California.’” Fei leans into view, beaming his big, toothy smile. “I
love that song.”
We laugh (though for different reasons) and continue our stroll down the boulevard together, falling quickly into the universal conversation of cultural strangers: What do you like to eat? The couple invites me to join them for a “traditional Chinese tea ceremony” which, on paper,
already sounds like a scam. It doesn’t cross my mind, though, and when they pass me a menu in the oriental-kitsch-covered teahouse, I don’t bother to look at the prices. We sample tea after tea. Fei is kind enough to translate the stories and instructions of our hostess, while Lan demonstrates a fine level of tea connoisseurship—sniffing the dry leaves, observing the subtle color of each freshly poured cup, and slurping the extract like an expert Italian espresso drinker. We have a blast…until the bill comes: 15,000 RMB—almost $200. I’ve been had. >

>>”WE WANT TO CREATE SOMEONE WHO’S...NOT JUST A GUY WITH GOGGLES.”

DON’T BE A SUCKER
Shanghai is a town full of hucksters, hustlers, and con men, from
the bootleg merchants pushing fake Prada bags on the street
corners to folks like Fei and Lan who prey on stupid tourists like
me. So I make sure to keep an eye out for Julian Gerighty, coproducer of
the newest version of the Splinter Cell series, Double Agent. Gerighty’s
a slick character: half French, half British, all Shanghai salesman. But
he’s not out to con me—he just wants to make sure I understand all the
work he and his team have put into Double Agent. At my visit to Ubisoft’s
downtown studio, it’s clear that “emotion” is his buzzword of the day.
Gerighty repeats it like a mantra—like a politician hitting talking points.
“We’re a French company, so we’re very conceptual and emotion heavy,” he says. For this, the fourth game in the popular stealth-action series, he and his team envision a “super, super emotional experience.”
Emotional experiences rank high on the lists of today’s gamemakers, who often claim that they can evoke intense feelings on new, expensive hardware.
But few games, however shiny and “realistic,” manage to push our buttons the way movies and books do. They just don’t tell stories as well.
Gerighty loads up a level from Double Agent. The scene: a dank New Orleans basement where a man kneels chained against the wall. Sam Fisher, Splinter Cell’s (now balding) superspy, has been charged with infiltrating a homegrown terrorist organization. To prove his terrorist credentials, Sam must shoot the bound man in cold blood. Unfortunately,
that man is Sam’s best friend.
“There’s an innocent guy in front of you,” says Gerighty. “He’s on his knees. He’s gagged. Somebody hands you a gun. The terrorist leader says, ‘You want to join our group? Take him out.’ What would you do if he was your best friend? What if you knew that 3,000 lives were on the line? These are the sort of questions we want to ask people.” But Sam, controlled by a Double Agent team member, doesn’t ask any questions.

He just trains his weapon on the man’s face. The camera zooms in— we can see the man’s red eyes pleading with Sam not to shoot. We can hear his gagged, desperate yelps. Sam pulls the trigger. It’s disturbing. It’s creepy. It definitely pushes buttons. By playing to the strength of gaming—the audience’s ability to play a part in the story—the scene sidesteps the usual pitfalls of bad scriptwriting and voice acting. It just gives you the real, raw moment. This is something
the series tried before, with less success, in Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow. “We had this whole mission where a female agent guided you through the streets of Jerusalem,” says Gerighty. “At the end of the mission, [Sam’s commander] Lambert gets on the intercom and says,
‘Kill her. Don’t ask any questions, just kill her.’ When we playtested it, 95 percent of the people just went ‘pop.’ We discovered that Sam Fisher was seen more as a soldier who was following orders all the time. We want to break that by giving Sam less of a soldier attitude during the game. You’re not the good soldier that you were before.” In fact, Sam Fisher, the quiet guy in the black stretch pants, seems a totally different person here—darker, older, and more world-weary. As Double Agent begins, Sam’s daughter, “his only connection to humanity”
according to Gerighty, dies in a car accident. This triggers Sam’s sudden veer into antihero territory. But aside from the brooding attitude, the most obvious change is the absence of Sam’s iconic nightvision goggles—at least for a few levels.

“What we want to do is [to] show people that Sam Fisher exists as a character, not just as equipment,” says Gerighty. “We want to create someone who’s not just a guy with a five o’ clock shadow, not just a guy with goggles. We want to give it some depth, to give it some dimension that hasn’t been in the game so far. If we didn’t do something, we’d be stuck in the same
Lara Croft shorts and tight top.”

MORAL NO-MAN'S LAND
That’s how we end up in this New Orleans dungeon with formerly unassailable good guy Sam Fisher murdering his best friend in cold blood. Double Agent features several such uncomfortable moments of sticky moral judgment. It’s a subject that Gerighty seems particularly nervous about; he’s careful to point out that Sam isn’t choosing between good and evil, that
he won’t be taking a detour into the morality of, say, Grand Theft
Auto. “None of the decisions are black or white,” says Gerighty. “So
there’s no real right or wrong.”
I find that hard to believe when the team boots up another level:
Kinshasa, a miserable place in real life, located in the unstable African
country ironically called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It’s a
big departure from the dark, empty office parks Splinter Cell is known
for. The streets are alive with soldiers and rebels fighting a bloody civil
war that—if the A.I. works out—will unfold differently every time you
play it. The African sun blazes above Sam’s head. Not only can you
(and any enemy not distracted by the war in the streets) see Sam in
the harsh light of day, but you can also see the sweat dripping down
his skin. The level of realism makes it especially gruesome when Sam
sneaks past a group of rebel prisoners lined up against a wall for
execution. “You can save them, but you risk being exposed,” says
Gerighty. Sam does the easy thing—standing by while the three men
are shot, one by one. The final man scurries up the wall in vain before
rifle fire drags him back down to the ground.
I wonder aloud if the game has anything to say about the real-life atrocities that—as we sit on plush couches playing videogames on Ubisoft’s massive HDTV—are happening in the real Congo,
thousands of miles away. The ongoing war there has caused the greatest number of casualties in any conflict since World War II.
Gerighty’s defenses kick in. “We’re not trying to make a political statement,” he says. “We really
just want to make a piece of entertainment.” Then is it appropriate to use a miserable real-life war as a playground for simple entertainment? “We want to stay believable,” Gerighty replies. “We can’t set a civil war just anywhere. Kinshasa was chosen because a Hollywood scriptwriter
and an ex-Mossad agent [both consultants on Double Agent] decided that it’s an area that is likely to have a summit of worldwide terrorists, a place which is war-torn…a place which is falling to pieces.”
It’s all about realism—that fanatical religion of the modern game developer. To the credit of Gerighty and his team, Double Agent’s version of Kinshasa is filled with the realistic horrors of war.
Sam narrowly avoids a mortar blast but arrives just in time to witness its victim consumed by flames and convulsing on the ground. Elsewhere, a grenade blows the legs off a soldier. His blood pools in the dusty street.
I want Sam to be a hero—to save the prisoners before they’re executed, to do something about the horrors in the streets of Kinshasa…but that will be my call when I play the game. These kinds of choices fall into the player’s hands in Double Agent as part of a larger openness in the game’s design—one that extends from huge, branching levels to crucial moments in the story. “If you thought that Chaos Theory [the previous game in the series] gave you a lot of choices, this game is much more open,” says Gerighty. Sam’s actions—your actions—have consequences.
Depending on the choices you make as you play through Double Agent, the final third of the game (and the game’s ending) changes substantially. But according to Gerighty, none of these paths lead Sam Fisher, hero, to become Sam Fisher, villain. “We can’t turn him into a bad
guy overnight,” he says. “It’s not like you come out completely clean, but you’ll never be the most wanted terrorist in America.” >

THE HIVE MIND
I wake up at 4 a.m., jet-lagged, in my room on the 65th floor of the Shanghai Grand Hyatt, the highest hotel in the world. After a bout of tossing and turning, I give up on sleep
and pull back the curtains to reveal a panoramic view of Pudong,
Shanghai’s towering business district. Skyscrapers shoot up from
the ground for miles and miles. Red aircraft warning beacons blink
on the arms of a dozen giant construction cranes erecting ever-taller,
ultramodern buildings. It takes me a few moments to realize that the
cranes are running. Welding sparks flash in the night. Concrete trucks
stream in and out of construction sites. This rapidly expanding city is
being built constantly, all day and all night.
The 130-man team working on Double Agent in Shanghai seems to
share this work ethic, plugging away at the game’s E3 demo on Labor Day while most of the city’s workers enjoy the day off. Splinter Cell is known for high production values, and it’s obvious that this has less to do with technology or a big budget than with the obsessive dedication of the people involved. They sweat the details. Where you or I might simply see Sam Fisher, superspy, creep across a desert battlefield, they see the watery coating of sweat on Sam’s skin, painstakingly created for just this level; the special lighting effect that lets sunbeams realistically bounce off surfaces; the soldier and rebel character models, all created from scratch, each character different in size and weight, each wearing a costume that was put together in real life on a mannequin and photographed with a superhigh-res camera. Some team members’ duties consist entirely of making facial expressions look natural and making sure Sam’s sneaking animation feels just right. When I talk to lead character designer Jean-Michel Tari, the guy who, among other things, dresses up the aforementioned dummy, I can’t help empathizing with him. He speaks anxiously about his work, trying to explain—in 15 minutes—all of the elaborate details he’s cramming into the game’s characters. It’s as if this guy, who toils away on the things players never consciously notice, finally has an opportunity to point out his hard work. But you have to wonder where this style of massive production is going.

Does spending so much effort on the tiniest of details really take us somewhere new? “I think that people really take pleasure from
seeing details,” says Gerighty. “It’s the attention to detail that makes something feel high quality. If you cut corners, you’re going to have something that just feels cheap.” Double Agent certainly doesn’t look cheap—it practically slides off the screen with a thick veneer of polish.
But obsessing over lighting effects and smooth animation won’t create a compelling game. “The main focus on this game is not the visual detail,” says Gerighty. “It’s the emotions we can attain with those elements.” Here we go again. “Everything is done with a high level of visual fidelity to create this tangible world. If it’s just an arms race to be the best eye candy around, that’s not going to last. But if the emotions are there, it’s going to last.”

"THE MAIN FOCUS IS NOT VISUAL DETAIL. IT’S THE EMOTIONS WE CAN ATTAIN WITH [IT].”



MULTIPLAYER FOR DUMMIES
Opening up without dumbing down


Splinter Cell Chaos Theory’s co-op mode, wherein you
and a friend join forces for a set of online team missions,
gets officially scrapped in Double Agent. It’s a
shame, but you can console yourself with the knowledge that
Splinter Cell’s competitive online mode, Spies vs. Mercenaries,
now receives all the attention. SVM is a high-tension game of
cat and mouse, limited to six players and split between two teams: the spies and mercs for which the game is named. On the spy side, players sneak, Sam Fisher–style, into enemy territory
using high-tech gizmos and the cover of darkness. On the merc side, players hunt down the infiltrating spies with flashlights and heavy firepower, their advantage handicapped by a narrow, first-person field of vision. It’s a nervy, slow-burning, highly original game, but one that comes with an off-putting learning curve. Veteran players are known for their merciless treatment of newcomers. “The community that plays [SVM] are some of the hardest-core people out there,” says coproducer Julian Gerighty. “When you play it and you’re not an expert, you get destroyed. We wanted to open that up.” But how do you open the game to new players without dumbing it down and driving away the pros?
BOTS
Instead of taking a blind leap into a ring full of heavyweights, why not spend a little time hitting the punching bag? Double Agent lets you to train offline against A.I.-controlled opponents,
giving you a chance to explore each level’s nooks and crannies.
EXFILTRATION
A simple, easy-to-read map shows you where you and your teammates are in the level, marking the location of your objectives as well. However, it’s more than simply meeting objectives.
The tension jacks up while you make your escape.
GHOSTS
SVM maps feature secret routes, fences to jump over, and air ducts to crawl through. For the first hour new players log in, ghost characters pop up. They highlight important parts of the
map, showing you exactly what you can do at each junction.
HACKING TOOL
Spies get an upgrade thanks to this handy little device. It turns off the lights in any room at the flick of a button—and if you can aim it long enough at an unsuspecting merc, you can

MULTIPLAYER WILL BE MORE
NEWBIE-FRIENDLY WITHOUT
DRIVING AWAY THE PROS.

THEY NAILED THE LOOK OF SHANGHAI’S GRAND HYATT.

CHINESE NEW YEAR
“The Girl from Ipanema” sambas through the air in Cloud
Nine, an eagle’s nest of a bar on the 88th floor of the
Grand Hyatt. If you listen carefully, you can hear conversations
in Chinese, French, Japanese, and English among the
sounds of rattling ice and glass. I’m enjoying my last night in luxury,
with a stiff Kentucky bourbon and the view of old Shanghai
just across the Huangpu River. Shanghai was the first Chinese
city to open its doors to the West; before the Communist revolution,
French, British, and American nationals exerted a huge
influence on the city, one I can see in the Western-style buildings
that line the riverside. But just outside my window, I spot a
Western influence of another era: Sam Fisher, nearly invisible in
his sneaking suit. He hugs the windows as he makes his way to
the other side of the building. In the distance, a giant fireworks
display signifies that it’s Chinese New Year. Rockets arc across
the night and explode, revealing miniature details in the city
below. Cloud Nine patrons looking out at the display catch a surprise
glimpse of the crazy man outside. One particularly drunk
patron rises from his table as if he’s seen a ghost…or perhaps a
sake-induced hallucination.
Technically, Double Agent isn’t allowed to call this level the “Shanghai Grand Hyatt,” presumably because the Chinese government is so vigilant in its enforcement of copyrights. But the team definitely nailed the look of this unusual piece of architecture: Cloud Nine’s riveted iron beams and swanky atmosphere are pitch perfect. The hotel’s atrium, a wide-open cylinder shot straight through the floors of the hotel above, sets up a nice scene as Sam rappels down
to the cocktail lounge below. Meticulous realism may not be the most exciting thing going on in games, but it’s hard to not appreciate the concreteness of the world Double Agent creates. I lose track of Sam, who’s slipped away into some dark corridor. Perhaps he’s up in my room poisoning the minibar. Or maybe he’s waiting patiently in my closet. It’s hard to tell, in this world halfway between reality and fantasy, what he’s up to. Keep an eye out./

Company of Heroes (preview)

PUBLISHER: THQ DEVELOPER: Relic Entertainment RELEASE DATE: Fall 2006

WE’VE SET OUT TO CREATE AN RTS THAT IS

first and foremost about visceral tactical battles
and less about micromanagement.” Coming from most developers,
this sounds like soulless PR spin, but from Josh Mosqueira, lead
designer for Relic Entertainment (the design house behind Warhammer
40,000: Dawn of War), it actually means something. Relic’s next RTS,
Company of Heroes, guns for the intense battles of World War II—a far
cry from Dawn of War’s postapocalyptic orks, but an equally engaging
conflict with game mechanics to match.
“Our goal,” says Mosqueira, “was to create a game where you’re
leading squads of real, live soldiers, not simpleminded RTS units.
Squads adapt to changes in their environment; for example, soldiers
can dive into craters to escape deadly machine gun fire, allowing
the player time to plot out his attacks.” Fully destructible environments
play a key part in the war-torn atmosphere as well. “Having
the power to interact with the terrain—either by raining artillery and
creating craters to use as cover or by having tanks crush through
walls—exposes a level of what we call environmental strategy,”
Mosqueira says. “How the player uses environmental strategy to
exploit tactical advantages opens up a whole level of emergent strategic
gameplay. Maps in COH are no longer a series of static choke
points, but living environments where every bush, crater, wall, and
structure can be used for strategic advantages.”
The bottom line: “[We want] to make players feel that they are commanding
real soldiers in real combat situations and not micromanaging
their units.” Same goes for resources—don’t look for any Private Pyles
picking berries down in the trenches. Mosqueira explains: “Company
of Heroes removes much of the inherent abstraction in RTS games
and focuses gameplay on making battlefield decisions, not on worrying
about farms or chopping wood. All too often, gathering resources
becomes the whole goal of RTS games, and combat—the exciting
part—takes a backseat. This is something we wanted to change.”
We need only look at Dawn of War to know Mosqueira’s not whistling
“Dixie,” and COH’s action-oriented resource mechanic takes a note
from the Warhammer world. “We wanted a resource system that fit
the setting and was contextualized,” Mosqueira tells us, “which is why
we went with a sector-based mechanic. As you capture key strategic
areas, you will earn resources. These represent additional reinforcements
and supplies being trucked into your area of operations to help
hold those sectors.”
That’s what we like to see: situation-specific mechanics that don’t
involve harvesting seven types of lithium ion crystals. It’s all in a
day’s work for Relic, says Mosqueira. “From Homeworld to Dawn
of War, we’ve [focused] on meeting the player’s expectations,” he
muses. “We believe that when players sit down to play an RTS, they
have images of the battles in Star Wars, Braveheart, Saving Private
Ryan, and Gladiator in mind. What we try to do—and COH is the
closest we’ve come
to this—is to give
players the most
intense, immersive,
and visceral RTS
experience we
can.”/Ryan Scott

TerraWars - New York


Without warning, the world is overrun by an alien invasion. The Earth is in chaos. You are John Armstrong, a medical student drafted in to the National Guard. On a critical mission that may help turn the tide, your team is wiped out. Now success depends on you. Will you rise up to the challenge? [Tri Synergy]

Publisher: Tri Synergy
Developer: *TBA
Platform: PC · Genre: Action
Release Date: 07/06/06

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Global Operations


game review: Global Operations is a stand alone, team-based, first-person shooter based on a significantly modified version of the LithTech 2.5 engine. The game features multiplayer action for up to 24 players, along with a single-player game with AI-controlled teammates and opponents. Global Operations places the player among real-world special forces, peacekeepers, terrorists, rebel groups and guerilla forces. Levels have various objectives that are appropriate to the map location and each level has a pre-defined time limit. The missions are loosely based on real-life events that take place in various international locations such as Peru, Sri Lanka and the SkiiNaaz Tunnel. Each of the 28 elite fighting forces in the game are based on the actual combatants in the real-world location being portrayed.
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Barking Dog Studios
Platform: PC · Genre: First-Person Shooter
Release Date: 03/26/02 · Origin: Canada
Original Rating - the rating the source gave this game as originally published on their site and/or publication. Adjusted Rating - the rating the source gave this game, adjusted for the GameStats rating scale. (0.0 to 10.0).

PC Magazine 02/20/2003 3 /5 6.0

IGN.com 04/09/2002 8.4 /10 8.4

GamePro 03/26/2002 4.5 /5 9.0

Computer Gaming World 03/26/2002 3 /5 6.0

Adrenaline Vault (Avault) 03/26/2002 3.5 /5 7.0

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WARHAMMER: MARK OF CHAOS

PUBLISHER: Namco Bandai DEVELOPER: Black Hole Entertainment RELEASE DATE: Fall 2006
Undead
TELL WARHAMMER FANTASY BUFFS THEIR BELOVED TURN based
tabletop war game’s been assimilated by the real-timestrategy
Borg, and duck. With 25 years of tweaks propping all those paintdaubed
figurines, why veer at all? “We tinkered with the idea early on of
perfectly emulating the tabletop experience in real time,” says Warhammer:
Mark of Chaos senior producer Chris Wren. “Deemed the ‘battle chess’
approach, we quickly decided to get a bit more ambitious with the design.”
Augment Warhammer’s dice-and-tape-measure battle mechanics, in other
words. “Focusing on the battle meant adding a few new layers to how you
build and command your armies,” explains Wren. “To this end, we included
custom combat options, a deep campaign, an RPG-like hero skill and leveling
system, champion dueling, siege mechanics, environmental conditions,
total unit and army customization, and loads of multiplayer options.”

Pick a side and jump into the franchise’s Great War between the Hordes of
Chaos and the Empire, and Wren says you’ll get about 30 to 40 hours of solo
campaign play per side. “What allies you make, what resources you procure,
it’s all up to you,” he explains, outlining a strategic mode that synthesizes
real time with turn-based play and sounds more than a little like The Battle
for Middle-earth II’s War of the Ring mode: Move troops, reinforce units,
and truss up your holdings; your army, resources, and alliances persist as
you advance. But a Warhammer game ultimately stands on its battles.
“Depending on experience and your equipment and training choices, units
will have different formations, attacks, and defenses at their disposal,” says
Wren. “Attaching a hero to a unit adds even more options.” For example,
bundle the right hero with long-range archers and you might keep the
enemy in range by confusing them, slowing their advance, or terrorizing
them into retreat for easy in-the-back pickings. “The tactics you come up
with and the way you group and command units will vary greatly based on
your choices in the game,” adds Wren.
In the end, Wren says the team wants a game that appeals to non-
Warhammer RTS gamers without compromising core franchise principles.
“If we do it right, we’ll get Warhammer fans who’ll become rabid RTS gamers,
and RTS gamers who’ll become die-hard Warhammer fans,” he says. “I
think we’re on track to do both.”/Matt Peckham

CIVCITY: ROME Strategy Showdown

CIVCITY: ROME
Return of the city builder


Rome implements a “civilization” rating, illustrating just one of the
many impacts of Firaxis’ Civ series.


Clicking on citizens or houses provides access to individual workers
or householders. “You can then highlight them, and arrows on the city
map will arc over to show you where they are,” explains Bradbury, “like
where their house is, where their job is, and where they’re going.”


IT’S BEEN EIGHT YEARS AND SLIM PICKINGS SINCE
critically acclaimed Roman-city-forging sim Caesar III let us stroll Rome’s baths, amphitheaters, and coliseums. Original Caesar series designer Simon Bradbury hopes to rekindle builder fans’ interests by melding Caesar’s daisy-chained, structure-driven economy with some of the most popular abstractions from the Civilization series. “The biggest change to come across from Civ has been research,” says Bradbury, outlining aspects of the conceptual symbiosis. “It’s been
a tremendous ‘find’ for us in the city-building world, and it’s frankly strange we didn’t think of it sooner.”

Technology, in fact, plays a major role in tweaking city efficiency all around, like increasing date-farm output, smoothing rough roads to boost unit speed, increasing taxes, streamlining ships, and so on. “We have over 70 things to research and a ton of tempting options,”
says Bradbury. “On any one mission, however, you’re only able to research a few items—thus, you’re forced to think strategically about your mission goals.” It wouldn’t be Civ without wonders, of course. “They’re the only structures in the game that take time to build—but when finished, they confer permanent benefits upon the city,” explains Bradbury. But perhaps the key area in which CivCity: Rome could differ from other builders is the way it adopts the Civ series’ multiple city attributes.

“Factors like city happiness, production, culture, food, and religion won’t just be ‘bottom of the chain’ variables,” says Bradbury. “They’re now entire resource chains in themselves.” Sid Meier’s arm has grown long indeed./Matt Peckham

DESIGNER SIMON BRADBURY HOPES TO REKINDLE BUILDER FANS’ INTERESTS.
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Aug 1, 2006

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas PC Screenshots

Rainbow Six: V2 screenshots showcasing the game modes in the game. Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 is a tactical shooter video game and the sequel to Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Vegas. In the game players encounter an intense solo campaign that uses new tactical possibilities in various locations around Sin City. The game is scheduled for release on March 18, 2008.




Rayman 3 - Hoodlum Havoc


game review: The third installment of the popular platforming franchise, Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc features several new game elements that haven't been explored in the series before. Boasting a heavier emphasis on action and adventuring, Rayman 3 follows our hero as he battles hordes of Hoodlum soldiers in an effort to purge the spirit of the Dark Lord from the depths of his friend Globox's soul. New features include: power first, grapple, and super helicopter abilities, 20 different kinds of enemies, a new tactical arcade combat system, and a darker, more sarcastic spin on the game's classic sense of humor.
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Paris (France)
Platform: PlayStation 2 · Genre: Platformer
Release Date: 03/18/03 · Origin: Europe

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Jul 31, 2006

Broken Sword: Shadow of the Templar

Publisher: THQ
Developer: Revolution Software Ltd.
Platform: PC · Genre: Adventure
Release Date: 02/28/98 · Origin: Europe

review: The first game in the series was released in 1996, published by Virgin Interactive Entertainment world wide. George Stobbart is an American tourist on holiday in Paris in the autumn. The story opens with George's quiet coffee at a cafe rudely interrupted by the explosion of a bomb planted by a man dressed up as a clown. He sets off investigating the explosion and, gradually, he and photo-journalist Nicole "Nico" Collard are drawn into a globe-trotting adventure involving conspiracies, cults and murder, all revolving around the Knights Templar.

Despite the death and cults the game is a lighthearted and fun game, with high-quality hand-drawn animation and graphics. The game features a musical score composed by Barrington Pheloung, and a cast of voice actors led by Rolf Saxon as George Stobbart.

The game was a critical and commercial success, and is often today cited as the best game in the Broken Sword series. The game was released as Circle of Blood in the United States, Baphomets Fluch (Baphomet's Curse) in Germany, Les Chevaliers de Baphomet (Knights of Baphomet) in France and La leyenda de los Templarios (Legend of the Templars) in Spain.

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Haze (preview)

click to full view
Mantel Corp.: healing minds and quashing
insurrection worldwide.

Haze begs you to question your conscience
every time you pull the trigger.

PUBLISHER: Ubisoft DEVELOPER: Free Radical GENRE: Shooter RELEASE DATE: Spring 2007

IN A GENRE DOMINATED BY WORLD

War II grunts and biomechanical alienin vaders, sometimes all it takes is a mysterious plot device to stand out in the FPS crowd. It worked for F.E.A.R., so why not Haze, developer Free Radical’s shrouded-ininscrutability shooter? Haze drops you into the head of Jake Carpenter, a soldier in the world-dominating Mantel drug conglomerate’s private army, hopped up on the company’s famous (and fun!) supersoldier drug so you can kick ass against freedom-hating enemy insurgents in a steamy South American jungle. Haze seeks to push the glowy-effects processor in your graphics card to 11, bathing the fertile tropical scenery in a strangely soothing hyperreal glare. Pause for a moment, and a radiant white butterfl y alights on your superheated
gun barrel. Obviously, all is not what it seems in this rose-colored corporatocracy.

Soon, the computer voice inside your ear issues an “administration error.” The world drains in color, and time seems to freeze stock-still as your companions callously shoot what appears to be an innocent civilian desperately trying to surrender. When asked what it all means, the Free Radical folks shift, shrug, and smile—but we can safely speculate that Mantel’s miracle drug cocktail does a wee bit more than initially advertised.

Whether or not your variable internal reality actually has some sort of gameplay repercussions—at this point, only omniscient superbeings know. This isn’t the fi rst time Free Radical has tried to guide us up Jacob’s Ladder with an arsenal on our back. 2004’s Second Sight bounced between protagonist John Vattic’s time as an amnesia patient with latent psychic powers and his stint a few months earlier as a covert op investigating Russian science gone mad. And fragging monkeys
and gingerbread men in the developer’s signature TimeSplitters series? That’s just f***ed
up right there.

Jul 30, 2006

Gran Turismo 4

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Platform: PlayStation 2 · Genre: Racing
Release Date: 02/22/05 · Origin: Japan

Review: The fourth installment in Polyphony Digital's extravagant PlayStation racing franchise features even more cars, courses and race modes than ever before. Gran Turismo 4 uses an all-new physics engine coupled with revolutionary technology to deliver enhanced game physics and graphics providing a near-realistic automotive racing simulation. New and enhanced racing modes include: GT Director Mode/B-spec, GT Photo Mode, GT Career Simulation Mode and GT Arcade Mode encompassing more than 200 championship races, highly detailed car customization and many other innovative options to set the bar as the most complete racing game available. Though initially promised online options were removed from the title, the final features list clocks in with a whopping 700+ cars, more than 100 courses and plenty of unique surprises for automotive enthusiasts.
Original Rating - the rating the source gave this game as originally published on their site and/or publication. Adjusted Rating - the rating the source gave this game, adjusted for the GameStats rating scale. (0.0 to 10.0).

GameCritics.com 08/31/2005 6.5 /10 6.5

GMR-Source 06/07/2005 9.5 /10 9.5

Ace Gamez 06/03/2005 9 /10 9.0

PC Magazine 06/01/2005 4.5 /5 9.0

Gaming Nexus 05/09/2005 9 /10 9.0

ReviewGamer.com 05/07/2005 8.7 /10 8.7

GamerDad 05/04/2005 3.5 /5 7.0

GameBiz [AU] {2001-2005 archive} 04/25/2005 85 /100 8.5

NTSC-UK 04/12/2005 7 /10 7.0


Average Press Score:

9.0

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