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27darren

27darren
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Member since: 22.04.2008

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      14.12.2008 18:52
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      A big let down after the previous enjoyable games in the series

      The scenario of aliens invading earth is all too common to gamers, but the Destroy all Humans series twisted the genre on its head by making games which where funny as well as enjoyable; as the title indicates. Now the Wii sees a version all of its own, Destroy all Humans: Big Willie Unleashed. Of course, as with many sequels, the question is "Has the series continued to impress?"

      Graphics
      Well, it certainly doesn't on the graphics front. The environments are all extremely similar and very dull, with an embarrassingly small variation in colour which makes things very unattractive indeed. The textures are also quite blurry and low-res, resulting in a very disappointing look overall.

      Gameplay/Lifespan
      In Big Willie Unleashed, Crypto's superior Pox has opened a fast food shop, selling the meat of murdered humans to unsuspecting customers. Your job as Crypto is to stop rebels exposing the dodgy meat being sold in the thriving establishment, the Big Willie Restaurant. Also, to make things worse for Pox, Colonel Kluckin has opened a competing fast-food restaurant. You have to complete objectives for Pox, such as killing humans and fighting off police retaliation in an urban open-world environment. The game also sees you controlling Crypto's flying saucer from time to time which you would think provides a welcome distraction from the usual Grand Theft Auto style gameplay. Unfortunately, these sections are ruined by the awful tilt controls when attempting to control your ship. The dull visuals, tacky and far from satisfactory controls and repetitive gameplay means this game won't keep you entertained for very long at all.

      Controls
      The Wii remote is used to control the camera and Crypto's aim, by using the remote's pointer function. Crypto can also throw people and objects with his mind powers by performing a lunging motion with the Wii remote once they have been picked up. Also, when controlling your flying saucer, the tilt functions come into play to control the vessel. Once again we see motion controls being implemented simply because the Wii is capable of it, not because they would enhance the gameplay in any way at all. As for the Nunchuk, the analogue stick guides Crypto and his ship, while the Z button makes him jump and activates his jet pack, which allows him to hover in the air for a short amount of time.

      Multiplayer
      In Big Willy Unleashed you can play a Co-operative mode and a competitive mode. In co-op mode the goal is to protect Big Willy's restaurant and destroy Kluckin's kitchen. In the competitive mode the players must try to kill each other by touching beacons. The multiplayer modes don't inject any life into the game, due to them playing exactly the same as the main game and looking just as drab.

      Wi-Fi?
      Destroy all Humans: Big Willie Unleashed does not have any Wi-Fi features.

      Cost
      It's another game originally released at full price (£39.99) and most certainly not worth it. However it can be picked up for around £10-£15 online today. The problem is, with the past games in the series being much more enjoyable, I would recommend picking up one of them instead. Even if you can't play them and only have a Wii to play on, I still can't recommend purchasing Big Willie Unleashed.

      Conclusion
      It's a shame really, and quite infuriating. The Destroy all Humans series of games were enjoyable, and then a switch of developer saw the enjoyment sucked from them almost altogether. Locomotive games seem to have jumped on the "let's incorporate motion controls for the hell of it" bandwagon. As a result, they have created a game which really won't be missed in any shape or form. It certainly doesn't do the Wii any favours in terms of trying to shake off the third party shovelware curse. Its games like this which smother and hide the many good games that do exist for Wii.

      Overall Score: 3/10

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      17.11.2008 22:14
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      Fulfills it's purpose as a bundled game perfectly but sadly will leave you wanting more.

      As good as the zapper may be £20 is still a fair amount to pay if the bundled game is no good. Does it do the Zapper justice?

      Graphics
      As you may expect, the graphics are identical to Twilight Princess, but this is nothing to complain about. You will visit numerous familiar locations if you played the Wii game, and you will be met by the same beautiful graphics once again.

      Gameplay/Lifespan
      This is where the game falls down the most, but it can be excused as it is only meant to help you get comfortable with the Wii Zapper. That said, it is still hugely enjoyable while it lasts. Basically, the game is made up of 27 levels spread over 9 stages with 3 distinctly different types of level spread out over the stages. The first type is an on-rails shooting level, where you travel on a fixed route. Whether you are riding Epona or travelling down a waterfall, you have to shoot the targets with special bonus targets available as well as an orange rupee hidden somewhere in the destructible scenery. The second type of level is where you are fixed on the spot, and surrounded by enemies which you have to kill to defend yourself. Normally limited to 3 or 4 a level, special green glowing enemies will spawn, which when killed will grant you 100 automatic arrows. These can be especially useful when surrounded by a whole gang of enemies. The final type of level is the free-roaming stage. Here, you have a set time to destroy a target number of enemies. The one factor which will keep some of you returning is the high score feature, which is a conventional combo system where the bigger the chain of enemies you kill without missing a shot, the more points you score.
      That is the basic setup of the game, but unfortunately it feels like a taster of what you could have been playing. However, this is meant to fulfil the same purpose as Wii Play (which came with a free remote) by allowing the user to familiarise themselves with the new peripheral. It does this perfectly, and because of that a £20 price tag can be attached to the package. As far as lifespan goes, the game will have high score addicts coming back for more, trying to reach the truly challenging heights of the platinum awards. The Zapper however, will last for a long time depending on the other games you purchase to use with it.

      Controls
      These are just as you would expect, once the Wii Remote is clipped into the top of the Zapper, hit B to fire and point where you want to aim. The Nunchuk, once clipped in, is used to move around via the analogue stick, and Z is used to zoom. The only problem I have with the controls is as you move the analogue stick to move, you also have to point the Zapper to turn yourself to look in another direction. This can be fiddly at first as well as annoying, and may take a considerable amount of time to get used to.

      Multiplayer
      The game does support a multiplayer mode for 1-4 players, but unless you have a lot of pocket money, you and your mates with have to fight over who uses the Wii Zapper. One possible solution is to tell your mates to buy their own, and bring it round so everyone can use one.

      Wi-Fi?
      The game doesn't support Wi-Fi.

      Cost
      This will cost you £20 is most places you look, which when all things are considered, isn't a bad price at all. Think of the Wii Zapper itself as an investment, and the more games you get to use with it, the more it pays for itself. As for the game, it does exactly what Nintendo want it to by accustoming the player to the Zapper, but a bit more would always be nice.

      Conclusion
      To conclude, Link's Crossbow Training is short but enjoyable, and gets players familiarised with the Zapper quickly and easily just as intended.

      Overall Score: 8/10

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        16.11.2008 21:11
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        Great design and easy to use. Gets better with the more games you use it with.

        The genius of the Wii Remote is that is can be used in so many different ways, and at very little extra cost. For example, console light gun games in the past not only required you to buy the peripheral itself, but then the games had to be made with it specifically in mind for the gun to work. Whereas with the Wii Zapper, all you need is a comfortable grip on the remote, and you are sorted. However, £20 would be a bit steep if you were just getting the plastic holder itself, so Nintendo have kindly included a small game to help you get to grips with it.

        The Zapper
        At first, you would be forgiven for thinking that all you are getting is a bit of plastic which makes no difference to your gameplay experience at all. However, once the Wii Remote and Nunchuk are secured, there is no denying it feels naturally comfortable, and really does bring you closer to the action. The Zapper itself is very easy to use, the Wii remote just clips into the top, and the Nunchuk slots onto the butt (back) off the gun, where your non-trigger hand wraps around it. Another handy feature is underneath where the Nunchuk is placed there is a little space with a couple of clips to wrap the wire round, which then plugs into the Wii Remote as usual. Your other hand, which you will use to fire, will be holding onto the front of the Zapper and there is a trigger on the zapper already which when pressed, presses B on the Wii Remote. Of course, the most appealing feature of the Zapper is the accurate aiming opportunity, like with any light gun which is worth paying for. As you can imagine, the Zapper will have a very short life if there is little other software to use it with. However, great arcade shooters such as Ghost Squad and House of the Dead 2&3, and other games such as Medal of Honor are available for the Wii and perfect for the Zapper. Overall, it is a perfectly designed add-on which really does help immerse you in the action, and is worth the money thanks to the games available for it to be used with.

        Overall Score: 9/10

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          21.09.2008 15:55
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          Very simple in all areas meaning this one won't last long at all. Avoid altogether.

          Straight away, some of you may recognise the name "Alien Syndrome" as the name of the arcade game released by Sega way back in 1987. It wasn't anything impressive, but saw itself ported to numerous consoles in the late 80's and updated in 2004 for the PS2 with better graphics and updated controls. "Alien Syndrome" for the Wii however is not the same game, but in fact a sequel of the same name. The question is; has it got better over time?

          Graphics
          The graphics are much better than in 1987; but sadly, don't nearly represent what the Wii is capable of. The Wii may not be as powerful as its rivals, but we deserve better looking games than this. Put simply, it looks like a badly made Playstation 2 game. The graphics are very simplistic with bland backgrounds and a "blocky" feel to all the objects around you.

          Gameplay/Lifespan
          You are Aileen Harding and are sent to investigate when communication is lost with a station on a distant planet. When you arrive you encounter the alien threat and decide to stay and fight it. That's the plot, pretty standard stuff I'm sure you'll agree. As for the gameplay, "Alien Syndrome" is a top-down shooter where you have to blast your way through levels of aliens. It is just as straight forward as the plot in all honesty. However, there are numerous problems with the gameplay. Firstly, aliens will spawn everywhere and I am not exaggerating at all. For example, if you wipe out an alien then move away, and afterwards move back to the area, another identical alien will have taken its place. You don't have to venture far for this to happen either, so you might as well slowly tip-toe through the levels with the fire button taped down. Of course, it isn't this simple as you will find out when you infuriatingly run out of ammo nearly all of the time. This seems like a major design flaw as the only thing you do in the game, at all, is fire at alien menaces who take a considerable amount of time to kill anyway. So what do you do when you run out of ammo? Simple, hit all those aliens with a stick. That's right, you heard correctly, and what makes this worse is the fact you have to physically wave the remote to perform a melee attack. As you can imagine, with the endless amount of enemies to defeat, this will start to make your arm ache after a short while.

          At the moment it sounds like a very monotonous affair, but never fear, mini-games are here! Unfortunately, as in most games, these are tacked on and are very dull and time-consuming; a poor attempt to add some variety. However, when you finally manage to battle through these, you will only be rewarded with a basic power-up. As for the icing on the cake, these mini-games aren't only dismal, but also unavoidable. In terms of lifespan, the game won't keep you interested very long, in fact, your arms will start to ache first.

          Controls
          The Wii remote is used to point where you want Aileen to shoot, and shooting is done automatically. Also, as mentioned earlier, when you run out of ammo you wave the Wii remote to perform a melee attack. The Nunchuk is used to run around by using the analogue stick. Additionally, C activates your shield and Z is the action button.

          Multiplayer
          The game does include a 1-4 multiplayer co-op mode, but this does nothing to make things more interesting. Also, you all have to play as the same character for some unknown reason, showing just how lazily this game has been made.

          Wi-Fi?
          This game does not support Wi-Fi.

          Cost
          This was originally released at £39.99, but that was over a year ago. These days, it can be picked up for around £10-£20. However, in my opinion, I would save my money as much more enjoyment can be gained from other games currently out on Wii at similar prices.

          Conclusion
          It's got bad graphics, boring gameplay, and is about as interesting as watching paint dry. You won't be missing out on anything by avoiding this one altogether.

          Overall Score: 2/10

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            21.08.2008 16:34
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            A good idea badly executed. Avoid this one

            There is a distinct problem for gamers in the gaming industry today. This is the feared phrase "movie tie-in". Usually this is some poorly made collect 'em up with a few similarities with the film to fool younger gamers into buying it. Still, sometimes we get lucky, and a developer actually sees beyond cashing in and makes a half decent game. Recently, this has been the case with the Spiderman franchise and although they were not strictly movie tie-ins, for games based around movies, they were very good indeed. So, is Spiderman: Friend or Foe a continuation of this trend?

            Graphics/Sound
            Surprisingly, the graphics aren't too bad and actually, they are one of the best things about this game. The same applies to the sound, which includes some decent sound effects and voice acting. The graphics do not push the Wii to the limit or anything like that, but they are quite decent even if the backgrounds are pretty bland. One problem is, you are supposed to be travelling the world to eradicate this danger but the only way to distinguish where you are is some lettering on one of those numerous bridges you will come across.

            Gameplay/Lifespan
            The story goes that there is a new evil mastermind on the loose with big plans for world domination. However, this time Spidey has to team up with other well known villains from the series to stop this new threat. Sounds like a good idea so far doesn't it? However, once you actually start to play the game, you'll realise it is very badly executed. Simply, it involves mashing buttons to take out enemies with a bit of jumping thrown into the "mix". Monotonous gameplay aside for a minute, there is another odd feature to the game. You cannot die. You heard correctly, the enemies will only be able to beat some tokens out of you which you collect throughout the game as you get brought straight back to life. As you can imagine, this saps some of tension and effort needed to stay alive in the game, and makes the gameplay even more monotonous. The tokens you collect are supposed to be used for upgrades as well. However, when all you have to do is mash the A button throughout the entire level to progress through it, what is the point? This is the main problem with the game, the first few minutes of gameplay are just repeated right until the very end.

            Controls
            The remote is used to make characters throw enemies around and grapple onto things. It is also used to help Spidey web-sling around the environments. The Nunchuk is used to move characters around via the analogue stick, and if you shake it, it switches between characters.

            Multiplayer
            The game supports 1-2 player multiplayer, but adding another player to the fray doesn't make the game any better.

            Wi-Fi?
            The game doesn't support Wi-Fi.

            Cost
            Another game released at full price (£39.99) which is not worth the money at all. Today, it can be picked up for around £15-£20. However, if you purchase Spiderman or the even more impressive Spiderman 2 for the Gamecube, you will find a much more entertaining game for comparatively little money.

            Conclusion
            It's a real shame, just when you think a franchise has bucked up its ideas, it returns to a very poor button mashing level of gameplay. Considering past entries in this franchise, this game might as well be ignored completely. It is a new idea which is badly executed. Leave this one well alone.

            Overall Score: 4/10

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              17.08.2008 22:34
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              Patches of playable gameplay may appeal to hardcore fans of the genre, but many should avoid this

              To date many Nintendo fans feel they have been missing out as there has not been a single Grand Theft Auto game made available on a Nintendo console. Instead, we have just had to settle for many average games over the years have tried to enter the Grand Theft Auto genre and take a slice of the profits. However at this years E3 conference a DS GTA game was announced, which got many people very excited. In many people's minds, GTA still remains the king of these driving adventure games. So while we wait are there any other games of the same type to bridge the gap? Enter Emergency Mayhem.

              Graphics
              The presentation is certainly a lot brighter and more colourful than Grand Theft Auto, giving Emergency Mayhem its own identity immediately. As well as it being attractive it also feels very large filling the screen with mostly vague detail. The graphics are pleasing, but not amazing. This is no bad thing as the gameplay should be the most important thing to this game, the factor that makes GTA so playable.

              Gameplay/Lifespan
              The situation is, you are in command of the emergency services, and everything is going a little mad in Crisis City (clue in the name?) The game sees you doing pretty predictable stuff, driving to destinations with care, ramming other cars and driving against the clock. However, everything you do will be against a countdown, and the only way to give yourself more time is to complete the mission and/or collect pick-ups. If you are successful, you will progress to the next area. On the flip side, if you fail, you will have to start again from the beginning. That isn't the only problem here however, because making the missions even harder is the poor navigation system. An arrow will be guiding you supposedly down the right path, but this is jerky and unreliable and to make matters worse, there is no feature to let you plan your route in advance. Unfortunately, the best way to get around is to memorise the layout of the city. Still, the areas are small and few in all honesty, so you will be lucky if you want to play to the point were you know your way around off by heart.
              Still, this is only a minor concern compared to the dreadful mini-games. Yet again we see some awful tacked on rubbish, which of course, uses the Wii remote. Thankfully they are over fairly quickly, meaning you can get back to driving to your next destination. However this will get tiring pretty quickly and a bit later you will encounter another mini game. In a seemingly poor effort the game tries to throw in a bit of variation, to stop you noticing how shallow the game actually is. The only highlight I can think of is a mini game which has you shooting monkeys with bananas. It may be a bit random, but it is always entertaining. Aside from this the game does little to keep your attention, and you will find yourself wanting to escape Crisis City forever, and leaving it to suffer its disastrous fate.

              Controls
              The remote is used for driving and the mini-games. To drive you press B to go forwards, and A to go backwards; Simple. Predictably you have to wave the remote around for the mini-games. The Nunchuk is also used for driving. The analogue stick directs your car and the C button enables your siren, which might as well not be there.

              Multiplayer
              The game supports 1-4 player multiplayer, but this is just as exciting as the single player mode.

              Wi-Fi?
              The game does not support Wi-Fi

              Cost
              It was released at £39.99, far too expensive, but can be picked up anywhere from £20-£25. However, despite the fact the game doesn't have GTA to compete with on Nintendo consoles, it still is not the best example of it's genre. Instead, picking up Crazy Taxi for Gamecube will be cheaper, and far more entertaining. Emergency Mayhem certainly doesn't justify even getting £20 spent on it, as it may struggle to hold your attention for over an hour.

              Conclusion
              Emergency Mayhem is a game that tries to live up to the likes of Grand Theft Auto and Crazy Taxi, but ultimately fails. It is bearable in parts but its faults will scare you off after a few hours maximum. Even at £20 it is too expensive for what you get, so unless you are desperate for some emergency services action, avoid this one.

              Overall Score: 4/10

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                11.08.2008 19:27
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                An unimpressive interactive version of a great novel. It does not do it justice.

                For me, the era of the point and click adventure seemed dead and buried until the Wii was released. The remote is perfect for the job as it does exactly that, point and click. Another thing that I look for in games of this genre is a good immersive storyline, one you can lose yourself in, and use to escape from reality. So when a game with the famed name "Agatha Christie" was released, I was naturally curious. Surely a game based on the novel "And then there were none" by the woman herself couldn't fail, could it?

                Graphics
                The game tries to set the mood with awful and simplistic visuals. In addition to this, the character animation is just as bad. You won't be impressed by them but on the other hand they don't necessarily need to impress you. The important aspect of the point and click adventure is the story and how interactive the gameplay is with that story.

                Gameplay/Lifespan
                As you will have gathered by now, this is truly an interactive version of the novel, meaning that if you have read the book beforehand, you will know who dies and this will ruin the suspense. Put simply, you play as Patrick Narracott, and you have brought eight of the novel's characters along with you to an island, but your boat gets ruined, leaving you stranded, and then the murders begin. Unfortunately, you cannot prevent these murders, so a true feel of on-rails gameplay plagues the game, somewhat reducing the enjoyment of it. The problem with this is, you end up doing very little sleuthing, and instead it is just a series of problems to solve. Mostly it is item hunting, but some puzzles require you to do very obscure things, that you may never have figured out, like talking to sleeping guests. If you are impatient, this may cause you to give up and abandon the game with no real incentive to return to it. This is also the case that if you ever make it to the end, as you know everything that is going to happen, there is no real point in replaying the adventure. Another problem is the loading times, which are painfully slow. This doesn't help to keep your interest in the game. If you are just looking for a good story, you are better off just reading the novel, and you will save a fair bit of money.

                Controls
                What it was destined to do, you point and click with the Wii remote. It is used a bit more creatively in some puzzles, but without any impressive effect. The Nunchuk is not used in the game.

                Multiplayer
                As you might have guessed, there is no multiplayer element at all to the game.

                Wi-Fi?
                Once again, there is no reason to include this feature, so it doesn't.

                Cost
                It was originally released at £39.99. Compare that to the cost of the book, and it isn't a very good deal. It can be picked up for around £20-£25 now, but it really depends if you have the patience and the desire, to play an interactive version of the novel, or if you are happy with just a good read.

                Conclusion
                On the whole it is a rather poor attempt at bringing a murder mystery novel to life. However, in some places it works well, in terms of gameplay and storyline, but this is just too inconsistent. If you are one of those people who tries to save money, then the novel itself is recommended over the game.

                Overall Score: 4/10

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                  22.06.2008 21:38
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                  This game is terrible and rendered completely pointless by Wii Sports. Avoid.

                  When the Wii was first released, it came bundled with Wii Sports. Many people didn't expect much from this freebie, but it surprised many with the addictiveness it possessed. Some of its game modes such as boxing remain the best examples of their genre on the Wii to this day. Enter Brunswick Pro Bowling. To become more entertaining than Wii Sports bowling, taking into account the fact that Brunswick Pro Bowling is just about bowling alone, was always going to be a challenge. The question is, have Crave managed it?

                  Graphics
                  As soon as you start to play Brunswick Pro Bowling you will realise how bland and boring the graphics are. Obviously a bowling game doesn't need state of the art graphics, but the graphics here, including character animations, are truly awful. If you manage to survive until you get a spare or a strike, you may be expecting a big colourful animation to confirm this. Think again. Instead, the most boring banner imaginable will pop up, and that is it. Considering that is pretty much all there is to experience in a bowling game, Brunswick Pro Bowling isn't off to a good start. However, this isn't the biggest problem the game has to offer.

                  Gameplay/Lifespan
                  With Wii sports you can use your Mii, in order to represent yourself in multiplayer games and the like. Brunswick Pro Bowling does feature a character creation mode, but it is very basic to say the least. It is a real struggle to find a satisfying look-a-like. Then there is the very nature of the game itself to consider. You can go bowling in it, and that is it. Even when you are involved in some bowling "action", the gameplay is still painfully slow. It is safe to say then, even if the gameplay was immersive, which it isn't, the game wouldn't hold your attention for a particularly long time anyway.

                  Controls
                  You might think the game is doing as bad as it possibly can so far, but this is the section were it really gets frustrating. The nunchuk isn't used for this game; it is just the remote, which as simple as it may sound is horrifically complicated. To take your shot, you need to hold B and twist the remote left and right to move left and right before moving your aim with the D-pad. Afterwards, when you come to bowl you have to hold the remote upright, press B to set yourself up and swing back and forth to bowl. Sounding complicated? It's because it's very complicated. Another problem is, even if you pull back and hold still, your bowler will take the shot anyway. However, once you finally manage to take your shot yourself, the ball seems to endlessly swerve and you will need to counter this depending on which hand you are bowling with. Even if you think you are going to hit the pin you want, the ball will sometimes swerve at the last minute making it extremely frustrating to hit that last pin.

                  Multiplayer
                  There is a multiplayer mode which supports up to 4 players. However, it just means 4 times the frustration, and you and your friends will quickly get bored and want to play something else.

                  Wi-Fi?
                  The game does not have a Wi-Fi mode, but in all honesty, it wouldn't make much difference at all as the gameplay is so needlessly complicated and frustrating.

                  Cost
                  This was originally released at the cost of £30. However, if you have a Wii, you will have Wii Sports making this game utterly pointless. I wouldn't advise buying this at all. However if you did want to for some unknown reason, then it can be picked up for about £15 - £20.

                  Conclusion
                  A very poor game in all areas which isn't helped by the fact the very good Wii Sports will be owned by all Wii owners. Completely avoid this.

                  Overall Score 2/10

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                    16.06.2008 17:46
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                    The first series of one of the best impressionist shows of all time.

                    As impressionists go, no one impresses me more than Jon Culshaw. He can impersonate anyone and everyone from Tony Blair to Russell Crowe. With top actors such as Jan Ravens and Phil Cornwell starring alongside him, this really is as good as it gets. There are alternative sketch shows out there but this is regarded by many as one of the best. I have been watching the brilliant Dead Ringers for years on television, so when I saw the first series was out on DVD, I had to own it. Strangely, however, more than 4 years after it has been released, there has been no sign of any other series' coming out on DVD. This makes it the only slice of Dead Ringers DVD action out there. There are of course, the Dead Ringers radio shows available, where the series originally started.

                    The DVD itself does exactly what it says on the tin, containing all 6 episodes and the original pilot episode. Aside from the standard scene selection option, the DVD contains pretty much nothing else in terms of special features. So, the special features are not a strongpoint of the DVD, but to be fair, the DVD can be found for a good price, on eBay at least, for around £5 brand new. At this price, just the main series makes it excellent value for money.

                    Technical Details:
                    Stereo Dolby Digital Sound
                    16:9 Widescreen Format
                    Running Time 173 mins approx
                    Certificate 15

                    Cast:
                    Jon Culshaw
                    Jan Ravens
                    Phil Cornwell
                    Kevin Connelly
                    Mark Perry

                    In conclusion, as this is the first television series, the ideas are fresh and witty, sometimes crazy but always funny. Whether this is your cup of tea or not, at £5, no one can go wrong.

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                      02.06.2008 18:27
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                      Better than your average quiz game, and plenty of questions to keep your interest!

                      The Wii has allowed a rich diversity of different games to be published, due to its focus on family and multiplayer fun in the 17 months it has been out. The Playstation has Buzz! while the Xbox has Scene it?, and now a rival to them, which is Smartypants, has arrived for Wii. A seemingly simple quiz game on first view, but actually Smartypants tries to be a little different, in order to keep the player coming back for more.

                      Graphics/Sound
                      As Smartypants is a quiz game, amazing graphics aren't top of its list of priorities. However, it does have an inviting, colourful and fun display, to help grab the player's attention, and more importantly, maintain it. On the sound front, there is nothing complex, but you can't help but be annoyed by the voice acting. Still, this is no major fault, it is clear EA have put the effort into this seemingly very simple game.

                      Gameplay/Lifespan
                      Firstly, you can use your Mii in Smartypants which gives your character the attractive personal touch, just what Miis are meant to do. Cleverly, the game will ask you your age, and this is more important than you think, as it will base your questions on your age, so no one is at a disadvantage. This enables the whole family to play along, and no children should get frustrated by impossibly hard questions. As you can assume for this type of game, Smartypants will get boring quickly if you play it on your own. However, this isn't a massive issue, as it is designed for up to 4 people to enjoy simultaneously. Amazingly, the game packs in over 20,000 different questions varying over different subjects and ages. This is what makes Smartypants more long lasting than a typical game of its genre.

                      The amount of questions aside, Smartypants also throws in a few minor handicaps at times, in the form of special cards. Of course, it is necessary to earn these. Once acquired, these can benefit you, or disadvantage another player. For example, the "narrow it down card" will remove two wrong answers for you, increasing your chances of answering the question correctly. Another special card is the "that's too easy" card. This increases the difficulty of another player's question, therefore decreasing their chance of getting it correct. Also, choosing your question is a Wheel of Fortune style affair, as you spin a wheel full of different categories to determine which subject you get. Once again with Smartypants, things are made a little different as you get a set amount of nudges to use on the wheel, changing the category if you aren't too confident on it.

                      Controls
                      The controls are nice and simple, as you answer by pointing at your choice and pressing A. However, to add a bit of variety, EA even included a little feature so once you press A, you hold it and put your hand up to answer. The Wii remote feels like your own personal buzzer, the equivalent of one bundled with Buzz! or Scene it? for example. The Nunchuk is not used at all.

                      Multiplayer
                      This is where the game naturally excels, as it is designed to do. There are competitive and co-operative modes for the players to enjoy. 1-4 players can grab a remote and join in. As I said earlier, younger and older players can play together as the questions vary depending on your age.

                      Wi-Fi?
                      Smartypants does not have Wi-Fi support, but the multiplayer makes up for this as it is what you will be playing most of the time anyway.

                      Cost
                      Originally released at £40, this was a major mistake by EA. This is because as good as the game is, it is only a party quiz game, and shouldn't have been priced over £25 maximum. Still, as it is about 5 months since it was released, paying about £20 for it now is possible, but I wouldn't recommend paying anymore than £25.

                      Conclusion
                      Clearly EA has put some effort in here to make this quiz game more entertaining than the competition. It has succeeded and proved that not all games for Wii at the moment are cash in attempts by third party developers. For Wii certainly, this is the best game of its type, and at the right price, this is perfect fun for all the family.

                      Overall Score: 8.5/10

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                        05.05.2008 17:52
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                        A free bit of saefty kit for your wii? You can't go wrong here

                        Every good console needs its accessories, and after reports that televisions were being smashed by Wii remotes worldwide, Nintendo issued free wrist straps and then free Wii remote jackets. However, if you purchase or have purchased a Wii after October 2007, then these jackets should be packaged into the Wii box. If you purchased your Wii before October 2007, then don't worry, you can easily acquire up to 4 jackets direct from Nintendo itself.

                        How do I get mine?
                        All you need to do is visit http://wii.nintendo.co.uk and click on the consumer service tab in the top right of the page. Scroll down to the safety information section and click on "Wii remote jacket information". Then all you need to do is follow the instructions given.

                        Why are Nintendo supplying these?
                        The purpose of the Wii remote jacket is to provide extra protection to your Wii remote and any objects it may collide with. Of course, if you make sure you wear your wrist strap, you will never be in danger of smashing any nearby objects. Each game also displays a reminder of this every time you go to play.

                        How do I use mine?
                        Although the remote jacket may seem chunky, the remote still has the same perfect fit to everybody's hands. The remote jacket also features holes in all the right places to allow easy reach of all the buttons on the remote. It is very easy to put on the remote jacket. Firstly insert the top of the Wii remote into the jacket. Next, thread the Wii remote wrist strap through the hole at the bottom of the jacket from inside. Finally, being careful not to trap the wrist strap, pull the Wii remote jacket over the base of the Wii remote and insert the nunchuck connector cover at the bottom of the remote.

                        So, is this a vital bit of kit, or a tacky piece of tat? Put simply, these are free! They help protect your remote and surroundings, fit comfortably and carry no real disadvantages at all. They are not essential, but definitely worth a getting your hands on.

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                        • More +
                          30.04.2008 17:29
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                          A faithful addition to the Geometry Wars series, but may be cheaper elsewhere

                          Sometimes the simple games are the best, and Geometry Wars is exactly that. However, with so many different incarnations being released over many formats, is the game staying true to its arcade shooter roots? There are many different versions of Geometry Wars including versions featuring on Xbox live marketplace, mobile phones and PC. But the newest editions have recently come out on Wii and DS entitled Geometry Wars: Galaxies. In case you have never heard of Geometry Wars, let's start from the beginning.

                          What is Geometry Wars?
                          Geometry Wars has no plot or characters making it feature heavily on getting high scores. It is a simple, yet addictive arcade blaster. You are a small ship in the middle of the screen, in, what will become a very busy box. All of a sudden enemies will spawn from corners, of course, as you shoot more the amount increases, and they spawn faster and faster. Your ship can do three things, shoot, move, and plant bombs. That's it really, of course in this Wii edition there are level variations to try and lengthen the arcade gameplay.

                          Graphics
                          The fact about Geometry Wars is that a few minutes into the game, you will struggle to see your ship in an overflowing fountain of colours and your eyes may begin to melt. This sounding like a bad thing, it is actually one of the famous characteristics of the game, and adds challenge to the frantic gameplay. It all looks lovely, with the different colours and patterns on the screen, but at the same time, it isn't trying to recreate real life characters or do anything special, and so the graphics are what you would expect from an arcade shooter. That said, they do carry a futuristic style that suits the game perfectly and adds to the overall experience.

                          Gameplay/Lifespan
                          As mentioned earlier, only being able to move, shoot and drop bombs makes things sound like a simple affair. The more enemies you kill the better your lasers will become, but the best way to get out of a tricky situation, is to use your bombs. Put simply, these destroy any enemies anywhere on your screen. This provides a brief breather, before the enemies swamp you all over again. You have to be careful when using these however, because you always have a limited number, adding some tactics to the proceedings. However, it is a simple game with simple gameplay, which all works very well. That said, it really can get hard very quickly, so newcomers to the game or genre may want to find something else to ease them in. For die-hard fans of the series however, it is just what they would expect, except one or two small changes that is. The first one of these is the level design. Whereas in the PC and Xbox live versions you would be in the same rectangular box, starting with the same sequence of enemies and trying to blast your way to stardom on the high score boards, here there is some variation. This comes on the form of different planets which are varied to include new concepts such as, triangle arenas and split up arenas. Of course, these may sound like very minor changes that would have hardly any effect on the gameplay, however only fans of the series will appreciate what these changes mean. It is a nice way to add a bit more length to the game's life. The second change is the addition of a drone to fight alongside you. Some of you may be thinking "What?", but don't worry it's no bad thing. Your drone starts off pretty rubbish, but you can buy different behaviours for them while building them up, to make it a worthy companion. In terms of gameplay, due to the steep difficulty curve, it is a case of fans will enjoy the challenge while newcomers may struggle with it and confine it to gather dust in their games cabinet.

                          Controls
                          On the whole, a pretty positive review so far then. However, that's all about to change... The Wii remote is used to aim your ships laser by pointing it at the screen which is represented by an on screen cursor. The nunchuk's analogue stick is used to move your ship around the battlefield. Is it the perfect Wii control system then? Not so lucky. The main flaw of these controls is the inaccuracy of the remote's pointer under pressure. You may drop a few f-bombs when an enemy slips past your cursor and collides into your ship when you were sure you had destroyed it first. While the nunchuk does its job the game is crying out for an option to use the classic or Gamecube controller. Yet again we see a game where Wii controls are implemented for the sake of it being a Wii game, when they would have worked much better without. Still the game is playable, just infinitely harder under pressure, which is the part you'll need to do well in if you want to top those online leader boards.

                          Wi-Fi Compatibility?
                          As you will know by now the game is wi-fi compatible, featuring online leaderboards so you can boast your scores worldwide. However the Xbox version also has this feature so it really depends on which console you own to which version you get.

                          The Price
                          Control issues aside this should score pretty highly, but unfortunately it depends on how cheaply you can find this game for Wii. You see, retailing at a budget price, for a Wii game, of £20 in most shops may seem like a good deal, but don't be fooled. The simple fact is, the Xbox live version and PC versions are much much cheaper. The Xbox version originally costing a couple of quid and the PC version costing $3.95 (roughly £2.00) on steam, almost makes the Wii game totally redundant.

                          Conclusion
                          So, are the flaws in this game enough to put off newbies and fans of the series alike? Well, the price is a strong indicator of which version to buy, but the Wii version does have one exclusive up its sleeve.

                          Firstly, rather surprisingly, the Wii version boasts the online leaderboards which the PC version does not, however the Xbox version does. Also, the Wii version has the gameplay tweaks (level variation and helper drone) which may make fans of the series want to try out this slightly different approach. If you are a fan of the series looking for something new, this is for you. Whether the small changes justify a £20 price tag is an individual decision however. One thing is for sure though, if you are a newcomer to the series, you are much better off getting hold of the Xbox or PC version, simply to save yourself your hard earned cash.

                          In terms of Wii games it is pretty unique right now, and if you only have a Wii console, then depending on your preference, you may want to try this out. It is a solid shooter with gorgeous visuals and addictive gameplay, but it falls short in the face of the competition, which offers mostly the same for much less.

                          Overall Rating: 7/10

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                          • Nitrobike (Wii) / Nintendo Wii Game / 20 Readings / 18 Ratings
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                            29.04.2008 20:17
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                            A poor racing game in all areas with many better alternatives available

                            Remember the highly addictive game that was Excitebike? There were a few different versions of the game spanning many years that quickly became a favourite with many gamers. Early last year Nintendo released the equally addictive Excite Truck for the Wii. This was seen as a close relative to Excitebike but many people still craved the real thing. Enter Nitrobike. As you may have already guessed this isn't Excitebike or even made by Nintendo, but on the face of it Nitrobike does look the same and this made many people think their prayers had been answered. Has Ubisoft managed to recreate the glory of Excitebike with the developers of Excitebike 64 on board?

                            Graphics/Sound
                            As we saw in Excite Truck, the Wii is capable of pretty impressive visuals despite everyone's concerns. The fact that it is possible makes the bland mess of polygons that is Nitrobike all the worse. They are jagged, with smeared textures when you go faster, which look like someone has taken a thick paintbrush to your screen and only used about 3 colours in their painting. As well as the hideous graphics, the sound is minimalist, producing generic guitar noise and constant clattering whenever you hit something.

                            Gameplay/Lifespan
                            One main thing a racing game of any sort should include is exciting and varied tracks, to keep the players coming back for more. Again, Nitrobike fails as its tracks are pretty boring and flat, not boasting any of the huge jumps or chasms seen in Excitebike 64 and Excite Truck. As well as the narrow, repetitive courses the AI players seem to favour suicide over racing, and you may well do as well after trying and failing to navigate clusters of objects. Then we come to your bike, which should be a fast moving, hard to master thrill rider. Of course, it isn't, in fact it tries to be realistic which defeats the purpose of a "Nitrobike", as you would expect them to be anything but ordinary. There are no incentives for nice landings or good driving like on Excite Truck, making the whole racing experience even more dull and mundane. There is a trick system but they all count towards the same thing, making numbers appear on your screen. All the tricks might as well be the same, another point which shows the game's distinct lack of variety.

                            Controls
                            If you play Nitrobike you will notice straight away the controls are exactly the same as Excite Truck. Tilt left and right to steer, while pressing 2 to accelerate and 1 to brake. Nitrobike can't even copy properly it seems as the controls can be twitchy at times, not what you want when trying to drive at very high speeds. The nunchuk isn't used at all.

                            Wi-Fi?
                            The game does have an online mode but of course, it isn't without its problems. Apart from the unappealing gameplay itself, playing online requires you to over-specify your game type, causing ridiculous waiting times. Why there couldn't be a quickmatch feature is a mystery.

                            Cost
                            One sensible thing Ubisoft did was release this game at a price of £20. However, with Excite Truck released over a year ago, you can easily pick it up for £20 or less. Excite truck is better in every area, apart from having no online play, so it is highly recommended over this. Or you can download the original Excitebike off the Virtual Console for Wii, for a much cheaper price. Put simply, Nitrobike isn't even worth £20 with competitors like Excite Truck around.

                            Conclusion
                            This game had so much potential with the Excitebike 64 developers onboard. Instead they have decided to do the opposite of everything that made Excitebike 64 great, and Nitrobike is the result. If this game was one of a kind, it may attract some attention, but it is just impossible to recommend over its competitors. With poor graphics, sound, and gameplay, Nitrobike should be avoided altogether; there are much better games available.

                            Overall Score 3/10

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                            • Playground (Wii) / Nintendo Wii Game / 25 Readings / 24 Ratings
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                              25.04.2008 18:36
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                              A suprisingly decent mini game collection, but nothing out of the ordinary

                              When the Wii was released its unique control system allowed mini-games to be more fun than usual, as the highly successful Wii sports and Wii play proved. It was inevitable then, that other developers would try and get in on the act, and grab as much of the new market as possible. So here we have EA playground; and it is exactly that. A collection of mini-games supposedly designed to use the Wii remote in different ways to keep the player entertained.

                              Graphics
                              For a mini-game compilation graphics don't tend to need to be spectacular, and these are pretty average. The graphical style is appealing, with vibrant colours and cartoon characters. Of course, this depends on whether you like this graphical style or not, just don't expect lifelike characters and realistic surroundings. Characters have rather small bodies in relation to their bigger heads, and it all adds fun to the game, which at the end of the day all games of this genre set out to do.

                              Gameplay/Lifespan
                              The mini-games are mostly a lot of fun, providing variety and are entertaining while they last. One such game is the Dodgeball game, which is made more fun when other players join in. You can flick the Wii remote to the side to dodge balls or take a gamble and try to catch a ball and resurrect an eliminated team member by pressing B. The controls need to be responsive for a game like this which can get very frantic and fun with 4 players, and thankfully they are. Despite this and another four enjoyable games, two do not work as well. These are Wall Ball and Slot Car Racers. The first is similar to squash the only difference being you use your hand instead of a racquet. The latter is cars on a Scalextric-type track, with power ups. However these two just don't seem to work properly and you won't find yourself coming back to them very often if at all.

                              Possibly the greatest danger with a mini-game compilation is if you will enjoy them enough to come back for them and how long they will last. Unfortunately, this is where EA playground really loses points. It won't last an experienced gamer for more than a couple of hours on their first time through. In the single player mode you have to unlock play areas and find hidden marbles while watching your percentage of the game completed figure rise rapidly. Coupled with this is the fact that this game is extremely easy to begin with, and remains the same pretty much throughout. The game may be aimed at children, but if you are older it will not hold your attention for very long at all. Still, if you fancy a multiplayer game the option is there, it supporting up to four players and can be very fun, but again will not keep you playing for hours on end.

                              Controls
                              The Wii remote is used in different ways for each mini game. For example, it is used in Dodgeball by flicking it as mentioned earlier. The D-pad can also be used to navigate your character when roaming the playground. The controls do exactly as they should, which is good as many developers try and cash in with mini-game compilations nowadays. Here however, the difference is these are actually half decent to play.

                              Wi-Fi
                              EA playground has no Wi-Fi mode. This is a shame as it would have added longetivity to the game which sorely needs it. It is a further indication that the game may have not been given as much attention as some of EA's other projects and is a bit of a lightweight.

                              Cost
                              This game was released at £40 but is no doubt cheaper today. £40 was at least twice as much as this game is worth, for the pure and simple fact it won't entertain you for long enough to justify the price tag. I would say pay no more than £24.99 for this game, and that is being kind.

                              Conclusion
                              It's a surprisingly decent mini-game compilation for a change, but it's not without its flaws. If you are a gamer who enjoys some challenging single player action, this is not for you. However its target audience are younger gamers who can play it with their mates, and what it sets out to do, it does fairly well.

                              Overall Score 7/10

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                              • Jenga (Wii) / Nintendo Wii Game / 7 Readings / 6 Ratings
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                                23.04.2008 00:02
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                                A seemingly pointless version of an originally very enjoyable game

                                You will probably know what Jenga is, but if you don't, it is simply a game of removing wooden blocks from a tower of wooden blocks without allowing your tower to fall down. Each player takes a turn to remove a single block, and replace it on the top of the tower, but whoever makes the tower topple, is out of the game. It is much more exciting than it sounds when playing it with physical components, but how does it translate to the virtual world?

                                Graphics
                                Well, not much to say here. How impressive can wooden blocks be? There are stages with different themes, each showing a rather simplistic background which adds to the theme of the level. And that is it.

                                Gameplay/Lifespan
                                This area is what will make or break this game, it being what makes it so appealing to people in real life. Can the tension and precision needed to play Jenga be translated to the video game world successfully? In a word, no. The blocks do seem to react as they would do in real life, but making your move is harder than it should be. There is no sense of physical feedback to you, the player, so you can't tell how dangerous your move will be and if it will topple your tower. There is a system to notify you if it is a wise choice to remove your chosen block, showing either red, yellow or green, but it just isn't good enough. As there is no feedback when taking your turn physically, sometimes your turn will feel like a leap of faith. Gameplay issues aside, this is Jenga, something you may open once in a while to play or play once at Christmas and pack away forever. It won't keep you entertained for hours on end and it really depends how frustrated you get with it or how much you enjoy Jenga There is a small degree of variation in that you can change the properties of the blocks, making ice blocks for example, which will slide out easier than normal blocks, making the other blocks more likely to shift position. As for the main game, that is it. However, as in many games these days, the developer atomic planet has decided to throw in some mini games as well; how kind of them. An example of one of these is a suspiciously similar shooter to space invaders, except with wooden blocks instead of aliens. These mini games aren't very enjoyable or long lasting at all, and a bit random if I'm honest, a seemingly desperate attempt to make Jenga last longer and worth buying.

                                Controls
                                As you would expect from the Wii remote, pushing and pulling towards the screen will have the same effect on your chosen block. You use A to switch to grab mode, and you can tap blocks with B. As for the Nunchuk, the camera is rotated with the analogue stick. Pressing C and flicking the stick "pins" the blocks right above and below your chosen target.

                                Wi-Fi?
                                Jenga does not have a Wi-Fi mode, and just as well really. It would be a complete waste of time because whether it's a computer controlled character or a human, the outcome of the turn will be exactly the same. The tower will stand, or fall.

                                Cost
                                Not worth £20 at all. I would advise you to buy the real thing, as its much more accurate to play with your hands, and much more exciting and satisfying. It is cheaper on the DS than on the Wii, but again, the real thing is recommended over its virtual counterpart.

                                Conclusion
                                This is a game which really isn't suited to being a video game at all. It's rendered as a pointless game as the real thing does it much better, and much cheaper. It's a tough game to make, because even if the controls and gameplay are perfect, nothing makes it stand out over the real thing, which most people will probably own already anyway.

                                Overall Rating 4/10

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