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 Post subject: It's a tough job
PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2004 11:33 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 22, 2002 11:17 am
Posts: 2097
Location: Germany



But somebody had to test-drive the new computer games. Here are the ones I liked best

The ultimate computer game for someone like me would be called Blow Up Stuff. The player could choose to explode anything he likes (or dislikes): Sherman tanks, Stealth bombers, fuel barges, skyscrapers. Also those creepy Teletubbies creatures. He'd get a choice of weapons, as well, from small-arms fire and hand grenades to Stinger missiles and tactical nukes. This game--with the latest three-dimensional effects and Surround Sound--would endlessly satisfy an unattractive but basic urge.

Judging from what I saw at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Atlanta last week, Blow Up Stuff would be popular with lots of other gamers too. Never before have so many folks been assembled in one place to grab onto force-feedback joysticks and to bludgeon, laser-beam and Gatling-gun one another--at least not in peacetime. Halls the size of 35 football fields were jammed with computer- and video-game companies showing off their latest wares, in the understated tone that is a hallmark of such conventions. My fillings still rattle like castanets when I speak.

I wish I had found more that was genuinely new, but for the most part, the $5 billion-a-year electronic-games industry is playing follow the leader. Shoot-'em-ups are modeled on Quake and Tomb Raider. Battle-strategy games behave like Warcraft. Flight simulators tend to resemble Microsoft's. To be sure, this year's new games are faster, smoother and compatible with accelerator cards that deliver superior 3-D effects. They also tend to require Olympian amounts of RAM. SimCity 3000, will need a minimum of 32 MB, though the payoff is splendidly rendered, 3-D, skyscraper-bejeweled cities that one can zoom in on, right down to the level of joggers on the sidewalks, and redesign like God or even Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Most of the games I saw offered some kind of Net tie-in. Many are specifically meant to be played online, and "massively multiplayer" entertainments are all the rage. One of the best, Warbirds, allows you to pilot a World War II fighter plane in a squadron. The game can be downloaded for free at, and costs $2 an hour to play online.

Of course, all that glitters in the computer-game industry isn't violent. I liked two titles from Broderbund aimed at kids six to 10 and based on the Nickelodeon Rugrats characters. The games will be released at Thanksgiving, along with the first Rugrats movie.

By far the best game I played was Trespasser, by DreamWorks Interactive, a sequel to The Lost World, the movie and video game. The object of Trespasser is to escape a dinosaur-infested island. Three years in the making, the game features whizzy technology, including artificial intelligence for the dinosaurs. "They have emotions just like we do," says Brady Bell, the game's associate producer. "They have a brain and experience fear, hunger, thirst, pain, annoyance and curiosity." The game is driven by what Bell calls a "first-ever, real-time physics engine." Wade out into a pond, for instance, and watch the water ripple gently ahead of you. Bend down and pick up a flower and throw it into the pond, and it drifts away on the surface. Trespasser is truly innovative. Now if only it had some decent explosives...

Visit for more on Josh's favorite new games, and see him on CNNFN's Digital Jam, 7:30 p.m. E.T. Tuesday, June 2.

...of computer and video games coming this fall:

Trespasser by DreamWorks Interactive: escape from dinosaurs, with realistic feel and visual effects
SimCity 3000 by Maxis: updated city-design game in cool 3-D
Rugrats Adventure by Broderbund: fun puzzles for kids


By Joshua Quittner


PHOTO (COLOR): Computer game joystick

Copyright © Time Inc., 1998. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be duplicated or redisseminated without permission.

Title: IT'S A TOUGH JOB... , By: Quittner, Joshua, Time, 0040781X, 06/08/98, Vol. 151, Issue 22

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