Winback: Covert Operations
When Winback was on the N64, it was overlooked by many because of its plain graphics. Maybe now it'll get the attention it deserves--it's a good warm-up for when MGS2 comes out this fall. It's still got a few problems, though. The camera's better than it was on the N64, but it's still a bit tough to work with. Locking onto enemies is sometimes a hassle, and once you've locked on there's no guarantee you'll hit them when you shoot. Thankfully plentiful checkpoints mean that you're not set too far back if you die (and if you're like me, you'll die a lot). Many times you'll find yourself going through the same areas again and again because that's the way the game's structured. Although not a problem per se, it makes Winback seem smaller. The graphics aren't as plain as they were on the N64, with big explosions and dynamic lighting. A cool extra feature is a language option so you can hear the original lapanese voice acting with subtitles (which the hardcore will appreciate). Multiplayer's not too bad, but the arenas aren't as big as games like GoldenEye or even Quake. But because of the small levels and the fact that you can see the other players in the split-screen, there's definitely not as much hide-and-seek. It's too bad you can't use the main building from the game in a four-player match. If you liked Metal Gear Solid, then this is worth your time--Winback is definitely one of the better PS2 games out there now.
I must admit, even as a fan of the original Winback, I really was hoping for a lot more from its PS2 release. I mean, yes, the graphics have been improved, but it's hard to shake the feeling that I'm looking at nothing more than a higher resolution version of the original game--the fogline appears to be in the exact same place. Also, even though the enemies seem a little more aggressive, they still have the same tendency to not move when you shoot them--one of the biggest flaws in the N64 release. The new bot mode is very cool, and the multiplayer has exclusive stages, but Koei could have done much more in upgrading Winback. Good, but not great.
This was one of the best action-adventure carts on the N64, and for those who missed it, Koei's PS2 port is a worthwhile purchase. Even WinBack vets will want to take a look--the graphics have been dramatically improved, and the camera is now pretty easy to work with. Jean-Luc may be a cub scout when compared to Solid Snake, but he's arguably more fun to control. Spinning around corners, ducking for cover, and taking out terrorists provides an adrenaline rush that has yet to be matched by any other game on Sony's new machine. If it weren't for the god-awful voice acting and uninspired narrative, this release would stand as a minor classic.