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Are you going to buy an Xbox One X This Holiday Season?

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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 2
PUBLISHER:
SCEA
DEVELOPER:
Naughty Dog
GENRE: Platformer
PLAYERS:   1
RELEASE DATE:
October 14, 2003
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier

Jak and Daxter: The Lost Frontier

Daxter

Jak X: Combat Racing

Jak 3

More in this Series
RELATED GAMES
Jak II
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Silent Hill 3
SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs
Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness
 Written by Chris Reiter  on May 19, 2003

Special: Successfully signifying sequels so sequentially.


Ask any gamer, and he or she will probably tell you the same thing: E3 is the Christmas for gamers'. Only this Christmas lasts three days in a row. What's E3 all about? It's a show for gamers about the things gamers love most: the games. And of course a couple of other things, like new announcements from companies about hardware developments, modifications, upgrades and the like. But mostly, games are the biggest part about being a gamer. And as such, this article here will give you an inside view into a number of the biggest highlights in games presented at this year's E3 event.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
? Publisher: Konami
? Developer: Konami TYO
? Release: Winter 2004
It's a silly name for such a not so silly game. Ever since the PlayStation Metal Gear series sequel that was a phenomenon and successfully created a major cult following from that point on -- Metal Gear Solid -- came about, the franchise has blossomed into one of the most publicly demanded video game franchises of our time. Luckily for us, Hideo Kojima the mastermind behind Metal Gear's history timeline is in a good mood to piece together a next in the storyline (and hopefully not the last), called Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Sure, it's a funny sounding name after glancing over it in some first impressions...but every game title or subtitle has a meaning behind it, and it's a good thing that the Metal Gear game titles have a deep hindsight to them.

So far very little is known about Snake Eater's plot, whether it's a direct continuation from the last game or a completely new one at that. What has been revealed however, are in the tidbits of the game's trailer. Indications of Russian symbols and a part of the country's map itself have made way into Konami's presentation, which if anything might be saying something about Olga's story (circa Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty). Another thing that's very odd about this mysterious trailer is that it shows Solid Snake eating...snakes! Relating back to the game's subtitle, Snake Eater poses to use the theme of survival to its advantage. Not just snakes though, Snake will actually be digesting other animals such as fish -- which will result in crediting the player for what type of food you feed him. If you're to stuff Snake properly with one kind of meal all the time, he may grow to like or dislike the taste of it. Why exactly Snake needs to eat raw animal meat to live could have to do with him not having enough grocery money, but you'll have to wait until further details from Konami's locked chest are unsealed for the foreseeable future.

This time the series is brought into a new location. Rather than being able to handicap guards through a snow covered fortress, or a soaked oil tanker through a rain driven storm, Solid Snake (the game's long time hero) will outfit him for a jungle locale. Instead of steel walls and lockers to duck in or behind, Snake will need to use the outside terrain to the best he can with trees and other plant life. Improving on what is already a masterful gameplay system, Konami's adding a few new moves to Snake's repertoire in this untapped game environment. Able to both slit enemy throats and hang from a branch with one hand while triggering an enemy with a gun in his other will be useful when it comes time to getting down and dirty in the jungle surroundings the series will create.

With a new Metal Gear Solid comes a fresh look. No more silver walls, no more tanks to use for cover: Metal Gear Solid 3 is unsheathing its drab appearance for a much more vibrant stylization in tall grass, aged woodland oaks, rushing liquid, and even a few building insides here and there. Even Snake is unraveling his old skin for a new set of jungle camouflage. One such apparel is tailored with white and black zebra stripes, while another is green and very G.I. Joe-like. And with realistic light sources shimmering through the treetops paired with a bunch of great looking animations from the characters, this next in the Metal Gear Solid game should have a fantastic overlay of polish when it's finished by next year.

It's a great time for anyone who's a fan of Metal Gear Solid name of fame, with this fall's Metal Gear Solid remake for the GameCube on the horizon, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, and for next year when the long awaited Snake Eater sequel munches its way onto the PlayStation 2. As an aficionado of Konami's Metal Gear Solid titles, I can honestly say that this is already looking to be amongst the biggest and best, if not the most unsurpassable game already for next year's PlayStation 2 accessible lineup.

SOCOM 2
? Publisher: SCEA
? Developer: Zipper Interactive
? Release: October 13, 2003
A SEAL game like no other was what Sony and Zipper Interactive wanted to prove with their first PlayStation 2 online launch release title, SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs, last summer. They did a pretty good job at it too. For right now, SOCOM didn't only quickly become the best of what online on the PlayStation 2 had to offer, it became one of the most addicting online experiences out of any game. While the game had succeeded in many ways in its online realm though, the single player match-up left many wanting something more. SOCOM 2 is aiming to do just that, amongst other things.

SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs introduced players to becoming a real life Navy SEALs member. Shooting bad guys down and commanding a small dispatch of computer-controlled teammates to do it were your job. For SOCOM 2, it'll be pretty much the same operation, only with a heck of a lot of new upgrades to look forward to. Stealth for instance was a heavy factor in determining whether you could survive or not in the single player missions. By using shadow and silence, the player could command their band of three other men to quietly infiltrate enemy base camps for a quiet kill, or go charging in like Rambo. Though, mission success came greatly with the cost of trying to be quiet while doing what you could do. In the sequel, the noise areas will be touched upon so that the crunch of even a dried leaf being stepped upon by you or your men could affect the outcome of the mission.

Another big part to playing SOCOM was in figuring out how to guide you and your men to safety through the use of commands given. Through the game's headset or controller pathway, the player could call on the AI to complete a number of tasks whether it was to shoot at anything that moves, to scout to checkpoints ahead in each level, or even to access doorways and toss in a grenade to clear the area of any bad dudes that await. The coolest added option for SOCOM 2 will probably be the computer's ability to now snipe enemies from afar -- something that was unfortunately not possible in the original. Even better will be all the nifty destruction methods that will be enabled in SOCOM 2. Mines, remote detonators, machineguns, shotguns, RPGs (think bazooka), and even the LAW (Light Armored Weapons) are just a small part of everything you as a SEAL will have available with which to make the bad guys disappear. Online too the game will head to further reaches in new modes of play like Breach and Escort -- where you and your band of friends online can breach enemy strongholds, or attempt to escort important VIP's from safety. Since it became a constant problem in the original release, Zipper is evolving the game's engine with a method to block cheaters from well...cheating their way to victory in the sequel this fall.

Unlucky for SOCOM, its first franchise entry wasn't even close to the prettiest of games the PlayStation had to offer. This is why Zipper's going the distance for the sequel to improve their visual engine in every way they can possible. Locations of Albania, Russia, Brazil, and Algeria will be the sequel's destination forest, desert, and even suburban hot spots. Better texturing will be a whole new process this time around; and better reflections to make characters shine off of water or windows; and better modeling to inject even more authenticity into the weapons and soldiers. What it will all come down to though is that SOCOM 2 won't look basic anymore -- it'll stand out in a whole new spotlight.

Promising to fill in the empty areas and improve upon the weak ones left behind, Zipper Interactive is ensuring a second SOCOM that's more than what the first was. Surely enough, if by everything shown off so far is to be true then SOCOM 2 could end up being one of the best games this year -- online and off.?

Silent Hill 3
? Publisher: Konami
? Developer: Konami
? Release: August 5, 2003
What's so scary about a nurse or a bunny rabbit outfit? Well, remove that nurse's face and give her a new set of screaming vocal chords, and smear some blood around that bunny outfit's lips, and you've got yourself some completely warped out of this world paranoia inducing creatures. The Silent Hill franchise, which began on the PlayStation in 1999, has been named several times, as the most disturbing game survival/horror has to offer. It's not a shock-filled, jaw dropping ride in the way of Resident Evil...it's more about deforming your mind by what you can see, what you can't, and what you don't ever want to.

Silent Hill 3 being the third title in the horror series will use for the first time a woman as the game's protagonist in a very chaotic formula. Unlike the first two games though, Heather isn't missing a daughter, or is summoned to the town of Silent Hill by a loved one. No, she's just your average middle aged woman who for some strange reason is mixed up in the freakish town that beckons her presence -- for death or otherwise. After having a crazy dream placed in a carnival about mutants and other things, Heather wakes up in a restaurant and begins the rest of her day in the mall encountering a couple of weird strangers...and then, the mall morphs from normal to bizarre in the blink of an eye.

This Silent Hill sequel will once again carry over a similar gameplay format that made it great in the first place. By turning on a radio that can detect when monsters are near, the box will emit a high-pitched static noise that can make you go crazy with all the many gruesome things lurking in the shadows. Puzzle solving too is key to winning the game. One example of an enigma will be to fetch a pair of bread tongs, to grab a key hidden underneath pallets, and to finally open a door to a bookstore. So what's there to change in something so genuinely transcendent if it might end up being something otherwise, right? But that's not to say there won't be anything new to look forward to, however. Heather doesn't just get the basic tools of survival like a handgun, shotgun, or a lead pipe to knock the enemy out of commission with that was associated with the previous game offerings. In this one, Heather will eventually be able to equip a flamethrower or even a submachine gun for a unique barrage of monster types. Such new grotesque figures will turn from an enormous ugly thing with club shaped arms right down to a worm boss with two mouth slits and a nasty set of sharp molars that want nothing more than to chew at your gooey insides.

When Silent Hill 2 first released on the PlayStation 2 almost two years ago, it was intensely one of the most realistic, or surrealistic titles the system had to showcase. Silent Hill 3 is setting to one up its predecessor by giving out more frightening essence in everything. Technically speaking, Konami wants Silent Hill 3 to be painted organic in its atmosphere, as though the game were deathly alive. Imagine pacing shadowy floors with corpses hanging off of meat hooks. Imagine that the only thing you can see is whatever the tiny flashlight you have on you can illuminate. Imagine blood stained tiling walls, and most lifelike animated monsters, and everything unimaginable now come to life and are now out to put you in your grave.

Unless you're the type of person who's too afraid to want to battle the unbelievably aghast and run away crying to your mommy, then the shadow filled, enigmatic, crazy-like monster swarming, and very, very mind bending plot-driven release of the forthcoming Silent Hill 3 will wet your pants silly this coming August. Be there, or you'll never know what it's like to experience pure fear in the flesh.

Jak II
? Publisher: SCEA
? Developer: Naughty Dog Software
? Release: September 14, 2003
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was almost like every other platform game any system had to offer. You had your running and jumping, item hunting, and plot about good and evil. Jak II, however, is looking to change all that. No longer the happy go-lucky platformer that it once was (mind you the smart-alecky dialogue used by the hero's sidekick, Daxter), Jak II will replace everything you once knew and will turn the franchise upside down into a darker themed adventure that forgets about the kiddy crap, and packs on pound after pound of attitude.

In the final moments of the original Jak and Daxter, the two main stars of the game had stepped through a giant doorway encircled by light. Inside that door players of the game had never found out what happened to the spiky haired hero, and his best friend-turned-creature Daxter...until now. The door, which was actually a portal into another dimension, brought the two into a universe very paralleled from their own. Instead of lush green forests and sunny beaches, these are the mean streets. After landing here, Jak suddenly gets captured by goons commanded by who is known as the Baron of this world. There he gets experimented on with dark eco, the same stuff that turned Daxter into the furry guy we now know. Eventually Daxter sets free his good buddy. But becoming stronger, angrier, and even able to talk now...Jak's only intentions are to destroy the same man who did this to him: to destroy the Baron.

Think you know Jak? Think again. In his new macho state, Jak is one bad dude. Like in the Grand Theft Auto series, Jak can jack (get it?) any hovering vehicle lying around the immensely sized examinable futuristic city Jak II will have in store. If action is your thing, Jak II's got it -- with Jak now able to defeat enemies in more ways than one with an added arsenal of combo moves. One combo attack for example can be to leap straight into the air and then continue to fire with a weapon in hand. And yes, Jak II's got weapons. Throughout the progress of the game, Jak will eventually end up gaining access to a shotgun, rifle, minigun, and handgun. All weapons though will have to wait in line for when Jak makes contact with the scumbags of the city. Once again like Grand Theft Auto, Jak will encounter certain persons that ask Jak to perform mission-based item hunting trips. If Jak accomplishes his set tasks, he'll gain weapons and even keys in which to unlock guarded areas of the city.

Stunning is a good way to describe what was the first Jak and Daxter title. Even more stunning is one way to describe its sequel. Where the first release placed you on an intersecting island where you could peer from atop a mountain into the distance where a jungle was visible, and you could travel to that jungle and look at the mountain in the same way, and without load times, Jak II will instead set you inside the boundaries of a grungy city teeming with hovering vehicles and lowlife folk wandering around. As the first game was filled with luscious touchups, Jak II will reverse that with a darker side on things. But just know that by turning the game on the flipside that it won't be for the worse, since Jak II will have a higher polygon count, feature upgrades in areas like reflections in liquid, and will move at a speed of 60 frames per second. What more could you ask for in a marvelous appearance of a game getting even better in its second coming?

Setting the stage up for something very unlike its first outing seems to be what's working for Jak II. Even though the seamier side of things are what will drive this platform game when it hits stores this fall, you've got to remember that change can be a good thing too. For Jak II, change sounds like the best thing of all.?

Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness
? Publisher: Eidos Interactive
? Developer: Core
? Release: June 17, 2003
Before the time of the PlayStation 2 was upon us, it used to be that a Tomb Raider was released every November on the dot. Why? Lara Croft, that's why! The original Tomb raider, which released in 1996, was renowned as an innovative and intriguing 3D adventure game that held the series from there on to sell like hotcakes as the star of the show was Lara Croft; the Indiana Jones of tomb raiding. But then something happened. Each year, the fading of the game's sharp edge disappointed thousands of fans. True the gameplay remained the same, but that was just it -- many felt Eidos used their sexy symbol to sell on the recycled nature of the franchise.

When we left off with the last officially numbered rehash of Tomb Raider that came about in the form of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, Lara Croft had died. Or so we thought. Lara's back, and for a reason. After being framed for murdering her former mentor and instructor in everything that enables her to explore the inner workings of a tomb, Von Croy, Lara sets off to find who's after her and put an end to it all. This time though, Lara isn't alone, as she'll meet up with a brand new character named Curtis. Together, the story will roll on with more action, more adventure, and more intimacy in a way it's never been done before.

With the motive of Lara being dead, it's been over three years now since fans were once again able to raid Lara's panties...er, I mean tombs. Which is why Core wanted people to anticipate the game for an elongated period. As the first next generation Tomb Raider, Core's been transforming the series' next installation from the ground up. Lara's old side, forward, and backward jumping movements have been replaced for starters. Now Lara can move like anyone else. Tomb Raiding? Forget about it. Filling in for caverns and mountains and the like will be modern upgrades such as buildings or even a poison plant filled greenhouse. Stealth will also be key to playing the game now, as Lara can sneak up on enemies while pressing her back against walls Solid Snake style, and then snap their neck. As for Curtis, players will have a chance to play as him in the game from time to time, and even back and forth to help solve riddles in certain game areas. Even with all the changes though, there'll still be human and animal types to take down using an assortment of gunnery tools, and of course some good old fashioned riddles to surpass.

New gameplay comes along with a brand new look. More will be the keyword for the new Raider. Much more polygonal counts will suit for finely tuned character modeling this time around. Level designs will be even more grandeur than you could imagine. From the way it was on the PlayStation, to how it is now, this Tomb Raider will power players with greater architecture that actually resembles their worldly counterparts. Lara herself even will do more than ever, with the ability to express all kinds of emotion in her blinking and eyebrow twitching gestures. And with over two years of development time put into the making of this new Raider, it won't be surprising to see the new adventure do amazing feats in its new and improved digitally enhanced posture.

Personally, I've been a big fan in following every Tomb Raider since its initial release on the PlayStation. It's surprising to see the game come as far as it has, and it's even more of a shock to see it cut up into something different. The question will be is if what Core is providing for its Tomb Raider loyalists and newcomers alike next month, if the shift in game balance will be for the better, or for the worse. We'll just have to wait and find out to see, ultimately.

Final Thoughts
Say good-bye to that big E and 3 people -- it's gone like a hit and run driver after a number of beers. Though 2003's E3 event is no longer around, that doesn't mean its spirit has left the building. That's where the big name titles such as these are the collective memories of the show, and the result for bigger things to come. Through this year and next, it looks as though the PlayStation 2's going to be an even busier playground with sequels up the yin yang giving its owners a good, hard long run for their money. Just remember to visit Gaming Target for more as we dig further inside looks at the working brains of these coming releases and others until next E3, everybody!



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