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When building your own PC, the heart of everything is the motherboard.
All components and wiring go through your motherboard, and therefore it's important to make sure everything works with it.
The ASRock 960GM-GS3 FX motherboard is a cheap and cheerful motherboard, it has the capacity to hold a powerful 8 core AMD CPU, with up to 125W of power, as long as it uses a AM3 or AM3+ socket, which most do. On the box, it is stated that the motherboard is designed to work with AMD Phenom II x6 (6 core) and AMD Athlon II processors.
It supports DDR3 RAM, up to 8GB in total, 2 slots, so 4GB in each slot, it supports up to 1333MHZ RAM with all CPU's, and up to 2100MHZ with an AM3+ CPU.
There are 4 USB ports in the rear of the motherboard, as well as 2 PS/2 ports for any older keyboard/mice you want to use with it.
It includes your standard set of ports, such as VGA, Ethernet, and your headphone/microphone ports etc.
An ATI HD 3000 series graphics card is in-built into the motherboard, it is worth nothing that this is a very weak GPU, and if you play games, you should definitely purchase a separate graphics card, as the in-built one will struggle to play any games made after 2006 or so.
There is a PCI-e 2 x16 port that can be used for a dedicated GPU, if you're into games. As well as 2 PCI ports, ideal for a sound card or Network Interface Card (NIC). A PCI-e 2 x1 port is also available, which can be used for a NIC as well.
There are power ports to supply power to a CPU fan, a Chassis fan and a Power fan.
The motherboard is a Micro-ATX design, which should fit into an ATX casing fine.
There are 4 SATA2 connectors, for any drives you wish to fit.
Really this is a basic cheap motherboard, ideal for building a gaming PC if you are on a budget, if you're into video editing, you may want to go with a motherboard that has a higher RAM limit than 8GB, but for gaming, it is fine for the moment.
I received this phone as a gift from a friend, so I don't know how much it cost when it was new.
This phone accomplishes what it was made for well. It can phone, the voice quality is good, it can text, with the ability to overlay a QWERTY keypad on the touch-screen, it has a great camera, 5MP, which is very high quality for a fairly dated phone now. It also has a lower quality front camera.
Other than that it has a few extra bells and whistles, such as 3G and Bluetooth, neither of which I have ever used.
It can have some apps, it doesn't run iOS or Android, but it can have some specific apps installed, I own an Android tablet so I have never found a use for them, and most require you to connect to the internet and pay the expensive fees that network providers charge. There were a couple of games preinstalled that I had a play around with, including Bejeweled, but as I said, I have a tablet for that kind of thing.
The thing that most annoyed me about this phone, is that it seems to run slow. When going through the menus, it sometimes takes a bit of time to load, the menu's and background move at about 3 frames per second, it just feels like the phone wasn't meant to handle the software that was put on it.
Luckily you don't really have to use the menus much for it's function as a phone, the camera is accesible by a single press of a camera button on the phone itself. Text messaging and phoning can be done by tapping the corresponding buttons on the phone's home menu.
To be honest I end up using the camera more than the phone functions themselves, the quality of it is higher than our digital camera (which is quite old now).
This is a decent phone, but I would say to get an Android powered phone nowadays, they aren't too expensive, and getting a non-Android/iOS phone nowadays seems silly.
Graphics cards can be notoriously expensive, ranging from £20 all the way up to (and above) £200.
This is towards the lower end of that price range, the 1GB model which I am reviewing here, should cost between £20-£30.
It has 1GB of DDR3 memory, which is quite a lot for a budget card, it can also take an additional 1GB from your RAM, if you have any left to spare. The computer will auto-manage how much RAM your graphics card takes, so don't worry about it taking too much.
But basically, the main purpose of a graphics card is for gaming. Seeing as this is a budget card, don't expect it to run anything recent at fancy graphics settings, this is just a 'gets by' kind of card.
Games such as Left 4 Dead 2, Team Fortress 2 and Portal 2, can all run at a mixture of medium/high graphics settings, you can get away with 'high' graphics settings if you lower shadows/shading, remove anisotropic filtering and vsync and no antialiasing.
It has also been reported to run Skyrim on Low/Medium settings at a perfectly playable framerate.
Tribes: Ascend runs fine on Low settings (not minimal).
Test Drive Unlimited 2 runs at a mixture of low/medium.
Please note that all of these tests were taken with no memory taken from RAM, just the 1GB dedicated memory, if you have more RAM free on your system, the card will probably run the games better than I have said.
The card only takes 19W of power, which is a small amount, compared to the 40W of the Nvidia 8400GS which I upgraded from.
This is probably the best budget card out there for the moment, however that will probably change in a few weeks as more cards get released.
Harvest Moon is a fairly specialized type of game, you either love it or you hate it. Some say it's a repetitive game, were not much happens from day to day, except a few special events here and there, but i say differentely.
The basic aim of the game is to create a successful farm, by growing crops, taking care of animals and the like. There is a small village that your farm is next to, where you can get to know the villagers and develop relationships with them. Also, a big part of the Harvest Moon series, which is in most of its games, is the ability to marry.
When you start the game, you'll start with no crops, a farmyard overrun with weeds and debris, and no animals, except a dog. You'll have to go into town and buy some crops from the supermarket there, and then plant them and nurture them until they grow, usually a few days afterwards, then they can be harvested and shipped for 'G', the games currency.
As you progress, you can buy sheep, cows, chickens, etc. And also enter festivals, such as the horse racing festival.
I don't know what quite grips me about this game, it just gives me simple pleasure to work on the farm and then go into the village and improve my relationship with the villagers, which unlocks more secrets about their pasts. I've been playing the series since the SNES version, and although it hasn't changed much, each game has entirely new characters, and that makes each version worth buying.
Harvest Moon isn't very popular in PAL regions, it sells mainly in Japan and in the US. Therefore they tend to be fairly expensive here, around £20+ for the PS1 game. However there is a GBA version of this game that can be found for a few quid. There are also some Harvest Moon games available for the Nintendo DS that are worth checking out, including Harvest Moon Grand Bazaar, which comes out in the UK on 23rd of September, 2011, supposedly.
None of the Harvest Moon games have any multiplayer, apart from Grand Bazaar, which has 4 player co-operative play, where players can help each other out on their farms, and also buy goods from one another.
This may not be your cup of tea, but if you want a laid-back and casual RPG with none of the fighting that RPG's are so filled of nowadays, this may be for you.
This isn't the exact same model as my wireless network card, but it is by the same manufacturer and has the same set of features. Mine is the WN350GD model.
To start with, the most common reason why you want one of these wireless network cards, is to get rid of all those ethernet cables you have trailing from your PC to your router, correct? Well obviously this can take care of that problem.
I'm going to go a bit technical now, but I'll try and explain everything i say so everyone can understand.
This wireless network card can transmit data at a speed of around 7 Megabytes per second (54MBPS) Remember a byte is 8 bits, so 54MBPS (MegaBITS per second) is = to around 7 MegaBYTES per second, i don't know why everyone uses Megabits instead of bytes in the world of wireless networking, but I'm sure they have a good reason for messing with our minds. Very few internet service providers (that's people like BT, Virgin, Talk Talk or whatever they call themselves now) supply speeds greater than 40MBPS, so this card shouldn't affect your internet download speeds.
The only differences between using this wireless network card and an ethernet cable, is that wireless network cards are affected by their environment, such as going through walls may lower the signal strength, and thus lower the speed at which it can transmit. Also ethernet cables usually transmit at a speed of 100MBPS, sometimes 1000MBPS (or a Gigabit per second). This would only affect you if you wanted to transfer large amounts of files across from one PC to another on the network. (We're talking several Gibabytes of information to make it worth talking about)
I hope i explained that well enough to everyone! The basic gist of it is, this card is fast enough to work in most homes without any noticeable slowdown compared to using a cable.
Security wise. Now security is a thing we're all concerned about nowadays, with all this technology, it's all too easy to lose your security. This wireless network card however, supports all the latest security encryption, such as WEP, WPA and WPA2. These are basically passwords for your network, you set up the password in your router, and then when you want to connect your PC to the router (through which you connect to the internet) you enter the password. We will go through that now.
This product should come with a little mini-disc and a set of instructions, read the instructions and follow them. I don't believe the instructions tell you how to connect to your wireless router, so I'll cover that for them.
TP-LINK wireless client utility should have installed itself on your system if you followed the instructions correctly. If you have it in the list of programs in your Start Menu, boot it up now.
Navigate to the 'Profile Management' tab. Click on the 'Scan' button. Select your wireless network from the list, hopefully its there. Type in a profile name, just something that will tell you what network you are on. Now navigate to the 'Security' tab. On your router setup, you should have selected a security encryption and password, select the correct encryption type and enter your password in the box supplied. Thats it, your done, the next tab should already be setup the way most people would have it, so just click the OK button, and if all goes well, you should connec to your network and, hopefully, have internet access.
That mini-disc i mentioned earlier has the drivers for most TP-LINK wireless network cards, and the wireless client utility is also compatible with all of them.
I have had intermittent problems with my card, were the signal drops to 1/4 strength and then picks up to 3/4 or 4/4 a couple of seconds later, not sure why, but i believe it is to do with the positioning my computer, also the motherboard isn't in perfect condition, so it's possible my PCI slot is damaged. I have 2 PC's with these cards in, and 1 works perfectly, and rarely drops below full signal strength. This is definitely a card to buy if your on a budget. They tend to sell at around £5-7.
We had this router given to us when our previous Speedtouch Modem stopped working.
This was our first wireless router, that was over 2 years ago, we haven't looked at another one since! So reliability shouldn't be a problem!
Admittedly the speed is only 54MBPS, there are some routers which can transmit data with speeds up to 108MBPS. For those of you not in the know, 54MBPS is about equal to being able to transmit just over 7 Megabytes per second, 108MBPS is naturally double that. This should only affect LAN (Local Area Network) speeds however, very few internet connections in the UK, bar businesses, will have a connection speed of 54MBPS, the UK average is 8MBPS, with most companies only offering up to 20MBPS. All the speed will do is affect how fast you can transfer data between PC's on the same home network. Also bear in mind that many wireless network cards in PC's, only support a speed up to 54MBPS anyway.
So the speed is good enough for your average user, but what about it's features?
Well the router has 4 ethernet ports, which means if you have an electronic device which does not have a wireless network feature, you can plug it into the router with an ethernet cable. Provided your device has an ethernet port of course. Which most PC's and Laptops do, even old pre-2000 ones.
In case you didn't know, some routers have a limit to how many wireless connections it can receive and work with. Unfortunately i can't tell you the limit on this router, as i haven't reached it yet. I can tell you however that it supports at least 7 wireless connections at any one time. As i have had 2 laptops, a 3DS, 2 PC's and 2 Smartphones connected to it all at once.
So theres enough connectivity features for it to work in almost any home.
For those of you who are more into computers than others. There are lots of options in the routers configuration page, which you can usually access by typing '192.168.0.1' into your internet browsers URL box. You can forward ports, adjust the security settings for the router, including WPA2/WEP keys and the like. There are also firewall and NAT settings. Probably more which i haven't looked at.
Just to let the rest of you know, WPA and WEP are sort of like passwords that you assign to your router, which prevents anybody else who happens to be nearby, gaining access to your router. Remember it's wireless, so if you haven't got a password on it, anybody nearby with a wireless network device can access your network. WPA2 seems to be the recommended password encryption at the moment.
The only downside i can find with this router, is that it isn't the cheapest in the market, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure there are other decent routers available for less than £60 that have similar features. At launch it was probably a top of the range router, it's just a shame the price hasn't come down much.
Wormx Armageddon is the 3rd game in the long and successful series. It came after Worms and Worms 2, and is often sold in a bundle pack with the latter.
The focus of Worms games, is to defeat all the enemy worms, using your available arsenal. Which is quite formidable. You can use conventional weapons, such as Bazookas and Grenades, to completely crazy ones, such as explosive old Women and super sheep (flying sheep).
If you're unfamiliar with Worms games, then you should know that it is played from a side view (except Worms 3d, Forts and Worms 4), weapons are affected by the wind, which changes each turn, requiring the player to accurately aim and determine the correct power with which to fire/throw his weapon in order to hit his enemy.
The games strong point is it's multiplayer side, it supports up to 6 players offline, if my memory serves. It also supports up to 6 in an online game, also allowing a combination of local and online players, so you can have 2 computers on a network, with 3 players on each PC. Networking in Worm's games is often a problem however. There are countless issues with the newer Worms games, especially the 3d ones, which constantly go out of sync, also the DS and PSP versions have awful multiplayer. Worms Armageddon and Worms World Party are the 2 best Worms games to choose if you want networking mayhem! (In a good way) It generally stays in sync, especially on LAN games. And although the player doing the actions is always a few seconds ahead of the other players, it still stays in sync.
Key points in all Worms games are the terrain deformation and the random terrain generation. The generator can come up with literally millions of different maps for you to play on. All capable of being destroyed by your beautiful arsenal of weaponry.
This is probably my favourite Worms game out there, it is still supported by 2 Team17 employees, who update it periodically with new bug fixes. Latest being November 2010 (As of May 2011). These updates probably play a large part in why the networking in Armageddon is better than other Worms games, a lot of the updates released for it, involve patching network issues.
I can report that this game is fully compatible with all Windows from 95 through 7, including 64-bit Windows 7. Some new GFX cards may see irregularities, if so, i recommend patching to the latest version, there's a good chance it'll fix it.
The most common way to find Worms Armageddon is to find the SoldOut bundle pack of Worms 2 and Worms Armageddon, almost all shops will sell this for £5 (as all SoldOut titles sell for £5) and this version is compatible with the latest patches released by the Team17 employees. The Trymedia version is not compatible with the Team17 updates.
Well what can i say? For starters, its a great port of a great game! Although its a port of the Dreamcast version, i mainly compare it to the N64 version, as i own it.
Compared to the N64 version, the graphics are marginally better, but made a lot sharper/crisper due to the higher resolution, even when the N64 uses the expansion pak.
The controls are helped greatly due to the 3DS's addition of an analog thumbstick, which is far more accurate and usable than the PSP's analog stick. It allows for brilliant 360 degree movement and is positioned in just the right place. The camera does get annoying sometimes, but its generally ok, and i remember that the original version also had camera issues.
The story line isn't really that great, but the missions on it are very good, as I'm sure you'll know if you played the original. There are lots of varied enemies, each requiring you to deal differently with them.
The main point everyone buys the 3DS for is probably the 3D, and Rayman makes good use of it. When approaching objects that come close to the camera, its almost as if it's about to touch you, i actually moved my head back by instinct when the camera went through a plant.
Really this is an almost direct port of the original, the upgraded resolution makes it look slightly better, and the 3D effects gives it that extra WOW factor, but don't expect it to be something different, because it isn't.
This is a good game to get in a bundle with a 3DS and possibly one of, if not the best launch game, but i wouldn't spend £30 on it, when already owning the N64 version.
Well to be honest, i bought this when i was about 8 or 9 years old, mainly because it was marketed under the same series as Theme Park and Theme Hospital.
The first thing that struck me about the game, is how non user-friendly it is. It basically throws you into a game, with not much help on how to start up a successful aquarium, or even how to perform basic tasks.
From what i gathered, the aim is to catch or buy fish, and then put them into tanks in your aquarium and charge customers to enter, but the game is very shallow, there's not much that you are required to do it seems, and i never actually got any customers.
Unfortunately, because of this, i haven't been able to get far into the game, or even accomplish anything really. Judging by the ratings from the other reviews, other people didn't have much luck with this game either.
Really you should stay away from this game, it isn't even worth the fiver you pay for it. It's quite possibly the worst game i have ever spent money on.
Well most of you have probably heard of Theme Park, it was a widely distributed game, spanning several platforms, such as the Amiga, Playstation, SNES and PC. But fewer of you have probably heard of Theme Hospital.
The aim of the game is to build a successful hospital, you do so by hiring skilled staff, getting hold of new machines to deal with the latest medical emergencies, and expanding your hospital to care for the growing number of patients.
You start the game with an empty hospital, a decent sized place, for the time being. Generally you'll first build a GP's office and a reception desk. When people first enter, they'll head towards the reception desk who will tell them where to go, usually they'll sit down on benches whilst they wait for their appointment.
As the game progressing, new illnesses will begin to appear, which means you'll need more staff and newer machines to deal with the problem, these illnesses range from anything, from a bloated head, to invisibility. Humour (sometimes dark) often plays a role in this game, if (or should i say when) a patient dies in your hospital, Hades will appear and a hole will open in the ground, which the patient will fall through into 'hell'. Bloated heads are also cured by popping the existing head, and pumping up a new one using a machine.
Theme Hospital features a lengthy campaign, which gets progressively harder as you progress, whenever you finish a mission, you have the choice to continue onto the next, or carry on playing, which is useful for the last mission, as i believe its the only way to play a sandbox (or non-ending) game in single player.
To make the game more interesting, Theme Hospital has special events that prediodically occur, such as emergencies, VIP visits and so on. In emergencies there will usually be a large number of patients who need healing before a specified time, if you manage to heal them all, it means a rep/money boost, failure to do so will hit your reputation hard. The higher your rep, the more people will arrive.
You may have noticed before, that i said the only way to play a sandbox game in 'single player' is to play a mission. Naturally that means the game has a multiplayer mode. And indeed that's right. The game supports multiplayer via Dplay IPX, IPX, Modem and Serial, unfortunately that means Windows Vista and 7 users cannot play multiplayer via conventional means, as IPX protocols were removed after Windows XP. I am told Vista and 7 users can play multiplayer games using Hamachi, a virtual private network program, unsure on the exact method, but Hamachi has an IPX protocol for it, presumably activating this and then joining the same Hamachi network as the player you want to play with, will allow you to play a network game.
Network games play similarly to single player ones, except there will usually be 7 or so lots of lands, which contain spaces for new hospitals, should players need to expand. If a player wants a lot of land, he must begin an auction for it, where other players may try to buy it themselves. All players play on the same map, so scrolling for a few seconds will mean that you can watch your opponents hospital. You can also view the network of paths in between all the hospitals, to see how many patients your opponents are getting. Networked games can be played by up to 2 players on Modem and Serial play, and up to 4 players via Dplay IPX and IPX/SPX.
I love this game, despite it being 14 years old now, it still is a fun game for me to play, the single player mode is entertaining, and as it gets challenging, it shouldn't leave you feeling bored for doing the same thing over and over again. The multiplayer mode adds so much replayability to the game, great if you have a few friends round.
Definitely worth the fiver that SoldOut copies sell for.
Well after playing Forza 3 on the Xbox 360 for a long time, i decided to borrow GT5 from a friend who owned it. One of my friends said it was an excellent game, the best racing simulator ever. The other said it was basically Forza but with poorer damage effects.
I'll split the review into different sections, each with ratings, you can just look at the ratings, or if you want an in-depth review, you can read the whole thing.
Now the graphics were meant to be a large part of GT5, with great praise on how good the cars looked, but honestly, they look worse than Forza's, the detail on the Standard cars is poor, better than GT4 like some have said, but not up to par for a PS3/360 game. The detailing on the Premium cars, however, is slightly better than Forza's. GT5 also features headlights, night racing, windscreen wipers, although i haven't found a use for windscreen wipers yet, if there are any rainy races, they are VERY few and far between. Detailing on the track, Forza wins the beauty contest, GT5 features more detail on objects such as trees, but the landscapes are bland, they could have done with adding more trackside objects. Considering GT5 is over a year newer and is on a more powerful console, it should have won the graphics side of things. As it is, it's basically on a par with Forza. Premium cars feature interiors on GT5, but standard cars do not, on Forza, all 500+ cars feature detailed interiors.
Now i really didn't like the driving on GT5, the responsive cars are far too responsive, you can swerve across the track at 90MPH in an FF car without the threat of losing control, even without TCS on. And a car such as a fully tuned Mercedes is impossible to avoid wheelspin with. GT5 features some nice extras such as headlights, windscreen wipers (which are fun to play around with) and a car horn, although this is only useful in online racing I imagine. I have not tried the online part of the game yet, as my PS3 has no internet at the moment. For offline multiplayer racing, Forza also wins, as it allows 2 players and 2 AI to race, whereas GT5 features no AI in offline multiplayer, and is a straight 1vs1 race, also it features less customizable options than Forza does in races.
This is an area where GT5 excels, although detailing on the cars is ultimately lower than Forza's, it does feature over 1,000 cars, whereas Forza only features around 520 at the moment, due to 100 extra being added as DLC. I'm sure GT5 will get some DLC soon. GT5 does feature a lower amount of tracks than Forza however, but still enough to keep the game from getting dry and boring. There are less game modes than Forza in the online side of things, as Forza has sections for Tag racing, Drag racing and others. GT5 features a course editor, which although IMO is quite bad, it does open up the option to create average tracks at will, although the bland landscape is even more noticeable in these tracks.
GT5 also has impressive sound, although both games have very nice engine sounds, GT5 sounds more realistic, when you fully tune a Honda Civic, and get it up to high revs, it sounds just like a boy-racer car. GT5 also has a much larger soundtrack, although most of them aren't to my taste, it does have almost 200 songs, Forza only has about 30 or so.
Not really an area most consider in a review, but i thought i might as well as it was something that struck me when i started the game. Forza has a very simple menu system, that its used since Forza 1, it works well, and is very clearly shown on the screen. GT5 however flummoxed me a little on the startup, the menu buttons are all very higgeldypiggeldy(?), although they are labelled, i felt it would have been better to have them in a list rather than in the way they were. I had less trouble with GT4 and that weird world map it had. It also has to load each time you enter a new section of the game, only a couple of seconds each time, but still. For example, on the startup career page, there is about 15 buttons to press.
Unfortunately i wasn't able to review Multiplayer as i have no internet connection at the moment. But I'll review the offline multiplayer instead.
Forza's split-screen mode allows 2 humans and up to 2 additional AI drivers to compete in a race. They can select any track they want, and any car from Player 1's garage, or any stock car from the manufacturer. They can select how many laps to race, what class car everyone should be driving, AI difficulty, and a few others, such as driving assists for both players. GT5 allows the users to drive on any track, even those made in the course maker, it supports 2 humans and no AI, they can select a limited number of cars from the manufacturers, as a large deal of the 1,000 cars in GT5 are actually used cars, i would say about 200-300 cars can be used in split-screen, Player's can also use a car from Player 1's garage if it has been added to the favourites list by the player. Options are fairly limited. Forza's online mode offers more variety, it supports up to 6 AI in an online race, 2 humans and AI filling the other slots, any combination of humans and AI can be used. Additional options are team racing, tag racing, drag racing, forcing all players to use stock cars, numbers of laps, AI difficulty, set power of all racer's cars, and a lot of other options. You cannot host a public custom race however, it works in a similar manner to CoD, where you select your game mode and it'll put you in a game with similarly skilled racers, only private races between friends have customizable options.
END OF REVIEW FOR NOW.
I usually don't trust games based on manufacturers of toys and the like. But as i like collecting Nintendo 64 games and this one was on cheap at Amazon UK, i decided to buy it regardless.
The games main focal point, is of course, racing. There are a few tracks to race on, some of them are what you would expect a Hot Wheels game to have, crossroads where lots of carnage can happen. Unfortunately the amount of cars in each race, which is 4 if i remember correctly, means that you rarely see your competitors, you're usually miles ahead of them, as the game isn't all that difficult either. Tracks are unlocked by simply progressing through the stages and winning races. There are 11 tracks in total.
Luckily as the game is based on the Hot Wheels series, there was plenty of vehicles for the developers to put into the game, and it shows. There are about 40 vehicles to drive in the game, these are unlocked by finding the 'new car' secrets on each track.
Power-ups are present on each track, there are 5 or 6 different power-ups, some are weapons, others just temporarily upgrade your car's abilities.
The driving on the game can feel a bit strange, but you'll get used to it after a while, all racing games feel different, this one just feels... more different. Stunts can be used by heading off ramps and using buttons on the controller. These will earn you Turbo's which give you a small boost of speed.
Damage is also present in the game, but it doesn't really affect gameplay too much, in my opinion it might as well not be in the game.
The multiplayer side of the game is very poor, it only supports up to 2 players, and there is no option for AI drivers. Which means it's always a 1vs1, you'll probably get bored after the 2nd or even the 1st race.
In the end i must say that unless your collecting N64 products, then you shouldn't buy this game, the singleplayer mode is acceptable and the multiplayer mode is poor. You'll pick it up for a couple of hours, finish the singleplayer mode, and never touch it again. The tracks and amount of vehicles are probably the only good points to this game, and some of the tracks are still poorly designed.
Well i originally bought a PSP back in 2006, at that time i only owned a few games for it, and never really got into the console, in 2008 i sold it and bought a DS instead. Then back in late 2010 i bought an old PSP-1003 system again for 50 quid.
The power of the system is great, far more powerful than a DS. Apple Ipod's are more powerful however, but they also cost a lot more.
32MB of RAM, in the Phat, 64MB in all other models.
222MHZ processor, can be safely overclocked to 333MHZ if you have Custom Firmware installed.
Screen resolution of 480x272 on a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. 4.3inch screen
Analog stick, the 4 face buttons, a D-pad, 2 shoulder buttons and multimedia buttons along the bottom.
WLAN capable of 802.11b networking.
Infrared port, although is only used by homebrew.
So its got decent power for the price you pay.
Because of this power, a lot of PSP's have the main purpose of running homebrew, that is programs that have been made by hobbyists, usually. Homebrew can be anything from games, to system emulators.
The PSP can successfully emulate consoles such as the SNES and GBA at full speed. The most powerful console to be emulated on the PSP is the N64, emulation isn't perfect, but a good deal of the more popular games are playable at around 50-80% speed. PS1 emulation is built into the PSP and runs at 100% on pretty much every title, although some games may struggle due to the fact that the PSP only has 2 shoulder buttons and 1 analog stick instead of 4 shoulder buttons and 2 analog sticks.
Pretty much every system below the N64 has been emulated on the PSP, Commodore Amiga, SNES, NES, PS1, GBA, GBC, GB, Commodore 64/128, Atari 2600/7800, various SEGA systems. There is even a SNES emulator with Ad-hoc capabilities so you can play wirelessly with another PSP in the vicinity, although the games do seem to go out of sync after a few minutes of playing, it is very smooth.
So if that isn't a good enough reason to buy a PSP-Phat, then you should check out the PSP titles on it.
Now the PSP hasn't been blessed with hundreds of innovative games like the DS has, but it still has a few that take advantage of the PSP's power.
To name a few:
GTA: Liberty City Stories, basically the predecessor to GTAIV, has a good sized map, i would say around 3/4 the size of GTAIV, there are no boats or swimming, but i believe you get helicopters. There is also GTA: VCS and GTA: CTW to check out as well.
Monster Hunter Freedom, never played this but i heard its good.
Burnout Legends, great Burnout game for the PSP, but the multiplayer leaves a bit to be desired.
Fired Up, basically you get a few vehicles, throw them all into an arena with weapons and let them battle it out. That's what the developers thought anyway. It's a good combination, and with game sharing (thats where one PSP sends a demo to other PSP's on a WLAN, known as Download Play on the DS) support, its a great multiplayer title.
MGS, never played MGS on the PSP either, but it's probably one worth checking out.
So theres a few decent PSP games out there as well.
Compared to the DS theres some pros and cons, probably some that will make you want to own both consoles, although after owning a DS for 2 years, it's sort of outlived its purpose. I'm a big user of homebrew and the PSP delivers it far better than the DS can manage.
Advantages for the DS:
- Touch screen
- Microphone, can be used in homebrew to make VOIP calls, and voice chat in certain DS games. Also used for a few games.
- Nintendo is a good game developer, and they have games like Mario, Pokemon and Zelda to bolster their games collection, the DS basically has better games than the PSP, despite the PSP having more capabilities.
Advantages for the PSP:
- Is much more powerful, therefore has more features, such as a music player, a video player, a photo viewer, a built-in internet browser and access to the Playstation Store.
- Again due to its power, homebrew is far better on the PSP, DS can't even perfect SNES emulation, whereas the PSP has millimeter perfect PS1 emulation.
- The screen is about twice the size of the DS screen's, and is displayed at a higher resolution. Is also widescreen. Backlight is also stronger.
- There was even a DS emulator in the works for the PSP which does run some games, but obviously is not perfect and struggles due to lack of a touchscreen and microphone.
So really the DS has better games, such as Mario Kart, Zelda, Pokemon, Advance Wars, Professor Layton, Brain Training and the like. But the PSP is multiple systems rolled into one, perfect if you like playing old retro games for the Amiga or GBC or SNES. It is also a pretty nifty multimedia system.
Worth the £50 i paid for it.
My PSP has a broken UMD drive, and i still get more use of it than a DS, because it can do so much without one. Especially with Custom Firmware installed.
I was slightly dubious of this game when i first saw it, i thought it'd be an arcade racer with poor physics and graphics. Regardless i eventually decided to pick it up when Amazon had it on sale for a tenner.
When i first booted the game up, i saw that the game did actually have good graphics, from seeing the Audi R8 shown at the main menu screen. I entered my first career race and enjoyed it immensely, driving a Ford Focus. The driving was arcadey, but not incredibly so, there was some realism there, i suppose it reminded me of the battle modes in Midnight Club. Braking was required for tighter corners, and drifting wasn't a walk in the park either, which was nice.
The main game mode is a conventional race, usually 3 laps or so around a circuit track. There will be power-ups lined up on the track and ready to be used. There isn't a massive amount of power-ups, only 8. But most of them have 2 methods of firing them.
Nitro, speeds your car up massively. If you fire it backwards (down on left analog stick) your car will stop for a couple of seconds allowing you to line it up, then the Nitro will fire. Known as an Airbrake.
Shunt, can be fired forwards or backwards, if fired forwards it will home on the nearest racer. Backwards its just a dumb missile.
Shield, only 1 method of firing, will put a shield bubble around your car for a short time, will sustain multiple hits from any weapon, except shock.
Shock, fires 3 shock spheres down in front of the driver in 1st. A shield can only sustain 1 hit from a shock.
Bolt, 3 bolts which you can fire at all at your enemy, dumb fire, can be fired forwards or backwards.
Mine, drops a mine on the road behind you, will spin out opponents, can be fired forwards a short distance to hit nearby drivers.
Barge, sends a shockwave out from your car which will push nearby opponents away from you and slow them down.
Repair, repairs your car back up to full health.
All cars feature damage models, such as bumpers hanging off and cracked windows. This also helps the game feel more realistic. Damage does not affect the cars performance in anyway, until you wreck.
The games singleplayer mode is challenging, I've completed the storyline on medium, but have not managed to get all the lights (awards given to the player for winning the race). The last few races were hard enough on medium, i have not tried them on hard yet. It should take you a few days at least to finish the games story, then you have to go back and finish all the races in 1st place, as well as finish all the fan runs and reach the fan target for each event.
Multiplayer is where the game shines however. The game supports up to 20 players over Xbox LIVE or over a System Link, as well as 4 player locally on a split-screen. In 2 player split-screen races, there will be 8 AI present making the total number of drivers 10. In 3 player there will be 5 present, making it 8 and in 4 player there will be 4 present, making the total 8. In a 2 player system link race, there will be 8 AI, in a 3 player there will be 12 AI, in a 4 player, there will be 16 AI. After that it will balance it out to 20 drivers. Guests are not supported in Xbox LIVE or System Link play. Team games available on System Link and Xbox LIVE modes.
I was highly impressed with this game for the £10 it cost me, it has good driving physics, a good number of tracks, fully licensed cars from several manufacturers, good power-ups, a lengthy singleplayer mode and great multiplayer options. Definitely one to buy if you like racing games and you see it cheap.
This is my favourite game in the Simcity series, 2000 was great but lacked graphical detail, and 4000 just didn't feel right, the map system was very wrong for Simcity.
3000 on the other hand is basically a spruced up 2000, with 3D looking graphics and some deeper gameplay elements.
Gameplay-wise it's very similar to 2000, you get the normal 3 zones, Residential, Commercial and Industrial. You also get additional zones like Airports, Seaports and others. Building Police Stations, Fire Stations, Hospitals, Schools and Parks is also required.
A new addition to the game are the advisor's, they will inform you of issues in your city, such as lack of fire/police coverage in certain areas, and whether funding needs to be increased in certain areas. You will also be offered deals by your neighbouring cities, of which there will be 4 of. If you have ample power then they will sometimes ask for a certain amount of power from you, for a set price per month. Unfortunately, if you refuse, they will repeat the offer every few months of in-game time, so it can get annoying to keep saying no. You will also be asked to build special buildings, there are usually downsides and upsides to building these. For example, usually near the start of the game, you will be asked to build a Maximum Security Prison, this will increase crime in your city, and should not be built near residential areas, however you will be paid a hefty $250 a month for keeping it running.
Disasters also make a return, with riots, fires, alien invasions and more to deal with. Most disasters can't be helped and must be left to unfold, but riots and fires can be quickly doused by having several police and fire stations nearby. I believe the flood disaster has been removed. There are around 7 disasters.
A landfill is now also required to store your cities rubbish.
Really this is the only city simulation i have played and enjoyed for a good deal of time. It's great building up a highway network throughout your city, and then zooming out and admiring your work. With the new and improved traffic, it looks much better than Simcity 2000. It may lack the little details that Simcity 4000 boasts, but it feels much nicer, and also seems to crash less on my PC.