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Pokemon Y

Another Excellent Victory by GameFreak.
Review By Ghost_tails

Pokemon X and Y took the standard Pokemon games we all know and love and filled it with beauty and life. The 3D graphics are excellent, finally rectifying the problems occurring with 2D sprites in a 3D world. Several new mechanics make the game far more engaging, providing character customization, worldwide connectivity, and the famed Mega Evolution.

The game can be played with either th

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pad or the d-pad found on the 3DS. After reaching a certain point, the circle pad becomes used for roller blades, which increases the speed of your character. While those who mostly use the d-pad may have difficulty with this, it seems to be an overall easy transition. The PSS (Player Search System) displayed on the bottom screen allows you to connect with people nearby, or all around the world via the internet. Connecting to the internet will show you which of your friends are online and show a list of people around the globe currently playing. You can interact with them by battling, trading, or sending them boosts known as O-Powers. You can also chat with people in your friends list using Game Chat, though this system does not work especially well with poor internet or over long distances. After reaching a certain point, you will be able to record a Trainer PR video, which is a ten second video created by showing your character and up to one Pokemon in your party with various camera angles, poses, sound and visual effects, and music.

You can also request to see the videos of people that appear on the PSS. Another new mechanic is known as Super Training. Pressing the left arrow at the top of the bottom screen will take you there, where you can see the EV values of your Pokemon. In short, EV’s are bonuses earned in battle or by vitamins that boost the various stats of a Pokemon. There is a limit to how many can be earned. The Super Training screen will tell you if the Pokemon has reached this limit. You can also play a mini game to gain more EV’s. Pressing the right arrow at the top of the screen while on the PSS will take you to Pokemon Amie, where you can play with the Pokemon in your party.

You can pet them, play mini games, and feed them. Each of these actions will increase their Affection to you. High Affection brings many bonuses in battle, such as a boosted critical hit ratio, the chance to dodge moves or cure status changes, boosted experience gains, and the ability to pet your Pokemon after knocking an opponent out. These bonuses do not apply in online battles or in a few organized battles within the game. Other features are the Wonder Trade (A random trade system), the GTS (Global Trade System for trading Pokemon around the globe), and Pokemon Bank (an online Pokemon Storage system yet to release, expected around December 25th, 2013, and costing $5 per year).

The story was a little disappointing, but that wasn’t a large problem as the story wasn’t the important part of the game. A high point for the game is that it does not shove the story in your face until you need to resolve the climax. Team Flare, the resident evil team of the Kalos region, seems at first to be harmless and annoying. Their goal is unclear for most of the story, causing the grand reveal closer to the climax to fall a little flat. I personally did not especially enjoy the story, though it did have some interesting twists and schemes that I did enjoy. Upon completion of the story, the two main objectives remain as they always have: Become the Champion and complete the Pokedex.

The new Pokemon games make leaps and bounds in their graphical quality. The biggest difference is the total conversion to 3D, which allows for dynamic camera angles. While the shifting camera does sometimes make it difficult to control your character properly, it is seldom an issue outside of the large central city known as Lumiose. The rendering of the Pokemon themselves is positively gorgeous, giving most of them a soft look. The animations make the game seem alive, with several animations for each Pokemon that are played when attacking and when hit. The music is overall pleasing, with few original tracks aside from city themes. Most of the music is remixed from the music used in previous games.

It did not take me very long to complete this game (which I define as becoming the Champion for Pokemon games), taking approximately 10 to 12 hours of play time over a week or so. Completing the Pokedex takes a lot of dedication, as usual, but is made somewhat easier by the Wonder Trade and improved GTS, speeding up the process rapidly. The EXP. Share item also speeds up gameplay, giving all Pokemon involved in battle 100% of the experience normally gained in that battle and all other Pokemon in your party 50%. This item can be turned off, however, making the difficulty a little adjustable.

As with all Pokemon games, there is a good deal of replay value. While the story cannot take many different turns, gathering Pokemon and earning badges holds a power for gamers of all ages. The overarching story may never change, but the story you tell about your own character changes drastically with each play. After the release of Pokemon Bank, it is expected that replay value will increase, making it possible to store your Pokemon in an external location before restarting without mindlessly gathering junk Pokemon to trade. There is little in the way of postgame content, which is a flaw for the Pokemon series. With only a sidequest of sorts and some battles here and there to entertain you, those not enthralled by the world and spirit of Pokemon will become bored quickly.

For lovers of the Pokemon series, these games are a must. For those not yet introduced to the Pokemon world, I would personally recommend starting with the Generation 2 remakes, Heartgold and Soulsilver, moving on to X and Y afterward. This is merely for introductory purposes however, so if you don’t want to spend that much, getting X or Y first should be fine. Those that enjoy RPG’s, connectivity and interaction, collecting, and battling will adore these games. I absolutely recommend purchasing this game.

NAME: POKEMON Y
SYSTEM: 3DS

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Pokemon X

Each new set of Pokémon games always manages to blow the previous ones out of the water, and X and Y are no exception.
Review By Missingno_Mastr

Halo 3

This game is an absolute beast and a blast to play!
Review By Thesampleman

Halo 3 is one of those games that every gamer knows about and eagerly anticipates. The anticipation for this game is finally over and may I say that this game is an absolute masterpiece and is one of the best first person shooters ever made. This game improves on every area that made the first and second installments so good, and adds even more depth and fun to the mix. This is truely a rare gaming feat, to have the absolute perfect blend of action within the game to keep the game fresh, and still retain all the hallmarks of the first person shooter genre intact. This game delivers upon all the hype and did not let me down in any way, shape, or form. Bungie did a perfect job on this one and we all get to enjoy this perfection.

GRAPHICS: The graphics in this game are gorgeous, and we’ll start with everyone’s favorite area, the character models. The character models are very well made in this game. From Master Chief’s shiny helmet and body armor gleaming in the sunlight, to the Arbiter’s leathery skin, each character has his own distinct look and feel. The animations of these characters are also top notch. When the Arbiter utters a syllable you’ll actually see him pronounce it. It does not have the effect of a bad English dubbing of a Japanese movie, it is all very real and all very lifelike. It must have been difficult to even think up how the Arbiter would talk and pronounce the words and how his mouth would move when doing so, and the design team should be congratulated on a job well done. The Covenant and Flood are also very well designed and you’ll definetly know what you are up against when you meet all the different types of foes in the game.

The animations themselves are fluid and very lifelike. All the non playable characters move around as they would in the middle of a firefight. The gun animations are also very well done. Each weapon has a unique design and you’ll be able to tell what you are carrying just by looking at it. The recoil animations are also well done and major props for the people at Bungie for just noticing the minor details, such as when you throw a sticky grenade at your enemies, it actually sticks and glows and blows apart the enemy at that exact spot.

The physics in the game is also well done. The bodies fall real and life like. The only problem that I see with the physics is that Master Chief jumps a tad bit to high at some points, which makes him seem to be able to disobey physics. All the objects in the game can become flying projectiles if close enough to an explosion and that was a nice touch. All the grenades seem to have a good arc and seem to follow known laws of physics. All the physics other than the one minor flaw seems to work to perfection.

SOUND: The sound in this game is fantastic! There are no sounds in this game that are wasted and or useless. They all serve a purpose, and that is to keep you interested in the game. The first area of the game that I will cover is the music. The music in this game is very well done and sets the mood of the game perfectly. From the beginning theme that every Halo player has heard since the first game, to the battle field music each sets the tone of that scene. For instance during a certain fight the music gets low and really does not play at all. The seems to bring in the feeling that you are alone fighting a merciless enemy, which you are at that point. The music brings out the emotion of the game and that in turn affects the player to be more tuned into the game and its story which for a first person shooter is an epic!

The sound effects range from the traditional to the hilarious. The most funny are from the Grunts as you shoot them they laugh or say a phrase that is really hilarious. Every characters grunts and groans are ear pleasing and done with care. Each foe sounds the same however in how they grunt, but the key difference is in tone and pitch. You’ll know that the Arbiter has your back or is getting shot in the face just from listening to his grunts! The weapons sound effects are also the same as they were in the previous two games, and while this is not a bad thing; they could have really upgraded the audio from then to now. It is a small concern but a concern never the less.

The voice acting in this game is also very well done. Master Chief sounds as cool as ever, and the Arbiter’s voice is also very well done. He makes the character seem believeable and actually makes him sort of have a better personality than the other characters you will meet throughout the game. The enemies have voices too and they do an equally good job of portraying a Brute or even Flood members, and you’ll always have the annoying voice of the Prophet of Truth to fall back on if you’re getting tired of the other characters voices.

CONTROLS: Basically nothing has changed from the previous control schemes used in the first two games. The right trigger is still your best buddy. (and also the left if you are dual wielding weapons) This is a good thing because the controls of the first two games were also very good, so these were good as well. The camera was responsive and tight, the aiming mechanism was responsive and tight and the game takes about five minutes for a Halo pro like me to pick up and play. For the average gamer or a new person to the world of gaming or just the genre, the games controls will take about twenty minutes to master.

The only unresponsive thing in the game is the vehicles again! They just feel clumsy and unresponsive when you drive along. I must have flipped at least five of my vehicles in the game, which can be a pain in the rear end. The vehicles can be flipped over by the press of a button, but that can be a pain if you are forced out and into the middle of a Covenant attack force. This however, was my only gripe about the controls, and as I stated the game is responsive in all other areas throughout the game.

STORY: Well basically it picks up right after Halo 2 ended. You come to Earth to find the Covenant digging up something in the African Desert that may have something to due with the Halo destruction network. You are sent to eradicate the threat and take care of your foes, the Covenant that are still fighting you, and the Flood. Basically the game starts with you in a race to get there and end the threat once and for all.

The games story here is actually one of the more interesting in first person shooters to date. In fact the whole trilogy is, but that was off topic. The story is well thought out and has some twists and turns throughout it that’ll keep you coming back for more and more and more. The game is just that good. The games plot is not confusing, and is easy to follow what is happening throughout the game. Every so often you can even hear conversations from far away that have some relevance to the game in one way or another.

GAMEPLAY: The game play is traditional Halo and is action packed. The Artificial Intelligence is really good and if you play the game on Legendary you are up for a challenge. The game is very challenging and will kill you fairly often, so the game has a frustration factor built into it. This factor however, does not affect the fun of the game because it makes you feel proud that you got through that area of the game and did not die that time. It is fun to try and figure things out and get through it somehow.

The check point system is also very well implemented. After every tough fight that you have you will always have a check point. This system allows for you to skip over the hard area that you just faced and allows you to formulate strategy during the next tough area that you are coming to. You will always know that a battle is upcoming when you see the check point message on the bottom right of the screen.

The game is also fun to be played along with a friend. You can play the game via Xbox Live or co-op like and have a ton of fun. The multi player options are endless in this game and there is a mode for everyone. There are modes to satisfy any type of player no matter how hardcore they are. Everything is just well made in these modes and this being the first day the game is out, I will have to fully explore more.

OVERALL: This is a must buy game. Basically this and Gears of War are my top two games ever made as a FPS. This game has challenge and infinite replayability, thanks to Xbox Live.

NAME: HALO 3
SYSTEM: XBOX 360 

Tomb Raider – Legend

They’re starting over, and that’s a good thing.
Review By Nehti

This is a spherical look at all Tomb Raiders, focusing on the seventh. I talk about all the games in this review, in order to succeed my goal of giving a catholic impression of the latest.

Tomb Raider: Legend, unofficially known as Tomb Raider 7, is Eidos’s newest installation to one of the most famous series of adventure games in the last decade. Everybody knows Lara Croft- even those who’ve never played the game. They’ve just heard about the cyber-babe with the badass attitude and the British accent, who even made it (unfortunately) to the big screen. But they haven’t all necessarily played Tomb Raider.

They’re really lucky, because if you play the games, at least the ones before Legend, you literally reach some points when you want to tear your hair out, not to mention want to kill Lara with your own hands. Yes. Her controls in Tomb Raider I, II,III,IV,V and VI are really that bad, at times. Especially in VI, Angel of Darkness, they surpassed every conceivable margin of control sluggishness and just became unbearably unresponsive.

Now, before I continue with this review, let me just say that I’ll treat the reader as though they have never actually played even one Lara Croft game, in order to fully express the sentiments of someone whose played Tomb Raider games over the last decade and witnessed their decline with honest disappointment.

Let’s start with what happened long long ago. In 1996, producer Eidos and designer Core hit the nail straight in the head by creating the type of game the world needed to see. Tomb Raider (the first) was a great success. for its time. It had ok graphics, Indiana Jones- reminiscent storyline (and we know how people love wild adventures in the Aztek/Egyptian ruins) and an explosive heroine -the personification of an ideally confident, rich, beautiful, successful, athletic woman, who chooses not to marry another rich man but to raid ancient tombs. What more do you want? The world needed an innovation, and Lara was it.

But, really, that was it. After Tomb Raider I, other companies caught on what the audience liked and started to improve their games. Tomb Raider II is in exactly the same style as Tomb Raider I, only with a little better graphics. Some consider Tomb Raider II to have been the best in the series, and they’re probably right, since II had the interesting storyline that the first lacked and just the right combinations of shooters and puzzles t o become somewhat of a thrilling experience.

Then came TR III. Now this, in my opinion, is where things started to disintegrate. TR III was a 1998-1999 production. You’d think after two years of doing the same thing they’d catch on and start to improve their game engines. But no sir, they made another clone game, just like TR II, but with marginally better graphics and different storyline. Though generally entertaining, it became clear that the Tomb Raider series where something very restricted and to an extent, backward. They weren’t improving their control engines, like they should have been after years of making the same game. Instead, they were repeating themselves, having found a recipe that worked and sticking with it all the way. They were obviously making clone games, basing the games’ originality on the storylines. But then again, none of the Tomb Raider’s -not even Legend for that matter- really has an easily comprehensible, clearly logical storyline. Their great advantage is Lara: she’s the star of the show, and she’s what this is all about.

However, by the time they produced TR IV, the world was asking for evolution. They wanted Lara to have new spiffy moves, innovative puzzles to solve. It became clear that the Tomb Raider sequels were collapsing in their repetitiveness. Thus, Tomb Raider IV became “The Last Revelation”. I played Tomb Raider IV…and enjoyed it very very very much, even though it was extremely difficult and preposterously long. Eidos promised us – like every year- that after The Last Revelation, Lara would change, would become a new generation game, complete with all new-gen features. We all thought they’d manage it. How very disappointed we ended up getting.

First of all, they took five years (five long years, in which they produced Tomb Raider Chronicles, a sort of side-story based game which was fun to play, but not real Tomb Raider) to create Angel Of Darkness. They thought that when the fans had asked for innovation, they were asking for a ‘darker, more mysterious’ Lara. In their effort to become trendy and new, they lost site of what made Tomb Raider special. Angel of Darkness-which obviously shipped unfinished- was literally a nightmare. NIGHTMARE. I finished it once, and shall never deign to touch it again. The graphics, though better than before, were unacceptably low for the sheer time the game had taken to be made. The controls were inexplicably crippled, making one wonder what on earth had urged Core to toggle with them at all.

Really, this is important for my review: I cannot stress clearly enough the problematic aspects of Angel of Darkness. It is important that one understands this: Core Design had been working on this game for five years and in the end, it still shipped unfinished. I think I mustn’t be cruel: the game had some good things going…a fairly interesting storyline, which, however, didn’t tie in with the cliffhanger end of TR IV and V. To make things clear for you, in the end of TR IV, Lara is hanging from a cliff (a literal cliffhanger) and falls down to the void. in Tomb Raider V we witness her funeral. In TR VI, she’s suddenly alive again and in France.

Also, in TR VI, they’ve tried to install these RPG- reminiscent sequences where you have to elect dialogue choices and can play other characters save for Lara. The really backward thing they did, though, was install a “powering-up” system, where you were forced to complete a task irrelevant to the progression of the game, so that you could “power-up” Lara and make her stronger. It seems that, during her long years of becoming an ‘angel of darkness’ Lara fell out of shape. Needless problems which one would never encounter in previous tomb raiders, like this powering-up system (which is truly frustrating), the ‘grip meter’ (which supposedly indicates Lara’s faltering grip on a ledge) or the ‘stealth mode’ are seemingly just there to frustrate the player, and seem utterly useless.

Other aspects, like persistent difficulty, reigned over TR VI. And it’s not the good kind of difficulty from TR III and IV, where you have to use your head to solve a puzzle. It’s the spastic kind of difficulty where you keep losing because of an erroneously timed jump or a literally unbeatable foe. The game just screamed ‘unfinished, ufurnished, lost in space’!! This is clearly indicated by the fact that Eidos released an internet patch only a few days after they shipped TR VI to the world, which would help run the cutscenes of the game in pc. Apparently, they hadn’t even doublechecked the game cds to see if they worked.

It was a digital nightmare. And far from the next generation game it should have been. And then, like a bright light in the horizon, Lara Croft returns again. We disbelieving fans are aghast, speechless as we rush through a new game – a good new game- which seems to finally reach that ‘innovation’ goal. Innovative while in the same time returning to the true roots of Tomb Raider.

After the colossal disappointment of Angel of Darkness, I think it was clear that a new sequel would either spell utter disaster for the Lara series or finally put it in the right track. Luckily for us, Eidos made a smart move in switching designer companies. No more good ol’ Core design. Crystal Dynamics took over, and immediately improved every aspect of the game.

After the enraged outcry for the control system of the previous game, they realized the first thing they had to do was fix that. And fix it they did. It’s almost unreal how well Lara controls in Tomb Raider Legend. She runs, jumps, rolls when you want her to, without the frustrating glitches or the awkward camera of before. No more frustration about aligning your jumps perfectly. Lara seems to have become much smarter in her time of absence: she grabs the desired ledge automatically, even if you don’t jump perfectly to its direction. The improved control system is such a relief when following the prequel, that it truly is the thing that shines out the most for a long-time fan of the series.

The next thing they improved, and I mean seriously improved, were the graphics. The graphics of the previous game were acceptable for 2002, but painfully unremarkable for 2005, when the game actually shipped. Now, they’ve fixed that aspect as well, bringing a truly modern Lara back on stage. Her sprite is flawless, moving and acting like a real woman. They’ve elaborately edited her facial expressions so that, even during gameplay, when the graphics are supposed to be of lower quality than in cutscenes, Lara looks and feels real. She even shrugs in exasperation when she can’t understand what object you want her to use. It’s brilliant, I tell you.

I won’t become repetitive about the utter magnificence of their landscapes. I’m sure all the other reviews-at least the ones I’ve read- stress the wonderful textures and patterns of the game locations. They’ve stressed equally enough how tough these next-generation graphics are for your computer. Unless you’ve got some really serious equipment and a great screen input, the pixel rates are going to be very hard on your machine. To be fair, however, if you do meet the outworldly system requirements, the graphics are so magnificent that they literally take your breath away. You feel like you’re actually located in Africa, rainy England or Nepal.

When it comes to the character sprites, none shines as much as Lara’s, but then again, she is the star of the show. Even so, the other characters do look and behave naturally, albeit in a more sketchy, pixelly way. Lara’s new costume collection is also elaborately created and cared for, so that it gives the illusion of her being an actual person, who changes clothes now and then. This wasn’t executed so naturally in Angel of Darkness and Chronicles, where it all seemed a bit artificial.

The other newest element they added was the concept of ‘Lara’s team’ and ‘Lara’s friends’. We’ve got a lot of talking in this game, and it’s really good. As Lara executes superhuman acrobatics in the terraces of skyscrapers or the mountains of Bolivia, her friends Zip and Alister (Zip having shown up briefly in Chronicles) talk to her via her headphone. The voice acting might possibly be one of the best, if not the best (and I’m not exaggerating out of excitement) I’ve ever heard in this kind of game. The inflections are all realistic, to such an extent that one feels they’re actually hearing Zip though a headphone. What’s interesting is that the majority of these dialogues are quite freshly entertaining and serve as an enjoyable distraction from the Tomb Raiding, showing the player that Lara is an actual person -not only a heroine- and has a life somewhere.

Not only that, but Zip’s comments while Lara is trekking her way through Tombs are things that the player is likely to be thinking himself, and is thus humoured to actually hear being said. In the other games, we never knew who Lara was, what she was thinking. After playing Legend, I feel I can actually outline her character. I got a better impression of Lara in Legend than I did in the movies, which were supposed (I repeat: supposed) to turn Lara from a cartoon to an actual character.

Her friends actually talk and behave just like partners should, and if a Tomb Raider movie was made now, I bet they’d have Zip and Alister there somewhere. They’ve done a great job trying to build up the characters in this game, weaving elements of Lara’s past in the story line. By the end of the game, you actually feel that, in a way, this is the first Tomb Raider, and you’re getting to know Lara all over again -in a new, improved way. She talks, she laughs…it’s fun to experience. I couldn’t even begin to imagine a situation like this one when I was wondering the death traps of TR IV. Back then it was just me and Lara. And the death traps. Now we’ve got this whole band of characters, giving the game some substance.

The story line isn’t something fantastic. It feels more like another excuse for Lara to go trampling all over the six continents. Even so, it’s less artificial than in the other games, since there are concrete charaters involved. The villain this time is someone form Lara’s past. Also, there are flashbacks in the story which give the impression of realism- the impression of logical consecutiveness. This is something the other games lacked.

However, the thing the other games had and this one doesn’t is length. This game is very addictive and very fun…while it lasts. After playing it, the only thing that really got stuck in my mind was that I wanted more of it. More of Lara’s crazy escapades. However, I guess I must have really enjoyed it if I liked it enough to write a review for it!!

However, as all things go, this too has its bad aspects, as well as its good ones. My main complaint about the game is that it is separated in an emancipated eight levels, which are repetitive and not very challenging. Even in Hard difficulty, the gunfights are predictable and slightly redundant. The puzzles aren’t very challeging to solve. They have very little from Lara’s past adventures. It’s like there are four-five objects in this game : boulder, crate, lever, spikes, motorcycles etc which are repeated in a different pattern for each level. It has nothing to do with TR IV or III, where you literally never knew what was coming next. This game was linear and short, which was a surprise for the 7.5 GiGA it requires in your hard disk. The graphics and characterization took a lot of space, leaving diversity of gamelplay a bit scorned.

Even so, though slightly predictable, the sequences -even gunfights- in this game, were enjoyable and fast paced. To be honest, I rather liked the shooter. My only problem was that there weren’t a lot of guns -like in TR II, III. IV or V. Be it the pistols or anything else, the outcome was only slightly altered in this game. The motorcycle chase levels, though repetitive, were very fun. They’re reminiscent of other race games, but they were really great. Only in retrospect do I realize the game was repetitive. When I was playing it, I never notied it much.

The thing that really got to me, however, was that the game doesn’t let you save wherever you wish. They use the playstationy tactique of checkpoints, as an alternate way of automatic saving. However, in this way, personally speaking, I didn’t feel at liberty with the game. It’s linear structure made me feel that once I went forward, I couldn’t go back. In the final boss fight, for example, there are two checkpoints. The boss fight is seperated into two parts: an easy part and a hard part. The easy part is meant to be there for the player to assemble med-packs and prepare for the hard part. Not predicting this, I beat the easy part without assembling as many health packets as I could. When the hard part started, the checkpoint automatically saved. The result? Every time I loaded, I was stuck in a hard boss fight without many med-kits. There was a checkpoint before the easy part, too, but the game wouldn’t let me return to it. I had to replay the game from the closest save to the final boss fight. Anyway, since the game is fast-paced and linear, I didn’t have much trouble with this kind of thing.

Overall, if I had to compare it with any of the previous Tomb Raiders it would be, ironically, the very first one. Like Legend, the first game was composed of short-lengthed levels and fast-paced action. To me, it appears that Eidos is trying to start over. Perhaps TR 8 -which I’m looking forward to- will be longer and harder, as these are mainly the only complaints I have about legend. I wanted it to last longer and more difficult. Then again, perhaps consice and with good gameplay (TR7) is better than prolonged and crippling (TR6). Having finished the game and having played Tomb Raider for at least six or seven years, I feel like Legend is a new beginning- an effort to wipe the slate clean and start over. It’s a success.

OVERALL:
Storyline: 7/10 – – It’s interesting – not great, mind you, but interesting with a few cool twists here and there. It leaves prospects for an even more interesting story in TR8. It interweaves a lot with Lara’s past and helps define he character, for once. It appears more like an introduction to an epic adventure, which, I hope, will take place in the upcoming games.

Graphics: 9/10 – – andI’m being very strict. The drawback is that you need some insane screen power and graphic card , but if you do meet the requirements, the sheer magnificence of the graphics will make your jaw drop. The player feels as though he’s located in the landscape.

Voice Acting 10/10 – – no complaints there. I found not even a speck of unrealistic dialogue in the whole game. especially when it comes to Lara and co, the voices were not only realistic, but matching to the characters’ appearance.

Sound effects: 9/10 – – I never really noticed there were any sound effects, which I guess was a good thing. The guns click when you take them out, they make realistic shooting sounds, the bad guys drop dead with a thud…Well yes, I guess the sound effects worked ok…Oh! come to think of it, there was something brilliant. When the enemies are around you, but haven’t noticed you, they often talk to each other- there are some hillarious dialogues between guards! Also, in a level that takes place in Japan, I enjoyed listening to the baddies yell Japanese at each other. “Search for her!” “She’s coming this way!” “Damnit!!” etc…

Soundtrack: 7/10 – – It’s not very distinct, as in previous games. The opening video has a cool tune, but none of the levels have a really memorable theme song. I noticed parts of the soundtrack were identical or only partially altered from the soundtrack of TR IV and V.

Gameplay: 8/10 – – Best controls in a Tomb Raider game yet. Lara moves smoothly and responsively. It’s like a dream come true. We’ve got the standard gunfight -cerebral puzzle – gunfight – jumping puzzle structure again, but with less challenging puzzles than before. There are three motorcycle sequences where Lara uses Ducati bikes to perform impressive acrobatics on roofs or participate in wild chases.There are also some interactive sequences where one must press the correct arrow key in the right times so as to save Lara from certain death. Main gameplay drawback is that it is repetitive and not challenging.

Replayability: – – Even in Hard mode, it’s not so hard, save for a select few bossfights. There are unlockables like extra outfits, location concepts, special cheat codes etc., which can be earned by beating levels in time trial mode or uncovering secret rewards in each level. Overall, I’d think one would want to replay the game after they’ve finished, if only just to see the locations and hear Zip on the headphone again.

Buy or Rent: – – Tricky question…The main feature of this game is that it can be played by anyone, even by someone who has never played Tomb Raider before. For an average-to-slow gamer, it should take about 10-11 hours at the most (and I’m grossly exaggerating). To a serious addict, it won’t keep you rolling for more than 7 hours. The unlockables and time trials may keep you interested for a while though. If you’ve never played Tomb Raider and are thinking about starting, let me just tell you, this is not a representative classic Lara. It’s possibly better for you than a representative classic Lara, because it is simple, linear, and without the glitches. And it’s fun, unlike a few of the previous ones. So, if you want to see what all those people saw in Lara in 1996, play this game, not the others. For 2007, this game is close to what Tomb Raider I was in 1996- a new beginning. Rent it. If you’ve never played Lara Croft, rent it. Then see if you like it, and if you don’t, then ditch it. For diehard Lara fans, however, buy it. Even though it’s not as big as the others and not as difficult, you’re going to enjoy it (if only for the improved controls, finally!!!). It’s a must buy for a Tomb Raider fan. It’s preposterous for someone to have gone and bought the nightmarish prequel and not this one.

Because this one is a good, enjoyable game. Finally, you don’t feel like Lara’s trying to frustrate you. Instead, learning about her character and friends, you feel like you can actually identify with her. Good game. Good, good game. Compared to its direct prequel, it’s a prodigy. Don’t miss it.

NAME: TOMB RAIDER – LEGEND
SYSTEM: XBOX, XBOX 360, PlayStation 2, PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Nintendo GameCube, Mobile phone

Microsoft Flight Simulator X

Great Game but takes up 14GB+.
Review By Echo007

Ah, yes, the new flight simulator is finally out. I have always been a fan of flight simulators and airplanes. The first flight simulator I got was MFS2004. That game was excellent. The graphics were superior and so was the game play. The sound of taking off actually sounded real. Microsoft Flight Simulator X (MFSX) is a very good game with some minor problems that could be fixed soon, but when I heard that a new MFS game was coming out, I just had to get it. Well, here is the load down of how fine (or appalling) this game really is.

GRAPHICS: I give this a 10 whereas some people may not. It all depends on your computer. I will tell you right now you will need a computer that is near top quality to see the full effects of this game. Textures in this game are better than that in Microsoft Flight Simulator yet not completely perfect, but the clouds are magnificent. I mean it actually feels like you are flying through clouds; however, the only thing is this game is a whopping 14GB+. The only reason why I take a point off is because most of the people out there who want this game are not going to have computers that can handle all of the bars set on ultra high. All in all, the gameplay in MFSX is in my opinion superb (of course that is if the frame rate gets above 25fps).

GAMEPLAY: The controls in this game are pretty basic, but if you really want to learn everything this game has to offer, well then, it gets a little complex. MFS is an easy game to learn if you have the patience and time. If you are new to the MFS series, I doubt you will be able to land a jet in one piece on realistic difficulty settings. Learning to fly in MFSX is the same as in MFS2004. The same guy gives you a step-by-step process of what to do and you do it. In the deluxe edition of MFSX you get a few extra planes (+20 missions) and you can be in the tower directing traffic. In single player, you can free flight which means you can travel anywhere in the world or you can play the missions to unlock awards for bragging rights. The missions are pretty fun, some are short, and some are long. Some other new features are that when you are in the virtual cockpit it actually moves depending on where the throttle is set. If you add thrust, you actually move back, and when you slow down you move forward. Another cool feature, which was also in MFS2004, is the ability to download real weather. That is always cool if it is a nice day for flying or a real nasty storm is occurring in your area. I would say one of the coolest features in this game, is the fact that everything around you virtually comes to life. When you are at the gate, the gate actually moves up to your plane, a gas truck arrives to refuel your plane (you also drop fuel while flying), and you can call luggage trucks to load or remove bags. The gameplay had really improved since MFS2004. If you have a mediocre computer you may not get all of the new effects, but you will notice an improvement.

SOUND: The sound/music in MFSX is greatly improved since any of the MFS games. There is now music when you are selecting your flight or mission and you can change it in the options menu. The sound effects in the game are phenomenal as usual as it actually does (with the volume turned up quiet a bit) feel like you are taking off or landing or just taxiing. I like it when you are gliding, and you dive downwards and you can hear the wind rush past you. The sound effects have always been good in the MFS and the music is a pleasant addition too.

REPLAYABLE: I find that this game is one of those games where you play it a lot then you don’t play it at all for a little while and then you pick back up again. I have lots of fun when I play this game and no one can say I have completed the entire game. If you hate the actual flying part (who would) you can speed up time using time compression to get there faster. There are so many airports, so much scenery, and so much land and water to cover that it is nearly impossible for anyone to see absolutely everything that this game has to offer. Every few weeks, I discover some new things myself.

OVERALL: This game is a great game, you will surely enjoy it; the only thing is and I cannot stress this enough is that a decent computer will be needed to enjoy the things this game, Microsoft Flight Simulator X has to offer.

NAME: MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR X
SYSTEM: PC 

Anno 1701

Great city building game for the masses.
Review By Indrasut

When you play a game, what kind of features are you looking for? Graphics? Sound/music? Stability? Gameplay? Story? Whatever you are looking for, if you are really into city-building and semi-combat RTS games, there is no doubt you will be hooked into this game for a long long time. Rarely there is a game where I feel so much passion and creativity put into it. Developed by Sunflower, and published by Apsyr in the US (Sunflower is a German developer), there are tons of effort being put into this game. I never played any of the Anno series before (or A.D. series in the US), but let me tell you that this game is simply amazing!

GRAPHICS: Giving this graphic a 10 is simply an understatement. The graphic is absolutely gorgeous. I understand that the requirement is somewhat high to be able to play this game with all settings turned on, but you will see the result. Screenshots that you see in the ads or in the website are actually the in-game engine. Water effect is amazing. The art direction is spot-on and looks great. The details in each building, island, and the gameworld are abundant. You can see birds flying high and the shadow will be reflected on the ground (and buildings!). Sometimes they hop on the roof of your buildings too! The islands that you will be colonizing ranging from deserts, lush greens, jungle/forests, and even one with active volcanoes in it. Beaches in each islands looks like you want to be there. I wish when you build something, the people will actually build it from the ground up instead of the building just popped out there out of nowhere (a la Settlers 2), but still a minor input from me. There are foreign cultures and pirates. All of the buildings they have in the islands are very distinct from each other (Except with fellow AI colonies) and really in my opinion have great designs. Lastly, what I like most is the water/rain effect. When you go to an area where it is raining/storm. You can see cloud gathering and water pouring down, and the occassional thunderstorm. The best thing is, there is a water effect dripping on your screen like if you are watching a rain from your window.

GAMEPLAY: Tutorial is given and you can start building right away. The tutorial is very linear but will tell you everything you need to know to start your colony and do trading. Not really teaching you how to do combat, but city building is the core of the gameplay, so it is understandable. It might be better to put a little bit more effort to the combat since it feels shallow, but 80% of the time, you can always avoid combat with your enemies and rivals and just focus on city building. Gameplay is simple. Its like a game where it is easy to play but takes more time to master. The core gameplay is the continuous mode where you play in a randomized map with whoever you want to play (You can select your rivals and foreign cultures, among difficulty settings and other stuff). Each of the AI rival has personalities, and they really shows in the game. If you select the one who is a teacher, she will always try to be ahead on her research. Get a soldier or a pirate rival, and they will always build military strength or make a lot of warships and try to harass everyone. Play with the happy person, and you can expect them to be whimpy and you can even push them around or exploit them, and they wont do anything about it. Same thing works for the queen, pirates, and foreign cultures. The interface in this game is very intuitive. You can probably find what you want at the right window. Besides the tutorial, there is an Annopedia you can use to find whatever you need there. There are some minor quirks like when your citizen upgrades their houses, they just took your resources without telling you, and I thought it was a bug (Because my resources keep decreasing), or how slow it is to get your firemen to put out the fire in an area. I’ve had some crashes due to my dual core processor setting, but I really hope it will be addressed in the upcoming patches. All in all, the gameplay is almost perfect.

STORY: There’s no story here except for the fact that you are trying to explore the unexplored islands and colonize them and finally get your independence from the queen. The main mode of the game is continuous mode, but there are 10 scenarios you can play, and I’m sure Sunflower will put out more scenarios in the future, if not the fans of the game.

SOUND: Music is really inspiring. Have a lot of classical tunes, giving you that “grandiose” feeling and adventure themes. The music fades and changes to different themes/tunes whenever you are in different areas. When I hover my camera over the Chinese foreign culture, the music changes to Chinese traditional music, and changes to “urgent” music when my settlement is on fire or being struck by the Black Death (Thats what they call for plague). I wish they have more than one type of music for each of the themes, but still, it is catchy and nice to hear. Sound effects are superb. Sounds of the ambience, people working and chattering on the street or market, ships sailing, combat sounds (Shooting cannons for ships and troops), and the sound of the seas are well done. Again, I wish they do more sounds for the people living in the settlements (I am getting tired of hearing the same thing over and over again).

OVERALL: There is no city building game that looks and plays as awesome as this game. I am very very impressed with this game, and I strongly recommend this game to all of the city-building fans out there. Even if you dont like to build cities, you can just enjoy the scenery and watch people go by their lives in there. Children playing with each other, people strolling down the street and buying stuff from the market. There is no day/night and season changes unfortunately, but you can actually build a building where you can toggle night view for a minute or so. Not really that great of a feature because it should be in there in the first place, but still great nonetheless. Why am I still talking here. Just go out there and get the game!

NAME: ANNO 1701
SYSTEM: PC

Gothic 3

A Cult Classic.
Review By Conkersurround5

I’d like to note that I am playing and reviewing the game about 10 months after its release and with all the latest patches and updates. The game runs completely smooth and I have had none of the issues other reviewers may have experienced, most likely due to the patches that note particular fixes of that sort. The purpose of reviewing a game is to help fellow gamers decide if that particular game is right for them – if they are going to like the game. That is why I continue to contribute to this website and that is way this is always one of the resources I check when trying to make a decision on getting a game. The two words I keep coming back to when thinking about Gothic are “detail” and “immersive.” Those seem to be the theme to this game, not just in the graphics, but in the presentation, the music, the design, and gameplay.

GRAPHICS: These are some of the best graphics I’ve seen to date. The environments are absolutely nothing short of stunning. I think the reason they can be so good is this little trick they do. Distant landscapes are out of focus, which give the illusion they really are that far away, and it also hides the pop up. Rather than details in the environment just popping up, they seem to merely come into focus. This must have also given them the ability to go overboard with the immediate surrounding environment, whether it’s a wild plain, mountainside, or tavern. I can’t express in this review the amount of detail you will see. Even more impressive is that there are no load times at all (obviously to load a saved game there will be a load time); there are no zones to load, the world seamlessly expands before your eye. They do a great job of creating the illusion of being in the world of Gothic 3.

In my opinion the goal of good graphics is not to convince me the world is real but to help one to use their imagination. Bad graphics can ruin the experience, graphics that are so good no one can run them are worthless, but the graphics in Gothic 3 run smoothly and create an immerse experience.

GAMEPLAY: Any type of gamer that likes RPGs should like this game because you can make of it what you want. There is a wide world to explore, and you can go anywhere you want whenever you want, but it has a great story, yet you have to create it. I get into the game and just go where my adventuring spirit takes me. There are also many different plot paths you can go down and factions to ally with. You ally with them by earning reputation, so yes, you will have to decide what your character’s morals are and what you want him to do, or not do. You can also customize you character, but not as directly as literally picking a class and unlocking skills for that class. When you gain experience and gain a level it doesn’t affect any of your stats directly. Instead you get Learning Points that you can use any way you want to get different skills. All the skills have attribute or other skill prerequisites. However it’s not as easy as just selecting how you want to use your LP. You have to find teachers or trainers and they have to be willing to teach you. To make them willing you may have to prove to them you are worth teaching. The nice thing about experience points in Gothic is that you can’t just go into a cave and kill rats all day until you reach the next level. Nor does the game require you to find a way to level up to beat the next guy. If you do a little exploration and defend yourself, you will get exp. The major exp comes from quests and driving the story – whichever way you choose to take it. The idea is not to have to level to beat the next guy but to find a way to use the skills that you have chosen to endow you hero with, to accomplish the tasks ahead.

COMBAT: The combat is great because it’s not simply DOT (damage over time) like many of the RPGs and MMORPGs. Do you remember Drakan for PS2? The fighting style kind of reminds me of that (a great game by the way). It’s yet another huge aspect that brings a ton of realism into the game to immerse you in Gothic 3. You use strikes, parrys, and moves you’ve learned with your weapon by various clicks or combination of clicks with the mouse and keyboard. It’s easy and user friendly yet interesting and fun. You can use your weapon or a shield to parry, and you need to use a combination of both, as well and movement, to defeat your opponents. It’s not real time turn based like NWN, but you can’t just click on a potion or some food in your quick-bar and get health. You character will need to eat or drink it which obviously leaves you open for attack. There is also no resting to recoup your health. This adds a lot of strategy to the game that you would be hard pressed to find in the genre. You can sleep if you find a bed you can use, but you can’t just run out of a cave and rest. You can eat to regain your health though, and there is plenty of food to be gathered or hunted, so make sure you’re stocked. No doubt you will be using that quick save and quick load button often before battle.

STORY: I enjoy many forms of entertainment; all offer something different. When playing a game I want a good story. I’ve touched on the story a little above and how it compliments the game so I’ll give you a brief overview here. In Gothic 1 and 2, the King, in troubled times of impending war, decrees that all prisoners of any crime, no matter how small, get sent to this island to mine for magic ore. You, the hero, gets sent but escapes, hijacks a boat and returns home only to find his home ruled by orcs who have enslaved the humans. There are many paths from there that you can choose to take the story in any way you want. Have fun!

There are many references to the first to games and characters pop up from those games as well, it’s nice for fans of the series but doesn’t inhibit the playing experience of anyone new to the series. In fact, I did not play the first two Gothics, but after playing 3 I went back and did some research, checked out screenshots, and did some reading.

SOUND: The music is awesome and enhances the experience, as music should. Way too many games have repetitive boring music, but Gothic’s is surely enjoyable. It compliments the game like the Superman or Star Wars themes compliment their respective movies; it just wouldn’t be the same with out it. I can understand why I’ve seen the soundtrack on sale, however, after playing the game for unlimited hours I really doubt I’d want to listen to the music in my car. If you have an X-Fi sound card and a 5.1 setup you will enjoy the surround sound, it’s very well done.

OVERALL: This game has gobs on charm. Like Mario Williams and Reggie bush – who will always be compared since Williams was drafted before Bush – Gothic will inevitably have to be compared to Elder Scrolls: Oblivion for launching about 7 months after in 2006. For every thing you can point to Oblivion and say you like better, you can also find something in Gothic 3 that you can point to that you like better. What tips the scale in Gothic’s favor for me is its charm; from the box and instruction booklet to the game itself. The world just seems very consistent. I love how people are going about their business in the towns, doing what they would do based on what time of day it is. The weather patterns have a wide range of sunny, cloudy, rainy, etc. Even fog is a treat because it looks so cool. Different times of day look like their real counterparts, morning, mid day, evening, all look realistic. It also has cool sunrises and sunsets with really nice blooming effects. If there is a full moon it will be a little brighter at night, compared to a cloudy night sky with hardly any moonlight – time to get out that torch! If there was one thing I could change, I’d put in an equipment screen in the menu. There is an inventory / equipment combination screen (that is actually more auto-organized than any I have seen, kudos to Piranha Bytes) and the equipment that is equipped is highlighted. It doesn’t have quite the armor options as Oblivion, and no character creation. This is all worked in as part of its charm however, but this is the only place it lost a point.

What it comes down to is if this game is what you are looking for. This game will immerse you in the world of Gothic 3 and it is FUN. It’s really too bad this launched in the wake of Oblivion because this is one of the best games I’ve played in many years, and I feel it has gotten a little overlooked. It may have a larger following in Europe however, where the designer is located. If you have agreed with or liked my other reviews then believe me when I say that I love this game and you will too. Go out and get it, you will not be disappointed with the purchase.

NAME: GOTHIC 3
SYSTEM: PC 

Splinter Cell – Double Agent

More Splinter Cell but with some iffy changes.
Review By JW ACE

First of all let me say that this is my first Splinter Cell game. The only reason I got it is because it is the first ps2 SC game to get fairly high ratings, apparently because Ubisoft finally gave proper attention to the quality of the ps2 game. So basically I am reviewing this game as it stands on its own, rather than comparing it to how it stacks up to previous SC games. Overall I enjoyed SC Double Agent quite a bit. It has really fun stealth action, some fun levels, but overall is way too short and just a little bit too buggy.

Basically in SCDA you are, as usual, NSA splinter cell guy Sam Fisher. This time you’re sent to infiltrate an icky terrorist organization called the JBA.

GAMEPLAY: As you may have heard, SCDA is a stealth game. Overall, I have to say it’s the best stealth game I’ve played on ps2. The controls take some getting used to for a novice like me, and you don’t have the variety of actions you do in, say, Metal Gear Solid 3, but once you get used to how the enemy in SCDA acts, it is pretty darned fun to sneak around in the shadows causing havoc. The basic idea is to hide in dark areas, then when the enemy’s back is turned, either sneak past him or else creep up and take him down quickly. You have a visibility meter that shows how exposed you are, and if you can hide in shadows and keep your meter to 0, the enemy can’t see you (despite the fact that you can see yourself, and also you have a couple of flashlights on your head). You also have some nice weapons, mainly a silenced pistol and an assault rifle with a variety of attachments that can either kill or knock out the enemy. If you wanted, you could just rush around killing enemies, but you never have very much ammo, and also it is kind of difficult to fire at enemies quickly without taking damage. Basically if you must fire, it’s best to do so strategically. It’s no good to take down one guy but attract the attention of three nearby guards who rush in and start firing at you wildly, taking you down quickly. Better to wait for a guard to be alone, then shoot him quietly when he’s not looking.

Oh yeah, and in some missions you aren’t given any equipment at all, which is kind of annoying, and forces you to be a lot more careful about how you take on enemies.

A new feature for SCDA is the trust rating. During missions, you are given a nice variety of objectives to complete. Some of these objectives will please the JBA crime organization at the expense of the NSA, and others please the NSA but annoy the JBA. The Trust system is a great innovation, and though it’s a simple idea, it’s one of the cooler ideas I’ve seen in a video game. After a while you figure out that it’s best to try and keep both sides pleased, and keep your trust meter in the middle. To do this you have to really think about which objectives to do, and weigh their impact on your trust level.

Level design is important in any game, especially in a stealth game, because you’ll be spending so much time hiding rather than rushing through. Overall the level design is pretty good, although maybe a bit too linear. Often you have a few different ways to move around the levels, and can do objectives in any order you wish, which gives you a good sense of freedom.

STORY: I don’t know if previous SC games had such lackluster plots and acting, but story-wise and acting-wise, SCDA is pretty poor. A few of the cut-scenes are nice-looking cgi things, but most cut-scenes look bad and use the more grainy graphics used during gameplay. Characters generally look lifeless, and the voice acting is pretty terrible and phoned-in. If the cut-scenes had been better, it would have been more fun to play through the game and do different objectives to affect your trust meter, so you could watch interesting cut-scenes that showed what happened. But generally the result is “you did X, so you got in trouble.” Or “instead you did Y, so this happened.”

Oh yeah, and also SCDA joins in an extremely annoying (to me) recent trend in games to have the storyline told in the form of being interrogated by a superior. As if we hadn’t gotten annoyed enough by such shrill grilling in Black or Brothers in Arms, Sam Fisher has to defend his actions to an annoying NSA suit named Williams, who also calls you up now and then in-game to yell at you and basically make you feel more like doing objectives that are against the NSA’s wishes.

So, obviously, I didn’t enjoy the story much, but fortunately the gameplay is so strong that you don’t really pay any attention to the story. The cut-scenes are generally over pretty quickly anyway, or you can fortunately just hit start to skip ’em if you choose. But it is disappointing that the innovative Trust system isn’t backed up by better characters and storytelling.

NAME: SPLINTER CELL – DOUBLE AGENT
SYSTEM: XBOX 360, XBOX, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PC, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 

The Godfather

Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.
Review By Insane

EA are known for a lot of things. They are known for buying out companies. They are known for releasing the same game on as many platforms as possible just to get more money. They are also known for releasing at least six thousand games per year, half of which are titles such as FIFA and NHL, that are identical to last years efforts only with an updated year number. They are also known for releasing either very good games, or very bad games. This is one of the former.

STORY: In Little Italy during the 1940’s, the Mafia rule the streets. Wiseguys from the five major families – Tattaglia, Stracci, Barzini, Cuneo and, of course, Corleone – hold New York in a tight grip. Murder, extortion, gambling and violence are rife. The Corleone Family are in a slump. The other families are growing stronger and threatening their territory. You are a petty thief who’s landed in a bit of trouble. Your mother has went to Vito Corleone, Don of the Corleone Family, and asked him to intervene. By working with and for the Corleone Family, you finally have a chance to be a fully fledged wiseguy – a Made Man – and work your way through the echelons of organised crime to make a name for yourself, avenge your father’s death and, hopefully, to become Don of New York City.

The story of The Godfather: The Game takes place over the events of The Godfather Part I and The Godfather novel. Your character is involved in, or somehow connected to, most of the main events of the first movie including the death of Luca Brasi, the attempted assassination on the Don and others.

GAMEPLAY: The gameplay is reminiscent of Grand Theft Auto because of its free-form nature. You are free, from the start, to hijack any cars and drive the whole way around New York City. Apart from the main story missions, which we’ll get to in a minute, you have a wide selection of sub-missions and extra things to do such as mob hits, extorting businesses, holding up banks, buying new weapons, robbing rival families delivery trucks, bombing compounds, burning businesses, taking over rackets, discovering hubs and warehouses and just plain old killing.

The main story missions build you through the stages of being a mobster, starting as an outsider, building your way up to becoming an associate, soldier, capo and underboss. They’re great fun, ranging from simple executions to stealth missions, races and time trials. The story missions, although interesting, are very easy and can be completed within a few hours. The bulk of your gameplay will be spent making money with which to buy new weapons, safehouses, ammo and buy out businesses. You do this by extorting businesses.

Extorting businesses is done by threatening the owner round to your way of thinking, either by beating him up, destroying his shop, killing customers or getting his respect by buying clothes that gain you respect, like suits. When you extort a business, you get a percentage of their money per week. Most businesses are legitimate, but some might have rackets upstairs, such as brothels or gambling rings. By buying these out, you can work your way up to the warehouse or hub that supplies the rackets. Taking over these will gain you more and more money and help you raise the ranks easier.

As you work your way through the game, you will be given missions by different members of the Corleone family and eventually become connected. Completing the missions nets you cash and unlocks more missions to complete. It also gets you Respect. Respect is like Experience Points. When you level up, you get to upgrade one of your attributes, including health, strength, reload speed and driving ability.

The gameplay, although varied, is limited in that the game is quite short story-wise and that if you want to upgrade your weapons to complete some of the later missions, you’ll end up completing a good portion of the extra missions (such as taking over business, rackets and warehouses or cracking safes) along the way, so by the time you complete the story, you’ll have completed most of the extras as well. Still, great game.

GRAPHICS: The graphics are amazing, especially during the cut-scenes where you can see the characters up close and personal. During the game, however, the colours are quite bland. It being post-war New York, it’s full of browns and greys. All the characters wear dull suits, the cars are all black and the buildings are very simple affairs, the only noticeable colours are the neon signs of the shops.

Speaking of, all the locales are quite similar. All the compounds are exactly the same, the only differences being the driveway. All bakeries will look the same, all pubs, clubs, restaurants etc use the same interiors, with only a few alterations. This does get quite boring sometimes and smacks of déjà vu as you enter an establishment.

This doesn’t really affect the game much, but it’s always nice to have pretty graphics, even when commiting several federal offences. Other than that, the graphics are great. The blood is very red and the explosions are very fiery. Jolly good.

SOUND: The sound is great, most actors from the movie reprise their roles (Al Pachino declined the use of his voice and likeness in the movie. Marlon Brando died before the game could be completed, but did record his voice for it. Unfortunately, most of this could not be used, so the Don you hear is an impersonator.)

The gunshots and car noises are pitch perfect, as are the voice actors. I didn’t once cringe at any bad acting, and loved every second of it. The Godfather music plays throughout the game and it changes depending on the scene, whether it be a chase, a hostile takeover of a compound or just cruising through NY. Great!

PRESENTATION: Finally, a movie tie-in that doesn’t play the movie in the background during menus! The menus are very well made, featuring pictures of 1950s New York. The menu will give you all the info you need, including a map showing all the rackets, warehouses and such as well as who owns them, the usual report telling you how many people you’ve killed, cars hijacked, times died etc. and a menu showing how powerful your mobster is in the family. All this plus a meter to inform you of how much each rival family and the cops hate you. Very well-made and concise.

CONTROL: As it’s a PC game, it can be customised to the Nth degree. All the normal controls are decent enough, you using the keys to move, attack etc, and the mouse to look and aim as well as navigate windows. Anything you don’t like can be changed and you can use a joypad if you so wish.

EXTRA: By completing missions and certain objectives within the game, you can unlock clips from the movie itself. Collecting the in-game film tokens unlocks even more of these. This, plus the extra missions within the game, buying clothes, taking over the whole of New York and the weapon upgrades mean that even after completing the story missions, the game can keep on going for a good while longer.

PLAY TIME: About fifteen hours, give or take a few, depending on how much money you ran around earning to get weapon upgrades. That’s fifteen hours to complete the story missions, however, about three or four more to get all the upgrades, rackets etc. But fifteen hours well spent!

REPLAYABLE: The missions are very easy and well done, so completing them again would not only be good fun, but also allow the game to be picked up and played for short or long hauls. I replayed many of the missions just to see the cinematics again, which are amazing.

OVERALL: Get it now! You could probably complete the story missions in a night, and the only reason you would do anything else is just to get all the weapons or to complete the game 100%. An excellent game, full of interesting features, even if it is a bit much like the GTA series.

NAME: THE GODFATHER
SYSTEM: PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation Portable, XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii 

Metal Gear Solid 4 – Guns of the Patriots

They don’t make games like they used to. This is one exception.
Review By Cremdogz

 

Snake gives us his final game for the series, and he delivers. It’s quite hard to imagine any recent game that can even hope to be better than this game. Hollywood music, Hollywood style cutscenes, this is a blockbuster.

STORY: It’s been 5 years since the events at the Plant from MGS2. War has changed, and Snake along with it. Snake has grown old for unknown reasons, and his body is starting to decay. Meanwhile, Liquid is planning to launch an insurrection against the USA. This game takes Snake through many countries and environments as he pursues his goals.

It’s very hard to give you much else, as you’re much better experiencing this game for yourself, but the climate of the cutscenes, and the overall storytelling, earns it a gold star in the Hollywood Hall of Fame.

GRAPHICS: While a game should never be defined by it’s graphics, if it has them, it’s an added bonus. The characters are so detailed, but the most amazing is the environment. You’ll never see such a detailed environment, as well as a more stunning one in any game. The sky, debris, Kojima has really outdone himself on this one.

MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams has produced a masterpiece of a soundtrack. The moment you hear the in-game music, right at the title screen, you are already hooked. The music given to every room, every alert, every environment, it’s stunning. Look in Snake’s items and find an iPod, make a new game, and just listen to the music, the music is incredible, beautiful, dramatic and stunning, you’ll have to hear for yourself just how stunning.

GAMEPLAY: Here it is, the core of the review the gameplay. The gameplay sticks to it’s roots with the stealth action experience, but added some new tweaks into the midst, making the game not only detailed graphically, but also the gameplay too. Snake’s normal moves all return, all doing the same thing, running, sneaking, crawling, crouching, hiding behind walls, the usual is all there. A new over-the-shoulder view has been added, making third person shooting much easier..

The game has 5 difficulties, but most should start with one of the normal difficulties, as easy is pathetically easy. As mentioned earlier, the game takes place across many countries and environments, and you must adapt to each environment. The new Octocamo automatically changes camo for you, depending on the situation, which is much easier than using a menu from MGS3. Also the new Solid Eye gives players the usual binoculars, radar showing enemies (not directions, use the start menu for directions) and Infrared Scanning all in one. The final major addition is the Mk. II, a tiny Metal Gear made by Otacon, used for scouting. While it may seem insignificant to just looking behind walls, don’t ever forget this little baby, it gets you out of a lot of tight spots. And another extra, is Drebin’s shop, where you can buy ammo and weapons for the points that you accumulate on the battlefield. While you can easily go through the storymode without visiting the shop once for ammo and weapons, you may spend lots of money getting extra parts, like Suppressors, dot sight, laser sight, scope, and many other customizable items.

For people new to the series, let me explain. the game is based on stealth, so instead of battling as many enemies as you can, you need to take them out without making attention. Stalking is a great way to take out someone, and the Octocamo can hide your whereabouts quite well too, make good use of those items. If you’re seen by the enemy, it’s best to hide rather than fight everyone off, or you may find yourself at a gameover screen very quickly. If you feel there are too many enemies, try distracting them. There are hundreds of ways to take out an enemy as well as distracting them, so find the one you’re most suited with.

Boss battles are epic, I personally never thought The End’s boss battle in MGS3 could be beat, but it shows how much of a great game this is. Boss battles are incredibly thought out. The B&B corps, or the Beauty and the Beast Corps make it their objective to hunt down Snake and kill him. From the first time you see them, you know you’re in for one hell of a battle.  

Fans may be a little disappointed with the new controls, as Kojima must’ve realized that he is aiming at a massive audience, but while they may be different, it doesn’t take long to get used to them, then you won’t know how to play without them. You will however, get some control over the controls, so you can suit them to your liking. Fans however, will praise camera control, very easy to use, so you don’t constantly have to look in first person to see where you are going. 

REPLAYABLE: This games replayability is a little scarce, as Story mode is the only mode, apart from online mode, which has flaws of its own. While it’s great playing through story mode again on harder difficulties, as well as trying to unlock everything, fans who have played Substance or Subsistence (2nd version of MGS2 and MGS3) may complain that the content in those games far outnumber the amount in MGS4. This game however, is a blast to speedrun through if you’re into it, but otherwise, you may play it once and put it down for the dust.

PLUS & CONS: Unfortunately, this game does have it’s flaws, though very little of them. First would be the controls as stated earlier, it’s quite difficult to catch on to, especially if you’re a fan of the other games. While virtual range makes up for that and allows you to learn the controls, it’s a bit daunting to learn the controls, then play the game.

While the AI has had a drastic improvement when it comes to searching you out, whether in or out of alert mode, it doesn’t seem to like to shoot you. While accurate while shooting. They will usually just stare at you for a couple of seconds, giving you time to put lead in their brain.

Another con will upset some MGS fans, the lack of Codec conversations. There is a very minimal amount of them compared to other games, and some people did like the various conversations, some may praise it for the little amount of them. One other disappointing thing, is that while others may call you on the codec, you can only call 2 people for a conversation, which is very little to the amount of people you could choose from in other games.

The final con is one that fans of the series won’t mind or just like altogether. Some people may not like the lengthy cutscenes, as these can be even longer than those of previous games, some scenes lasting even up to an hour before you start playing again. While it’s their way of telling the story to it’s fullest, some may not like it, but most others won’t mind.

One thing that will not be covered here is the complaint of FPS fans, saying that it’s crap to have it based on stealth. Well, don’t buy it then, you buy this game knowing it’s not an FPS. While you can play it like one, unlike Halo, I seriously recommend against it.

OVERALL: So, rent or buy? Heck, if you don’t have a PS3, you should get one just for this game. While it’s hard to say just how good this game is without giving away major spoilers, so many 10/10s on the reviews can’t be wrong. This is the most entertaining game you will ever play. The depth of emotion, anger, sadness, pleasure is staggering. It’s hard to believe that a video game can make you take a character to heart, and really feel for them during the situations. They don’t make games like they used to. This is one exception.

NAME: METAL GEAR SOLID 4 – GUNS OF PATRIOTS
SYSTEM: PlayStation 3