GameSpot's Month in Review for September 2004

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

Comments

Games, games, games! September is the start of the rainy season in much of the country, and it also begins the yearly deluge of games as publishers flood the market with fourth-quarter releases. There were several great games that scored above an 8.0 on our rating scale, and a handful that broke above 9.0 to win an editor's choice award. With so many great games to choose from, our month in review feature helps you separate the wheat from the chaff so you can determine which games are most worthy of your limited gaming dollars.

One of the top games of September was Burnout 3: Takedown for the Xbox and PlayStation 2. This fast-paced, visceral racer earned GameSpot's highest marks so far in 2004. Burnout 3 is easy for us to recommend, with its extremely polished and accessible gameplay, coupled with tons of content and online capability. Other top games included ESPN NHL 2K5, which is easily this year's best hockey game and really one of the only choices for hockey fans this year, as the real-life NHL is shut down due to a lockout. On the PC side, there was a bonanza of fantastic games for strategy fans, led by Rome: Total War, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, The Sims 2, and Kohan II: Kings of War. PS2 owners should check out Katamari Damacy, a quirky and highly enjoyable game from Japan, which offers a gameplay experience unlike any other. Rounding out our picks were Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen on the Game Boy Advance, and Might and Magic on mobile phones. The latter is a great translation of a venerable PC role-playing franchise to mobile format, offering great depth along with astonishingly great graphics.

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 September

Review Excerpt

See screenshots of Rome: Total War
See screenshots of Rome: Total War
" Ultimately, Rome: Total War is a deeply satisfying strategy game that can appeal to game players of all types. If you're looking for a complex, addictive, conquer-the-world campaign, you can look forward to the imperial campaign, which is good for countless hours of gameplay all on its own. Meanwhile, if what you want are realistic, cinematic-style battles, you can dive into the historical battles or the skirmish or multiplayer modes, or have the computer manage all the details in the campaign and just join the battles. And if you're looking for both, then you'll probably find Rome: Total War to be perfectly sublime blend of the two."

Check out our other PC reviews in September

Call of Duty: United Offensive (8.9)
"United Offensive is an excellent expansion that takes the intensity of Call of Duty and ratchets it up even higher."

The Sims 2 (8.9)
"The Sims 2 is a great sequel and a great game in its own right, and it's recommendable to just about anyone."

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 (8.9)
"It is still computer golf's de facto standard, worthy of consideration even by those who previously purchased last year's model."

Madden NFL 2005 (8.8)
"Madden 2005 is just a bit too much like last year's Madden for comfort--but it's still a truly excellent game of football all around."

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War (8.8)
"Dawn of War is a testament to what can be so great about real-time strategy, and it captures the grim and brutal world of Warhammer 40,000 extremely well."

Kohan II: Kings of War (8.5)
"Kohan II retains its predecessor's unique gameplay while also making key changes that distinguish it both from the original and from any other real-time strategy games in the intervening years."

Myst IV Revelation (8.5)
"The thrill of being able to fully and freely explore the game's imaginative and remarkably lifelike worlds often proves to be the biggest incentive for pushing past Myst IV's near-impenetrable puzzle barriers."

Wings of Power: WWII Heavy Bombers and Jets (8.2)
"If you've ever dreamed about flying any of these bombers or jets, this is as close as you can get outside of paying for a real-life flight."

NHL 2005 (7.9)
"Make no mistake. NHL 2005 is still a solid game of hockey--but it shouldn't be your first choice for one."

Star Wars: Battlefront (7.9)
"Star Wars: Battlefront delivers a satisfying team-based shooter experience that many hardcore Star Wars fans will probably enjoy greatly."

Chessmaster 10th Edition (7.8)
"If you're looking for a good chess program that's packed with a plethora of features and all the bells and whistles, you'll be very happy with Chessmaster 10th Edition."

PureSim Baseball 2004 (7.8)
"PureSim Baseball 2004 shows that developer Shaun Sullivan is building an impressive, if somewhat modest, new baseball management simulation franchise."

Full Spectrum Warrior (7.7)
"Full Spectrum Warrior is very good overall, and deserves credit for being something other than just another military-themed shooter or strategy game."

Anarchy Online: Alien Invasion (7.6)
"Alien Invasion adds what seems like a lot of intriguing new content, but in practice, it's mostly for advanced players."

Silent Hill 4: The Room (7.6)
"The game retains the dark, disturbing soul that is the unsettling center of the Silent Hill experience."

Arena Wars (7.5)
"Arena Wars manages to rise above some serious problems to offer fresh, fun gameplay that can challenge you both strategically and tactically."

Wings of War (7.5)
"Wings of War is a surprisingly polished game that covers some unique ground in a thoroughly enjoyable way."

Evil Genius (7.3)
"Evil Genius is surprisingly successful for being so focused on style over substance, but it can also be quite frustrating at times."

Chris Sawyer's Locomotion (6.8)
"Locomotion is a flawed but engaging strategy game that's nearly identical to its classic 10-year-old predecessor, Transport Tycoon."

Shadow Ops: Red Mercury (6.2)
"The campaign missions can be pretty intense at times, but the underlying action itself lacks the sort of visceral punch that shooters ought to have."

ShellShock: Nam '67 (5.4)
"ShellShock is a run-of-the-mill shooter with periodic interruptions for bad language and really violent cutscenes."

Marine Sharpshooter II: Jungle Warfare (5.3)
"Marine Sharpshooter II: Jungle Warfare is better than Marine Sharpshooter, but it's still not good."

Alpha Black Zero: Intrepid Protocol (5.1)
"It's a dimly lit, lackluster shooter that doesn't know when to stop."

Army Men: Sarge's War (4.4)
"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."

Room Zoom (4.0)
"Where Room Zoom really goes off track is its paucity of content. There's barely enough that's of interest to make you want to play once, let alone twice."

Xbox Game of the September

Review Excerpt

See screenshots of Burnout 3: Takedown
See screenshots of Burnout 3: Takedown
"Unless your only idea of driving-game enjoyment involves playing the strictest of simulations, Burnout 3: Takedown is the driving game for you. It's instantly accessible, yet it has more than enough challenge to it to keep you busy for a very long time, even if you don't intend to play the game online. Furthermore, it's simply one of the most exciting, action-packed games to come along in a long time, regardless of genre. So even if driving games aren't normally your thing, if you're a thrill-seeker (at least in game terms), this offering has them in spades. Burnout 3: Takedown is an amazing achievement that anyone with a pulse will probably love."

Check out our other Xbox reviews in September

ESPN NHL 2K5 (9.1)
"Simply put, if you like hockey, you need to own ESPN NHL 2K5."

NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup (8.8)
"NASCAR 2005 is packed to the gills with drivers, tracks, and play modes. It's a NASCAR fan's dream come true."

Def Jam: Fight for NY (8.7)
"If you like wrestling games, fighting games, or even just the world of hip-hop, Def Jam: Fight for NY is a game well worth owning."

Fable (8.6)
"Fable is an imaginative game that's got enough remarkable, unique moments in it to make it shine."

Guilty Gear X2 #Reload (8.4)
"Guilty Gear X2 #Reload is a fast-paced, well-balanced fighting game with lots of depth and variety, so it's an excellent game online. And it has plenty of offline options, too."

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 (8.4)
"Tiger Woods 2005 seems dead set on making new players comfortable--but this inadvertently sucks out a lot of the challenge."

Star Wars: Battlefront (8.2)
"Star Wars: Battlefront delivers a satisfying team-based shooter experience that many hardcore Star Wars fans will probably enjoy greatly."

X-Men Legends (8.2)
"X-Men Legends is a great action RPG that packs in some strong action with a well-told story."

NBA Live 2005 (8.0)
"NBA Live 2005 plays a solid game of basketball, but even the flashy new features can't hide the fact that it isn't a huge step up from last year's edition."

NHL 2005 (7.9)
"Make no mistake. NHL 2005 is still a solid game of hockey--but it shouldn't be your first choice for one."

Silent Hill 4: The Room (7.9)
"The Room retains the dark, disturbing soul that is the unsettling center of the Silent Hill experience."

Second Sight (7.5)
"Despite a few rough patches, Second Sight ought to be an entertaining and unique ride for just about any action fan."

The Guy Game (7.5)
"If you're up for a little bit of trivia with a dirty sense of humor and you have three like-minded friends, The Guy Game won't let you down."

Wings of War (7.4)
"Wings of War is a simple but lengthy and often exciting single-player experience that's a real credit to the world of budget-priced games."

Terminator 3: The Redemption (7.2)
"If you still have any interest in all things Terminator, or if you are even just a fan of good old-fashioned shooters, T3: The Redemption is certainly worth a weekend rental."

Pro Fishing Challenge (6.6)
"Pro Fishing Challenge is a bit too archaic and tedious to be terribly appealing."

Street Racing Syndicate (6.2)
"SRS tries to deliver an authentic street racing experience, but really only delivers an unexciting series of races."

Headhunter: Redemption (6.1)
"Headhunter: Redemption just isn't a very interesting game, from any angle."

ShellShock: Nam '67 (5.4)
"ShellShock is a run-of-the-mill shooter with periodic interruptions for bad language and really violent cutscenes."

Vietcong: Purple Haze (5.3)
"Thoroughly retooled by a new developer, Purple Haze generally makes a mess of what used to be a good game."

Carmen Sandiego: The Secret of the Stolen Drums (4.7)
"Don't go into The Secret of the Stolen Drums thinking you're going to get an educational game or an enjoyable platformer, as you'll find neither here."

Bad Boys: Miami Takedown (3.0)
"Miami Takedown really only serves as a cold reminder of a past we don't want to revisit."

GameCube Game of the September

Review Excerpt

See screenshots of Def Jam: Fight for NY
See screenshots of Def Jam: Fight for NY
"Def Jam: Fight for NY is a great sequel. It would have been easy for the developers behind this game to just crank out an incremental upgrade, but Fight for NY is anything but incremental--it feels like a whole different brand of game altogether. What worked in Def Jam Vendetta has been expanded and improved upon in almost every way, and the new story mode, complete with its character creation and customization element, is simply a joy to play through. If you like wrestling games, fighting games, or even just the world of hip-hop, Def Jam: Fight for NY is a game well worth owning."

Check out our other GameCube reviews in September

NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup (8.8)
"NASCAR 2005 is packed to the gills with drivers, tracks, and play modes. It's a NASCAR fan's dream come true."

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 (8.4)
"Tiger Woods 2005 seems dead set on making new players comfortable--but this inadvertently sucks out a lot of the challenge."

X-Men Legends (8.2)
"X-Men Legends is a great action RPG that packs in some strong action with a well-told story."

NHL 2005 (7.9)
"Make no mistake. NHL 2005 is still a solid game of hockey--but it shouldn't be your first choice for one."

NBA Live 2005 (7.7)
"NBA Live 2005 plays a solid game of basketball, but even the flashy new features can't hide the fact that it isn't a huge step up from last year's edition."

Donkey Konga (7.5)
"The DK Bongos are responsive, the action can be genuinely fun, and though some of the music choices are extremely weird, there's a little something here for everyone."

Second Sight (7.5)
"Despite a few rough patches, Second Sight ought to be an entertaining and unique ride for just about any action fan."

Mega Man X: Command Mission (7.2)
"While the game is too short and too simplistic, there's still a good time to be had here for Mega Man X fans."

Terminator 3: The Redemption (7.2)
"If you still have any interest in all things Terminator, or if you are even just a fan of good old-fashioned shooters, T3: The Redemption is certainly worth a weekend rental."

Starsky & Hutch (6.4)
"When it's at its best, Starsky & Hutch plays like a long-form version of the countless chase scenes that were the hallmark of the show--and, really, all '70s cop shows."

Army Men: Sarge's War (5.1)
"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."

Carmen Sandiego: The Secret of the Stolen Drums (4.7)
"Don't go into The Secret of the Stolen Drums thinking you're going to get an educational game or an enjoyable platformer, as you'll find neither here."

Bad Boys: Miami Takedown (3.0)
"Miami Takedown really only serves as a cold reminder of a past we don't want to revisit."

PS2 Game of the September

Review Excerpt

See screenshots of Katamari Damacy
See screenshots of Katamari Damacy
"Katamari Damacy is far and away one of the strangest, most original games to come along in years. The gameplay concept, the visual style, the soundtrack, even the backstory are all conceived and executed with such a unique flavor that, when presented as a whole, it's difficult not to be drawn in by all the weird little idiosyncrasies. It's not a complex game, nor is it especially challenging, or long. It is, however, unapologetically surreal, which can make it tough to look away from, and its toylike gameplay model makes for a surprisingly satisfying experience."

Check out our other PS2 reviews in September

Burnout 3: Takedown (9.5)
"Burnout 3: Takedown is an amazing achievement that anyone with a pulse will probably love."

ESPN NHL 2K5 (9.1)
"Simply put, if you like hockey, you need to own ESPN NHL 2K5."

NASCAR 2005: Chase for the Cup (8.8)
"NASCAR 2005 is packed to the gills with drivers, tracks, and play modes. It's a NASCAR fan's dream come true."

Def Jam: Fight for NY (8.7)
"If you like wrestling games, fighting games, or even just the world of hip-hop, Def Jam: Fight for NY is a game well worth owning."

Shadow Hearts: Covenant (8.6)
"Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a great game that any fan of the role-playing genre would likely enjoy."

Sly 2: Band of Thieves (8.4)
"The varied gameplay, well-constructed story, and excellent graphics, sound, and music all come together to form an experience that most anybody would enjoy."

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005 (8.4)
"Tiger Woods 2005 seems dead set on making new players comfortable--but this inadvertently sucks out a lot of the challenge"

Gradius V (8.2)
"Gradius V is a loving tribute to a classic series and to a style of gaming that may be old fashioned, but judging by how fun this game is, one that certainly isn't obsolete."

X-Men Legends (8.2)
"X-Men Legends is a great action RPG that packs in some strong action with a well-told story."

Dance Dance Revolution Extreme (7.9)
"DDR Extreme goes beyond the standard update and delivers new styles of gameplay that freshen up the experience without sacrificing the things that made the games popular in the first place."

Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone (7.9)
"Those who appreciate this brand of brute-force, hack-and-slash gameplay should find in Demon Stone a great-looking and enjoyable, if somewhat familiar, experience."

NBA Live 2005 (7.9)
"NBA Live 2005 plays a solid game of basketball, but even the flashy new features can't hide the fact that it isn't a huge step up from last year's edition."

NHL 2005 (7.9)
"Make no mistake. NHL 2005 is still a solid game of hockey--but it shouldn't be your first choice for one."

Silent Hill 4: The Room (7.9)
"The Room retains the dark, disturbing soul that is the unsettling center of the Silent Hill experience."

Star Wars: Battlefront (7.9)
"Star Wars: Battlefront delivers a satisfying team-based shooter experience that many hardcore Star Wars fans will probably enjoy greatly."

Gungrave: Overdose (7.8)
"Overdose is much, much better than the first Gungrave, and it provides an entertainingly over-the-top shooting experience that's well worth the unusually low asking price."

Second Sight (7.5)
"Despite a few rough patches, Second Sight ought to be an entertaining and unique ride for just about any action fan."

The Guy Game (7.5)
"If you're up for a little bit of trivia with a dirty sense of humor and you have three like-minded friends, The Guy Game won't let you down."

Blood Will Tell (7.3)
"Osamu Tezuka's storyline alone makes Blood Will Tell worth playing."

Mega Man X: Command Mission (7.2)
"While the game is too short and too simplistic, there's still a good time to be had here for Mega Man X fans."

Terminator 3: The Redemption (7.2)
"If you still have any interest in all things Terminator, or if you are even just a fan of good old-fashioned shooters, T3: The Redemption is certainly worth a weekend rental."

Spy Fiction (6.6)
"Spy Fiction is a game that will play most favorably to players who are willing to accept its adherence to stealth conventions."

Street Racing Syndicate (6.2)
"SRS tries to deliver an authentic street racing experience, but really only delivers an unexciting series of races."

Headhunter: Redemption (6.1)
"Headhunter: Redemption just isn't a very interesting game, from any angle."

Monster Hunter (5.7)
"In today's world, Monster Hunter is merely a living fossil, reminding us of what online console gaming once looked like."

ShellShock: Nam '67 (5.4)
"ShellShock is a run-of-the-mill shooter with periodic interruptions for bad language and really violent cutscenes."

Vietcong: Purple Haze (4.8)
"Thoroughly retooled by a new developer, Purple Haze generally makes a mess of what used to be a good game."

Carmen Sandiego: The Secret of the Stolen Drums (4.7)
"Don't go into The Secret of the Stolen Drums thinking you're going to get an educational game or an enjoyable platformer, as you'll find neither here."

Bad Boys: Miami Takedown (3.0)
"Miami Takedown really only serves as a cold reminder of a past we don't want to revisit."

GBA Game of the September

Review Excerpt

See screenshots of Pokemon LeafGreen Version
See screenshots of Pokemon LeafGreen Version
"In 1999, the original Pokémon Red and Blue games hit the Game Boy, and Nintendo's pocket monster franchise has been hugely successful ever since. It has been so successful, in fact, that the original games got a remake in the new Pokémon FireRed and LeafGreen. Fans of the original games will feel a sense of déjà vu going through these latest games, though they'll enjoy seeing all their old Pokémon favorites in full color on the Game Boy Advance. However, both new and long-time Pokémon players will find in FireRed and LeafGreen a lengthy and involving role-playing adventure. The gameplay hasn't changed much at all over the years, but it's still just as addictive. And the inclusion of a wireless adapter with every copy of FireRed and LeafGreen makes Pokémon's popular multiplayer element more accessible than ever."

Check out our other GBA reviews in September

Pokemon FireRed Version (8.4)
"Both new and long-time Pokémon players will find in FireRed and LeafGreen a lengthy and involving role-playing adventure."

Mega Man Zero 3 (8.3)
"If you've enjoyed Mega Man games in the past or have been waiting for one that's a little less punishing, Mega Man Zero 3 is the game to get."

F-Zero GP Legend (8.0)
"Time has been kind to this old gameplay standard, and it is as much fun to play today as it ever was."

Zoids: Legacy (7.6)
"The game does a masterful job of allowing players to collect and put together an army of unique and powerful robots, but it falls short at providing a cohesive or memorable role-playing experience."

Advance Guardian Heroes (6.9)
"Not the sequel many were hoping for, but it's still a decent beat-'em-up that should please people who go into it knowing exactly what they're getting."

Star Wars Trilogy: Apprentice of the Force (6.4)
"There are some choice moments in Star Wars Trilogy: Apprentice of the Force, but they don't come up as often as they should in this short action game."

Dragon Ball Z: Buu's Fury (6.3)
"The small problems that have been apparent throughout the series are still intact, along with a couple of new quirks that make the game overly easy."

Hamtaro: Ham-Ham Games (5.6)
"This Ham-Ham Olympiad is best suited to younger players."

Mobile Game of the September

Review Excerpt

See screenshots of Might and Magic
See screenshots of Might and Magic
"Might and Magic has a long legacy on the PC as a role-playing game series that, along with Ultima and a few others, set the standard for quality adventure games--and then helped maintain those standards for years. However, the new mobile version of Might and Magic isn't a role-playing game; it's an action adventure game. But more importantly, it features all the depth and high quality for which the Might and Magic series used to be known. Gameloft has essentially created its own Legend of Zelda with this game, which represents an excellent action adventure offering with role-playing overtones."

Check out our other Mobile reviews in September

Bassmaster: Legendary Lunkers (8.3)
"Bassmaster features deep, yet intuitive gameplay that feels like a genuine effort to simulate real-world fishing."

Gauntlet (8.3)
"Gauntlet is a great action game that runs better than most similar games on the mobile platform."

Neverwinter Nights: Mobile (8.3)
"Neverwinter Nights is one of the most fully realized mobile games to come along thus far, and it seems likely to stand as one of the more significant milestones for mobile gaming."

Pro Bowling (8.2)
"Pro Bowling is not just worthy of a download--it's the best mobile bowling game to date."

MLB Home Run Derby 2004 (8.0)
"MLB Home Run Derby 2004 offers the most complete derby experience on mobile."

Maxim To Go Darts (7.2)
"Maxim To Go Darts' well-designed modes challenge you to master a variety of shots, and they give the game enough depth to warrant steady gameplay."

Predator (7.2)
"Predator isn't the most original action game ever made, but its interesting level designs and stealthy gameplay make it a better than average play."

Election 2004 (7.1)
"Election 2004 is a funny, if flawed, look at the presidential election process."

Civil War: Road to Gettysburg (7.0)
"Civil War: Road to Gettysburg is a fun, though simple game that is well suited to anyone looking for a strategy game that's easy to get into."

Dragon Edge Pinball (6.9)
"Despite all its charm, Dragon Edge Pinball's questionable ball physics unfortunately keep it short of greatness."

NFL Football 2005 (6.5)
"Bad artificial intelligence and general playability issues are what keep Football 2005 shy of a first down."

MotorDuels: Outcast (6.3)
"While providing two different types of action seems like a great idea, MotorDuels' flawed execution prevents it from fulfilling its potential."

Alien vs. Predator (6.0)
"Alien vs. Predator could have been an inspired mobile action game with only a little more outlay; instead, it struggles to keep your attention for more than an hour or two."

Pax Athletica (5.8)
"Pax Athletica is conceptually interesting, but it delivers nothing more than listless play in practice."

Pat Cash Pro Tennis (5.1)
"Given that there are significantly better mobile tennis games around, there's no reason to delve into the world of Pat Cash."

Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown (5.0)
"Defender of the Crown benefits from the great concept of its predecessors, but it is unable to deliver an interface worthy of its pedigree."

The Price Is Right Cliffhangers (4.6)
"The Price Is Right Cliffhangers doesn't have much value when translated from your television to your phone."

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