PREVIEW — HARDWARE XBOX GAMING CONSOLE (Microsoft) 2299
For those who found the PS2’s Third Place(tm) a rather confusing proposition, the future of console gaming was beginning to look a little bleak. Sega discarding hardware production, Nintendo following its lone path to brilliant obscurity, leaving the mainstream gamer with Sony or nothing. Without an effective foil to the Sony onslaught, interactive home entertainment could stagnate, the competition-fuelled fire of invention quenched by a money-hungry monopoly. However, the US release last week of the Microsoft Xbox has provided a ray of light. Who would have thought that freaky bespectacled genius Bill Gates would become a
But he has produced an impressive piece of kit with which to fight the good fight. The Xbox is essentially a PC without monitor, keyboard or mouse, unhindered by mismatched hardware or incompatible software. Built specifically for gaming it allows all the power of a top-of-the- range PC to concentrate on producing pleasure without the frivolity of word-processing, databasing, etc. This makes it one mean
Those who have been lucky enough to get their hands on the first generation of games have been mightily impressed. Games developers, familiar with the PC-like architecture, find it easier to use than Sony’s machine and have produced some startling debut titles. The massive Microsoft cash pot has persuaded many, if not all, of the top producers to sign up to the machine and there are more than a handful of future titles that have the gaming community somersaulting in
But this future is uncertain. Critics of the machine say it is too bulky (imagine a chunky video player), is a little expensive at £299 and is yet another step towards Bill Gates’ domination of all things digital. Only time will tell.
Orders are now being taken for the Xbox, not released over here until 14 March 2002, but if you cannot wait that long fear not. The Xperience is currently touring the country and arrives in Glasgow on 8 and 9 December, allowing registered punters (msn.co.uk/xbox) a little interactive preview. Go, play, decide - the future is yours. (lain Davidson)
P82 PROJECT EDEN (Eidos) £39.99 on.
First- and third-person games are not normally known for their iiwentiveness. A cursory back-story does little to enhance the expected level—after»level of exploration and combat. Project Eden has tried to
redress this imbalance. not With a sparkling story but with a novel team-based gameplay system that almost lifts it from the usual drudgery. You control a team of four trotil‘)le-shooters. each with their own skills and weaknesses. all of whom must be used if progress is to be made.
Handling all four is simple and. with some cunning level designs. guiding the quartet through the multitude of puzzles soon becomes addictive. But PrO/ect Eden is meant to be a multiplayer experience. probably best suited to an online PC. and unless you have three friends willing to help you put. the solo game can be unavoidably pedestrian. Still. any experiment in gameplay should be applauded and Project Eden gets a good round of applause. if not quite a standing ovation.
HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE
(Electronic Arts) £29.99 .0.
Hard though it is to imagine. there must be some people out there that do not know ab0ut Harry Potter. No really. The law of averages demands that there has to be. So for those happily ignorant indiViduals. here is what the new game Harry Potter And The Philosopher Stone is all about. You control young Harry as he learns to become a wizard. taking time Out to defeat evil along the way. As the third-person adventure unfolds. Harry learns new spells. wins new friends and gains a flying broomstick.
The task and puzzles are Simple but fun and the story enjoyably holds your attention. Unfortunately. errant camera angles and some dodgy handling spoil what could have been a cracking little game. reducing it to the levels of so-so. Worth a hire. As for those who are familiar with Harry Potter. you Will have bought this game already. (lain Davidson)
VENGEANCE (UbiSoft) £34.99 0..
For those in the know. the definitive Superhero television series is the New Batman Adventures. Glorious SOs-style animation. dark brooding storylines and some Wickedly indulgent baddies make
it a Saturday-morning must. Congratulations should therefore be offered to UbiSoft for producing a game that. for the most part. does this series proud. Batman Vengeance is a 3D action game ranging across a
recreated Gotham City. pitching the Dark Knight against a decidedly nasty underworld. The variety in the levels is impressive. with many of the familiar Bat-skills and gadgets called into action. The graphics are crisp. clean and faithful to the TV series. as are the voices. However. each level feels a little empty. devoid of any detail or clutter. What is there is beautifully designed but more of everything would have helped draw yOu further into the game.
David Beckham’s Soccer (PlayStation Rage £729.99) The King of Football.
SSX Tricky (P82 EA £39.99) The King of Snowboarders.
Silent Hill 2 (PS2 Konami £39.99) The King of Horror.
Baldur’s Gate (P82 Interplay C39. 99) The King of Adventures. Shenmue 2 (Dreamcast Sega £34.99; The King of Wandering About And Talking To People.
ROMANTIC DRAMA CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN (12) 124 mins 00
The Cephallonia Tourist Board COuldn't have made a better promotional video for the exquisne island Sumptuously photographed here. But picturescuie landscape alone does not a movie make. The story has been shorn down from L0uis De Bernieres' sublime novel to its bare essentials: a forbidden love between a Greek island native (Penelope Cruz) and an OCCLipying Italian Captain (Nicolas Cage) during WWII. Fortunately. Cruz's beauty eclipses any shortcomings in the acting department. but Cage's performance borders on slapstick raCIsm. The only reason they seem to fall in love is because it says so in the script. Worse. the filmmakers just cOuldn't resist that Hollywood ending. lBuena Vista VHS and DVD rentaii (Henry Northmorei
AUTUMN IN NEW YORK
(15) 101 mins .0
Imagine Pretty lit/oman. but instead of Julia Roberts playing a hooker with a heart of gold. change it to Winona Ryder playing a young hat designer with a fatal heart condition. YOung Ryder's Charlotte is in love with Gore's 50- year-old playboy Will, who tries on his love 'em and leave 'em, it's-not- yOu-it's-me routine. before realismg he is in
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love with Charlotte. You can guess the rest. as well as imagine the rather toe-curling love scenes With a not so young Gere. Or rather. don't. A rather lame attempt at recreating the winning Pretty Woman formula. (Columbia TriStar VHS rental: DVD retaili (Jane Hamilton)
CHILDREN'S CATS AND DOGS (PG) 84 mins 00
This largely live action kid's moxie utilises animatronic and C61 effects to recreate the inischie\.'0us household pet antics immortalised in Tom And Jerry cartoons. Cats And Dogs Is. strictly speaking. more Tom and Butch the bu'ldog. as evil feii'ies and good canines conduct a secret war to rule the pet kingdom. Nllljél cats engage secret agent dogs in the home of solentist Jeff Goidblum. who is Ol‘. the verge of inventing an antidote fer dog allergy which ‘.'.’Ou|d ensure a canine victory The cartoon \.'l()i€l‘-C(} is sanitised. but worse Cats And Dogs lacks the kind of knowing adult humour that made the old cartoons so great. (\i’Vé‘tTllCl' VHS and DVD
retaiii iMiles FIOlOCTi
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