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Updated March 10, 2005

Ballistics

Like a Krispy Kreme donut smothered in chocolate and sprinkles and washed down with cream soda, Ballistics is just too much of a good thing. There’s a reason this game is being used to test GeForce3 cards: it’s so damn fast and pretty that it’s more fun watching it than actually playing it.

Ballistics is the latest in a blinding trail of games like Incoming — their raison d’etre is to be OEM software for the nifty 3D card you just bought. And with a GeForce3 card, the game looks stunning. Your hoverbike screams through multicolored tubes in a sci-fi world where races take place in such locales as the jungles of Belize, the oil pipes of a Siberian industrial plant, and a crumbling futuristic city. Combined with the throbbing, Moby-esque beat of the techno soundtrack, the game delivers an intense, thrilling experience — for about 20 minutes or so.

Once you’ve zipped through all seven tracks, the appeal soon wears thin. Various obstacles are scattered throughout the courses, but once you have them memorized, the challenge comes from seeing how fast you can possibly go and still make your turns without your eyes bleeding. The occasional power-up and speed pad add some strategy, but the real challenge involves mastering the ability to stare unblinkingly for minutes on end. Of course, with a lesser video card (like a GeForce2), the frame rate is choppy, but that turns into a blessing because you can actually see what’s happening on the track.

A championship mode dares you to play through the game on three different difficulty settings, earning more cash so you can upgrade your bike and go imperceptibly faster.

The eight-person multiplayer mode adds the fun of bumping your friends into stationary objects, but it does little to strengthen the appeal of a game whose charms are entirely skin deep.

— Jim Preston


 FINAL VERDICT
PC Gamer 65%

   

100% - 90%
EDITORS' CHOICE - We're battening down the hatches and limiting our coveted Editors' Choice award to games that score a 90% or higher. It's not easy to get here, and darn near impossible to get near 100%. Games in this range come with our unqualified recommendation, an unreserved must-buy score.

89% - 80%
EXCELLENT - These are excellent games. Anything that scores in this range is well worth your purchase, and is likely a great example of its genre. This is also a scoring range where we might reward specialist/niche games that are a real breakthrough in their own way.

79% - 70%
GOOD - These are pretty good games that we recommend to fans of the particular genre, though it's a safe bet you can probably find better options.

69% - 60%
ABOVE AVERAGE - Reasonable, above-average games. They might be worth buying, but they probably have a few significant flaws that limit their appeal.

59% - 50%
MERELY OKAY - Very ordinary games. They're not completely worthless, but there are likely numerous better places to spend your gaming dollar.

49% - 40%
TOLERABLE - Poor quality. Only a few slightly redeeming features keep these games from falling into the abyss of the next category.

39% - 0%
DON'T BOTHER - Just terrible. And the lower you go, the more worthless you get. Avoid these titles like the plague, and don't say we didn't warn you!


Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties  77%
Brigade E5: New Jagged Union  54%
EverQuest II: Echoes of Faydwer  85%
Eragon  22%
Drakan: Order of the Flame  69%
Driver  78%
Drome Racers  59%
Ducati World Racing  28%
Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project  75%
Dune  25%
Dungeon Keeper 2  89%
Dungeon Siege  91%
Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna  80%
Earth & Beyond  80%
Earth 2150: Lost Souls  80%
Echelon: Wind Warriors  79%
Elder Scrolls III: Bloodmoon  84%
Emergency Fire Response  70%
Emergency Rescue  24%
Emperor: Rise of the Middle Kingdom  72%