Game Over Online ~ Giants: Citizen Kabuto

GameOver Game Reviews - Giants: Citizen Kabuto (c) Interplay, Reviewed by - Rebellion

Game & Publisher Giants: Citizen Kabuto (c) Interplay
System Requirements Windows, Pentium II-300, 64MB Ram, 550MB HDD, 3D Accelerator, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 88%
Date Published Monday, January 1st, 2001 at 08:11 AM

Divider Left By: Rebellion Divider Right

Giants: Citizen Kabuto has been one of the more covered games this year. Lots and lots of previews (heck even WE did a preview and we seldom do previews) and lots and lots of press and screenshots make it one of those hyped up games. Hype isn't always what the end product is, so that's why we here at GO like to put forth our opinion and see if they live up to expectations.

Planet Moon designed and developed G:CK and for those of you who don't know that developer, it's a good number of the boys and girls from Shiny that produced the original MDK. If that's any indication of exactly how this game is going to turn out, expect the unexpected, don't figure on everything being typical, and last of all, it better be funny.

G:CK is one of those games that mixes lots of genres into a single game. There are a lot of real-time strategy aspects that the game builds on, but the gameplay style focuses more on direct action. Unlike the typical RTS, where you have units galore, Giants is more focused on a small numbers of units. With the 3rd/1st person views and it's fast paced nature, it turns heavily into an action game.

The storyline is based on a rock hurling through space. Unlike most rocks hurtling through space, this one has oceans and islands and inhabitants. The three main species decide that they want the world all to themselves so they proceed to fight the others off. The Meccs are hotshot space boys who find the islands wandering through the galaxy. With their spaceship damaged, they're on the island looking for a way to get back home. The Sea Reapers are the original species of the islands. Some fine looking women that were chased into the seas by their own creation and the third species, the monster known as Kabuto.

This game is truly innovative in how it plays. Each species is so entirely different from the others that it's like playing an entirely different game. Playing as the Meccs felt so much like Tribes with the jetpacks and team-based strategies. With the emphasis placed on teammates and technology, G:CK gets started up quickly. You give orders to your squadmates and then get down and dirty with some heavy weapons. Interesting weapon designs take good ideas from other games and put them all together into what could almost be considered a FPS (or third person shooter depending on your view preference… it does both!) with some strategy.

Switching to the Sea Reapers, you're now more on the level of a game like Sacrifice or Wheel of Time (though this is a little too FPS) where spells take precedence over actual weapons. Rain down hail or throw a firewall at someone, while you pick down their health with bows and arrows, or summon up sea creatures to kick some ass for you. The strategies on the Sea Reaver side are more along the subversive side then the straight up aggressive tactics of the other two sides.

Kabuto is … well … one big ass dude. He doesn't need much help from others since he can eat basically anything that gets close enough to him. Once he gets powered up, he can lay some eggs and bring forth some demon spawn to go chew down the competition. Loaded with some moves straight out of the WWF, he's sure to lay the smack down. I don't really know what genre he's most like, because there's no resource management or base building involved for Kabuto.

Strategy basically revolves around the Smarties, another race inhabiting the islands that can supply your side with all your weapons and gadgets. He who controls the Smarties, controls his destiny, or something along those lines. Missions are very well designed, following a superb storyline chock full of actually good tongue-in-cheek humor. Of course, Planet Moon are the boys that originally did MDK so they do know what they're doing. Voice acting for the cutscenes (rendered in game) is excellent as are the animations. In addition, the ambient music is well fitting to the game and enhances the mood of G:CK. There are some really random boards as well. Sea Reapers have some boards that are just straight up jet-ski racing. Definitely doesn't fit with the rest of the game, but I'm not complaining because it's pretty fun.

There's no in game save in G:CK, so you play by the missions. This isn't nearly as bad as it sounds, as most of the missions are relatively short. One advantage is that everything you've built at your base is still there when you restart the mission. It helps make getting going again quick and painless. There's also no difficulty adjust, just one straight level. The difficulty is just about right though. One last issue is the enemy AI. Like most games, G:CK doesn't set any new standards with AI. For the most part, enemies are pretty stupid. Some nice things that do work properly are enemies heading for cover or running away when badly injured.

Screenshots are what really attracted me to G:CK and this is one area that carries a double-edged blade. If you're one of those hardcore gamers who are up to date on hardware, then this is one pretty game. However, if you're a couple generations behind (like me) then you're probably not going to be overly happy with the game. I've been playing on a TNT1 and a TNT2, both of which do not support bump mapping and I'm rather displeased by the graphical quality. I did also try this on my friend's Geforce 2 (I just received my own GF2 today!) with bump mapping and the game is superbly done. I guess Planet Moon skipped out on standard texturing and focused heavily on bump mapping because the landscape is just bland without it. Modeling in the game is also very good, even without a card capable of bump mapping. Most of your typical forms of 3D highlights made their way into G:CK, so there's very few details overlooked.

The game balance is very well done, but I realized early in multiplayer that when you play one-on-one, one side can't be Kabuto. He's just too powerful. In a full, ten- player game with all three sides, only one player gets to be Kabuto. This balances out the game perfectly. Before I forget, the three key races aren't just fighting amongst each other, there are also plenty of other creatures that want to take part in the action. I've heard some criticism on the stability of multiplayer with it crashing out, but I never actually experienced anything in the LAN games I was playing. There is a minor downside to the multiplayer due to the lack of a built in matchmaking service, so you'll have to resort to Gamespy or whatever else you use to find games.

Overall, G:CK is one of those games that should please most everyone. Unfortunately pleasing may come at a cost, a high-end video card and a fast computer. There's so much in this game that it'll remain entertaining to go back and replay some of the missions and then you can move along with the multiplayer. With the unique balance of the game, it should be a game for a memorable online experience. The gameplay differences between each species make this one of the most innovative games to come out in awhile.

Highs: Great innovation, superb graphics, and it's even funny

Lows: People on older systems won't get great performance, semi-buggy, poor AI, no difficulty settings, no in-game save, no multiplayer matchmaking


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