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Action Game of the Year (Posted Dec 7, 2004) Printer Friendly Page



2004 Action Game of the Year

2004 was a great year for Indie games and it isn't over yet with new games, such as Kraisoft's Alien Shooter knock-off After the End being released just today. But we have to draw the line somewhere in time and Kraisoft's game will have to wait for next year's awards. Now...without further ado...I present the finalists and the winner of the 2004 Action Game of the Year from Game Tunnel.

5th Place - Airstrike II

Developer: Divo Games Players: 1
Release: April 2004
System Requirements: Windows 95/98/ME/NT4/2000/XP, Pentium II 400 MHz, 128Mb RAM

Airstrike II started out as an expansion pack for the first game, but as it expanded it took on a life of its own and ended up a full-fledged game. For those who didn't get a chance to play the first this is a great point to jump into the series. In Airstrike you are placed in control of a futuristic military helicopter as you are called to fight the forces of evil. There is a bit of a storyline, though honestly it really takes a back seat as is usually the case in this type of game.

 The real focus here is on the amazing action on the screen. You will fight against both land and air targets simultaneously with a wide array of super cool weapons that you obtain slowly as you advance through the different levels of the game. The special effects are pretty much unchanged from the first game and still rate among the best available in an indie game. The graphics overall aren't a wit behind making this one of the best looking indie games around (following up the first game that won our award for best graphics last year), in addition to the strong music. Airstrike is a shooter fan's dream with its only real short-coming being that the sequel doesn't expand very far beyond the strong points of the first game very far, instead seeming content to make a very similar, slightly improved game, which is nonetheless spectacular.

Our Review:
"Airstrike 2 offers more of the same high caliber action of its predecessor, delivering a top-notch arcade experience on your home PC."

4th Place - Jets'n'Guns

Developer: Rake in Grass Players: 1
Release: November 2004 Dowload Now!
System Requirements: Windows 95/98/ME/NT4/2000/XP, Pentium 500 MHz, 64Mb RAM, DirectX 9.0b+, 32MB Video Card

For those looking for all the mayhem and spraying blood that life can offer, Jets'n'Guns is your game. In this seemingly straight forward shooter you control an old-school looking fighter with a penchant for destruction. I think that the first thing that most people will notice is the amazing and gruesome graphics. As you blast down enemy fighters the pilots will attempt to parachute to safety, which of course you can let them do. More likely, however, players will blast the parachutist to pieces, with blood spurting out of them as their mutilated bodies fall to the ground.

On the ground there are other troops trying desperately to take a couple of shots at you, though they will soon find out that shrapnel from the planes you are taking out above them will lead them to partake in a gory death. While the bloodbath may be what draws gamers to this game, the beautiful graphics that fill the screen with wonderful particle effects and the wide assortment of cool weapons will keep gamers coming back for more. Jets'n'Guns features a shop that contains a very wide variety of different items for your plane, that can also be powered up. Due to the number of items in the shop and the different levels of the items, it leads a large amount of personal customization that you can do to your plane. Things such as cooling down the main guns must be taken into consideration or you'll find yourself blasted to pieces. Not that being torn to shreds yourself isn't unlikely, the one complaint about this game has been that it is VERY difficult. Still, if you are up to the challenge, Jets'n'Guns will meet you at the plate.

Our Review:
None available at this time (check back in the near future)

3rd Place - Chromadrome

Developer: Alpha 72 Games Players: 1 or 2 (vs)
Release: June 2004
System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX 8+, 32MB Video Card, 800Mhz, 128 MB RAM

Chromadrome could almost be considered a racing game if all you were doing was taking a look at the screenshot. For those who dig a little deeper you'll find a game that I would say is most similar to STUN Runner in the way it plays, though it doesn't really play or look that much like that game. In Chromadrome you control a metallic ball as it speeds down a mostly straight track. The track does through in plenty of drop-offs, loops and corkscrews to keep your attention, along with a large number of enemies that you blast out of your way.

The game plays very well and gets more and more intense the farther you go down the track thanks to speed-ups that are placed just about everywhere. The speed-ups help to increase the tension as you seem to be flying nearly out of control as you reach the end of the course, which makes the game very exciting to play. In addition, many modes and some fabulous graphics make the game have a very long play life, and in an interesting feature, the game actually tracks what its play life is. From the main menu you can access "Statistics," which will show you, if you own the full version, how long you've played, and what your cost per play was. Through into the mix a split screen two player mode that allows each player to use a USB mouse that has been connected to the computer and Chromadrome came out as one of the games that you definitely should have picked up in 2004.

Our Review:
"A nearly perfect game that all players should check out. There really isn't much more you could hope for in such a game."

2nd Place - Global Defense Network

Developer: Evertt Players: 1
Release: July 2004
System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX 8.1+, 700Mhz

GDN will probably end up on my most un-appreciated games of the year list. This game was the second in two years by the developer and it shows in the better interface and the overall higher quality of the game, and that is saying something. However what really makes GDN a winner is the innovative game play. It might be hard to think of a game that is basically a shooting gallery being innovative, but Global Defense Network manages to do just that, presenting an entertaining mixture of game play, weapons and story that make the game fun to play.

This is one of the few games I played this year where I played the demo multiple times, trying to figure out every facet of it as I was really enjoying replaying the levels and trying to increase my scores. (and I played the full version plenty) In addition to the strong replay value, GDN scores really well for what I have previously termed art in action. The game's music is wonderfully vibrant and works so well with the game play that you seem to be blasting things in rhythm and destroying targets to the beat. The experience is truly something that you need to experience to fully appreciate, and it works so well I think this is another game that should find its way into every gamer's collection. Unfortunately I think that there are too many people who haven't taken this game for a spin yet, and for those who haven't, you should, your really don't' know what you are missing.

Our Review:
"Global Defense Network is one of the more original games to grace my hard drive lately."

2004 Action Game of the Year - Hamsterball

Developer: Raptisoft Players: 1-4 (vs and Party Games)
Release: February 2004 Dowload Now!
System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, DirectX 8+, 700Mhz, 32 MB RAM

Of all the Action titles I think that most people would likely consider Hamsterball to be the least innovative. There may be some truth to that in a general sense. The game has a lot of similarities with the classic Marble Madness. However while that game may have started a lot of the sentences, Hamsterball finishes them and puts an exclamation mark on the end of each! In a word Hamsterball is fantastic from start to finish. This is one of the better produced Indies out there with beautiful graphics that are quite varied from level to level within the theme.

As if you needed anything more, the music is also top-notch. Hamsterball is a game that most anyone can pick up and play. My kids turn it on all the time, and darnit if I cannot turn it off without playing a few levels. After months and months of playing this game and still enjoying it immensely every time there was little doubt in my mind as to which action game was the best this year. Hamsterball has both the tangible and intangible pieces to it that make the game intensely fun. What is more, the developers haven't been content to just let the great game be great. They've come back and revisited the game twice, first adding multiplayer party games to the mix in addition to a two player race option to all the levels you've unlocked, and then more recently returning to add a couple more levels through their affiliation with Shockwave. With beautifully graphics, 3 different skill levels that mix up the play of each board in a manner that makes you want to play through them again and again, and some very innovative and interesting level design that makes each level play like a new adventure, Hamsterball is a must own game that handily wins our 2004 Action Game of the Year Award in a group of outstanding games.

Our Review:
"Hamsterball is a great game start to finish, and a wonderful example of all that is right with Indie gaming."

Conclusion...

Well not really! The Action award was just the first of many awards to be handed out this year. Check back in a few days to see which Arkanoid game got the top prize!

  

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