Gex 3: Deep Cover Gecko Review

Like Gary Coleman in Diff'rent Strokes, Gex is having a tough time showing off his range.

Gex's problems with TV are seriously starting to affect his life. He's a secret agent who lives in his own high-tech spycave, but the only kind of case he ever seems to get entails collecting remote controls and entering television sets that transport him to strange new worlds. (Names like Invasion of the Body Slammers and Lake Flaccid speak for themselves.) In his latest adventure, he must rescue fellow agent X-Tra (Baywatch's Marliece Andrada, whose presence here screams, "You're being marketed to, little boy.") from his long-standing enemy, Rez. In typical third-season fashion, the makers of a hit series aren't straying too far from formula, and you can tell that, like Gary Coleman in Diff'rent Strokes, Gex is having a tough time showing off his range.

As mentioned before, Gex enters differently themed worlds where he must accomplish a number of tasks before receiving a remote-control prize (there are four per stage). The more controllers he gets, the more worlds he can enter. Gex gets around by running, jumping, bouncing on his tail, climbing grooved walls with his sticky gecko feet, and leaping with a karate kick. That kick can also be used against enemies, as can the tail bounce, tail swipe, and his spit after he swallows special power-ups.

Probably the signature feature of the Gex series is that comedian Dana Gould spits TV- and movie-related one-liners throughout. While the jokes were an inventive feature in the first Gex game, they've since gotten really tired. The writers behind Dana Gould's quips simply seem as though they've run out of ideas. The comments are a lot less Austin Powers-obsessed than they were in Enter the Gecko, but you'll still be thankful for the option to turn them down or off.

The game engine behind Gex 3 is indubitably the little engine that could. It's responsible for Gex: Enter the Gecko, Akuji the Heartless, this game, and the upcoming Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, too. Each game has seen its own modifications; this one obviously has the most in common with the last Gex game, the main difference being the improved game camera. Graphically, it looks much the same as before, maybe with a little less pop-up and slowdown, though both are still present. You now have more control over modifying your perspective, and the intelligent camera is better, but the views are still nowhere as tight as in Insomniac's Spyro the Dragon or Rare's Banjo-Kazooie. Specifically, it can still be terribly difficult to judge distance and depth from your viewpoint, sometimes making 3D-platform jumps a grueling proposition. This doesn't come up a great deal of the time, since there's a surprisingly small amount of platform jumping in this platform game, but when it appears, it can be a real teeth gnasher. The developers seem to have realized this because once you get further into levels like Little Red Riding in the Hood and Cut Cheese Island, shortcuts appear. So, if you miss a jump, you won't lose too much ground. But the final stage, where you hop from satellite to rotating satellite on your way to battle Rez, is a perspective nightmare, with dark textures on top of a dark background.

Visual gripes aside, the game is more fun than its predecessor. Gex's new outfits often provide him with new abilities. For instance, when he's wearing a vampire's cape or Little Red Riding Hood's hood, he can glide. When he has a pirate's hook, he can use it to slide down ropes. There are also minigames that place him in a kangaroo's pouch or in a tank. These elements may sound lame on paper, but they do break things up nicely. This, along with the improved level design, make the game addictive enough that you'll want to play it through, and maybe even go back and discover everything there is to find within.

Gex 3 is enough of an improvement over the last game that fans of the previous one should enjoy it even more, but with the leaps we've seen in 3D PlayStation platformers over the last year (read: Spyro the Dragon), it comes off feeling a bit dated. It's essentially a fun game, but one that ends up taking up residence in the badlands between a rent and a buy recommendation. So, in short, Gex has become a little more refined, but less original at the same time.

The Good

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The Bad

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