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Developer:
Planet Moon Studios
Publisher: Interplay
Platform: PC
Release Date: 6 December, 2000

by Nimish Dubey




Take a host of alien creatures on a strange and exotic planet, add a dash of adventure, season with lots of magic, sprinkle lightly with some racing, add every weapon imaginable, roll it all up in a riveting storyline and cook it over lots of blazing action. Serve it hot and top it all off with a few dollops of humour for dessert and you have Giants: Citizen Kabuto. For being wholesome, this is one game that is difficult to beat (Drat! You already know this is going to be a positive review. So much for building up suspense.)


But before we get to the game itself, let’s get the basics out of the way. Giants comes on two CDs. You need only one to play the game if you go for a full installation, so no CD-swapping hassles. The game installed smoothly on my Compaq 3311 AP (Athlon XP 1.6 Ghz, 256 MB RAM, 64 MB nVidia GeForce 420 MX) and did not request a restart. It played with nary a hitch, although there were a few crashes.


The game essentially revolves around the conflict between three races on the Island (yep, that is what it is called). These are the Meccaryns, the Sea Reapers, and Kabuto. The Meccaryns are from another planet and were actually heading for Planet Majorca for a holiday but have by a freak accident ended up on the Island. There are five of them, all in space suits and wielding some rather high-tech weapons. The Sea Reapers are primarily water creatures and were once the rulers of the Planet but have been booted down the pecking order. They use bows and swords and can cast a nifty spell or two. Kabuto is the reason for the Sea Reapers’ decline. He is a giant monster, of King Kong dimensions, who was created by the Sea Reapers to help in their domination of the Island but turned rogue and is now having a go at just about everyone in sight. He does not have any weapons or spells – heck, when you are that big, all you need to do is step on people! On the fringes of the conflict are the Smarties – a toga-wearing, far from good-looking race of people who build structures, laze around, get drunk and sacrificed to Kabuto.


The storyline is rather simple. Five Meccaryns crash land on the Island. Led by Basil (the most moral and sober of the lot), they get involved in the search for a young Smartie and consequently are drawn into the conflict on the planet. They end up fighting the Sea Reapers and join forces with Delphi, the daughter of the evil Sea Reaper queen Sappho. Delphi dislikes her mother’s ways and also has a colossal crush on Baz (that’s Basil!). Of course, all this sets the scene for some rousing warfare with Meccaryns, Reapers and Kabuto all taking turns at hogging the centre stage, with the Smarties chipping in as engineers for the Reapers and Meccaryns or as lunch for Kabuto.


You get a chance to play a member of each of the three main races – you start off as the Meccaryns, move on to the Sea Reapers and round matters off as Kabuto. Each role comes with its own sackful of missions. You have to finish them one after the other, no chance of skipping what you don’t like! Each race comes with its own strong points and weaknesses. The Meccaryns have great technology and weaponry at their disposal and can fly using jet packs. However, they are not too hot in the water – often ending up as piranha snack – and can do absolutely no magic. The Sea Reapers are rather dishy to look at and have a minimalistic approach to clothing (the main character, Delphi, is topless in the US version of the game) but are terrific at magic and more than handy with traditional weaponry. Kabuto…well…he stomps around and eats people. ‘nuff said!


All this would have made for a fairly routine, gory game. But where Giants scores is in its humour. Admittedly most of it is fairly adult stuff – the expletives fly thick and fast – and some of it a trifle slapstick, but it all combines to make one laugh. The in-game cinematics are particularly hilarious - there is one involving the reunion of a father and daughter that had me in splits!


The missions themelves are plenty of fun and are a great mix of adventure, action and strategy. One generally begins with simple find-them-and-kill-them-all assignments that are intended to familiarise one with one’s weapons and terrain before graduating to building and defending territory. Thankfully, unlike some games, the missions do not get progressively difficult. A tough mission is quite likely to be followed by a relatively simple assignment. Unfortunately, you cannot save the game midway through a mission. As some of them span hours, this can be a pain. I found myself tackling the longer ones through the night, playing in constant terror of a power failure that would force me to start from scratch.


Of the three races, I found the Meccaryns the most fun. They were quite colourful in their language, had an eye for the ladies and to top it all, could do some really good flying. Also, as there were five of them, one could indulge in more than just a spot of team-based maneuvering. Mind you, playing Delphi the Sea Reaper has its moments as well. She may not be able to fly, but hey, she gets to race a Sea Reaperski, shooting down competitors in action that seems right out of Road Rash! She also has some amazing magic spells up her sleeve, like slowing down time for her adversary. In comparison, Kabuto comes across as a trifle dull. There may be takers for stamping on people, eating them and making huge jumps, but I would rather be a Sea Reaper or a Meccaryn, thank you very much indeed.


Giants is also one of the best-looking games I have come across. There are some dazzling locales here, varying from desert-like areas to snow covered mountains to sea alcoves. The view can be pretty breathtaking at times, especially when you are in meccaryn mode and on the wing. At times, it almost seems a pity to besmirch the fair terrain with blood. The voice acting is pretty good, although I was a bit disappointed with Delphi’s slightly hoarse-sounding voice.


And while on the subject of disappointments, it is only fair to point out Giants has its share of niggles. I have already waxed eloquent about the problems posed by the inability to save a game at any stage. There is also the little matter of stability – the game did crash a few times, once taking a couple of saved missions with it for good measure. The longer missions can get dull after a while, as one gets a bit tired of the “build-defend-kill” style that is the trademark of many strategy games. There is also a tendency to be conservative, as death means going back to the start of the mission – no scope for reckless daredevilry here.


All said and done, this is one of those rare games that makes one go “Wow!”. I have seldom come across a game that cuts across so many genres without any let-up in entertainment.


My verdict: This is a game to be played for hours on end. And if you can find me a hack that allows me to save the game whenever I wish, I will recommend you for a Knighthood!


Final rating: 80%


System requirements:

Minimum:
Pentium II 350 MHz, 64 MB RAM, Windows 95/98/2000/ME, DirectX 7.0, 8 MB DirectX-compatible video card, DirectX-certified sound card, 900 MB hard-disk space, and 4x CD-ROM drive.

Recommended:
Pentium II 450 MHz, 128 MB RAM, 16 MB DirectX-compatible video card and 1.3 GB hard-disk space.




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