Special: Read about everything that Vivendi Universal had to offer at its booth, from Scarface to StarCraft, from your tour guide, Chris.
StarCraft: Ghost (PS2, Xbox, GameCube)
It's been a long time coming. StarCraft: Ghost has not only seen numerous delays; it's also had an entire development team change-up from industry newcomers Nihilistic over to Swingin' Ape Studios, makers of Metal Arms: Glitch in the System. We're talking about a Blizzard game that was announced in 2002 here. Now finally on the way, it appears as if with the team switcheroo, this first-ever stealth-action, cconsole-based-only, StarCraft game is going to have gamers thinking this fall, "About damn time." Ghost's premise differs from its PC counterpart of course, as this is not going to be an overhead Real-Time Strategy release. Instead, the idea woven throughout Ghost is that you basically are a Ghost?a Terran Ghost. StarCraft fans will probably tell you that the Terran Ghost is that character who can turn invisible and launch nuclear missiles at enemy bases. Here, this female Ghost named Nova can do quite a bit more than that. Positioned in the third-person realm in a stealth-action title, Nova will be able to turn invisible for limited spurts of time and sneak up on enemies with tactical silent kills. If enemies spot Nova, however, they will not hesitate to acitvate the alarm and then you'd have a whole fortress of soldiers on your back. Not good.
Another aspect of the game is that players will be able to hijack flying vehicles Halo 2 style and wage war on those who oppose you -- all of them. But of course, it's always best to stay silent as enemies can be tough when in swarms. Interestingly, when Nova has her translucent cloak draped over her, marine enemies will be able to sense noises and find her if you're too loud while going unseen. Of what was shown in the game though, the main objective was primarily to sniff out four bombs behind guarded enemy territory and diffuse them. Using stealth and fire power made this all possible. When first shown in the Fall of 2002, Ghost looked really detailed. The game is still nice to look at, but nothing like it was from early demonstrations. Its toned down quality places you into an outside environment where foot patrol and flying crafts try to surround the fragile heroine, Nova. StarCraft: Ghost at the moment looks to be a fun game. I'm just not anticipating any masterpiece with this one.
The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction (PS2, Xbox, GameCube)
Big. Green. Big. That's the Hulk for you. Even though a sequel to 2003's disappointing Hulk film isn't back, a sequel to the game that concurrently released at the same time with that movie then is. Vivendi's latest Hulk venture takes you to a new stage of bigness with the Marvel super hero, in that this time you're able to explore a HUGE city as the "Green Giant." As the Hulk character, players will be able to use a Grand Theft Auto-like map system in locating color-coded objectives -- whether they're looking for a building to destroy (literally), or are about to thrash a force field barrier by hurling vehicles at its inner control system and then are off to grab a piece of lab equipment and bring it to your next destination to construct a tool. While all this is occurring, soldiers in the streets and choppers in the sky will fleece upon the Hulk wave after wave of missile blasts.
The most impressive aspect about the game is certainly the variety of methods in which the Hulk can tear up the city. A multitude of objects can be picked up and thrown; be it attack copters you smash into through the air, crunched cars, large balls that can also be bowled into enemies, and yes, even people themselves. Hulk can also take the time to pick up pedestrians fleeing around the city and pat them on the head. Good boy! As for the game's visuals, I'll say this: they're impressive, but not of the best quality you're going to find. Of an average state, the explorable metropolis and characters are situated in dark and murky colors. Still, the way the city receives damage is pretty neat. Hulk will actually cling to building edges and scale upward, leaving smashed indentations in his wake. He'll punch up vehicles and demolish the ground beneath him by jumping long distances. He'll sever vehicles into two pieces and use them as boxing gloves to enable him to amass even greater depths of destruction. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction is looking to be an interesting game, if reenacting the Hulk's pattern of punishment from 2003's feature film is your bag.
Crash Tag Team Racing (PS2, Xbox, GameCube, DS)
Nintendo's evolution for their premiere racing franchise, Mario Kart, saw the company put in two years earlier for Mario Kart: Double Dash!! two racers. And as it's widely known, multiple Mario Kart clones have been produced since the original's SNES debut. Including Sony's go at a Mario Kart-like Crash Team Racing. Just like when Sony finished with their trio of platforming Crash Bandicoot titles, and then signed the rights of the Crash name over to Vivendi, Vivendi is again doing the same thing in taking their platform-based Crash off track?and right onto one. Crash Tag Team Racing is taking the Crash Nitro Kart series to new heights by borrowing the Double Dash!! Formula and sticking Crash with the ability to attach to other drivers' vehicles. Around and around the racing track, Crash begins the race by his lonesome in a smaller, jet-boosted vehicle. Slamming into the back of any AI driver enables the rascally bandicoot to join forces with them for however long he likes. Switching between the characters allows for players to control the driver in front or the gunner in back. Blasting holes in other drivers will obviously remove them from the chance of succeeding ahead.
But racing isn't the only option players will have when they enter into this latest Crash racing game. Platforming will collide with the racing genre in this already zany game. Straying into a separate platform view as Crash will get players to experience some of the basic platforming moves Crash has been able to provide in the past. He can jump, he can spin and shred through boxes, and he can belly flop onto buttons. The ideal goals in this jumping arena are to complete missions for various characters that gives this Crash game a sort of story aspect, as well as the ability to amass coins and spend them on upgrades for the vehicle in which Crash races. Cartoony, Crash Nitro isn't going to give you the heebie jeebies when you think of its basic package. But, the theme of the game in teaming up with secondary racers is a neat idea. Heading for a fall shipment, this multi-system, multiplayer Crash game should please those Crash fans out there who are still into Crash'ing -- especially his niche racing titles.