Air Force One
with Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Wendy Crewson,
Xander Berkeley, William H. Macy,
Glenn Close is Gerald Ford in Air Force One. And Harrison Ford is the tough-as-nails president we only wish we'll someday have. When terrorist Russkies hijack the Prez's plane and take his lady hostage, who's gonna save the day? It sure isn't Shaft! That's right, it's Mr. Prez, a bad-ass who can out-fight, out-shoot, and out-wrestle the cast of Die Hard II, Passenger 57, and Executive Decision combined, and still make time for a heart-to-heart with his daughter. For 140 minutes, you can watch as he shows them Russkies a thing or two, and never mind the body count! With that said, Air Force One has the cheesiest special effects this side of a Tom & Jerry cartoon, has a supporting cast full of overacting hams (see Close, Oldman, and/or Stockwell for prime examples), is full of plot holes, and, intentional or not, is outrageously funny. And it may be a sign of my dementia, but I love this movie despite its ridiculousness... or maybe because of it. A perfect reminder of the way politics really works. -- Christopher Null
The Tekken series is the standard by which all PlayStation fighting games have been measured since the machine first hit the stores several years ago. With each new entry into the saga, Namco has raised the bar in terms of graphics, playability, and variety, so expectations were high for Tekken 3. Fortunately, the game delivers in all areas. The human figures have evolved from the puppet-like fighters of the first Tekken to a much more dynamic and realistic presentation of the human physique. Namco's motion-capture technique flawlessly creates the incredible number of punches, kicks, and throws that each computerized character possesses. Each of the many fighters can employ more attacks than even the most die-hard gamer would care to learn; fortunately, there are a number of familiar characters and a number of their moves are executed as in Tekken 2. Among the extras in Tekken 3 are the side-step move that Namco incorporated into Soul Blade, a Theater Mode (which allows the beautiful but brief animations to be played at any point after they have been earned), and two new games within-the-game, Tekken Ball and the Tekken Force Mode. This, in addition to the traditional features such as the Vs. Mode, Practice Mode, Time Attack Mode, hidden characters, multiple costumes, and multiple difficulty levels, make Tekken 3 a solid winner. The game isn't a quantum leap in terms of quality, but the improvements over Tekken 2 are still impressive given what one assumes are the limits of the aging PlayStation hardware.
-- Bud Simons
Sony Computer Entertainment
Before Gran Turismo even arrived in stores in the United States, a number of critics in the gaming industry had called it one of the greatest videogames ever produced. That it survived that kind of hype and still managed to wow joystick jockeys stateside is no mean feat, but Gran Turismo is no ordinary game. Most driving games work on the simple but often demanding task of getting your vehicle around the track faster than the opposition. In Gran Turismo, the player has a number of actual autos (each with its own performance attributes) and several tracks to choose from. What makes the game so spectacular are the stunning graphics and genuine sense of competitive driving that Gran Turismo provides. Missing a turn can quickly place a player at the back of the field. Although the game's Arcade Mode offers plenty of action, it's with the Simulation Mode that Gran Turismo really shines. The player buys a car, gets licensed, and enters races with the hope of earning points to improve his vehicle. Control is tight and intuitive, and although it may take time for a player to adjust to the difference, an analog controller can be a real plus in Gran Turismo. An amazingly hi-res replay mode, outstanding background music, and head-to-head competition round out Gran Turismo's stellar package. Most of us will never get a chance to scream around a racetrack in our own Astin Martin, listening to "As Heaven Is Wide" by Garbage, but sitting down with Gran Turismo is the next best thing. -- Bud Simons