Bug free, but lonely.
was first introduced several years ago at E3, it looked to
revolutionize multiplayer gaming with an intricate balance of three distinct playing
styles mashed into one cohesive effort. But when it was finally
released a year ago
, its myriad successes were matched by its plethora of
bugs. The result was exciting and frustrating and a total nightmare to grade.
Fast forward to the present. With the highly competitive console market in
full bloom, it's a fitting time for publishers to start moving PC games on to
these powerful home rigs. In the case of Giants
, it also gives them a
chance to clean up some of the crash bugs once and for all. Unfortunately, while
they were spraying Raid on the pesky critters, they also wound up killing off
some of the fun that made Giants
such an anticipated port in the first
is an action game set on a big, beautiful planet floating about in space. Three
races vie for control of the island - the macho, cockney Meccharyns, the exotic
female Sea Reapers, and the brutish giant Kabuto. You'll play as all three over
the course of the single-player story. In a sense, Giants
is really three
distinct games rolled into one due to the different abilities and mechanics
of the three sides.
You start off as the Meccs. Having crash-landed on the planet on your way
to a nifty vacation, you find yourself embroiled in a struggle between the indigenous
Smarties and the oppressive Sea Reapers. The smallest of the bunch, the Meccs
rely on jetpacks to fly and big guns to destroy. Zipping around blowing stuff
up is quite fun, and their burly firepower more than makes up for their lack
After wailing through a few hours of Mecc missions, you'll start playing as
the Sea Reaper Delphi, who is out to stop the terrible ways of her evil mother,
the Queen Sappho. Delphi is the magic user of the lot, using a collection of
interesting spells and brutal bow and arrow attacks to beat down foes. She can
also 'turbo' around the island like a ninja, blazing past opponents in a flash
and gutting them before they knew what hit 'em. Obviously, this makes her a
blast to play.
Last (and probably least) is the giant Kabuto. The big boy is the hulk of
the litter, a towering, lumbering monstrosity who has perfected the art of smashing
things. Playing as Kabuto is easily the most straightforward of the three, though
a few power-up moves and the ability to hatch controllable offspring give him
Still, it's tough to play as the slow giant after zipping around as the Meccs and Delphi. It's not nearly as challenging or rewarding. Kabuto is also missing the base-building ability of both Delphi and the Meccs, though in honesty that's really not as big of a letdown as it should be.
In the port from the PC, the control over the base building portions of the
game has been all but stripped away. You basically go out and gather Smarties
and the meat (Meccs) or souls (Delphi) of the cow-like Vimp, which in turn feeds
the Smarties, who in turn go about building up your little home base. The PC
version allowed you to decide which portions to build first. Do I fortify my
walls or build a gift shop to get new weapons?
The choice is gone in the PS2 version. You just haul back a few Smarties and keep feeding them until they've built up your base to the max, after which you either plant a pop-up bomb (Meccs) or cast the Tornado spell (Delphi) on your enemy's barracks. It's redundant and not well-implemented.
These base building bits are also far and few between. There is exactly ONE
base building mission as the Meccs and only THREE as Delphi. That's it. This
was okay in the PC version because the single-player was initially designed
as a warm-up for the multiplayer (which, for a long time, was unplayable due
to bad Mplayer matching and some of the game bugs).
problem is that there is absolutely no multiplayer in the PS2 version. When
you beat the game, you're done. Though the game is a decent length - around
25 hours or so - the only reason to play it again is to try it on a harder difficulty
setting. There's no Skirmish mode or Quick play mode or any other mode at all
aside from the Story. Plus, you don't get anything new after beating it on the
Normal difficulty setting, which kills off the replay value. This game feels
like a port instead of having some notable differences to reflect the different
Regardless of which side you're playing, the control is very well done. An intuitive
auto-aim makes fragging enemies simple and holds up for all three sides.
The story is exactly the same as the PC version, which is a good thing since
it means that this is still one of the funniest games around. The Smarties offer
terrific comic relief. You'll meet Yan the Samurai Smartie, who may or may not
be your father, Boorjoyzee, the grumbling Scottish Smartie and an assortment
of other bizarre little dudes. The dialogue is very good and the humor is very
British - couple that with top notch voice-acting and you've got wealth of very
But like the PC version, the hilarity peters off dramatically when you reach
the Kabuto levels. The Meccs and Delphi have a ton of funny story elements,
but then the Kabuto experience just sort of flings you from mission to mission
without any new cutscenes. It's very odd and makes the game feel incomplete.
The PC version featured some jaw-dropping graphics, but the PS2 version will
put your jaw back on. It doesn't look bad, per se, but it hardly holds a candle
to the PC. Textures are somewhat flat (particularly the ice, which looks terrible),
the colors are a bit washed out and several missions have frame-dropping sequences
(apparently flying Sea Reaper guards cause the game to chug horribly). The planet
is still colorful, though, and some of the explosions and smoke effects are
The enemy AI has taken a turn for the worse, as Sea Reaper guards never really
take cover and seem oblivious to the actions around them. I once decimated a
squad of guards in a ball of fire and watched as another patrol group standing
no less than 5 feet away continued walking along at a steady pace without paying
me any mind. Dumb.
At least this time around you can save whenever you want, which is much nicer
than the PC version that wouldn't allow you to save in the middle of a base-building
I can see why Giants
was considered a good game to port, but it suffers
in the translation due to weaker graphics, worse AI and the missing multiplayer
game. Though the core of the game is intact and it's still got some genuinely
fun moments, this is a much better game to rent than to own.