John Walker's Electronic House

TB 82

They’re Back 82

One, two, three four five, once I caught a fish alive. But that’s enough about me – onto the reviews.

Half-Life Generation

Half-Life is the greatest game of all time. And you can’t argue because a year ago, you told us that. Has anything surpassed it in the months since? It’s a toughie. Quake III isn’t exactly the bonanza of all-singing, all-dancing, glitter-coated joy we had set ourselves up for, and there hasn’t been an FPS since that’s come close really.

You play Gordon Freeman, a scientist new to the Black Mesa research laboratory, who due to all sorts of reasons, must battle off aliens and government agents in a developing story set in a real-world environment…

It’s got to be a long time since you saw anyone bother to write that lot out, and this is testament to the enormity of the game in hand. It has become a legend in its own luncheon-voucher, that everyone who owns a PC has at least heard of, if not fallen in love with and wedded. So what more can be said here, in a review documenting what is now its third release. Well, the reason it is in these cheap-skate pages is one interesting twist.

Though the price stays the same, Half-Life Generation is the genetic splicing of Half-Life: Game of the Year (the second release that included Team Fortress Classic, which was free anyway, so rather strange a thing to bother including in a re-release), and the very recent Half-Life: Opposing Force mission pack. Team Fortress Classic is a very special thing that changed the way of online gaming for large numbers of people. While the ability to work as a team in a multiplayer game was nothing ground-breaking, the completeness of TFC made it a deeply satisfying thing. But you can download it from every single website that is online today. Each and every one. We’ve looked.

Opposing Force puts you in the place of one of those terrible government agents, allowing an entirely new perspective to the scenario. It is nicely written, throwing in clever scenes that you will remember from the original, but this time viewed from the other side of the sound-proofed glass. Sadly though, it is woefully short, and despite containing some nice ideas, it never really breaks any new ground.

If you have somehow managed to never play Half-Life, or leant your copy to a friend who never gave it back, here is a chance to pick it up at the usual price, but with some worthy extras to fiddle with later on.


Grand Prix Legend
Sierra Originals

If I may, I would like to break all the rules that the Great God Gamer has etched into the stone tablets that don the walls of PCG’s office, thousands of years ago. I am going to directly quote from the original review of this game that appeared all the way back in issue 61, all for the sake of a really rubbish joke:

“For many racing fans, the 1967 Grand Prix season was sport’s golden year. Cavalier drivers such as Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Jochen Rindt power-slid their (not respectively) Maseratis, Lotuses, Brabhams and Ferraris round what are unquestionably the most lethal and tortuous strips of tarmac the sport has ever seen.”

Now, I wasn’t alive in 1967, and therefore was inconveniently not available to watch the season first hand, but I’m pretty sure that the great names of motor racing listed above were not Vauxhall Cavalier drivers.


And rather neatly, that gets me out of writing a new, clever, and witty description of the premise of the title. I think I’m onto something here… This section is going to be a darned site easier to write from now on. Cut and Paste. Who’s with me?

No one it seems. So it’s left to say that Grand Prix Legends is a top racing game, that harks back to when crash helmets were for girls, and races were won on driving skill, rather than bonnet-hidden gizmos. If you want an accurate driving game, and you can’t wait for F1GP3, then this is your nicely priced, cup winning number.


Warzone 2100
Eidos Premier

Good grief, has it come around already? Well, clearly yes, or this would be a huge waste of a column. Just over a year old, Warzone 2100 is still one of The Great Games. In fact, since its release it has held a strong position in the worlds most respected guide to game rankings, the Big Game Hunt. And considering the number of real time strategies that combat their way into the pages of this-here magazine, to hold such a highly coveted title for so long is no small feat.

The 3D engine is no longer the best around, but at an RTS party, it would by no means be the game who spends the entire evening standing by the CD player reciting its favourite scenes from Monty Python. No, it would be the distinguished man in the dark clothes who everyone seems to know, and all the girls want to talk to.

WZ2100 makes itself so loveable by its versatility. For those who love to rage in, all tanks blazing, probably shouting some choice patriotic words, everything is here to do that. And when you do, you will be witness to some lovely explosive eye-candy. But if you are more the softly-softly, Captain Tactics sort of person then you are also catered for. Sneaking in around the back, and luring the baddies (who would be Nexus) into your cunningly laid trap is equally satisfying.

Add to that the ability to tweak and adapt your vehicles, and an impressive enemy AI, and you have one of the most satisfying RTS experiences available. Sprinkle on top an eight player multiplay option, and the fact that it is out on budget, and you shall dine heartily for months.


Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines
Eidos Premier

Imagine if Command & Conquer were to meet up with X-Com at a party. And imagine that at this party there was quite a lot available to drink. Now imagine that as the two of them drunkenly made their way towards the room where the coats are kept, they accidentally fell through a time warp. Come on, imagine it. Let your imagination open the time warp up in 1939, but let something have gone horribly wrong in the trans-dimensional journey, and the two have become spliced together as one entity. Are you picturing it? Now look at the pictures attached to this column. Uncanny isn’t it?

C:BEL is Eidos’ tale of the cream of soldiers under your control in specialist units. The few men you command are comprised of a pre-defined selection of sappers, marines, green berets, spies and drivers, dependant upon which of the twenty levels you are playing. Each has specific skills, which must be correctly employed if success is to be achieved. Success is the completion of a series of tasks, the last of which in each level tending to be the destruction of a key place.

While original in its approach, the niggles ultimately outweigh the uniqueness, with some really rather silly rules. Only your driver can handle a machine gun. Should he die, then all your other soldiers will just uselessly ignore the weapon. Similarly, only a green beret can pick up a barrel, which is not the most taxing of tasks to specialise in.

It’s sad that all the good bits are shadowed by the bad bits, and the pictures no longer dazzle as once thy may have. Ultimately, C:BEL is ageing not like a fine wine, but more like vinegar.


Tomb Raider: The Trilogy

Yes. It’s her again. She will not go away. And proof, if proof be need be, that Lara’s popularity is one of endless money gathering potential, this is a re-release of a collection of re-releases. A re-re-release if you will.

Contained inside the bulging box are copies of Tomb Raider, TRII: The Dagger of Xian, TRIII: Adventures of Lara Croft, and a small pile of crap. In order, as quickly as possible then…

Tomb Raider, the original, was a game that Made A Difference. Our eyes had never seen such a thing inside a PC before, and we knew that it was good. And despite a dodgy ending, it is a good game. Graphically, it’s a bit of a biffer, but for personality it’s a babe.

TRII was not as good, but for a lot of people, the first they ever played. And for they, it still contains a certain something. Although repetitive, it holds a charm that only Ms Croft can wield.

TRIII doesn’t really hold any charm at all. It serves as nothing more than a mission pack to part II, and though the graphics are prettier, the endless slaughter of unarmed innocents quickly grates. If it was the only one you ever played, then fine. But it isn’t. Because it’s in this pack.

And the crap? A Lara Croft mouse mat so you cab rub your mouse’s ball all over her, and an A1 poster mapping her adventures. A1. That’s bloody enormous. Where would you put it?

Since part IV has already showed what should have been changed before, this pack can only highlight the mistakes the series has made. But still, they are all good games in their own right.


And The Rest

Piles to get through, so look lively.

EA are putting out all of last years sporty titles that ended in a 99 (like a Mr Whippy when you push the flake all the way to the bottom). There’s Madden 99 (80%) in all it’s American Football madness, NHL 99 (82%) which is a none too bad game of hockey on ice; Triple Play 99 (68%) is a schizophrenic combination of baseball management and arcade that fails on the management, and NBA Live 99 (66%) which is your basketball, and hence not really much of a one-controller game, PC fans.

And because they like it, and they just can’t hide it, EA are putting out some more random double packs of their most geriatric titles. Hopefully they will have run out of these now. There’s Dungeon Keeper with Magic Carpet Gold (76%) which aren’t so bad, but they will run on a PC made from household objects, and hence will only really satisfy the luddites. And there’s Dark Omen with Syndicate Wars (50%). When Syndi Wars first came out everybody exploded with joy – now you’ll only manage a small pop. And Dark Omen is older than this magazine, so check out the history section of your local library for a review. All these EA games should fall somewhere around £10.

To finish on a quite incredibly barmy note, the fruit-loops at Crucial have managed to find three more of the most unlikely titles to put out for £3-5. This time they have dusted off Inca 2 (40%), which was reviewed in issue 3 of Gamer, and is the baby of the three. Then comes Space Quest IV (55%) which is in EGA graphics, and before speech in adventure games, but is still quite funny. And lastly the fabulous Speed Ball 2 (58%) that you may have owned on your ST or Amiga. Get your ST or Amiga out of the attic and play it on that.