Friday, May 30, 2014

The PSP 1001 Debacle, Part 1: Screwdrivers by Women, for Women

Something I enjoy doing is buying broken consoles that I've never had before and fixing them. It's a great way to get a start on a new piece of a game collection. You get to learn the hardware in and out, and researching problems is enjoyable (to me). You can typically snag broken items for a low price, and it's often a simple fix that is overlooked due to a "fuck it, I'll get a new one" mentality that many people have.

Repairs are usually simple. Other times, they're hell. This was a surprising amount of hell.

I'm not the world's biggest Sony fan. Recently though, I have been playing PlayStation systems more. For the most part, Sony hardware is relatively reliable. By that I mean "easy to fix if something fails." This has lead to me working on a lot of Sony consoles recently.

There's a few reasons I'm not the world's biggest Sony fan. Generally, I find their products to be overpriced and of low quality. That's not to say that all of their products fall into this category. Some of them are well made and are priced appropriately. One thing that has always irked me is the aesthetics of their products. Most of their products are almost excellently designed. Let's look at the PSP..

The initial reaction to it isn't bad. Then you start looking at it closer. Why is that bumpy texture there at the top? What purpose does it serve? You'll never be touching that part of the PSP while you're using it. That's not where the speakers are either. What's with that little loop at the bottom? I get that it's where you attach a wrist strap, but what are you doing? Playing your fucking PSP on a roller coaster? Initially, that seems to be there to keep the system symmetrical. Then on the other side there's just nothing, so it ends up looking like an asymmetrical anyways. Why do the power and hold buttons need text? What's wrong with icons? Same goes for the buttons along the bottom. Then you look at the left side. Those buttons do have icons. What the fuck is the top symbol? Oh, it's the MagicGate logo. What the fuck is MagicGate? Some bullshit standard Sony uses for their memory cards. Who the fuck would know what that is? We're too goddamn stupid to get that a lightning bolt or some shit would mean power, but we're supposed to immediately identify the MagicGate logo? Same for the wifi indicator. It looks like it would be for the volume of the system. To be fair, it is the typical symbol used to indicate wifi, buut...they tilted it. Why? Why does that need to be on the front? Put it on the side. Better question, why the fuck do either of those things need indicator lights? Then there's the analog stick. It looks like a speaker, and if you didn't know any better, that's what you'd think it is (from pictures, anyway).

Most of Sony's designs have similar pitfalls, but I'm nitpicking really. Its not a bad looking device if you don't stare at it for too long, and I think that's a lot of the reason so many people pay premium Sony prices for subpar or average devices. The design of their products is decent enough that they could speak for themselves. It doesn't need a PlayStation logo in the top left, a PSP logo in the middle of the bottom and a Sony logo in the top right. Not to gush too much about Apple (I may be a fan), but do any of their products have logos? No, they have text and they have the Apple logo. The designs speak for themselves. You immediately know what they are. For the most part, Sony's products are very immediately identifiable as well. They could just use a bit of subtlety to let the design take over instead of the branding.

I became interested in getting a PSP recently, so I started researching the hardware failures and the associated fixes. The PSP 1001 is the easiest model to deal with. The common hardware failures are documented and they're "unbrickable."

Whoever said PSP 1001s are unbrickable is an ungodly liar. He shits in the urinal. He pisses on your car's door at the bar. He recommends anime to you. He's loud in the movie theater when the movie is dead silent. He throws away manuals and cases to games and then sells them to Gamestop. He thinks Family Guy is genius. He shifts his weight to one side to fart. He fucks up the pizza by getting a topping everyone hates.

Let me be quite clear: PSPs can be bricked.

Let's get this shit show started.

I ended up buying a PSP that "wouldn't power on." This seemed like the best way to go since the fix is a simple bridge of the power fuse with solder. I ended up paying $20 for a PSP 1001 in good cosmetic condition with a charger and battery. Honestly, I cleaned up on that. They usually go for $20 without a battery, battery cover or charger and a missing thumb stick. "Wouldn't power on" for an eBay seller means "power light turns green for two seconds and goes off." If I knew that was the case, I wouldn't have bought it. So, at this point in time, I'm still going off the assumption that something is wrong with how the PSP is getting power.

First things first, if you ever attempt to buy a PSP and repair it yourself, be prepared. This fucker has the tiniest screw holes I have ever seen. None of my screwdrivers were small enough to fit inside the screw holes deep enough to actually get to the screws. Time to go shopping. I ended up buying two small screwdriver kits tailored for working on electronics. Neither of them worked. I ended up at Rite Aid and thought I found my solution in the most sexist tool of all time.

That's right motherfucker, tools for women. Women using a regular screwdriver? Fuck no. You need this shit. There's no way you can comprehend a normal screwdriver. Not to continue the sexism, but why does a tool for women have a 000 philips head? I didn't even fucking know there were 000 philips heads. My girlfriend thought maybe they were assuming the only work women could/should be doing with a screwdriver is working on children's toys.

Well, the tool specially designed for women didn't quite fit the hole either (that's what she said?).

The hole I'm specifically talking about is the one on the top right. The perspective is off, but the screwdriver up there is what you typically find in precision screwdriver sets. You can eyeball the end of that and the hole and see that it's even a tight fit for that, and it was. I eventually ended up using an exacto knife to enlarge the hole. It sounds barbaric, but I'm impatient when I want to get a project started and if you're careful you can do the job smoothly with no real aesthetic knock. Like all Sony consoles, it's pretty easy to open. There's two more screws under the warranty label in the battery compartment as well. From there, it's a simple task of lifting the faceplate off.

Now we're into the guts. Looks about how you'd expect given how fucking massive the screen is. That button bar along the bottom is in our way, though...

The button bar is clipped over a circular metal nub. I've already detached it here, just wedging a flathead screwdriver in and wiggling it loose. Then the button bar lifts up, and there's a flex cable to disconnect. The LCD screen is held in place with similar means, using the same nub actually. The same flathead screwdriver will dislodge the LCD screen from its frame. From there...

More flex cables. I don't mind these though, they're the kind that clip down and hold the cable in place. You just have to flip the latch up and they release. I like these better because you don't have to carefully pull them out of place. The less force the better for flex cables.

From here, it's just a matter of removing all the screws for the LCD brace. I got excited and already took one out. After that...

Freedom! Now we can have our way with that sweet, sweet hardware.

That tiny fuse there labeled TD is the target. I went ahead and soldered over it, popped in the battery, flicked the switch...aaaand...

Green power light for two seconds, then nothing.


That's one of the issues with working with a console like PSP. It's easy to hack, so every jackass with aspergers on the internet thinks he's a professional with the console. You cannot take anything on any forum with any amount of truth. Sort of like the Dreamcast. If I hear one more person say there wasn't any copy protection..

Anyways, now it's time to change course. There's something wrong with the system's software. Next, I turned to the Pandora battery and Magic Memory Stick...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Dreamcast Refugee Club

In January of 2001 Sega pulled the plug on its hardware business, unceremoniously sending the Dreamcast to its grave. The absence of Sega altered the gaming landscape forever; Sega's ad campaigns had an attitude to them, and they weren't afraid to make wildly experimental games. Sega's widely popular arcade hardware was also something that no other mainstream (meaning not SNK) console maker could claim. Since Sega's arcade hardware was widely used, ports to the home system were easy as evidenced by the Dreamcast's excellent library of arcade titles.

Without a wide variety of Sega games, gaming's descent into COD circlejerks and "WOW CINEMATIC" gaming was probably sped up. Sega didn't lose it all with the end of the Dreamcast though, and their classic style did continue for a time on the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Dreamcast. This is a list of the games that snuck out of Dreamcast development (or were made shortly after the end of the Dreamcast and before the Sammy merger) and had a second life on other consoles.

I'm not going to include games like Shenmue II or Rez since those did get a Dreamcast release (even if it wasn't necessarily in the US). I'll also be excluding sports games, such as the excellent NFL 2K series.

Super Monkey Ball

An early Gamecube game, Super Monkey Ball is actually an upgraded version of an arcade game. The arcade version was known as Monkey Ball and was only released in Japan on Sega's NAOMI. The NAOMI was basically a Dreamcast and it even featured a GD-ROM drive. The NAOMI's major difference was that it only read the GD-ROM at boot; it loaded the entire game into RAM to eliminate load times. Many Dreamcast games which have an arcade counterpart ran on the NAOMI board, which is why they're such perfect ports. On that topic, a pet peeve of mine; Soul Calibur's arcade version DID NOT use the NAOMI. It actually used hardware which was based on the PSX, and it looks like asshole.

Virtua Fighter 4

There's actually not a whole lot of information out there on Virtua Fighter 4 and any Dreamcast incarnations. The Japanese limited edition of Shenmue II included two Virtua Fighter discs, one with a history of the series and the other with some videos of Virtua Fighter 4. It's unclear if any work was ever actually done on Virtua Fighter 4 for Dreamcast. The game used the NAOMI II hardware, which was beefier in the RAM department and probably would've had a rough time on the Dreamcast. My gut instinct says that it must have been planned for Dreamcast at some point, or else including these bonus discs in Shenmue II was just downright cruel.

Jet Set Radio Future

Jet Set Radio Future is an excellent game where you play as members of a rollerblade gang (wut) and have to tag walls. JSRF was an early Xbox release, but didn't help the console gain much traction in Japan. The game oozes that classic Sega je ne sais quois and has an excellent soundtrack to boot. It's similar to the first game, but adds a multiplayer mode which is pretty fun. Unfortunately, there's no LAN option so you can't take it onto xlink kai or xbconnect. If you've ever been curious about the series, the first game recently got re-released on every platform known to man. JSRF is a more fluid game, but the first is worth revisiting (or visiting) as well.

Sega GT 2002

The first Sega GT on Dreamcast was basically a shameless Gran Turismo clone, but it was a lot of fun. It was actually my first Dreamcast game, and I didn't have a memory card. So I left it on for a week so I wouldn't lose my progress. Try doing that with an Xbox. While the first game was excellent, I barely played this one. I remember the control being pretty stiff and the cars not handling well. I will say it has been a while since I played the original, though.


Another game that I haven't played. Anime games are generally shitty affairs (as anime often is), but the Sega logo is enough to make me curious since at this point in time it still indicated some level of quality. Maybe some day I'll check it out, the reviews seem decent enough.

Panzer Dragoon Orta

In my opinion, the Xbox got the best bunch of Sega games. Panzer Dragoon Orta is a great example of this. It's a Starfox-style game which uses a made-up language (also Starfox-style). It's not a particularly challenging game, but it's entertaining and uses the Xbox hardware well. The game also includes a port of the PC version of the original Sega Saturn Panzer Dragoon, which is a load of fun since it's somewhat difficult to justify an investment in a Saturn (in my opinion). While there's no word on a Dreamcast version of this game, I think it's a given. I can't imagine that Sega would have started development on the game and thought it would find a huge audience on the Xbox, especially with its flop in Japan.


I'm actually playing through this game right now and it is awesome. The soundtrack is excellent and the control works well (even if the camera is a bit iffy). This is a game that was in development at some point for the Dreamcast, and it sort of shows; it's not necessarily a graphical powerhouse. The Dreamcast and PS2 were actually pretty evenly matched due to some design oversights by Sony, RAM aside. While later PS2 games would impress (for the hardware), this game seems to have been borne of weaker origins. I really can't imagine playing this without a second analog stick, though.

The first time I saw this game was actually on an X-Play review (I believe it was still Extended Play then), and I'm pretty sure Sessler just bitched about how hard it was the whole time.


Another game that was confirmed to have origins on the Dreamcast (there's a few poor quality screenshots out there), and another game that I haven't actually played. I did own a copy of it, but I never got to play it. In dumber times, I left my Xbox with an ex-girlfriend, and trusted that Microsoft would emulate the original Xbox well enough on the 360. This game never made it over, and I ended up selling my copy when that girlfriend became an ex. I actually did get that Xbox back eventually, but never picked up another copy of Gunvalkyrie. The Dreamcast version was said to use a control scheme that combined controller and light gun usage, which would have been interesting.

The House of the Dead III

The House of the Dead III continues the classic arcade shooter series and gives you a shotgun this outing. The game isn't as immediately addictive as The House of the Dead II, but it is still an excellent title. I played through it several times, and you can unlock The House of the Dead II as well. There's not a whole lot to say about it due to the nature of the game, but the Dreamcast version was planned to be cel shaded. It would've been an odd shift for the series, but likely one that would've went well.

Crazy Taxi III: High Roller

Crazy Taxi is a game that everyone has played at some point, and it has one of the most memorable soundtracks in game history (YA YA YA YA YA). While the first game is incredibly addicting, I don't think the second or third entries were as fun. The additions to the gameplay (jumping) took the simple fun away. I don't think this is an uncommon feeling since Crazy Taxi is available on every console known to man, while the sequels remain trapped on their original consoles. I used to have this game, and I can't say I played it too many times.

ToeJam & Earl III: Mission to Earth

A sequel to the classic Genesis games... and another that I haven't played. This game is confirmed to have been in development for Dreamcast, with a beta recently being leaked which is playable on consoles. It received mixed reviews, but it's another game that I certainly intend to pick up at some point.

I'm leaving off some games (Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg most notably) because I either haven't played them, or they're compilations/remakes. Others are being left off due to coming out after or near the Sega-Sammy merger. The merger was a turning point for Sega, with Sammy largely gutting the company to focus on pachinko machines (yay). Either way, if you never had a Dreamcast or don't want to, these games should give you a taste of what Sega used to be like. In addition, a large amount of Sega output during this time period was ports of Dreamcast games to other consoles.

The Sega-Sammy merger? That's why Sonic kisses humans now.

Look at Knuckles back there, he's about to stroke his echidna peen.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Castlevania: The Adventure (Game Boy) Review

Christopher Belmont. Who the fuck is Christopher Belmont? As a fan of the classic Castlevania games, I was interested in finding out. What do I mean by classic? The Castlevania games that were hard to play and that you actually had to get good at. Not the Metroid knock-offs. Ignore that the internet regurgitation machine has made these games "Metroidvanias." Super Metroid was really the origin of the play-style; Symphony of the Night merely re-used it at a time when video games were more popular than they were when the SNES was a modern system. That's not to say that I don't enjoy these games in any way, it's just that the usage of "Metroidvania" discredits Super Metroid.

There hasn't been a classic Castlevania game since the release of Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth on WiiWare in 2009. ReBirth is a "remake" of this game. They have absolutely nothing in common. There are some enemies an obstacles in common, but that's where the similarities end. ReBirth was actually a pretty fantastic game. The original...?

This is the worst Castlevania game I've played. Piracy is a pretty popular option for most games. I generally don't unless it's a translation, a cool ROM hack, or a game that costs several hundred dollars. I strongly advise you to play this game on an emulator.

Pictured: A waste of money

Why play it on an emulator? There's a couple reasons. The primary reason is that this game runs like absolute fucking dog shit. It's so laggy and drops so many frames that it's nearly impossible to safely navigate the levels. The other Castlevania games run smooth as butter; if there's a projectile coming at you, you can figure out when it's coming and whip it, saving yourself from being hit. Not here. The lag is so bad it's nearly impossible to successfully time this. The other problem? No password system, at all. Every time the game infuriates you into quitting and you turn it off, that's it. You're starting all the way back from the start. There's only four levels, but the third requires such absolute perfection that it's nearly impossible to learn it playing this way.

There are unlimited continues, so you can repeatedly play through stages. Good luck having the stamina to play through this game in one sitting, though. An emulator helps this out for a few reasons. The main reason is that emulators do a terrible job of what they're supposed to do. Emulators are not accurate at all; they're built around how a guy thinks a console works. Granted that's a very smart guy, but he doesn't know everything going on with the system. A lot of it is guesswork and the result is that games just don't run the same. For a purist, this ruins it. That's the category I fall into. As a Castlevania fan, I have an irrational desire to play all of the games, and an emulator's shortcomings actually make the game run better. Since it's not a perfect recreation of the original hardware, for whatever reason, the game performs better. Like I said, the purist side says no, but the Castlevania side says yes. I'd normally opt for the "worse" experience, but it's unberable.

The other perk to an emulator? Save states. Don't use them like a bitch though. Save at the start of a level. Treat it like the password system the game so desperately lacks. Don't just save state before a difficult part and reload constantly.

The bats are the worst part of this game.

Aside from the crippling slowdown, the game has one truly fatal flaw. It's why the bats are so annoying. The first Castlevania gave options for fighting enemies in sub-weapons. Low to the ground? Holy water. Far away? Cross (or useless dagger). Medusa heads? Time stop. In the air? Axe. The Adventure has no sub-weapons at all. Only your whip. That's a huge fucking problem for two reasons. The first is the bats. They follow you around and fly all over the screen, sort of like the hawks in Ninja Gaiden (NES) but 10 times worse because you have no good way to attack them. The other massive problem with the whip is that it downgrades when you get hit. You start with the leather whip, upgrade to a chain whip, and the last upgrade lets you shoot fireballs. The fireball whip is your only hope of survival, especially in the third stage. Get hit once, and it's back to the chain whip. Get hit again and you're back to the leather whip.

This shit ain't Mario. It's Castlevania. You have a fucking life bar. The only reason this was done was (presumably) to make the game's 4 stages last longer. As for no sub-weapons, I can only assume this is because they would've made the game run even worse. The levels themselves are mostly forgettable. The jumping between platforms is completely agitating, this is one of those bullshit games where you have to be on the very last pixel of a platform to successfully make a jump. The third level is actually quite interesting though.

The only really interesting part of the game.

The third stage is basically a race; the screw type thing you see there pulls the floor and the ceiling together, and you have to break them to move on. Once you move on, it's a vertical race upwards with spikes rising from the floor, and then horizontally with spikes coming from the left. It's challenging, but it's actually fun unlike the rest of the game. Probably because there's no bats. It requires absolute perfection to make it with the flame whip so that you've got a chance against the boss. It reminded me of racing games like the first Project Gotham or earlier Forza games where you need to be perfect out of the starting gate, or you were screwed. One wrong corner and you aren't going to win.

The level representing Dracula's castle is depressingly bland, however. This is where the game should've been cranked up to 10, but it wasn't. I guess that shouldn't be too surprising since this is following Simon's Quest, where the castle was equally unimpressive. The game is interesting as a Castlevania fan because it does take some graphical cues from Simon's Quest, most notably the way the sky looks in the first stage.

If you do manage to make it through the monotony, don't expect anything special from Dracula. His patterns are obvious, and it's an easy takedown. Definitely not recommended for anyone except diehard Castlevania fans. If you must, use an's not much better, though.

Pictured: A waste of time. 468 people wasted their time. 469, including me.

The score: 4/10

Saturday, May 3, 2014

24: The Game (PlayStation 2) Review

Spoilers for basically everything 24 follow...

24 is a show that has sort of been forgotten in a time where serialized dramas are all the rage. 24 laid the groundwork for modern shows, with a tight storyline that played out in (somewhat) real time over 24 episodes. Maybe it's because the show became a talking point for Bush Jr. era republicans, with Anton Scalia referencing the show more than once. In truth, 24 was surprisingly apolitical; for every republican cliche (Muslim terrorists), there was a liberal cliche waiting to counter it (a rich white guy pulling the strings). In the end, it was the story of a man who would go through incredible circumstances for a love of his country, even when his country didn't do much for him.

When I got a PlayStation 2, 24 was pretty high on my list of games to try out. I'd read reviews and seen it trashed, but I'm enough of a fan that I can overlook it. With 24: Live Another Day starting soon (!), it was time to fill some missing story in.

24: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

24: The Game is actually canon to the events of the series. I'm not positive, but I think all 24 media is canonical; everything released slots in between seasons or before the events of the show. There's not a lot of other media; a few limited-run comic series, a couple of books, and this game. This game actually fills a gap that a lot of fans were left wondering about. The game takes place between seasons two and three, the longest gap between any seasons in the show (3 years). At the end of season two, Mandy had tried to assassinate President Palmer and the last minute villain, Max, comfortably rode off into the sunset. I started season three expecting it to begin within days of two, and I was a little confused when the title card stated it was three years later and there was little to no explanation of what happened. That's where 24: The Game comes in.

Unfortunately, the game doesn't really elaborate on the end of day two either. I'm going to try not to spoil the storyline of the game, because there are some nice twists and a lot of familiar faces show up. Some of them don't necessarily have any bearing on the plot but, as with any season of 24, it's better if you go in blind. The major arc of the game is about a man named Peter Madsen from Jack's past. Their relationship isn't really elaborated upon, but he makes a worthy opponent for Jack and his plan of attack is actually really interesting. The best part about the game is that there are several set pieces that would either be impractical or too expensive for the show to have done, in particular the aftermath of Madsen's plan. Max does get involved in the plot, but the reasons for the Palmer assassination attempt aren't really elaborated upon unfortunately. It's just sort of mentioned that he has a bone to pick with the US for something that happened to him, and I guess that's the justification.

Aside from some shortcomings in the story, which likely only stem from being a huge fan of the show, it's actually really well done. The story plays out like a stripped down version of the show, where just the main storyline is the focus. There's no Kim vs. cougar, Terri amnesia or whatever the hell season 6 was. Every main character from that era of the show makes an appearance. One of the most pleasing aspects of the game is to get some more Tony Almeida. Almeida was an insufferable prick in the first season, but he quickly turned into one of my favorite characters, only to get Robocop'd in season 5, then have fans complaints about his death recognized as legitimate since it was nonsensical, and then come back with a relatively poor arc in season 7. There are several segments of the game where you get to play as Tony as well.

They gave him a goatee because evil Spock had a goatee. Good Tony has a soul patch.

Another excellent aspect of the story is that we get to see a lot more of Chase Edmunds. Season three is my favorite season of the series for multiple reasons. One is that the effect of the attack is on full display with the hotel storyline. It's the only season of 24 that takes the time to focus on the victims of the attack and what they're going through, and it makes it more real. The other aspect that made the season more interesting was the inclusion of Chase as Jack's partner. The dynamic showed that Jack was really the only character who had what it took to go through the things that he goes through. Chase holds his own, and is willing to take the same risks that Jack takes and he loses a hand for it. It makes Chase a tragic character, and Jack's breakdown at the end all the more understandable. Season three gets shit on a lot, and I'm not really sure why. The story is slow to take off and it is very dark compared to other seasons, but it has a lot of intense scenes as well (Jack and Salazar playing Russian roulette in particular).

Anyways, I've talked a lot about the show and the story of the game...but how does it play?

Better than this.

Okay, we gotta talk about that DVD board game for a second now. I bought this with some friends, and as far as we could tell, it was broken. We could not get past one part, no matter how hard we tried. It was such a waste of money. I actually saw a sealed one at Goodwill. Part of me wanted to buy it and throw it away so no one else could experience it. I didn't though. Then one day it was gone, and I felt like I had the chance to kill Hitler, but I didn't. Then next week... there was an opened one at Goodwill. Then that one was gone in a few days. Then there's another one now. It keeps on happening. I honestly think it's the same copy. I'm debating putting an X on it with permanent marker just to see.

Back to the real game, then. This is the most wildly inconsistent game I have ever played. It goes from being a lot of fun, to being a fucking mess really, really quickly from one mission to the next. I think the issue is mainly due to the AI. This is one of those games where you can walk up behind someone, bump into them and then clumsily shoot them in the arm and it'll still take a second for them to turn around. Missions where you're sort of sneaking around and there are only a few enemies around make this the most obvious. The missions where everyone is aware of your presence and are actively trying to kill you play out a lot better, and it seems like it's actually a good game at that point in time.

This is a bullshot.

One of my favorite parts about the game is that you can "announce" yourself. Pressing R2 makes the character you're using awkwardly yell out FEDERAL AGENT or CTU, FREEZE!, at which point most enemies simply stop and put their hands up. Then you can handcuff them. And you seem to have unlimited handcuffs. Then you can kick them. There's one mission where there's a bunch of civillians running around, and it put me to a stop for about an hour because I was handcuffing everyone and kicking them. It took me about a week to get over my laughing fit and go back to playing the game.

The game controls relatively well, with the main issue being the camera. Once you get used to it, it becomes a non-issue, but the first few missions will be hellish. The game has a decent aiming system, where you can quickly flick the right stick to change targets. I know this has been used in other games, but I can't think of any at the moment (I think GTA: San Andreas had something like this, maybe IV as well). It seems like this is the best execution I've seen of it though, as the targeting reticule indicates where there are other targets to move to.

There's a few different kinds of missions; shooting, driving, a couple of turret shooting galleries and way too many hacking mini-games. One of the mini-games that I remember being advertised when the game was coming out was the interrogation scenes. I figured I'd be going full Bauer and stabbing people in the leg and screaming at them and shit. Nope, just pushing buttons to either talk nicely or yell at them. It's really weird in execution too, because you basically have a target area to hit during your interrogation. One minute you'll be telling them you're going to stuff a towel down their throat, and the next you'll be asking how their family is doing and where their last vacation was.

This is the only time an interrogation gets that intense.

The driving levels are annoying to say the least. The AI of the drivers is that annoying shit where they just go out of their way to ram you off the road. They come at you so fast they'll pass you and drive in front of you. In later driving missions you'll have to escape and be inconspicuous, which is impossible. Your only hope is to destroy them by making them run into buildings, and these cars take a lot of damage. Aggravating that point, most missions end with a time limit to tie in to the real time aspect. I was stuck on one driving mission for a long time. I'm still convinced that the only reason I beat it is that the game bugged out and the pursuing cars seriously just disappeared off the road. One of the strangest parts of the game comes up in the driving levels, too. There's GTA style hookers walking around and I have no idea why. I guess after GTA came out hookers became mandatory pedestrians for video games or something.

The worst part though, is the mini-games. The interrogations are basically mini-games, but they're passable since they advance the plot. The others are basically all related to the colors of the face buttons on the PS2 controller and how they somehow relate to hacking a computer. The mini-games aren't hard, they're just annoying and some hours have several of them. Jack Bauer made a plain ass SD card explode in season four, why the fuck couldn't we just leave the computer nerds in the background to do this shit like they usually do?

So, just about every aspect of the game is hit or miss. The presentation is actually excellent, though. It looks and sounds like a season of 24 should. The game is divided into hours, complete with the "The following takes place between..." narration. There's also anamorphic widescreen and progressive scan, which helps it maintain the look of the show. The main issue with the presentation is the voice acting for Tony and Jack. I think a large part of that issue was with the direction they were given. Usually the emotion is right for what they're saying, but there's a few parts that are just not acted correctly given the circumstances. It's most obvious in the first mission where Jack is calmly giving instructions to a strike team in an urgent situation, instead of Jack's trademark whisper-yell. They're on point for the most part, though.

Playing a game like this today mostly just makes me wonder why they didn't hold off for a year or two before the PlayStation 3 had caught on (since it was a Sony developed game). The PlayStation 2 was not a system of considerable power, and I think the ambitions for this game were too great for the hardware. The character models look pretty decent for the system, but everything about the game could've been improved with more competent hardware. At the time the game came out, 24 had long since moved on from this timeframe of the show, so it really wouldn't have made much of a difference. 

Man, my wife was a bitch...

One thing I kept thinking during the game was... why not have the time impact effect the game more? I'm thinking The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask here. If you weren't fast enough to do something, you didn't see it. Why not up the stakes a bit? If you don't complete this mission, X person dies and it effects the story. None of the main series characters were ever in any real danger here, so it wouldn't have fucked up the canon status of the game. I guess they couldn't even make the AI react to you quickly though, so I'm really reaching with that one.

In the end, 24: The Game is serviceable. If you're not a fan, it's not worth your time. If you are, it gives you more time with characters you love in what was arguably the golden age of the show. On the other hand, there is a satisfying 24 game out there. It's called Splinter Cell: Conviction (and it well done interrogations).