GameSpot's Month in Review for August 2004

Our monthly feature sums up all the reviews we posted in August 2004. Check out our Game of the Month awards and our GameSpot Complete PDF Buyers' Guide.

Welcome to the back-to-school edition of Month in Review. While parents and students gear up with new notebooks, school clothes, calculators, and pencils, our newest Month in Review feature will advise you on which games you should be stuffing into your backpack. So pay close attention, class, and take careful note of the top games of August. The releases are going to come fast and furious from here until the end of the year. And there will be a final exam.

In contrast to the slow release schedules of the earlier part of summer, August saw a number of high-profile releases across a wide range of platforms. Madden NFL 2005 won the Editors' Choice award on both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox platforms, in part because of new Xbox Live functionality. Another big-name sequel, Pikmin 2, garnered an Editors' Choice award on the GameCube platform, while a licensed game, Astro Boy: Omega Factor, earned our highest rating for a Game Boy Advance game thus far in 2004. Trumping all of these in terms of hype was another hotly anticipated sequel, Doom 3 for the PC, which garnered a great score and set the pace for all PC releases this month. Again, keep in mind that our picks for game of the month are not predicated entirely on review score. We carefully weigh all worthy candidates and discuss which game is truly deserving of the game of the month award.

GameSpot Complete members have the unique privilege of downloading our Complete Buyers' Guide. Check out the right sidebar of this page for the link. Our buyers' guide is available in Adobe Acrobat format, making it both searchable and printable so you can take it with you to the store or anywhere else where you might need to get quick information on all the latest games.

Comments on this feature? Agree or disagree with our picks? Let your thoughts be known in our forums!

PC Game of the Month

Review Excerpt
Greg Kasavin has been through hell to give us a verdict on Doom 3. "Some game players will tell you that graphics aren't everything. And others will tell you that, on the contrary, graphics are truly important for a game. Doom 3 makes a compelling case for both sides of the argument. On one hand, its gameplay has noticeable shortcomings, and its multiplayer mode--which is the focus of most of today's shooters, thanks in large part to id Software's own contributions in the past--seems like an afterthought. On the other hand, Doom 3 is a spectacular game in the purest sense, and it is therefore by all means worth experiencing by those with an interest in witnessing just how far the technology of gaming has come along. Fortunately, the actual game itself--while not as remarkable as the technology that fuels it--is put together well enough to make Doom 3 legitimately great, all things considered."

Check out our other PC reviews in August

NHL Eastside Hockey Manager (8.4)
"This fantastically addictive management simulation covers the entire world of hockey."

Title Bout Championship Boxing (8.1)
"Title Bout Championship Boxing is an admirable, intricate simulation that you could call lovingly crafted...if the sport in question wasn't all about punching people in the face."

The Political Machine (7.4)
"This isn't the Abraham Lincoln of political strategy games, but it isn't the Jimmy Carter either."

War Over Vietnam (7.0)
"War Over Vietnam is suited for those with intimate knowledge of the subject matter who are willing to forgive several flaws to fulfill their "what-if" strike commander fantasies."

Starshatter (6.4)
"Starshatter provides a welcome dose of innovation to a genre that's been practically rendered extinct, but its originality ultimately fails to translate into a satisfying gameplay experience."

Marine Heavy Gunner: Vietnam (5.1)
"Ultimately, like many budget titles, this one's the poor man's version of its full-priced competition."

Alida (4.8)
"Alida's one notable quality is the fine craftsmanship of its visuals, which at least make the game fun to look at even when it's not fun to play."

Xbox Game of the Month

Review Excerpt
Find out if Madden NFL is still the king of football. "When all is said and done, Madden NFL 2005 is still Madden. That is to say, it's another superb game of football that continues Madden's long legacy as one of the best in the business. The defensive changes made to the gameplay are likely going to set the standard for football games in the years to come, and the additions to the franchise mode easily make the mode the best of its kind. It's unfortunate that the other portions of Madden NFL 2005 aren't quite as improved over last year's installment in the series as these key areas are, but that small quibble shouldn't stop any Madden fan from running out to purchase yet another highly accomplished game of football in Madden NFL 2005."

Check out our other Xbox reviews in August

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3: Black Arrow (8.5)
"Black Arrow will be instantly appealing to anybody who enjoyed Rainbow Six 3, and it also makes a great place to start for newcomers to this intense tactical shooter series."

Galleon: Islands of Mystery (7.0)
"Galleon: Islands of Mystery fails to live up to its incredibly lofty aspirations, but it does so in spectacular fashion."

Pure Pinball (6.9)
"Pure Pinball is a competent, budget-priced pinball simulation."

Test Drive: Eve of Destruction (6.8)
"This one is strictly for the diehard derby-goers, assuming there are still a few of us out there."

Army Men: Sarge's War (5.2)
"After playing through Army Men: Sarge's War, it's likely that you'll find yourself wondering why anyone bothered to salvage the Army Men license at all."

GameCube Game of the Month

Review Excerpt
GameSpot's Ricardo Torres tells you what makes Pikmin 2 such a superb game. "Pikmin 2 is an excellent sequel that builds on its predecessor by introducing important additions that make the game even better than the original. The game's improved visuals and deeper playability smartly expand on the concepts introduced in the original. The implementation of the multiplayer modes is a welcome addition to the sequel, as is the lengthier single-player experience. If you're a fan of the original game, picking Pikmin 2 up should be a no-brainer. If you haven't tried the series yet, Pikmin 2 is a fantastic place to start."

Check out our other GameCube reviews in August

Madden NFL 2005 (8.8)
"Madden NFL 2005 is still Madden. That is to say, it's another superb game of football that continues Madden's long legacy as one of the best in the business."

WWE Day of Reckoning (8.2)
"Day of Reckoning is truly the first great WWE game on the GameCube."

Amazing Island (6.5)
"Amazing Island is decent entertainment for a younger crowd, though they'd probably prefer a game featuring one of the franchises it tries so hard to emulate."

Street Racing Syndicate (6.2)
"SRS tries to deliver an authentic street racing experience, but the racing itself tends to be rather unexciting."

PlayStation 2 Game of the Month

Review Excerpt
Find out if Madden NFL is still the king of football. "When all is said and done, Madden NFL 2005 is still Madden. That is to say, it's another superb game of football that continues Madden's long legacy as one of the best in the business. The defensive changes made to the gameplay are likely going to set the standard for football games in the years to come, and the additions to the franchise mode easily make the mode the best of its kind. It's unfortunate that the other portions of Madden NFL 2005 aren't quite as improved over last year's installment in the series as these key areas are, but that small quibble shouldn't stop any Madden fan from running out to purchase yet another highly accomplished game of football in Madden NFL 2005."

Check out our other PlayStation 2 reviews in August

Viewtiful Joe (8.8)
"Viewtiful Joe deftly delivers a fantastic cel-shaded look while also adding a really great series of unique gameplay twists that make it much, much better than the average side-scrolling action game."

Street Fighter Anniversary Collection (8.1)
"The two games in Street Fighter Anniversary Collection have aged gracefully. In particular, Street Fighter III: Third Strike stands out as one of the best 2D fighting games on the PS2."

Ghosthunter (8.0)
"Ghosthunter is a game that should absolutely be played by anyone who enjoys a good, creepy action romp."

Star Ocean: Till the End of Time (7.9)
"The end result is an enjoyable experience, even if the game does not boldly go where no game has gone before."

Dynasty Warriors 4: Empires (7.6)
"Empires brings some much-needed depth to the aging Dynasty Warriors formula."

Phantom Brave (7.5)
"There's a lot of creativity in Phantom Brave, and the audience for whom it's intended--fans of anime and strategy RPGs--will enjoy it for the most part."

Hot Shots Golf Fore! (7.3)
"Fore! can be a serviceable golf game, though if you've been playing any other modern golf game, you'll likely find this one's mechanics and presentation to be a bit dated."

Dog's Life (7.0)
"There's not a whole lot to Dog's Life, but what's there is entertaining enough, and it certainly lets you do things you can't do in just about any other game."

Test Drive: Eve of Destruction (6.8)
"This one is strictly for the diehard derby-goers, assuming there are still a few of us out there."

Gallop Racer 2004 (6.2)
"If you're not already a fan of the series, Gallop Racer 2004 doesn't provide a new, compelling reason to grab the reins."

Astro Boy (4.9)
"It would have been a more valuable homage to the life's work of Osamu Tezuka had Sonic Team simply created a better game."

Game Boy Advance Game of the Month

Review Excerpt
Astro Boy: Omega Factor is one of the greatest GBA games this year. Take a look at the review. "All game systems have two or three games that ultimately define the particular genre they represent on that platform. Thus far, the GBA's must-have action games have included titles from the Super Mario, Metroid, and Castlevania series. Now you can add Astro Boy: Omega Factor to that short list. You'll need to go through most of the game's 43 levels twice in order to find all the characters and unlock the best ending, but even after you accomplish that feat, this is the kind of game that you'll pick up regularly just to play a level and kill some time."

Check out our other Game Boy Advance reviews in August

Madden NFL 2005 (8.1)
"Madden NFL 2005 is a complete overhaul, with better AI, customizable skill settings, and a great degree of control over play calling."

Catwoman (5.4)
"Only devoted fans of the character will want to take the plunge on the GBA version of Catwoman."

Mobile Game of the Month

Review Excerpt

See screenshots of Fatal Force
"Fatal Force is a great side-scrolling shooter that captures the core gameplay of games like the Metal Slug series, though it can't capture that series' frenzied pacing--which is likely a technological impossibility on current Series 60 handsets. What the game does offer is a good variety of futuristic weaponry (including a knockoff of the one-man mech for which Metal Slug was named) and plenty of opportunity to use that firepower. It also provides some great two-player action via Bluetooth, if you're packing the proper handset."

Check out our other Mobile reviews in August

Jamdat Sports NFL 2005 (8.4)
"You won't find a mobile game that simulates the football experience as faithfully as Jamdat NFL 2005."

Super Real Tennis (8.4)
"Super Real Tennis is so accomplished in terms of presentation and gameplay that it almost seems unfair to compare it to the current mobile gaming offerings in the US."

5-Card Draw Multiplayer (8.0)
"If you enjoy poker, 5-Card Draw Multiplayer is simply a must-have game."

Gradius (8.0)
"The sprites may be smaller, but the spirit of the classic shoot-'em-up, as well as its original level designs, remains intact."

Rail Rider (8.0)
"Rail Rider is a fun, humorous first-person action game, with a compact environment ideal for mobile."

CBS SportsLine Track & Field 2004 (7.8)
"The online score competition makes Track & Field 2004 a winner, especially when combined with its challenging gameplay."

Flynn's Adventures (7.3)
"In spite of its flaws, Flynn's Adventures is a step up from most mobile platform games."

Bush vs. Kerry Boxing (7.2)
"Bush vs. Kerry Boxing is a clever repurposing of Sorrent's existing boxing game, providing a rare example of a current events-based game that's actually fun to play."

Galleon: Dawn (7.2)
"Galleon: Dawn offers a challenging combination of jumping, climbing, and swordfighting."

Pac-Match! (7.2)
"Pac-Match! is an enjoyable puzzle game with a lot of replay value."

Baseball Heroes of the MLBPAA (7.1)
"Baseball Heroes of the MLBPAA is an incomplete rendering of the baseball experience. If you can reconcile yourself with this fact, you'll find that there's a lot to like here."

FlipIt! (7.1)
"If you're on the hunt for a good, difficult puzzle game that will keep you busy, FlipIt!'s 50 levels will give you a lot to think about."

Barry Bonds Homerun History (7.0)
"Easy offensive mechanics, combined with Homerun History's range of competitive options, add up to a fun arcade baseball game, even if the scope of gameplay is extremely limited."

New York Times Crosswords (7.0)
"Crossword fans are going to love this game. As for everyone else, there's really nothing fancy or exciting here to draw new initiates into the fold."

SpongeBob SquarePants Bowling (6.7)
"SpongeBob Bowling combines the colorful characters of the Nickelodeon cartoon series with a game closely modeled on what makes Jamdat Bowling successful."

Copa Univision (6.3)
"Copa Univision is a serviceable mobile soccer game, if you can see past its lethargic pacing."

CS Garfield Pinball (6.3)
"The differences between this game and any other pinball title are minimal and come as a result of the Garfield license rather than from original game design."

A Ninja's Tale (6.1)
"A Ninja's Tale could have been a sleeper. Unfortunately, though, it feels decidedly unfinished."

Playman Power Games (6.0)
"Power Games' four events are fun, but they're a little too easy to master."

Bill Parcells Football Camp (5.8)
"There's very little football here to speak of, and what is here just isn't interesting for long."

Aleste (5.2)
"Square Enix and Macrospace managed to squeeze some nice graphics out of Aleste, but it's a pity that the rest of the game isn't as great as its visuals."

Venus Williams Tennis (5.1)
"Venus Williams Tennis isn't a very good game of tennis."

Air Hockey (5.0)
"There's no substitute for a polished gaming experience, and Air Hockey doesn't meet expectations in this department."

I, Robot (4.5)
"I, Robot is a passable platformer, but shoddy controls make it a below-average game."

Actraiser (3.7)
"The mobile manifestation of Actraiser is but a pale shadow of the classic game's former glory."

Dual Threat (3.1)
"An enjoyably prototypical plot is the best thing that this short, repetitive, and poorly produced side-scrolling shooter has to offer."

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