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Giants: Citizen Kabuto

Reviewer:
Date:


Website:
Setaside
February 07, 2001

www.interplay.com/giants/
Wow! Where to begin? First off, what is Giants: Citizen Kabuto? Well, that's a very interesting question. One that isn't easily answered in a single paragraph. But I guess I'll try. Giants is an action/strategy/adventure game that follows 3 VERY different races on an alien world made up entirely of islands. Looking like something out of a bad Fisher Price dream, the Meccaryns (Meccs for short) are a fun loving, ass-kicking group of star fighters who were on their way to the famous off-world vacation spot on the planet Majorca when their ship was attacked by the giant "Gibbon" Fish. As a result, the Meccs were forced to crash land on the "Island" (as the planet is so lovingly called). This is when their troubles began. The Meccs, while adapting to their new strange surroundings found themselves running into the dominant race on the Island, the Sea Reapers. The Sea Reapers are an evil race of aquatic humanoids under the rule of the wicked Sea Reaper Queen Sappho. But the queen has one VERY large problem that prevents her from ruling the Island her own way, the giant Kabuto. To appease Kabuto, Queen Sappho resorts to sacrificing the locals of the island, a race known only as Smarties. This small race of wise-cracking drunkards are the only known way to ease the destructive nature of the giant Kabuto. Well, Queen Sappho's daughter, Delphi, hates the idea of sacrificing the locals to the giant, and is plotting to do something about it, with your help.

Giants: Citizen Kabuto follows the storyline through chapters and levels. Each race, the Meccs, Delphi of the Sea Reapers, and Kabuto each have multiple chapters to play through with each chapter containing several levels. There is definitely no shortage of gameplay here.

You start the game as one of the Meccs, who is searching for his lost mates who were separated when they crashed. Like most action adventure games, the difficulty curve starts pretty low and becomes increasingly more difficult as the levels move on. You will begin the game helping out the Smarties with a few problems of their own. Simple tasks really, but it gets you into the game. As the levels move on, you will eventually find your mates, learn to build your own bases, and rescue the lovely Delphi from her sinister mother Queen Sappho. In the later levels, when you have rescued your mates from their various predicaments, you will have the ability to control your teammates as a squad. Sort of. You will be able to issue simple orders such as attack and defend to the entire squad. Unfortunately, you can't split the squad up. They go as a team, or they don't go at all. But they serve their purpose well so I'm not going to complain to loudly. They can easily make an otherwise difficult situation a piece of cake. And, while there really isn't a large selection of weapons, there really doesn't need to be. Of course, my favorite is the sniper rifle, enabling you to behead Sea Reaperman from long distance. How fun!

Delphi begins the game by being instructed by the great and wise smartie Samurai Master Yan. Master Yan will teach you the basics of Delphi's interface, which isn't too far off from the Meccs. Some differences include Delphi's ability to use spells, which rocks completely. There's nothing like spotting a squad of Sea Reaperman off in the distance and just letting loose a massive fire spell and watching the little guys scatter. Of course, Delphi's primary weapon is her bow. Or should I say her assortment of bows, including, a sniper bow. Delphi also has the ability to "turbo", meaning she can point herself to a distant mountain or ledge, hit the spacebar, and fly until she reaches her destination. I'm sure this is in answer to the Meccs ability to use jetpacks, but I think that it was handled very well.

On to Kabuto. What can I say about Kabuto other than he's big and he's mean? The basic goals of the Kabuto levels tend to be "eat" and "destroy". I say eat because by eating Smarties, Kabuto can increase his size. The more he eats, the bigger he gets. Also, by eating creatures other than Smarties, Kabuto can regain health. Kabuto also has the option, if hes at full health or doesn't want to eat another Smartie right away, of gorging whatever poor soul he happens to be carrying on to one of his trusty spikes. This way, he can eat later if the need arises.

The game can be played through either a 3rd-person or 1st-person perspective, although the game was obviously designed to be played in 3rd person. The levels, while fun, can tend to lose their shine after doing the same things time after time. The objectives are usually very similar from level to level with an occasional sharp turn thrown in. Not to say that the levels are boring by any means because they're not. This game has been a blast to play since I first installed it.

Well, maybe not since I first installed it. More like I couldn't play the game at all when I first installed it. You see, when I first installed the game, I was running an AMD 400 mHz processor with 192 MB of RAM. I saw the requirements on the box and thought to myself "Uh-Oh, I bet this runs like crap on my machine." I was right. I had to upgrade my machine just to review this game. Now of course, I was planning on upgrading anyway, and this game just game me the opportunity, but still. If you are interested in playing this game and having any kind of fun with it at all, I would suggest that you have at least a 600 mHz processor with a recommended 256 MB of RAM. And you better have a mighty powerful video card if you want the game to look good at all. On top of that, I noticed various other little glitches in the game. On several levels, I had large areas of black and white pixilated globs in the sky just hanging there. Also, the clipping was more than bad in some places. And sometimes I could just walk right through walls without even trying to. In addition, there were times when I would load a level and would get corrupted resolution video on the screen. Some pixels would be jumbled and other parts of the screen would just have lines running through it. All I had to do to fix it was go into the graphics options and refresh my resolution and everything was ok, but still, I shouldn't have to. This happened even after I installed the newly released patch. And one final thing I should mention is that there is no in-mission save feature. Now before you stop reading and pass this game up, let me say that I normally will not play games that do not have an in-mission save feature. Giants: Citizen Kabuto handles this very well I have to say. I don't think that any mission I played went over 25 minutes or so. By keeping the missions short and sweet, Planet Moon Studios has managed to pull off this very dangerous design practice. Of course, I would still rather have the save feature, but I can handle it if its handled the way it is in Giants: Citizen Kabuto.

Multiplayer is pretty cool. You just start up the game, either host or join, and you are playing within minutes. I didn't play multiplayer too much as I was too wrapped up in the single player experience, but I can say that it seems to be handled pretty well. I didn't experience any major bugs or crashes while playing online which is of course, good. I experienced the typical clientele from any online game, some were very cool, others would drop from the game the second things turned in my favor. But I guess that's expected anytime you play online.

Now, all of my graphics and bugs gripes aside, I have to say that I really liked playing Giants. It's a really solid effort from Planet Moon Studios and Interplay. The gameplay is enough to keep you in your seat and the humor in the game is enough to keep you smiling throughout the game. The soundtrack is very well written and I don't think could suit the gameplay any better. The races seem equally balanced and well designed, as well as fun to play. A great game with a great sense of humor, Giants: Citizen Kabuto is a good buy in my opinion.



Graphics: 4.5
The only reason this game didn't get a 10 in this category is because of the glitches that I encountered. And even then, I didn't want to take a full point off as the graphics really are that good. Gorgeous backdrops, gorgeous islands, gorgeous water effects, gorgeous spell effects; I don't know what else I could ask for, except for Planet Moon Studios to get rid of those glitches. Other than that, the graphics were stellar.

Sound: 4.5
Jeremy Soule did the soundtrack to Giants: Citizen Kabuto; what else is there to say? This fantastic composer has done several game soundtracks including my personal favorite Total Annihilation, all of which have been phenomenal. He brings the mood of the game so colorfully and so well, that this is one game were I actually think that the game loses something if the music isn't there. Also, the voice acting was great. The Meccs pulled off their cockney English accents with plenty of flair and the Smarties were simply brilliant.

Gameplay: 4.0
Giants: Citizen Kabuto is fun. That is really the bottom line. If the game is fun, then that's all that matters. This loses a couple of points because of the scarce repetitiveness and the random glitches and crashes. If Planet Moon Studios had taken an extra month to get this game bug tested, they would have benefited greatly I believe. The games levels move fast, are usually intelligent, funny and just plain fun. Of course, these are all good things to have in a game.

Replayability: 3.0
I think that the game suffers a little here. Once you complete the single player campaign, all you have is multiplayer. And the multiplayer is limited from what I can tell. You are provided with a small handful of maps and no editing tools. Perhaps if Planet Moon Studios would release the editing tools for the game, the replay factor would improve greatly. But as it stands now, I can see the game collecting dust shortly after beating the single player game.

Documentation / Support: 3.5
Giants: Citizen Kabuto has a good manual that provides just about anything you could want to know about the game. The game also comes with a quick reference card which is always a nice touch. Of course, support pages provide plenty of support options to provide help should something go wrong. There weren't any holes in the documentation/support model that was implemented with Giants: Citizen Kabuto that I could see. It's all pretty typical across the board.

Summary: 4.1 / 5
I love this game. I just wish that Planet Moon had spent a little more time bug hunting. But with that aside, I have to say that Giants is fun, funny and entertaining. Just make sure that you have the system to handle it.

*Note: 2.5 is average

Title:
Giants: Citizen Kabuto
www.interplay.com/giants/

Developer:
Planet Moon Studios
www.planetmoon.com

Publisher:
Interplay
www.interplay.com

Sys. Reqs:
P350 mHz - 64 MB RAM - 8 MB Direct 3D Video - 900 MB HD - 4x CDROM - DX 7.0

Recommended:
450 mHz - 128 MB RAM - 16 MB Direct 3D Video - 1.3 GB HD

Release Date:
December 2000

4.0

Overall: 4.0
Graphics: 4.5
Sound: 4.5
Gameplay: 4
Replayability: 3
Documentation: 3.5


*Note: 2.5 is average

Pros:
- Beautiful graphics
- Great sense of humor
- The sniper rifle
- Sountrack

Cons:
- Bugs
- Semi-repetitive gameplay and level design
- Graphics glitches
- No in-mission save feature
- VERY steep requirements




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