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December 10, 2003 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-12-10

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4

12 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, December 10, 2003

ARTS

'Speed'
By Jason Roberts
Daily Arts Editor

takes it to the streets

With dazzling visuals and an intense sense of speed,
"Need for Speed Underground" is one hell of a ride. Racers
compete against other opponents in competitions that range
from a standard circuit across a city, to a drag race through
busy intersections, to a slick and slippery run where points

Courtesy of's
Electronic Arts
Forty-two, a
respectable
number for a
young elvish
princling like
yourself.
By Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Editor

J W-ll J/AWLlJJ WWl I U
MORE FUN FOR LOTR FANS

are accumulated for power sliding and
burning out.
But here's the catch: Winning isn't
everything. Near-misses, insane jumps
and drafting behind opposing cars will
earn racers "style points" that are accu-
mulated to promote vehicles in the rank-
ings and get coverage in underground
magazines. Money is earned as a reward
for winning races and can be used to
"trick out" one's car visually, gaining

Need for
Speed
Underground
GameCube, PS2
and XBox
Electronic Arts
reputation in the

The No. IStunna.

It's what the world has been waiting a whole 12 months
for. "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" is
finally here ... in the videogame format.
While the interactive account of ROTK has not been as
eagerly anticipated as Peter Jackson's cinematic version by
all Tolkien fanatics, the newest hack-and-slash LOTR
adventure is not only a major upgrade
on last year's two-movies-in-one "The
Two Towers" videogame but also The Return
adds to the already overwhelming of the King
plethora of special features the LOTR GameCube, PS2
filmmakers have provided for fans. and XBox
ROTK begins with an extended Electronic Arts
clip from last year's Oscar nominee,
and then, without any menu introduction, puts the gamer
right into the action of Helm's Deep as the white wizard
Gandalf. The majority of levels begin this way with cine-
matics from TTT and ROTK (trailer footage only) leading
the way as a delight for the LOTR-obsessed, but an all-too-
long annoyance for those simply wanting to kill the count-
less orcs and Uruk-Hai that impede the One Ring's
destruction in Mordor.
Unlike the last installment's videogame version, the full

Fellowship is at the gamer's hands here; TTT's kingly tri-
umvirate (Aragorn, Gimli and fan-favorite Legolas)
returns on one optional path with Gandalf singularly lead-
ing a second and "warrior by necessity" Samwise leading
the third (Gollum merely follows and Frodo is only
playable on the game's final, anti-climactic level). Howard
Shore's resounding filmic score - heard here along with
booming sound effects in all their THX glory - and a
beautifully cinematic-like camera accompany the journey,
from protecting a tree-Ent as he floods Isengard to defend-
ing the walls of Minas Tirith.
The replay value, while not overtly high, is helped by co-
op play, particularly with its online capability - although it
is for PS2 only. Along the way, you can build up experience
points, unlocking (much-needed) upgraded moves, behind-
the-scenes interviews and short featurettes. Three locked
avatars (Merry, Pippin and Faramir) become available only
upon completion of the last level, but with this, all charac-
ters can then play each other's stages as well.
Besides an overall improvement in the detailed graph-
ics of characters and surroundings, the newly added
interaction with the environment (launching cannons,
throwing spears, dropping torches) makes ROTK an even
greater action production. With the real actors' voices
prevalent throughout your trip (Gollum's, of course,
remains the most fun to run around with), LOTR-follow-
ers have never been so in on the action-packed battle
against the dark lord Sauron.

process. Boosting a car's performance takes a back seat.
Though limited to just one city, "Underground" is a great
game visually; lighting blurs in and out, enhancing the feeling
of speed, and car models are incredibly detailed, casting gor-
geous reflections and a beautiful array of sparks and smoke
during impacts. In drag races, the camera itself becomes

unstable at top speeds, shaking violently and increasing ten-
sion during the heart stopping ride. The music is well-suited
to the gameplay and ranges from hip-hop to heavy metal,
seamlessly melding with the squeal of burnt rubber and the
sound of opposing cars hurtling past.
Overall, "Underground" is a fine installment in the "Need
for Speed" series, one that will definitely set new standards
for future racing games in terms of speed, looks and attitude.

4

Violence overrides story i'M nunt'
By Jared Newman
Daily Arts Writer
VIDEOGA ME E

Joe' is 'Viewtiful,' no matter what they say

By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Writer

VIDEOGAME REVIEW
Capcom's latest game is a striking
departure from the run-of-the-mill
action games that dominate the mar-
ket. Featuring beautiful cell-shaded
graphics, "Joe" is the story of a young
boy who inadvertently gets sucked
into the action films he loves so much
in order to rescue his girlfriend.
While the plot may be nothing that
innovative, the frenetic and stylized
gameplay offers a unique gaming

experience. Joe has "Viewtiful" pow-
ers that enable to slow down, zoom in
or speed up the action. Countless
hordes of robots constantly surround
your hero, and utilizing the unique
gameplay fea- _
tures makes dis-
posing enemies a Viewtiful Joe
breeze. GameCube
The boss bat- Capcom
ties create a truly
memorable game as the foes take up
the entire screen and evoke memories
of the great fights from classic
brawlers like "Contra" and "Mega-
man." With a steep difficulty curve

that spikes early on, "Viewtiful Joe"
is not for everyone.
What separates "Viewtiful Joe"
from the competition is a rare feeling
of freshness. Other companies keep
rehashing franchises and concepts
into game after game (Capcom's own
"Street Fighter" franchise is a horren-
dous offender), yet "Joe" is truly like
nothing else on the market.
"Viewtiful Joe" is a great game that
redefines the classic beat-'em-up
genre. Gamers looking for a tough
diversion or an interesting new gam-
ing experience need look no further
than "Viewtiful Joe."

Oh, how I tried. The critics have
told the gaming populace to love
"Manhunt," to love its style and
atmosphere and to exact our patience
on the slow gameplay. I have spent
hours trying, but I give up. I do love
the disturbed
atmosphere of
"Manhunt", and I Manhunt
see vast potential PS2
in the game's Rockstar
unique concept.
But I won't exact patience on a
videogame. When more that eight
hours of play yields nothing but
boredom, I throw down my con-
troller.
This wouldn't be such an issue if
there was a plot to glue things
together. The premise is there:
Gainers play the part of James Earl
Cash, a convict on death row who is
saved by an unseen figure, aptly
named the Director. This coarse and
cynical voice guides Cash through
each "scene," which mostly involve
gruesome killing in the name of
snuff cinema. The only problem is
that the story doesn't progress. Play-
ers are merely dumped from one
mission into the next with little
explanation of purpose, detracting
from the intrigue that is created by

4
4

the chilling atmosphere. .
The game is a stealth horror blood-
bath that features the ability to per-
form "Executions." By holding down
a button, players can sneak up on
unsuspecting thugs and carry out
gruesome deaths through a variety of
cinematics.
The biggest fault of "Manhunt" is
its one-dimensionality. If this is a
scary game, then where are the
attack dogs and Leatherfaces? If it's
a stealth game, then why can't the
character crawl or climb to safety?
These restrictions are really a
shame in light of the game's support-
ing elements. The graphics are beau-
tiful, supplying rich backdrops and

detailed characters under a constant
layer of static, reminding players that
the Director is filming everything.
The sound and music are easily the
highlights of the game. Suspenseful
strings and cymbals rise and fall with
the turning of every corner, while the
sound of muffled screams and and
freshly hacked limbs fill the air.
Of course, these praises are lost on
a videogame that offers little game-
play. Admittedly, "Manhunt" does
have its moments, but they are only
moments. People curious to see what
the fuss is about might want to try it,
but bloodthirsty gamers who seek
substance should stick to "Mortal
Kombat."

Bring It, Tipper.

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