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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 13:43 GMT
Guts, glory and a bit of horror
By Neil McGreevey
BBC

Neil McGreevey goes all gooey over the latest horror-themed and beat-em-up titles.

All these games are for more mature gamers - please check the ratings.

THE WARRIORS (ROCKSTAR)

Screenshot of The Warriors
Format: PS2, Xbox
Graphics - 7
Sound - 8
Gameplay - 8
Enduring Appeal - 8
Overall - 8
When your first duty in a game is to thump a tramp who has been paid in sweet, sweet booze to take a pounding, you know you are in for something out of the ordinary.

And so begins Rockstar's The Warriors, based on Walter Hill's cult slice of 1979 celluloid that even today conjures a chilling vision of the, erm, past.

Taking its cue from the pulpy gang flick, players must guide The Warriors - street thugs wrongly accused of killing a rival boss - across New York to their own turf, beating up the armies of gangs that get in their way.

Brimming with lurid violence, the Rockstar Toronto developed beat 'em up depicts urban gang warfare long before rap, with leather waistcoats and Tony Danza bouffants replacing Kappa tracksuits and hoodies.

The result plays out like GTA on foot, but with a level of gritty violence that's never troubled the streets of Vice City.

While a lot of your time is spent looting and spray-painting rival tags, the essence of The Warriors is in its bone-crunching combat.

And the game truly nails it. Visually, The Warriors is beefy and beautiful, while the brilliantly moody synth music is like the best soundtrack John Carpenter never composed.

Even the voice-work reeks of care and attention, with many of the original cast lending their pipes to the proceedings.

Without a doubt this is the movie to game effort to which all others should be judged - even if most players are too young to remember the source material in the first place.

RESIDENT EVIL 4 (CAPCOM)

Screenshot of Resident Evil 4
Format: PS2
Graphics - 8
Sound - 7
Gameplay - 9
Enduring Appeal - 7
Overall - 8
While it was arguably this year's greatest game, the fact that Resident Evil 4 was exclusive to GameCube meant it did not quite get the wide exposure it should have.

Now Capcom's slick zombie-buster finally lands on a console with mass appeal, bringing the greatest instalment in the survival horror saga to PlayStation 2.

Resident Evil 4 is simply the single best survival horror ever made, trouncing even the Silent Hill series for raw, visceral thrills.

Your enemies this time are no longer the shambling excuses for the undead that populated previous games, groaning like excited pensioners.

Set some years after the Umbrella experiment was closed down, Leon Kennedy is on the trail of the President's daughter, tracking her to a corpse-riddled European village where the locals are showing some frighteningly dubious symptoms.

Infected with a new strain of the T-virus, the rotting rednecks are angry, fast and deadly. Like velociraptors in denim slacks, these hicks can pack-hunt - communicating with each other by screaming and whistling through their remaining teeth.

True, the controls do not compare to the divine GameCube interface, and the visuals are not quite as sharp as on the Nintendo machine, but a slew of bonus features and different paths keep things feeling fresh.

MORTAL KOMBAT: SHAOLIN MONKS (MIDWAY)

Screenshot of Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks
Format: PS2, Xbox
Graphics - 7
Sound - 7
Gameplay - 7
Enduring Appeal - 7
Overall - 7
Famous for its gut-wrenching fighting and bad spelling, the Mortal Kombat series is rather proud of its low-brow appeal, delivering a dollop of violence and not much else.

Shaolin Monks has fight-fans playing as either Liu Kang or Kung Lao, entering a quest that explores their backgrounds as they progress through the game.

Although given that Mortal Kombat has always been about kicking all manner of bottoms, I am not entirely sure who would want to explore its mythology.

But the game offers its fair amount of guts and gore. Melting enemies in acid, impaling them on spikes or simply hanging them from meat-hooks are all on offer here. And Shaolin Monks features Mutalities that can unleash a room-clearing wave of destruction, and Brutalities, which really are nasty.

As an added bonus, fans can revisit classic stages from the original Mortal Kombat games in 3D.

It is just like hanging out in a 1992 arcade again, sans the basenotes of Special Brew. While Shaolin Monks is neither big nor clever, it is pretty to look at, controls well and delivers a visceral jolt of pleasure to the killing centre of the brain.




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