Game Zone: Catwoman, Splinter Cell, Karaoke Revolution

By Jae-Ha Kim and Misha Davenport
Chicago Sun-Times
July 23, 2004

TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL: PANDORA TOMORROW (Ubisoft; Rated T for blood, drug references and violence; PlayStation 2)

Meet Sam Fisher, stealth spy extraordinaire. Those familiar with Clancy’s novels won’t be surprised by the plot here — a bin Laden-like leader holds the United States hostage with a series of terrorist attacks. Capture or kill him, and his followers will unleash a series of deathly viruses across America. It’s Fisher’s job to make sure the safety of the United States isn’t compromised. The gameplay is fast and fun. The good news is if Fisher gets injured, make a dash for the nearest medical center. There, he has the chance to regain part or all of his strength. But don’t freak out if you accidentally kill him off early in the game. You actually can learn to play better by figuring out where you went wrong. Also available on GameCube, Xbox, PC, Game Boy Advance. –Jae-Ha Kim 

CATWOMAN (EA, Rated T for mild language and violence, Playstation 2)

I’m suffering from a serious case of cat scratch fever. Halle Berry is without question one of the most beautiful women in the world. She’s leant her voice and likeness to the video game based on her latest movie, “Catwoman” and I can’t put it down. In pixilated form, Berry holds up purr-fectly well. Her cat just might replace Lara Croft as the sexiest video-game character. This game follows the plot of the film. Patience Philips (Berry) is a milquetoast graphic artist working for Hedare Beauty — a giant cosmetics company. While working on their latest campaign — a revolutionary anti-aging product — Philips inadvertently discovers the product has a deadly, long-term side effect. Company goons murder her before she can tell anyone about it. After her body washes up on the shore, a mysterious cat named Midnight breathes new life into her and Philips is reborn as Catwoman, possessing the speed, movement and agility of a cat. You control Berry as Catwoman on her mission to exact revenge. You’ll literally have to claw your way to the top — Catwoman has steel nails which enable her to scale walls and climb buildings and fences. The controls are the best part of the game. Instead of the usual button-mashing, players use the two analog sticks — the left controls movement and the right controls her whip and, when crouching like a cat ready to pounce, her highly choreographed set of combat moves. It enables you to whip or kick in every direction. Of course, this takes a bit of getting used to. I was a tad frustrated in an initial level when I had to use the whip to swing from post to post. Once I mastered it, it was as fun as web-swinging in “Spider-Man 2.” If there is one flaw, it’s in the enemy AI. Guards simply wait their turn to attack, even when they hopelessly outnumber the pretty kitty. Still, this action adventure game is the cat’s meow. Also available for GameCube, Xbox and PC. Alternative version also available for Game Boy Advance. — Misha Davenport

KARAOKE REVOLUTION VOLUME 2 (Konami; Rated E; PlayStation 2)

I’m no pop music critic, but me thinks Konami has hit a sour note with Volume 2 of “Karaoke Revolution.” Though revolution is in the title, there isn’t anything revolutionary about it. It feels more like an expansion pack than a new game. Despite the addition of quick play, which enables you to select and sing along with a single song like a real karaoke machine, the core game play remains unchanged. The ability to purchase and download additional content is suspiciously missing. What’s left is a hodgepodge of 35 new songs to select from with an emphasis on current hits like Britney Spears’ “Toxic” and ’70s tunes like the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker.” It’s a good thing they added quick play. If your musical tastes run like mine, you might only find one song worth crooning.— Misha Davenport

What’s your game…Sebastien Lefebvre?

“I’ve been playing this game called ‘Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles’ a lot with my GameCube these past days. It’s actually the first game that lets you use the Game Boy Advance as a controller. It’s very nifty — you can use it to see maps, status, lists, and stuff like that while you play with other people. I also play ‘Dark Cloud 2’ on my PlayStation 2. I know it’s been out for a while, but I just recently got into it and I love it. You have to combine and put together items that you find in the dungeons. This is so that you’re able to invent stuff that allows you to recreate different towns. Sounds complicated but it’s really cool!” — Sebastien Lefebvre of Simple Plan, part of Saturday’s Warped Tour show at the Tweeter Center

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