Activision Swings Into Action Old and new heroes to lead the charge
Despite doing exceptionally well recently with other people's properties, such as Spider-Man and X-Men, Activision has reached back to breathe new life into one of its own original platform Heroes: Pitfall Harry. It's a distinctly youthful execution of the classic Atari 2600 game, with the kind of exaggerated character animation usually seen in a Disney cartoon. All the derring-do jungle adventures from the past æ vine swinging, fighting natives, finding treasure, battling angry creatures-are present, well adapted by developer Edge of Reality for GameCube, PS2, and Xbox. Torus Games has created a GBA version as well.
As World War II continues to play well with gamers, Activision has signed on Infinity Ward-a new studio including many of the crew responsible for Medal of Honor: Allied Assault-to create Call of Duty for the PC. Working with a heavily modified Quake III engine, the first-person game looks at the assault on German-held Europe from the viewpoint of U.S., British, and Soviet ground soldiers in single and multiplayer modes.
Best known for his work on Age of Empires, designer Rick Goodman and his Stainless Steel Studios are fashioning the ambitious Empires: Dawn of the Modern World for the PC. Spanning five eras from the Middle Ages to World War II, this 3D RTS puts players in control of an authentic civilization complete with unique military capabilities, and pits them against other cultures on huge battlefields supporting massed units.
Special forces gets redefined for the PC in Trinity, from Gray Matter Studios of Return to Castle Wolfenstein fame. In it, a conspiracy quarantines New Orleans circa 2013, and a bio-augmented agent with incredible hand-to-hand and weapons-combat skills is dropped into the city to discover the truth.
Creating mayhem of a more traditional variety is Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix from Gratuitous Games. The antiterrorist action for Xbox is set in such locations as Prague, Colombia, Hong Kong, and Kamchatka. Xbox Live supports Deathmatch, team Deathmatch, Elimination, and Infiltration modes.
True Crime: Streets of L.A. from Luxoflux pits an elite detective in charge of a secret task force against international crime syndicates. GameCube, PS2, or Xbox players use any weapons and martial arts necessary to bust heavily armed thugs, track down clues, find informants and witnesses, and return order to the streets.
Some folks felt the well-written and fun Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force was better than any episode of the TV series, and Star Trek: Elite Force II (PC) from Ritual should carry on that tradition. Like the movie Star Trek Nemesis, Elite Force II operates in a combined Next Generation universe and sees the Federation become prey to new alien perils.
Strategy gamers with designs on film directing will dig Peter Molyneux's The Movies (PC), which puts players in the role of a motion-picture studio mogul running a Hollywood lot from the silent-film era through today. As a studio head, you're charged with deciding which movies to make, stars to assign, scripts to approve, and directors to hire, as well as fully controlling sets and cinematography.
Based on the upcoming animated film of the same name, Shrek 2: The Game will hit GameCube, PS2, and Xbox courtesy of Luxoflux. The game is tied directly to the plot of the film, with players switching between Shrek, Donkey, and their friends and interacting with a variety of new personalities and environments.
Borrowing 12 characters from Toy Story 2, Tarzan, and The Lion King animated films, Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure will also benefit from use of the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 engine. With a strong emphasis on humor and delightfully embellished locations from the films, Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure definitely delivers wide audience appeal, with versions for GBA, GameCube, PS2, and Xbox.
Shaba Games' Wakeboarding Unleashed featuring Shaun Murray for PS2 and Xbox offers a more intense sports experience, with high-powered speedboats pulling seven world-class wakeboarders through exotic locations. There's also a multiplayer mode in which one player drives the boat, helping fellow riders pull off challenging technical tricks. Small Rockets is developing the GBA version.