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The new games people play

Soumik Sen | April 10, 2004

Is your child a couch potato addicted to videogames? Should you drag him or her kicking and screaming away from the flickering computer screen? Believe it or not, there's now a way children can stay in front of the computer screen and get their exercise at the same time.

The new game, which forces children to stay active while they stay glued to the screen is the Sony PlayStation's Eye Toy. This is one of the latest of the new generation of videogames that are constantly being churned out by the endlessly inventive games manufacturers.

The EyeToy includes motion-tracking technology that allows gamers to project their own image -- using an EyeToy USB Camera that plugs into one of the PS2's two USB ports and which records the outline of their bodies -- onto a television screen, positioning themselves as the lead characters of their own games. Once that's done they've got to keep moving to avoid imaginary fists, bullets, bombs or whatever else the game happens to throw at them.

The EyeToy contains 12 minigames that allow gamers to project their own image and make sure that their hand-eye co-ordination is of absolutely top quality. For instance, to knock out your opponents in games such as Boxing Chump and Kung Foo, you don't need any complicated cursor controls. Instead, you keep moving your bare hands and legs!

The EyeToy is still fresh out of the gaming studios and hasn't become a favourite with aficionados yet. But traditional PC and Playstation games are getting slicker all the time. We take a look at some of the most exciting additions to the computer room.

It all began when Sony decided to upgrade its Playstation to the second level, with its unique 'emotion engine' chip which combines gravity, friction and environmental elements like fire and snow to provide accurate physical simulations and high resolution 3D graphics.

Also, the inclusion of Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS sound provides the surround sound to perfect the interactive experience. While PS2 can also act as a DVD player, it also allows the user to access online games using its Network Adapter.

Its not only about kickboxing, wrestling (the WWE RAW game priced at Rs 999 is a huge hit) and speed -- the sophisticated games of today follow film franchises like never before. The Star Wars Jedi Academy (Rs 1,499), for example is a game that allows the user to construct his own lightsabre, go through various levels and be the next Luke Skywalker! Charlie's Angels, Lilo and Stitch, the Hulk, Buffy, Spiderman and Scooby Doo are all waiting to jump into your hard drive from the theatres.

It isn't only mindless, violent recreation. The very impressive rail Road Tycoon (Rs 999), is the perfect way to practice becoming a business czar. The game allows the user to establish rail lines, networks, haul cargo and amass fortunes by monopolising industries, manipulating stock markets and defeating opponents by bankrupting them.

Alternatively, there's PC game Sim City 2000 (Rs 199) which allows you to develop a plot of land into an industrial/residential complex and cope with problems dealing with crime, health, traffic while managing a budget, press ridicule and staving off coup attempts.

And if you are a soccer freak, the Total Club Manager 2004 (Rs 1,299) allows you to have stars like Nistelrooy and Henry in your team.

Of course, for gamers who believe in battlefield action -- the classic Unreal Tournament (Rs 1,499) is an all time favourite, that lets the user combat in the futuristic arena, study maps, hunt and kill fellow gamers over a LAN.

Most of the games can also be played on your PC, but it has to be a powerful one (ideally, a P3+ equivalent microprocessor) for best results.

There's one thing to remember about the gaming industry. As microprocessors become faster and sound features become more advanced, the games wizards have to constantly create new software that keeps pace with these new developments. So while the earliest version of Prince of Persia had jittery 2D movements, in the latest bestseller you have the virtues of surround sound, shadow play and morphing characters besides story lines that have developed over time (like movie sequels) to give a totally new experience.

Bestsellers

  • Prince of Persia Sands of Time
    Drawn to the dark powers of a magic dagger, you lead the Prince to unleash a deadly evil upon the Sultan's evil kingdom - Rs 1,299

  • Max Payne 2: The fall of Max Payne
    The second instalment where you play New York City detective, Max. It's action all the way, with even a love angle thrown in - Rs 2,999

  • Call of Duty
    Set during the WW2 era, play as part of a well-trained squad that lays down covering fire and pulls its wounded to safety -Rs 1,499

  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
    The 'For-Adults' rated vehicular action game involves stealing cars, riding bikes, partying in nightclubs and shooting down mobsters -Rs 2,999

  • Enter the Matrix
    Carrying forward the success of The Matrix franchise, with dodge bullets, kung-fu style action and actual footage from the movie - Rs 999[PC version]/ Rs2,999 [PS2]

  • Commandos 3: Destination Berlin
    Control commandos and lead them to victory while trying to stop escaping Nazis or swimming into a harbour to sabotage boats -Rs 1,299

  • Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell
    This game redefined the Stealth Action Genre where you play Sam Fisher, a secret agent -Rs 1,499[ PC version]/Rs 2,999[ PS2]

  • Delta Force: Black Hawk Down
    Based on Ridley Scott's movie; participate in the Delta Force raids against Somali warlords -Rs 1,299

  • Republic: Revolution
    In Novistrana, where Communism has fallen, unrest grows, and small political cells promise an alternative. Each must fight not only the state, but its fledging opponents as well -Rs 1,499

  • Terminator 3: War of the Machines
    You play Arnie. Kill anything and everything that comes your way . And hopefully 'you'll be back' once your son finishes his turn -Rs 999



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