Monday, November 22, 2004

The Rundown: 22nd to 28th November
Posted by JayGo :: 4:05 AM

Welcome back to The Rundown! Again, it's time to look at the new releases for this week in the UK and the US. It's quite a bit calmer than last week, thankfully.. with one noticeable exception.

The Nintendo DS was released yesterday, but don't expect to be able to go into a nearby shop and pick one up off the shelf. According to many sources, you may only be in luck if you preordered.. and preordered early, at that. The unit costs $149, and is getting a good reception from most areas.. though some have said the stylus control can be a bit error-prone at times. The console comes complete with Pictochat, so you can chat and draw pictures to nearby DS users wirelessly, and Metroid Prime: Hunters First Hunt, a demo of the upcoming Metroid Prime variant.

The launch line-up consists of six games, with the main one being Super Mario 64 DS. Mario 64 with minigames and a multiplayer mode? Sold! There's also the always present EA with Madden NFL 2005 and The Urbz: Sims in the City, above-par racing action with Asphalt Urban GT, average movie tie-in Spiderman 2 and the quite frankly odd Feel The Magic: XY/XX. We here at Another Castle are working hard on getting some DS impressions posted.. as soon as we can find someone who's got one.

In the meantime, reports that it's 'sturdy' and the 'touch screen is great', but it also 'feels cheap'. Next week, he might get Mario DS into the machine itself. We'll be waiting!

So - didn't preorder a DS? Not to fear, EA have another tie-in for you to buy like the communist pigs you are! Goldeneye: Rogue Agent (PS2, XBox, GC) sees you playing a bad guy working for Goldfinger, battling against the forces of.. Dr. No? Hmm. I guess expecting anything more risky than that was a bit foolish. The game itself is yet another first person shooter, and in a world where Halo 2, Half Life 2, Metroid Prime 2 and, hell, the original Goldeneye exist, I can't see why you'd want to be bothering with this one. The reviews aren't favourable, the story is laughable (surgically implanted 'golden eye'?), and on the whole it appears to be incredibly unremarkable.

Despite the relative calm following the avalanche of titles that was last week, two big names still arrive on the PC shortly. World of Warcraft (PC) is the second of the two big massively multiplayer online RPGs to arrive, coming shortly after Everquest II. It's the first such game that Blizzard have made, but success is almost certain given that it builds on the incredibly popular Warcraft franchise that partly enabled them to make a name for themselves. If you're a fan of the franchise, or you just want to play around with a new MMORPG, then you could do a hell of a lot worse than giving this a try.

The second big PC game is that rare thing - an update of an oldie from the Commodore 64. Sid Meier's Pirates (PC) isn't solely out to attract gamers who played the original back in the early 90s, with many new features and gameplay elements being added to the mix. And heck, the graphics have improved a bit too. Ship battles, duels, trading, wooing the governor's daughter.. all aspects of life on the open seas are here. And yes, the wooing does occur within what is the newest videogame craze - a DDR-alike minigame. Woo.

Keeping with the remakes, Alien Hominid (PS2, GC) is a side-scrolling shooter built upon a game from In fact, you can still play the original if you click here. It plays a lot like a mix between Metal Slug and Viewtiful Joe, which ain't exactly a bad pair to draw inspiration from. Heck, it's only $30 too. Have a go with the Flash game, and if you like it, then rest assured that the full console version is a whole lot better still.

Also out this week:

Shock! Horror! The big release of Dora The Explorer (GBA) ended up being put back to this week instead. Of course, I can't justify going on about it two weeks running, so it's down here along with the rest of the releases for this week in the US...
  • Playstation 2: American Chopper: The Game, Atari Anthology, Outlaw Golf 2
  • XBox: Cabela's Big Game Hunter 2005 Adventures
  • Gamecube: MC Groovz Dance Craze
  • PC: Alexander, Bad Mojo (Redux), Dragon's Lair 3, ER, Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone, X-Plane 8
  • Gameboy Advance: A Sound Of Thunder, Dora The Explorer: Super Star Adventures, Ice Nine

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom:

The first rule of Another Castle is not to talk about Fight Club (PS2, XBox). The second rule of Another Castle isn't to take ages on really poor jokes related to crap movie tie-ins. I guess that means I can't mention Goldeneye: Rogue Agent (PS2, XBox, GC) is getting a parallel release in bot continents, either. So, moving on..

So, yes. Outside of Fight Club, more games already out in the US make their way across to the UK this Friday. It's a big welcome to Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2(PS2, XBox), the eagerly awaited Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (GC), and sub-standard PS2 'Halo-killer' Killzone (PS2). Dan reviewed Killzone not too long ago, of course, and you can read that by clicking here. Jak 3 (PS2) also is released this week, and proves to be a satisfying conclusion to the trilogy of high-quality platformers.

The biggest release of the week in the UK, arguably, is Pro Evolution Soccer 4 (XBox). Sure, it came out a few weeks back for the PS2, but this version has improved graphics and sound, and full XBox Live support - including leagues, tournaments and the like. Better than FIFA 2005, it's the most fully realised online version of the beautiful game yet. In fact, it's possibly the greatest sports game of all time, even if the US may never get to see it. Shame.

Oh, and Get On Da Mic (PS2) is released too. Rap karaoke. And not good rap karaoke, even. Sure, the song choices are good enough, but they're not by the original artists, everything is censored, there are fundamental design flaws, and.. well. Rap. Karaoke. Need I say more?

Well, not for this week I don't. Back next week.

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