Friday Flashback Five: Week of April 17, 2005

Time for another Friday Flashback Five, where we look at five games that debuted that week in gaming history, and what effect, if any, it had on gamers and the hobby in general.  This week, we’re setting the Wayback Machine for the week of the Seventeenth of April, back in ‘Oh-Five.

Most of the games that came out this week could best be described as “meh”.  They weren’t necessarily bad, as much as not necessarily good.  Most were at least interesting, however, as we’ll see as we work through the list that, as usual, is presented in no particular order.

Close Combat: First to Fight
This was an interesting one.  At the time, squad-based tactical shooters were quite the rage, but this one was developed with the aid of the United States Marines, and it certainly wasn’t the first time they’d helped in many ways.  It’s interesting just for that—out of the many, many games based on the United States military, this series was one of the few that was designed with input from the military.

As for the game itself, well—the artificial intelligence governing the scripting of the non-player characters tended to vary wildly.  You’d see moments of breathtaking awesomeness as your team functioned like a well-trained unit—then two seconds later you’d see them bumbling around like idiots.  On the other hand, where competitive multi-player was bland, the co-operative play offered something more interesting for gamers.

Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict
To say the Unreal games are popular would be an understatement.  The Liandri Conflict was no different.  It was developer Epic Games’ attempt at doing things a little different, at bucking tradition for tradition’s sake in favor of creating something interesting.

That led to a game with a steep difficulty curve, and if you’d played shooting-centered games before, that wouldn’t help you.  Plus, it started ramping up the difficulty very quickly.  It was another one better for multi-player than single-player.

Released for the PS2, X-Box, and P.C., it was an attempt at a stealth game that wasn’t Splinter Cell or Tenchu.  What it ended up being was mediocre.  The A.I. wasn’t all that great, and there were more gimmicks than actual interesting innovations.

On the other hand, it featured a female thief protagonist, which was a rarity for the genre.  It was an attempt at looking at the genre from a slightly different perspective, almost like taking the Thief series, flipping the protagonist’s sex, and setting it in a more contemporary time.  It was a nice attempt, but one that fell short.

W.W.E. WrestleMania 21
Wrestling is an interesting past-time.  It’s hard to classify it as a “sport”, but there’s no denying its numerous and loyal fans.  That extends to the video games.  Most W.W.E. games have been received rather well, though this wasn’t one of those.

It was glitchy, buggy, and, worse for those Live players, shipped without the ability to connect to X-Box Life.  The game looked alright, but that was where the compliments really end.  On the whole, it was just another game that was released far before it should have been.

Raze’s Hell
There’s really not much that can be said to set this game up.  The game play wasn’t itself anything too new, but the story was.  It was a satirical work, one looking at “beauty” and even dips into the “charged” idea of racial tension.

The Princess of Kewtopia wakes up one day and decides to bring cuteness and joy to all of the lesser creatures who, sadly, live outside of her kingdom.  This liberation ends up equaling what amounts to genocide and despotism.  When it was new it was pretty cheap, too, so while it wasn’t the best third-person action game out there, the story was interesting and worth the price.


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