Andrew Newton on the video games we were playing back in the day…
Just for a few minutes let’s journey back to June in the Earth year 2001, a month when the British weather was up and down and the public had to put up with the awful storyline of Pearl Harbour at the cinema, though we did also get to enjoy the brilliant Shrek and scary Ginger Snaps. In fact it was just an average, middle-of-the-road month… except when it comes to gaming. There was some great games that really made up for how average everything else was.
Half-Life: Blue Shift – Gearbox Software – PC
Blue Shift took fans of the excellent Half-Life back into the Black Mesa facility as the rather friendly sounding security guard Barney Calhoun. The start of Barney’s shift also happens to take place at exactly the same time as the catastrophe caused by Gordon Freeman’s experiment. As with the 1999 Opposing Force expansion, players get to witness the events at the facility through the eyes of a different protagonist.
It was vital for Barney to escape the facility along with a few scientists who had developed transporter technology but this could only be achieved by fighting the plethora of headcrabs, alien soldiers from the Xen dimension and the US Marines/ Black Operatives that are killing all witnesses in an effort to hush up the incident. Unlike the previous two protagonists, Barney doesn’t get all the really good weapons but still gets hold of some. He also doesn’t get the best armour either, having to rely on bullet-proof vests that litter the facility instead of the HEV suit.
For those wondering whether Barney escaped, players of Half-Life 2 may have met him when he works as a mole for the Lambda Resistance in the Combine Civil Protection Forces.
Half-Life: Blue Shift received half decent scores with IGN giving it 7/10 and PC Zone awarding it 78%. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it as it made it so there wasn’t just heroes and villains in the game’s universe, there were also people who just wanted to survive.
Fur Fighters: Viggo’s Revenge – Acclaim Entertainment – Playstation 2
Having already been on the magnificent Dreamcast (SEGA’s swansong in the hardware stakes) the previous year, Playstation 2 owners finally got their chance to take on the evil General Viggo in this third person shooter. In this sequel the villainous General Viggo has kidnapped the families of the Fur Fighters and turned their spouses into robotic monsters and it was up to players save their families and stop the General once and for all.
Viggo had scattered the babies throughout the game world and players had to do a bit of exploring in order to find the children and then despatch the henchmen once they are located. Easier said than done though as each level map was huge for a PS2 game. These massive maps were good at providing longevity to the game but became a chore as it was so easy to get lost.
Each of the Fur Fighters had their own abilities and advantages which made them more suitable for achieving certain things to other characters and fortunately there were many areas on a level where players could swap characters.
As to how well received it was depended on what magazine/ website you read at the time. If you went to GameSpy or Edge magazine they both awarded the game over 80% but IGN only gave it 4.5/10.
Sonic Adventures 2 – Sonic Team USA – Dreamcast
Although Sonic’s most memorable adventures will always be those from the time of the Megadrive, he did have some success in the later years and Sonic Adventures 2 was one of those games that was pretty darn good. The game was easy to control, the levels were well designed and had different themes (like we had come to expect from Sonic games) and the boss fights were enjoyable without being ridiculously hard. The only downside to the game was the wonky camera that only focused on the character meaning it was necessary to take leaps of faith to reach platforms on some levels.
This 3D platformer was split in to two campaigns, Hero and Dark, and each of these allowed players to play as different characters. The Hero campaign saw players control Sonic, Tails and Knuckles as they save the world, while the Dark campaign gave us Shadow the Hedgehog, Doctor Eggman and Rouge the Bat with the objective being to rule the world.
IGN gave Sonic Adventures 2 a whopping 9.4/10 but it wasn’t hard to see why (it was brill) and it also went on to be released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2012.
Startopia – Eidos/Mucky Foot Productions – PC
Ever wanted to manage your very own space station? Well with Startopia that was exactly what players had to do. Take control of a space station, build it up, make it economically viable and create a major hub for passing space travelers to stop at (like a galactic version of motorway services).
In the Startopia universe, there are only a few of these stations remaining due to an apocalyptic galactic war and those that remain are in a dilapidated state (also like some motorway services), and it is up to players to develop them up to the requirements set by employers. Players were able to build a variety of facilities such as discos, hotels, bars, Holodomes and shops, providing food, rest and recreation to the masses of aliens that came along. It was also necessary to hire staff to work there.
Startopia has a very lighthearted sense of humour with cartoonish aliens and various jokes and references taken from renowned British sci-fi comedies like Red Dwarf and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It has an 86/100 on Metacritic and was even shortlisted for a BAFTA as well, which just goes to show how loved this genre of game can be if done properly.
We’re almost at the end of June now and that will be another month of gaming that goes off into history. Join us next month as we journey back through those misty years of gaming history to have a look at more cracking games that we played back in the day, and let us know on our social media what games you remember from this time? Cheerio!