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MR.COATES

MR.COATES
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      05.12.2002 17:21
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      If huge waves, toned bodies and using the word ‘dude’ doesn’t do much for you, then you may wish to look away…..now. As if we haven’t seen enough extreme sports stars appearing under Activision O2’s brand, in walks another. But when Tony Hawk’s, shortly arriving in his fourth version, sells so many darned copies, it’s hard to resist moving on to other board-based sports. So along with Shaun Palmer’s Snowboarding we now are introduced to another bloke who laughs in the face of danger – Kelly Slater, SIX-time World Champion. No, I’ve not got that wrong, and no sniggering at his ‘girlie’ name, you’d cry if you could see his trophy cabinet or even worse, his bank balance. Features: It doesn’t take a genius to work out that there’s going to be a whole load of surfing going on but it all comes in different flavours. Free Surf allows you to practice your moves and generally just get some experience without worrying about scoring points or running out of time. A decent multiplayer mode is available including Head-to-Head, Time Attack and the excellent ‘Push’ mode which gives the player who scores the most points a bigger screen. The Career mode is the main portion of the game, which will see you travelling around the world on your boat to exotic locations and riding huge waves in top competitions. There are 15 top places to visit featuring 30 levels which have their individual traits. Graphics: Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer doesn’t exactly push the Xbox hardware to its full capabilities but it’s certainly not been beaten with the ugly stick either. All of the 9 selectable surfers look realistic, the environments do have a good range of different looks and the waves can look magnificent. It’s more of the subtle points such as spray and being able to see through the waves/water that show hints of quality. There is no detecta
      ble slowdown and the overall presentation, including menus etc is slick. On top of that there are also a load of video clips which feature throughout the game – usually whilst talking about a new location and that really does add a huge plus point to the overall surfing experience. There is even an unlockable 30 minute Kelly Slater TV show! Sound: There are two reasons to be excited about sound with Xbox games. 1 – the fact that you can get PROPER Dolby Digital sound and 2 - custom soundtracks. The Dolby Digital sound is present and correct but strangely there isn’t the option to use your own tunes, something which is featured in the O2 flagship Tony Hawk series. Nevertheless, the included tunes are pretty good anyway featuring Pearl Jam and a load of other great artists, some of which you probably wont have heard of before. Sadly no Beach Boys though…. Gameplay: With such a rare genre, it’s not the kind of game that you’re going to just be able to pick up and instantly get to grips with. First stop – the tutorial mode. Let Mr.Slater talk you through the various moves and before you know it you’ll be riding the wild surf. Just like Tony Hawk’s, there are loads of different tricks to perform including grabs, air tricks, flip tricks and you can even enter the tube (the bit of the wave that curls over) Old Spice stylee! The Verdict: There isn’t much competition in this particular genre but nevertheless, Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer is actually a good game, especially for a first outing. The gameplay can become a little repetitive despite the different locations but that’s always going to be likely when riding ON waves is involved. It’s enjoyable, very different whilst looking and sounding great. Surfing fans will love it based on content and gameplay alone and those craving something very different should definitely give it a go. MR.COATES

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        02.10.2002 17:40
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        500 courses, 20,000 cars, ‘Ultimately Boring Racing’ is THE racer of the moment…blah blah blah…. We’ve seen and heard it all before when it comes to racing games when we talk of how many ‘fully licensed’ cars and ‘real-life’courses are available. Once the initial wow factor begins to wear off it all becomes a matter of unlocking the cars and tracks. That’s about it. But it seems that the boys and girls over at Codemasters were thinking the same thing because here we have Toca Race Driver and it’s rather different from the rest… You are Ryan McKane and in his racing boots your goal is to become successful, rich and even reach the dizzy heights of the underground Elite league. No longer is it a case of seeing your own name in lights and although that may sound a little disappointing, you will be quite surprised just how effective this idea is. Graphics: For those of you who have fond memories of the Toca’s gone by, Toca Race Driver is a pretty new affair that encompasses all of the good points from previous versions. The thing is, I was actually expecting the visuals to be a foregone thumbs up. So it is with great sadness that I have to grudgingly admit that they’re actually rather disappointing at times. The vehicles are magnificently modelled, tracks that I know are very accurate indeed (right down the Spitfire at Donington Park) and the cut-scenes which cleverly weave the racing action together are superb. On the downside though, the level of detail is a little ropey at times and the amount of pop-up is actually quite shocking. I actually can’t believe that I’m having to say it but yes, TRD is visually nowhere near as impressive as I was expecting. What a shame. Sound: Fortunately things pick up now so don’t fret if you’re feeling a little downbeat! As a huge fan of Touring Cars I can give a thumbs up t
        o the sound elements in TRD. Engines sound absolutely spot-on and despite the reviewer in OPS2 magazine’s opinion, the engines ‘whine’ for a reason. Muppet. Anyway, cars sound fantastic, tyres screech, collision noises are painfully realistic and one point that deserves special mention is the speech. There is absolutely tons of speech to go with the cut-scenes and you even get tips when you’re tweaking the cars in the pits. Playability: If there is one thing that has rightly earnt Codemasters a good reputation in racing games, it has to be playability. Despite the graphical shortfall, TRD plays magnificently. The racing action is finely balanced between technical and exciting. The overall performance is still geared towards and Arcade style but there is plenty in there to satisfy the fans of the included racing leagues. On that point, you now don’t just get to race the cars associated with the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) you also get to experience the likes of DTM (Germany) and even the Australian V8 Supercars. There are a load of additional cars to unlock which are not race cars but highly desirable nonetheless. Features: As already mentioned, there are a vast number of vehicles to use, a great variety of actual race courses from around the world and following the story through from start to end will take up many hours of your time. The typical multiplayer options are there and after each championship you will find that you will be challenged by other drivers and your reward is their car. IF you can beat them. The Verdict: Toca Race Driver is one game that I’ve been waiting quite some time for and despite the graphical downside, this is still an incredibly impressive game. The new approach works brilliantly and the story that leads you from the death of Ryan’s father to the twist at the end (yes, there is actually some heavy stuff in this story!) can really gra
        b you. Codemasters deserve a big slap on the back for doing something different and I would certainly like to see more of this kind of thing in future. A great game that any driving fan should have but one that PS2 owners can actually be proud to sit next to GT3. MR.COATES

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          21.08.2002 02:25
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          I’ve always been a bit of a Star Wars man myself. I know what you’re thinking, ‘He’s going to give our beloved programme a verbal trouncing’. Saying that though, I’ve always been partial to the majority of science fiction and when sci-fi and games meet, I’m in intergalactic heaven. So here we have Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force where you will find yourself in the shoes of Ensign Munro. Life is never simple on board the U.S.S. Voyager so you won’t be surprised when an alien probe interrupts your 70-year journey back to earth. As you and the Voyager crew are unwillingly transported to a mysterious null-space graveyard, things are not looking good. Your mission is to lead Tuvok’s Hazard Team around the deserted wrecks of the other starships to find a way to normal space and ultimately, home. GRAPHICS I checked several times to make sure that some prankster hadn’t replaced my PS2 with an N64 but nobody has. So why on earth does STV:EF look so damned awful?! There are plenty of eye-catching effects to be seen, the levels all vary significantly but it all looks so unfinished. It’s unfair to compare the PS2 graphics to the PC version but they are so dramatically different that you really have to ask some serious questions as to why the final result is so totally disappointing. Characters are generally modelled well with mouth movement during speech and even as a non-Trekkie, even I recognised some of the characters quite easily. My favourites have to be the Borg though. Not because they’re a mean looking bunch or anything like that, just because they die in a hilarious fashion! If you can imagine someone’s position after they’ve been hit with a serious rats tail (*) on the backside, that’s how it looks (honest!). * Roll up a towel diagonally so you have one corner of it surrounded by the rest of the towel. Then use it like a whip on some po
          or soul. I only recommend that you do this to nearby Borg as you may well be beaten to death if you do it to a human. Although running on the Quake 3 engine, STV:EF suffers from some serious issues. The frame-rate suffers frequent attacks of jerkiness so when it all kicks off you’ll be experiencing a bit of unintentional bullet-time (slow motion) action. This really is the icing on the cake on the graphics front as results in a low score. 10/20 SOUND Thankfully the sound doesn’t quite match the graphics and that can only be a good thing. There appear to be a few musical glitches and occasional sound level issues but other than that the sound performs well. One area that particularly deserves commendation is the speech. Although subtitles are featured, there is an absolutely enormous amount of speech to experience. Genuine actors from the TV series make an appearance and can you believe that some of the script actually has some funny moments too? I know, who would have thought that Star Trek could be connected to anything vaguely funny? (I’ll probably get assimilated for that comment at a later date). Some of the featured weapons have impressive effects to accompany them and on the whole it’s a reasonable thumbs-up in terms of all things aural. 15/20 LIFESPAN There are a number of options that will help to lengthen the lifespan of this game including a comprehensive multiplayer mode. There are 30 levels, or holodecks, to experience in multiplayer mode and if you have a multitap you can engage in four-player action. Sadly you can’t engage in botmatches which is a real shame but that tarnishes an otherwise perfectly acceptable package. If it’s firepower that you crave, you’ll be pleased to know that you have an arsenal of 9 weapons at your disposal with 18 firing modes. Of course you start off with the usual rubbish but you will pick up new ones as you prog
          ress. The main game itself has several levels of difficulty and this will of course have a major effect on how quickly you can complete the game. I won’t put a time on completion as it’s always hard to tell with FPS titles but this certainly isn’t the kind of game you’ll be polishing off in a weekend unless you don’t plan on sleeping. 18/25 GAMEPLAY Potentially there is huge scope here for something good. Even non-Trekkies should be able to see the appealing parts in here with a decent mix of action and puzzle solving. The problem is that due to the amount of frame-rate issues, Star Trek Voyager is painful to play. Rarely will you come across a situation where the gameplay is totally ruined by performance on a console game but it’s happened here and it’s done some serious damage. Controlling your character is not difficult with the Dual Shock controller and can be tweaked suitably to allow you to use your ideal set-up. You even have the option of using the keyboard and mouse configuration, which of course no self-respecting PC gamer would do without. 10/25 ORIGINALITY We’ve all got our favourite first person shooters by now. I’m sure you’re already thinking of Half Life, Halo and even Red Faction deserves a mention if we’re on the route of originality. This particular game is actually heading on the right track but doesn’t exactly break any major boundaries. Aside from the theme you’re not likely to be bowled over by new discoveries. Half-Life has a better storyline, Red Faction has the Geo Mod and Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force simply has the Star Trek franchise to cling on to. 6/10 OVERALL I’m not a Trekkie, my fondest memories are when William Shatner was in charge of the Enterprise although I know I’m not alone on that one. STV:EF is, despite the subject matter, a potentially great game and
          proved it’s worth on the PC. Sadly though, the PS2 version is at very best an average offering and certainly doesn't come close to the standards achieved in its PC counterpart. If you’re a die-hard Star Trek fan then this is certainly worth a look but with competition from Half Life, Unreal Tournament and Red Faction, there is very little here to write in your Captain’s log about. MR.COATES

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            19.08.2002 22:53
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            GAME INFORMATION Price: £24.99 Genre: Racing Players: 1-2 If there’s one game genre that made the Playstation as popular as it was, it was probably racing games. We saw the likes of Colin McRae, TOCA and no doubt I’d be run over if I didn’t mention Gran Turismo. One thing to note about all of those games is that they were all so successful that they also saw sequels on the same console. Things have moved on now and PS2 is today highly established and performing well. We haven’t yet seen the arrival of McRae and TOCA (at time of writing they’re almost here!). But we have seen our old, and always welcome, friend Gran Turismo in the guise of Gran Turismo 3. Nobody said we’d get an original name for the third instalment but I don’t think that anyone really cares. GT3 still has a very treasured place in my PS2 collection but, as with most GT fans, I’m always looking forward to the next game. Japan then saw the release of Gran Turismo:Concept, which featured a myriad of weird and wonderful cars which are usually only seen once and never make it onto the public market. The obvious ‘It’s unlikely we’ll see a European release’ statements soon followed and we all sank into our chairs knowing that only those with import consoles would be enjoying GT:Concept. That is until Sony announced that they would in fact be releasing the game for release in Europe. Hurrah! GRAPHICS Although there appear to be a few slight tweaks, there is very little difference between Concept and GT3. Saying that though, the graphics in GT3 were, and still are, absolutely fantastic. The vehicles are wonderfully constructed featuring real-time reflections and highly accurate models. Most of the tracks are featured in GT3 although there are a couple of new inclusions in the shape of the Autumn Ring track featured in Gran Turismo and a totally bizarre course which is specifi
            cally for use in the Toyota Pod Race. On the whole GT:Concept is graphically a highly polished gem which still keeps up with the very latest games releases. 18/20 SOUND Unless you are the very proud owner of some of the best vehicles in the world, it’s unlikely that you’re going to know the difference between a Golf GTI and a Nissan Skyline GTR. The differences in engine noise are very distinct however and some of the vehicles sound absolutely fantastic. The familiar Feeder and Ash tracks make a re-appearance as featured in GT3 so don’t expect a totally new soundtrack to go with those new cars. Again though, this is only an update so the familiar feel of GT3 is there to be enjoyed rather than picked at. 17/20 LIFESPAN Now it’s time to give Gran Turismo:Concept its one, but very serious beating. It’s simply an update, not a completely new game and as such does not contain anywhere near as many cars or courses as the full-blown GT3. You do get a few new additions such as the Autumn Ring course, the highly amusing Pod race and even a pace car during licence qualification but GT:Concept is a very short affair. Even if you only play the game for a couple of hours per night, it’s only likely to last you a couple of weekends. I assure you that is no exaggeration, after the first night (just over 2 hours of playing) I had completed 27% of the game. So although there are some new elements to enjoy, the novelty will soon wear off. You do of course have the usual I-Link and 2-player options but unless there are particular cars that you want to race around in (VW Lupo anyone?) then you’re unlikely to wring a great deal of extra life out of it. 12/25 GAMEPLAY What GT:Concept lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. Some would argue that this is much more important and I agree to a certain extent. The great handling is still present
            , different levels of difficulty are available and some of the races I’ve been in have been a real challenge. As opposed to GT3, in GT:Concept you’ll need to gain access to the tracks rather than earning licences. You still have to race against the clock to get either a Gold, Silver or Bronze award but the result is then a bonus car (if you get Silver or Gold) plus you’ll unlock that track for general use. Your mission then very much becomes a case of unlocking all of the cars and features. You’ll earn new cars of various types by unlocking the tracks and by racing on them in normal races. You will be taken to the Progress screen from time to time which will let you see how much of the game you have unlocked. Some of the cars are a real thrill to play with and I guarantee that you’ll find the Toyota Pod race highly amusing (nothing to do with Star Wars I hasten to add!) 22/25 ORIGINALITY As well as most of the existing elements of GT3, GT:Concept concentrates more heavily on the cars. You practically get a new vehicle every time you start up the game so your collection will rapidly begin to swell. Although the game is original by including a vast amount of Concept and Prototype vehicles, the rest is merely a bolt-on to GT3. Die-hard fans of the series will find many points of enjoyment in here, the inclusion of the Pace Car during the licence races is a great choice and can really help achieve those ‘Gold’ times. Other than that it’s basically business as usual so unless you’ve never played any of the Gran Turismo games, you’re unlikely to feel like you’ve never seen any of this before. 7/10 OVERALL You can’t knock Sony for releasing GT:Concept as it’s normally the kind of game that we would never get the chance to see. One thing that you also need to remember is that the game has an RRP of only £24.99 althoug
            h GT3 is available on Platinum for £19.99 of course. I really enjoyed GT:Concept while it lasted and there are some incredible cars in there to be unlocked and enjoyed. For most of you, renting this game may be a better option and I’m sure that someone out there will quite happily complete this in a day. MR.COATES

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              09.08.2002 04:15
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              Another month, another console. It?s gaming heaven at the moment with the recent arrival of Xbox and now Nintendo are back on the scene with the Gamecube. Despite the usual ?Nintendo is for kids? arguments and lack of mass-enthusiasm for the console, there are two very big reasons why you should consider owning this machine. 1. It?s £129.99 2. Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron 2 That?s right, a Lucasarts game is the reason to be the proud owner of a Gamecube and the launch titles were none too shabby so less of the ?Crikey, what are the others like then?!? comments. Relive the moment: Rogue Leader sees you in the shoes of Luke Skywalker and trusty sidekick Wedge Antilles carrying out over 11 missions relating to the Star Wars Trilogy. You want X, Y and B Wings? No problem. How about a Snowspeeder and the Millennium Falcon too? That?s right, you can pilot them all in a variety of settings including Hoth, Bespin and of course a dash of outer-space action is a must. Graphics: It?s incredible to see what that little Cube can do. Rogue Squadron 2 looks superb throughout and there is very little to criticise. The first mission based around the Death Star is quite basic in appearance although the speed of the proceedings deserves mentioning. As you get stuck in though you?ll encounter some superb moments. The Hoth battles in particular look great, you can even see your Rebel troops running around on the ground as your hurtle past in the Snowspeeder. For a launch title you have to admit that RS2 looks very impressive indeed and it shows that Nintendo are well and truly up there with Microsoft and Sony. Sound: It would be a sin to allow a visually impressive game to sound like a bag of nails so it?s a big relief to discover that it?s not the case. Gamers are treated to some fantastic orchestral moments lifted directly from the films, as well as actual dialogue from the Star Wars trilogy. As if that wasn?t
              enough, Lucasarts have even hired Dennis Lawson who played Wedge Antilles to voice some of the additional dialogue. For the Audiophiles out there, you?ll be disappointed to find that there is no glorious 5.1 Dolby Digital sound to impress you as now regularly seen on Xbox. There is however a very surprising inclusion in the form of a Pro Logic II soundtrack. To my knowledge this is actually a first for any game and for those of you who have one of the latest amplifiers will be able to take advantage of this all-new soundtrack. Fear not though, if you?ve got bog-standard Pro Logic equipment or a Dolby Digital set-up you?ll still be highly impressed. Gameplay: A game that looks and sounds so good can all go down the Imperial pan if the gameplay lets everything down. But hurrah, it?s another good move and what a joy Rogue Leader is to play. All of the spacecraft which you?ll control have a big impact on how you can perform. The X-Wing will quite happily be thrown around for those space battles whilst the Snowspeeder is almost glued to the ground and gives you a fantastic sense of speed. The artificial intelligence of your computer-controlled enemies is also highly impressive. In the very first mission this is revealed very clearly. It?s simple to blow some Tie-Fighters out of the sky but others will perform evasive manoeuvres in a frantic attempt to get you off their tail ? superb stuff. The Verdict: I?m utterly gobsmacked that Lucasarts have produced a game of such an impressive standard. This is an excellent game all-round and Star Wars fans will be in utter heaven. If you own a Gamecube then you should also own a copy of this game whether you?re a Star Wars fan or not. I really can?t recommend this game enough as a fan but in any case, this is excellent. MR.COATES

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              • Bloody Roar -Primal Fury (PC) / PC Game / 0 Readings / 16 Ratings
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                07.08.2002 03:15
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                When you pause to think about fighting games it's quite likely that you'll instantly think of Tekken, Virtua Fighter and possibly even the Street Fighter series. Today the supreme rulers of the genre are generally Tekken and Dead Or Alive whilst Virtua Fighter 4 is enjoying a multi-format update. The thing is, Nintendo are the ones who seem to have missed out on all the action. Sure, we all loved Goldeneye and Zelda on the N64 but where were the decent fighting games? Well that's all about to change with the arrival of Bloody Roar: Primal Fury on Gamecube. Yes Ninty has gone 3D and boy have they done it in style. Not only can you choose one of 16 fighters, you also have ten interactive and destructible levels to fight in. Oh, and it would be a crime not to mention that your character can transform into a lethal Ass-whooping beast. So, now that I've got your attention... Graphics: Well slap my thigh with a large clawed-paw. BR:PF looks absolutely incredible! When Tekken 3 dragged its sorry self onto the PS2 we did have to confess that it looked pretty good. Bloody Roar however, looks so much better. It's actually not a million miles behind Dead Or Alive 3 on Xbox and believe me, that's a serious compliment. Characters are highly detailed, most of the fighting arenas are impressive (especially the underwater aquarium style beauty) and some of the effects are gorgeous. The best thing about all this though has to be that throughout the frame-rate is absolutely blistering, 60FPS (frames per second) is the boast. Sound: Want some seriously cheesy 80's arcade music? No? Well, you've got it anyway I'm afraid but it's only a few button presses to sort that out from the menu! Aside from the sound there really isn't much to complain or shout about. A vast array of oohs and aahs can be heard and the special visual effects are always appropriately backed up with a juicy soun
                d. Each arena also has its own distinct noises including my personal favourite, the aircraft carrier. Features: Seven game modes can be found including Versus, Arcade and Team Battle. All have their merits and the inclusion of Versus modes ensure longevity and variety. The Beast Form element of Bloody Roar is definitely a key part of the game. Transforming into your relevant Beast From enables you to pull of some incredible moves but it's something that you'll need to master slowly and surely to do it well. Each character becomes a different Beast and there are a huge amount of moves to be learnt across the various characters. Ironically, the simplest moves are the Beast Drives which are seriously impressive but will make you look like a hairy fool if you get it wrong. Playability: How painless playing Bloody Roar is. Fire up your Gamecube, select a game mode and fire away. You can of course practice your moves in Training mode or even copy them from the manual but it's also good to just pick up and play. You'll soon discover that you can pull off plenty of impressive attack combos by simply bashing away at buttons but you'll need to open that manual to unleash the mightier moves to prosper when things get tough. The Cube controller is comfortable throughout and even the Z Button (that flippin' awful purple one) is quite useful as it's a quick way to transform into your Beast. The Verdict: I'm pleased to say that this reviewer is pleasantly surprised. At first glance of the packaging you can be forgiven for dismissing BR:PF as a gimmicky game that has no real substance. Never judge a game by it's cover (or was it book) they say and I for one have to agree. Gamecube has a quality fighting title and few would have thought that it wouldn't have Tekken or DOA in the title. MR.COATES

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                • Fuzion Frenzy (Xbox) / Xbox Game / 0 Readings / 18 Ratings
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                  05.08.2002 04:31
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                  Every now and then you?ll discover a game that has on one hand had brilliant reviews but then countered by some dreadful ones. Fuzion Frenzy on Xbox is most definitely one such game. So just to add more fuel to the fire ? let?s have butchers? at this loved and loathed title? Features: It?s pitched as ?Non-stop party game action?, the ultimate multiplayer fun game. Most Xbox owners will of course only have one game heard when you talk about the best multiplayer experience and that?s Halo. Still, Fuzion Frenzy boasts 4-player simultaneous action, six gaming environments and get this ? 45 mini-games! The idea is simple, up to four of you can battle against each other through the mini-games to rack up the most points. The player who gets the most wins, of course. How you play is up to you. Either go for a single game where you choose which mini-game you play or alternatively, get stuck in to the full-on Tournament experience. In the Tournament mode you can choose to play in either two, four or all six of the different stages but you can?t choose the mini-games, the Xbox will do that for you. Don?t fret if you?re a lonely one joypad kind of person, there will always be four players in a game, so if three of you are playing, there will be one computer-controlled player etc. Graphics: We?re all only too aware of how many millions of polygons the Xbox can chuck onto our screens but there?s one test that always works best. Does it make you say ?That looks great?? Rallisport Challenge ? Yes. Amped ? Absolutely. Halo ? Do I even need to answer that? Fuzion Frenzy ? So this is on Dreamcast? Don?t get me wrong ? NOTHING wrong with Dreamcast, I loved that flippin? console but Fuzion Frenzy just doesn?t have you swooning over the Xbox specs. You do get some great lighting effects and you have a very effective camera which always lets you see all of the players. Other than that thoug
                  h, Fuzion Frenzy won?t leave you feeling stunned. Sound: Fortunately it picks up a bit here as straight away you?ve got the option to chuck in your own personal soundtrack. Which is handy, as you?re not going to be humming along to the ones that come with the game! Character voicing is another point well worthy of mention. All six characters have very individual voices, their own special lines and even taunts when they?re thrashing the opposition. My personal favourite has to be Dub, a scouse accent always sounds excellent! Yes, you?ll be hearing lines such as: ?Aahm so good it heeerts? (I?m so good it hurts)! The general game sound effects are also more than good enough with speedboats, bombs and even fireworks making an appearance. Gameplay: Now for the make or break part. For some, the simplistic gameplay becomes dull or repetitive. For me however, Fuzion Frenzy is a seriously playable and highly enjoyable experience. The mini-games are brief but not too short and the sheer amount of different games to go through should ensure that you?ll keep coming back for more. About a month after having played on FF frequently I actually came across one of the mini-games I hadn?t played yet. Controlling the characters/vehicles is pretty simple too. Generally you?ll only use the left joystick/pad plus the X and B buttons, I?m sure most of us could even manage that after a few beverages?. The Verdict: You?ve got to keep things in perspective with Fuzion Frenzy. For £39.99 you can leave it on the shelf. There are several Xbox games that are absolutely essential purchases before this. I got my copy (new) for £17.99 and for that price it?s an absolute bargain. Fantastic multiplayer fun that will suit the majority of tastes, it?s not for everyone though and only an attractive proposition at the new lower price. MR.COATES

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                    01.08.2002 02:13
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                    Formula One, Superbikes, Touring Cars. Great Motorsports I?m sure some of you will agree. Well what about Super Trucks? Yes, Trucks, Lorries ? those transporter thingies. Fancy racing one of them? I bet you do, so climb on board, it?s racing with a difference. Features: The Super Truck Championship is actually only second to Formula 1 in terms of popularity and race attendance in Europe! What you are treated with is seven real-life circuits and trucks which have apparently been authentically recreated with help from the 14 official teams. An extensive list of options including Truck set-up (tyre pressures can even be adjusted!), difficulty settings and the usual sound/visual options. A number of game modes are available including five championships which enable you to unlock additional tracks and trucks. Single, Arcade and Multiplayer races also make an appearance finishing off a normal but more than acceptable package. Graphics: On the whole, Super Trucks looks impressive with minimal amounts of pop-up, vehicle damage and even motion blur. If it had been a launch title it would have blown us away but 18 months into the PS2?s life you will have seen visually more stunning games. Saying that though there is virtually no pop-up, excellent weather effects and even the draw-distance in the rear-view mirror is impressive. In-game action is fluid, menus are simple but slick whilst replays make an essential appearance and they make your races look pretty darned good actually. Mind you they should, Cameramen from the F1 broadcasting team were involved in the replays and it does show with some very well chosen angles and movement. Sounds: Jester seem intent on doing some things well and then spoiling it all by including some rubbish bits. Just like the graphics, Super Trucks performs admirably in the sound department. Even if you?ve never seen these monstrous five-tonne beasts racing you can imagine just
                    how much noise and mess they can make. So enjoy the tyre squeal from those huge rubber rings, cringe as your truck crunches into the side of your competitors and positively whince when the soundtrack fires up. Yes, some buffoon decided to include the traditional pap arcade/muzac soundtrack. Oh well, you can?t win ?em all ? just turn it off in the audio options and enjoy the more impressive elements?. Playability: Now we?re no longer talking Fiat Panda stakes ? we?re in Super Truck mode! If you?ve played the likes of Gran Turismo, Metropolis Street Racer or Toca 2 you?ll know what a great racing game is all about. Plenty of tracks, great cars/vehicles, realistic handling and fiendishly clever opponents. Take all of those elements and add a dash of giant powder and you?ll end up with something like Super Trucks. There is something outrageously addictive about this game from almost the first time you are involved in a race. The handling seems to be absolutely bang on, although I haven?t raced many lorries. Not recently anyway. One thing that does stand out above everything else is the AI opponents. My god, they?ll sit in your slipstream, fake an overtake on one side and go for the other, try to out-brake you into corners and they?ll even give you a helpful nudge if you?re in the way too much. Time after time, especially from the raised on-board view, you will see your opponents doing seriously scary stuff behind you. Top tip, watch out for the bloke who has a giant bear in his passenger seat ? he?s a loose cannon? The Verdict: I can?t actually quite believe how good Super Trucks is. Not that I was expecting a total shower of rubbish but I certainly didn?t think I?d come away with a big grin on my face. Most racing fans will love the action and it?s certainly much more original than the average GT clone. Great graphics, reasonable longevity and exciting racing makes Super Trucks a genuinely cracking game.
                    Yorkie and greasy spoon cafe not included. MR.COATES

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                      22.04.2002 18:38
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                      I find that most ‘good’ reviews are simply a question of taste. What one reader finds thoroughly interesting – another will find boring. It’s not always a case of subject matter though. Games are a superb example of this. My Wife hates computer games, can’t stand them at all and simply doesn’t understand why anyone would want to sit around playing on a machine. That doesn’t mean that she would necessarily find a review on a game or piece of gaming hardware uninteresting. My top 5 tips are: 5. Dicshionairy. There is nothing worse than reading a review which looks like it’s been put together by a five-year-old. I would never confess to being a literary genius but I always try to ensure that grammatical and spelling mistakes are kept to a minimum. If you’ve got it available, write your reviews in Word or a similar word processing programme – most feature a grammar/spell checking facility and that will help sort out many of those little errors. 4. Read it. As an extra precautionary measure, read through your review before posting it. Usually you won’t notice a mistake until you read over it yourself. This will also give you an idea of how good the review sounds – you may find that you’ve gone over the same thing more than once or that it’s a little dull. 3. Know it. When it comes to games especially, it pays to know what you’re talking about. If you’ve played the game once it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to bang out a superb and informative review. Most magazine reviewers will spend days playing the game before spending days writing the review – not just a couple of hours on the game and then fifteen minutes on the review. Get stuck in and if possible, complete the game before writing about it. Someone may want some advice about the game and it's nice when you can help
                      others with their gaming problems. Break the review down into relevant parts. Graphics, Sound, Content and Gameplay are crucial elements. If it's a PC game it's definitely worth discussing the minimum/recommended specs. If you don’t know what you’re talking about – it’ll show and remember that people can comment! 2. Read others. There’s nothing better than reading other people’s reviews to get a good idea of how things should be done. I’m not necessarily the best writer in the world but I’m certainly better than when I first started here on Dooyoo (almost 2 years ago!). Find the crowned opinions and those that have been given mainly ‘Very Useful’ ratings – you’ll soon see why they’ve been rated as such. 1.Enjoy it. If you’re enjoying writing a review then chances are that people who read it will too. Even games have funny moments – even if it’s a glitch that’s not supposed to be there. Keep it light-hearted whenever possible, even if the game is on the whole a serious title. These tips are not the bible of writing a good games review and I have kept this brief to let you get back to writing. Know your stuff and think before you write – its great when people love your review and there’s nothing worse than getting a ‘Not Useful’ rating, especially when you know that it’s probably justified. MR.COATES

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                      • Star Wars: Obi-Wan (Xbox) / Xbox Game / 0 Readings / 22 Ratings
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                        15.04.2002 17:55
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                        Star Wars games have traditionally not done particularly well. There have been a couple of minor exceptions but we’re going back some time. In recent years things have picked up slightly with Force Commander on the PC allowing gamers to play Age Of Empires with the Star Wars vibe. Lucas Arts don’t seem to take things lying down though as there are currently quite a selection of Star Wars titles available across the various gaming platforms to try and satisfy the Fans’ needs. This is actually partly where the problem with success lies. I consider myself to be a fan of all things Star Wars. I’ve got the films, I’ve got the Toys, I signed the petition to get ‘The Phantom Menace’ on to DVD and I even met Darth Vader in Leicester when I was about six. No, please don’t run away, I’m perfectly normal. Honest. Not surprisingly though, some fans simply can not bear it when the slightest thing isn’t accurate. They will find loopholes and faults in just about anything – something that they average person won’t even notice. The result – games which are criticised for their storyline when the games themselves are actually perfectly playable. So here we are, another console, another Star Wars game. The console is Xbox, the game is Obi Wan. Grab your lightsaber young Padawan – it’s time to feel the force. The Saga continues: Obi Wan sees you in the shoes of, yes, Obi Wan Kenobi. Set alongside the story in The Phantom Menace you will encounter all manner of droids and enemies culminating in the ultimate battle against the spikey-headed Darth Maul. 15 missions await you in which you’ll have to not only unleash the force on just about everyone in sight but you’ll need to keep your thinking cap (or a Jedi alternative of your choice) on as there’s a touch of puzzle solving along the way. Sight-seeing is not on the agen
                        da but your make sure your inter-galactic passport is valid as you’ll be heading off to Obredaan (the Jin’ha homeworld) and the always dusty Tatooine among other locations. Briefly, for the geeks out there – the weeks leading up to the Trade Federation’s invasion of Naboo result in Obi Wan uncovering an underworld trail which leads him to the mysterious new enemy - the Jin’ha. Have you been polishing the water? Visually, Obi Wan ranges from totally average to beautiful. Most of the time your new box of tricks will not be pushed to any great extent. It’s only when you get to Naboo that you begin to see those moments of beauty thanks to some great water effects. The characters are all easily recognisable, the various vehicles are well re-created and the environments on the whole are fairly detailed and certainly large. My only complaint here is that there is some slowdown when it all gets a bit hectic. You’ll find yourself in a room full of droids and as it all kicks off you’ll almost be performing things in ‘bullet-time’, that well know slowdown fighting effect. Obi Wan, are you alright? The visual highs and lows are replicated in the game sounds but not to quite such extreme levels. I’ll get the bad/funny bit out of the way first. To be fair, we’ve got fully voice scripted scenarios throughout the entire game and that must not be overlooked. Too often in the past, many games have fobbed us off with text instead of properly recorded voices. The bad point is that this is based around one of the biggest Star Wars films to date and sadly we’re not treated to the vocal talents of Ewan McGregor or Liam Neeson. We don’t even get the proper voices for the droids! Now you can deal with this in one of two ways. The voices are quite bad. In a comical way though. Qui Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) doesn’t actually sound too bad but Obi
                        Wan (Ewan McGregor) is across between Ewan and someone doing a mickey-take impression of a posh Sean Connery. Okay, let’s get onto the good stuff. The one thing that has generally added a bit of Star Wars feeling to the games has been the musical score. John Williams’ magnificent music makes a welcome appearance and it transforms the gaming experience dramatically. The music has also been programmed to alter according to what’s going on in the game. So if you stumble into a room full of enemies the music kicks in, der der, der der der deeeer der!!! You know what I mean. Great stuff and really adds that genuine Star Wars feeling. Feel the force: Gameplay is on the whole good although due to the nature of the game it can become repetitive. There is a great deal of lightsaber action which despite the various moves is the centre of the action for most of the game. There are several additional weapons to pick up along the way including stun grenades and sniper rifles as well as power-ups to boost your force power and health. The controls are not overly complicated – you can perform various acrobatic moves including ‘force’ moves such as pushing over enemies and performing huge jumps. All movement is precise thanks to using the left analogue stick for walking and the right to move the lightsaber – excellent, when you’ve mastered it. If you’ve always dreamt of having a one on one Jedi battle, now is your chance. As you progress through the single player game you unlock new characters. These can then be selected in the multiplayer side of things. There are six two-player arena’s in all, they’re quite compact on the whole but plenty of opportunity exists to force push your opponent and to get a few big jumps in before crashing down on them with a swift lightsaber slap on the legs! Available characters include Mace Windu, Qui Gon Jinn and of course, Obi
                        Wan himself. The Verdict: Obi Wan has received a mixed welcome. For some it’s been yet another disappointment whilst for others it’s been given praise where it’s due. That’s pretty much how it is – the good bits are great. There’s nothing quite like leaping into action, using your Jedi powers and swinging that lightsaber at anything that looks at you the wrong way. Again though it’s those fans that will be left most disappointed due to some truly laughable voice acting and some risky new character inclusions. For me, I rather like Obi Wan and it did keep me coming back for more. It’s fun while it lasts but once completed, it’s unlikely that it’ll be taking prided place next to Halo or Project Gotham. Well worth a look if your craving for Star Wars is high. MR.COATES

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                          02.04.2002 18:59
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                          When you’ve got a big hit on your hands, it would be very rude not to make the most of it wouldn’t it? Well, Activision certainly thought so as the Xbox has now been graced with the arrival of one of the best PS2 games released to date – Tony Hawk’s 3. Now for those of you thinking ‘Dudes, Rad, Yo, Bogus…’. Just don’t worry about all that. Yes, of course it is up there with the extreme sports kind of games but THPS3 is accessible to just about everyone regardless of what your ‘typical’ kind of game is. For starters, choose one of 13 professional skateboarders including Bam Margera of MTV’s Jackass, Kareem Campbell and of course Tony Hawk himself. Rip it up (check me out using the lingo!) on one of the 8 courses, although there MAY be more wink wink nudge nudge, plus you can even create your own with the user-friendly Park Editor. Features: Single and Multiplayer modes await you so grab your board and follow me…. Career Mode – The heart and soul of Tony Hawk’s 3. Here you will tackle eight superb levels in which you’ll have to complete various tasks. As you progress and unlock levels they also become available for other THPS3 game modes. Single Session – Choose one of the available levels from those unlocked in the Career Mode and get the best score in the standard two-minute session. Free Skate – The Sunday driver option which lets you skate around the level as long as you like. Good for practising those high scores. Tutorial – An essential visit for those of you new to the Tony Hawk games but also worth a visit for regulars. Let Mr.Hawk talk you through the basics and a few more adventurous moves. If you’re still craving for more there are a host of Multiplayer modes to tempt you. Modes including Graffiti (pull tricks on objects to give them your colour), Trick Atta
                          ck (get the highest score), Slap (collide with your opponent – the one who’s going faster wins) and King Of The Hill (find the crown on the course and keep it – the one who keeps it longest wins). Graphics: Although the Xbox version doesn’t look staggeringly different to the PS2 version, it’s not really a big problem. The PS2 release was visually very impressive and the Xbox does add a few finishing touches to that impressive result. One moment where the graphical beauty of THPS3 becomes obvious is during the Airport level – just check out those amazingly gorgeous marble floors! So not a huge leap over the PS2’s graphics but a few noticeable changes to the observant ones among you. Sounds: Again, the improvements over the PS2 version are generally quite subtle but two major differences are a full Dolby Digital soundtrack and the ability to use your own soundtracks stored on the hard drive. The Dolby Digital soundtrack is simply marvellous – you’ll be quite surprised just how much of a difference it makes, again it’s the Airport level that reveals some of its better uses. You will of course need a suitable amplifier/decoder to gain the full benefits. The custom soundtrack has wisely been implemented here although I’m actually quite fond of the original soundtrack, especially Motorhead’s Ace Of Spades (let’s Rock!). Should you choose to pull off some gnarly moves to Steps, Hear’say or even Will Young – there’s nothing to stop you. But please don’t do it OK? At least play something vaguely respectable…. Gameplay: Ah, the icing on the Hawk’s cake. If there’s one thing that sells THPS3 more than anything else it’s got to be solid, tried and tested, gameplay. Whether you’re a hardcore Skateboarding fan or don’t even know who Tony Hawk is, the playability of this game can not be
                          underestimated by anyone who plays it. There’s nothing to stop you from doing really basic and boring moves in the earlier levels and you’ll still be able to complete many of the tasks. As you progress though you’ll start to get a bit more confident and before you know it you’ll be pulling off tricks and combo’s that will see your high-scores rocket. The X Factor: For those of you fortunate to own an Xbox AND a PS2 you’ll no doubt be dubious as to purchasing the Xbox version of a game you already own. Hand on heart I’d have to say it’s not really worth owning both although there are some fairly decent inclusions for the Xbox version. For starters, there is an extra level to negotiate which wasn’t in the PS2 version, you can now make use of the customisable soundtrack feature (so if you HATE the music you can use your own). Aside from the sound and graphical improvements there are also some new moves to pull off which along with the extra level will be the main two points for fans of the Tony Hawk’s games. The Verdict: It’s an excellent game on the PS2 and it’s even better on Xbox thanks to those small but very noticeable changes. Playability, style, appearance and sounds make THPS3 one of the top games on Xbox so far. It may not be a huge leap forward from the PS2 version but considering that the two were released only a few months apart that’s nothing to worry about at all. Tony Hawk’s Xbox debut is a success and an essential purchase – a great all-rounder and a lot more entertaining than ‘Amped’. MR.COATES

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                          • Wreckless (Xbox) / Xbox Game / 1 Reading / 18 Ratings
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                            27.03.2002 21:01
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                            It’s Hong Kong and the Yakuza are the Mafia controlling the streets - your mission is to choose one of two angles on how to approach the game. As the police – your mission is to prevent the Yakuza from growing out of control before it’s too late. As spies – you can uncover the potential corruption that may link the Yakuza to the police. Regardless of which side you choose, 20 missions await you (ten for each side) with a host of vehicles ranging from a hilarious but pathetic police bubble car to what looks like the Delorean from Back To The Future. Nice. Graphics: Considering that this is a launch title, you really have to take your hat off and acknowledge that there are some incredibly impressive moments to be found. I recall numerous occasions when Wreckless crosses over from looking good to looking REAL. It’s quite difficult to explain though as Wreckless is not photo-realistic, it simply has a very convincing look and it’s that what makes it so very eye-catching. Vehicles in particular look marvellous with very detailed exteriors, lovely reflective (and damageable) panels and you even get to see inside from time to time. Most of this detail is revealed to a greater extent when the replay can be selected at the end of a run and while we’re here – let’s talk about those replays. Gran Turismo 3 had people oohing and aahing when the replays played back at the end of a race. Project Gotham does similar things on Xbox but Wreckless goes and adds something else to the ‘impressive’ side of a replay. As well as a bog-standard, (although impressive) replay, you can move the camera around. No, I don’t mean change the view, I mean actually move the camera around. Great little touch I think you’ll agree. On top of that though, you can also let the game add in some totally crazy visual effects. What you end up with is a totally mad replay wit
                            h effects resembling CCTV cameras, Sixties Colour film, black & white and my favourite – a pencil sketch effect very much like the A-Ha ‘Take On Me’ video (for those of you who will actually know what on earth I mean by that!). Sounds: Proceedings take a slight dip here after the totally impressive visuals but still remain good. We’ve already seen some Xbox games taking advantage of the customisable soundtrack option in Project Gotham and Tony Hawk’s 3 to name a couple but sadly Wreckless does not include this. So you’re left with some pretty cheesy tunes to go with the frantic ‘smash everything’ action. A full Dolby Digital soundtrack is still featured though and the sound effects leave you feeling you’re right among the action. People shout at you as you nearly miss them, Dim Sum stands are sent crashing out of the way and you even get the occasional explosion – crikey. Gameplay: Despite a pretty menacing front cover, Wreckless isn’t a sinister and violent smash-em-up. Just about every single mission has an element of ‘SMASH IT UP!’ but there is quite a lot of thought involved with some of the missions. All of the vehicles have different characteristics and you’ll find that some missions are impossible to complete with certain vehicles so it pays to get to know them all. Controlling the vehicles is generally quite simple. Very arcadey but with some decent realistic touches thrown in which will see you rolling your vehicle if you push it just that bit too far. The only real problem is that the action can become slightly repetitive after a while and the replay value is quite low – it’s not the sort of game that’ll have you coming back for more time after time. This is compounded further by the notable absence of any multiplayer modes. I strongly believe that a decent multiplayer game could have made Wreckless
                            an infinitely more appealing package. The Verdict: Wreckless is not going to be for everyone. It mixes the crashes of Burnout, the chaos of Grand Theft Auto 3’s driving elements with the dense traffic of Driver. It’s a good game that provides some highly entertaining arcade thrills and is visually stunning – if you’re expecting a more serious and long-lasting game this may not be for you but if you take it for what it is you shouldn’t be disappointed. More of a 3.5 stars (70%) rating but presentation warrants 4. MR.COATES

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                              26.03.2002 16:19
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                              For the love of God and all things that are in any way sacred burn and banish the lead that comes included with the Xbox. I keep saying this – WHY ARE YOU GIVING US THESE COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY USELESS LEADS?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No, not the Xbox Advanced Scart Cable, I mean those flippin’ terrible leads that are included with the console. Sony did it to us with the PS2. Yes, a console that is capable of outputting an RGB (Red, Green, Blue separated) signal comes with a lead that is unable to carry that high quality signal. Originally the PS2 actually came with a properly wired RGB Scart lead but due to a MAJOR oversight they had to stop shipping them due to the RGB ‘Green Screen’ issue on DVD’s. Anyway, Microsoft have no such issues and yet they still have shipped the Xbox with a well constructed but ultimately rubbish lead. So – on launch I purchased a console, a game and this lead – the Xbox Advanced Scart Cable. You get a fully wired RGB capable lead which immediately transforms pictures into something much more impressive. If you’ve got an RGB capable Television then do not even hesitate in getting one of these leads because you will be amazed at how big the difference is. If you’re using your Xbox to watch DVD’s then get out and buy one now – you’re suffering without reason! The key thing is to make sure that your TV can actually take an RGB signal or you’ll be wasting most of the £20. Additionally though, this is the lead you’ll need if you want to get the most of the sound capabilities from your Xbox. The PS2 has a built in optical output, the Xbox unfortunately does not and that’s where this lead comes in again. About a third of the way down the lead is a box which has an optical output connection. I’m not entirely sure why they put it there but they have and that’s that. Simply conne
                              ct a fibre-optic cable to the output, plug the other end into a spare optical connection on a Dolby Digital amplifier and remember to modify the sound settings in the Xbox menu. The result – IN-GAME Dolby Digital soundtracks. Something which the PS2 sadly can not do. The only game so far that includes a full surround soundtrack on the PS2 is SSX Tricky, which features a DTS 5.1 soundtrack. The lead is great value at £19.99 and if you’ve got a decent TV and/or a Dolby Digital amp then you really shouldn’t hesitate any further about buying one of these leads. It’ll totally transform your visual and aural gaming experience. And of course, don’t actually burn the other lead – just slap it around for a while…… MR.COATES

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                                13.03.2002 17:21
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                                Most new consoles end up getting a new controller and Microsoft’s Xbox is no exception. Sony recently decided to avoid a major cosmetic overhaul and opted to keep the Dual Shock design whilst adding some clever modifications under the cover. PC gamers will already be perfectly aware that Microsoft have produced some absolutely magnificent peripherals. My personal favourites are the Force Feedback Wheel and the USB Silver Sidewinder controller. Based on this, I was actually very optimistic about their ability to knock out a well-built and cleverly designed controller. The pictures began to arrive and we were presented with this rather chunky and awkward looking beast and I have to admit that I couldn’t see it as a sensible design. But how looks can be deceptive. Now I’m not a typical 10 year old gamer with tiny little hands so perhaps I’m in the minority but the Xbox controller in my opinion is nothing short of bloody marvellous. Yes, it’s huge, bigger than some household pets in fact but I’ve not had a controller in my hand that feels so totally comfortable. Remember the Dreamcast controller? I sang it’s praises too and the Xbox controller is in many ways a bigger and better version of that. You’ll find a few more buttons, a longer cable and it’s black but the key features such as shape and trigger buttons are present. Build: This is probably the weakest point of the controller but remember that is not actually a criticism. By that I mean that the controller is solid, all buttons feel responsive, the D-pad works well, trigger buttons are excellent and the two analogue sticks feel great and perform well. If you’re concerned about some of the comments regarding to the analogue sticks being too tall – I have found no problems with this but again this may depend on hand size. I would still say that the PS2’s Dual Shock controller
                                feels more robust but the Xbox controller performs better and feels much more comfortable. Features: Where do you start?! Despite the inclusion of a Hard Drive, the Xbox controller does have two slots, which can be used to insert a memory card. Again, very similar to the Dreamcast controller – featuring two slots, one for a memory card and another for future peripherals including the headset add-on. Additionally you’re presented with a seriously long cable. Almost every console ever has come with around six feet of cable but the Xbox controller has a whopping 9.5 feet! Now if that doesn’t really mean anything then think about it as roughly 1.5 times as long as a PS2 controller and you’ll be about right. No need for any cable extenders then. Additionally the long lead has a safety connector which detaches if tugged. So if you accidentally trip over the lead you won't send your beloved £300 console crashing to the floor. Two trigger buttons, six pad buttons, one D-pad, two analogue sticks and Start & Back buttons. Enough to allow a range of actions to be performed without going over the top with a cluttered pad. The main buttons, sticks and triggers are all analogue and it's a joy to play games such as Project Gotham with this pad. The main reason I loved the DC controller was due to the analogue triggers - perfect for precision movements in driving games. The Verdict: A masterpiece – as innovative as the Dreamcast controller (although some ideas appear to have been ‘borrowed’), as effective as the Dual Shock 2 controller and as big and ugly as the N64 controller. I think that Microsoft have created an excellent peripheral that has received some very unnecessary criticism – don’t knock it until you’ve used it. MR.COATES

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                                  19.02.2002 17:20
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                                  It’s time to carve up the snow on Gameboy Advance thanks to the arrival of Shaun Palmer’s Pro Snowboarder. So choose a character, grab a board and put on some warm clothes. We’re going off-piste dudes…. Graphics: It’s nothing short of impressive as to what Nintendo’s 32-bit handheld wonder can pump out at times. Shaun Palmer’s visual offerings range quite widely though from impressive to average. Fortunately we’re on the impressive side most of the time. As you can probably appreciate, hurtling down those slopes is going to involve some fast screen-scrolling action but at no point does this become blurry or difficult to cope with. You get a sense of speed but at the same time clarity is retained. Characters are well detailed although the only time you will recognise who’s who is in the menus (which are actually rather good I have to say). Courses are well laid-out and each one is quite distinctly different from the next. Most of the views are from ‘that’ diagonal perspective as found in Tony Hawk’s 2 but on some courses, such as the Half-pipe, the view changes to a 3rd person perspective giving you a more ‘among the action’ feel. Sound: It starts to pick up a bit here. Although the GBA doesn’t feature the kind of soundtrack as found on the PS2 version, SPPS on the handheld unit is perfectly pleasing. The soundtrack is definitely a cheesy rock type of affair but it certainly works. Additionally as you encounter other boarders on the slopes, they can be quite easily heard shouting abuse at you. Gameplay: Four characters and a host of locations await you. Choose from Shaun Palmer, Tara Dakides, Ingemar Backman or Shaun White. At each location you have three types of courses: Freestyle, Palmer X and Superpipe. Additionally you have a selection of different snowboards to look forward to although you’ll start wit
                                  h just one. Controlling your character is the key to getting the most from this game and although the GBA only has four buttons and a D-Pad you’ll be quite surprised as to the level of moves that can be performed. Jumps, slides and handplants can be performed as well as standard and character specific tricks. Some of the specific tricks are simple but others are quite complicated – you’ll find a breakdown of what’s what in the manual (page 14 to 18 by the way). Features: Four modes of play await you my friends: Tutorial mode – Nothing too serious, just the basics that show you how to get to grips with controlling your chosen character. Well worth a go if you’re new to the game and want some tips. Career Mode – The guts of the game in essence. You’re going to have to do your best here to win races and get sponsors. The more races you win/sponsors you get, the more you can get access to. Expect new courses, bigger competitions and new boards (you must have the latest gear of course!). VS Mode – No degrees in computer gaming needed to work out what this is. Compete against a friend on any of the courses that you’ve unlocked in the Career Mode using the GBA link cable. The Verdict: To say that this is easily the best snowboarding game on GBA wouldn’t exactly be high praise. For now though – that is technically the case of course. Fortunately though, SPPS is a good game in its own right. It’s playable, features enough to ensure a decent level of lastability whilst looking and sounding good. Official Nintendo Magazine awarded it a superb 90%, I would go with 80% which is still a very good score for a first outing. MR.COATES

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