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Greatest hit or miss?

Enter the Matrix


Released: May 2003

Original Scores: 6.0, 3.5, 3.5

Exclusive movie excerpts expand the Matrix mythos and might make this stinker worthwhile for some pervs (Niobe and Persephone lock lips in one scene), but the blue pill of glitchy, bug-ridden gameplay should bring ’em back to reality.

Jak and Daxter Vs. Ratchet & Clank

One features a wisecracking protagonist with a deadpan sidekick, and the other a deadpan protagonist with a wisecracking sidekick. But which pair of platforming heroes hops the highest and bops the hardest?

Trend Spotting

More war games are eschewing World War II Europe for modern Middle Eastern settings, but is the trend too close to reality for comfort? Yes and no. Where Full Spectrum Warrior captures the valor and sacrifice of combat, low-caliber crap like Fugitive Hunter cashes in on today’s headlines with half-assed gameplay.

Full Spectrum Warrior

(Xbox) 8.0, 7.0, 8.0

Shadow Ops: Red Mercury

(Xbox) 4.0, 4.5, 4.0

Fugitive Hunter

(PlayStation 2) Not reviewed, but it sucks

Conflict: Desert Storm II

(PS2/XB) 5.5, 4.0, 6.0

Soul Calibur II


Released: September 2003

Original Scores: 10, 9.0, 10

Some games you play when you can find the time, others you rearrange your life around. With its sweaty-palmed swordplay and crisp, detailed graphics, Soul Calibur II is clearly among the latter. Already own it? At 20 clams, now’s your chance to try out the other console-specific characters like Spawn (Xbox) and Link (GC).


Alias PS2/XB Clever disguises can’t conceal crappy gameplay 5.0 5.5 4.5

All-Star Baseball 2005 PS2/XB Take us out to the ball game...just not this one 5.5 4.5 6.0

American Idol PS2 The only button you need to press is on your console 1.5 2.0 1.0

Amped 2 XB The Tony Hawk of snowboarding, complete with snow skating 8.0 8.0 9.0 Silver

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II PS2/XB Ho-hum hack-n-slash. Now that’s a role you don’t wanna play 7.0 4.5 5.0

Breakdown XB You can practically feel the impacts in this first-person brawler 8.5 8.5 7.0 Silver

Bujingai: The Forsaken City PS2 Your average martial arts actioner, but with 100 percent more Japanese rock stars 4.5 6.0 7.5

Champions of Norrath: Realms of EQ PS2 More about slaying orcs than socializing with dorks 8.5 8.0 8.5 Silver

The Chronicles of Riddick XB With gameplay this good, a life sentence isn’t long enough 9.0 8.0 9.0 Silver

Colin McRae Rally 04 XB Rev your engines for 04’s top-notch handling and wicked terrain 8.5 8.0 8.5 Silver

Crash Nitro Kart PS2/XB/GC For roadside assistance, call 1-800-BUY-MARIO-KART 5.5 6.0 5.5

Crimson Sea 2 PS2 Space runs red with bug blood when Dynasty Warriors goes sci-fi 8.0 7.0 6.5

Custom Robo GC Robo battling is solid, but what’s with the shallow pseudo-RPG stuff? 6.5 6.0 8.0

Cy Girls PS2 Progress-impeding puzzles will make you feel like the butt of a bad blonde joke 7.0 5.0 5.0

Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix XB Lose pounds and prepare for the prom 8.5 8.0 7.0

Dead Man’s Hand XB Find out how the West was dumb in this oddball first-person shooting gallery 6.5 5.0 4.5

Destruction Derby Arenas PS2 Even crash-test dummies would yawn at this wreckage 4.5 3.5 6.0

Drakengard PS2 A strange blend of Panzer Dragoon, Dynasty Warriors, and incest 7.5 7.0 3.5

DRIV3R PS2/XB Driver meets Grand Theft Auto, and somehow an “e” becomes a “3” 8.5 7.5 6.5

Dynasty Tactics 2 PS2 Think Dynasty Warriors with complex strategy and none of the hack-n-slash action 7.5 7.5 7.5

EA Sports Fight Night 2004 PS2/XB EA returns to the ring under a new name and registers a knockout 8.5 9.0 8.0 Silver

ESPN College Hoops PS2/XB Fouls out for playing too much like a pro baller 6.5 7.5 6.5

ESPN Major League Baseball PS2/XB If MVP is this season’s Yankees, then sadly, ESPN is its BoSox 8.0 8.5 7.5 Silver

ESPN NHL Hockey PS2/XB The reigning Cup champ 8.5 9.0 9.0 Silver

EverQuest Online Adventures: Frontiers PS2 Doesn’t the front lawn constitute a new frontier for Evercrack-heads? 6.5 6.0 7.0

EyeToy: Groove PS2 Don’t let looking like a displaying ape stop you 8.0 8.0 7.0

Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel PS2/XB Repetitive critter hunting in a watered-down wasteland 4.0 4.5 4.0

Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly PS2 Combating poltergeists with a Polaroid is scarier than it sounds 7.5 7.5 6.5

FIFA Soccer 2004 PS2/XB/GC Responsive, intricate controls, but FIFA’s our second fave after Winning Eleven 7.5 9.0 8.0 Silver

Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles GC Charming RPG romp works best with three friends along for the GBA-linked-up ride 8.0 8.0 8.0 Silver

Final Fantasy XI PS2 A monstrous MMORPG that’ll consume your life. ADD types need not apply 8.5 8.5 8.5 Silver

Firefighter F.D. 18 PS2 Fight fires, fireman-hating robots, and trial-and-error gameplay 6.5 6.0 4.0

Front Mission 4 PS2 You’ll need to be smart to figure out this deep mech-strategy game 8.0 8.0 8.0 Silver

Full Spectrum Warrior XB A war-winning coalition of gritty graphics and tactical gameplay 8.0 7.0 8.0

Future Tactics: The Uprising PS2/XB/GC Unattractive, uninspired, and woefully unfunny bargain-basement strategy trifle 4.0 4.5 6.0

Galactic Wrestling: Feat. Ultimate Muscle PS2 A bare-bones feature set makes this Muscle worth flexing only as a rental 5.5 5.5 5.0

Harry Potter and the Pris. of Azkaban PS2/XB/GC Control Harry and pals in this charming yet simple Zelda rip-off for the preschool set 7.0 6.5 6.0

Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup PS2/XB/GC Schoolboys hop aboard broomsticks and play whizzing, wizardly full-contact rugby 7.5 7.5 6.5

Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life GC Would you really have more fun watching the grass grow? Find out 6.5 6.5 7.0

Hitman: Contracts PS2/XB n Money grows on trees when you cut throats to rake leaves 8.0 7.5 8.5 Silver

James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing PS2/XB/GC More gadgets and a better story than any of the recent flicks 8.0 8.5 8.5 Silver

Karaoke Revolution Volume 2 PS2 Medleys, more songs to butcher, and a streamlined interface 8.5 8.5 8.5 Silver

La Pucelle: Tactics PS2 Deep strategy-RPG gameplay you’ll love, with childish characters you’ll despise 7.5 8.5 8.0 Silver

The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adv. GC Zelda teaches Link a little somethin’ about four-play in this old-school adventure 8.5 9.0 8.0 Silver

Lethal Skies II PS2 Crashes and burns 3.0 5.5 4.0

Links 2004 XB The rest of the PGA can’t compete with Tiger 6.5 7.5 6.5

LifeLine PS2 Wanna play Resident Evil again, using speech recognition that doesn’t really work? 4.5 4.5 4.0

Lowrider PS2 Won’t make you wanna bounce 5.0 5.5 2.0

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King PS2/XB/GC Get hackin’ in this beautiful beat-em-up 8.5 8.5 8.0 Silver

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King GBA Legolas gets shrunk to Keebler size, and your girlfriend still thinks he’s hot 7.0 6.0 7.5

Mafia PS2/XB Jack jalopies and outdrive thugs in this glitchy 1930s gangster game 6.0 5.0 7.5

Magic: The Gathering—Battlegrounds XB The cards say you need a life 4.0 4.5 4.0

Manhunt PS2 Rockstar’s latest effort to keep the ESRB around 7.0 6.5 7.0

Mario Golf Advance Tour GBA Play with your putter on the bus—without getting arrested for once 9.5 8.5 8.5 Silver

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga GBA A polished, thoroughly enjoyable adventure in the same vein as Paper Mario 9.0 8.5 9.0 Silver

Mario Kart: Double Dash!! GC Cooperative driving spells pure, unfiltered fun 10 10 9.5 Gold

Mario Party 5 GC Nintendo’s pair of plumbers are no party crashers 8.0 8.0 8.0 Silver

Mario vs. Donkey Kong GBA The plumber and big ape clash again in this good, but not great, platformer/puzzler 7.0 7.5 7.5

Maximo vs. Army of Zin PS2 Battle battalions of creaky robots who—like Wizard of Oz’s tin man—have no heart 6.0 6.0 7.0

Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne PS2/XB Slow-mo bloodshed at its hard-boiled best 8.0 8.0 8.5 Silver

Medal of Honor: Rising Sun PS2/XB/GC Pro tip: Don’t touch that tempting mounted machine gun 5.5 5.0 5.5

Mega Man Anniversary Collection PS2 This quality compendium is well worth it, but only for old fans 8.0 8.0 7.0

Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes GC n A solid if uninspired update of the PlayStation stealth-action classic 8.0 9.0 8.5 Silver

Metal Slug 3 XB Fantastic but frustrating 2D side-scroller for the nimble fingered 7.5 6.5 8.0

Metroid Zero Mission GBA Own this souped-up remake of she-warrior Samus Aran’s first mission or face ridicule 9.5 9.0 9.0 Gold

MLB 2005 PS2 A quick trip to the minors has made MLB a title contender again 7.0 7.0 7.0

MLB SlugFest: Loaded PS2/XB Midway’s slugger nearly clears the fences with its burning arcade play 8.0 7.0 8.0

MTX: Mototrax PS2/XB Poor handling has our bike stuck in the mud. Wait, that doesn’t smell like mud 6.0 6.5 5.5

MX Unleashed PS2/XB Realistic dirt racing minus the damn cleaning bills 8.0 8.0 8.0 Silver

MVP Baseball 2004 PS2/XB/GC Like the Bronx Bombers’, MVP’s new additions will excite all baseball fans 8.5 8.0 8.5 Silver

NBA Ballers PS2/XB Midway’s one-on-one baller has the skillz to pay the billz (or something like that) 8.0 8.0 8.0 Silver

NCAA Football 2005 PS2/XB/GC Subtle but oh-so-effective improvements make NCAA Heisman worthy 9.0 9.5 9.0 Gold

NCAA March Madness 2004 PS2/XB The only thing missing from this college hoopster is rioting coeds 8.0 8.0 8.0 Silver

NFL Blitz Pro PS2/XB/GC A Madden-like face-lift puts Blitz firmly back in the playoff race 7.0 7.0 6.0

NFL Fever 2004 XB Scant franchise options keep Fever warming the bench 6.5 6.5 6.0

NFL Street PS2/XB/GC Playground (or is it prison?) rules football; best played with friends 8.5 8.0 9.0 Silver

NHL 2004 PS2/XB/GC Wild checking makes hockey look like a bar fight; dynasty mode scores a hat trick 8.5 6.5 7.0

NHL Hitz Pro PS2/XB/GC Like a porn star’s assets, Hitz isn’t exactly realistic, but it’s sure fun to play with 7.5 8.5 8.0 Silver

NHL Rivals 2004 XB Our referees slap Rivals with a five-minute major for sucking 3.5 4.0 6.5

Nightshade PS2 3 Ninjas Kick Back on a scale of ninja-tude 6.0 5.5 5.0

Ninja Gaiden XB Swordplay so sweet that you’ll break out the split-toe slip-ons 9.5 9.5 9.5 Gold

Onimusha 3: Demon Siege PS2 The soul-sucking series finale has us screaming “Vive la France!” 8.5 7.0 9.0 Silver

Onimusha Blade Warriors PS2 Think Super Smash Bros. (GC) with Bushido instead of butt stomping 7.0 7.0 7.5

Phantasy Star Online: Episode III GC As deep and addictive as real-life card games, but without all that geeky cardboard 9.0 8.0 9.0 Silver

Pitfall: The Lost Expedition PS2/XB/GC Maybe—just maybe—it should have stayed lost 6.5 5.0 5.5

Pokémon Channel GC Good God, change the channel! 3.5 2.0 6.0

Pokémon Colosseum GC Story mode injects some life into this otherwise mediocre Poké-battler 7.0 5.0 7.0

Project Gotham Racing 2 XB Xbox’s best and most fun racer (well, along with RalliSport 2) 9.5 9.5 9.5 Gold

Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy PS2/XB n Better than bullet time, Psi-Ops’ brain powers are mind blowing 8.0 7.5 7.5

R: Racing Evolution PS2/XB/GC Not much of a racer, but the ladies look lovely 6.5 6.0 4.5

RalliSport Challenge 2 XB Who knew driving in Sweden could be so much fun? 9.0 9.0 9.0 Gold

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando PS2 A veritable cavalcade of platforming, shooting, space faring, and comedic hijinks 8.5 9.5 9.5 Gold

Red Dead Revolver PS2/XB Guess we skipped the history lesson about the fat cowboy in a dynamite suit 6.0 4.5 4.0

Resident Evil Outbreak PS2 Raccoon City is more like Silent Hill when you can’t speak with other players 5.5 6.5 7.0

Rise to Honor PS2 Tap-tap your right analog stick in this repetitive brawler with 360-degree combat 6.5 6.5 6.0

R-Type Final PS2 Remind your thumbs of yesterday with this fun throwback to ’90s shooters 8.5 8.0 8.0 Silver

Samurai Jack: The Shadow of Aku PS2/XB/GC This samurai’s game is better than expected...but still can’t beat the cartoon 6.0 7.0 5.5

Samurai Warriors PS2 The series hasn’t been there (Japan), but it’s done that (skewer oodles of swordsmen) 7.0 6.5 7.5

Sega GT Online XB Runs a good race, but can’t keep pace with RalliSport and Project Gotham Racing 2 8.5 8.5 8.5 Silver

Serious Sam: Next Encounter PS2/GC Never take your finger off the trigger in this dumb but fun first-person shooter 6.5 7.0 5.0

Seven Samurai 20XX PS2 See hari-kari 3.5 3.5 4.0

Shadow Ops: Red Mercury XB War is hell—but still preferable to this modern-day, cliché-ridden first-person shooter 4.0 4.5 4.0

Shining Force: Res. of the Dark Dragon GBA Addictive tactical RPG, but still a few steps shy of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 8.0 8.0 7.5

Shrek 2 PS2/XB/GC Made for the kiddies, but a fun four-player fairy tale all the same 7.5 6.0 5.0

Siren PS2 Battle hayseed zombies in this Silent Hill clone that’s more convoluted than creepy 5.0 7.0 4.0

Smash Court Tennis Pro Tournament 2 PS2 Smash may not look as good as Kournikova, but hey, it plays better 7.0 8.0 8.0

Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow XB The ultimate stealth game with revolutionary two-on-two online multiplayer... 10 9.5 9.5 Gold

Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow PS2 ...gets a little chopped up on PS2, but non-Xboxers won’t even notice 9.0 9.0 9.5 Gold

Splinter Cell Pandora Tomorrow GBA Packs the stealth gameplay of the big-console version but none of the fun 4.5 5.0 4.5

SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs PS2 This is one online war we hope never sees a cease in hostilities 9.0 9.0 9.5 Gold

Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy XB Another bland Star Wars third-person action game? Time to drop out 6.0 6.5 3.0

Steel Battalion: Line of Contact XB This ultradeep robo sim’s horrible interface and laggy play need an overhaul 5.0 5.5 4.5

The Suffering PS2/XB Midway’s inmate could’ve benefited from a few more months of rehabilitation 6.5 6.0 6.5

Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain PS2 Low-fever shoot-em-up contaminated by foul controls 6.5 6.5 5.0

Tales of Symphonia GC Solid adventure with a dippy plot, but RPG-starved Cube kids won’t mind 8.5 7.5 8.5 Silver

Thief: Deadly Shadows XB Adjust your TV set in this too-dark game of grand theft bauble set in medieval times 7.0 7.0 8.5

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 PS2/XB/GC As hot as Tiger’s bride-to-be. Well, almost 9.0 9.0 9.5 Gold

TOCA Race Driver 2 XB Every form of racing devised by man...what? No mud bogging? #$@! this noise 8.5 8.5 8.0 Silver

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3 XB Ol’ Clancy’s Rainbow is one of Xbox’s sharpest shooters... 9.0 7.5 9.0 Silver

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3 PS2 ...too bad the dumbed-down PS2 version misses the mark 5.0 6.0 6.0

Top Spin XB Microsoft steps up to the service line and nails an ace with Top Spin 9.0 9.0 9.0 Gold

Transformers PS2 Carriers that change into mile-high robots? Doesn’t get much cooler than that 8.0 7.5 7.5

UFC: Sudden Impact PS2 There comes a point in every fighter’s career when it’s time to hang it up 6.0 4.5 4.0

Unreal II: The Awakening XB Blast a motley assortment of aliens with a motley assortment of weaponry 7.0 6.5 6.5

Van Helsing PS2/XB Van doesn’t mind biting Devil May Cry so long as he can stick it to the count 7.0 6.5 6.0

WarioWare, Inc.: Mega Party Game$ GC Single player stinks of a quick cash in—split the bill with four friends 8.0 6.5 7.0

Way of the Samurai 2 PS2 The way of the warrior presents plenty of branching paths, but they’re all kinda boring 6.0 5.5 5.0

Winning Eleven 7 PS2 Soccer action more intense than a David Beckham–Posh Spice embrace 9.5 8.5 8.5 Silver

World Tour Soccer 2005 PS2 Receives a yellow card for its unresponsive controls and shallow gameplay options 6.5 5.0 4.5

WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain PS2 Of course, it doesn’t tell you that the pain won’t subside for four to six weeks 7.5 8.0 7.0

WWE Wrestlemania XIX GC A tedious story mode keeps McMahon’s bunch outta the main event 7.5 7.5 6.5

Worms 3D PS2/XB/GC That’s an entire extra dimension of caricatured carnage! Great multiplayer fun 7.5 7.5

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Electronic Gaming Monthly.

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