Fatal Frame 3 announced!

I just found out Fatal Frame 3 is in development and scheduled for release in Japan around summer of 2005! Hopefully a US release will be scheduled soon after, but I won't have any problems trying the Japanese version first! Fatal Frame 2 still stands as the scariest survival horror game I ever played, and this 3rd installment looks to follow along those lines.
As in the previous games, you play the part of a female character. Rei Kurosawa is investigating the appearance of her dead boyfriend in a photo she found in a haunted mansion. And of course, she'll discover there's more going on than meets the eye.
Another interesting note is that you'll run into characters from the previous games, and unlock them to use to play the game! Should be really good and scary, and it definately tops my list of most anticipated games of the year so far!


Horror on the high seas

I just bought the latest PS2 Survival Horror game to come out, Cold Fear. The first game in the genre from Ubisoft about a coast guard stuck on a whaling boat full of zombies and other monstrocities. I'll get to reviewing this as soon as I get a chance to play it, but I'm currently preoccupied playing another Survival Horror game, Kuon which came out late last year. Expect the review of that one soon as well.


Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

This game has been hyped to the moon and back as the messiah of stealth games and garnered numerous game of the year awards from all over the place. Now, I've played the original PlayStation MGS game, but missed the Sons of Liberty game on PS2, and I myself bought into the hype of Snake Eater like many others. Unfortunately, I might be the only gamer on the planet that finds this game to be a complete pile of total CRAP.
Where to begin? How about playing the game at one of the WORSE camera angles EVER? The default camera is at an almost overhead view and it seriously disrupts your view as you can't hardly see anything ahead of you till it's too late. I would have preferred a third-person view than the one used here. It deliberately works against you as you can't control the camera angles save for move the screen around a bit which doesn't help anything. And if you run around a wall or building, the camera doesn't follow you, instead it pans up so you get an overhead view shot instead!
Next there are the controls. Everything is just so clustered to me. Press and hold a button to aim, then release the button to shoot? What if I don't want to shoot? I just found the whole damn control scheme frustrating as you can easilly get your controls jumbled up due to the setup.
Overall, this game might look good, but unless your willing and patient to learn the controls and get around the horrible cameras, this is definately not a game for everyone. Fans familiar with the series will (and have) flock to it, but noobs beware is all I can say.
And for those of you who are wondering, yes, I've played my share of stealth games like Manhunt and Splinter Cell, both of which I'd rate and recommend higher than this overhyped money maker. No, I haven't played very far into the game, but I can't be bothered to waste anymore time on this and would rather kill my gaming hours playing games that I'd enjoy and have good things to say about than this.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 4
Lifespan: 2
Overall: 3


Shadow of Rome

Gore, stealth and some funny names…

The Game
Agrippa, is a high-ranking soldier in the Roman army. That is, until his father is accused with the murder of Julius Caesar and is to be executed for the crime. Agrippa’s mother has already been executed, and it’s now up to Agrippa to save his father from a similar fate by joining a gladiatorial tournament under the tutelage of Sextus and Claudia, and with the help of Caesar’s nephew, Octavianus, find out the truth behind Caesar’s assassination.
Yes, the story kinda feels ripped off from the Russell Crowe movie, but it’s still pretty interesting and probably would have made a good movie itself.

The game is divided into battle missions and stealth missions.
As Agrippa, your take to the colosseums and bash brains in as you make your way through the circuit. There are various types of gladiatorial games you have to beat to advance to the next level and some of them can be fun (battle royals) and some can be downright frustrating (chariot races). When engaging in combat, you can pick up weapons strewn about the place, or steal them from your enemies. And in some cases, the crowd will throw weapons into the arena to help you if you perform well and please them. Win over the crowd enough, and they’ll toss you some seriously powerful weaponary, like a giant broad sword that deals out bloody death to all. But do take note that as you use a weapon, the weapon itself has it’s own life meter that goes down with use, and will eventually break leaving you weaponless till you can get your hands on a new one. Along with gutting enemies with swords and bashing in skulls with a mace, you can also throw your weapons at them, and grab them to give them one hell of a release German-suplex!
But keep in mind the games aren’t all about killing everything in sight. Some of them have a proper objective, like team battles, capture the flag missions, beating the time limits, and escorting the prisoner missions.
The game takes a total turn in gameplay when you play as Octavianus. His missions are more stealth based, as you have to sneak around Rome gathering information on the true culprits behind Caesar’s death. Other than sneaking around and hiding in pots, you can find disguises to alter his appearance to infiltrate certain areas. Unlike Agrippa, Octavianus can’t attack, and it only takes one slash from an enemy to kill him. But Octavianus can sneak up behind unsuspecting guards and enemies and choke them out with a rope, or knock them unconscious by breaking a jar over their head. You can even KO them by making them slip on banana peel!
The stealth missions are easy for the most part, once you figure out the proper course to get through obstacles like luring guards away and picking up disguises and keeping yourself out of sight.

Graphics & Sound
To me the graphics sort of resemble the Sword of The Berzerk game back on the old Sega Dreamcast. Huge characters that are dimly colored, but with good attention paid to the facial expressions. The character sprites aren’t eye-popping, but get the job done considering there are some great details paid to the background environments. And it’s good to have huge blood soaked battles with multiple characters on screen at once without any suffering any slowdown.
The audio is good epic-sounding orchestra music which adds to the atmosphere, just like the Russell Crowe movie. And the character voices are nicely done too. No bad or over-acting in this one.
There’s also very good crowd reaction to the carnage going on in arenas. The crowd does indeed react to how you go about dishing out bloody death. The more gore, the better the roar.

Probably one of the most frustrating things I’ve found in the game is the chariot races. These aren’t easy by any means and your gonna need a lot of patience to beat them, including the very hard chariot boss battle.
Heck, most of the boss battles aren’t easy as they are often HUGE enemies that can hack away chunks of your life in several blows while all you can do is run around looking for an opening (or a even just a weapon in most cases) to get your shots in that do little damage. And bosses usually have 2-4 life meters to beat!
You do get rewards for beating the game though, like cheats for the main game, and unlocking the gladiatorial events to play at anytime so you can have another go at trying to beat the top score and get the gold cup.

This is an interesting game from Capcom. The gladiatorial missions are definitely the highlight as it’s fun running around and beating your enemies to a bloody pulp with the variety of weapons available. The stealth mission tend to kill the momentum of the battles though, but thankfully you can play all the battles alone by unlocking them as you beat the main game. This is a sleeper title that will definitely be overlooked in light of Capcom’s other big action adventure release, Devil May Cry 3. But at least give this one a try when your done blasting your way through hordes of the undead.

Game Ratings
Graphics – 7
Sound – 8
Gameplay – 7
Lifespan – 6
Overall – 7


Death By Degrees in Tekken 5!

I just picked up the latest installment of the long running PlayStation Tekken series, and eventhough I'm not big on 3D fighters, will be interested to see what the fuss is about in this latest installment.
Now if only Capcom would get to releasing Street Fighter 4...