Gran Turismo 4
Developer: Polyphony Digita
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Play It On: PlayStation 2
Since its debut on the original PlayStation in 1998, the Gran Turismo series has set the bar successively higher with each new release while delivering the feel of driving your dream car. Not surprisingly, each new game also reached a new breathtaking level of graphic quality. Due out in November ‘04, Gran Turismo 4 aims to simply knock your socks off by any means necessary. Featuring more than 500 vehicles from nearly every manufacturer imaginable, and customizable down to even the most minute detail, this game will fulfill your every desire. If there’s a car you’ve always wanted to drive, it’s here.
You begin Gran Turismo 4 with a small amount of money to purchase a used car. You gradually work your way up to the most exotic of rides by competing in races and honing your skills against some of the most difficult opponents you’ve ever faced. The game also features an extensive set of online features, so you’ll always be able to find someone to race against. Perhaps the most intriguing new feature is the ability to connect a USB photo printer to your PlayStation 2 and then print a photorealistic picture of your car.
In many ways, Gran Turismo 4 is like a wine that gets consistently better with age. Highly polished and perfected, it’s the kind of game car fans simply don’t want to miss. So break out that cab you’ve been saving for a special occasion, and pair it with this game. Trust me: it’s worth it.
Play It On: Xbox
If you’re the proud owner of an Xbox, chances are Halo’s in your collection. Good move. Two years after its release, Halo still stands as one of the best games available for Microsoft’s bulky console. But this November, the sequel to this finest of games hits store shelves with yet more reasons to steal away precious hours from your life.
Halo 2 will feature an extensive single-player campaign with a mind-bending story line as well as the ability to play online over the Xbox Live service. This guarantees that no matter what time of day, there’ll always be someone – somewhere – looking to take you down. But rest assured, in your quest to win, you’ll not only have a small arsenal of futuristic weapons at your disposal, but you’ll also be able to pilot several different types of vehicles.
Halo 2 is simply a stunning game in every respect. Whether you’re by yourself, with a room full of friends or battling a group of strangers hundreds of miles away, you’ll wrap yourself around this game for hours on end. Your collection simply won’t be complete until Halo 2 sits proudly on your shelf.
With Halo 2, you need a beverage that’ll keep you wired for the long haul, yet get you in that comfortable gaming state of mind. So try this: start with your favorite energy drink. As you methodically remove your competition, slowly mix in some quality vodka (see vodka reviews in this issue). By the time you take down your last opponent, you’ll be sittin’ phat and happy.
Let’s face it: video games have become complicated over the years. As technology has advanced, features that were once astounding — like 3D — have become the norm. Gone are the days when the controller in your hands was nothing more than a joystick with a single button. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find one with fewer than two joysticks and ten buttons.
Used to be that developing a video game was a one-man operation. These days, games are designed by teams of hundreds, with budgets close to those of major motion pictures. Yet the games of old are as popular as ever. While retros certainly don’t hold a candle to the games of today, they do have a certain simplicity — an easy pick-up-and-play approach that fortunately hasn’t been lost forever.
Until recently, if you wanted to play old school video games, you needed your Atari 2600 (finding one requires a keen eye at garage sales). Or play one of the many retro compilations available for PlayStation 2, Xbox or GameCube. Seems like a lot of trouble just to relive those childhood moments, doesn’t it?
Well, our prayers have been answered. If you’ve spent any time watching home shopping channels late at night, or visiting Urban Outfitters, you’ve probably seen a simple joystick connected to a television. Powered by batteries and with only two wires, the line of TV Games by Jakks Pacific is simply the easiest way to get your fix of classic video gaming.
Jakks’ ever-expanding product line offers a number of choices. There’s an Atari game, which features ten of the most beloved games to grace the Atari 2600, such as Breakout, Missile Command and Asteroids. A similar product also has a number of classics, such as Pitfall and River Raid. For those whose classic gaming tastes fall in favor of the quarter-munching variety, the latest addition to the TV Games lineup features the venerable Pac-Man and Dig Dug, along with several other classics.
Simply put, there’s never been a better way to get back to your gaming roots than Jakks Pacific. They’re great to leave sitting out at a party as an ice-breaker, or better yet, as a lazy way to whittle away the afternoon.
Retro gaming requires some retro drinking. Try a blast from the past, such as a wine cooler, sloe gin fizz or a bottle of Boone’s Farm out of a brown paper bag. Just don’t let the neighbors see you!