GameSpot's Month in Review for May 2004

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

May is here, and it brings with it more daylight hours and warmer weather. However, it doesn't bring with it a whole lot of games. May has traditionally been a slow month for new releases, primarily because every game publisher is focused on putting on a good show at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. GameSpot was on hand at E3, so if you somehow missed out on the coverage, you can browse through it by game and by publisher, or you can just look at the highlights or watch movies from the show.

Despite the lack of overall volume, the month of May saw a decent number of top-tier games. This feature includes our choices for Game of the Month on the PC, Xbox, GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Game Boy Advance platforms. We've also included convenient links to all of the month's reviews. Please bear in mind that we do not automatically choose the highest-scoring game on each respective platform to be the Game of the Month. The Game of the Month on each platform is voted on by the GameSpot editors and is rigorously debated until a final decision is reached. Factors such as originality or the relative saturation of a specific genre can influence voting in any number of ways.

GameSpot Complete members have the unique privilege of downloading our monthly buyers' guide. This guide is a concise collection of all the month's reviews, complete with scores and text summaries. Click the links to the right to download the guide in Adobe Acrobat format. It prints out neatly, so you can take it with you to the store when you're ready to do your purchasing.

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

See screenshots of City of Heroes
"City of Heroes lets you create your own unique superhero who starts off strong and grows much stronger as he or she keeps taking down Paragon City's ruthless criminal element. The game is attractive and accessible and features big, fast-paced battles. Above all, it succeeds at bucking most of the [MMORPG] genre's bad trends, and this is an amazing accomplishment. Yet, City of Heroes is so streamlined that it actually feels rather stripped-down in some respects; admittedly, there's really not much more to the game beyond battling lots and lots of packs of computer-controlled bad guys. So it might not have what it takes to keep you glued to your PC for the next five years (especially not at $15 a month after the first 30 days), but for a while, it sure is fun."

Watch the video review of City of Heroes It's been years since a massively multiplayer role-playing game scored as highly on GameSpot as City of Heroes has. The genre has been mired in a long funk of me-too titles--games that fail to live up to their prerelease promises or games that simply don't function properly upon release. City of Heroes breaks through the MMORPG malaise with a fresh premise, fast-paced combat, and an incomparably robust character-creation system. Rather than start you off as a weak peasant who has trouble defeating rats, as in most MMO games, City of Heroes lets you create a powerful comic book-style superhero--right from the start--that's ready to battle evildoers. The fighting is much more compelling than in most other games of this type because of large-scale skirmishes and the over-the-top superhero powers you and your party will be employing against villains. The flexible character-creation system also allows you to create near-carbon copies of your favorite comic book heroes, or you can come up with unique creations of your own.

Check out our other PC reviews in May

Colin McRae Rally 04 (8.8)
"There aren't any PC rally racing games that are better than Colin McRae Rally 04--and there aren't many better driving games of any type, for that matter."

Out of the Park Baseball 6 (8.6)
"Out of the Park Baseball 6 may look a lot like its predecessors, but many new features give the game an unmatched feeling of authenticity."

FirePower for Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator 3 (8.5)
"FirePower is what Combat Flight Simulator 3 should have been in the first place, and it is a must-have expansion for current or potential owners of that sim."

Thief: Deadly Shadows (8.3)
"Like its predecessors, Thief: Deadly Shadows features a memorable protagonist, a great setting, and some very interesting missions."

Beyond Divinity (7.9)
"This is a good, solid choice either for fans of Larian's last game or for anyone up for a deep computer role-playing experience."

Total Extreme Warfare 2004 (7.7)
"It's a successful look at the sweaty soap opera that is pro wrestling, although a few interface issues and complex mechanics make it a little unfriendly to wrestling newbies."

Warlords Battlecry III (7.2)
"Warlords Battlecry III is a solid real-time strategy game, but it's one that doesn't differentiate itself much from its illustrious predecessors."

Massive Assault Network (7.0)
"Massive Assault Network isn't so much a step forward as it is a step sideways--or even backward."

Diamond Mind Baseball 9 (7.0)
"The Diamond Mind Baseball management series offers direct internet connections, enhanced stats reporting, and more."

World Championship Pool 2004 (6.7)
"If you're looking for another pool game to add to your collection, WCP is worth checking out."

True Crime: Streets of LA (6.3)
"True Crime is a game that really lacks polish and, in some cases, feels unfinished."

Singles: Flirt Up Your Life (6.2)
"It doesn't succeed at portraying or simulating an intimate relationship between two characters, which is what it genuinely seems to be trying to do."

Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh Trail (5.7)
"Ho Chi Minh Trails makes up for its total lack of depth with the visceral thrill of raw, senseless destruction."

Echelon Wind Warriors (5.3)
"This expansion pack will add a new single-player campaign and a number of new features to the futuristic flight combat game Echelon."

Xbox Game of the Month

Review Excerpt

See screenshots of Rallisport Challenge 2
"When you add up the sum of Rallisport Challenge 2's parts, what you get is a fantastic rally racing game from top to bottom. The game may have a few minor blemishes, but few, if any of them, do much of anything to undermine the game's accomplishments. Rallisport Challenge 2 provides an incredibly deep and enjoyable racing experience in every facet of its gameplay, and the presentational and feature upgrades give the game a huge boost of replay value over its predecessor. It is a wonderful sequel, as well as a wonderful stand-alone racer, and if you have any interest in the rally racing or arcade racing genres, Rallisport Challenge 2 should not be passed up."

Watch the video review of Rallisport Challenge 2 The racing genre is ultracompetitive on the Xbox. Project Gotham Racing, Burnout, Colin McRae Rally, and TOCA Race Driver are just a few of the many examples of fantastic racing games to be found on the system. This makes Rallisport Challenge 2's achievement as the top-scoring Xbox racer--ever--all the more amazing. It even outscored its predecessor, which earned a lofty 9.1 rating. In Rallisport 2, the series has taken on a more realistic tone, with tighter controls and a more robust damage-modeling system. Additional game modes, 40 licensed cars, improved visuals, and Xbox Live compatibility round out Rallisport 2's feature set, making it a must-own game for racing fans.

Check out our other Xbox reviews in May

Thief: Deadly Shadows (8.3)
"Like its predecessors, Thief: Deadly Shadows features a memorable protagonist, a great setting, and some very interesting missions."

Metal Slug 3 (7.5)
"From a technical standpoint, this is a superb version of Metal Slug 3, and in some respects, it's even better than the original."

Red Dead Revolver (7.3)
"Rockstar's Western-themed shooter has some great style and enough fun moments to justify the rough edges."

Van Helsing (6.9)
"Van Helsing, the game, can make for a pretty entertaining time if you don't go in expecting too much and just want a few hours of gothic-styled action."

Shrek 2 (6.8)
"The older kids who found some chuckles in the adult-aimed nudge-and-winks found in the original Shrek movie probably aren't going to find anything too compelling here."

Future Tactics: The Uprising (6.4)
"It's an intriguing experiment that ultimately suffers from shallow, simplistic gameplay and an uninvolving story mode rife with bland characters."

Strike Force Bowling (5.2)
"Strike Force Bowling offers six modes of play, eight lane environments, and multiplayer support for up to four players."

We decided to not award a Game of the Month to any GameCube game for May. We believe it's important to keep these awards meaningful, so we will never give one to a game that doesn't meet our high standards. It's rare for something like this to happen, but there simply weren't any games reviewed this month on the GameCube that we felt met the standard of quality expected of a Game of the Month recipient.

Check out our other GameCube reviews in May

Shrek 2 (6.8)
"The older kids who found some chuckles in the adult-aimed nudge-and-winks found in the original Shrek movie probably aren't going to find anything too compelling here."

Future Tactics: The Uprising (6.4)
"It's an intriguing experiment that ultimately suffers from shallow, simplistic gameplay and an uninvolving story mode rife with bland characters."

Custom Robo (6.3)
"Custom Robo for the GameCube doesn't really have enough to it to hold most players' interest for long."

PS2 Game of the Month

Review Excerpt

See screenshots of Transformers
"Transformers is about as action-packed and satisfying a third-person shooter as you're going to find on the PS2 right now, and it makes pretty good use of its license, too. Besides the familiar characters and the transformation ability, you can also find "data-cons" scattered throughout the game that unlock toy photos, concept art, classic public-service announcements, and a lot of other goodies. The game has decent replay value, since it has three distinctly different difficulty modes, plus lots of hidden mini-cons and data-cons to find after the fact. And even if you only play through it once, fighting classic boss characters like Megatron, the 900-foot-tall Tidal Wave, and the planet-sized Unicron is pretty nifty in itself. Overall, Transformers is an especially easy sell to diehard fans of the franchise, but it's equally recommendable to fans of action games in general, too."

Watch Optimus Prime battle the massive Tidal Wave Though it's about 15 years too late for children of the '80s, Atari has come through with a PlayStation 2 game based on the more recent version of the Transformers animated series. Transformers the game is action-packed and has enough bullets, lasers, missiles, and exploding robots to satisfy most any player with an itchy trigger finger. The game offers some depth with its interesting mini-con system, while the ability to play as or to fight against your favorite transformers ensures that any fan of the morphing robots should check this game out. And, yes, you can change Optimus Prime into a semi so that you can run over your foes. Megatron, Starscream, and more make appearances in the game, as do many of the new heroes and villains from the current cartoon. If you own a PlayStation 2 and like Transformers, you should definitely check out the game.

Check out our other PS2 reviews in May

ESPN Major League Baseball (8.4)
"When you get right down to it, the ESPN-flavored look is what really sets ESPN Major League Baseball apart from other baseball games."

La Pucelle: Tactics (7.5)
"It's not the best way for newcomers to get acquainted with this style of gaming, but fans of anime and other strategy RPGs are naturally going to like La Pucelle: Tactics."

Red Dead Revolver (7.3)
"Rockstar's Western-themed shooter has some great style and enough fun moments to justify the rough edges."

Samurai Warriors (7.3)
"The core game is still much the same as it has always been, and as such, Samurai Warriors remains a game primarily for those already enamored with the Warriors franchise."

Van Helsing (6.9)
"Van Helsing, the game, can make for a pretty entertaining time if you don't go in expecting too much and just want a few hours of gothic-styled action."

Shrek 2 (6.8)
"The older kids who found some chuckles in the adult-aimed nudge-and-winks found in the original Shrek movie probably aren't going to find anything too compelling here."

Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain (6.5)
"The ideas behind making the online and offline games so similar are interesting ones, but in the end, the game itself isn't interesting enough to live up to the concepts."

Future Tactics: The Uprising (6.4)
"It's an intriguing experiment that ultimately suffers from shallow, simplistic gameplay and an uninvolving story mode rife with bland characters."

Strike Force Bowling (5.2)
"Strike Force Bowling offers six modes of play, eight lane environments, and multiplayer support for up to four players."

GBA Game of the Month

Review Excerpt

See screenshots of Mario vs. Donkey Kong
"Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a standout game that fans of portable puzzles will have a good time with. It also plays the nostalgia card very well, making references all over the place. The music will occasionally go all the way back to the original Donkey Kong, including the classic "I've got a hammer" music. The game also includes vines and droppable fruit like in Donkey Kong Jr., acrobatic moves that are reminiscent of Super Mario 64, and the ability to stand on, pick up, and toss enemies just like in Super Mario Bros. 2. Both on its own and as a tribute to Mario's legacy, Mario vs. Donkey Kong does a great job."

Mario goes head-to-head with Donkey Kong in this movie Two of Nintendo's most beloved characters go head-to-head in this new Game Boy Advance game. Combining elements from platform and puzzle games, Mario vs. Donkey Kong gives players a variety of missions and environments to work through. You'll have to use Mario's acrobatic abilities, which include backflips, handstands, and climbing on vines and telephone wires, to their full extents. In a nod to the combat mechanics of Super Mario Bros. 2, Mario can also pick up and throw items at enemies. Mario vs. Donkey Kong offers 12 worlds to explore, as well as expert levels, so if you decide to take the plunge, you'll have plenty of content to keep you busy.

Check out our other GBA reviews in May

River City Ransom EX (6.9)
"River City Ransom EX is a pretty faithful remake of a fondly remembered NES game, though this works against its success almost as much as it helps its cause."

Serious Sam Advance (5.6)
"Serious Sam Advance almost gives the GBA another good first-person shooter, but misses the mark because it doesn't offer enough levels."

Van Helsing (2.2)
"If you're looking for a horrifically bad game that takes less than two hours to finish, then, by all means, give Van Helsing a shot."

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