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PlayStation holiday game roundup

December 11, 1998
Web posted at: 6:00 PM EST

By CNN Interactive Associate Editor John Robinson

As the holidays approach, it is apparent that video game manufacturers are making a big play for a chunk of your gift-giving budget. Sony's PlayStation video game console is no exception with a huge $40 million holiday television ad campaign. Recent price reductions in video game consoles could also boost sales by enticing buyers who were reluctant to spend $200 dollars on a game system.

The PlayStation is fast becoming the most popular game console available today and one of the reasons for this is the fact that PlayStation game library offers nearly 500 titles to choose from. That can make for a lot of confusion when attempting to choose which game to buy. In an effort to make that choice a little easier, here are a few short reviews of recently released PlayStation titles to help you decide which one will make the perfect gift - even if that gift is for yourself.

Titles reviewed:
  • Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped
  • Tomb Raider 3
  • Asteroids
  • Spyro the Dragon
  • Knockout Kings
  • Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling
  • Rally Cross 2
  • Test Drive 5
  • Rogue Trip: Vacation 2012
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Bust-A-Groove
  • Apocalypse

  • 'Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped'

    Rating: E
    Publisher: SCEA

    Crash raises the standard for platform games again with an adventure through time that takes players to places like the underwater world of Atlantis and the Jurassic era. Crash is a lot of fun to play and almost as fun to watch with stunning, cartoon quality graphics and an interesting soundtrack. The controls are easy to learn even though there are several new vehicles that all use different schemes to maneuver. "Crash Bandicoot 3" offers a lot of variety and is simply a great all-around game. It's really difficult to think of another PlayStation title that can beat "Crash Bandicoot 3" for overall fun and value.

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    'Tomb Raider 3'

    Rating: T
    Publisher: Eidos Interactive

    Virtual vixen Lara Croft is at it again in her third subterranean adventure that takes place in five different locations around the globe. Solving puzzles and avoiding dangerous obstacles is what makes up most of this 3D adventure game, but Lara must also battle a host of new enemies along the way. Most fans of the game will delight in the fact that Lara gets a new wardrobe as well as some new and enhanced moves. Graphics are good although surfaces are sometimes quite pixilated making it hard to distinguish terrain changes. Controlling Lara's many moves in "Tomb Raider 3" can be difficult so newcomers may find that the original "Tomb Raider" is a better place to start.

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    Rating: E
    Publisher: Activision

    Originally introduced as a coin operated game in 1979, then for the Atari 2600 game system in 1981, "Asteroids" is known for being a simple and wildly popular video game. Activision now attempts to build on that poularity by introducing an updated version of the game for the PlayStation. The new "Asteroids" has the same 2D gameplay as the original although it is now set in a colorful 3D environment. Choose from 3 ships and attempt to master 10 different space zones with increasingly difficult space hazards. Control is basically true to the original with turn, thrust and hyperspace at your fingertips. "Asteroids" is classic entertainment for someone who likes a simple shooting game with a lot of eye candy.

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    'Spyro the Dragon'

    Rating: E
    Publisher: 989 Studios

    "Spyro the Dragon" is a great kid's game set in a very large 3D world. You control Spyro, an immature purple dragon with two simple goals, to collect gems and save dinosaurs. Even though it sounds pretty easy, it's challenging enough for adults to enjoy too. Enemies are repelled by a blast of Spyro's fiery breath or with a head butt. Spyro has stubby little wings but he can't fly very far so he spends most of his time running around on the ground discovering things. "Spyro the Dragon" is overall a very easy game to control and understand and would be a good choice for younger children.

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    'Knockout Kings'

    Rating: E
    Publisher: EA Sports

    Finally, a boxing game for the PlayStation. "Knockout Kings" fills a void for fans of sports simulations and offers 38 famous boxers to choose from including names like Muhammad Ali, Evander Holyfield, Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano. Legends Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya were modeled for the game using motion capture technology to make the fighting as authentic as possible. The game's graphics are kept very simple and the boxers all look and move pretty much like their real-life counterparts. Control, on the other hand, is somewhat sluggish and the pace of the game can be slow and methodical with the heavyweight fighters. "Knockout Kings" is a game that would be very enjoyable for fans of boxing but others may find it somewhat lacking.

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    'Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling'

    Rating: E
    Publisher: THQ

    This bowling game from THQ offers a lot for the casual bowler as well as the enthusiast. Six game modes are available including Exhibition, Tournament and Cosmic Bowling. You can choose from 13 Brunswick Pro bowlers or you can create your own bowler. Six different Brunswick ball types and 15 different lanes are available to play. Control is very easy to pick up with a two meter system for power and accuracy much like you would find in a golf game. Graphics in "Brunswick Circuit Pro Bowling" are good even if the proportions seem just a tad off. Realistic character animations and the Cosmic Bowling mode save this game from mere mediocrity and make it a winner.

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    'Rally Cross 2'

    Rating: E
    Publisher: 989 Studios

    Arcade style rally racing is what "Rally Cross 2" has to offer and what a great offering it is. 10 cars and 10 very original tracks take you on and off the road with all the bumps, jumps and hairpins you could ask for. 4 racing modes are available including a season mode and a time trial mode. A track editor allows you to create your own racecourse and although the options are limited in this mode, it is still very well done. Car control is loose but it is adjustable to suit your preference. "Rally Cross 2" is a well executed game with tons of options and gameplay easy enough for just about anyone to enjoy.

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    'Test Drive 5'

    Rating: E
    Publisher: Accolade

    The latest in the Test Drive series offers lots of long tracks and exotic high horsepower cars. Great scenery and weather effects offset the fact that the cars don't look or drive quite right. Soundtrack features five up and coming alternative rock bands that you have probably never heard of but still make for acceptable background music. Something that should get your attention is the abundance of jumps that are sometimes long and high enough to make you a bit dizzy. A definite plus for a game that is not much better than average otherwise.

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    'Rogue Trip: Vacation 2012'

    Rating: T
    Publisher: GT Interactive

    Despite what the name might conjure up in your head, "Rogue Trip: Vacation 2012" is a car combat game from GT Interactive. Choose from 11 cars complete with a wacky driver and a unique special weapon. Every car also comes with a machine gun and other weapons can be picked up during the game. The object of the game is grab the tourist before the other cars do, win some cash and get the tourist to the photo op. Oh yeah, you also have to blow all the other cars away in the process. Control is fast and fairly forgiving although you might find it hard to keep up with everything happening on the screen unless you have had a few candy bars or a cup of espresso. Even so, Rogue Trip is a lot of fun to play and has some good looking, colorful graphics and a cool soundtrack featuring The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

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    'Metal Gear Solid'

    Rating: M
    Publisher: Konami

    You play a spy named Solid Snake in this action/adventure title from Konami. An admittedly difficult game that requires a lot of patience and persistence and is definitely well worth the effort. Control is very easy to get the hang of but learning to avoid being killed in this occasionally frustrating game is another thing. The bottom line is that guts and stealth will get you a lot further in this game than brawn and firepower. Great cinematic sequences and soundtrack add to truly immersive gameplay. Metal Gear Solid is a must have for the hardcore PlayStation gamer on your shopping list.

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    Rating: E
    Publisher: 989 Studios

    "Bust-A-Groove" is one of the best selling games in Japan and for good reason. It's a quirky memory game where the object is to dance better than your opponent. Dance moves are performed using the directional buttons combined with the action buttons. In addition, you have to keep the beat or else you'll miss the move and lose your chance at the spotlight. 10 different motion captured 3D characters and each have their own funky dance moves. Fun music and graphics add to this game's addictive quality. A great party game.

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    Rating: T
    Publisher: Activision

    Bruce Willis stars in this shoot-em-up action/adventure game from Activision. Willis plays a scientist named Trey Kincaid who must battle "The Reverend" and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to save the world. Lots of cinematic sequences, great weapons and explosions make this game a lot of fun to play. An intuitive control scheme allows you to fire your weapon in one direction while running in a different direction. If you're a Bruce Willis fan, then this could be the best shooting game of the holiday season. However, if you're not a Willis fan, the game could get old very quickly.

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    E - Everyone
    T - Teen
    M - Mature

    Ratings are courtesy of the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

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