by Mike Shea on 13 January 2004
I had the opportunity to play three excellent Playstation 2 games over the last week. Two of them I completed and one I have just started. Here are three mini-reviews.
The top of all three was Prince of Persia, the Sands of Time. Everyone with an Apple 2 played the original Prince of Persia, a smoothly animated side scroller with various puzzles, traps, jumps, and duels. It was a great game and one of the first I can remember playing. This new sequel, over 20 years later, has everything any game needs to be perfect. It is a video game that celebrates video games. It is a game that reminds you how great games were and tells you how great they are. Its part combat, part puzzle solving, part reflex, and wrapped in a seamless and exciting story. The graphics are excellent and the options offer a 16x9 progressive scan mode for HDTVs, something I really love in newer games. The camera movement is good and little mini-tutorials help steer you through the first few uncomfortable moments.
Over my 10 hour game I got stuck about twice, one time so bad I threw the controller. But it was back in my hand in an hour and I got past whatever strangeness I got stuck at before. For the most part, my simple mind managed to get past all of the puzzles and defeat the constant onslaught of baddies. I found only one problem, the time-to-crate is awfully low. I think it was about twelve seconds before I saw my first crate.
Prince of Persia is one to buy for just about any PS2 gamer. Its great fun, very rewarding, and has an excellent story. The ending and its tie to the introduction is wonderful. Go buy it.
Medal of Honor: Frontline is a good game at a great price. I've been spending a lot of time learning more about World War 2 and playing a game in the setting of Normandy was a lot of fun. The action is good and the difficulty is about right if a tad hard in some places. Unlike a lot of First Person Shooters, there is no in-game save feature so if you die at the end of a mission you start the whole mission over again. The weapons you use are all pretty good but I found that in the latter half of the game it switches almost entirely to German weapons instead of the US ones. I wanted to use that M1, Thompson submachine gun, .45 automatic, 1903 Springfield sniper rifle, and maybe a M3 grease gun, but instead it was all wacky German weapons. The sniper rifle you use in the latter parts of the game is the one Ed Harris uses in Enemy at the Gates, though, so thats fun.
Medal of Honor Frontline isn't a great game but its only $20 and its worth every penny. It was fun enough that I wanted to crawl through the whole thing and did after about two weeks of casual play. The first board alone is a lot of fun for a beginner. You really feel like the greenie soldier thrown up on the shores of Normandy on D-Day. For $20, its a great game and one to pick up for a boring weekend.
Ratchet and Clank was a platformer I never had a chance to play but Ratchet and Clank, Going Commando is one I got over Christmas. Its a platformer in the prime of the genre with wacky characters and huge colorful worlds. The 3D quality reminds me of Toy Story and the characters have some of the old attitude of Sonic the Hedgehog. Gameplay for the short time I've played it has all been good with excellent animation and a solid 60 frames per second of playback. The game offers a 16x9 progressive scan mode that makes it look flawless on my 55" HDTV.
One thing I noticed is that Ratchet and Clank is really hard in some spots. Unlike most games where I can barrel through it in a lot of parts, I find myself dying often in Ratchet. That reminds me a lot of the old Mario days where running out of lives was a real concern and there were times you would just plain die and have to start over again. Ratchet and Clank, Going Commando, is another game that reminds me how much fun video games can be.