Chase The Express
PlayStation – 2000
I’ll describe this as being like “Resident Evil on a train” but that’s not really the whole true. Spread across two discs, you take control of a NATO agent as he tries to fight off terrorists and rescue the Ambassador and his family. It utilises tank controls and has some decent puzzles that can lead to multiple endings. It also has some files you can pick up to help you with these puzzles. I got stuck on the easiest puzzle when I was younger because I decided to ignore the files left around the train. The game-play itself is what you’d expect from tank controls, slow and clunky at times, but it does have an auto targeting mechanic that makes shootouts a bit easier. The graphics are typical of the PlayStation, i.e they haven’t aged well (especially the cutscenes), but it is nothing too grating, especially compared to the earlier PlayStation games. The game also features voice acting, which is well done if nothing special. The game also has some replayability outside of the multiple endings as you can experience a certain part of the game as another character. It is worth picking up to experience as it is a fun action game that may have been overlooked on a console that had Die Hard Arcade, Metal Gear Solid and Syphon Filter. Oh, and it’s called Covert Ops: Nuclear Dawn in North America.
Xbox – 2005
At a time when EA Sports seemed to be making games based on every sport around (except GAA!), they brought us a decent rugby simulator. You could take part is several different tournaments, including the World Cup, Six Nations, Tri Nations and a fictional World League for club competition. Most teams have their official kits, especially the bigger nations. However, some of the smaller teams will have generic kits which is a bit disappointing considering there isn’t as much choice compared to FIFA. Game-play is solid, allowing you to move the ball quickly between your players. The game hasn’t aged well graphically (similar to the PlayStation 2 FIFAs) but the gameplay is still solid. This is helped by having directional passing mapped to different buttons. This means that you can quickly recycle the ball across the pitch to build up phases. The commentary is well done. It does has some repetition but it adds to the experience. The game also features a mandatory tutorial to help you get to grips with the game when you first boot it up. I’d recommend trying this if you’re a rugby fan as there isn’t a whole lot of choice available.
Xbox 360 – 2007
Eternal Sonata is strange concept. Based on the final few hours of famed Polish pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin’s life, the game sees you escort the musician through a magical world. The world itself is heavily influenced by music, from the combat styles to the art designs. Combat wise, the game is very similar to the Tales of series. It is an action RPG hybrid where battles take places in a set arena. The arena itself utilises light and darkness which must be taken in to account when battle enemies. For example, certain enemies will morph and become stronger in the shade. The characters themselves are charming and have distinct combat styles. The characters themselves have their own strengths and weaknesses in battle and you have to take these into account when building your team for the end game. There is a bonus dungeon you can explore to unlock an extra character and it’s an excellent to grind for the final boss battle. The game does have New Game+mode (dubbed “Encore” mode) that allows you to acquire unique items and offers a more difficult challenge. I played the Xbox 360 version but there is a PlayStation 3 version that has some extra content and tweaked difficulty.