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PC Game Review: Giants – Citizen Kabuto

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Giants is the eagerly awaited 3rd person shooter/building game from MacPlay. This stunning looking game has all the appearances of a classic game, until you truly get into the game that is. Starting with the fact that the game did not include multiplayer, although prominently advertised on the box – it is necessary to actually have bought the game before discovering a sheet of paper that says they are working on the multiplayer patch, a quirk that somewhat violates the UK Consumer Protection Acts. With that said the download is a relatively simple operation, advertised as only 4 Megabytes, yet is actually 12 Megabytes. Gameranger, the Macintosh online gaming service, is included on the Giants CD set.

In Giants you play 3 different races all vying for control of an a series of islands. These three races do not get along with each other, or there would be no game. You, the player must play each race in a specific order beginning with the ‘Meccs’ (Meccaryns)- a bunch of cockney space adventurers stranded en route to Planet Majorca, Sea Reapers and lastly, but by no means least, Kabuto a gigantic ape-like monster created by the Sea Reapers to help dispose of the indigenous Smartey population. Each race has its own particular skills and tricks.

Meccs use an array of heavy weaponry and jetpacks or gyrocopters to get around, Sea Reapers use magic, swords, an assortment of lethal bows and a jet ski. Indeed part of the Sea Reaper plot involves a series of jet ski races. Why these sort of levels are in a third /first person shoot ’em up I have no idea. That said, once you get the hang of it, it can be rather fun if a tad frustrating. Throughout these levels you are guided and assisted by various Smarties with a bewildering variety of accents, ranging from Highland Scottish, through Australian to ‘Yan the Samurai Smartey’ (Japanese, of course). Eventually you reach the Kabuto levels. Kabuto eats just about everything (eating smarties allows him to create Kabuto offspring who you can control to kill or bring him more food) and breaks things in a style that will appeal to WWF followers. Kabuto is by far the least exciting of the characters to play and this section of the game becomes rather tedious quickly. In both Meccs and Reapers it is necessary to construct and maintain bases. Base building can be fun and adds an RTS element to the normal 3rd person shooter fare. It does get slightly repetitive in the Sea Reapers levels (ski-race, base building & repeat ad nauseum), but will put you in good stead for the multiplayer aspect of the game.

Visually the game looks pretty good, but at a price. The game has high requirements to run at all smoothly. While it is possible to tone the game down, that does sort of kill one of the better aspects to the game. Almost everything in the game blows up rather nicely, so trees, buildings and walls all go boom when you hit them. Many of the explosions in the game are fairly spectacular as are some of the weather elements. The weapons for the Meccs are fairly standard, and get bigger as you progress. The sniper rifle is one of the better weapons and one of the more powerful. Once you gather some of your comrades in arms, a full onslaught from your group can take out many an edifice, or group of hostiles. It is a shame it is not possible to equip your Meccs with better weapons, although one nice feature is that it is possible to repair your fellows once you get a certain distance in the Mecc levels. Goodies are acquired via Gift Shops that scattered around the islands that serve as a storage area, limited medic and replenishment station during your adventures. You are not immune while in a shop however, so it is a good idea to kill all the bad guys before entering one.

I would be amiss if I did not mention the level of humor in the game. It is distinctly British in outlook and there are many an “in-gag” that would not be understood by those without a British sense of the absurd. The Reaper Guards all speak with a German accent, Kabuto sounds like a really angry drunken Scot on a rampage (growling) and the arch villain of the game is obviously French. The cutscenes are funny for the most part although a few can get a bit tiring after the first few times. Fortunately you can skip them by hitting the escape key. There is a fair amount of swearing in the game – naturally it has been censored, like the originally naked breasts on Delphi the Sea Reaper and the substitution of green blood for red. Regarding Multiplayer the game, surprisingly enough, works very well on even 56k modems. It has to be said that Mecc battles are most common as they are the simplest and thus lend themselves to online play best. There is no facility to play Sea Reaper jet-skis as there was with the hover-bikesin Sin, for example. This is a great shame as it would be great fun in multiplayer. Be warned however that Giants online is not a short game, like Quake II, III or Unreal Tournament. Those who have to pay for local calls wish to be a bit wary of getting involved in online games. What is odd is that a game that shines in multiplayer was released without the one capability that makes the game really worthwhile.

Now to the known problems. Several of the major problems reported by PC users seem to have been directly ported to the Macintosh version including the loss of preferences. It is odd that although the game allows multiple identities, it is not possible to have individual settings of your preferences. Another frustrating aspect of this is that everyone using the game will have access to have all the levels gained by anyone who has played the game. Controls are not made very clear, it is necessary to thoroughly read the manual in order to play the game correctly. Jet packs in the game just refuse to work at times for no reason at all. There are sound problems with 10.1.3 where there are occasionally no voices in the cut-scenes. With all this stated the worse ‘problem’ appears to be a lack of ending to the game (the sound files are ok but the end scene movie does not appear to be there).

From what I have been able to piece together from PC sites the actual plot after the Sea Reaper levels seems to have been almost completely messed up Delphi supposedly grabs the gem that summons Kabuto from her mother and transforms into a Kabuto, leading into the Kabuto levels and accounting for the last level of the game. All in all the game has great potential but bugs, the dishonesty about multiplayer and the repetition of some of the levels let the side down. This is a game with a Message on, and that message is: beware of false advertising.

It is pretty good fun multiplayer but the single player gets rather boring rather quickly. Giants is a seriously mixed bag and one that needs a bit of thought before purchase.

(*** out of *****)

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