Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Games of March

Since March is the end of a financial quarter for most companies, we get some good stuff coming out this month. Here's a brief list:

Darwinia: The demo alone is the best game I've played this year. Elegant and innovative and captivating, the full version has just been released. To describe it ruins the shock and delight of seeing it for the first time. For now, you can order it from the official website (http://www.darwinia.co.uk/), but I'm sure there will be a U.S. retail distributor soon. The game's just too good not to have one.

Star Wars Republic Commando: Recently released and there is plenty of buzz around this title. Intense, with spectacular graphics and solid gameplay, from what I've been told. The word of mouth has been so good on this title that it jumped onto my purchase list last week.

Freedom Force vs The Third Reich: Shipping today. I can't remember the last time Irrational Games made anything less than excellent. The original game was the surprise hit of 2002 and was a huge breath of fresh air with its superhero, over-the-top gameplay and witty style.

Brothers in Arms: PC version ships March 15. Based on E3 articles last year, this game was the surprise hit. Here's what DQ reader Russ Poe had to say about the Xbox version (already released):
In my mind, no other first person shooter has succeeded in nailing the intensity of a fire fight and putting you in the middle of it (not that I have been there, but this must feel similar). The AI is quite intelligent on both sides and will respond to a threat even if you are disoriented and cannot. A case in point - today another trooper and I were assigned to assualt a strongpoint. The first time I went through, I went right up the middle with guns blazing - the enemy AI dug in behind cover and basically fought me to a standstill. Both me and my AI buddy were caught in the middle of the street and pinned down and out of ammo. SO I thought, lets see what happens if I do this level again and change the approach. Let's flank the enemy's original position and try to line up a shot from the left. Both me and my AI buddy went to the left and tried to scurt the enemy by going around a house. The enemy AI set up an ambush for us - they saw us flank left - and since we did not pin them down properly, the AI shifted it’s line to the left when we were out of sight and ambushed us. We literally walked into a line of three germans who pinned us in the open and finished us. That is something you do not see in other FPS - this is a thinking AI. It uses the same tactics you do and it will punish you for not thinking. Had we fixed them to a position with suppression fire, things would likely have been much different.

This was one of the most anticipated games of the year for me, so March 15 can't get here soon enough.

Silent Hunter III: Also ships March 15. The most popular sub sim returns with a new version.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. Shipping March 28. If you don't already know that you'll be playing a stealthy black-ops agent named Sam Fisher, then you're one of the few. Hopefully this engine will be more optimized for the PC this time, as previous versions have run like absolute pigs.

Cold Fear: A survival horror game shipping March 30, it crept onto the radar screen entirely due to this web page (http://www.cfgoa.org/us/bulletin/), which is one of most clever and seemingly authentic pieces of viral marketing I've ever seen.

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