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Enter the Gamers Zone
Member Name: rob_writer
Date: 10/04/01, updated on 17/04/01 (251 review reads)
Advantages: Great mag, full of useful info
PC Zone is completely dedicated to the gaming side of PC's which means that you won't find a review of the latest version of Word in here, only games and games related hardware. While magazines like Computer Shopper are good for general PC users, they aren't that good on the gaming side of things. This mag has it all, from new games and previews to joysticks and graphics cards.
PC Zone is a monthly publication, and usually comes with two CD's packed with demos, mods and patches. It costs £4 which I think is a little expensive for a magazine, but then most similar mags cost a £5. £1 doesn't make a big difference but I suppose you could buy a can of coke and bar of chocolate and still have a few pennies left over!! The mag itself is shiny and glossy, and recently has contained 146 pages. Unlike a lot of other PC mags it doesn't have pages and pages filled with ads!!
The mag is split up in to lots of sections, so I'll go through each one and give details.
This is the very first section in the mag, and contains news and information.
This section usually contains the first look at games, including some great screen shots too. For example the latest issue had shots of the upcoming Unreal 2. It also updates the progress of other games that are in development, as well as general news about the games industry.
Within the bulletin section there are a few sub sections too. Tech Head, as the name suggests, gives details on the technical aspects of both hardware and software. The Charts unsurprisingly lists the current charts, as well as retro charts from years ago. Hotshots is basically an early
preview of games that are sure-fire hits.
The usual letters section that every mag has. Rather than just having ten people saying how much they love the magazine, this is usually a place where hot discussions take place, what’s more if you write your own letter then you stand the chance to win a prize!
Pretty self-explanatory this bit!! What you get here are previews of upcoming games, usually a month or two before their release. These just detail the game, how it plays and what it looks like etc. One nice feature is that they have a little box telling you the last few games that the developer made, so if they happened to make Deus Ex then you know that the game could be good, but if they made Super Mud Wrestling 2000 then you might want to leave it alone!!
All the previews feature nice large screenshots which show off the game nicely, as well as a quick summary of the game and details about it.
This is one of the biggest sections of the mag, and lets face it; one of the main reasons we buy magazines.
What I like about PC Zone is their review policy. Unlike a lot of mags they don't just award 90%+ to any half decent game. If a game gets a score of above 80% then you know it has to be good, and if the game is crap then they say so.
This can be proven from their top 10 game lists in each genre, the game at number 10 has on average a score of around 70% showing how they don't award a lot of high scores.
They have a team of about 10 reviewers who all have their favourite genres, and they try to ensure that a game is reviewed by a fan of the particular genre. They also test a game on a variety of systems so they can tell you how realistic the specs on the box are.
The reviews themselves are well written and presented; there are always a lot of screen shots, but not so many that there isn't
room for any writing.
There are always a few side boxes, giving details on particular section of the game. It also lists the minimum and recommended specs, as well as what they think you need to run it well.
There is a separate budget zone where all the cheap and slightly older games are re-reviewed at their lower price tag.
They also have a feedback section where readers can write in to give their views and comments on a game, and if they agreed or disagreed with the review.
This is like a mini magazine of its own, concentrating on online games only. It has the same news, previews and reviews section as the main mag.
One of my favourite sections of the online part is the Mod Watch. This section reviews mods for games like Unreal Tournament and Half Life, and even better a lot of the mods reviewed are included on the CD's.
There is also a section called after hours, which details maps for games like Unreal Tournament and Half Life, all of which are included on the CD.
This section is split up in to two main parts, cheat and technical help.
The cheat section just lists a load of cheats for various games, and also gives a list of helpful web sites.
The technical help section features help on PC problems, not only of the hardware side but also a consumer Watchdog that helps people who have been ripped off.
Like every other PC magazine PC Zone comes with software, in the form of two CD's.
These CD's are packed with the latest demos. Basically if a game is made then the chances are that it will be on the CD. However the CD also has some other features.
As I mentioned earlier there are maps and mods for games like Unreal Tournament and Half Life. They can all be downloaded from the Internet but this saves you a lot of time and groups them in
one place so you always know where they are.
The CD also contains all the latest patches for games. These are often pretty big in size, so can take a long time to download on a 56K modem.
Out of the kindness of their heart PC Zone have a range of servers available that you can play games on. Currently these games are Quake 3, Unreal Tournament, Counter Strike and Team Fortress Classic.
They also run a series of reader challenges where you can play online against the people who write the magazine!! They challenge you to beat them, and if you do you get a prize!!
Overall I think this is the best PC games magazine.
Its style is good; it is humorous without being written for teenage boys. Some magazines take the politically correct view and are too serious, where others take the toilet humour too far. PC Zone gets it right, I like it!!!
While there is certainly no shortage of other PC magazines available in the stores this is definitely one of the better ones.
Get it now!!