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Cover Critic
The Cover Critic and the Cop
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 26, 2006   |   Episode 54 (Show Archive)  

   
They say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. But since I've never heard that expression used against video games I figure that it's open season on the box art you see every day. This is The Cover Critic, your guide to what's good and bad in the world of video game boxes. Find out what your favorite box art says about the game inside, and more importantly, but it says about you. In this end of spring edition we take a look at a popular basement game, suicidal rodents, a book the Catholic church hates, more riot-simulators, and a comic book. No really, we're reviewing the cover of a comic book. What has this section come to? Find out when you read The Cover Critic and the Cop!
Lemmings
Lemmings

VERDICT:
B+
We begin this spring episode of The Cover Critic with an old friend, Lemmings. Can you believe it has been fifteen years since DMA Designs gave us our first taste of Lemmings? There are kids younger than fifteen that have contacted this site. Whoa. Way to start out this show with a depressing reminder that I'm an aging gamer. Thanks a lot Lemmings; I could have done without that sobering reminder. Oh sure, I look in the mirror and see what I look like, but just reminding me of these ugly truths is not a good way to start a show. I wanted this to be about cool covers, good weather, and maybe a picnic basket or two. But look at that Lemmings, you've gone ahead and ruined it! Thanks a lot!!

Oh Lemmings, can you forgive me? I didn't mean those things I said about you. I didn't mean to call you fat; I didn't mean to tell you that I hate your mother. Please Lemmings, give me another chance. Here, I know what will help; I'll tell you what I think of your brand new PSP cover art. At first I love it; I love the artwork and your adorably cute characters. But then I start feeling bad for you, because all of the different lemmings look the same. Oh, I'm not trying to be racist or anything, it's just that you all have that funky green hair dye and wear the same clothing. Doesn't that get confusing? And I know you aren't really suicidal, that's just one of those myths people grow up believing. But I can't fault you for that, I just love the way you look when you're carrying that heavy brick, you had me at "yippy!" One bit of advice, though. Maybe it's time you find yourself a nice home away from the puzzles, the fire, and the strange obstacles. It's time you live where there's miles of meadows, some nice watering holes, and absolutely nothing high up you can fall off of and die. Just my advice, take it or leave it.
Rockstar Games Presents Table Tennis
I suppose Rockstar Games could have gone fancy with their Table Tennis box art, but why bother? We're talking about one of the most basic sports around, a sport that spawned one of the very first video games ever made. Of course, this cover art is so simple it almost doesn't look like a video game. But make no mistake about it, the moment you see this cover you know what the game is. Of course, you would have known what the game is from the title, but still, Rockstar Games is pulling no punches with this game. Not that they pulled a lot of punches with their Grand Theft Auto games ... with a name like Grand Theft Auto you have to know it's a story about adults doing illegal things. But I digress.

When your cover art is this simple it makes it difficult to fill up 300 words talking about it. I mean, there's only so much I can say about a cover with a ping pong ball. I would stretch out this review with some painful jokes and analogies, but I already did that with Lemmings. So instead I'm going to talk about the other obscure sports I wish Rockstar would tackle. For example, I think they should focus some attention on the long-forgotten sport of Roller Derby. With hot babes and tight (neon) clothing this seems like a perfect fit for Rockstar, add some cheesy licensed music from the 1970s and you have yourself a real winner. I also suggest a Rockstar Horseshoes game. Perhaps Rockstar Games Presents Darts! But if all else fails go to the most controversial sport of them all ... Lawn Darts! Criminalized years ago this new Rockstar game could give Jack Thompson a whole new reason to hate the company that brought you Grand Theft Auto. I suppose these days most kids don't remember Lawn Darts, but that shouldn't stop Rockstar from giving me the ultimate cheesy video game sport. Say what you will, but a Lawn Darts game has to be better than fishing, hunting, NASCAR ...
Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel
Hey, what the hell is this? A brand new Metal Gear Solid game on my PSP? I didn't think Portable Ops was coming out until late 2006. Wait, Digital Graphic Novel? What the hell does that mean? Are you going to tell me this is a comic book on a UMD?? What a waste of space. That's like putting that Alien vs. Predator movie on a UMD, what is the point of that? Oh the questions, my head is spinning from all of this. I guess the real question should be whether this game, Metal Gear Solid: Digital Graphic Novel, should even be reviewed in The Cover Critic at all?

Let's face it; we don't review UMD movie covers in this section, so why should we take the time out of our busy schedule to review some Metal Gear Solid comic book? I'll tell you why we should talk about this graphic novel, it's because this cover is freaking amazing! If this was some stupid UMD movie with a crummy cover (like Final Fantasy: Advent Children) I wouldn't touch it, but this Metal Gear box is a work of art! This is the type of cover art we rarely see on a video game, but then again, in the strictest sense this isn't a video game. Here we have Snake, Grey Fox, and Liquid all posing for what may be the best Metal Gear cover so far. And that's saying something, I've seen a lot of Metal Gear covers and this is one of the best and most dramatic. But that doesn't change the fact that this is a graphic novel on a UMD disc. Still, if this is the caliber of artwork we can expect from future Metal Gear games then prepare to be dazzled (even if the games don't hold up).
The Da Vinci Code
And the award for the least work put into a video game cover goes to 2K Games, the makers of The Da Vinci Code video game. Instead of going out and hiring an artist to design a brand cover for their multiplatform video game, 2K Games decided to simply recycle the artwork from the hugely popular Dan Brown book. It's a picture of the Mona Lisa being stripped away to uncover a code. No no, it's not the Konami code; instead it's some useless series of numbers and letters that nobody actually cares about. The code might as well be 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 for all I care.

But maybe I'm expecting too much, perhaps 2K Games thought that the success of the book lay in the hands of this snazzy cover art. They figured that without this recognizable box fans may think this was based on some other Da Vinci Code. I suppose it's safe to say that I would not be having this reaction if I hadn't already seen this particular picture in every book store, coffee house, and Wal*Mart under the sun. This artwork gives you the bare essentials, it's simple yet intriguing. But don't get won over by this cover's simplicity, look away and repent. If the Vatican is to be believed this game is dangerous, the type of product that you should sue over. You will get no hyperbole from me, just the honest truth about The Da Vinci Code's cover, and it's so painfully average that it peels the paint right off my walls. The been there/done that look of this box may turn gamers away from this PlayStation 2 game, but then again, I doubt the true Dan Brown fans will mind too much.
Urban Chaos
Urban Chaos

VERDICT:
D+
Remember the controversy that surrounded State of Emergency back in the day? Politicians and news pundits agreed that a riot-simulator was a bad idea, suggesting that if our youth gets a hold of a game like this they may start large-scale riots and ultimately overthrow the government. Of course, State of Emergency came out right after the WTO riots in Seattle, Washingon ... of course, it wasn't games that started that riot, it was the state of politics and a generation that felt like they weren't being heard. Too bad they couldn't spin that into an anti-video game diatribe fueled by some Rockstar Games title that is completely misunderstood. Or maybe they did, I forget.

I bet the same people who were so opposed to State of Emergency would have no problem with the pro-government Urban Chaos. Instead of playing the looters, you play the riot cops who yell, mace, and beat the sense out of an entire generation that has never known sacrifice. What is especially funny about this game is the subtitle, Riot Response. The riot squad in this game means business, the Urban Chaos cover boy has no problem using that giant shield and the shotgun at the exact same time, a trick he no doubt learned while keeping protesters in the "Free Speech Zone." Kind of makes you wonder if they go into all riots with a shotgun ... that's seems a tad extreme, no? And what's with all of the fire? This riot squad must be real crummy if they can't even stop the protesters from burning the entire city down. Hey buddy, quit trying to get your picture taken, it's clear that there's some crazy happenings going on right behind you, this is no time to worry about getting your face on the cover! It looks like your friends need your help, get out there Mr. Shotgun, show us what you're made of. I don't know about you but the ultra violence found on this cover makes me happy that this episode of The Cover Critic is over and done, time for all good boys and girls to turn off their murder simulators and do something more productive, like count down the days until American Idol comes back.
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