4th Annual PSX Extreme Awards (Part 1 of 3)
The Mark of Kri is a nicely executed and intriguing title with excellent atmosphere, and a great and intuitive combat system to boot. It's visually appealing, no doubt, and the audio is top-notch to say the least. The controls can be quickly learned once you take a stroll through the training level, and from there on your journey will begin. Replay wise, it's roughly a 10-12 hour adventure, but chances are you'll find yourself re-spawning back a save point, after five enemies pummeled you to your death, so the game is hardly a breeze. If you're still torn as to whether or not you should purchase the game, I'd certainly recommend at least renting it and giving it a shot -- it's certainly worth that, if not more.
Silver: Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Bronze: Rygar: The Legendary Adventure
We're a bunch of A-holes for never reviewing Sly Cooper, aren't we? Somehow, don't ask how, the game slipped through our hands and your very own Editor-in-Chief forgot all about the best platform title of the year. Is that shocking? Well, take it for what it's worth, we're telling you that Sly Cooper was pretty much the best platform title of the year. The only thing that really set Sly Cooper behind Ratchet and Clank was its length, but it's appeal was by far more broad. The story in Sly Cooper was very well done, and the gameplay itself felt more invigorating and addictive. That is not to say it beats out Ratchet and Clank by a long shot, heavens no! But it sure does put the one-up over it -- but barely.
Silver: Ratchet and Clank
Bronze: Maximo: Ghosts to Glory
In the end, if you expected anything less from Tony Hawk 4, you're underestimating Neversoft's dedication to constantly improving the series with every new iteration. Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 sports everything Tony Hawk 3 sported, but takes it all to the next level. With larger landscapes, broader move set, flashy as hell flat land tricks, a much more immersive career mode, revamped online mode, great roster, even cleaner visuals, and more improvements, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 is a must buy PS2 title for the upcoming holiday season. It's got everything you want, and nothing you don't. And while the soundtrack is under whelming to someone like myself, I'm sure there are countless who'll eat it up. Regardless, Tony Hawk is back once again, and still retains every bit of its addictive nature as the past three have. This one's a keeper, no doubt about it.
Silver: Aggressive Inline
Bronze: Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2
Virtua Fighter 4 is arguably the best fighting game of all time. It's been since Soul Calibur that I've praised a fighting game this much, and not since Street Fighter 2 Turbo have I been addicted to a fighting game this much. Virtua Fighter 4 has conquered my expectations and has shaped up to be one of my all time favorite fighters. I admit to being a fan of the series, but I've never really herald it as much as I am now. It's not only the best looking fighter on the market, but it's the most intuitive, well-crafted and deepest.
Silver: Tekken 4
Bronze: Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance
First Person Shooter
In the end, the wait for Frontline was well worth it. The presentation is practically unparalleled with any other FPS title we've played, save of course Allied Assault. EA really makes you feel as if you're part of the war, and that you're not just playing another sci-fi first person shooter. This feels authentic, and legit -- to sum it up, "real". That is all of course thanks to the incredible attention to detail in graphics and gameplay, not to mention the surreal sound. First person shooter fans, this is a MUST HAVE game. A very recommended purchase, despites its few setbacks.
Silver: SOCOM: US Navy Seals
Bronze: TimeSplitters 2
Instead of aiming for nothing but technology crunching visuals, Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his team of 60 had a goal to create a bright and funky environment, that is cast by vector like wire-frame visuals with flat polygons; all in 3D. While Rez sounds like a simple looking game, its simplicity is in fact what makes it a pretty title. As you progress through the various stages, towards the conclusion of each one, you'll see wire-framed backgrounds based on Indian, Chinese, Egyptian and Mesopotamian designs, something I would've never imagined seeing in my gaming life. The screen is full of cool little special effects, and the visuals create a feeling of retro-gaming euphoria (Asteroids), while at the same time retaining the coveted awe factor. Perhaps screenshots and motion can best describe what Rez looks like. It's a psycadelic experience that the eyes will feast on, simple as that.
Silver: Contra: Shattered Soldier
Bronze: Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter
It took 4 years, but the Need for Speed franchise has finally been put back on its feet and planted in a new pot of soil. Hot Pursuit 2 does absolutely everything right. While it's not perfect, this is about as close to perfect you'll get with an arcade racer. NFS: HP2 is easily one of the finest racing games to ever grace a console, and in a genre dominated by Gran Turismo, that's saying a lot. We haven't had this much fun, joy, excitement, and an adrenaline rush with a racing title in a very long time. Visually, HP2 is a gorgeous game. Technical jargon aside, the game plays like everything we all wished for it to play like. The sense of speed doubles the whole experience, and without it the game wouldn't have been as fantastic as it is. Just look at the Xbox and GameCube versions, they are sub-par and boring titles because they have a very sluggish sense of speed, not to mention awkward visual presentation. By now, if you're not convinced that Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 is one of the finest titles of the year and on the PS2, then I don't know what else to say. Do not pass this game up. Run to your store right now and pick up a copy of Hot Pursuit 2, if you know what's good for you.
Silver: V-Rally 3
Bronze: WipeOut Fusion
All in all, Wild Arms 3 is a wallop of a game. It exudes the polish that so very RPGs have. With excellent graphics, incredible music, a well told story that is adventurous in every respect, interesting and fleshed out original characters, and solid battle system and difficulty to fit everyone's need, Wild Arms 3 has the makings of a classic game to be. It's already on this reviewer's top ten favorite RPGs of all time. Oh and did I mention there's a really kick ass animated opening with cool vocals?
Silver: Suikoden III
Bronze: Kingdom Hearts
...It's quite obvious that NFL 2K3 is marvelous all around game. Visually it has no peer, and gameplay wise Madden doesn't quite stand up. And while the Franchise mode isn't quite as deep as Madden's (but almost as), everything else completely rocks. NFL 2K3 is the football game you've been dreaming of since the technology of uber three-dimensional visuals have been created. The game has everything you've ever wanted from a pigskin sim, and perhaps more. The online mode is not time limited, so servers will not be shut down when NFL 2K4 hits shelves next summer. The commentary annihilates whatever Madden 2003 does, the controls are just spot on and present the ideal feel for the entire game. As a whole package, NFL 2K3 can't really get too much better. Perhaps, somewhere there is some room for improvement, but apparently, that space is too thin to slip a knife though.
Silver: Sega Sports Tennis
Bronze: High Heat Baseball 2003
1/15/2003 PSX Extreme Editorial Staff