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VALLEY WEEKEND | VIDEO GAMES

Shock Wave 2 Tops at In-Flight Entertainment

The joystick can be cumbersome, but this first-person flier packs a live-action wallop. And hostile planets never looked so good.

February 29, 1996|AARON CURTISS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Electronic Arts knows how to deliver good games. They did it for 16-bit machines with the helicopter-themed Strike series and now they are living up to their reputation with some gut-wrenching action in the 32-bit Shock Wave 2: Beyond the Gate for 3DO.

As first-person fliers go, the original Shock Wave and its add-on Operation Jumpgate were among my faves on 3DO. Now, the sequel pumps out the same kind of great sound and richly textured environments that made the first one such a hit.

The interface is plenty smooth and allows players to customize their crafts before missions on a variety of hostile planets, each more beautiful than the last.

Although the joystick is the preferred mode of control in Shock Wave battle sequences, it was cumbersome at times to navigate the indispensable menus controlling everything from mission selection to weapon choices.

One thing that deserves mention is that the quality of live-action sequences has improved dramatically since the early days of high-end gaming--not just in Shock Wave, but across the board.

It's nice to see real actors on the screen and not just a couple of the programmers' friends fumbling through some cheesy lines. Live-action sequences are actually kind of fun to watch nowadays.

Devolution: Video games for the most part get better every day. But this isn't the case with Revolution X by Acclaim for Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo and Sony PlayStation. This game may have been a smash hit at the arcades, but I'm still at a loss as to why.

This is a shooter at its most primordial. Aim. Fire. Kill. That's about it. Ostensibly, the mission is to rescue the band Aerosmith from the clutches of the evil New Order Nation. (I kept waiting for a bunch of British New Wave weirdos to emerge, but, alas, they never did.)

What this game delivers is endless repetition without much fun. And the Aerosmith sequences are just plain lame. This is the kind of game that was obviously thought up by marketers and promoters, not by gamers.

For instance, on one level I stuck the target in the middle of the screen, put my thumb on the fire button and then fired off a couple of e-mail messages with my free hand. That's how lame Revolution X is.

About the only cool thing--and this was very, very, very brief--was the ability to shoot up a Los Angeles newspaper office that looks suspiciously like this very publication. It was a nice stress reliever.

But in the end, Revolution X sucks.

Wing Arms: Flight sims are a dime a dozen, and that's about what Wing Arms for Sega Saturn is worth. The box of this lemon boasts that it's exclusive to Saturn and, trust me, that's a good thing.

Why so down on Wing Arms? For one thing, I tend to trust the laws of physics enough to believe that hitting the ground after falling 6,000 feet can have fairly catastrophic side effects.

But Newton must never have figured into the Wing Arms equation because when I dove my plane into the ground, I did not crash. I did not die. I bounced. Maybe I missed the section in the instruction manual about all the missions being flown on Rubber World.

Staff writer Aaron Curtiss reviews video games regularly. To comment on a column or to suggest games for review, send letters to The Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth, CA 91311. Or send e-mail to Aaron.Curtiss@latimes.com.

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