Games and Internet

PLAYSTATlON Coolboarders 4 (989 Studios) £34.99 a: air *

One problem plagues spOrts simulations: what to do for a sequel? With sports like football, ice hockey or basketball, updating the player rosters, rules and competitions is the norm, With a few tweaks in graphics and gameplay to keep the critics happy. But for something like snowboarding, it is a little more difficult.

The majority of gamers wouldn’t know a World Champion boarder if they fell over one on the slope So, sequels must stand on their gaming improvements alone. Coo/boarders 4 Suffers because of this The graphics, though beautiful at times, are dogged by poor collision detection and many of the runs, to save on memory, are depressineg narrow The control system has been fiddled with, making tricks that were already absurdly complicated even harder, and making turning without a loss of speed nigh on impossible

The exaggerated humps and bumps, not to mention deep drifts that suck your boarder down, make for more interesting downhill action, but the difficulty involved in keeping speed while giving every obstacle a ridiculously wide berth rob most of the enjoyment, Coo/boarders used to be the hottest thing on the virtual slopes Now it ,iust leaves you cold llD‘i

Ace Combat 3:

Electrosphere (Namco) £34.99 tr f 1r

Flight combat simulations are a rare beast on the PlayStation Due to its small memory and limited tprad capabilities, dispiaying wide landscapes and emulating the wide variety of flight controls is very difficult. Despite pretenders like G-Po/ice, true freedom in flight has always been the domain

112 THE LIST .30 '.‘t‘:' 2000


(Dreamcast) £34.99 fir at at 1r t

There are very few sports that, when they appear in a computer game, can be judged accurate. Apart from football, most are played by a small minority of gamers and so authenticity of play becomes redundant. The most important factor is not how realistically the game mirrors the sport, but how much fun it is to play. Who cares if you have never played in the NFL? It doesn't mean you can’t enjoy a long session with John Madden. Take basketball, for example. For most it is a game played at school when the Scottish weather transformed the green playing field into a brown loch. Play NBA 2K, though, and you’ll soon love the virtual version. You may not know what you’re doing, but you'll know its fun.

For those tiny, tiny few who do know their NBA, this is as close as you can imagine to the real thing. All the professional players are present, looking uncannin like their flesh and bone counterparts, and the wealth of gameplay options both on and off the court is quite astounding. Pick ’n' rolls, screens and fakes are easily controlled and tactical calls happen in real time.

Virtual basketball:

you may not know what you’re doing, but you'll know it's fun

fear not because NBA 2K can be picked up and played from the get-go. It is beautifully simple, fast but not hectic, and glorious to watch. The simple act of your players changing hands with the ball is a joy to behold. To help you, the computer controlled team- mates shout instructions, prompting passes, shots and slam-dunks from you at the right times. Unlike other basketball games, there seems to be a fair amount of space on the court, yet scoring is no easy walk-in. Three levels of difficulty force constant improvement while two-player games are always close.

Really, it would be very hard to fault NBA 2K on any

level of accuracy.

Yet, for those who don’t have a clue about all this,

This is an accurate representation of basketball, yet

wickedly good fun for the novice. NBA 2K is one of

the finest sport sims out there. (lain Davidson)

of Ace Combat. So we have number three, Electrosphere. Split into a series of missions, E/ec trosphere gives yOu control of a futuristic fighter defending airspace from some nasty villains. Walking a fine line between true Sim and arcade blaster, the game tries to give the nuances of flight among the chaos of close combat. And, though the game looks better than any other flight sun on the market, it is this mix of gameplay which is Flec‘trosp/iere’s UfTClOITTg Without the depth of a flight

. . 7'.

l -.';x S. \

:Accessible, fluid and a great deal of fun

sim, the controls just become a pain in the neck, while the close combat is not nearly close enough. Missiles are launched before you can see your target and your machine guns are next to useless.

lf kings of gameplay Namco can't make this work then no one can, .so let's hope we see no more attempts to do the impossible. Pure arcade shooters are more fun, anyway llDl


Legacy Of Kain : Soul Reaver

(Eidos) £39.99 t yr * 7"

Despite being seven months behind its PC and PlayStation cousins, the Drearncast version of the dark action adventure Soul Reaver has been well worth waiting for. Third person exploration is one of the most popular genres of gaming and Dreamcast has been crying GUI for a quality title The story vampire Azriel's return from banishment to claim his revenge on evil uberlord Kain is beautifully told, as yOu guide the fallen hero through large, well created levels

But it's not a simple case of running, fighting and door opening A/i'iel can phase between this world and its evil mirror image, utilising different abilities in each This prompts you to continually think on two levels and adds much to an already involvmg game Combat can be a little sticky but

the Dreamcast displays the throwing, spearing and burning of Kain’s undead minions in crisp detail.

In fact, the whole game, although essentially identical to the PC and PS versions, is improved by its appearance on the Dreamcast. But this doesn't stop it being, at its basic level, an old game, holding no surprises to those who have played it elsewhere However, if this is the hrst mention of Soul Reaver yOLi have heard, buy '1 now ilD‘

PC Final Fantasy VIII (Eidos) £29.99 ‘A’ at tr w a Final Fantasy VIII is a work of unbridled genius This we know The PlayStation version SOid by the bucketload and reinforced the accepted belief that Fina/ Fantasy is the best series of games ever created It is a shame then that PC owners, the main consumers of adventure titles, have had to wait to experience ts glory

That aside, Final Fantasy VIII :s everything you (()t.l(l want from a game it sucks you in and keeps you involved like nothing else The staggering length of the game does nothing to detract from this and, even after weeks of gaii'teplay, the end comes all too guic kly The sometiii‘es confusing elemental attributes somehow seem iiior'e suited to PC play, with the inftnite coiiibiitations of