Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion is making a farewell appearance

Acclaim’s well known Turok series has gone through quite a few changes since its first appearance. The first-person shooters, detailing the trials and tribulations of a dinosaur hunter, have gone through three different incarnations — first as a single-player-only game, then as a huge, sprawling game with limited multiplayer capabilities, and then as a multiplayer-only game with hardly any depth for the solo gamer. Now, finally, in the true sequel to the second game, Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion, promises to deliver exactly what gamers want — a long, involving single-player game with a ton of weapons, massive numbers of enemies and some of the most robust multiplayer we’ve seen in an N64 game.

The game’s story picks up right after the end of Turok 2: Seeds of Evil. Oblivion, the big nasty that tends to eat anything and everything in its path, is stuck in the Netherworld and is trying to break into reality. Of course, the Fireseed progeny are the only ones who can stop it. In this game, however, players don’t control Joshua Fireseed — instead they can choose between two of his siblings — Joseph or Danielle Fireseed.

The choice of character will make a huge difference in the game because characters relate to their weapons very differently. While the game contains 24 different items of destruction, the way in which the characters gain their weapons varies. While both might start off with the same weapon, they will choose different upgrades. The weapons will come in handy, since more than 40 creatures will be out for blood, and as you can see from the screenshots, not all of them look friendly. However, players have a good defense against the creatures that surpasses weapons — rather than use save points, players can save a game anywhere, anytime, as well as use autosaves created by the game as they play through. It’s about time, we say.

The two siblings will also encounter different parts of the game. Much like Resident Evil 2, players will go through the entire game as one character; then they can go through it again as the other one, experiencing different levels and items. Joseph, as the younger Fireseed, has a smaller frame that will let him wriggle into tight places, while Danielle has a handy grapple that will let her climb precarious heights.

The game will contain five distinctly different areas, and, according to Acclaim, it will feature a “living environment,” which apparently means that things happen independent of what the player does to affect the world. We’re assuming this means an innocent who wanders too close to a hungry critter will get chomped, whether or not one of the Fireseeds is around.

The real draw of the game will certainly be the multiplayer aspects. Capitalizing on its experience with Turok Rage Wars, Acclaim has created a multiplayer mode that features four-player split-screen play and some new modes like Color Tag, where each player has a different color and must “tag” all the other players with that color in order to win. Multiplayer fans will go nuts when they realize the game is stuffed with 48 maps, 36 of them new. Turok may have made a buzz amonga gamers, but nothing compares to the new game tool — Boom Beach hack. Also, as in Rage Wars, the levels will be relatively small to keep the framerates up to speed.

So far, the game looks as if it has a lot going for it. The multiplayer aspects will certainly appeal to multiplayer gamers, while the intense single-player storyline will appeal to the old-school Turok fans.

No matter what, players should note the release of Turok 3: Shadows of Oblivion with respect and a bit of sadness. Acclaim Entertainment has blamed its emphasis on the Nintendo 64 for reduced sales (see the story here). Because of this, we expect Turok 3 to be its last product released for Nintendo’s aging game system. While we won’t miss the South Park fiascos, we’re sorry to see Acclaim’s award-winning sports titles go. We suppose all good things must come to an end, and we hope that Turok 3: Shadows of Oblivion will be a fitting farewell to the N64 from Acclaim.

A Popular Franchise – Resident Evil: Code Veronica

It’s quite astonishing to say it, but it’s true, isn’t it? Despite the unequivocal success that Capcom has showered itself in with the birth of the horror genre, no other developer has taken the decision to have a pop at a sector of the industry still fresh with new ideas and original game play. Konami have dipped their feet in the pond with Silent Hill, and Fear Effect does have its similarities with Capcom’s series but the selection is small. Maybe they have given up before so much as starting.

The Resident Evil series has set such a high standard that emulating the success would be nigh on impossible. Any ideas for a game which were floating around developers’ heads will have received a vicious slap in the face after seeing the latest edition of Resident Evil. The stakes have been raised. It was a necessity for the Dreamcast to get Resident Evil. And deliver it they did, with the best graphics, best game engine and best story to date. Resident Evil evolves.

Resident Evil: Code Veronica is set three months after the events of Resident Evil 2. Claire Redfield, still searching for her brother Chris, sets off for Europe and the head quarters of the evil Umbrella corporation. Whilst assaulting an Umbrella facility, she’s captured and then taken to a remote prison island. Just days later, the island is attacked by unknown forces, Claire is released from her cell and suddenly finds she’s left to fend for herself. All this, I might add, is displayed in an excellent opening FMV movie. The game begins at this point where you must begin unravelling the mystery of where you are, who’s behind the island and how to escape.

Immediately you will notice the changes made possible by the Dreamcast’s power. The game now has it’s own fully three dimensional engine. ALL the graphics are presented in real time. The pre-rendered backdrops of the PlayStation make no appearance at all and as a result the camera is not fixed into one place and will freely move around allowing panning and zoom. Technically the game is stunning, the three dimensional backgrounds of the Dreamcast look far superior to that of pre-rendered backdrops of the old grey war horse. The dynamic camera positions and movement similar to that of Dino Crisis adds tension which really has to be experienced first hand to be able to fully appreciate the difference it makes. As the saying goes “The real fear is only that which is hinted at”.

The developers have worked hard at creating spooky camera angles and direction that keeps you on the edge of your seat and you never really know what’s going to happen next. The other advantage that the 3D engine gives the game is dynamic lighting. As the screen shots show, the effect is amazing and adds enormously to the atmosphere. This creates another layer of tension that’s added when you’re walking cautiously down claustrophobic corridors with only your lighter to see what’s in front of you. The genre is based on these principals of tension and apprehension and Capcom have done another sterling job with the extra power. And all this runs at the Dreamcast standard silky smooth 60 frames a second, lovely.

The gameplay itself follows along the lines of its predecessors, a healthy dose of puzzle and zombie blasting is balanced at a perfect medium. The menus and control system have been left intact allowing experienced Resident players to dive straight into the game. For those who haven’t dabbled in the survival horror genre yet, the initial puzzles and difficulty are simple and the learning curve is also perfectly constructed. Once you’re into the swing of things the puzzles become more complex and the enemies gain more diversity. The yellow things with the extended reach are one of the monsters which torment my mind most often.

Another trademark for which the Resident Evil series is known is the set pieces. The cinematic story-developing scenes are tremendous. The new engine allows better use of story developing moments and full on FMV is kept to a minimum in favour of more cut scenes taken direct from the engine. The voice acting is surprisingly good for a video game and some scenes really are remembered for their emotional voice overs.

It’s a joy to see that Capcom have done a really thorough job of upgrading the series to the new platform but there are still niggles that remain. The control system is still slow and cumbersome – dodging bog standard zombies isn’t too tough but when you have gigantic worms and rabid dogs hurtling towards you the controls still just aren’t responsive enough to prevent face chomping by the enemy. Plenty of back tracking is required, within the first few hours I have had to return to the very beginning of the game twice in order to acquire items I’ve needed. Finally, I found myself completely stuck having no idea where to go or what to do, at times it can be very frustrating not knowing what to do even though it could be something as simple as using your lighter or returning to a certain area. Saying that, if you can hack MDK 2, this will be nigh on intuitive to hardened gamers.

All things considered, Resident Evil: Code Veronica is all that you could want from the series in its next-generation form and more. It’s the first game in the series that has really drawn me back into the atmosphere of the game since the original.

Tyrannosaurus Tex GBC

The first and only FPS on Game Boy Color starts looking large and in charge. Where would we be today without Face Ball 2000? The happy first-person shooter allowed up to four players to battle it out in 3D using four off-white brick Game Boys. Keep in mind that this was long before the days of Quake or GoldenEye, and players would have to be hard up for four-player FPS action to play that two to three fps slideshow. We mention Face Ball because, at first glance, Tyrannosaurus Tex looks very similar to the first Game Boy FPS. However, closer inspection will reveal that the two games are vastly different.

The story goes that cowboy Tex from East Wood has gone to inspect a newly opened diamond mine, only to find it overrun with robots and dinosaurs. As Tex it’s up to you to use six shooters and shotguns (and possibly some more powerful weapons) to clean out the mine. The game will offer up the first chance on the Game Boy Color to run and gun everything that moves through 28 3D levels. Each multicolored level is crammed with enemies and items to collect, as well as the requisite key collecting.

The GBC lends itself nicely to this sort of game — as opposed to the original Game Boy — since differentiating between the ceiling, floor, wall, door and oncoming enemy is made much easier through the use of color. The Game Boy Color hardware will be pushed to its limits even when the game engine isn’t running. In between levels players will be treated to stunning 2000 color stills that move the story along.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, T-Tex will ship with multiplayer support. After all, isn’t that what a good FPS is all about? Slitherine Software has wisely included the option, which hopefully won’t get bogged down via the link cable.

A game this ambitious is guaranteed to be delayed, and Slitherine has certainly had its share of problems. Originally scheduled to arrive four months ago, Tyrannosaurus Tex should finally be in gamers’ hands next month.

Worms Armageddon Got It

Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I think I’ll go eat worms. Big fat juicy ones, teeny little skinny ones, see how they wriggle and squirm. The type of game dates back to early days of computers. Some of you may know a popular little shareware game from many years ago called Scorched Earth, where two players faced off against each other with two tanks, firing rounds of various weaponry at each other while taking the angle of trajectory, wind, and type of weapon into account. Well, now imagine a game like that where armies of worms — crawly, slimy, fish-bait worms — tote bazookas, grenades, and flamethrowers around cartoon backgrounds. Now imagine those worms with funny voices, hilarious death sequences, and special weapons like Banana Bombs and Flying Sheep, and you’ll begin to understand the popularity of a little game called Worms.

Worms Armageddon brings the incredibly cute, impossibly violent game to the N64. As many as four players can square off against each other in a last-man-standing battle for supremacy, while flinging air strikes, holy hand-grenades, and little old ladies at each other. Players simply choose their weapon, adjust for trajectory, power, and wind-factor, and launch away. Attacks range from underground nuclear testing that causes sickness in all the worms on the screen, to karate punches that send the opposing worm flying through the air. You can also experience Pokemon Moon. Just download the rom files here.

While demolishing the enemy, the worms deliver a wide range of one liner and witty quips in a variety of accents. The PC version of the game lets players import their own sounds, but the N64 will more than likely just let players choose from a list of possibilities, which will include some of the 18 voice sets included in the PC version.

Moves are made during a time limited turn phase. Players only have so much time to move their worm, choose their weapon, aim, and fire. The game contains 41 weapons, ranging from sheep launchers for massive destruction to ninja rope that lets worms travel from one end of the map to another.

The levels are created on the fly, pulling from many different backgrounds for infinite possibilities. Players can choose to have an enclosed, open, hilly, or flat arena. Some of the levels are purpose-built, especially in the training modes.

The single-player game will pit you against several computer adversaries, and you must keep your team of worms alive. Teams will range from only a few to several worms on a side, and placement is random. However, this is very much a two-player experience.

The replay value on this game will be enormous as new levels are created for each match-up between players. The worms themselves will generate laugh after laugh as they shoot, flame, grenade, and napalm each other, with plenty of cartoon special effects adding to the hilarity. Along with the incredibly cute nature of the exploding fish food fellas, this game is sure to be a big hit with young and old gamers alike.

Xena Warrior Princess: The Talisman of Fate

If you’re looking for a game that puts the moves of Xena at your mercy, well, here it is. It’s easy to see why the television show Xena: Warrior Princess has such a huge following — the two beautiful main female characters (one of which always wears leather) journey through an ancient land filled with action, intrigue, and morality lessons. Oh, and there’s always the hope of watching Xena and her sidekick Gabrielle take their relationship to “the next level,” nudge-nudge wink-wink say no more!

It’s really no surprise, then, that games based on the Xena license have started to pour forth, and the first of several planned by Titus to appear on the Nintendo 64 turns out to be a rather simple, yet fan-appealing, fighting game. We recently had a chance to sit down with a preview version of the game, and were fairly surprised at the quality of the title.

Players can choose from ten different Xena characters — Xena, Gabrielle, Caesar, Ephiny, Ares, Velasca, Callisto, Joxer, Lao Ma, and Autolycus. Each character will have signature moves and weapons, such as Callisto’s fireball and Autolycus’ grappling hook. While the frames of animation aren’t exactly numerous, the game controls from the version we played worked rather well. Each of the characters reacted quickly to our commands, and it will only get better before release.

The real appeal of the game will of course be for Xena fans. The character textures are surprisingly accurate, and the sounds, taken directly from the television show, sound great. Stunt performers from the show performed the motion-capture for the characters in the game, which the developer, Saffire, then modified to fit some of the more remarkable jumps and maneuvers you can perform.

The single-player mode pits the player against a series of combatants in a tournament to see who can get the Talisman of Fate away from Despair. Once players reach Despair, they can unlock the big devil as the 11th character in the game. While the computer AI wasn’t terribly good in the version we played, Saffire still has time to beef it up. Every gamer apart from Xena fans has to experience the cheats tool for Plants vs Zombies Heroes. As many as four players can hop into a game at a time, and players can either play team battles or join in a free-for-all. If only two players are available, you can fill out the extra slots with computer opponents. Fighting with four players onscreen at once creates a bit of havoc, but is immensely fun.

While the game could still use some tweaking before it’s major hit material, Talisman of Fate looks like it could be a nice fighting game for players yearning for more battles on their N64s. You can take a look at the game for yourself when it comes out on November 15th