3: The Lesser Evil The third installment in a less than stellar series of
games, Panoply 3: The Lesser Evil once again revives the anti-hero Gibson Hayes as the
jive talking, bitch slapping, punk busting cop who can't seem to follow the rules. Once
again, Gibson has to hit the mean streets and curb stomp some cretins before cutting a
deal with a criminal overlord as a way to take on demonic corruption that has overtaken
his department. This is an overly linear story line with rehashed levels and bosses. Plow
through the opponents with a variety of weapons, everything from the 9mm Glock to the
experimental Acid Blaster. Yes, you can expect the super sexy D.C. Harris to still be
there supplying you with the goodies, gadgets, gams and attitude that make the game worth
playing. Also keep your eyes peeled for a cameo from the first game. The game offers very
few surprises for an astute player. The final battle does have an interesting twist which
makes getting to it worthwhile, but there's no reason to rush to install this on your
Chupa-Chupa Arcade action returns to the PC. Control a cutesy character around different types of mazes gathering up cheese doodle like things and jawbreakers. Save the jawbreakers to spit at the awful gopherpeople who are trying to stop Chupa from getting all the cheese doodles. This is a complete PacMan ripoff but still really fun. The mazes are intricate and the action fast paced.
Eternal Vigilence Your are a member of Homeland Security and it is your job to locate and report suspicious behavior to the government. You start off armed with a camera and a telephoto lens. You move through your sector, which includes a large park, an apartment complex, warehouse and a variety of stores and restaurants looking for suspicious activity which you must photograph and send in to the government. As you progress you slowly uncover a large terrorist plot. The more information you turn in, the more equipment you are given to do your job. You can start placing bugs, small cameras, and tracking devices to people. The interesting aside to the main game is the fact that this is also an ultimate voyeur game. The M rating on the game is not for violence but for sexual content. Placing video and audio transmitters in certain apartments let you see some very graphic scenes. Better not send those into the government. You will also see a lot of regular criminal activity that you can interfere with if you want, but might end up blowing your cover. The game does present several very hard ethical dilemmas to the player.
The open ended game play that slowly funnels the player into the storyline is intriguing. After many hours of play, you start to know the people you are watching. You know when they go to work, when they come home, you know when they are fighting with their spouses and when they are cheating. You know which restaurants have rats, who washes their hands after using the restroom and who doesn't. And, if you play the game to win, you'll know who is plotting against the country and who isn't.
The actual game play is simple point and click. You don't get to pick and choose where to place cameras and microphones, only the rooms in which to place them. With all the video and audio options, you can imagine that this game uses a lot of space. It does and it is recommended you don't do a full install, let the audio and video run from the cdss (yes, cd's there are two.)
Pain/Gain Hyperdrome The year is 2450 and you are a galactic gladiator in this straight forward fighting game. Fight up the ladder to be the ultimate gladiator. Fight with a variety of melee weapons and some unique firearms like netguns, slimeguns, soundwave guns, and a rocket harpoon gun. You get to fight in different arenas, multi-level and fairly vast. Sometimes you'll fight on a team and sometimes solo. You'll have little control over your teammates but a press of a key alerts them that you need help and a flashing exclamation mark over their heads lets you know when they need help. If they can and are near enough they will come to your aid. They also remember if you help them or not and the next time you fight, they might not react as quickly to your summons if you left them abandoned on the field.
The other interesting twist to this game is the Pain/Gain. A pain meter measures how badly hurt you are, but you can then turn that Pain into battlepoints to start the next battle with better weapons or positions. So the more damage you take the more stuff you can get. How low can you go?
Queen Victoria's Etherplane Squadron Here's a unique flight simulator. The year is 1882 and ether exists in outer space which means the British Empire has extended its reach into space and is now fighting against the People of the Moon. You get to fly Etherplanes, planes designed to fly in the ether of space but look like something the Wright Brothers built. You also get to control dirigibles and hot air balloons as well.
You get to dog fight, drop bombs, and explore the lunar landscape in your various new air vehicles. There are several different types of etherplanes to fly, each with their own physics model and temperments. When you stall in space, you just drift like a boat in the water until you are intercepted by your own forces and pulled to safety, fix the problem yourself, or destroyed by the enemy.
The Lost Art of War: Open Seas The second game in the Lost Art of War series, this one focusing on naval combat. This is an RTS without base building. It focuses on using limited resources to achieve specific goals. This requires ingenuity and crafty thinking. The Open Seas game takes the player through combat with triremes and fragile sailing craft all the way to World War I style battleships and destroyers. We are assuming that the LAW: Air Power game will cover WWII style naval combat with aircraft carriers. The one major problem with the LAW is players needs a sandbox option at the very least to mapbuild and explore the use of various units. Being locked into using particular units in the scenarios sucks. Not being able to create your own scenarios suck even more. Rumors abound that after the third in the series, Air Power, the toolbox will be released and players can create scenarios using all the units from all the games. This sounds more like a pipe dream, but we are keeping our fingers crossed.
Rapier's Finesse Move over First Person Shooters, First Person Swordplay is here and making itself heard, loud and clear. Set in France's darkest hour, Rapier's Finesse allows the player to create a fencing hero to fight against the Reign of Terror as perpetrated by the Committee of Public Safety and its agent Chauvelin. The missions start off fairly straightforward, battling against Chauvelin's men using your rapier and at times dueling pistol. The controls are straight forward, offering the standard click at the enemy until they are dead, but style can be altered by the simple press of a button. Step aside from an attack, hold the shift-key down as you click to lunge at your opponent, or hold down the control key to attempt to disarm him.
Along the way, you can increase your skill in the pistol, allows one-shot which can disable or kill an opponent, the rapier, which allows for more style options, and savoir-faire which allows for daring stunts, like dropping chandeliers on opponents, or swinging on decorative bunting to escape a pursuing horde. Successful stunts are replayed in a 3rd person mode so you can enjoy the style and flair of your gallant efforts. Rapier's Finesse requires a balance between martial brute force and careful stealth. In each mission the life of some innocent is at stake, if you fail, their head is added to the wall after it is sliced off by the guillotine. If you are successful and win the game by saving the Dauphin, you will be rewarded with a title and land. The game offers stunning graphics, amazing visuals as you fight in gardens, mansions, and public squares all over Paris.