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Game Recommendation - 3rd Quarter - 2006

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DarkStar One

GameSpot Rating: (8.1 great)


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"Keep it simple, stupid" isn't a credo that space-sim developers have subscribed to over the years. While other games have practically beaten players senseless with the complicated economics of buying and selling futuristic space-goods, the developers of DarkStar One apparently realized that some of us just want to be Han Solo. This game "gets" the template of 1985's Commodore 64 classic Elite in a way that many other space-trading games released over the past decade or so didn't, thanks to its emphasis on the mid-'80s classic's simple principles of buying low, selling high, and blasting pirates for fun and profit. It comes with a few minor problems in the fit-and-finish department, but the game is still an outstanding return to the frontier spirit that made Elite so memorable.


FlatOut 2

GameSpot Rating: (7.4 good)


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As much fun as the Burnout series of racing games can be, sometimes you want something a little grittier and grimier than the glossy, pristine-looking races that series has had on offer in recent years. Enter last year's FlatOut by developer Bugbear, a demolition racer in the purest sense. That game consisted of big, clunky, filthy-looking cars that deformed in all sorts of spectacular ways while flying through the air, crashing into one another, and even periodically sending the drivers of said vehicles crashing through the windshield in a rag-doll-heavy heap. In FlatOut 2, the same basic concepts found throughout the original game are once again on display, but while more content has been added to the package to try to flesh things out, it is with these additions that FlatOut 2 begins to lose its way. FlatOut 2 throws in some new, stylistic touches both in its content and aesthetics that make it feel more like a clone of other established arcade racers, rather than something original. And some of the things that Bugbear didn't change still prove as problematic as they were a year ago. However, these irritations don't suck away all the game's enjoyment, and those with a penchant for smashing and crashing cars will find FlatOut 2 an appealing piece of work.


GameSpot Rating: (7.5 good)


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A couple of years ago, you probably would have been branded as a lunatic if you had said that we'd ever get to play Prey. Many of the game's ideas were originally hatched a decade ago. The game was even shown off to press in 1997. But in 1998, Prey was canned so that the development team could move on to other projects, and it was assumed lost. It resurfaced last year with a new developer and new technology thanks to the engine that powered both Doom 3 and Quake 4. The end result is a pretty standard first-person shooter that offers up largely the same sorts of thrills you've probably come to expect from this style of game, in spite of some superficially novel twists. Prey opens with the main character yelling at himself in a bathroom mirror. Tommy, a Cherokee Indian, doesn't really care about his heritage and wants to take his girlfriend, Jen, and leave the reservation. But before he can muster up the courage to convince her to leave (and just after he bashes in the skulls of a couple of morons causing trouble in her bar), an alien invasion sucks Tommy, his grandfather, and Jen up into some sort of spacecraft. With the help of some unknown benefactors, Tommy manages to get free and you set out on your quest to rescue your girlfriend and, of course, save Earth in the process. There are a few plot twists here and there, but some of those twists feel like they've been lifted directly from other games.

Glory of the Roman Empire

GameSpot Rating: (5.6 mediocre)


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When a game opens with a cinematic focusing on a little boy kissing and then releasing a dove to fly majestically over an idyllic countryside, you know not to expect much in the way of intense action. So you have to give Glory of the Roman Empire kudos for honesty. But you can't dish out too much praise when it comes to the game itself, as it is such a light take on the city-building genre that it practically disappears into its voluminous toga after a few hours of play. Haemimont Games takes such a casual approach to everything, from the ancient Roman setting to the quickie campaign scenarios, so that many players will find little here to latch onto and really enjoy. When you get right down to it, this is really a budget-minded take on classics like Caesar III. Glory of the Roman Empire puts you in the toga and sandals of a Roman governor for hire who bops all over the empire dealing with various municipal problems. Both competitive modes of play--a campaign and a challenge option where you're given random objectives to deal with in random cities (there is also a free-building sandbox mode, but no multiplayer beyond the ability to post challenge scores online at a wall of fame)--are fast-moving. No sooner do you deal with the plague at Syracusae than your expertise is needed to battle wildfires in Florentia, or to add to the stature of Londinium, or to repel barbarians from Colonia Claudia.

Titan Quest

GameSpot Rating: (7.6 good)


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It is apparent that the developers at Iron Lore, makers of Titan Quest, have played more than their fair share of the Diablo games. Though it trades a pure high-fantasy feel for a mythical take on the ancient worlds of Greece, Egypt, and Asia, Titan Quest is so similar to Blizzard's seminal hack-and-slash role-playing game series that it's essentially a warts-and-all homage. It's certainly well-made enough to please those who prefer more action and less plot in their RPGs, and there are dozens and dozens of hours of gameplay to get lost in here, but it's hard to shake the feeling that you've already seen most of what Titan Quest has to offer. Those familiar with their Greek mythology will know that Zeus and the rest of the Olympians achieved their status within the world of gods by going to war with, defeating, and eventually imprisoning their forebears, a group of powerful elder gods known as the titans. Titan Quest opens up with these none-too-happy deities being freed from their prison, and they immediately use their great powers to wreak havoc on the mortal men that worship the Olympians. In an against-all-odds fight, you'll take on the role of a hero determined to stop these ravenous gods.

City Life

GameSpot Rating: (7.8 good)


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As one of the first city-building simulation games, SimCity's impact on the games industry cannot be underestimated. For one thing, it launched the career of Will Wright, who went on to make the best-selling game of all time with The Sims. But whilst sim games are popular nowadays with developers and gamers alike, it's always been hard to emulate the impact that SimCity had. It's not prevented people from trying, however, and City Life from Monte Cristo is the latest attempt. City Life takes most of the key aspects found in any SimCity title and tosses in some financial planning aspects and a fully 3D graphical engine that lets you get down to the nitty-gritty of your city on the street level. It's not the most inventive city-builder ever made, but it can be a great deal of fun. The basic aim of the game may be simple--build a successful, sprawling, and happy metropolis--but in practice, it's not so easy. Your task isn't helped initially by the lack of a hands-on tutorial, and instead the game offers a series of rudimentary screenshots with brief explanations. Although they do cover the main areas of the game quite well, there's nothing quite like learning by doing. However, the game does contain plenty of tooltips, as well as a quickstart guide for beginners, whilst experienced sim gamers should find things fairly straightforward.


Popular Expansions


Civilization IV: Warlords

GameSpot Rating: (8.6 great)


Dungeon Siege II: Broken World

GameSpot Rating: (6.3 fair)


Half-Life 2: Episode One

GameSpot Rating: (8.7 great)


Rome: Total War Alexander

GameSpot Rating: (8.5 great)


Cossacks II: Battle for Europe

GameSpot Rating: (6.9 fair)


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