Thursday, September 11, 2008

Raiden III

The Raiden series, by contrast, sends just a few assassin tanks, planes, warships and turrets across your path. They fire sparingly but, crucially, rather than spraying bullets randomly across the screen, they fire directly on your position. Now the challenge appears far simpler to the casual observer but, as each of your three types of weapon can only spray randomly back, the challenge is just as great - simply better disguised. What's immediately surprising with Raiden III is just how often you'll lose a life to a single enemy ship whose well-aimed shot you saw coming a mile off but somehow misread. Your ship has slow movement across the screen and so committing to your chosen route through the maze of enemy fire become of paramount importance - going back on yourself is often suicide.

Raiden III's sparse and methodical orthodox approach (as oppose to the fashionable and manic, bullet hell method) across its seven levels informs its whole design. There are some welcome amendments to the series' formula - every weapon comes with auto-fire as standard now and power-ups are kept if you choose to switch weapons mid-way through a level (previously you had to start off again from the weakest iteration). However, there are no complex scoring mechanics - you're rewarded for taking out an enemy ship quickly (up to double the default score per enemy) and there are no gimmicks requiring you to graze bullets or such-like for high-scores (although there is a 'Double' mode where you control two ships by yourself youtube Ikaruga-style). Visually, while the 3D graphics are bright, and the effects responsively vibrant, the environments and enemies are low-textured and are designs we've seen a hundred times before. Likewise the boss encounters lack the imagination of, for example, Treasure's output, failing even to match some of the inventiveness shown in the earlier Raiden games.

But despite these slight shortfalls Raiden III succeeds in being immediate and compulsive playing. It constantly betrays its arcade roots (for example, your score is reset to zero if you use a continue, forcing players to only use one credit when aiming for high-scores). From the aspect ratio (in the arcade the game is vertically aligned meaning, unless you're willing to put your TV on its side - and there is an option - you'll be playing with sizeable borders) to the functional and repetitive play options (Score Attack, Boss Rush and an art gallery) the game's heritage is clear.

Indeed, in many ways, Raiden III's release onto the Playstation 2 only really makes sense within a gaming landscape in which arcades still play an integral part. It's primarily meant to be a way for arcade players to practice at home in order to get good and then go back out into the wild to show off their skill in front of contemporaries (or wide-eyed gaijin). Which makes the game perfect for Hiro from Shinjuku but a little incongruous for Harry from the Cotswolds; the opposite of where a Eurogamer is used to being.

Without this competitive infrastructure surrounding Raiden III (other than the game's internal high-score table) some of the game's appeal and function is undeniably lost. But it's testament to the strength of that design blueprint Seibu Kaihatsu laid down seventeen years ago with the first title, that, even without all of that paraphernalia, this third game is still violently addictive. The only shame is that, when you finally manage to master the game with a single credit (and we're getting close), the only person around to show off in front of is probably a bewildered friend who's just popped round for a friendly game of Pro Evo.

System requirements:

  • OS Windows 2000/XP HOME/Professional
  • CPU Pentium4 1.7GHz , Celeron 2.0 GHz CPU
  • RAM 512MB(Windows2000 256MB , 512MB )
  • DirectX9.0c 64MB(:128MB) T&L (nVidia GeForceFX , ATI Radeon 9000 )
  • DirectX9.0c
  • HDD 500MB
  • CD-ROM 4
Download Links:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Moto GP 2

The first thing you'll notice when comparing the versions side by side is that their menu systems are nearly identical. Unfortunately, this means that the in-game menus don't have PC-specific options, such as the ability to adjust your control setup and graphical configuration. These functions are all handled by the game's launcher, so you have to exit the game and then relaunch to make any changes. The game does all this with short load times and very little fanfare, but it's still a pretty clumsy setup.

Otherwise, MotoGP 2 is a detailed re-creation of the 2002 MotoGP series, and with the changes it makes to last year's title, the experience is a spot-on match. The roster has been updated to match last year's series, with riders such as Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, Sete Gibernau, and Daijiro Kato. The track count has gone up to 16, representing all of the series' courses, from Suzuka and Sepang to Brno and Valencia. The 500cc two-stroke machines now share the starting grid with 1,000cc four-stroke bikes such as the Yamaha M1, the Suzuki GSV-R, and the Honda RC211V. The single-player mode provides a wide variety of modes to play in, such as the quick race mode, for those who want to jump right into the action, and the stunt mode, which is an arcadelike game in which you pull off high-speed stunts to score points and unlock new riders. Other modes include time trials to polish your cornering lines on the tracks and a slew of multiplayer modes.

The heart of the single-player game is the career mode, in which you create a rider to compete in the full MotoGP series. In addition to choosing a bike and leathers, you'll distribute attribute points into skills such as cornering, braking, acceleration, and top speed. Additional points are won by completing challenges and winning races, so if you're successful you'll have a pretty skilled racer by the end of the season. Each circuit is run in a sequence and presented as a two-day race event. The first day is for practice and qualification for grid placement, and the second is for the race itself. True to life, races are held rain or shine, and the lines you chose on a sunny practice day might be thrown out completely in the pouring rain of the actual race day. At the end of each series, you can choose to go back and race on any of the previous tracks again or complete any challenges you may have missed to improve your attributes, or you can move on to the next season.

In the end, MotoGP 2 for the PC falls short of its potential. If the developer had spent more time refining the control scheme and graphics to make better use of PC hardware and had added more functionality to the game's menus and multiplayer options, the PC version of MotoGP 2 could have been as good as the Xbox version. To its credit, the game is selling at a budget price, but as it stands, MotoGP 2 for the PC is a simple port that lacks good multiplayer and in-game options, and doesn't re-create the highly functional and rewarding control scheme of the original console game.

System Requirements:

Pentium 450 MHz,

128 MB RAM,

Windows 98/ME/2000/XP,

DirectX 9.0,

DirectX-compatible video card,

DirectX-compatible sound card,

10X CD-ROM drive,

and 615 MB hard-disk space