The Italian Job PlayStation Video Game Review

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This review was originally written on July 27, 2002
Not A Great Game, But Not A Bad Game Either

The Italian Job video game is based on the 1969 movie starring Michael Caine (as Charlie Croker), Noel Coward (as Mr. Bridger), and Benny Hill (as Professor Simon Peach). Interestingly, the movie was remade in 2003 with Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, Seth Green, and Donald Sutherland. That movie also had a tie-in video game on the PlayStation 2, which is a completely different game than the one I will be reviewing today.

The plot of the movie and the game is very simple: A gang of crooks steal four million dollars through a traffic jam, while avoiding the police and mafia. HOW they do it is the fun part!

The game contain 16 missions across three different locales. Eight are in London, six are in Turin, and the final two are in the Alps.

I'd like to preface these next few paragraphs by telling you that I saw the film in it's original widescreen format (aka letterbox) on the Speedvision cable channel. Although this is a commercial channel, I presume the film was not edited. If it WAS edited, some of what I'm about to write may be incorrect.

Out of the eight London missions, only two are directly based on the film: "The Ambassador's Car" is implied in the film (they don't explicitly show you driving from the prison directly to the garage to pick up your car). "Peaches For Peaches" is also implied in the film (we see the hookers outside in Charlie's car while at Peach's place, but we never see him actually pick them up and take them there). The other six missions are completely made up using characters from the film.

The first mission in Turin is completely made up. It's just there to help you locate the places that you'll be visiting in later missions. I don't know why they make you visit the police station, since it is never visited in the game (or the film). The other five missions are directly based on the film (although the game maker's had to take a few minor liberties to make them work in the context of the game). Both Alps missions come directly from the film.

This is the only game that I can think of based on a film (or TV) license that makes PERFECT use of that license. To have a game this faithful to it's license is extremely rare.

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GAMEPLAY

Before you even get to play any missions you have to deal with an extremely long loading time of about 30 seconds for each mission. This could be enough to turn some people off, and make them turn off the game, but I had enough patience to wait out each of these loadings.

Some of the missions are extremely fun, some are downright annoying, and one or two are hard as heck. Since I couldn't pass a few of the missions, I had to use the in-game cheat code to unlock all of the missions. This was great because it allowed me to play all of the missions (or at least attempt all of them) and I could keep playing my favorite ones.

"The Getaway" mission in Turin (a near-exact recreation of the film's iconic Mini Cooper chase scene) is one of my favorites even though I could never pass it. The reason why I couldn't pass it is one of the game's few faults: the cops. They are completely annoying, but are a lot better than the cops in Driver 2. As you get their attention, they (of course) pursue you. The only way to get the cops off your butt is to drive fast enough and take enough turns so as to lose them. When you have a timer counting down and a mission objective to take care of, this is a major annoyance. As if that wasn't bad enough, while they're chasing you, the cops are trying to write down your license plate number. If they get your whole number, you're busted (or "nicked" as the game calls it). Although this is a major improvement over the way the cops deal with you in Driver 2, it has one major flaw. Logically, and in real life, even when the cops get your entire license plate number, you can still drive away and have them chase you. For the game to simply have your mission end because the cops got your entire license plate number is ridiculous. Most often the cops are the reason why you'll fail missions (such as why I couldn't pass "The Getaway").

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Using a walkthrough found at GameFaqs, I went into Free Ride mode and tried to recreate the path of "The Getaway." Although it didn't have the thrill and excitement of the actual mission, for the most part, I was able get a sense of what that mission is like ... and that was a lot of fun. It was because of that that I got interested in seeing the film (I first played the game without having seen the film). I wanted to see if the cool getaway in the game was just as cool in the movie. I never thought I'd say this about a game based based on a film, but the game's getaway was BETTER! The film cuts back and forth between the getaway chase and scenes that take place elsewhere at the same time. This completely throws off the continuity and excitement of the getaway. Still, a game that will make you want to see the movie it's based on is a good thing indeed (especially for the studio that owns the film and the license).

AUDIO/VIDEO

The music is a top-notch mixing of an instrumental of Quincy Jones' "Get A Bloomin' Move On" (aka The Self Preservation Society theme) from the film, bits of "Rule Britannia" (a traditional song also used in the film), and quirky background music that fits the setting perfectly. I enjoyed the Quincy Jones theme so much that I put the game CD in my computer's CD-Rom drive and extracted the short song to my hard drive for later recording onto a music CD so that I could listed to it with my regular music collection. How often do you want to do that with video game music?!?

The graphics are standard Playstation 1 graphics, though they're actually pretty good. There's nothing graphics-wise that stood out as being really bad or exceptionally good, so there's not much to say.

REPLAYABILITY

After finishing the main game ("The Italian Job" mode) you will have access to the Challenge mode, which consists of short missions with tough times where you will test your skills in braking, turning and jumping. There are five jump tests, but since all five use the same course, this gets boring real fast. There is one break test, but it isn't as hard as it initially seems. A checkpoint race on an icy road, a survival lap around the city, and two destructor races (one on an icy road and another viewed from overhead) round out the rest of the challenges.

Along with "The Italian Job," there are other modes that are unlocked from the start. They are:

• Checkpoint - You have to reach all of the checkpoints in the allotted time. Each checkpoint you reach gives you a little extra time to make it to the next one.

• Destructor - Here your mission is to destroy the line of cones in the sequence before the time runs out.

• Party Play - This is the multiplayer mode in which you can play with up to 8 people in different Checkpoint, Destructor and Challenge mode stages.

• Free Ride - Here you can cruise around London and (if you unlocked it) Turin in any car (you start off with one unlocked). You can use this mode to familiarize yourself with the cities, but be aware of the cops. You'll even find some secrets within this mode. Check the walkthrough here are GameFaqs for more info.

As you complete the missions in "The Italian Job" mode, you will unlock extra cars and tracks for these other modes.

The problem with all these extras is that they get boring after a while because it's just the same thing over and over again. At first it's fun, then it's just tedious.

TO BUY OR TO RENT?

Rent. The game is just too darn short to have as a permanent part of your collection, even with the unlockable extras.

Super Bust-A-Move 2 PlayStation 2 Video Game Review

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This review was originally written on December 28, 2003
What A Difference A Sequel Makes

If you read my review of Super Bust-A-Move 1 for the Playstation 2 you'd know that I gave it a very bad review. Simply put, it's the worst Bust-A-Move game ever as it is broken in every possible way.

I went into Super Bust-A-Move 2 expecting the same thing, hoping for marginally better. How pleasantly surprised I was to find that nearly everything wrong with Super Bust-A-Move has been fixed, resulting in a game that is one of the best in the series.

GAMEPLAY MODES

Here's what you've got:

– Story Mode (1 player)
– 1 Player Puzzle: Training / Normal / Classic
– Battle Mode – CPU Battle: Normal / Expert / Chain Reaction (1 player vs. computer)
– Battle Mode – 2 Player Battle: Normal / Expert / Chain Reaction (player vs. player)
– Edit Mode: Edit / Play / Save / Load (create your own puzzles)

The Story and Edit modes were absent in Super Bust-A-Move, and I'm very happy to see them return.

CONTROLS

Unlike Super Bust-A-Move, the controls are pretty quick to respond (which is a MUST for this type of game). However, they seem to be a tad slower than Bust-A-Move '99 & 4 (both for the Playstation 1). It's not a very big problem because they still respond very well.

GRAPHICS

The annoying and distracting backgrounds from Super Bust-A-Move have been toned down. They are now static and not in any way annoying or distracting. Thank Goodness!

The bubbles, too, have been toned down from what they were in Super Bust-A-Move. They are all regular size and it's easy to quickly tell them apart

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MISCELLANEOUS

The plethora of long loading screens from Super Bust-A-Move are a thing of the past. While the one at the very beginning of the game is a bit longer than it should be, most of the loadings are 1 second long or less.

The only thing they didn't fix from Super Bust-A-Move are the characters. We still have a bunch of Pokemon rejects. I wish they would have put back all the cool characters from the Playstation 1 Bust-A-Move games. Oh, well. At least the characters aren't a very important part of the game (you can ignore them easily).

WHICH BUST-A-MOVE TO GET?

There are three good Bust-A-Move games that you can play on a Playstation 2. In all honesty, I can't recommend one over the other because each one has something unique that the other two don't have. If it helps, here's a quick comparison:

Bust-A-Move '99 (PS1) - Basic puzzle play, Win Contest (continuous 1 player vs. comp), Collection (user created puzzles), no Story Mode.
Bust-A-Move 4 (PS1) - Adds pulleys to the puzzles, no Win Contest, no Collection.
• Super Bust-A-Move 2 (PS2) - Adds conveyor belt walls and all sorts of unique bubbles to the puzzles, no Win Contest, no Collection.

All three have Edit mode and the rest of the mandatory puzzle modes.

If you're a die-hard Bust-A-Move fan, I'd say buy all three (that's what I plan on doing). If you're unsure if which to buy, rent all three and see which one you like the best.

Super Bust-A-Move PlayStation 2 Video Game Review

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This review was originally written on July 4, 2003
Super?!? Super CRUD Is More Like it!

I can't believe all the good reviews Super Bust-A-Move is getting. I just have to chime in with my opinion on this game. Simply put, they broke Bust-A-Move. They removed almost all of the game play modes; they removed the edit mode; they made the controls unresponsive (they take a second to respond); they added annoying and distracting backgrounds; the bubbles have been graphically-enhanced so they they, too, are now annoying to look at; they took away all the cool characters and added a bunch of Pokemon rejects; and they added a TON of long loading screens.

Most of that is pretty much self-explanatory, so I don't need to elaborate on it. However, I will give you a list of what few game play modes there are in the game:

– 1 Player: Training / Normal / Classic
– CPU Battle: Normal / Expert
– 2 Player Battle: Normal / Expert / Chain Reaction

Yup, that's it.

I rented this game to see if I had made a mistake buying Bust-A-Move 4 (for the Playstation 1). Well, I can tell you this, my purchase of Bust-A-Move 4 was definitely well worth it. I have Super Bust-A-Move 2 on my rental list. Although I suspect that it won't be much better than this one, I'll still be optimistic and give it a try.

If you want a good Bust-A-Move game to play on your Playstation 2, get yourself Bust-A-Move '99 or Bust-A-Move 4 (both for the Playstation 1). Both are essentially the same, though 4 adds pulleys to the puzzles. Sure the graphics look like they came off of a SNES, but is that really such a bad thing?!? The load times are short (to non-existent at times), the characters look cool (in that odd-Japanese way), and most of all, the controls are extremely responsive and there are a ton of game play modes.

Disney's Stitch: Experiment 626 PlayStation 2 Video Game Review

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This review was originally written on October 11, 2012
Camera & Controls Make The Game Harder Than It Is, Worthless Unlockables, Flying Through Rings!!!

Disney's Stitch: Experiment 626 (re-released in Disney Classics packaging) is a 3D platformer based on characters from the 2002 animated Disney film "Lilo & Stitch", and is billed on the back of the case as a prequel to that film. As such, do not expect to see Lilo, Nani, or Pleakley in the game - though Stitch, Dr. Jumba Jookiba, Captain Gantu, and Dr. Habbitrale are all here.

STORY

If you've never seen the "Lilo & Stitch" movie, here's a brief synopsis of the events that take place at the start of the film:

Dr. Jumba Jookiba is put on trial by the Galactic Order for illegal genetic experiments, including his latest creation, Experiment 626: an aggressive and cunning creature that is nearly indestructible. Jumba is imprisoned while Experiment 626 is set to be exiled on a desert asteroid. However, 626 escapes during transport on Captain Gantu's ship. 626 hijacks a police spacecraft, but finding himself outnumbered and outgunned, activates the hyperdrive and eventually crash lands on Earth. The Grand Councilwoman orders Jumba to work with Agent Pleakley to recover 626 discreetly. 626 survives his crash landing, but is knocked unconscious by a passing truck, and is taken to an animal shelter because he is believed to be a breed of dog. Eventually a little girl named Lilo adopts him from the animal shelter and names him Stitch.

As this game takes place before those events, you'll see what Jumba did with Experiment 626 (aka Stitch) between the time of his "birth" and the time of his and Jumba's capture by the Galactic Order. The game presents the story through eight cutscenes, but it doesn't present it very well. At no point did I get a clear idea as to what the story was supposed to be. The manual actually presents the story better than the game does:

In a secret lab on a distant planet in a strange part of the universe, Experiment 626 is born. When he awakes, the now-inferior Experiment 621 is already there, watching jealously as the new 626 gets all of the attention and he is reduced to doing simple around-the-house chores. In another secret lab not so far away, Jumba's arch nemesis is hard at work on experiments of his own. The nefarious Dr. Habbitrale is racing to create mutants more powerful then anything cooked up in Jumba's lab. For his first test, 626 will make his way to Dr. Habbitrale's mountain hide-away and demonstrate that nothing is more powerful than Jumba's creations, and certainly nothing designed by Dr. Habbitrale. Meanwhile, Captain Gantu watches all of these proceedings aboard a gigantic military ship on the fringes of the galaxy. He is observing the activities of these scientists with a great deal of interest, waiting for them to cross the line. Perhaps their destructive little mutants will go a step too far this time... then it's a long, long stay in a very uncomfortable place for Jumba, Habbitrale, and their miserable little creations.

You control Experiment 626 as he takes part in a series of missions created by Jumba to test what his creation can do. In each of these, 626's chief goal is to collect DNA for Jumba to use in his ongoing genetic research, then reach the teleporter at the end of each level to return to the lab. 626 is fond of destruction, so along the way he will do his best to cause as much mayhem as possible, while still getting the job done. As 626 collects more DNA, more worlds will open for exploration...and destruction! Standing in the way will be many enemies: Buzzers, Mutant Greemas, Soldiers, Heavy Soldiers, and Frogbots. Bosses include Dr. Habbitrale in his giant robot, Experiment 621 (after being mutated), and Captain Gantu.

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GAMEPLAY

The game is a basic 3D platformer, with exploration, item finding, and fighting enemies. Although 626 has sharp claws, you will not use them at all to cause any sort of destruction. Instead, you'll be shooting your way through the levels with a Plasma Ray Gun, wielding up to four at once. While defeating enemies and blowing up as much stuff as possible, you'll also be collecting DNA to open additional levels, and finding hidden film reels to unlock videos in the Secrets section.

When you first start playing the game, the first thing you'll notice is that the camera and the controls conspire against you in an effort to make the game harder than it is. The camera constantly snaps behind 626, thus never staying where you'd want it to. You can control the camera, somewhat, with the right analog stick, but you can't move it around a full 360 degrees. You can only move it 180 degrees in each direction, and you need to hold the stick in place in order to see anything. Once you let go, it snaps right back behind 626. Pressing in on the right analog stick to have 626 face the same direction as the camera helps, as it's the only way to get him to turn without moving, but holding the camera in place with the stick and then pressing in on it is a bit awkward to do.

The biggest flaw with the controls is that you're *always* running - well, if you use the left analog stick to move 626, that is. You see, the d-pad is used for walking, and the left analog stick is used for running. Most people would use the stick to move around a character on-foot (does anyone even use the d-pad for character movement anymore?), so why they wouldn't implement true analog controls is beyond me. In order to get 626 to walk using the stick, you have to tilt it so ever-so-precisely slightly, that it's too annoying to bother with. Yet, if you use the stick alone, you'll be running around all the time, which will lead to a lot of unnecessary deaths.

Besides that, the controls will often change if the camera changes in relation to 626. If I hold the camera in front of 626 and press Down, he'll walk forward (towards the camera). If I let go of the right analog stick, and thus the camera snaps back behind 626, now I'll start walking in the opposite direction. This becomes frustratingly annoying when you're wall crawling upside down, as the controls will usually flip themselves mid-move. I'll be pressing Down to go forward while upside down on a horizontal surface, and once I get to a vertical surface the control for forward is now Up, even though I was still in the middle of moving forward. The boss fight against Experiment 621 (boss fight #2) was a pain in the butt because of this.

When I first started playing the game, I was suffering unnecessary deaths in just the first level thanks to this killer combination of crappy camera and cruddy controls. Mind you, I've been playing video games for over 25 years, and many of them have been 3D platformers, so I'm no beginner.

At strange as this sounds, you *will* get used to the poor controls and camera, though that doesn't excuse the developers from not doing a better job on both of them. After beating the game, I went back and replayed some of the earlier levels, and was able to breeze through them. That said, this isn't the type of game that should have a steep learning curve. I can't imagine many kids having the patience to get used to the game as much as I did.

Some of the annoyance is lessened by the fact that you have infinite lives (but not infinite health). Besides that, on all levels (including boss fights) your progress is not lost when you die; you'll just warp back to the last checkpoint you activated. Coupled with your infinite lives, it means you can keep going until you finally get to the end of the level or defeat the boss or get frustrated by the game and turn it off.

That said, health pick-ups (called Alien Toes, but they look like blue-green chicken drumsticks) are plentiful, and most enemies are pushovers, especially with the lock-on aim. Most of them can be defeated by going through the game with guns blazing. You have infinite ammo, and can wield up to four guns at a time, so it's only the enemies that are immune to gunfire that will present even the slightest bit of a challenge. Even then, you'll die most frequently from the platforming aspects of the game (especially due to the poor controls and camera), than you will from the enemies.

As I said, there's a lock-on aim function, but it only locks on to enemies. There is no manual aim. You can only shoot crates, crystals, tikis, etc., by blindly shooting in their direction. The easiest way to shoot them is to get right up next to them, but since you take damage from the explosions, that's not suggestible.

On each level you need to collect DNA in order to open up the other levels. DNA is plentiful, but some are placed in locations where you can only get them if you kill yourself. I don't understand why the level designers would do such a stupid thing. Thankfully, you don't need to collect all of the DNA in order to unlock all levels. You'll only need 640 of the 900 DNA strewn throughout the levels in order to unlock the last boss fight.

DNA isn't the only collectible in the game, though it's the only thing you need to gather in order to progress. Also hidden in each level are some film reels. Some are hidden, others will be given to you if you play a game of follow-the-leader/tag with the Squid Bots. The Squid Bots are these upright-standing blue whale/popcorn shrimp-looking things that are also hidden in each level. Find one, touch it, and then follow it to each location it stops at, and if you complete the chase, you get a film reel. That's all easier said than done because the Squid Bots do not stay in each place for very long. If you don't get to it before it disappears, you have to go back to the starting position and try all over again. You're supposed to use 626's Slow Motion ability to follow the Squid Bots, but the ability only lasts for a few seconds before you have to press the Slow Mo button again, and each usage drains your Slow Mo meter. So not only do you have to keep pressing the Slow Mo button, but chances are you won't have enough energy on the meter to last the entire chase.

Needless to say, after the first few times playing with a Squid Bot, you'll eventually find them too annoying to bother with and will ignore them completely. It's not like there's a great reward for getting the film reels, anyway. You use them to buy unlockable videos in the erroneously-named "Secrets" section ("Movies" or "Videos" is a better name as that's all that's in there). All of the purchasable film clips and trailers can all be found on the "Lilo & Stitch" movie DVD (except for the theatrical trailer - which is unlocked from the start anyway), so there's no point in bothering to unlock them. You can buy the DVD really cheaply these days (especially used), and the PlayStation 2 can play DVDs, which makes getting the film reels in the levels and unlocking the videos all that more pointless. I picked up a copy of the DVD earlier this year for $4 in a thrift shop. I paid $10 for this game brand new. Guess which I'll get more enjoyment from?

Every level is pretty linear, but sometimes the game doesn't give you a clear idea as to where you're supposed to go. Level 4-4 ("Error #626") is one example. I couldn't figure out how to get out of the starting area. They gave me a grapple gun, but I couldn't get it to latch onto anything. There were pipes that it *should* have easily latched onto, but it didn't. After a half-hour of trying, I eventually got it to latch onto a coupling on the pipe, and then a coupling on another pipe, so that I could swing onto the ledge that lead out of the room - but only after I jumped onto one of the destructible purple/black yellow caution-striped devices, and then swung myself on top of the first pipe. I get the feeling that this wasn't the way the game designers intended this area to be passed, but it was the only way I could get the game to let me through.

On some levels you will be given a Grapple Gun or a Jetpack to get around, but only for those levels (you lose them once you exit the level). The grapple gun is fun, and provides a nice diversion from the usual jumping and double-jumping; the jetpack not so much. On the jetpack levels, you're told that you have to keep flying through rings - didn't Superman have to go through this nonsense in that crappy Nintendo 64 game? - in order to keep getting more jetpack fuel. What you're not told is that, in reality, you also have to keep flying through rings in order to NOT DIE! You're participating in a timed race without being told as much. So even if you decide to land somewhere and turn off the jetpack, with plenty of fuel left to keep going to the next ring, you're gonna be killed simply because you didn't go through the next ring before it closed. So much for exploring.

You exit each level by stepping onto a small teleporter pad. However, there's no confirmation to leave a level. Once you step onto the teleporter pad, that's it. Many times I accidentally stepped onto the pad before I got a chance to explore the area surrounding the pad for collectibles. On Level 3-3 ("Jungle Flight"), I jetpacked over the teleport pad without even knowing it was there - thus ruining my chance of getting the collectibles that were right next to it, unless I replay the level from the beginning (it was annoying enough to go through it the first time).

The game auto-saves when you exit a level via a teleporter pad, as well as when you exit the level through the pause menu's Level Select option. Exiting the level though the pause menu is the only way you can manually save your game, but when you go back into the level, you'll be back at the start, and not at the last checkpoint from where you left.

AUDIO & VIDEO

The voice acting is top-notch as all of the actors from the movie reprise their roles here: Chris Sanders as Experiment 626/Stitch, David Ogden Stiers as Dr. Jumba Jookiba, Kevin Michael Richardson as Captain Gantu, the legendary Frank Welker as Experiment 621, and James Arnold Taylor as Dr. Habbitrale. Zoe Caldwell, who voiced the Grand Councilwoman in the movie, is listed in the cast, but her movie character does not appear in the game (except in the movie clips). Voice actress Jennifer Hale is also listed in the voice cast, but I don't know which character she voiced in the game (there were no female characters that I can recall).

The use of the voice samples can be rather hit or miss. As you play through the game, different characters will chime in with comments, but these comments rarely have anything to do with what's going on. Even worse, those clips repeat frequently!

None of the music from the movie is used in the video game, but since the game takes place on exotic planets and space environments, and not Hawaii, I wouldn't have expected for the movie music to appear. There's some techno/rock music used, but I can't say that I paid much attention to it. All of the sound effects sound appropriate to their use, so no complaints there.

The graphics are serviceable, but lack the polish of later PlayStation 2 games. The game definitely looks like one that was made in 2002. When I first popped the game in, I thought the graphics were quite poor, but they grew on me. I still think the menu text looks very plain; very PlayStation 1-ish.

MORE FLAWS & NOTES

• 626 is supposed to be an ultimate force of destruction, but he does no hands-on destroying. With his four claws, he should be tearing apart the environments and the enemies. Instead, he uses his guns to destroy everything - like we haven't seen *that* many times before.

• Standing too close to explosive crates (all destructible items?) while destroying them will take health away from 626. I thought he was virtually indestructible?

• The Level Select menu tells you how much DNA you got, and still need to get, in each level, but gives you no information on the film reels. It's only when you complete a level (or exit through the pause menu's Level Select option) that you can see how many film reels you've obtained, and how many you still have left to find on that level. That means that unless you take notes and keep track while playing the game, you won't know what levels you need to go back to to get more film reels. How could the lack of this *essential* "feature" not be noticed during the testing phase of the game's production?!?

• The game doesn't activate checkpoints unless you specifically go right over or next to them. This is a problem in areas where the game provides a path below the checkpoint. One example of this is Level 4-1, "Energy Lines", where you can easily grapple past a high checkpoint by taking the low path underneath it.

• There are only 15 levels in the game (though most are kinda long), and only 3 boss fights. It won't take you very long to go through the whole game.

• The last level before the final boss (Level 4-5, "Stitch In Space") is INSANE! It's one of those damn jetpack through the rings races, except you're in a very tight tunnel, the rings are really small, and you're not given enough time to go through them. Luckily, if you collect enough DNA to unlock the final boss, you don't have to bother with this level. Ironically, the final boss is extremely easy to defeat.

REPLAYABILITY

The "Secrets" section contains the following unlockable videos: the "Lilo & Stitch" theatrical trailer; 21 clips from the "Lilo & Stitch" movie; 3 "Interstitchals" (clips from the "Lilo & Stitch" trailers in which Stitch invades "Beauty & The Beast", "Aladdin", and "The Little Mermaid"); and 8 in-game cinematics. The trailer is unlocked from the start and the in-game cinematics unlock as you play. The others can be purchased for 2 to 6 film reels each (you'll need 101 film reels to buy them all).

Here's the complete list of unlockable videos, along with their runtimes that I personally timed using a stopwatch. It kinda goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: If you have not seen the "Lilo & Stitch" movie, watching all of these film clips WILL spoil the movie for you. All of the non in-game cinematic videos are presented in 4:3 letterbox, thus preserving the original aspect ratios. The movie on the DVD is, of course, 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen.

01. Theatrical Trailer (2:17) [not on DVD]
02. Stitch's Trial (0:38)
03. Breaking Free (1:08)
04. Cruiser Chase (0:24)
05. Hyperdrive (0:34)
06. Pudge's Story (0:51)
07. This Is Scrump (0:52)
08. Meeting Bubbles (1:05)
09. Practical Voodoo (0:30)
10. Falling Star (0:21)
11. Arrival On Earth (0:41)
12. Meeting Lilo (0:26)
13. Adopting Stitch (0:28)
14. Bounty Hunters (0:35)
15. Ugly Dog (0:27)
16. Bike Ride (0:30)
17. Jumba Disguised (0:40)
18. Arriving Home (0:39)
19. Evil Koala (0:23)
20. Jumba Attacks (0:26)
21. Gantu's Ambush (0:58)
22. Exile On Earth (0:16)
23. Interstitchal 1: Beauty & The Beast (Trailer) (0:54) [cuts off theatrical date & narration at end; present on DVD]
24. Interstitchal 2: Aladdin (Trailer) (0:54) [cuts off theatrical date & narration at end; present on DVD]
25. Interstitchal 3: The Little Mermaid (Trailer) (0:51) [cuts off theatrical date & narration at end; present on DVD]
26. In-Game Cinema 1 (0:42)
27. In-Game Cinema 2 (1:17)
28. In-Game Cinema 3 (0:28)
29. In-Game Cinema 4 (0:37)
30. In-Game Cinema 5 (0:57)
31. In-Game Cinema 6 (0:18)
32. In-Game Cinema 7 (0:20)
33. In-Game Cinema 8 (0:54)

Adding up all of the film clips (videos #2-#22), you get a total of 12:52 from a movie that runs 1:25:12 (DVD runtime). Adding up all of the in-game cinematics (videos #26-#33), you get a total of 5:33, which proves that not much time is devoted to the story. Adding up all of the trailers (videos #1, #23, #24, #25), you get a total of 4:56. Adding up everything, you get a total of 23:21 (minutes:seconds).

You can replay the levels to get missing DNA and film reels, but what's the point? Once you've gotten enough DNA to unlock all levels, why bother getting the rest? The film reels are even more pointless as there's no need to even bother collecting them at all (especially since some of them are extremely hard to get), as all of the videos that you can unlock with them (minus the theatrical trailer - which is unlocked from the start anyway) are available in better quality on the "Lilo & Stitch" movie DVD (where the film clips are presented in the proper context). The "Lilo & Stitch" movie DVD is available in the 1-Disc Original Edition (alt listing) and the 2-Disc Big Wave Edition. (I don't know if the Blu-ray release retains all of the bonus featuresa from the DVDs.)

As far as I'm aware, there's no special prize for getting all of the DNA and film reels (100% completion).

TO BUY OR RENT?

Rent... and that's only if you like the non-human Lilo & Stitch characters.

If you decide that you want to play through this game, I guarantee you that you'll only want to play through it once, and will have no desire to play through it ever again.

Men in Black II: Alien Escape PlayStation 2 Video Game Review

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This review was originally written on August 18, 2002
A Boring And Repetitive Shooter

I bought Men in Black II: Alien Escape because I like the Men In Black movies and I figured that it would be a good game. I couldn't be any more wrong.

GAMEPLAY

The whole premise of the game is this: you go from room to room (or area to area) and kill everything that moves (except for the "worm dudes" whom you're supposed to rescue ... or something like that).

There are five big levels broken up into sections, which too many semi-long load screen in between.

Considering that all you do in the game is shoot things, I really wonder why the programmers didn't give the player an Aim button. Then again, they didn't give a Jump button, either (jumping surely would have broken up the monotony of the game).

The most fun I had in the game was destroying all the cars on the parking garage levels. You don't get any points for it, and it doesn't accomplish a goal, but it sure was fun!

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STORY

An alien prison ship crash lands on Earth, the bad aliens escape, and you have to kill them. That's all the plot there is and it's probably all you'll need.

The plot of this game is nothing the second movie. Rather than calling it "Men in Black 2: Alien Escape," Infogrames should have just called it "Men in Black: Alien Escape." That way no one would think it was even remotely like the recent film.

The only aspect of the game that is like the film is a small bit of the ending involving the Statue of Liberty and a Neurolizer..

AUDIO/VIDEO

In all honesty, I didn't pay too much attention to the audio, except for the voice actors. They were pretty good, but let's face it, Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, and Rip Torn are the guys we know as Agents K, J, and Zed respectively, and no one is going to be able to play those roles better. They tried to model the characters and hire voices that resemble Tommy, Will, and Rip, but unless they hired the actual actors and got permission to use their likenesses, it's always going to look like a cheap imitation ... which it does.

The weapon graphics were a little flashy, but considering the MIB's arsenal, I expected more flash from the weapons (and where's the Noisy Cricket, by the way?).

The environments were the WORST! They all look bland, muddy, washed-out, and extremely repetitive (especially on the spaceship at the end where every corridor looks just like the last).

REPLAYABILITY

To make up for the short and boring game, Infogrames threw in a bunch of unlockables to make you want to play the game again. Unfortunately, they're simply not worth unlocking. I used a cheat code to unlock everything and here's what you'd get: a couple training missions of you in one room shooting an endless supply of aliens (shouldn't these be available from the start as TRAINING for the main game?), profiles of J and K, Boss mode (fight the bosses again), profiles of all the aliens in the game (all of whom are boring and not in the films, except for the manitoba [worm guys]), and a bunch of still frames detailing the making of the game (not the movie). Yawn.

TO BUY OR TO RENT?

Rent.