Here’s the thing about Black; it looks great and plays well like most FPS games on PS2, but when you beat the game, it gives a really underwhelming story, like it shouldn’t end here and there should be more.
Like I mentioned above, the game looks great. You have a good assortment of guns to deal out death and destruction, but the best part is easily the destruction! Almost everything in the game is fair game to be blown up by your firepower, and everything can be riddled with bullets. A fun thing to do is after a fierce gun battle, try looking around at all the bullet holes on the surrounding walls of the place you are hiding from. The only thing missing from the action is blood from the terrorists and baddies you shoot up.
The game gives you a fair bit of challenge, but one of the things I hate is that you can’t save from a checkpoint and continue your game later. And the missions can be very long! But not having the option to save and continue later means you could actually just finish the game in 1 afternoon. Not good for longevity since the game is also missing any multi-player options. There's still the challenge of the game itself though, as sometimes you'll find yourself unloading rounds of ammunition on enemies, yet they won't go down!
Another bad thing is you can’t skip the really bad cut scenes of the game. These aren’t the usual 3D CG cutscenes, but rather they went back and decided to use live action actors to play out the cutscenes. These things just seem to go on and on and doesn’t do anything to keep your attention even. You just sit through it waiting for the mission to start. And when you finish the game, it ending leaves you hanging. You ask yourself “That’s it?!?” It feels like there should be more to it, but looks like we have a sequel to look forward to at least.
So overall, if you like running and gunning by yourself, and can stand to sit through the cut scenes and battle through missions with plenty of challenge, then by all means check this one out. Blowing stuff up is good. Hopefully the next installment of the game will fix all the problems this one had.

Graphics – 9
Sound – 7
Gameplay – 8
Lifespan – 6
Overall – 6


Fight Night: Round 3

I hate to say it, but I’m actually a bit disappointed in this latest installment in the Fight Night series.
Where to begin? First the graphics. While not much improved over Round 2, the PS2 version does have a few small details added, like reactions of the boxer’s faces when delivering a big punch or getting hit hard. The arenas are all also nicely done, and with the addition of PRODUCT PLACEMENT! Yup, the fights now have sponsors that will be mentioned by the commentator, and you'll even get to see mascots like that freaky Burger King who you can unlock and have him accompany you to the ring for your fights!
Audio-wise, the boxers now grunt and groan throughout the fights, and little things like hearing the boxers breath heavily as they tire out is also a nice touch. There’s also the usual fare of hip-hop tunes in the game to use as backdrop music or entrance tunes. But I really feel they should have mixed it up here and added a few rock or metal tracks for diversity. Not everyone wants to come out juking and jiving like they from the ‘hood, right? Or it wouldn’t make much sense for a 7-foot monster white boy to come out all happy and hop-skippy to an R&B tune.
The gameplay is where the game takes a real hit. While they may have added different fight styles and punch specialties to add a strategic element to approaching each fight, it seems to make everything in your offense much weaker. For example, if you pick a speedy style with an emphasis on quick jabs, your haymakers and roundhouse punches become oh so slower. How slow? How about in the time it takes for you to wind up and throw your punch, your opponent can land 3-shots on you, effectively knocking you out of your stance? Or even if you parry a punch and your opponent is left open, it takes so long for your punch to reach that he can recover in time, parry your shot, and lay you out! This element of the gameplay really makes it frustrating, even when your stats are higher than your opponent, they can easily chop you down to size.
Another thing is that unlike the first game where you can select your coach and cutman, you can only select your coach here. So all the swell and cut healing speeds seem the same: SLOW. Even worse than the first game. While you only have 2 sides of the face to heal up between rounds instead of 4 from the last game, it just seems ridiculously slow that you spend your entire 30-second healing period just trying to fix one part of his face. And you may as well forget about healing cuts since they seem impossible to fix with short time given. The healing screen isn’t even very user friendly as you waste valuable time just switching from one side to the other, and a lot more time is lost just switching from healing swells to cuts!
And yet another thing about the gameplay is the new first-person view you get at certain times when it seems your about to be knocked down. These seem to appear at random, but if you do get it, you may as well just let the opponent knock you down as it’s just too frustrating to adjust to and see where you opponent is coming from.
From the audio side, other than the bad choice in music, they did manage to spruce up the commentary a bit by having the announcer give some stats and background on the fighters. But it’s really dumb when your beating down your opponent and the commentary guy says it’s him beating you down!
The replays also suck big time compared to Round 2. They only show 2 angles for the knockdowns, and sometimes it abruptly cuts to the 10 count in the middle of the punch, and the replay of highlights from the round are really lame as you’ll have the announcer saying how action packed the match was but you’ll only see the two guys dancing around and barely throwing anything! And even that will get cut abruptly from time to time.
Overall, if you have Fight Night Round 2, your better off sticking with that one compared to this one. If you’re a sucker for punishment, than give this a shot.

Game Ratings:
Graphics – 8
Sound – 6
Gameplay – 6
Lifespan – 6
Overall – 5


Something Old, Something New

I picked up two games over the weekend, one new and one oldie.

Rule of Rose
A dark and twisted game centering around children. It's been getting good reviews despite the fact that no english version of the game is planned yet. From the previews I've seen, this could be one of the freakiest (and maybe even most disturbing) games I've ever played. More when I get to reviewing the game.

Burnout Revenge
One of the top 10 PS2 games of 2005, I finally managed to track down a copy of this one, and can't wait to experiance the high-octane fun that's made it a cult favorite among racing fans who don't want a serious simulation style racing game, the kind of racer that gets me excited.


Slashing preview

Samurai Spirits: Tenkai-ichi Kankuken (Samurai Showdown 6)
The 6th installment in SNK's long running samurai slasher beat 'em up boasts a huge roster of 40+ characters, including the return of several classics like Genan Shiranui and Neighalt Sieger, in addition to several odd new characters!
Review coming soon!



Usually I don’t play racing games, so it has to be something different to get my attention, Enter Flatout, best described as a red-neck version of the Burnout game series!
In Flatout, you race along country areas with a distinct Southern, or red-neck, feel to them, from country roads, to construction sites, to outer city race tracks, there’s a variety of locals to challenge your racing abilities both off road and on. There’s a feel of rally racing to some of the tracks too as you kick up dirt on the back roads trying to outrace the pack and get a good finish to win prize money to upgrade your car or buy new cars.
There’s not a lot of variety to the types of cars you can get, nothing fancy like Porches or Ferraris. Instead you get muscle cars that don’t emphasize on the looks as much as their ability to take punishment as well on the dirt tracks and roads.
So what is it about Flatout that attracted me to it? The crashes! If you crash your car, you’ll fling your driver out and watch him crash in a lump on the road! This fun little reminder of why you should always remember to wear your seat belt is also used in mini games like the Long Jump where you see how far you can launch your driver, the High-Jump to see how high you can launch him, Darts where you get three shots to get the highest score possible by launching your driver at a huge board, and more! The mini games are there not just as a fun break from the main game, but help make money to upgrade your ride quicker. Apart from abusing your driver, there are also demolition derbies and short dirt track courses you can take part in to score quick cash.
The game is easy to pick up and play, though like most you’ll find the challenge in making the tight turns while you watch the CPU controlled racers just breeze past you. But winning a race isn’t impossible, as they encourage you to take out the other racers by crashing them into obstacles, and you get bonus points for this as well as build up your nitro meter!
The music is pretty good too, with licensed music from some bands I guess are hoping this game will help break them out from whatever red-neck state it is they are from. But some of it is catchy and some of it does feel out of place at times.
Overall, if your tired of racing through city streets and causing as much public disturbances as possible, try taking this ride out in the country and causing mayhem like your one of the Dukes of Hazzard!

Graphics – 7
Sound – 7
Gameplay – 8
Lifespan – 7
Overall – 8



Cy-Girls is based on a line of toys created by TAKARA in Japan. The game focuses on 2 main characters, Ice, a blonde bombshell, and Aska, a ninja girl, separated on to 2 discs, but their stories are intertwined as you’ll see while playing through the game.
Ice is an American spy, and a top computer hacker, where as Aska is a ninja out to avenge the death of her father and clan. Both girls play differently; Ice uses guns and Aska uses speedy sword slicing attacks, complete with cool “finisher” moves.
One thing they both have in common is that ability to “dive” into cyberspace, whereas normal people would have to use pc created avatars to do so. In cyberspace, both girls can only attack with hand-to-hand techniques, but can pick up new abilities to use. The cyberspace levels (or Cy-D) add a bit of originality to the gameplay, as certain puzzles can only be solved by diving into cyberspace to do things like open locks and such. Unfortunately this also adds a frustrating degree of running back and forth between the real world and Cy-D, and even more frustrating when you can’t figure out what to do.
The game starts out easy enough, but than it reaches a point where you’ll find yourself lost not knowing what to do next, with some really vague clues given. The result as mentioned is A LOT of running back and forth trying to figure out what to do next or how to advance. This is one of those games that gets so ridiculously hard that you’ll have no choice but to track down a guide to get through it.
One of the few plusses is that the characters and game graphics look great, though the backgrounds look redundant at times, which lends to the “don’t know where your going” feel of some of the levels. Voice acting for the main characters is really good, but the accents of the other girls can get annoying sometimes. Not a lot to shout about the background music either.
Overall, this game is only good for a rental. But if you have to play a spy action game featuring a hot chick in the lead, I’d rather recommend Death By Degrees.

Game Ratings:
Graphics – 8
Sound – 7
Gameplay – 5
Lifespan – 4
Overall – 4



Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams
The latest installment of the Onimusha series is a huge double disc adventure, and there are now 4 palayble characters in the game!

A heavilly hyped FPS game where you play as a member of an elite covert ops group. Been there, done that. So find out what the big deal is when I review the game later.

Fight Night: Round 3
The 3rd game of the highly successful boxing game franchise, and my favorite fighting game of last year, returns with more face pounding action and a new first person mode!