Game Zone: EA Sports Rugby 2004, Wallace & Gromit in Project Zoo, XIII

By Jae-Ha Kim and Misha Davenport
Chicago Sun-Times
October 24, 2003

EA SPORTS RUGBY 2004 (EA Sports, E for Everyone, PlayStation 2) 

Some 1,500 players have licensed their likenesses for this game. Chances are you won’t be familiar with any of them. But don’t let that stop you. Rugby is a tough sport that falls somewhere between the grace of soccer and the brutality of football. But it’s also fun. Don’t think that knowing how to score on Madden 2004 will help you here. Remember that your X button marks the spot for punting and you’re golden. If there’s one thing lacking, it would be the graphics, which appear less crisp than what we’ve come to expect from EA titles. (E for everyone). — Jae-Ha Kim 

WALLACE & GROMIT IN PROJECT ZOO (BAMEntertainment; E for Everyone, Playstation 2)

Based on Academy Award winner Nick Park’s claymation shorts, this game revolves around the adventures of a cheese-loving man (Wallace) and his dog (Gromit). Their mission? To capture Feathers the penguin. In order for the duo to progress, Wallace has to MacGyver his way around and fix bits and pieces of whatever’s in their way. It’s no wonder a big chunk of their mission is spent collecting tools. Gameplay is relatively easy, albeit frustrating when you’re trying to free some caged beavers and Wallace gets “stuck” no matter how many times you hit the control. (E for everyone).  –Jae-Ha Kim 

XIII (Xbox, M for Mature, PlayStation 2

Thirteen is Ubisoft’s lucky number. Based on the story arc of the first five issues of acclaimed Belgian writer Jean Van Hamme and artist William Vance’s comic book of the same name (which, in turn, was inspired by Robert Ludlum’s “Bourne Identity”), “XIII” opens with intentionally blurry graphics and sluggish controls — thanks to the bullet you’ve taken to the head. You have no memory of who you are. Before you can get your bearings, the chase is on. It seems everyone in the first few of the game’s 36 levels has it in for you, and you spend much of the time running as you try to figure out who you are and why so many people want you dead. Along the way, you discover the president of the United States has been assassinated and you were either involved or you know who was. No sooner has one question been answered and you’re plunged deeper still into a government conspiracy. First-person shooters have come and gone. So, too cel-shaded games. No one — and I mean no one — has every married the two with as much success as in this game. Comic panels pop up. Guns not only make a “blam” sound, but the screen even has the written words “Blam! Blam!” much like a comic would, In short, it’s like playing a graphic novel. With an engaging plot line and highly stylized and innovative graphics, “XIII” is a must for any fan of first-person shooters. — Misha Davenport 

CHICAGO’S TOP 10

The hottest games sold in Chicago on amazon.com last week: 

1. Jak II PlayStation 2

2. Madden NFL 2004 Xbox

3. WWE SmackDown! Here comes the Pain PlayStation 2

4. Mario Kart: double Dash GameCube

5. Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 Game Boy Advance

6. Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire Game Boy Advance

7. The Simpsons: Hit and Run GameCube

8. Medal of Honor: Rising SunPlayStation 2

9. Lizzie McGuire: On the Go Game Boy Advance

10. Mario Party 5 GameCube

What’s Your Game…

“My favorite is ‘NBA Live,’ because I love basketball. It’s very entertaining and realistic. The graphics are great. It’s almost like you’re watching a real basketball game. —DaMarcus Beasley, the Chicago Fire midfielder

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