Guns...Lots of Guns

Aye up! You’ll be pleased to hear that since my last post here at the ‘Yard, I haven’t thrown my guts up once! Two whole weeks without spewing the contents of my stomach all over a) the floor, b) the wall, or c) my bed, curtains or other related soft furnishings. I’m actually quite proud of myself. I have, however, been on the receiving end of a fist (well, several fists) and have duly acquired a black eye and a suspected broken nose. Such are the risks when one partakes in the quaffage of alcohol. Which I won’t be doing again for a while. Cough.

But you don’t want to hear about my drunken escapades. You want to know about man’s greatest feat of technological engineering – No, not the Stargate – the Sega Dreamcast! More to the point, Sega Dreamcast GAMES! Yes, even more games, by way of eBay, have landed on my desk and then jumped into my console. Are they good? Well, we’re about to find out…

Conflict Zone

I personally can’t understand why there was never a Command & Conquer or Starcraft game released for the DC. I’m pretty sure EA hadn’t swallowed Westwood at the time of the Cast’s reign – so why no port of either?! Even the fucking N64 got (blurry, cut down) versions of both. As with most things to do with Sega’s white brick of joy – The Mind Boggles ™. Aaaaaaanyway, back to the present. Conflict Zone, then. About as close as you’re likely to get to playing Command & Conquer, Starcraft, Warzone etc etc etc on your Dreamcast. Basically it’s a top down real time strategy game that has you constructing a base, building tanks, training troops and then marauding over the countryside wiping out enemy units. The premise is a simple but effective one – and one which proves to be immensely enjoyable…if executed correctly.

These are PC shots, but the DC version is practically identical. Looks sweet, no? Wait till it moves...
With this in mind, Conflict Zone has all the right ingredients, but it seems as though the chef is a retard. With dribble on his chin and shit stains on his apron.

Let me digress. In conflict Zone, you are only allowed to build your base where the computer wants you to build it – so forget about scouting around for a good location that may be naturally fortified or protected by trees etc. Also, you can only place buildings next to each other in a grid pattern so when you do finally get up and running, the base looks more like a council estate than a highly functional military outpost. This is only a minor thing – but still quite annoying. Slightly more niggling is the graphics engine.

It may look pretty sweet in the screen shots, and for the most part it’s quite a good looking game – especially since the whole battlefield is modeled in 3D – meaning that you can zoom and spin the camera around to your heart’s content. It’s just that the whole engine seems to creak and strain as soon as you have more than a few units chugging around the screen. Wouldn’t it have been better to just use a 2D engine like Red Alert 2’s?

Don’t get me wrong – Conflict Zone is a highly playable real time strategy romp – certainly the best (only?) example on our favourite console, and features some great ideas. For example, gaining public support for your campaigns by treating civilians well is a nice touch, as is the way you get more funding depending on whether your war is seen as just by the media (clearly the stuff of fantasy, eh, Mr Bush?). It’s just that the interface is unwieldy and the graphics are so jumpy…

You get the idea. It’ a nice try at a new take on the strategy genre and for the most part it’s quite good. Just not as good as it could’ve been. And nowhere near Command & Conquer.

Gunbird 2

Yet another uber-camp Dreamcast game? Looks like it. Yep, following on from Fighting Vipers, Tech Romancer and Bust A Move comes Gunbird 2 – a super gay 2D shoot ‘em up that features a fat bloke on a magic carpet, a semi-naked school girl on a broomstick, Count Dracula and a Bon Jovi lookalike that can turn bullets into roses. Just a normal day at Capcom, then. 
There’s not actually much more to it than that.

Once you get through the ridiculous intro and loading screens (of which there are many), you get the choice of whether you want the screen to be the size of a postage stamp, normal or bigger than the telly so you can move it around whilst playing. Sounds weird, I know, but I you play it you’ll understand. After that, you chose one of the aforementioned oddball characters (again, why is there a fat bloke on a magic carpet?) and then launch into the game. Like I said, it’s a 2D up-the-screen shooter like Xenon 2 (anyone remember that classic?!), where loads of flying baddies come down and shoot glowing shit at you. Which you must dodge. Or die. That’s it. Hold down the fire button and Bob’s your uncle. It also kinda reminds me of Raiden on the Jaguar, only with really well drawn enemies. The graphics are very slightly blocky, but it’s packed with detail – there are even people walking about in the streets below the action, obviously oblivious to the frantic battle between fat blokes on magic carpets and flying mechanoids going on above their heads.
Which leads me to the next quandary. If the enemy forces in Gunbird 2 have the funds and technology to build such impressive battle-droids and flying fortresses, why can’t they manufacture a gun than shoots in a straight line? Strange…

That aside, Gunbird 2 is a wholly inoffensive shooter that passes time nicely. Can’t really complain.

European Super League

A football game, unofficially based on the Champions League…that doesn’t feature Manchester United. And only has 16 teams in it. And has no running commentary. And has shit graphics, shit game play and shit sound effects. That’ll be European Super League.

Again, these are PC shots. Although the DC version is practically identical. Look at his arms! Chortle!

Based on the already arse Viva Football engine, ESL comes straight from the bottom of the Virgin Interactive cess barrel without so much as a fart, let alone a fanfare. Joining the rest of the Dreamcast’s utterly pathetic crop of footy games, ESL does nothing to buck the trend that the rest of the pack so adamantly adhere to, ie it has a complete lack of anything good. Although the pitches are nice and green. Complete sewage.

So there we have it. 3 games – two of which are OK, one of which is the gaming equivalent of face cancer. My advice? Give Gunbird and Conflict Zone a whirl, avoid European Super League like you would a Lenny Henry DVD boxset.


Reet, I'm off to watch Cloverfield.

6 comments:

NebachadnezzaR said...

Another top notch post there, uncle Tom! Too bad the games don't have the same quality...

dudex77 said...

Why the hell did you even think of buying ESL?

fatherkrishna said...

I rather like Gunbird 2! Its a nice little shump (with very forgiving difficulty modes including "baby" which I play on!)
And, as stated in the post, is wonderfully, weirdly "Capcomesque"...

Another sterling post sailor! Can't tell you how good it is tohave your input back again Tom!

nick944 said...

Thanks for the review of Conflict Zone, I've been thinking of grabbing it when I get some extra cash!

The GagaMan(n) said...

I love me some Gunbird 2, has enough difficulty modes so almost anyone can play it and not just shump fanatics that had a cyber razor cut* to play them, and co-op 2 player is great fun. I grabbed it back in 2000 for about £20 and haven't let go of it since.

* Guess the Sega TV Commercial reference!

gnome said...

Hey Tom, nice seeing you again dear. Lovely dangerous city you got too mate :)

Cheers!