Dreamcast: House Of The Dead
I could whine all day long and there is no way I can resurrect the Dreamcast, but it can still be fun to play. We loaded up the console with two standard Dreamcast controllers, rumble packs and VMUs and got down to business. Fired up Hydro Thunder, which is a pretty slick boat racing game, and found that it held up pretty well. Control is somewhat sloppy at times, primarily when you are trying to angle your boat for the ramps. Graphics were not as high-contrast as it could be, but you could still pick the boats out from the backgrounds and the rumble effects were well done. After a good half-hour of that, we decided to look at some of the racing games for the DC, and fired up POD and Loony Tunes. POD is an awesome title, with killer graphics and boring and repetitive gameplay, though the spot-on controls and well implemented rumble pack support helped make it more enjoyable than it should have been. Loony Tunes racer, on the other hand, had too much play in the controls, but was a lot more fun. Something about that cartoon animation and the atmosphere just made it a blast.
Since neither of those turned out to be that great, we fired up Crazy Taxi and Crazy Taxi 2. Crazy Taxi was one of the most fun games I played during this entire run of console lookie-loo. The sountrack is just killer, and the controls are a total blast. Yeah, there is lots of clipping when objects intersect, and yeah, it is totally unrealistic, but you can eat up your 3, 5 or 10 minute races faster than you realize. Replay value is excellent, and it had to have one of the highest "fun factors" of any title we played.
We fired up one of the latest sports titles, NBA 2K2, and found that it holds its own against any sports title we'd ever played. Things could get a bit chaotic when trying to defend, but beyond that, this game is outstanding. Graphics are very well done, moves are easy to execute, passes could not be any easier, and playing defense was actually possible once you got the hang of things. Camera angles and announcing even surpassed expectations. Great title to go out on, and it holds up well against any other console out there.
Finally, we checked out DOA 2 and Soul Calibur so we could compare them to what is out there on the other consoles. DOA 2 is a pretty decent jiggle-fest, but frankly, it is really not my type of title. Some of the graphical environments are simply stunning, including the waterfall level with the night sky and the snow storm, but the controls and counters seemed a bit 'off', and while it was fun, it did not offer quite the type of experience that I like for fighting games. Soul Calibur, on the other hand, has got to be the single best fighting game ever made on any platform, bar none. How Sega managed to screw up the marketing campaign for SC and the DC, I'll never understand, because if there has ever been a "must have" application, one that could actually sell a console instead of the other way around, Soul Calibur is it. This should have been the killer app for the DC. After three solid hours playing Soul Calibur, we were still in awe of just how good this game is. The graphics are absolutely stunning, even now! The controls are responsive and easy to get a handle on, and the character movements are so fluid it is hard to describe in words. Yes, the cloth and hair of the characters flow and move, but it is really the weapons and the characters themselves that amaze you. The wooden staff bends when it is swung quickly, and it seems that every weapon has a dramatic transparency effect as they "swoosh" across the screen. Some of the surface and character textures are incredibly detailed, and the backgrounds have just enough blur to make the crisp characters and arenas stand out clearly in the foreground. A good way to end the DC play-fest.