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Giants: Citizen Kabuto

Score: 95%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Interplay
Developer: Planet Moon
Media: CD/2
Players: 1 - 10
Genre: Action/ Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Giants are lush and beautiful. The world of Island [don't ask] is gorgeously rendered, with swaying trees and glistening water. With a good enough video card, you can see for miles, and the views are breathtaking.

The character models are similarly well detailed, and well animated to boot. Watching the Reapermen Guards running around is amusing, and the various animations of the Rippers can be quite disturbing at times.

And then there's Kabuto. Many times taller than anything else in the game, he towers over everyone else and in general looks damned awesome. It's impressive both from his viewpoint and when you simply stare at him as he mauls you with his various attacks.

Giants uses in-game cutscenes to propel the story, and they work amazingly well. The cut-scenes all have a great sense of humour, which is prevalent throughout the entire game. And with the fantastic engine that Giants uses, you won't mind the fact that the cuts are not pre-rendered FMV. They look beautiful as is.

There were a few issues with character shadows when I played Giants, but other than that the graphical glitches were far and few between. And if you have a card that does hardware texture and lighting, prepare to see reflective surfaces that'll make you grin. Any way you slice it, Giants is a pretty game.

It sounds fantastic too. The music is solid, the sound effects are good [and often humourous], and the voice acting is absolutely top-notch. The Meccs are my favourites, a bunch of cockney aliens [I said don't ask] who are simultaneously smarter and dumber than they appear. The Smarties are quite irreverent too. One of the reasons to play this game is to be immersed in its goofy sense of humour, which comes from both the graphics and the sound. If you didn't know that Planet Moon has ex-Shiny employees before, once you play the game it's rather obvious.


It's also obvious that they took Shiny's habit of making games that are uncharacterizable and damned fun as well. Giants: Citizen Kabuto is an action game, but trying to pigeonhole it any more than that would be an exercise in frustration. It's got RTS elements, FPS elements, and pure platforming elements. There are three different 'races' that you can play as, and each plays differently enough to require their own strategies and styles. Put together, it's one hell of a ride.

[Big Note: Patch Giants before you get into it too far. There were quite a few problems with the game when it came out, and while there are ones that are still being fixed, the latest official release of the patch fixes many of the issues that the game has.]

In the single-player game of Giants, you first take on the role of a Meccaryn. The Meccs play perhaps the most traditionally for this type of game -- run-and-gun styles are the norm, although stealth is certainly necessary in a few missions. As the Mecc missions progress, you gain lackeys who help you destroy the enemy by concentrating fire on your targets. You can also order them around in a limited fashion, and do some base building.

Delphi, a Sea Reaper, requires more finesse with her levels. She has weapons, to be sure, but she also has a nice complement of spells. Walls of fire, time-stopping globes, and other sorts of mayhem await those who cross Delphi, not to mention an attractive form. Rawr!

Finally, there is the Big Man On Island himself, Kabuto. Kabuto is mean, and he's freaking huge. Not to be bothered with silly things like weapons or bases, Kabuto is something of a walking, egg-laying, destruction-causing tank.

You play with each of the character types in order, getting you used to each style of play. The levels have multiple missions, but you can't save during a given mission. The missions [with a few notable exceptions] are usually short enough that being interrupted isn't a killer, but it would have been nice to save wherever you like.

The single-player missions are fun. But multi-player is where it's at, of course. Base-building takes more of a key role here -- well, at least for the two groups that have bases -- and the management of food and Smarties becomes key. You don't actually control where the buildings are built, but you do control the production, and having the Smarties to build and the food to feed them is essential.

Did I mention you can snipe from across a level with a rifle? And it looks gorgeous? Yeah.


Some of the missions in Giants are quite challenging. The races in particular -- yes, I did say races -- can be quite a pain. But none of the levels are impossible, and a little practice with the weapons and a few deadly-yet-useful missions spent just exploring and trying to find the best way through an area can save you a lot of time in the long run. The single-player campaign should last you a good while -- much longer than a weekend, unless Giants is all you live and breathe that weekend -- and you will be much more proficient at multi-player once you've gotten all the tricks from the SP campaign down.

Game Mechanics:

Controlling the three different groups requires different control schemes for each, but they're not so different as to be overbearing. The instruction book is much better than most have been recently, giving lots of useful details as to play the game, and the in-game button config is a great way to learn all the buttons to press. The controls themselves are amazingly easy to use, and anyone familiar with FPS controls should be right at home in a matter of minutes. The menus are easy to understand and navigate, and the ability to replay the game from any mission that you've already beaten is a very nice feature.

I'd have to say the mechanics of having an in-the-mouth cam for a giant are also pretty damned cool. Planet Moon, you so crazy.

Aside from a few technical issues and that silly no save-everywhere design format, Giants is as unique, enjoyable, and downright cool as they come. You'll have a blast with the single-player mode, you'll have a blast with the multiplayer mode, and you'll have a blast just looking around at the pretty eye-candy and listening to the great voice-acting.

[Those who want to re-add the red blood can find the patch on Interplay's site; those who want to, er, fix Delphi back to her proper form can look on the 'net for the proper instructions.]

-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:

Win9x/2K/Me, P2/K6-2 350, 64MB RAM, 875MB HD space, 4x CD-ROM, sound card, 8MB D3D-compatible video card, keyboard, mouse

Test System:

Athlon 1.1GHz running Win98 SE, 512MB RAM, GeForce 2 GTS w/ 32MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live!, 8x DVD-ROM

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