Diablo II

More than three years have passed since Diablo first appeared, and Blizzard has finally unleashed its sequel, Diablo II, upon the world. And though there is little argument that Diablo II is one of the most anticipated sequels in the history of computer games and that it will probably go on to become one of the best-selling games of all-time, there's still the matter of the game itself. Does it live up to its enormous hype? Does Diablo II deliver the kind of gameplay that warrants three years' worth of development? The short answer is yes--Diablo II is a blast to play. The long answer is that despite three years worth of development, Diablo II is Blizzard's buggiest game to date.


Yes, folks, it's finally here! After demonstrating incredible restraint, Blizzard held onto StarCraft until it was done, despite massive pressure from the gaming public--and probably from its own financial advisors as well. Of course, such a long development curve has resulted in StarCraft becoming one of the most hyped games in history. What this all boils down to, however, is this: As some of you read this review, you'll be looking for one word and one word only. One short little word--either two letters or three--that answers the question, "Is it as good as we've heard?"

Well, for those of you sitting tensed at your keyboard, ready to perhaps rush out to the software store, I will not torture you any longer. The answer is...yes. For all intents and purposes, StarCraft (SC) is a truly great real-time strategy game, and if you are a big fan of the genre then you shouldn't restrain yourself any further. Rush on out and grab a copy. On the other hand, if you are not a complete real-time fanatic, and were hoping that StarCraft might represent some sort of stride forward, you might want to keep reading.

FIFA 2001

Year after year, the FIFA series has delivered consistent and innovative gameplay, stellar graphics, and enough features to please any die-hard soccer fan. The series has always taken chances (it was the first EA Sports title to incorporate 3D graphics and gameplay), but it always seems overshadowed by the latest Madden, NBA, Triple Play, and NHL titles. Regardless, EA has, for the most part, always gotten it right, and there have been a few years in which FIFA was the best sports game going, period--though this was not the case with last year's edition. Thankfully, FIFA 2001 is packed with streamlined graphics, tight play control, and a laundry list of features; while not perfect, it falls just short of NHL 2001 as the best sports game we've seen this year.

Metal Gear

When Metal Gear Solid came out for the PlayStation three years ago, many hailed it as the greatest PlayStation game of all time. A little over a year later, an expansion pack--VR Missions--was released to a still eager public. When word broke that Microsoft would be bringing the game to the PC, anticipation was high, though some were skeptical. While console ports have a rough history in the minds of PC gamers, MGS thankfully avoids many missteps. However, the game is still trapped by the legacy of the PlayStation.

Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn

Released in late 1998, the original Baldur's Gate was an immediate classic that translated the incredible depth and detail of an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons pen-and-paper RPG into an addictive and exciting computer game. In the almost two years since developer BioWare and publisher Interplay's game hit shelves, we've seen Interplay's in-house developer Black Isle Studios crank out two similar games, Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale, plus a BG expansion pack, Tales of the Sword Coast. BioWare has now retaken the developer reins to successfully reinvent the wheel with this, its long-awaited, full-blown sequel, Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn.

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