John Walker's Electronic House

TB 90

They’re Back 90

System Shock 2
Need For Speed: Road Challenge
Theme Park World
EA Compilations

Is there ever a time that is better spent than when watching cable television after the programming has finished, and those fantastic twenty minute infomercials take over? Is there a more fulfilling and productive way to put off going to bed than being told over and over and over (and over) that you cannot live without the latest Freeze-Drying Portable Space-Saving Electric Potato-Painting Vacuum-Cleaner? The answer to these questions is, no. And there are none better than those that excitedly scream at you, “BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!”, about fifteen times.

EA have put System Shock 2 out on budget… And it’s yours to own for an amazing nineteen pounds and ninety-nine pence! Buy today! BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! When you buy the world’s third greatest RPG – the genius fear-fest that generated more syllables from Kieron than has ever been seen before – they’ll give you Need For Speed: Road Challenge, ABSOLUTELY FREE! YES! Take advantage of their madness to receive both titles for the incredible price of £20. BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! That’s right. If you buy System Shock 2 and Need for Speed, EA will also include Theme Park World!! ORDER TODAY!!!

Ahem. This really is a great pack, and can genuinely be thought of as a buy-one-get-two-free type offer. And neither of the special bonus materials are any of your slip-shoddy tat either. NFS: Road Challenge is certainly one of the better titles in the NFS series, creating a stylish race, that while not achieving the high standards set by TOCA 2, still manages to hold its own and be a very worthy driving-cars-fast type game. The other, Theme Park World, was not received very generously on arrival. It had been set a challenge by Roller Coaster Tycoon, and failed to knock it from its pedestal, meaning that it was quite deservedly put down. But now such matters are irrelevant – you’re getting it “free” with Shock 2, so it’s not as if it’s costing you anything.

And then there is System Shock 2. I will never be able to write anything that compares with Kieron’s review, so I won’t even try. Safe to say this is just one of The Great Games. If you want to see what gave permission for Deus Ex to exist, and want to be scared out of your encrusted pants, or if you just want to be able to hold your head up in public, buy this now.


Eurosport Collection 2
Supreme Snowboarding
Roland Garros Championship Tennis
Beetle Crazy Cup

It was but a month ago that I told you lucky, lucky people about your new-found abilities to purchase Supreme Snowboarding for just ten pounds. Now I feel wracked with pangs of guilt. Someone may have been holding out waiting for its budget release secretly hoping that it would be bundled with some tennis and VW beach driving, but bought it anyway. To those people I am truly sorry. As I said, wracked and pangs.

Why these three titles should be part of a “Eurosport Collection” is a good question indeed. Well done for asking it. I suppose snowboarding could be counted as a Eurosport, and as I said last month, “Neat graphics, and a very intuitive control system makes this an extremely fun piece of arcade sporting. It may well be consoley, but this is one sports action title that is worthy of your PC’s attention.” I’m stuffed if I’m going to write two reviews of the same game, two months in a row.

Roland Garros Tennis is certainly a Eurosport. It’s French, and it’s tennis. And it isn’t half bad. Actually it’s a quarter bad, and three quarters good. Controls are quickly intuitive, and its arcady feel is appropriate to this sort of gaming. But it isn’t as good as Super Smash Tennis on the NES. Though nothing ever will be.

And then certainly nothing whatsoever to do with Eurosport is Beetle Crazy Cup, another They’re Back veteran. I love this game, it’s great. It’s just driving VW cars on beaches or near beaches with lovely graphics and a wonderful soundtrack.

So altogether a confusing collection of mostly good games. Nothing to tear all your clothes off and scream about, but for twenty pounds it’s an inoffensive bundle.


Totally Unreal

Rub your eyes and re-read the title. Yes, it still says Unreal. How many times can one game be released on budget? Well, I can tell you, because each and every budget section bearing my name since I violently killed Steve Owen has been framed and hung on the walls of my house. (Steve Owen was also been framed and hung, but not /on/ the walls of my house). As I tour about the galleries I can see that you could have bought Unreal three times, once with its mission pack, and Unreal Tournament has appeared once two months ago. That’s not nearly enough, and so here they all are again, in what is becoming known as, yet another bloody Unreal budget release.

This time you can have the lot. Inside is the original Unreal, the slightly disappointing in hindsight, over long, but beautiful original, along with its appalling mission pack. That is already available for a fiver. But this also comes with the wonderful, excellent, and nearly as good as Quake 3, Unreal Tournament. So now you can play the single player, and the multiplayer, alternately, or one each day, or perhaps buy a second computer and play both at once. I don’t know. I really don’t know how to fill yet another column about this game. I’ve said all that can be said. STOP RELEASING THIS GAME ON BUDGET!

Oh, and this time you get all the UT add-ons. Obviously they are all freely available online, but it’s nice to have them all cobbled neatly in the place they belong.

If you have somehow still not bought this, then please do. If Infogrames see that the number of sales matches the number of people in the country, then perhaps they will stop making me write about it.


Worms Armageddon
Team 17

It’s true you know. It will happen. There cometh a day when Armageddon will wipe out the Earth, and behind this global destruction will lie the evil of worms. Does it not say in Revelations, “And then I saw a vast pink mass, swarming toward me, with segmented bodies and no skeletal system. And as I chopped them in half, they carried on moving, twice as many in number. And they digested the soil before me, staring at me through no eyes.” Fear them people. Fear them as they crawl unchecked through your lawns and window boxes. They are you enemy, and their day will come.

Until then, let’s all blow them into little pink fleshy lumps with an arsenal of weapons. But not in real life, because that kind of thing means that you have to spend ages in that horrid room with the lady with the funny glasses, and the nasty smell makes you feel sick. Instead, let’s do it on our computer, and Worms Armageddon is the best way to do it out of all the series.

Thankfully not bothering with any of this 3D nonsense, Team 17 realised that this game works in 2D, and didn’t try and force it into such contorted shapes. (Okay, they have since, but the beauty of this section is that we can be blinkered from the present day). And for this it works. It does makes sense if you are lining up two armies of small worms at opposite ends of a landscape to have them shoot at each other, to have them on the same plane. Adding that Z axis is only a big confusing mess that a truly engaging puzzle game does not need.


NBA Live 2000
Need For Speed: Porsche 2000
Populous: The Beginning
EA Compilations

Whiskey, coke and ice; toast, butter and jam; drinking, clubbing and vomiting; basketball, driving and being God. All classics trios I’m sure you’ll agree, and just which of these old clichés do you think it is that EA have chosen to use as the theme for another of their triple-packs. Yes, that’s right, the latter.

Imaginations can only be stretched so far, and the logic behind these three titles being confined to the cardboard prison of one box goes well beyond the elastic capacity of even the most vivid creative mind. Although, assuming that EA had nothing to release beginning with “O”, it could be a case of alphabetical order. So, in said order, NBA Live 2000 is first. This is a nice surprise being that it bares the current date, and is even nicer because it’s actually rather good. The graphics are slick, giving a real basketball court slickness to the proceedings, and the soundtrack is quite incredible. Run DMC, Naughty By Nature, Rahzel, and (Chris Morris favourite) George Clinton all appear, and make things down in the hood.

Next comes NFS: Porsche 2000. As with most NFS titles, this is a reasonably solid driving sim, though a little useless if you are interested in any car other than a Porsche. Like Nissan Micras for instance.

And finally Populous: The Beginning. This is for course the third Populous title, coming out about 50 years after the Atari ST’s part 2. It was met with pleased reception, but this resentful reviewer thought that it was actually rather poor. The inability to carry on playing with a village after your mission is completed is highly irritating, and it just doesn’t have that hook that keeps me playing all night long.


And The Rest

Battle Isle Platinum (67%) is yours for (£??) and comes with an incredible 7 titles. They are: Battle Isle 1 + Data Disc 1, Battle Isle ’93, Battle Isle 2, Battle Isle 2 Scenario CD, Battle Isle 3, Incubation, and Incubation – The Wilderness Missions. Phew. And good grief.

Microprose have finally caught up with sibling rival Alpha Centuri (90%) by releasing Civilisation II – Test of Time on budget. It really is an absolutely stunning game, and only charging £10 for it does seem to be doing it rather an injustice. If you were a fan of Civ II, there really isn’t any reason to not save up ten pound coins in order to add this to your Meirs family.

And finally, Eidos have seen fit to give you Soul Reaver: Legacy of Kain (80%) to be your very own for only a tenner. It is a Playstation port, but quite a nice one, using your PCs 3D powers to nice effect, and the split dimension gameplay adds a lot more than you might at first imagine to the dynamic. Certainly worth a look if you are after some slightly more sophisticated arcade action.