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Giants: Citizen Kabuto

by Tristinian

Upon first hearing about Giants, i had no clue what the game was about nor did i even have a clue as to what genre it was. I had seen shots of a nicely textured beast and a half-naked woman using magic and well...that's about it. The only references to the game's genre we found around the gaming community was the label of 'tri-class action'. And yet, when i first played it, 'tri-class action' wasn't exactly the first description that came to my mind...it sounded a little too complicated.

Yes, yes we used the 'get rid of the bikini' trick. So sue us.

MY own description is that Giants, plainly put, is a 3rd person shooter with threads of other gaming elements occasionally sewn into it. You play as the witty space cadet-like Meccs (for the 1st 1/3 of the game), the Reaper girl Delphi (the 2nd 1/3) and of course as the giant, Kabuto (the final 1/3). Don't know if that math was complicated for you, but i just had to take some Advil.

The story begins with the Meccs flying over an island, crashing on it and then ending up helping its inhabitants and getting entangled in an ever growing web of circumstances. Students of good ol' British humor (as you'll surely recognize in the cutscenes), the Meccs wield jetpacks and an assortment of garden variety weaponry and--in all honesty--provide the most boring gameplay that this game could possibly offer. Pardon my bluntness, but it's just running and shooting the same enemies over and over again. And seeing that Giant's length is fairly massive (let's not get gutter-minded now), it might seem a while before you will have actually finished suffering through the Mecc stages. Keep in mind, this game is difficult almost all the way through-you'll be restarting missions more than a few times for sure.

But after the generic and frustrating Mecc levels are over with (and that can take a while), the game finally opens up a little as you assume the role of the Reaper, Delphi. She can swim, make use of several types of bows, use magic AND has a flying technique much like the Mecc's jetpacks that allow her to speedily soar over long distances in a blur. From here on in the game is more enjoyable (although even more frustrating and difficult at times) and you can enjoy using a more creative arsenal to thwart your enemies-hell, you even engage in a jetski race! A cute touch.

Although it should be noted though that there is nothing entirely revolutionary about a good portion of the action in this game, it IS fun and it does have it's ambitious components. In particular, stepping into the shoes of Kabuto and being able to stomp around eating everything in sight (and getting larger because of it) is indeed a new concept and was quite cool. Hell, the entire story is kinda cute and is a comical epic in its own right. Problem with this game is there is often just too much of the same types of levels over and over again. The Mecc levels are the most guilty of this.

I know many people despise games that are too short, but frankly i believe that it is better to leave a gamer wanting more than it is to periodically leave them sick and tired of the play-factor that the game provided. Had the developers hacked off some of the seemingly useless filler levels that appear to pop-up in this game, Giants would have been the better for it. In other words, too much of a good thing is a bad thing and the variation in characters is one of the only factors that keeps the repetition from getting out of hand in Giants.

Kabuto is hungry! And the more he eats, the bigger he gets-and the lower your FPS gets too!

But to the eye , Giants is a stellar treat for SURE. These are some of the best surreal outdoor graphics to have graced my eyes since i first saw the trailer for Bungie's upcoming Halo. Of course by all account, Halo looks much better, but with the bumpmapping in place and the resolution set on high, Giants is one of the best looking games we've seen to date. Unfortunately, there IS one problem. A lot of users will most likely find that it runs like complete sh*t. Our test machines that were around the 650 mhz mark with either Geforce 2 or Voodoo 5500 cards in them croaked for a good part of the game and it took a test system with more than 800/850 MHz to get anything near sufficient framerates. We even tried shutting off ALL details and bringing the resolution down to 640 x 480 x 16 only to find that the FPS improvement on 650mhz machines were still not anywhere near satisfactory a lot of the time. The choking frame rates aren't noticeable for the entire game, but we're hoping for some patch to improve performance. The graphics ARE good, but don't seem good enough to warrant the frame rate penalty as bad what we experienced on a large number of PCs.

The feeling we get is that that most of the fun for a new player of Giants will probably be had at the beginning of each of the 3 story levels as one plays around with the abilities of the newly acquired characters. But after that 'newlywed phase' with the characters things might get, well...tiresome. That kind of depends on how many of these types of games you play though.

With the two biggest negatives out of the way in laggy performance and repetitive gameplay the rest is quite good. Graphics as mentioned before are sweeter than candy (i've been playing too much SSX for the PS2), the music and sound are well used and were crisp to the ear. The humor in the story was hilarious at times along with the individual animations of each of the characters and the voice acting ranged from suitable to perfect. The level design is great. The game concept itself plays out reasonably well in terms of game interactivity and characters and many of the effects and texturing used for each were excellent. (note the Giant's textures below in the screenshots and even the texturing of the cliff side behind him). Multiplayer wasn't bad either and there were options galore for choosing the type of game you wanted to setup. As Kabuto, kicking Delphi like a football and watching her smack into a cliffside a mile away and then picking up her lifeless body and tossing her in your mouth was certainly fun needless to say.

We wanted to give this game an H2H Pick award for what this game set out to do, but after experiencing the repetitive gameplay, lack of enemy variation and the poor performance/FPS, it's hard to give it anything but just a 'good' mark. And when all is said and done, it IS a good game...really. And you should probably eventually get it to put on your shelf-but peck away at it piece by piece when you do. Trying to take this game all in one gulp will surely show you what we meant about repetitiveness. Perhaps it's all about perspective in the end, but we look forward to a patch that will at least increase the performance of this game somewhat on certain systems...until then...the game's repetitiveness alone is what makes the greatest impact on the mark given.


FINAL MARK

Gameplay is just too dry at times-this is essentially most true for the Mecc levels.

Graphics are so very sweet, and the cutscene humor is hilarious. Game has a cartoon epic feel.

Game engine is just way too demanding-even somewhat so on a good number of high end machines.

81%

 

Serenity...you can't often sit around and admire the landscape though with some of the missions in the game...they're pretty difficult and will monopolize your scenery viewing time.

 

The texturing on Kabuto and the mountain in the background just go to show the graphical sweets of this game-but with the resources the game demands, we sometimes questioned if it was worth it. The level design however always seems to be top-notch regardless.

 

The Meccs. Their levels quickly get boring and their portion of the game in general is drawn out too long. But the humor in their cutscenes is often worthy of knee-slapping. The gaming gets more interesting once you put the Mecc levels to bed.

 

Kabuto shrugs off the Sea Reapermen attempting to blister him with gunfire from behind...this game almost seems MADE for screenshots.