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Finally, a survival game that focuses on action...
I'm what you would call an experienced gamer. I play all types, all genres. However, I don't necessarily like all the genres. Case in point, the "Survival Horror" genre. The example that stands out furthest in this case is Capcom's "Resident Evil" (aka "Biohazard") series. Let's get one thing straight: I hate those games. They're fun as far as the atmosphere and environment, but with all the puzzles, backtracking, lack of available ammunition to kill whatever wants to kill you, major control issues...it just gets downright annoying. Too annoying to play them, and that takes a lot for me. Why do I just go off on this spree of insults? Because it's a game in this certain genre that I just happened to fall in love with.

I had the chance to play "Onimusha: Warlords" before it ever officially came out in the States (thanks to my game store buddies). Now, I was very, very, very skeptical at first.

No, I don't think you quite get it: I was very, very, very skeptical.

Now, the first thing it had going for it was the fact that it involved samurais. I'm a Japanese history buff, so of course that got on my good side. The next thing was the beautiful graphics, and then the sound, and then the incredible scale of the weapons (NICE!). Then I got to noticing the play control...and to my surprise, I didn't mind it. Whoa...I actually didn't mind the static, aggravating controls that plagued the "RE" series. I'm thinking that the reason behind my change of heart is that it's not a "Survival Horror" game. Actually, in all its glory, it's just a "Survival" game. No stupid typewriter ribbons to pick up in order to save (limited saves...are you people nuts?), instead, you've got a "magic mirror" to save and enhance your equipment.

"Enhance your equipment? What do you mean?" Ah, let me tell you, then. This isn't really a spoiler, since the instruction book tells you all of this, but I'm going to warn you anyway (in fear of IMDB killing all of my reviews :o) ). The first thing Samanouske Akechi (your character) starts with is a simple sword. With this sword, he cannot hope to defeat the demons that have kidnapped the princess of the clan he serves. So a clan of Ogres that have been done wrong by the demons decide to give him a helping hand in getting the princess back by giving him a gauntlet. Now, this is no ordinary gauntlet, this is a gauntlet that absorbs the demons' souls so that you can use them to enhance the equipment you receive via special orbs. You get three orbs throughout the game, Thunder, Fire, and Wind. Each of them gives you a different style of sword, and as you level them up from the souls you absorb, they get more powerful and get to looking SCHWEET. It's nice, trust me.

But getting back to the control issue, it's not that much of a problem here. That's because it's a hack-and-slash game with an overused premise, and an overused control scheme. But for some odd reason, it fits. And it works.

I bought the game, beat it a few times, and got some special treats (play it, you'll find out). It's a solid buy, and you won't be disappointed. It just goes to show that no matter how many stupid games Capcom has come out with ("RE", the "Street Fighter EX" series), they always seem to turn lead into gold when you least expect it ("Capcom vs. SNK", the "Megaman" series, and now, "Onimusha: Warlords"). Do yourself and you wallet a favor, and rent it first. Don't go buying it just 'cause I said so...unless, of course, it's a "Metal Gear" game. Then you have to, I think that it's an actual law now. :o)

Zone of the Enders Z.O.E

Kojima is unstoppable.
First things first...there is a sort of trinity as far as game designers go, the three of which are Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, Sega's Yu Suzuki, and Konami's Hideo Kojima. Miyamoto is the master of fantasy worlds, Suzuki the master of realism, Kojima the master of cinematics. And it is his mastery of this which shines in this game.

The graphics are incredible, with anime stylings althroughout (not hard to see, as co-creator Nobuyoshi Nishimura is responsible for "Gundam X"). The emotion on the faces in the cutscenes is like watching an animated feature, while the mecha design is first-rate, sort of a cross between the "Gundam" and "Brain Powerd" (yes, that's how it's spelled) styles. To see so many mecha-based games graphically excel in some areas and falter in others, it's a breath of fresh air to see this one's eye candy deliver so consistently. I especially like the effect of the "veins" on the mecha's exterior, it's creepy in a way, but that makes it look that much cooler.

The control, to put it bluntly...perfect. This is the first time I have ever picked up a game with so many things you can do with the character, and become a master at the controls after one run through the training session. On top of that, the responsiveness is nice and tight, allowing you to switch directions and/or targets with the greatest of ease. The fact that there is one main attack button can make it kind of rough in some spots, but I'll explain that next.

The goal of the game is to drive enemy forces from your home colony. Now, these said forces do pull some very ruthless tactics, and kill very many civilians. The survivors are hiding in buildings in some missions, and those buildings are clearly marked so you don't destroy them, but it's rough achieving 100% when there's three or so (or more!) mecha (called Orbital Frames in the game) breathing down your neck. So don't expect perfect performance unless your name just happens to be Luke Skywalker.

Overall, this game rocks. Truth be told, I got it for the "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty" demo, but I found that "Z.O.E." is a worthy game in itself. Hideo Kojima knows how to get you to look, then to try, then to buy, then to play to death. And you'll love every minute of it, too.

Tekken Tag Tournament

A nice piece of work...
As an experienced gamer, I try to take in all styles of all genres of games. I've been a fighting game fan for awhile now, but my philosophy has stated that 2D fighting games are just plain better. 2 1/2 - 3D fighting games were just a fad, and soon people would see the error of their ways. Well, that all changed a little over a year ago. I got introduced to "Dead Or Alive 2" and "SoulCalibur" on the Sega Dreamcast, and fell in love instantly. Still, that had no bearing on what would happen a few months later, when my best friend and I decided to try our luck on a game neither one of us particularly liked.

We were in our favorite lunch spot, and they had a brand-new "Tekken Tag Tournament" machine (and at 25 cents a pop instead of the usual 50, what nice guys). We got into it soon after, always going back there to try to best each other with new tactics. One of my good friends got ahold of an import PS2 (he works in a game store, so he's got the right connections), and I started to learn more about this game that I used to downright loathe. I had decided to get a PS2 for two main reasons: One, I needed a DVD player for my living room, and two, I wanted "Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty" before anyone else I knew. So, I reserved my system, and I got mine day of launch (10/26/00), and loved getting dirty looks from those who didn't pre-order (so I bragged about it, can you blame me?).

I got home and popped in my new copy of "TTT." And all I had to say was "Wowwwww." The graphics were what caught my eye first, since some of the anti-aliasing issues had been resolved over the Japanese version. The play control was spot-on, the music was filled with great bass beats (I love my digital surround), and the action was intense, especially in a versus match.

Enter the present time. I've had my PS2 for almost 6 months now, and I love it dearly (strange talk coming from a Nintendo loyalist). I'm still learning more about this game. It's funny how this game seems so shallow on the exterior, while in-depth it proves itself to be so much more. I read up on the storyline, bought used copies of all the older games in the "Tekken" series, and learned how it got to that point story- and gameplay-wise. This game, simply put, rocks. It's a must-buy for any fighting fan with a PS2.

However, for those new to the series, a word of warning: "Tekken" is a cheap-man's fighting game. Not cheap in a sense of money, cheap in a sense of what downright evil tactics you can blatantly get away with. Once you come to grips with that pearl of wisdom, you'll learn how to avoid and counter these flimsy attempts at a quick defeat. So don't get discouraged when you can't just pick it up and start winning. Study your move list first, and practice. You'll be kicking punks up and down the block in no time.

Oh, I've got one more thing to say before I end this. I don't want to offend anyone's character choices, but for all those who like to use Eddy Gordo, you're only fooling yourselves. He is an extremely cheap character who takes no skill at all to use. For all you beginners (and semi-veterans who haven't used everyone yet), get to know people like Jin Kazama, Paul Phoenix and Forest Law. Eddy will get you nowhere after awhile. That's all for my tip, so go buy the game already!

Metal Gear Solid

The Greatest Video Game Ever?
I consider myself a gamer in the greatest sense of the word, better terms would be "jaded" or "hardcore." I have played many, many games, games of all types and genres. `Metal Gear Solid' stands out above all others I have ever played in terms of graphics (relative to the system the game is played on), play control, music, plot, and overall feeling of enjoyment from the game. Since this is a review, I can't tell you what exactly I liked about the game (major plot spoilers, go play it, you'll see), but I'll try to tell you about it without giving anything away.

First off, the graphics. There are no CG movies whatsoever, they're all done in realtime, with accompanying voice talent (which is quite good). The graphics themselves are not that great, since they're PlayStation-era, but for their time, they were spectacular. The cinematic effects add the nicest touch of all to the cutscenes, with their camera angles and special effects. Quite impressive, for an 8-year-old console.

Play control is one subject I don't need to spend that much time on. In one word...bliss. Especially how you can use the left analog stick to guide the Nikita (guided) missiles much more easily.

The music is awesome. It's as memorable as your old-school NES music ("Megaman 2", anyone?), just a lot better sounding. The main theme is great, and I wish someone would orchestrate it. It would be beautiful.

Plot. Wow. This is the absolute best storyline I have seen in a game, period. No questions asked. Once you start, you're pulled in from the beginning as you're assisted, back-stabbed and vindicated from the most unlikely of places. Incredible voice acting as well, with as many plot turns as a labyrinth. Someone needs to make a mini-series of this soon, because a movie could not hold its action-packed splendor.

Oh, and the fact that there's two endings doesn't hurt, either.

The enjoyment factor (hereafter referred to as "fun") is exceedingly high. You'll be reminded of the time you spent all hours of the night playing the old NES "Zelda" games, trying to make it past that level so you could see what was next. This time, it's not a dungeon that you want to see next, it's what happens in the storyline. The fact that depending on what ending you get allows you to start with more helpful items (different too, depending on the ending) is a great and welcome bonus as well.

Overall, this is the best game on the original PS. I got "Zone Of The Enders" for the "MGS2" demo, and that seems to be the only game that will be able to exceed it. Already the sequel looks like the game that all future games will be judged by (hereafter referred to as a "high-water-mark"), but in order to enjoy that one, familiarize yourself with the classic. You'll thank me later.

Or, to sum it all up...buy it ASAP. No, I mean now. Right now. Yes, you.


This just may be the quintessential Anime...
One person who wrote a review of this film stated, "This film is NOT for everyone..." They had no idea how right they were. This film isn't for everyone, but those who can piece together the complex storyline (which, truthfully, took me about three times of watching it to fully understand the film's premise)will find a story well worth watching. Those who can appreciate the freedoms that animation gives to moviemaking will enjoy the high-paced action. Those just wanting to see another violent Japanimation flick, well, you are sure to get your kicks too. But this is also a tale worth watching well after you get past all the bells and whistles, because it sticks with you. Those who like seeing cartoon blood, you'll like it for the bike-gang fights. Those wanting to see an actual intelligent storyline, this one sure doesn't disappoint, with believeable characters living in a post-apocalyptic city known as Neo-Tokyo. For those who don't like the American dubbing, it's available in subtitled format. It's action-packed, gritty, dark and realistic to a point where your imagination wonders the possibilities of something like this ever happening...this just may be the quintessential Anime film. I would reccomend it to any animation fan, or someone who's desperate for a decent sci-fi story. Just keep the kids out of the room - it's a bit too freaky for the wee ones.

Red Dwarf

I am hopelessly addicted to this show.
Let's get one thing straight here: I don't watch much TV. A lot of the shows nowadays really get on my nerves. But RED DWARF is different. DWARF is shown on Saturday nights on my local PBS station, and the week just isn't the same if I can't see my favorite bunch of marooned space bums. The story is a bit of a long one: Dave Lister, a technician aboard the mining ship RED DWARF, is punished for having an unquarantined cat on the ship. His punishment involves going into stasis for 18 months, forfeiting all pay (which he wants to save up so he can move to Fiji with his cat and the love of his life, Kristine Kochanski). But while he is in stasis, his supremely anal-retentive superior officer and bunkmate Arnold Rimmer fails to fix a restraining plate properly on a warp drive, and the whole ship undergoes an internal nuclear explosion. When awakened by Holly, the ship's slightly loopy computer, Lister finds out he has been in stasis for over 3 million years. Rimmer, resurrected by Holly as a hologram, is back to keep Lister sane yet seems more probable to do the opposite. Lister's cat, who was pregnant, was safely sealed away in the cargo hold of the ship. There the cats have bred for 3 million years, and the last survivor of their race pops out of an air vent, a Felis Sapiens, or commonly known as just Cat. Together, they try to find a way back home to Earth...even if it takes 3 million years!

I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good laugh. :o)

Blazing Saddles

The greatest comedy of all time...PERIOD!
Very simply put, this is a great movie. The characters are memorable, the lines unforgettable. This belongs in EVERY movie library. If you have even the smallest shred of what some would call a "sense of humor", you are required to at least watch this movie. Sure, it may be low-brow and somewhat offensive at times, but Mel Brooks made sure EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE got a shot made at them, just to keep it fair. This one should go down in history as one of the greatest films of all time, but should have the prestigious honor of the absolute greatest comedy the world has ever seen...

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