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Giants: Citizen Kabuto

Developer: Planet Moon
Publisher: Interplay
Genre: Action / Strategy
Players: 1-20
Similar To: MDK2
Rating: Mature
Published: 03 :12 : 01
Reviewed By: Ryan Newman

Overall: 6.5 = Fair

Screenshots

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Minimum Req.: Win 95/98, P2/K6-2 350mhz, 64MB. 8MB D3D video, DirectX soundcard, 4x CD Rom, 900MB hd.
Reviewed On: P3 800, 128MB, TNT2 32MB, SB, Win ME

Intro

3 races….1 island…… a lot of bugs. Not even great gameplay and fantastic humor can save a product that was shipped before the all the bugs were stomped out.


Gameplay: 7/10
Giants: Citizen Kabuto is played via three races: the Meccaryns, Sea Reapers, and as Kabuto. Each race contains levels that have sub-missions that are all accessible once they are entered due to an automatic save feature. This save feature also has a nice feature that stops it from being a nuisance, during the mission-building portions, replaying a mission will restart with all of the buildings already up, saving a lot of time. Speaking of mission building, Giants: Citizen Kabuto is not as much of a real-time strategy title as it has been touted due to no real management involved, from buildings being placed in pre-set positions to loose control over your workforce; these missions, while offering variety, do get a bit lengthy, but fortunately it is only used once during the Meccaryns’ portion and a few more times during Delphi, of the Sea Reapers, portion.

To not get anymore ahead of myself, let me take a moment to explain the races. The Meccaryns are an advanced alien race who have crash-landed on an island that is inhabited by a group of odd beings called Smarties. These creatures are being hunted by Sea Reapers, whom are mythical creatures that were forced into the ocean after their creation, the giant Kabuto, turned against them. As the Meccaryns, gamers will get to play with jet packs, lasers, guided missiles, and all sorts of other hardware. As the Sea Reapers gamers will play as Delphi, daughter of the Queen, and one of the new generation who wish to stop the violence and re-establish peace on the island; she uses the environment and spells to get the job done. Finally, there is Kabuto, whom is his own weapon. Kabuto kicks, smashes, eats, and impales anything that gets in his way.

Giants: Citizen Kabuto is played in the order of the Meccaryns, Sea Reapers, and Kabuto. The best way to describe the Meccaryns portion is to compare it to Kurt’s portion in MDK 2, minus the jumping puzzles. Their main objective is to protect the Smarties from the Sea Reapers, which eventually leads them to Delphi and her quest. While doing their heroic duty, gamers are treated to some of the funniest material I have ever seen in a game, it even surpasses the dark humor found in MDK 2. The somewhat crude Smarties are perfectly countered by their boisterous protectors and offer up some classic cutscenes. Aside from the jokes, gamers are treated to non-stop action that is livened up by your teammates. While your fellow teammates suppose to be under your control, I found them fairly unwilling to do what they were told, but they were rarely stupid enough to get themselves killed and saved my life more than once, so that was forgiven. The Meccaryns are also home to the largest portion of levels, clocking in at 23, and only with the last being one requiring a base to be built.

Delphi’s portion focuses primarily on base building and odd jet ski races. The action isn’t as plentiful as the previous missions, which is a shame since the spells were fun to toy with, but the action that is experienced is very satisfying. The main complaint comes not from the lack of action, but from the base building, it simply takes far too long. When you have to go out and gather Smarties to build the base and return, only to find it destroyed time and time again, the novelty wears thin. The jet skiing was also somewhat fun, but was also milked a bit too much as well. The melee style combat using the deadly turbo boost and sword was a treat and it’s a shame it couldn’t have been fleshed out better. While not as well designed as the Meccaryns’ portion, it was still enjoyable.

Finally, as Kabuto, gamers will basically break everything in sight. His missions are primarily finding a gate/portal and destroying/entering it. This does get tiresome, but I still found it fun punting an enemy into a house then turning around and eating his friends. Both Delphi and Kabuto’s portions just don’t feel like they were used to their full potential and have a tacked on feeling, albeit this is somewhat alleviated by the very smooth transition from level to level, but they still left lingering doubts of what could have been.

What is the biggest shame is the amount of problems in performance I encountered. I had experience skipping sound and some slowdown randomly, but nothing prepared me for the hell that was unleashed on the last mission of the Meccaryns. As more and more enemies filled the screen, the game came to a slow halt and a lot of the time, the sound just cut out completely. I still felt somewhat fortunate that I hadn’t suffered a fatal crash until I went to check the controls and when I clicked back into combat, the game crashed giving me the ‘horrid blue screen of death’ and this was accompanied by various boots back to my desktop. I never encountered such problems later on in the other missions, but the game still lagged and sound still suffered, among other things – and when 45 minutes of a mission is lost to a crash or because the game freezes and your character was killed during that time (this was much more common), even the funniest material and pulse-pounding action can’t stop the blood pressure from rising.

Graphics: 7/10
The graphics have a very exotic look that carries over well with the various inhabitants. The enemies look nice, but they just don’t have a wide variety of them, but again, they are on an island so I can’t expect too many creatures. The spells, explosions, environment all look stunning and whenever you see a Sea Reaper force field on the backdrop of a snow covered mountain, it truly is a thing of beauty. Watching Kabuto toss a Ripper into the air and swallow it is also a sight to behold, and nothing can beat some of the physical comedy of the Smarties during the cutscenes. The huge expanding levels are also as much fun to explore as they are to blow up.

Unfortunately, to get this beauty you need some serious hardware. My system is well above the recommended specs and I frequently encountered slowdown that ranged from a skip, to massive, and in some cases a single enemy or the entire screen would simply stop moving. Another problem was that the bigger Kabuto got, the harder it was to see the screen and whenever switching to the first-person mode (inside the mouth view) the polygons would break up in the center and make gaps that would move with the steps. Beautiful graphics at a price is acceptable, but whenever resolution and color depth is lowered on a system above specs and there is not only massive slowdown, but also clipping problems, that just isn’t acceptable.

Sound: 5.5/10
The music was also a problem that I encountered frequently, even before the graphic hang-ups. The music would st-st-st-stutter often and after a few missions, it would cut out altogether for a few seconds. The background music never differed enough for me to take note of any track changes, but it was also pleasant enough to not become tiresome. Most of the time the sounds heard where of explosions and laser blasters from all sides, or the rumbling from the grounds underneath as a Ripper was closing in for the kill.

Despite the performance hiccups, I found that the voices more than made up for the problems. Each race has an eccentric version of an accent, as the Smarties talk a bit Scottish and the Meccaryns have a hint of Australian, but they all have their own unique twist and it comes off very well, in both manner and timing, during the cutscenes.


Control: 6.5/10
The controls for the weapons always seemed to have a slight lag to them as well, but due to the fact that it was extremely difficult to hit a target and I had to shoot the ground for the splash damage, I found it only troublesome in a few areas. There was also never a real smooth flow with the cursor as aiming was a problem, especially with in sniper mode, and this was odd since the Meccaryns jetpack rides where handled more smoothly and Delphi seemed to move with less lag. The menu mouse cursor was also extremely slow, so I highly advise gamers to use the number keys when selecting spells as Delphi or you might find yourself getting killed more than you would like. Overall, when it ran smooth, it was very natural (despite odd key placements) and controlled just how you would want a title with so much to do, but this just didn’t happen enough and remained something to look forward to instead of the norm.

Overall: 6.5/10
Bugs, slowdown, crashes, and sound stutters still couldn’t stop Giants: Citizen Kabuto from being an exceptional title. The variety, the humour, and the sheer length of the game made it one of the most enjoyable titles I have played in a very long time. Yes, all of the problems did annoy me, but it never once stopped me from going right back and playing again. If everything ran smoothly, I would have no hesitation in giving a 9 rating, but because of the problems, I simply can’t reward a released product with so bugs. To be honest, I loved Giants and having the various annoyances broke my heart because it was just so much fun to play. If you have the patience and the system, I would recommend it just to watch the banter between the Smarties and the Meccaryns, not to mention to experience the great gameplay. Planet Moon has a genuine classic on their hands, all they need to do is polish it up.

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Related Links: Planet Moon Studios | Interplay
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