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GrantXP
01-06-2007, 11:15 AM
Ok getting rid of this thread and resurrecting it with a new one. Instead I am going to write retrospective reviews of all the games I play. Hopefully this can give you a guide if you are looking to pick up any now bargain games!!! So let you know if you agree, strongly disagree with my opinions!

Reviews:

Wii
Wii Fit Plus - 80% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=549172&postcount=39)

Xbox 360
Bioshock (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=553937&postcount=64)*NEW*
Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - 94% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=547998&postcount=24)
F1 2010 - 88% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=549845&postcount=42)
Gears Of War 2 - 92% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=551034&postcount=50)
Halo: Reach - 90% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=547198&postcount=5)
NBA 2K11 - 95% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=550481&postcount=45)
Sega Rally - 78% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=547395&postcount=13)
Sonic & Sega All Star Racing - 85% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=546985&postcount=2)
Sonic Unleashed - 80% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=550648&postcount=46)
Splinter Cell: Conviction - 91% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=546986&postcount=3)

Xbox 360 Kinect
Kinect Adventures - 77% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=551530&postcount=55)
Kinect Sports - 77% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=548419&postcount=30)

Xbox Live Arcade
Afterburner: Climax - 72% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=549451&postcount=40)
Banjo-Kazooie - 89% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=553332&postcount=58)
Outrun Online Arcade - 80% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=551207&postcount=52)

Gamecube
Phantasy Star Online Episodes 1&2 - 92% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=547639&postcount=19)
Starfox Adventures - 83% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=546991&postcount=4)

Dreamcast
Shenmue - 98% (http://www.the-magicbox.com/forums/showpost.php?p=553498&postcount=62)

GrantXP
12-10-2010, 06:38 AM
Sonic & Sega All Star Racing - Xbox 360
Also available on PS3/Wii

After the simply awful Sega Superstar Tennis it was with some scepticism that I approached this game. After all, a version of Virtua Tennis with Sega characters would have sufficed! After playing this game for the first hour all my concerns were put to rest as this game genuinely challenges the established Mario Kart to it’s crown.

Let’s get one thing straight. This game is a clone of Mario Kart in every way. Unlike Sonic’s last recing efforts (Sonic Riders & Sonic R) this game is proud to do nothing different. Characters race around bright colourful lands drifting till their hearts content whilst collecting power ups that either protect you, speed you up or inflict pain on others. But it does it all right. It can’t be a bad thing to copy the best and that’s exactly what SASASR does. In addition each character has their own power move that you generally pick up when you are at the back of the field and it puts you back in the game. Each character has their own characteristic, characters like Robotnik (Think Donkey Kong) are faster but tougher to control and poor manouverability wheras characters like Shadow (Think Yoshi) have a lower top speed but are a dream to control. Sonic (Think Mario) sits right in the middle of things. On the subject of the characters there is the Sonic gang as usual as well as your favourites from Jet Set Radio, House Of The Dead, Crazy Taxi and to the fans delight Ryo from Shenmue makes an appearance. It is a shame that NiGHTs makes a cameo as the race starter rather than a playable character and there certainly could have been more characters such as ToeJam & Earl or a Daytona Car or even Ecco the Dolphin would have been welcome additions. But the range of characters is enough to suffice any SEGA fan. Though the more general gamer will probably not remember Alex Kidd or the Bonanza Bros. Still they are thrown in their for good measure.

Gameplay wise the game plays like Nintendo’s more established brother. Sadly this includes the slightly infuriating AI ‘Elastic band’ syndrome that allows them to stay bang on your tail regardless of how well you drive meaning that often the whole race boils down to luck on the last few corners. The courses are varied but I feel there could have been more character specific environments. Sonic, HOTD, Samba Di Amigo, Monkey Ball and JSR… they are all in. But to make it complete a Crazy Taxi and Shenmue level would have put the icing on the cake. Give me this over 4 Billy Hatcher tracks anyday!!! Each track features sounds from games in their series. This really makes for one of the best soundtracks of the year. The JSR soundtrack will have you singing along about the ‘Concept of Love’ and could be released as a standalone CD and the ‘Love it or hate it’ Sonic R soundtrack makes a comeback alongside the superb Samba Di Amigo dance tunes. Even the announcer is tolerable and the remarks he makes during the race never grated on me like so many cheesy announcers do. The game will take you about 13 hours to complete and the achievements are fairly varied and will keep you coming back for more and then there is always online multiplayer and split screen with friends including championships and battle races. Its all in there.

Visually the game is vibrant and certainly on the 360 it really stands out. Each environment takes its queue from the original games and trackside is always full of detail and movement. A special mention must go to the Samba Di Amigo tracks which bounce around like psychedelic jelly and whilst the cartoon visuals won’t give Uncharted or God Of War a run for their money the style and direction is beautiful.

Overall if you love Mario Kart and are gagging for something more or don’t have a Wii and are looking for a competitor on one of it’s HD competitors. This is for you. The gameplay is largely the same, it’s visually superior and has a larger roster of characters. The 360 version gets the edge over the PS3 version in my opinion as you can race as your avatar and Banjo-Kazooie are playable. Finally, lets remember that this is the first game since Shenmue 2 to feature Ryo Hazuki!!!

Pros – Great graphics. Good Range of characters, great gameplay and multiplayer.
Cons – Elastic band effect makes for frustrating AI. Not enough character environments. All-star moves can be TOO powerful.

OVERALL – 85%

GrantXP
12-10-2010, 08:02 AM
Splinter Cell: Conviction - Xbox 360

The original splinter cell games for me split gamers. There are gamers who love the likes of Doom, Quake, Halo and Gears Of War. Simple controls that require reflex actions, throwing yourself into the line of fire. Then there are your more methodical games such as Rainbow 6, Operation Flashpoint and of course Splinter Cell... until now. Splinter Cell: Conviction attempts to try and broach that middle ground. You can approach the game however you want. You can sneak around stealthily... Or equip an automatic and blast your way to the finish. A game that satisfies the stealth purists and action junkies was what Ubisoft went for, and on the whole it succeeds.

I still have a movie on my 360 of one of the early gameplay demo's of SC: Conviction and the game has come a long way since then. The original concept was to have the game as an open world stealth game with targets; Sam Fisher was to go around killing in cold blood in broad daylight. I questioned the concept then and whilst certain levels show this original concept such as the fairground level that is teething with life it seems Ubisoft has settled for somewhat of a middle ground. Was the concept too ambitious? Did it just not work as a fun game? Who knows but what has been delivered is a superb experience.

There are 3 modes. A single player campaign, an stand alone coop campaign as well as various multiplayer modes. These are Last Stand and Deniable Ops. To start with the single player, well lets get this out of the way. It can be finished in 5 hours!!! That's right, stick the game on Rookie, skip the movies and you can finish this game in an afternoon. But if you do this you are sorely missing out. The single player story is beautifully told, to not spoil the flow of the game instructions appear on objects within the game, sure there are some movies but the direction is so good you will want to watch them. You make your way around sneaking up on people performing stealth kills; grabbing people through windows or performing satisfying pinpoint head shots. As you rack up the kills you earn 2 things the first is the right to perform executions where you mark targets and hitting the Y button will take them out. It may sound a bit cheap but when you have earned 4 executions and pull of a 4 man execution it is damn satisfying. You will also gain experience as a form of currency that can be used to upgrade weapons, gadgets and buy new camouflage for your array of multiplayer costumes. Then mixed in to break up the stealth elements are some of the best set pieces in a game I have ever seen. Be it chasing an assassin through the streets, creeping through sensors like in movies or a section where you need to escape so are given unlimited executes and dash out of the building annihilating everything in your path. There is even a section where you are in a warzone guns blazing, ok it doesn’t rival Call Of Duty but it breaks the intensity of the game up perfectly. These moments are excellently choreographed. You also can use environments to interrogate enemies; this is the only section of the game that is a little light. Whilst the animations for the interrogations look superb it is simply a case of pressing one button and the person caves. If I am being critical this system could have been deeper. Without spoiling the story there are plenty of nice twists as you go in search of your daughters’ killer.

The multiplayer modes are geared more towards coop play and if you have a friend to play this with then there is another 10 hours of gameplay through the deniable ops missions and coop story. Whilst no where near as deep as the single player story it’s a nice addition. However if like me you only play with actual friends then you are reliant on having a friend who also likes the game and you both being available! It sounds crazy but it’s tougher to coordinate than you think.

This game uses the Unreal 3 engine and hardly pushes it. The visuals are clean and clear but nothing special. Seeing as the screen turns to greyscale when you are in the dark also hampers the visuals somewhat and the characters get a special mention of being believable, the voice acting and sound effects are of decent movie quality and for this Ubisoft should be commended.

Overall I cannot recommend Splinter Cell enough. It isn't perfect and the length will put many people off of the £40($60) price tag. But as a budget purchase there is no reason why this should not be one of the games you buy this year and it is up there with the best exclusives on the 360.

Pros - Excellent story and game pacing. Game can be played to suit your gaming style. Unique coop story is a nice touch.
Cons - Game is too short. Interrogation system could have been deeper. Death match multiplayer pointless in this sort of game.

Overall - 91%

GrantXP
12-10-2010, 09:43 AM
Starfox Adventures - Gamecube

Starfox Adventures started life as Dinosaur Planet on the N64. With the game near completion on the system development was switched to the Gamecube and RARE replaced the Dinosaur characters with the Star Fox characters. Clearly some of the original elements of Dinosaur Planet feature in the game. But the game was largely rejected by fans and given a mediocre reception by critics. Just why was this? Could fans not stand the fact that this game was not a Starfox/Lylat Wars clone... Was it simply a cheap rip off of other adventure games in the genre?

By other games in the genre I of course mean Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. It is a shame to compare these game because whilst this game does not come close to Link's debut N64 outing. It still stands as a good game in its own right. The first thing that hits you is the visuals. Ok, nowadays they won't blow you away but the character model and fur effect on Fox McLoud is really superb. You navigate the 'Dinosaur Planet' with the help of this annoying dino called Tricky, who is similar to Navi from the Zelda series. The difference being that Tricky is more integral to gameplay. Many sections of the game will see you alter terrain to make it accessible for him or using his abilities to solve certain puzzles. When I say puzzles, the biggest downer of this game is the fact that the game is pretty easy! You will almost never be stuck and very few parts of the game or bosses will challenge you. Don't get me wrong the game is very well thought through and is a joy to play, but nothing will really test you. Along side the aforementioned puzzles is a combat system which is surprisingly intuitive. Fox carries a staff and can lock onto individual enemies and strafe and dodge their attacks whilst inflicting his own damage. Once again the game 'Borrows' heavily from a certain tunic wearing forest boy, but if it ain't broke. Like the puzzles though the enemies are far too basic. Sure they block and dodge but you will rarely feel challenged.

These points leave me in a really difficult position with this review because despite all this I really enjoyed this game. Whilst it wasn't an intense rush it was more than enjoyable. The characters all vocalised their own lines (Zelda take note) and the controls were really tight making the game very playable. I got a good 14 hours of gameplay out of this that I really enjoyed. To put it into perspective that’s the same length of time it took me to complete Half Life 2, but 20 hours less than it took me to finish Zelda: OOT. The characters are memorable, special note must go to the shop keeper who only has 2 phrases "You pay this much" and "Ok, I'll sell it to you". He is up there in the hilarity stakes with Resident Evil 4's "Whaddya Buyin'", "Whaddya Sellin'" roaming salesman.

If you are new to adventure games I cannot recommend this game enough. It has lots of charm, incredible polish and immaculate presentation and can now be purchased on budget working on a Wii and is also Dolphin compatible. Visually it still holds up pretty well all these years. If you are a seasoned adventurer it won't challenge you and dare I say it may become dull, but for me the charm and playability of the game shone through. When you look up the best games on the Gamecube this game never features which is a shame because it is a real diamond in the rough. Overlook this and you are missing out.

Pros - Beautiful presentation and high production value. Controls are spot on in all respects
Cons - May not test experienced gamers. Tricky the Dinosaur is annoying. Fans of the series may not like the direction of the game.

Overall - 83%

GrantXP
12-13-2010, 03:54 AM
Halo: Reach - Xbox 360

I must confess, every iteration of Halo that is released I get sucked in by the hype! I totally borght into the 'Finish the Fight' Halo 3 marketing campaign and have got myself into a similarly frenzied state over Halo: Reach upon release. Whilst some hardcore gamers are rebelling I ask: is the attention Halo gets such a bad thing. The industry I love gettin massive exposure to rival the biggest movie release can only be good and to be honest I love getting wrapped in the hype.

This is the game Halo 3 really should have been. The visuals are greatly improved over Halo 3 and the whole game possesses that Bungie level of polish and customisation. You no longer take the role of the Master Cheif. Instead you are simply 'Noble 6'. This allows the experience of Halo Reach to feel more personal. Also in addition to halo 3 is the overall ranking system and customisable character that is consistent across all game modes. It brings the whole experience together nicely.

Everyone knows how Halo works. If you are not one of the people who have played the 40 million copies sold then let's just say this. It's an FPS but unlike the sharpshooting Half Life or Call Of Duty series the combat Style is very different and purist shooter fans may not enjoy it. Utilising power weapons is a must, close combat strafing followed by a punch after a few shots is another technique but singular pop an shot head shots is not the way to play this. On harder modes enemies can take multiple head shots with ease. The AI is intelligent. They will retreat when getting shot at and come out to hunt you. However the single player campaign has not really changed it's style since the first Halo. It's now a 10 year old formula. Don't get me wrong the story unfolds nicely and it's a joy to play but I do feel the formula is in danger of becoming stale. Sure there is a 4 player coop mode which is a blast but the single player doesn't have the same depth as the now 5 year old Half Life 2.

However, as with so many shooter nowadays the multiplayer element of the game is where Halo really shines. All the gameplay questionmarks raised above actually aid the multiplayer experience in my opinion. I have many a time tried to get into Call Of Duty multiplayer only to be killed within seconds with an insane headshot from a 13 year old with way too much time on their hands. Halo is different. The gameplay mechanic often allows you to retreat and you can actually have enjoyable duels with competitors. The multiplayer goes as deep as you want it to. Just fancy a deathmatch. The matchmaking system will have you in a game within minutes! Want to create maps, delve deeper into the different multiplayer modes or even create maps and customise the games weapons...? It's all there and Bungie serves there community well with daily and weekly challenges that add a special something to the game. For me, I am a child of 4 player Goldeneye and later 4 player Halo on 1 screen with friends. Reach evolves this further by allowing you to play a team deathmatch with your mates around one screen against other teams online. It's a personal highlight of the game for me as there is nothing better than a night with the lads, pizza, beer and deathmatch Halo.

It seems fitting that Reach is Bungies last Halo because I honestly question the next step for The series. It's no longer the pinnacle of console graphics like it once was and the only thing that keeps it in the higher echelons of gamers hearts is the deep storys huge production value as well as the games huge fan base! Add to this the ridiculously good multiplayer experience, which improves on Halo 3 in every department. Whilst the single player is good. It somehow lacks the epic memorable moments that benchmark Previous Halo games and the formula is on the cusp of going stale. For this latest instalment of Halo though it ranks up there with some of te best experiences on the 360! But the future remains unclear!

Pros - arguably the best multiplayer shooter I have played. Great story, despite predictable ending. Rousing soundtrack
Cons - single player format hasn't changed since Halo on original xbox. First person purists won't like the bullet spray playability.

Overall - 90%

GrantXP
12-13-2010, 03:56 AM
Halo: Reach added. I question if anyone reads these or cares, but I'm quite enjoying writing these on the train and here seems a nice place to document it so will keep doing it for a while. Any requests let me know.

Paper exe
12-13-2010, 08:50 AM
Nice work on the reviews.

About the starfox adventure review...You needed to rant at least a whole paragraph about the pressing A repetitively mini game, actually you need to do that to any game that include such a thing then later cut 30% marks out of the total score.

That press A repetitively mini game is as meaningless, dull, boring as it is PAINFUL! There are not just one but TWO! So many times I feel like replaying the game only to be driven away after remembering that mini game.

THERE IS NO FUN IN DESTRYOING YOUR OWN HANDS!!1!
As if Banjo Tooie wasn't enough they had to include it in this game as well. If they took the "breeze" kind of a game direction why the hell did they include the A button masher?! It is not relaxing anymore not when that mini game is around. My god, I cannot stop ranting!1!

GrantXP
12-13-2010, 09:35 AM
Are you talking about the bit where you have to push a guy over a ridge by pressing A. I don't remember it as a major issue but my years of Athlete Kings, Sydney 2000 and Track & Field mean I have the tecnique...

Paper, thankyou for the response btw!!! I thought I was only writing these for myself. It seems you are the first person to read. Brings a tear to my eye.

Zack
12-13-2010, 03:30 PM
never played star fox adventures. low review scores and comparisons to the ocarina of time scared me away.

Paper exe
12-14-2010, 12:52 AM
you need to have your own opinion next time then.

Zack
12-14-2010, 01:30 AM
nah i saw enough gameplay and reviews to know i wouldn't like it. i can tell if i'll like a game w/o playing it

GrantXP
12-14-2010, 03:22 AM
It's worth a try if you have the time. I really liked it. The sad thing about retro games now is I really have no time to play anything... I'd like that to change but can't see that happening soon.

GrantXP
12-15-2010, 01:49 AM
Sega Rally - Xbox 360
Also available on PS3/PC

Having owned a Mega Drive, 14 years ago I shelled out for a Sega Saturn. I received 3 games, Virtua Fighter 2, Euro 96 and the best of them all... Sega Rally. Never before had I seen such beautiful 3D visuals! Ok there were only 3 cars and 4 tracks but I would spend hours trying to shave that last second off of my Desert track time. Following an average Dreamcast sequel and the terrible Sega Rally 2006 and we arrive at a new Sega Rally who's aim is to recreate the feel of the original whilst giving the game a much needed update on 7th gen hardware.

For the most part Sega stays true to the original. The in-game HUD certainly brings back memories and the Delta, Celica and the Stratos all return to the substantial lineup. The game also has a distinct arcade feel to it. However this could be where its biggest downfall lies. Whilst it is great that elements of the game stay true to the original in terms of HUD, cars and environments it is also important for games to evolve. In keeping with the arcade feel there is no damage and hitting the edges won’t slow your car down. It often means the best tactic is simply to use competing cars as barriers to go found corners and sometimes it can be faster to take a turn by smashing into the sides. You also almost never have to break, instead releasing the accelerator is enough to negotiate most bends, this makes for an adrenaline charged experience but in keeping with the arcade feel the game concept also shows its age. A little bit of damage thrown in and a few corners which required breaking points and skill would have helped the game evolve whilst keeping its arcade roots. Visually the game is breathtaking. The game zooms along smoothly in various rally scenes, Tropical, Alpine, Safari etc and the game does show some innovation as it features the ability for tyres to shred up the terrain which looks pretty special and will make you really notice the changes in grip on the road from the deformed track.

The game however despite this comes with its issues. The first is the championship difficulty; there is no career mode to speak of. Instead you must simply race through championships: Amateur, Modified and Expert. However rather than each championship getting progressively harder the end of the amateur championship is painfully hard!! Arguably as hard as the end of the expert championship. Then when you finish this the start of the Modified Championship reverts to easy again and you repeat the difficulty curve. It is clear what Sega was trying to do here. Allow you to have varying difficulty levels for each of the car classes. If however like me you are a methodical player who plays through games in an order then this can be a bit off-putting. You build yourself up to race on limits and finish the amateur races before going back to easy races which makes them seem dull on the modified class. Of course this may be just me...

Sega Rally does an awful lot right and is a great tribute to the original. But gaming has come a long way in 14 years and it lacks the depth of Forza / GT and the sheer fun of the likes of Burnout and Need for Speed. Despite the 20+ tracks the replay value isn't there and you won't want to spend hours shaving vital seconds off of your times like the original. Because of this Sega Rally is somewhat lost and doesn't know what it wants to be. Racing games are simply not as popular as they once were and other games simply saturate the Market. This means I can only really recommend this to nostalgic Sega Rally fans and die hard racing buffs. It's a real shame because I challenge anyone to find me a better game on the 360/PS3 that has sold less than 250,000 copies. Sadly, that is the sales category this game fits into, if you see this game in a bargain bin give it a try as it just may surprise you!

Pros - great graphics, dynamic terrain gives the game something different, style of the game stays true to the original...
Cons - …but the original is a 14 year old game and gaming has come a log way since then. No career mode. Strange difficulty curve

Overall - 78%

GrantXP
12-15-2010, 01:59 AM
Sega Rally added, people may notice I buy a lot of Sega games...

Paper exe
12-15-2010, 07:36 AM
Why SEGA super star Tennis was awful? As far as I heard it was Virtual Tennis but with SEGA and Sonic characters instead of real players like a copy and paste of virtual Tennis. Virtual tennis is known to be preety good. so what gives?

GrantXP
12-15-2010, 07:41 AM
It just felt watered down to me, the complexities of Virtua tennis were removed. It wasn't terrible. It just wasn't what I wanted.

Alucard
12-15-2010, 07:52 AM
I cant remember which sega rally was my favourite. I know I enjoyed the first two plenty.

GrantXP
12-15-2010, 08:31 AM
Sega Rally 2006 wasn't released in Europe and was on PS2. I got to play it once and it was dreadful!

If you liked the first and second Sega Rally I really recommend giving it a go!

GrantXP
12-17-2010, 02:20 AM
Phantasy Star Online Episodes 1&2
Gamecube version (also available on Xbox)

10 years ago you say the phrase 'Multiplayer' to a console gamer and you would have garnered thoughts of Mario Kart, Goldeneye... Basically the N64. When the Dreamcast came with it 56k (33k in Europe) modem the stage was set for online gaming to boom. As usual, Sega was the early innovator to what xbox live perfected. For me, PSO is the game World Of Warcraft perfected!

You could create your own character, Head online with up to 3 more people and take on 4 massive levels whilst collecting meseta (cash), weapons, techniques and a range of armours and health. The first Forest level would take you hours initially because every rappy took 10 shots to kill. The culmination of the level being the immense dragon boss which the first time you take him on is a daunting log epic battle! Give it time, upgrading your character and purchasing and finding new armoury as well as feeding your mag (a floating thing over your shoulder that you can give items and it powers up to unleash a photon blast) is super addictive and you will replay the 4 levels a lot of times eventually culminating in the ability to kill this dragon in 1 shot. It’s ridiculously satisfying! On top of this each level has a series of side quests that you can take on if you want something different or your character is not quite ready for the next level. Despite what it may seem like on the surface there is a lot of game here. The controls are basic. There is a button for a weak accurate attack and another or a strong but less accurate attack and if you time it you can string together combos. These vary from rapid fire with a gun or a sword combo with a sword, shield is automatic based on your equipped armour and mag and the other items can be assigned to other buttons how you wish. I went with heal and a technique but it is totally customisable. The only slightly annoying thing is the fact that when your photon blast is full it overrides your customisations when you pull the R-Trigger which means fast access to items is denied. It seems minor as your photon blast may charge once or twice per level but it annoyed me. The plus side is the menu system is quick and easy to navigate and so intuitive you can do it in battle still running around and often resume the battle unharmed.

So what does the GC version add. Well it adds a whole we Episode 2 for a start, a much harder new set of levels that you cannot even touch unless you have invested many hours on episode 1 unless you have a death wish! As well as a 4 player local coop which is extremely fun. The beauty of PSO is that anyone could jump in at any time. I remember on many occasions having a friend jump into a game with a level 1 character. I would assist him, lend him weapons, heal him with techniques and revive them when they died! The whole game is so beautifully thought out.

MMOs today have grown up a lot based on PSOs roots. Games now offer a lot more than this great package. Graphically it was great for it's time an is more than acceptable in today's world and let's face it the legitimate servers are not even online anymore but even then I loved playing this game offline or with friends. Almost everything you could do offline is also online. So if you somehow missed this game I recommend picking it up!

Pros - Superb replay value. Lots of fun to play with Friends. Great accessible menu system.
Cons - MMOs now offer more. Combat system feels a little dated.

Overall - 92%

GrantXP
12-17-2010, 02:26 AM
PSO Episodes 1&2 added... and yes it is clear I am bias towards SEGA

Paper exe
12-17-2010, 03:30 AM
Great PSO review. I alwasy try to get in to the series but fail. For monster hunter it toke me two tries but this one...let just say it needs much more chances.

Zack
12-17-2010, 04:29 AM
you forgot to mention how awesome pso's music is.

GrantXP
12-17-2010, 05:55 AM
Thats true! The lobby tune is memorable, and the la la la la laaaaaaaaaarrrrr intro music! Ahh the memories...

GrantXP
12-21-2010, 02:19 AM
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - Xbox 360
Also available on PS3

Most of you will own this game, so why review it? Well if somehow you missed it or you are just interested in my opinion read on...

With the disappointing Call of Duty 3 (by Treyarch) way back in 2006 I expected very little from COD4, that was until I saw the 'Actual Gameplay Footage' video at E3. I figured a game
Couldn't look this good on the 360. It probably used the in-game engine but was a rendered video not Gameplay and that's how they got around it. I was wrong!!!

The original Modern Warfare’s visuals are mind blowing. Years later they still compete up there with the best visuals on console. The lighting is incredible, the explosions realistic, the level of detail in the character models is crazy. Yes, whistle Crisis on PC was technically the better visual masterpiece the artistic design of COD4 for me put it in a class of it's own, plus the fact that you didn't need a £1000 PC to play it. No, your £200 Xbox 360 would give you the exact visuals that appear on the box. Ok, Graphics don't make a game but they really enhance the experience.

So you get it, I love the visuals. So what about the game? Well the game is approx 6 hours long but trust me you will play this one twice (at least). Its a little short and in a industry where finance is king I sympathise with Infinity Ward as the costs involved to create a 15 hour game would be substantially higher and in war game you cannot have puzzle elements like you can in Half Life or old school Doom to prolong the game but Modern Warfare will leave you begging for more. Every part of the 6 hours is perfectly crafted intense action. From the first level where you are on a ship before a bomb explodes and you have to evacuate to the intense shoot out in a TV station, which leads me to perhaps the only other flaw in the single player... Automatic respawn. There are a few points in a game (including the aforementioned TV station level) where you will masterfully pick of 10 guys with skill and precision only to find yet have all reappeared and you now have lost half your ammo! The best technique in these situations is to simply die and then make a mad run and gun dash past hoping you don't get shot until you hit a checkpoint. Its very unrealistic, hugely unsatisfying and a cheap way to add difficulty. In fact on veteran difficulty during the ferris wheel scene I ended up hiding in a cabin and simply counting down the clock until a chopper arrived. I admit this section isn't quite the same as the TV station respawn section but it was frequent enough to frustrate. However the rest of the single player is bordering perfect. Some of the levels are pure genius, the thermal gunner in the sky is breathtaking and I couldn't write a review without mentioning those ghillie suits! Indeed when you start the level 'All Ghillied Up' and see the guy move for the first time I presumed it was pop in. He couldn't be that well camouflaged. So I restated the level and sure enough I could just see when concentrating the faintest outline of a person perfectly camouflaged in the foliage. It will go down as one of the wow moments in gaming, on a par with the first time the T-Rex scared the crap out of me in Tomb Raider or the first time I chained someone on Gears of War. One thing’s for sure, this game has high production values, a cracking story, great voice acting and characters as well as great sound effects and levels of polish not expected in a video game.

If multiplayer is your thing there is a reason Modern Warfare broke all sorts of multiplayer records. Great maps and hundreds of unlockables dependent on your rank. It’s a little daunting at first if like me you are not much of a competitive multiplayer gamer. It's great that the game rewards players who play a lot and are good with new weapons but if like me you have not played the multiplayer much and you jump on at level 1 with the basic weapon set you will get blown out of the water by a guy that has been playing solid for a year and knows the maps blindfolded... I don't mind this, if someone has invested time they will be better than me, but to give them better weapons is salt in the wounds. Still it's one of the most complete multiplayer experiences I have played. However having recently reviewed Halo: Reach I have to give Halos effort the edge as a multiplayer game. It's close but recent additions such as Firefight and daily/weekly challenges as well as being slightly more accessible gives the famous prequel a win by a whisker. However, Modern Warfare’s single player blows the Halo Reach campaign out of the water!

There have now been 7 Call Of Duty games released on the 360. 6 retail releases and the first game as DLC. if you only ever get 1 this generation then this is the one to buy! It reinvented the series and with Infinity Ward a shadow of it's former self for political reasons and Treyarch failing to match Infinity Wards legacy even when using their game engine it's hard to see a better Call Of Duty game emerging this gen. It's a must own on PS3 and 360.

Pros - Incredible visuals. Moments in the single player that will genuinely take your breath away. Superb story. Deep multiplayer.
Cons - Infinite respawn is cheap and annoying. Short campaign. Multiplayer daunting for newcomers.

Overall - 94%

GrantXP
12-21-2010, 02:24 AM
Call Of Duty 4 added, trying to do 3 a week but will probably only be 2 this week due to the snow and I write these bored on the train and spent yesterday snowed in.

Have been replaying Super Mario 64 this week so expect a retro review on Friday. Any requests let me know...

Alucard
12-21-2010, 04:14 AM
You should play COD4 on the PC if you think the 360 games graphics is awesome.

GrantXP
12-21-2010, 04:25 AM
I actually installed it when I got my new PC just over a year ago. It did look incredible. I personally prefer the look of it on PC to Crysis, then again I couldn't run Crysis on Very High.

Alucard
12-21-2010, 07:56 AM
Whats your pc specs? video card, ram, cpu?

GrantXP
12-21-2010, 08:03 AM
Hmmm I think it is about 4GB ram, Quod Core processor, Nvidia Geforce GTX 260 video card. It maxed out COD 4 at least

GrantXP
12-29-2010, 03:57 AM
Kinect Sports (Xbox 360 Kinect)

So Kinect is here! Microsoft attempt to unlock the Xbox 360 to the casual gamer Market the Wii so brilliantly tapped up and whilst Kinect Adventures is the game you are getting in the box (at least here in the UK) Kinect Sports is the game that challenges the bundled Wii Sports directly.

Thanks to Wii sports minigames are now seen as normal and the similarities are on display here. There is football (soccer), table tennis, bowling, boxing and Track & Field and like the Wii these are a mixed bag of games. The easiest to directly compare is the bowling, whilst it's fun and my 80 year old granddad wanted to play it somehow it seemed a lot less playable that the Wii edition. Maybe it is because you are holding something on Nintendo’s version or the wiimote detects the spin more accurately. I don't claim to be the greatest bowler but I got the best result simply swinging my arm back and forth and keeping my body still, in rare instances my other arm interfered and even the people behind sat on the sofa caused an issue occasionally. So first blood to Wii Sports! Another direct comparison that can be made is the table tennis. True, the Wii had the non table version but Rare gets it right here. Seeing as you couldn't control your movement in the Wii version it seems more sensible to restrict this game to a table where it is simply about making the right shots, and I have to say it detects everything perfectly. Sliced backhands topspin forehands, smashes were all executed with ease and it's very responsive. I had some pretty epic battles with friends already and can see this being one of the standout games in what is a mixed package. Volleyball works in a similar way but plays more like Wii Sports Tennis which is never a bad thing but lacks the variety of shots that are on display in the table tennis.
Next up was football and this has never really been tackled using motion controls. Sure Pro Evos point and click to direct runs was a great implementation but you were still sat on your arse and Kinect Football has a damn good go at recreating the beautiful game. It's stripped down to the bare bones and you have 2 play mechanics, attacking and defending. When on the offensive the 360 will select one of up to 3 passes you can play which you then kick in one of the directions. Generally the detection is quite good but often you end up playing the wrong pass, it looks for the whole leg movement. Little flicks and side footed passes are a big no no here and for me that was annoying as I instinctively played these passes. Defending is limited to interception only. You jump your player in the way of the other players pass to block the ball. If you are in range of the goal you can shoot. Again it's fairly basic. You can't 'Bend it like Beckham' or anything. Whilst this all sounds negative the football is actually a lot of fun! Ok it won't compare to FIFA for depth but jumping around intercepting passes was a great laugh and I really enjoyed this sport in particular. However as with all the sports in this package it's better when played with friends. Then the biggest ‘Sport’ in the game is the Track and field which Includes Hurdles, Sprint, Javelin, Discus Throw and Long Jump): A selection of track and field events, all taking place at the Flame Stadium and the possibility to play a pentathlon. Each of these serve as throwaway games by themselves and pale in comparison to great track and field games of yester year such as Athelete Kings (Decathlete). The hurdles for me provide the highlight watching you leap up and down like idiots which provide massive amusement for all around. Again, you will rarely want to play these games alone as precision rarely comes into it but competing with friends is great fun.

The game also features the Kinect bells and whistles that you will come to expect if you played Kinect Adventures. Whilst you play the Kinect camera will snap away at you for your amusement. Though the pictures and captions are no where near as entertaining or carefully thought out as Kinect Adventures. The game also gives you little time to celebrate like you can with Kinect Adventures trophies which in sports would have been a nice touch to really rub it in an opponents face. But the whole game is well presented and polished. The announcer either is or sounds a lot like the announcer from the X-Factor and you can get the crowd going by clapping and dancing around before you start playing. The menus are also easy to navigate and never get you out of the action for long.

If you have a Kinect and Dancing games are not your thing you should certainly pick this up. So that’s it then… great game and a 90%+ review? Well… No. After the few hours of fun and laughter and when the day playing with friends is over you will rarely play this. Case in point, a friend of mine received this game on Christmas Day and he and the family played it all day and it was the stand out game. Come Boxing Day when the family were gone and the novelty wore off it was back to playing conventional gaming. Kinect Sports will reappear again and again when friends visit. But at £40/$60 a game it’s hard to recommend this aside from as a multiplayer romp. Still if you own a Kinect right now that’s why you purchased it.

Pros – Great fun with friends. Football is well implemented. Announcer sounds great.
Cons – Almost non-existent single player appeal. Better victory celebrations would have been welcome.

Overall 77%

GrantXP
12-29-2010, 03:59 AM
Added Kinect Sports. Loved it, but limited!

Alucard
12-29-2010, 05:35 AM
Yeah I had more fun with it then I did wii sports.

GrantXP
12-29-2010, 05:54 AM
I prefer Kinect Adventures if I am honest but it was good fun.

Seraph
12-29-2010, 06:17 AM
Nice Kinect Sports review, I was curious how a couple sports would work without the ability to hold something. Bowling sounds as bad as I imagined it however I never thought about moving your body in Table Tennis. Actually that confused me a bit in your review: why does table tennis pick up topspins but bowling didn't pick up spins very well?
After the few hours of fun and laughter and when the day playing with friends is over you will rarely play this.
This is the exact reason I haven't had interest in Kinect. It seems like right now all the titles for it have that same shallow design that is fun for Moms & Dads at parties but nothing you'd play yourself.

GrantXP
12-29-2010, 06:43 AM
It's the way it picks it up. When you backspin you tend to swing down and Kinect gets it right almost every time. Topspin you brush up the back of the ball. I guess in bowling it is a more subtle wrist movement which Kinect doesn't seem to imterpret so well. Wii Sports/Wii Sports Resort bowling is a lot better. If you get Kinect this would be one of the games I would buy. But like Wii Sports its more an impressive tech demo than a great game.

Paper exe
12-29-2010, 07:06 AM
I hate you all.

Kenct sport is made by Rare. That alone tells that it is an AAA+X+ Title. It doesn’t need retards positive opinion to get you people preference.

Alucard
12-29-2010, 07:53 AM
I could make the balls spin some in bowling. I actually enjoyed it lots. Especially the side variant of bowling where you throw as many balls in a certain time limit to get a high score, and then realising you can use both arms at the same time yo windmill a billion balls down the lane. Way fun.

GrantXP
12-29-2010, 07:54 AM
I know I haven't been around long but I struggle to know most of the time if Paper is joking.

I never said I didn't like it!

GrantXP
01-10-2011, 03:56 AM
Wii Fit Plus - Nintendo Wii

The Wii has changed the face of gaming quite possibly forever. Bringing gaming to the masses may not always satisfy the hardcore but it really sells. First we had Wii sports, then came Wii Fit and now we have the addon addition.

Firstly you already know if you will like this game. If your 20st, hate exercise and have no intention of starting now then this game may as well have a 1% review score. Also if you are looking to tank up like Arnie or already look a bit like him then this 'game' will prove pointless.

If however you are like me, someone who goes to the gym a bit. Focus' on weights, rarely stretches and lives with women this could be one of the best games ever! I will review this as an addon. So I will be breif on the contents of the original package. There are 4 categories: Yoga, muscle, cardio and games. In this addition everything starts unlocked if you owned Wii Fit which is great because one of the issues I had was friends that came to stay would be very limited by their options. The whole game is also more streamlined. You can now fast user switch during games which avoids having to sign in and out and can do a basic weight test easily. They have also added a calorie counter and METS rating for each item you select to isobars how difficult it is. In terms of brand new content you can tell Nintendo focused on the gamer than the fitness enthusiast. There are 2 new yoga poses and 2 muscle workouts and to be fair they are decent new exercises and no adaptations of the other exercises. They have also added a lot more 'Fitness test' games which stop the tests becoming repetitive and are actually quite fun to play. Cosmetically the game looks identical with the exception of a pre-defined personal training menu which suggests workouts for specific muscles which would be welcome for extreme novices to fitness but personally I did not touch. In terms of new additions I would have perhaps enjoyed a couple more trainers to break up the monotony of the voices I have herd for the last 2 years and perhaps a few more exercises! The main major addition is the host of new games available which really take advantage of the balance board peripheral. Let's face it the balance board has been neglected aside from a handful of games. New games range from obstacle courses to having to shake your ass from side to side matching what is on screen. There is also a hilarious chicken flying game that if anyone ever saw doing it through a window may call the local mental asylum. This is the main bulk of the Wii Fit additions and if you shelled put for the balance board and used it then it makes the Plus version a must buy at a budget price.

Scoring any game is a personal thing but with Wii Fit Plus it's even more so. In fact, I'd go as far as saying the score is almost 100% irrelevant.

Pros - Great selection of new games. Minor enhancements really streamline the process.
Cons - Not enough additions to the Fitness part of the game. Personal training room is a pointless addon.

Overall - 80%

GrantXP
01-13-2011, 04:01 AM
Afterburner Climax - Xbox Live Arcade
Also available on Playstation Network

15 years ago Arcades were very different to today. Arcades were glimpses of the future. Sure the Saturn and Playstation were great home systems but nothing could match the quality of the arcades. Ridge Racer looked good on the Playstation and SEGA Rally is one of the all time classic console racing games but neither compared to their arcade counterparts. Fast forward 15 years and very few arcade games even come close to the might of the PS3 or 360. Which is the reason Afterburner may be the perfect XBLA/PSN game…

The arcades still contain a few games that we would love to see on consoles. Afterburner is one of those gems. But let's face it, games like Afterburner, HOTD and to an extent Virtua Fighter have no place on today's consoles compared to epic games like Mass Effect or Red Dead Redemption. You simply couldn't justify £40/$60 for this game. Yet put the game on Xbox Live at a budget price and all of that can be forgiven. Ok there is no moving pod to be thrown around in. But aside from the off screen cosmetics this is an arcade perfect conversion and I would happily throw 4 or 5 pounds through the arcade machine so to pay the same amount for the home version is a bargain.

The game lasts approximately 15 minutes but at least it’s a blast to play. As with all great arcade games it's easy to pick up and difficult to master but there isn't a lot of depth here. Shoot everything on screen, dodge a few mountains and move at breakneck speeds. The game is arguably one of the best looking on XBLA and visually could easily compete in today's retail marketplace. There are a few alternative routes that can be taken and for the console version SEGA have included a Score Attack mode and EX Option. These are options that unlock for achieving certain criteria in the game. This can be as basic as finishing the game to finishing the game with 2,000,000 points. The EX options can be highly entertaining and gives the game some replay value. Aside from grabbing the highest score possible there is little that will keep you coming back to Climax. Trying a few of the EX Options and obtaining the insanely easy 200 achievement points did make me play the game through 5 or 6 times but that was it. The game will now become a great demo for friends to have a quick blast on when they visit.

But let's look at it from another angle. I played the game through 5 times, each time using 4 continues. In the arcade that would have cost me £20! So for 800 MS points (400 during promo days) this game represents great value for money and just may be a way for arcade games that are not called Virtua Fighter or Time Crisis to exist on home consoles. Prior to this we had the watered down PSP version. I think it's great that arcade perfect translations of games of this calibre have found a new home. However, in saying that I feel more could have been done here... It's a nice touch that you can select the original Afterburner II music but the entire game as an unlockable extra would have been an awesome addition and not taken a lot of effort to do. Another aircraft with different properties to the 3 default crafts could have also added an interesting twist. Alas, an additional ending if you are Gods gift to Afterburner is all that exists aside the additional options.

So that's what Afterburner is. More welcome relief than epic headliner. You won't sit down for a lengthy Afterburner session. Instead this will be a game you will load up for a quick burn when time is limited or you need light relief from an epic Halo session. Gaming has changed, but its good news there is still room on next gem consoles for classic gameplay like Afterburner: Climax.

Pros - Smooth visuals. EX Options are fun to experiment with.
Cons - Far too short. Limited long term replay value. Adding the original as unlockable would have done a lot for the nostalgia factor.

Overall - 72%

GrantXP
01-13-2011, 04:05 AM
Afterburner Climax added... Awesome fun... for about 15 minutes.

GrantXP
01-18-2011, 03:29 AM
F1 2010 – Xbox 360
Also available on Playstation 3

Back in 1996 as a proud Saturn owner and a big F1 fan it wasn’t Tomb Raider 2 or Resident Evil 2 that made me jealous of PS owners. I could get those on PC. It was F1 in all it's licensed beauty. It wasn't until F1 World Grand Prix on my N64 that I got my first sample of F1 gaming on console and it was everything the years of waiting could want. I didn't get another F1 game until EA sports F1 2002 on the Xbox and after this F1 fell into the wilderness with the exception of the dreadful PS3 launch title! Why was this? Well F1 is limited, you can only ever have a maximum of 24 cars and drivers and 19 tracks. The cars may be beautiful but you can't see them while you race and the tracks are on the whole sparse. The Forza's and Gran Turismo's of this world are the more complete package. It has meant we have waited 5 years for a truly next gem F1 game... And in my opinion it was worth the wait!

The creators of F1 2010 have put a lot of man hours into creating the cars and tracks in painstaking detail and recreating the simulation experience to the max whilst also making the game accessible to casual gamers. On easy mode with all assists on (except for auto break which is a hindrance) anyone can play and enjoy this game. On expert the first time I played the game I was racing in the rain and could barely get of the start line due to wheel spin and promptly spun into the first corner. Similarly the level of customisation to your car is extensive and F1 buffs can tweak their setups heavily or for people like me there are 7 preset setups to choose from if you want to have a say but not go too deep into the cars setup.

Visually the game is a masterpiece, the rain as it develops on the track mid race is particularly special and every track has been recreated to the highest detail. All the pit crews, trailers and menus have been crafted to make this the optimum F1 experience. Of course this would mean nothing if the game didn't play like a dream. Thankfully the game gets it right. F1 is about learning the tracks and practice makes perfect. The career mode lasts 7 years and yyou can partake in a long race weekend which is 3 practice sessions, a long qualifying and a half or full distance race or you can do a short race weekend which just has one practice, a short qualifying and a 20% distance race. Of course you can vary this by skipping practice and qualifying sessions but it is worth taking the time to practice to learn where your breaking points are. If you do a full distance race on expert settings the game is hyper realistic. In real F1 you cannot go full throttle the whole race as the cars are filled with less than enough fuel to complete the race, this is the same in F1 2010, hammer if or the whole race and you won't finish. Your pit crew will tell you when to ease off to preserve fuel. Slightly damage a wing and they will tell you to change your wing angle manually. There is a lot of attention to detail here. Sadly very few will play full races on expert meaning these subtleties could be missed. The other thing is the level of intensity Codemasters create in the gameplay. If you need a fast lap the playability is so perfect you can really take risks into corners, hit the curbs to shave vital milliseconds off your time and feel the car twitch like you may lose the backend. The cars also feel dramatically different depending on what setup you have. Put the grippy option tyres with a medium setup an you will feel like you cant spin the car but will be considerably slower on straights. Configure the car for maximum downforce and you will bullet along but really have to wrestle the car around corners. Each track it is about getting the blend just right. With this level of detail in mind it is baffling to me that so many potential gloss factors are missing! For example, at the end of a race if you finish in the top 3 you will have to carry out a press conference, I never felt that what I said in these or any of the interviews made the slightest bit of difference. Not only this but strangely they have not included a podium when you finish in the top 3. This seems bizarre as this is one of the trademarks of F1. This could be made really fun in future instalments if they included Kinect support for this sequence. It's just a thought. Similarly as I finish my last lap and take the chequered flag wouldn't it be great if you could actually see a man waving a flag and your pit crew celebrating madly. It's a minor touch that would really add polish and finish to the game.

Another gripe I have is with your pit crew’s communication. They encourage you when you are behind someone but they rarely let you know how far the guy behind you is. Instead you can see it in the top left of the screen for a split second at each sector in a lap. This takes something out of the game, sometimes when your pit crew are telling you to pit in it would be great to see how far behind you certain cars were so that you could consider staying out and etching out that extra second for track position after the stop. Other minor gripes are the fact that although this game by definition is limited it doesn’t use the license the way games like NBA 2K11 and even to an extent FIFA do. I think Codemasters missed an opportunity to use the licence. Updating loading screens with stats and showing the latest fixtures and news would have been awesome to make the sport more accessible to newcomers and what about a few classic cars. Senna's McLaren or Schumacher’s Ferrari or a scenario mode with some of the big moments through yesteryear in F1 or a few classic tracks that don't appear in the 2010 calendar? Or even a post race highlight reel...

I feel I am being over critical here and taking away from what a great racing game this is. Put simply it is a must have for F1 fans but there is plenty of room for work in future iterations. Codemasters have the core game here almost perfect and that alone makes this game worth the price tag. But there is certainly room for growth here in the next iteration. Recreating the glitz and glamour of F1 was never going to be a simple task but Codemasters have done a great job with the racing. I hope they listen to their fans for the 2011 edition. However as an F1 fan I am happy to say Codemasters have done a great job bringing the game to next gen consoles. Sure I can add features but I cannot fault the fun or gameplay and that's what you enjoy about games. Cannot wait to see the 2011 edition.

Pros - Superb graphics. Faultless playability. Races are exciting!
Cons - Elements missing from career mode like the podium seem a strange design choice. Interface is a little dull. Pit crew communication and game HUD needs work.

Overall - 88%

Alucard
01-18-2011, 07:23 AM
Not a bad racing game that one.

GrantXP
01-18-2011, 08:05 AM
Not bad, if you like F1 it is superb. Not really sure why I am still writing these things but it kills the time on the train.

GrantXP
01-26-2011, 09:21 AM
NBA 2k11 - Xbox 360
Also available on Playstation 3

Back in 1994 I decided I would give NBA Jam a go. I didnt understand basketball at all. But the game had universal acclaim and arcade 2on2 gameplay. It immediately grabbed my attention. The use of licences and the attention to detail of the players was something never seen in a sports game... Various dreadful basketball games have come and gone since with the highlight for me being NBA 2K2 on the Dreamcast but as I'm not a die hard fan each year since then I would keep an eye out for an awesome NBA game and would be sorely disappointed!

Until now, I write this review as a gamer who knows little about basketball. Before playing this game I didn't know the rules. How the league worked or any players except for Kobe Bryant and Lebron James however this game is the perfect game to not just get you into Basketball games but make the sport more accessible in general! And Shaq O'Neill still plays basketball at a high level... What is he like 100 (astute gamers will remember Shaq Fu on the Mega Drive some 15 years ago!

When you first put the disc in you are immediately thrown in at the deep end playing with Michael Jordan’s Bulls against Magic Johnsons Orlando Magic! 99% of people in this game get destroyed! Its a real baptism of fire but if sets the standard of what's to come. Photo realistic visuals, incredible attention to detail with men who buffer the court (it's amusing to knock them over), mascots that moonwalk while you play and the most varied and vibrant crowd in a sports game I have seen. Add to this the gorgeous cheerleaders that I promos you'll watch at least once and the in game detail is staggering. Matched only by the level of game options you have. Firstly there is NBA Today mode! Where you can play any of the current games going on in the NBA. Play these and you will see secrets for the latest upcoming NBA games, live current season stats on all the teams and players. Not only this but the commented is the best commentary on a sports game... EVER! Not only is it fluid with analysis of players as they play. But when you switch the game on it will download additional commentary and where injured players are not available as the system updates injuries the commentators will actually comment on who is missing, how their injury will affect the game and how long they will be put for or even make references to the teams most recent outings, if the Heat played badly in the last game they will talk about it. The NBA Today mode sets new standards in the sports genre. Something EA should take note of with their sports games. On top of this there is an Association mode which let's players guide their chosen team all the way to the playoffs with the chance to meet Barak Obama if you are successful. A My Player mode similar to FIFA’s 'Be A Pro' mode as well as the ability to relive some of Michael Jordan’s famous magical moments and play as the great teams of yesteryear. Personally it was great to use Pippin, Kucoc and Armstrong in a simulation game having used them for the bulls in the magical NBA Jam TE all those years ago!

Playing alone is superb, the AI is spot on and the players are unforgiving. Each player controls slightly differently and you really feel it when you play and it affects the in game decisions you make. However, playing with friends this game really excels in every department. One friend remarked about how realistic the game looked and we were so mesmerised we didn't even skip the half time report or and of the time out sequences. Every game you play is a high octane event and with stick control your really feel every 3 point shot, lay up and slam dunk. Even for those people who knew nothing about basketball this game was surprisingly accessible and everyone was performing give & go's and ally oops in no time. Eventually isomotion moves will feel so intuitive and the satisfaction when you pull off a dunk or sink a 3 is unrivalled. There are a couple of niggles, the online mode is a little laggy and defending is a little controversial with many gamers complaining that you can let the computer do it for you. But here is the fun in that!

NBA 2K11 isn't just the best basketball sim. It's the best sports game I have played in a long time and arguably one of the best ever! Unless you have a serious aversion to sports games I cannot recommend this game highly enough. I honestly cannot think of a way to improve it, the presentation and detail are incredible and the game plays like a dream.

Pros - photo realistic graphics and environments. Superb sound. Incredible presentation. Innovative commentary.
Cons - online mode is a little laggy. Initial learning curve may put off some players.

Overall - 95%

GrantXP
01-28-2011, 06:14 AM
Sonic Unleashed – Xbox 360
Also available on Playstation 3

Sonic Unleashed is the follow up to 2006 critically panned Sonic 06. I will say something that will shock many... I didn't hate Sonic 06. Ok it was glitchy, frustrating and Sonic almost had a relationship with a human but I finished the game and actually enjoyed it in places.

Sonic Unleashed tries to rectify the wrongs from the 2006 outing and to a large extent it succeeds! The first thing that hits you about this game is the presentation. The intro movie is long, beautifully directed and more than watchable. You are then thrust into Sonic's opening level and everything just works. The view switches between 2D and 3D and whilst the 2D isn't quite as tight control wise as the 16-bit classics it is very playable. The whole thing moves at lightning pace and never slows up. This is in part due to the Hedgehog Engine which looks sensational in places and its refreshing to not see the Sonic Team using off the shelve graphics technology. Sonic's levels are edge of your seat rollercoaster’s. As you move around the world trying to piece it back together you will speed along the Great Wall of China, walk on water in arctic conditions and traverse jungle in the African themed 'Mazuri'. Plummeting to your death randomly as in Sonic 06 doesn't happen as much anymore and generally the system warns you when you are coming up to a speed stopping obstacle or strategically places an extra life after the check point so you don't run out of lives on a really cheap part of the game. This system isn't perfect, the homing attack will often send you flying somewhere not intended and you will swear a lot as you traverse some of the levels. The 'try and die' feel to the gameplay at times won't suit the Sonic purists but when you do eventually learn the levels and make the split second jumps required it's massively satisfying. Thank goodness in this game there you can also use the right and left shoulder buttons to perform a quick dodge which will keep you moving nicely. You can also boost using the X button but this needs to be performed carefully. Randomly boosting will ultimately result in you overshooting a platform so boosting becomes a skill and works well and doesn’t cheapen the gameplay as in Sonic Rush on the DS. Still many levels are brutal and unforgiving. A special mention must go to the final level ‘Eggmanland’ which had me cursing and swearing a whole lot.

Shortly after Sonic's intro you are plunged into the dark side of the game. Initially it is seemingly awful. Sonic becomes a warehog at night in a 'Twilight Princess' stolen idea that doesn't really work. Whilst the warehog looks ok and has a decent array of moves it's not the tightest control implementation and can feel repetitive. But it isn't terrible and you will become used to its quirkiness. Initially as your warehog is weak and you have to collect sun and moon medals so the first warehog level will really get you down. It takes hours and the complications controlling the warehog really will piss you off. But once you get used to it the levels are just about playable and are somewhat a cross between ‘God Of War’ and ‘Banjo-Kazooie’. A mix of fighting and scavenging for items. On paper this doesn't sound bad but the implementation of this fails to match either of the inspired games and this section f the game is heavily average. Thankfully you should only need to play the warehog levels once as you can get most o the medals on a single playthrough. I actually grew to enjoy the warehog sections towards the end of the game as you gain more experience from playing them than the Sonic day levels and they do break the intensity of the game but it's fair to say these levels fail to live up to the spectacular Sonic levels!

On top of this there is the games hub world. Again, it's not a perfect implementation compared to the sophistication of top adventure games nowadays but you can travel around the world buying items, doing tasks for people, exorcising ghosts, and generally solving people’s social issues. These areas of the game serve as filler and were left out of the Wii edition but generally work quite well. Some of the missions are chronically difficult and require perfect playing of the levels. They range from killing every enemy in a sequence, to collecting ingredients through a level or simply reaching a point in a level in a certain time. They add to the game, the hub world also contains level entrances and it is good that there are a number of levels that are accessible outside of the core set of levels to complete the game. Discovering these later and playing through proved to be good fun and adds to the longevity of the game.

One thing is for sure Sonic Team went to town on the games presentation and production values. There are plenty of hidden extras ranging from artwork, records, literature on the game an characters, profiles of the characters you meet. It's refreshing to see that so much hard work has gone into creating this game. Of course warehog aside there are other issues. You have a companion Chip, think Navi from Zelda. To make him always with Sonic they have made him small and floaty, he is actually annoying and pointless and without ruining the mediocre story he has lost his memory and when he rediscovers it it's almost embarrassing what he is and doesn't work when you see the menacing Dark Gaia. Also, given the high production values it seems strange to me that SEGA has not included a way to select levels to replay once you complete them, instead you nee to go back through the hub world and locate them. A menu that allowed you to play completed levels would enhance replay ability significantly.

Sonic Unleashed is a HUGE step in the right direction for the blue mascot and is easily his best outing since Sonic Adventure 2. Sonic fans will lap this up, and whilst it is far from perfection the Sonic levels and side missions along make this a must have for Sonic fans and the warehog levels are not as bad as everyone makes out. Original 16-bit purists this won't convert you. But everyone else should give this a try. Because Sonic is heading back in the right direction and I sincerely hope they make a follow up that continues this trend if just to use the beautiful hedgehog engine again.

Pros - Superb fast graphics. Day levels are immense fun. High production values.
Cons - Warehog levels are average. Controls could be tighter.

Overall - 80%

Paper exe
01-28-2011, 01:32 PM
I played Sonic World Adventure and I have to say your review really nailed it.

For me the biggest thing that bothered me is how long the warhog stages are, they are like as big as sonic once minus sonic speed. The stages should be warhog friendly in term of length I believe. Beside it is not like they had many good/fresh ideas that they had to stretch the levels to include. Other than that the game is just plain old fun.

The reviews are a good read but huge paragraphs makes having track of the sentence I am in a bit frustrating. Would appreciate splitting those paragraphs in to smaller paragraphs.

keep up the good work.

GrantXP
01-31-2011, 01:36 AM
Thanks Paper, appreciate the feedback. Always good to get it! I will go through the old reviews this week and try and break them down into bite sized portions.

Did you ever consider the DLC for Sonic Unleashed?

Paper exe
01-31-2011, 07:19 PM
to be honest yes but there are so many intresting full games for Xbox live arcade that I usually end up wasting my money on instead. :indiff:

GrantXP
02-02-2011, 09:12 AM
Gears Of War 2 - Xbox 360

The original Gears of War was one of the first real Xbox 360 titles to make you appreciate the power of the system. Stunning visuals, a carefully considered coop system and of course the chainsaw!

Gears Of War 2 picks up right where the first one left off and it is everything you have come to expect from a sequel! It's bigger, with more enemies on screen at one time and more epic battle sequences, the visuals have been enhanced and not only do you finally get to fight a brumark (ok I know the PC version of the original contained extra levels that allowed this but now you can even ride and control one). Control wise the system is the same with one of the best cover systems that ha been copied so often in so many games such as Uncharted, Splinter Cell and even GTA. There are some new play mechanics such as using downed enemies as meat shields and you can now have chain duels but these are more minor additions than major overhauls. However taking someone’s head clean off with the sniper or taking out someone at close range with a shotgun still remains incredibly fun and satisfying. The only weapon addition worth mentioning is the mortar which has the same impact as mortars in other games but it is incredibly easy to calculate and really can provide devastating consequences. The visuals are certainly improved with massive environments with huge draw distances and even more detail. The story this time round gets you a lot more involved and the voice acting won't win any Oscars but is competent, you really start to feel for both Marcus and Dom as you play through this game. In the first game they were just jumped up crazy steroid junkies and whilst nothing has changed you start to realise why they have such a harsh exterior in Gears 2 as well as realise they are human and sensitive after all. Something I hope continues to develop in the 3rd instalment.

The single player works just like the first game... It’s good but it won't set the world on fire, this game really comes into it's own when you play the co-op game and I recommend that everyone plays this game co-operatively at least once. There are many set pieces in the game which require good communication. From having to carry a bomb together only equipped with a pistol each whilst being bombarded by wrenches to having to split up while one clears the path for another or the classic car and gunner scenario. It’s all here and playing the game on insane difficulty will require 2 skilled players and good communication. The only dissappointing aspect of the game is the lack of variation with environments. They look very similar to the first game. With the exception of the absurd location in a giant worms intestines it all looks the same as the first game. I don't expect them to have to dash through a sweet factory but a jungle style mission or perhaps some more covert aspects to the mission structure would help the game no end. Whilst they are beautiful the abandoned lab, underground cave and overrun hospital are predictable and won't suprise you.

The game also features the much talked about Horde mode. Which to be honest is a little hit and miss. You battle wave upon wave of enemies and it all gets a bit boring with the most successful way to play this mode is simply to set up a stall near some ammo and take people out as they come! With any less than 4 people this mode is crazy difficult on even casual difficulty to complete all 50 waves but is a nice addition and gives the game a little more replay value. Then there is the multiplayer mode, for some reason this didn't grab my attention the way the first game did. The first game seemed more focused and intense. The second games environments are more open and I often felt a bit overwhelmed when I jumped into matches.

Still for me GOW2 is all about it's stunning coop mode and I have to say in my opinion it's the best coop experience on any console since Mickey’s World of Illusion on the Mega Drive. The campaign will last you approximately 13 hours and if you love it as much as I did you will want to play it again on insane difficulty and find the hidden items. If you own a 360 and have not at least tried GOW2 then you are sorely missing out as the game and the series is one of the best exclusives on the 360. In fact I would go as far as to say it is the best 360 exclusive, and yes that includes Halo

Pros - Impressive visuals. One of the best coop games out. Chainsaw is still awesome.
Cons - Horde mode should be called defend mode. Multiplayer not as focused as first game.

Overall - 92%

GrantXP
02-02-2011, 09:21 AM
Gears 2 added... Wanted to get the review out long before the 3rd game is out and while it is fresh in the memory!

GrantXP
02-04-2011, 07:15 AM
Outrun Online Arcade – Xbox 360
*** This game is no longer on PSN due to licensing constraints and will be removed from XBLA in November this year ***

Over Twenty years ago one particular game set the standards for all future arcade racers. Yu Suzuki's Outrun had vibrant varied visuals, was lightening quick and immense fun. No longer was arcade gaming about shooting endless asteroids or gobbling up ghosts with a yellow ball (I say this with no malice, Pac Man is awesome). Instead gamers were driving top of the range Ferrari's to impress hot girls. It became an instant classic. It was some 20 years later before we saw outrun 2 in the arcades and Xbox with the original game being outclassed by a minor arcade hit called Daytona in 1994. But now the sequel is back again in glorious high definition and online mode.

Outrun Online Arcade stays true to the original in many ways. You race through a stage, choose right (hard) or left (easy) at the end of it and there are 5 potential end points that you must race too before the time is up. The game also stays true to the original with it's camera. The camera is rigidly fixed on the cars back unless you drift. It works differently from racing games of today and at first is a little strange but you quickly adjust tote old school style of the game. Outrun 2's graphics have all been redone in higher resolution and the game looks stunning. This is not just a simple upscaled Xbox port, all of the textures have been redone an the visuals have a polish unmatched by most XBLA offerings. The game also, like the original, features a drift mechanic that is imperative to master to be successful at the game and as with all SEGA arcade games the mechanic is easy an intuitive to master. Pull on the break, slam the wheels right or left and hit the power. The controls work well and drifting accurately is very easy. However drifting is of course slightly slower than straight line driving so judging when to use this for maximum speed is an art form and assessing which corners you can take without drifting whilst avoiding a time consuming spectacular crash is part of why Outrun is so addictive!

Every stage is carefully crafted; this is not a realistic racer! So you will go from a woodland stage to an inner city stage to a snow stage seamlessly. Each environment is as beautifully thought through as the last and whilst on paper there are only 15 stages to see you will want to reach every ending and to give the game replay value there is a heart attack mode where you must complete impromptu tasks to impress your girl. These can range from collecting coins, passing traffic or drifting within a certain area. It's not as extensive as the original Outrun 2 'crazy box' style missions but it certainly adds to the game. On top of this there is a continuous mode where you play through all 15 stages and a time attack mode. Then there is the big new addition to this version the Online mode. It actually works very well. Ok games are a bit sparse and you will rarely have more than 5 racers competing but it certainly gives the game some longevity and a new dimension. It played with no slowdown and given that the game typically isn't a conventional racer and
More an 'against the clock' game let you play the game from another perspective.

Of course there are some negatives. Those who played Outrun 2 or Outrun: Coast 2 Coast will have pretty much seen the game before and of course once you have played each course once there is little to keep you comic back to this one apart from the occasional blast at the online mode. Still, 800 points for a game this polished make this game tough to not recommend unless you are a racing simulation freak or just plain hate racing games. It's refreshing to see games like Outrun and Afterburner still have a place in gaming when they probably wouldn't hold up as full retail releases nowadays.

Outrun Online Arcade is exactly the way an arcade/rereleased game should be done on XBLA with remade HD visuals and an online mode. SEGA would do well to take note of Sumo Digitals effort next time they port one of their beloved Dreamcast games. The arcade style won't suit all. But for everyone else this is an immensely fun pick up and play racer.

Pros - Its Outrun 2 in HD. Brand new online mode. Perfect price point.
Cons - It's Outrun 2, there isn't a lot here if you played the original. Limited longterm replay value.

Overall - 80%

Alucard
02-04-2011, 04:38 PM
Sega cant even sort their crap out to have their games for sale. Good going retards..

GrantXP
02-05-2011, 02:29 PM
I think it is sad really to have a timed license. Once a game is created that should be it...

GrantXP
02-09-2011, 04:00 AM
Kinect Adventures - Xbox 360 Kinect

When Kinect's pricetag was announced Microsoft softened the blow by announcing that Kinect Adventures would be thrown in with the device. So is Kinect Adventures a glorified tech demo or a worthwhile game in its own right?

Kinect Adventures is a series of mini games packaged beautifully into an explorer style game. Each game is designed to show off the devices abilities and it works well. The games vary greatly, although there are just 5 primary games in Kinect Adventures. These range from the bizarrely fun leak plugging stages where you are in a glass chamber immersed in water and using your character need to plug the gaps to the excellently crafted on rails obstacle course which sees you dive from left to right jumping and ducking collecting coins which are positioned in suck ways that you need to manoeuvre your body into place. You will be star jumping, flying like a bird or pulling the classic Travolta pose from Saturday Night Fever.

This leads on to one of the best features in the game. At these points Kinect will take photos of you in action. It proves to be hilarious with friends and the design choices of when to take pictures is very well thought through. Next there is a bouncing ball game where you have to smash the balls at targets with your legs and hands. When things are slow it works well with the exception of when the ball is at mid height. If it is so much as a centimetre below the waist Kinect expects you to go for it with your foot making things awkward indeed. On top of this after a while multiple balls start flying at you at great speeds. Whilst it’s all very intense I found more often than not I was simply flailing all my limbs hoping for the best. There is also a space room game where you must flap your wings to fly collecting items moving back, forward, up and down which is fairly throwaway. Lastly there is the much advertised rafting minigame (It features on the front cover) and I have to say it is the least fun of the lot. Leaping from side to side and jumping may sound good and with one player it is passable but with 2 players the game barely works. Yes it is supposed to encourage teamwork but most of the time you will spend flailing from side to side shouting at each other. It's fun a few times but very quickly becomes repetitive. This is one of the biggest issues with the game. Despite Rare’s efforts to create a really stylised game with the adventure mode if you are playing alone the repetitive nature if the games will become apparent even though they get harder. Playing alone this game will really get tedious after a while. A major issue with all of Kinect's launch titles.

Without doubt the best feature in the game is the trophy’s you collect which go a long way to make up for the tedium of repeating the same games. After each section of the game you are invited to pose or dance as either your avatar or an animal such as a monkey. It's hilarious and seeing how far you can push Kinect's detection is pretty cool, not only this but these can be uploaded to xbox live for all to see and as always with friends you will laugh a lot at these. Kinect Syndrome does set in even in this feature though as when you are alone rarely will you want to look so ridiculous as to actually take part in these trophy’s.

Whilst Kinect Adventures is great it suffers with the issues so many mini game compilations suffer from! You will only want to play this as a glossy tech demo with friends but it is more forgivable with Kinect Adventures as this is exactly what is was designed for by being thrown in with the device. Although people who have followed the device from its Natal days will recall playable versions of Half Life 2 and the impressive Milo tech demo and may feel let down. Still, this is a tech demo impressively put together with all Rare’s gloss and style and it does exactly what it was designed to do. There's an awful lot to like in this game and it comes loaded with charm but once your friends leave it's back to traditional games once again as we wait for the real hardcore games to come to Kinect.

Pros - Great fun with friends. Great presentation. Trophy poses and photographs are hugely amusing.
Cons - You won't play this much alone. Only 5 minigames which become Repetitive after a while.

Overall - 77%

GrantXP
02-09-2011, 04:04 AM
Kinect Adventures added... Short and sweet like the game. Initially great. Got old VERY quickly! Still a nice tech demo IMO

Alucard
02-09-2011, 06:40 AM
I had fun that one.

GrantXP
03-07-2011, 02:23 AM
Banjo Kazooie – Xbox Live Arcade
Originally available on Nintendo 64

Back in the mid-ninties Nintendo revolutionised 3D platforming with the incredible Mario 64. When Banjo Kazooie came out it was widely regarded as the Mario killer. The comparison was a little unfair. Despite being similar in control and presentation Banjo was a different style of game. Rather than a world with 6 tasks like Mario in Banjo you have to collect Jiggies, there are 10 in each world and some are unreachable because you may not posses the correct move or because you need to visit the shaaman to transform into a certain creature.

The game Features 9 main levels and a huge game world to explore and is identical in every way to the N64 version. Ok, the resolution has been bumped up and the 2D sprites redone in HD. Purists will notice the giant N' has gone from the intro screen (Yet Banjo still sits on a gameboy in his house) but aside from that the game is identical. The controls map nicely to the 360 controller and remain as flawless and accurate as the original. So you can see this isn't a lazy port. However, with so many great remakes out there I can't help but think that remaking the whole game with the ‘Nuts and Bolts/Viva Pinata’ engine would have been better. Still a few blurry textures aside it looks good enough.

The levels and characters are a strong point of the game. Whilst the dialog isn’t spoken it is at least amusing and each level is colourful and sufficiently different from the next. Ok it uses a lot of stereotypical platform locations: Snow, Sand, water but each level has been carefully crafted and you will actually spend very little time running between tasks wasting time like you will in the sequel. Banjo learns new abilities in each level and each of these abilities is intuitive and easy to pull off and the 2 characters seamlessly work together as one.

As someone who has previously played Banjo it was hard to asses the difficulty of the game. Many of the tasks nowadays seemed absurdly easy. For example a high jump or 2 or 3 easy platforming sections a to collect a jiggy and generally I grabbed 95% of what was in the levels first time. Ok I know roughly where things were but even later less memorable levels to me like the Haunted House level I completed with the greatest ease. Experiences gamers that went on to play The likes of Mario Sunshine/Galaxy may find this a little one dimensional in structure. Gone are the days of executing a high jump or very basic series of jumps for a Jiggy. Still Banjo's charm comes through and if you never got a taste of the N64 classic I strongly recommend you pick this one up. There really isn't a bad thing I can say about this game. The controls are spot on. The camera is perfect. It certainly isn't a sloppy port. If you played the original then you can make your mind up whether you want to go back for nostalgia reasons but for me this represents one of the best games of the 1990's and still holds up as a superb game today. If you missed out and you like platform games this is one of the best on the 360 (and one of the best 3D platformers ever).

Pros - Great port. Precise controls. Great level design.
Cons - could have remade in HD. May seem easy by today's standards. It is exactly the same game as 10 years ago.

Overall - 89%

GrantXP
03-07-2011, 02:24 AM
Banjo Kazooie mini review added. Been pretty bad updating these lately. More to come this week...

Paper exe
03-07-2011, 05:50 AM
lol I don't know anyone who actually remembers the hunted mission level. I guess it is forgeable by nature. Only thing I remember about it is being one of the toughest level in the game in terms of collecting music notes.

I have to say the soundtrack in Banjo Kazzoie is nicely done. I am surprised that it didn't get your attention.

anyway nice reviews.

GrantXP
03-07-2011, 06:24 AM
You know it did the first time I played it. I love the soundtrack but 10 years on it didn't strike me as a strong point by todays standards. Still your right it was great!

GrantXP
03-11-2011, 01:00 AM
Shenmue - Dreamcast

10 Years ago my Dreamcast was giving me arguably the best gaming year of my life, Jet Set Radio, Resident Evil CV, MSR and many more games left but SEGA saved the best until last. I headed by train after school to get the game on the day of launch and I wasn't disappointed.

Shenmue redefined and set new standards in Video gaming. Switch the game on and you are treated to one of the best opening cinematics ever where you witness Lan Di brutally murder your father. It is then your purpose to avenge your father’s death and your quest begins. Initially you simply become immersed in Shenmue’s world. You can quite simply do anything. Go to the shops, visit the arcade and when did purchasing capsules with video game characters become so fun? All of the characters are memorable and the entire game has been redubbed in English. However the voice acting is the weaker part of the game. Ryo's performance in particular is very monotone and lacks any real depth but it never really impacts the game and in fact Ryo going round asking where sailors are actually becomes quite amusing and the cast are as memorable today as 10 years ago. Fuk-San is still annoying, Ine-San is like a grandmother to me and Tom is hilarious.

One of the best things about Shenmue is it's incredible orchestral score. It is without question one of the best musical scores ever. Perfectly composed to reflect emotion and the situation generating suspense and building up to giant crescendos and even giving poignancy to the Nozomi relationship. Though the question of whether the 2 properly are ‘Actually doing it’ remains unanswered.

Did I also mention that Shenmue contains a full scale arcade lounge. Featuring Darts, Punch out and of course SEGA classics Hang On and Space Harrier. Long before GTA was doing this sort of thing with it's immersive world Shenmue was doing it and these games alone carry hours of fun.

The combat system is also good but fails to really excel. Of course i am being over critical here Because this is the guy that created Virtua Fighter it's a shame the combat system didn't go deeper. Ryo picks up scrolls to learn newnmoves and can go to certain designated areas to practice them. The culmination being the giant 70 man fight roasted the end of the game. The game also has a series of quick time events (QTE's) that require you to press buttons within a certain time period. This method has been copied in games like Resident Evil 4, Tomb Raider and the Uncharted series and is yet another homage to just how groundbreaking Shenmue was/is.

Visually the game today holds up very well which is astonishing when you consider that back in 2000 most were still playing on their PSOne. The attention to detail is stunning. Be it the environments or the people surrounding them everything is polished to perfection. As time progresses upwards Christmas the snow comes down and you will see Santa wandering. You can interact with everything even if it is pointless. Listen to tapes (it is the 80's) and Ryo even has a Saturn under his TV (Hang on isn't it the 80's?). You even go out and get a job as a forklift truck driver and partake in races at the start of the day. That’s the beauty of Shenmue. The detail. Shops open and close at specific times. The weather changes and you have to be home in time for bed. It's little touches like this that make the game such an immersive experience. The other great thing in Shenmue is you will never get totally lost. Despite the interactive world you carry a notebook and will automatically note down the key information you pick up on your travels. It’s a system that works and works well and you will use it for phone numbers, passwords and to log appointments.

I have barely scratched the surface of how highly I rate this game. Shenmue today remains one of the best games ever and if you have not played the game I seriously recommend you pick this one up now because you are missing out on one of the best video game experiences. It's slow pacing may put off the casual ‘Call Of Duty’ audience but if you love your games then no one shouldn't experience Shenmue. It is simply brilliant.

Pros - Incredible attention to detail. Fantastic orchestral score. Brilliant story.
Cons - pacing issues. Fighting could have been deeper. Bad voice acting in places.

Overall - 98%

GrantXP
03-11-2011, 01:05 AM
Shenmue added, sensational! Now if only SEGA would get off their ass and put the game on XBLA!

GrantXP
03-17-2011, 04:14 AM
Bioshock – Xbox 360
Also available on PS3/PC

To create a new IP is risky business. Why? Well it costs a lot of money in a time of recession and there is no guarantee it will sell. Great games sell next to zero copies all the time nowadays because the industry is mainstream. It needs advertising, good reviews and luck. Add to that the insane dev costs of HD consoles and you get the picture. Bioshock not only is a new IP but is one of the best to come put this generation. You take the roll of Jack who has crash landed in Rature, an underwater city with a disturbed past.

At first glance the game seems extremely messed up. You will hear unnerving voices and see movement on the shadows, ghosts and a disturbing scene where a little sister is stabbing a corpse. Little girls are freaky but seeing them in this nature will initially shock you.

The story unfolds beautifully. As you play the plot develops but what really deepens and thickens raptures plot is the audio diaries. Why is this so special? After all we have been picking up Audio diaries for a while now... Doom 3 for example bit you had to stop and listen interrupting the flow of the game. Bioshock plays all it's audio diaries on the fly while you progress like in 2K Boston's previous game System Shock 2 and they are so engrossing and add to much to the game, characters and backstory. Even when you don’t feel like you are listening you absorb the information. Its a method I think should be used more. You really start to feel the horrific nature of Raptors past.

Visually the game is beautiful. It uses the unreal engine but the art design is spectacular. Rapture is stunningly created down tithe last detail and you can feel the love the designers put in. Each character is wonderfully crafted and polished and feels like it has a direction. In fact the entire presentation of the game is great. All the dialog is really well voice acted. Never in the game did it ever feel cheesy and the plot developments are carefully thought out.

The game uses a first person perspective and has an array of weapons but I wouldn't class it as a FPS. The combat system is as deep as you want it to be. On the one hand headshots and close up shotgun hits will do the business. Alternatively you can use the many plasmids to be more creative, this could be as simple as stunning your enemy with an electro bolt and hitting them with a wrench or electrocuting the water supply to fry anyone in it, you can even use telekinesis to hurl things at your enemies. Then there is a weapon upgrade system, the ability to create custom ammo and a camera that will allow you to research specific enemies allowing you to inflict more damage.

All I have done is talk about the good in this game. But is there any bad? Well the game doesn't have the standard FPS checkpoint system. Instead you regenerate in chambers. It sounds ok but the problem is that enemies retain there health following your previous battle. If you have got a big daddy down to 10% health and he kills you, he will still be on 10% when you get back. It means that sheer persistence will get you through the game and for me took a dimension away as I didn't really learn characters weaknesses and tended to stick to the bullet to the head method. I also ignored any health upgrades etc focusing more on abilities and whilst you can turn these chambers off it makes the game brutally hard for the average gamer. Still this is more a minor niggle and to be honest I still haven't decided if this system is bad or not... The other issue I had was with hacking. Initially the mini game associated with hacking is fun and a great addition. However, after hacking 50 or so it becomes a little tedious. Each hackable item has a hack difficulty and anything over half the difficult bar you know you probably won’t do. Anything beneath you know you will. Sure there is a buyout system and auto-hack tools but they get dull after a while.

Bioshock’s music and sound effects are top notch. The music
perfectly let's you know you are in the 50's whilst the games art style compliments it whilst still letting you know that it was the cutting edge of technology in the 50's. It just went horribly wrong! The voice acting in the diaries is superb and the characters talk and scream at you making the game creepy but giving every character a sense of depth.

The other great thing in my opinion is the game doesn't have a multiplayer. It's a classic old school single player game and I love it for that. So many companies become consumed with making a multiplayer just for the sake of it. The game doesn't need it. So I commend the developers or not tacking some afterthought on and letting the main game shine through.

Bioshock is without question one of the best games this generation. You walk into a ruined world and gradually unfold the horrific events that took place here. There are multiple endings depending on your morale choices to saving or harvesting the little sisters and personally I did go back for a second playthrough. It is one of the must experience games of the generation.

Pros - Spectacular environments. Superb voice acting. Deep and disturbing story. Innovative combat mechanism.
Cons - Vita chambers... Although only if you let them alter your play style. Hacking machinery becomes boring after a while.

Overall - 93%