Above: Sccreenshots from Burning Rangers!!!
Reviews: Burning Rangers: by SEGA for Saturn In the tradition of such milestones as Nights and Sonic the Hedgehog, sega's elite "Sonic Team" has rolled out their final effort for the venerable Saturn. The result of an improved Nights engine, burinng rangers centers the action on a Japanese anime flavored futuristic firefighting team. This title is, of course a 3d 3rd person action sim. Your character begins (after a short training stint) as a rookie on thier first mission in which destroying fires and rescueing hostages are all in a days work. The graphics are absolutely stunning offering an excellent frame rate and a very "you are there" experience. Unfortunately cramming all the fire effects and the snazzy visuals onto the venerable Saturn is just asking for trouble. Occasionaly the textures tear and resolution can get blurry. Most often however the camera fails to keep up with the amazing (read: impossible) acrobatics of the characters. Unlike most other action sims, sound plays a huge role in Burning Rangers. Audio cues and two way radio chatter highten the gaming experience. While players are invited to explore the carnavoreus levels, this navigation system narrows gameplay to an artform. Clearly this is the title that Sega should have released to save the Saturn. With it's flawlessness in every deatail, Burning Rangers is clearly proof that the almighty Saturn is going out with a bang. Overall Grade: A+
See this page later for reviews on Flight Simulator 98, Command and Conquer, Red Alert, Need for Speed III, Titanic, and much more!
Hardware Reviews: Cyrix's Revamped MII Processor, UX Computer Systems' new Intex CII-300, Trident Graphics 9680 PCI Video Card, Creative Lab's AWE 64, and Lexmark's Color Jetprinter 1100
MII (A Best Buy) The heart of many a low cost PC is a Cyrix chip. With the recent revamping of the venerable 6x86, the chip got more than just a namechange. The MII is not a new chip at all, just a 6x86 with a faster CPU bus, higher clock speed, and a slightly modified core. Equipping the chip in their CII-300, UX Cmoputer Systems Ltd. allowed us exclusive access to their testing facilites to see the MII in real life action. Performance under Windows 98 was spectacular (see below for system stats). Loading apps like Word or Publisher rivaled that of a nearby 333 Mhz PII. Seeing the new chip run Unreal flawlessly under a 3dfx chipset and only 32 MB EDO RAM made me wonder whay people even waste their money on the Pentium II. Overall Grade: A++
UX Computer Systems Ltd. CII-300: Packing the ultra low cost of only $895 (including a lexmark color printer) the CII looked like a winner from the start. Packing a 3.2 gig hard drive, 32 Mb SDRAM, an S3 Virge video card, 32x CD-ROM, a 64 bit PCI Sound card, and a v.90 56k modem, the stats were shocking for the price. This system uses a 75 MHz bus which, compared to a 6x86 200 on a 66 MHz bus, sped up load times and overall performance by nearly 50%. UX includes Windows 98, Lotus Smart Suite 97, and a "Deluxe Multimedia Pak" with over 500 individual titles to sweeten the deal. Overall Grade: A
Trident 9860 PCI SVGA Graphics Card: 1 Mb RAM With It's ultra low $24.99 pricetag at my local wholesaler's bin, the 9860 seemed like a best bet. In many ways, it stood up to the challange. Everday tasks (ie. typing, spreadsheets, simple games) ran smoothly and with no trouble on our testbed 6x86 MX Pr 166. But, when the 3d graphics kicked in, the 9860 slipped to the point of oblivion. Even the addition of another MB of RAM didn't help much. Our suggestion: spend the extra $30 and buy an S3 PCI Card(2 Mb). Overall Grade: C-
Creative Labs Sound Blaster AWE 64 The first of a new breed of 64 bit, CD-quality sound cards, the AWE 64 value seemed like a sure thing at $99. The end result was incredible. Installation in all of our test systems (CTX SPII-266, Pentium II 266, 32 Mb RAM Award BIOS, Dell 325P, 386 DX 25 MHz, 6 Mb RAM, Phoenix ROM BIOS, UX Intex 155, Pentium 150, 16 Mb RAM, AMIBIOS, UX 3740ti, am386 de 40 MHz, 8Mb RAM, AMIBIOS) running Windows 95 (except the 3740) was a snap, and 3.11 was nearly as easy. Simply put in the card, stick in the CD and you're ready to go. The quality of the MIDI and .WAV sound, even compared to the AWE 32, out of our ACS45 speakers outclassed even the best of all 64 bit systems. While we have yet to test the AWE 64 PCI, we can't see how any sound card could outclass this milestone. Overall Grade: A+
Lexmark Jetptrinter 1100 Always the bargain basement color printer, this baby inkjet of the 1000 series managed to hold it's own in our tests. We recieved our jetprinter as a pack-in with our promotional UX Computer Systems' Intex CII300 promotional computer. While the quality of output is somewhat limited by the single cartridge, color on bitmap images was outstanding. Unforunately color photos cost not only time but ink as well. Another gripe we encountered was the paper feeding mechanism, whaich had a bad tendency to feed 2 or three sheets at a time (bad when printing very long documents) Text was good, but began to look washed out as the cartridge aged. Overall the little Jetrpinter is excellent for students or families on a budget. Overall Rating: A
Surf back later and see our reviews of the new pc's for the '98 holiday season. Plus, we put 3dFx to the test, and find out if the technology is worth the cost. Also, the war of the chips is on, find out it Intel is still number one!!!