Sonic Adventure Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus
Soul Caliber Half Life
  Sonic Adventure ---Dreamcast / Sega
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Reviewed by John Kane

Helping to get the release of the Sega Dreamcast off to a great, speeding start, this latest edition of the Sonic game series is a stunner. For those unfamiliar with the series it's Sega's flagship platform game. The star of the game is the blindingly fast Sonic the Hedgehog who this time around is traveling through a variety of exotic locales collecting Chaos Emeralds in order to stop the Chaos Demon. Okay, that gets the unimpressive plot out of the way and while we're mentioning flaws the game is hampered by a dreadful soundtrack, laughingly bad voice-over work, and some difficult camera angles which can occasionally make game play difficult. Now for the praise: a rich and detailed world to immerse yourself in, dizzyingly fast levels that are action packed, and then there's the graphics. Clearly designed to show off just what the Dreamcast is capable of, Sonic Adventure shows that the gap between arcade games and console games has been closed. Whether he's dashing through casinos, flying airplanes, or snowboarding down a mountain there's eye candy galore rushing by so fast that if you blink you lose. In a nice move to prolong game play you can also replay levels as different characters such as Sonic's sidekick Tails and his love interest Amy with the challenges and obstacles changing to suit each new character. Hours of exhilarating entertainment await and if you don't have a Dreamcast this game makes a hell of a reason to purchase one.



  Soul Caliber ---Dreamcast / Namco
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Reviewed by John Kane

Basically, this sequel to Soul Blade is Tekken 3 with better graphics. Now improved graphics may not sound like much of a difference but these graphics are eye-catchingly fantastic. With every screenshot worthy of framing, it's easy to get distracted by the sheer beauty and incredible detail that went into the design of this superior fighting game. Getting distracted is not a good idea though, unless you enjoy the computer chanting YOU LOSE again and again. Game play is standard fighting stuff---several basic one button blows can be dealt but the real powerhouse plays require fast and precise multi-button skills. The only major problem with the game is that it is slightly too easy, a good player should be able to beat the computer enough times to unlock all the characters within two days at the most. But this isn't really a single player game, the joy comes from playing against friends and beating them to a bloody pulp. The characters are pretty standard stuff (martial arts guy, samurai dude, whip wielding babe, even Yoshimitsu from Tekken 3) but one character does deserve special mention: Voldo. Decked out in House-Of-Pain bondage gear and walking in a hunched over fashion that suggests his underwear might be just a bit too constricting, Voldo and his Freddy Krueger hands is the character to play when you want to giggle while doing your slicing and dicing. This is easily the best fighting game for the Dreamcast and it will probably be a long while before anyone puts out a more stunningly beautiful slab of violence then this.



  Oddworld: Abeís Exoddus---Playstation / GT Interactive
---Reviewed by John Kane

More of a remake then a sequel to the much beloved Oddworld: Abeís Oddysee, this game offers improved graphics, the ability to save the game at any time, and, well... exploding farts. Once again the gamer is playing that poster boy for bad posture, Abe, the savior of the Mudokon race. This time his job is to save his people from being turned into SoulStorm Brew by the never nice Glukkons. Gameplay is much the same as before: running, jumping, the excellent gamespeak feature. The puzzles are occasionally too difficult, but thereís nothing here the seasoned gamer wonít be able to accomplish. Basically, if you loved the first game, youíll love this new and improved version. Oh, and the cinematic scenes are truly spectacular. Somebody at Disney should hire these guys to do their movies.




  Half Life ---PC / Sierra Games
---Reviewed by John Kane

Okay, regardless of all the praise, one thing has to be said, the opening setup is big time stupid. I mean, how does a research project gone wrong somehow make psycho aliens and mutants appear? Is that really the best the people with Valve could come up with? Donít know about you, but I had major David Banner-Incredible Hulk deja vu happening. Okay, now for the praise, this is without a doubt one of the greatest first person shooters ever created. Great graphics submerge you into this well designed, hyper-violent, kill-or-be-killed game. By keeping the environment as real as possible (i.e. no flashing powerups or cases of bullets out in plain view) the game plays more like a scary movie then any of the other Quake II rip-offs out there. And while the setup may be lame once youíre past it the game has nary a flaw to report. Oh yeah, one more thing, this game is so addictive the FDA should look into regulating it.