Archive for the ‘Xbox’ Category
Day 5: Manhunt
Manhunt is a game that I feel to this day I have to tread very carefully when I discuss it. This was one of the very few titles that was actually banned in the UK due to a very unfortunate link to a horrific news story which I will not be discussing in this article. With that short intro out the way lets get into why I’m featuring this title in the Horror Obscura.
I view Manhunt as a title in time with those gore fest films like Saw only a lot worse. Manhunt is a game that is really uncomfortable to play. For starters you don’t even play the good guy, you take control as James Earl Cash who is a pawn in a game where he is directed by a psychopath known as “The Director,” to brutally murder members of gangs and other crazy people. This game is incredibly dark and not for everyone. There are no redeeming qualities to Cash either. He is bad, he kills without remorse and even when he does meet support characters he has no interest in making friends. This is a rare video game that forces you down the dark path. If you are able to get past this you will actually be in for quite an impressive stealth title.
A prison, what an ideal location for horror and dread. Several games have visited this locale, the most infamous being Batman’s Arkham series and the recent Prison Simulator on PC, a game I’m surprised was not released 2 years ago. When it comes to horror Surreal Software took the prison as there main location and created something special with the 2004 release of The Suffering.
Microsoft’s big clunky box from 2001 may have been laughable at first, but whether you were aware or not it hit like a limited interest storm that holiday. From a certain shooter to the catalog of Sega and a myriad of PC ports, there’s no denying the Xbox started to bridge the gap between console and computer. Fred and Jam duke it out once again with 40 more of their favorite titles to see which 10 remain in this month’s Top 10 Xbox games.
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Many of you may know the story behind the original Halo, and for those that don’t we have this trusty podcast from a while back. It’s one thing to hear it and it’s quite another to see it. This documentary series shows off the initial MacWorld reveal of Halo in 1999 when Steve Jobs himself introduced what was to become a real-time strategy (RTS) title, the progression to a PC squad-based shooter in 2000 at E3, and the final reveal as a first person shooter on the Xbox in 2001. After seeing how it progresses we then get about half an hour of developer commentary on the various decisions made in the development process to result in the finished product you know as Halo: Combat Evolved. This video and the gameplay footage in it are owned by Microsoft and Bungie.
Of Fred’s 3 random games he has to cover this month, one was a sports game that apparently was the best hockey game on the PS2. NHL 2002, developed and published by EA, touts funny announcers, crazy gameplay mechanics, and some of the smoothest action for the generation. Fred gives it an initial go and if nothing else, exploits the unbalanced nature of the AI on both sides of the difficulty spectrum. More coverage and a review to follow, but here’s the initial 30 minutes and it ends with a Sum41 song, woo hoo game license cross-promotion!
Switching It Up
A lot happened both in the talent pool of Mortal Kombat players and in the game design overall between the release of Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3 (MK3). For starters there was a mass exodus of on screen talent due to royalty disputes, so almost no one from the original two games returned for the third release. In addition, Boon and his team were trying to turn Mortal Kombat into a viable fighting game with things no one had ever seen before and mechanics that could compete with the massive rush of fighters in arcades. The game was completely Americanized, with all hints of Eastern influence including symbols, locales, and the soundtrack completely absent without a trace and instead replaced by urban stages, 90s hip-hop soundtracks, and cyborgs replaced the signature ninjas. These locations were now composed of pre-rendered 3D backgrounds and the character sprites were almost totally digitized as opposed to the digitized/hand drawn hybrid of the previous games. Along with it came an overhaul of the controls, including combos and a “run” button to address rightful claims that defensive players ruled the previous title. It’s all one giant 90s metaphor but that doesn’t change the fact that MK3 (and it’s update Ultimate MK3 or UMK3) stands as the moment I felt the series went into the mainstream fighter territory. Couple this with the fact that it was on just about every console that existed at the time, still dominated arcades, and had more content than rival Street Fighter II could ever dream to do with its iterations and I see why it’s creator Ed Boon’s favorite. Mortal Kombat 3 definitely upped the ante.
Platform: Xbox, Playstation 2, PC (both the original and the just released Remastered Edition)
Released: 2005 (worldwide)
Developer: Quantic Dream
Digital Release? Yes – Available on Xbox 360 as an Xbox Original and Remastered is on Steam ($9.99 for all versions)
Price: $8.00 (disc only), $10.99 (complete), and $46.97 (new/sealed) per Price Charting (prices are for PS2 version, Xbox/PC versions a bit lower due to re-release)
Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy in America) is one of those games that attempted to create a interactive film experience. Some excepted this concept with open arms, some people frowned on it proclaiming it technically wasn’t a game. Well several years has passed since that fateful release in 2005 so lets see if Fahrenheit is still worth investing in.
Fahrenheit’s story has you following three character Lucas Kane a 9-to-5 IT worker who has a fondness for reading Shakespeare in diners, Carla Valenti a young cop who is claustrophobic and Tyler Miles, Carla’s police partner and your typical comic relief in a cop duo but he likes basketball, which is ok in my book. Essentially New York as well as the world is starting to get cold, really cold and bizarre murders are occurring round the city where normal folk are killing innocent people then themselves. I won’t spoil the story too much as it is the games strongest draw. What I will say is the game is filled with a fair few twists and turns playing out very much like a film, if it hooks you from the beginning it is very likely you will play through to the end.
This week Fred and Jam are throwing around fighters of the 90s (that aren’t Street Fighter II or Tekken, we did a show for those already). In the 1990s, the fighter genre was the most popular type of game available (like First Person Shooters today), and among those that have withstood the test of time there were plenty of others that played the field. From Mortal Kombat to Soulcalibur you had plenty of arcades (and home ports) to drink your quarters in arcades.