July 19, 2018
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Publisher: MacPlay    Genre: Action
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3    RAM: 128 MB

Giants: Citizen Kabuto
November 20, 2001 | Eddie Park

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This is war!
Much like Aliens vs Predator, Giants actually has three distinct races with which to play with. In the single-player campaign, players will start off with the party-loving Meccs, proceed to Delphi's Sea Reaver portion, and then take control of the towering trash compactor Kabuto. The missions tell a coherent story as they go along and actually manage to gel pretty well together. Some games that attempt this formula usually end up feeling more like a disjointed series of levels rather than a seamless whole, but Giants manages to skirt this issue and turns into the type of game where you find yourself compelled to complete the next level so as to further advance the story.

One of the more pleasing aspects of Giants is that it allows you to play in either first or third-person mode. The third-person mode behaves much like Rune, with the camera positioned just behind the player's character. A targeting reticule is provided in both modes, allowing for accurate attacks in both. Which mode players decide to play in will ultimately be up to them, and it's wonderful that Giants gives players that option.

Another welcome feature common to all the races is the ability to zoom in on a targeted area, complete with crosshairs. There are three levels of zoom, and this handy feature allows anyone to scan the distant horizon, and even pick off enemies with conventional firearms when handy. How Kabuto manages to perform such an action is beyond me, but hey, everything can be explained away with magic.

The Meccs will be instantly familiar to fans of gun-based FPS titles. They intially have access to nought but a handgun, affectionately known as a "pea-shooter," but get access to more equipment when encountering the Smarties. The Smarties, though described as an indigenous race, act more like resources than anything else, providing the Meccs with Jetpacks, Machine Guns, and Grenades. Thus armed, the Meccs spend a lot of time rescuing Smarties, fending off the local wildlife, and getting cozy with anything even remotely female.

Delphi's Sea Reaver campaign plays more like Rune. Her main armaments are a sword and a bow. As the normal bow she is equipped with is underwhelming at best in terms of power, much of the game is spent hacking away with her sword. She also has the ability to cast a rather large number of spells, 12 in all, though she can only hold 5 types at a time. In the single-player campaign, spells are granted to her by Smarties, much like how the Meccs acquire weapons and equipment. Delphi also has the ability to "turbo." By positioning the cursor at a faraway point and clicking the turbo button, Delphi will zoom through the air towards the selected point.

Kabuto's campaign is pretty much what one would expect. As the manual says, "you only know two things for sure: you are very big and you're mad as hell." Kabuto is nigh-invulnerable, shrugging off hits that would flatten any Sea Reaver or Mecc and being able to pound buildings into rubble with a few well-placed swings. Kabuto, having little use for Smartie companionship, simply eats them when he encounters them. Eating enough Smarties will increase Kabuto's already impressive size, and when he reaches full size, he will gain the ability to use his horns as well as have access to the Adrenaline meter. His horns can be used to skewer captured squishy things that he doesn't feel like eating right away, and the Adrenaline meter can be used to smash things even more violently than before.

This game is flush with humor. The Meccs cut-scenes in particular had be rolling the whole time, with line after line of witty banter rolling from their mouths the whole time. The interactions between the various characters and the Smarties are also quite funny, particularly the ones between Delphi and Zan, the Samurai Smartie. Watch for some Star Wars homages in the cut-scenes as well.

The missions themselves, for the most part, are quite well-balanced, though they tend to slant towards the easy side. I rarely had to go through a mission more than once, though there were a couple of times when I would be forced to restart a mission, which can be done at any time. The objectives themselves tend to vary, and include everything from rescuing hostages to blowing up an objective. The least exciting missions centered around base building, which basically consisted of gathering Smarties and giving them food in order to motivate them into building things. These missions had a definite tutorial flavor to them, and I suspect were put in place mainly to educate the player on base building techniques. However, the Mac version of Giants has yet to see multiplayer, which should be released in a patch by MacPlay sometime in the future.

I have a particular soft spot for the Kabuto missions. It was quite gratifying to see enemies that were largely impressive in the first two campaigns become reduced to tiny peanut-sized snacks when playing as Kabuto. It was even more gratifying to stomp them into the ground on a whim, or even just ignore them altogether.

The controls are pretty standard for Giants, mirroring those of most first-person shooters. Players can adjust the mouse sensitivity and map keys to various functions. Granted, there are a lot of functions, but they should become second nature to players once they play through a few missions.


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