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The second full Zelda title on the DS after Phantom Hourglass sees you return as Link in a new quest. The game keeps the cel-shaded look from Wind Waker that worked perfectly on the DS in the previous game. For anyone who has played Phantom Hourglass this game will be instantly familiar as Nintendo adopts an if it isn't broke don't fix it philosophy with this game. Instead of a boat, a train is now Links form of transport and you must explore dungeons to restore the tracks allowing you to progress eventually rescuing the princess' body. Gameplay is simple and uses mainly the touch screen for all functions. You need no familiarity with the DS's buttons to control this game making it perfect for new gamers and the more experienced. The game is a great addition to the Zelda series and serves as a refined version of Phantom Hourglass. This is a must have game for the DS and whets the appetite for the next full Zelda title to be released on Wii. It is one of the longer DS experiences you will find and the puzzles, side quests and exploration will keep you busy for some time.
Grand Slam Tennis on the Wii gives gamers a chance to take the step up from Wii Sports Tennis and experience a more realistic game. The game utilises cartoon style graphics and the characters look somewhat like their real life counterparts. This style works well with the Wii and means the game keeps its fun feel. Gameplaywise the game is a big step up from the simple waggle of the wii as the Motion Plus accessory means that you movements are more accurately displayed on screen. This works reasonably well though is not without its troubles as the game does not give you true 1:1 control and the on screen animation will sometimes get confused as to your position. This aside the controls pick up well what sort of shot you are trying to play however disappointingly still relies on button presses for lobs. Overall this game is worth buying for any fans of the tennis game on Wii Sports and can be played using the simple scheme from that game if you can not master the Motion Plus controls. The 4 major grand slams can be played in career mode as you take your player to the top. A fun multiplayer game to take tennis on Wii to the next level.
The side scrolling mario platformer comes to the Wii for the first time after the huge success it enjoyed on the DS a couple of years ago. Would the old favourite manage to charm on the big screen as much as it did on the little screen. The answer is yes and no really. Although obviously the game is fun and not much has changed from the chase peach around attempting to rescue her from 8 worlds concept. However, the game seems to show little to no improvemnets on the wii and nintendo appears to si ply have thrown the DS version onto a bigger disc and sold it at a higher price. Levels have changed and graphically the game looks and runs smoothly but there is nothing new to get excited about in this game. Even the four playable characters show little imgaination with two generic toad characters making up the numbers. I also found the gameplay in this to not be as tight as you would expect from a mario game. The character is very small on a large tv and thus is often a challenge to maintain control. This is very disappointing as frustration at dying through no fault of your own is very good at sucking the fun out of playing a game. Nonetheless this is a must buy for the wii simply because it brings one of the best titles ever to the console. Nintendo however should have delivered a much better product or made a sequel to the DS game where the platformer worked so much better.
No More Heroes sees you take the role of Travis Touchdown in his quest to rise to the top of list of the best assassins in the world. The game plays in an open world environment where there are mini games dotted around and your ultimate objective is to raise the money to enter the next fight and take on the assassin above you in the list. The gamplay is fun as you slice and wrestle waves of enemies to the ground however the pre boss sections can get repetitive as you face clones of the same enemies for a while before you can take on the next assassin. The main boss fights however are all different enough and each requires a different tactic in order to take them down. Graphically the game is nothing specila even on the wii but the sharp colours mean that it will still catch your eye with its arcade game style. This is a great game for the older wii owner and should definately be picked up as one of the more mature experiences available on the console.
Lord of the Rings games have been some of the better movie tie in game sof the past and this one looked set to be a great experience for fans of the films to live out the action at home. Unfortunately the game fails to deliver any immersive experience and you are left button bashing to fight off enemies to complete objectives that often involve little more than defending territory. The gameplay is set up like Star Wars Battlefront where you become a certain class such as archer, swordsman, mage etc and each class has strengths and weaknesses. Perform well and a hero character will unlock for you to play with for a while. This sounded promising but it is not well implemented and the multiplayer online function is not enjoyable either with the class system. A lord of the rings fan should probably rent this just to play through the very short stroy mode at least once although you will find nothing particularly exciting. This is a very disappointing effort from Pandemic studios and I hope the next studio to take over the LOTR licence will deliver the game the films deserve.
The obligatory world cup FIFA game comes round again to offer fans the chance to play out the world cup in their own house. This is often criticised as a cash in from EA Sports as they only offer slightly improved gameplay with a new skin. This years gameplay feels like a step up from Fifa 10 as the games feel more lifelike and goals seem to bring more satisfaction than in the yearly iteration. This is mainly down to the brilliant work EA has done with the atmosphere of this game. From the fans to the stadiums and the noises you'll hear, they all serve to pull you into the action and give you the closest thing to the world cup a game has ever offered. Whether you can spend 35 pounds on another Fifa game is up to you, but this is the perefct compliment to the actual World Cup and will probably be the only way you'll see England lifting the trophy this summer.
The first downloadable episode for Grand Theft Auto 4 sees you take control of Johnny Klebitz and the Lost biker gang. The episode is ultimately a game in itself simply being set in the same Liberty City as before and at around 8-12 hours long does not match up to the original games length but is comparable to several full price games in length and quality. The gameplay is very much the same as GTA4 and the only real improvement is the bikes. You can now ride them much easier without falling off and this is a great relief as you will spend most of your time in this game on top of one. The same cover mechanics return for the shooting segments of the game. Mission stucture is again the same as the original as you travel around town meeting people who give you jobs to carry out. You will also cross the path of Niko and his friends/enemies as you progress through the game. Graphically the game employs a grainy effect in order to show the grittiness of the organisation you are working with. This can be turned off to experience the original graphics of GTA4 but it works well with the themes of this episode. Overall this add-on is well worth the money and is probably one of the most complete pieces of downloadable content that you can find for a game. Anyone who enjoyed Liberty City and wants to get back into the action should definately pick this up.
Rock Band is Harmonix's attempt to take on the successful Guitar Hero franchise and initially expanded the guitar only idea to include drums and microphones creating a whole experience. Rock Band feels very similar to Guitar Hero for obvious reasons but improves on many aspects of that franchises gameplay elements. The premise remains the same as you must hit notes as they scroll down the screen by holding down a button on the neck of the guitar and then strumming as the note reaches the bottom. This is easy enough to pick up but you will needa lot of practise before you can start moving up to the expert difficulties. Drums work in much the same way as you hit the pads as the notes hit the bottom, the drums are the most enjoyable instrument to play in solo mode and can be equally hard as the game progresses. There is also a kick drum peddle which adds a need for co-ordination on the drums. Singing is not handled as well as in the Singstar series but is anotehr great way to enjoy this game especially accompanied with friends on the other instruments. The difficulty levels on the singing mean that those not accustomed to singing are still able to enjoy this discipline. The graphics are simple enough but do a good job of providing you with the atmosphere of performing at a concert. The crowd will show their displeasure should you begin to miss notes and oppositely will cheer and sing along when you play well. There is a good variety of songs on the soundtrcak from indie rock to classic tracks. With a career mode and a wealthy of downloadable content available on the Playstation Store there is plenty to keep you busy in this game.
The Hold Steady's fifth studio album, Heaven Is Whenever, looks to continue the bands ascent into the mainstream of the rock scene. After the enjoyable but somewhat disappointing previous effort, Stay Positive, this album marks a return to true form for the band delivering guitar hooks and lyrics that typify the bands approach to music. The first 3 tracks on the album start things of on a melancholic note and the combination works superbly in introducing the new album. The Smidge and Rock Problems then begin to ramp up the energy with heavier guitars entering the frame. This is before the albums centerpiece, and highlight, We Can Get Together, brings things back down to the slow and emotional with one of their best love songs yet. Lead off single Hurricane J continues the lively sound the Hold Steady are known for. The final three tracks are not as immediately enjoyable as the rest of the album but grow on you with more plays, ending the album concisely with the 7 minute A Slight Discomfort. Overall this is another great album by one of the best bands around at the moment. They continue their rock and roll sound and show that despite their age they are still able to compete with the young guns.
Games that come about from movies and tv shows generally turn out to be a disappointment to fans and I went into this game expecting much the same. I'll start of by saying that if you are not a Lost fan then this game is definately not for you. The game only really serves as giving fans something new based around the happenings of season 1. The gameplay revolves around you running around the island completing various tasks as you try to recover your memories after the crash. The game is presented in episodes with a 'previously on' segment preceding each. The story is interesting enough but ultimately does little to further any understanding of what is going on on the island. Graphics and voice work are fairly poor also but meeting the passengers of 815 is still fun. The game is presented nicely, but this is definately a fans only game and even then I would recommend only renting or finding it for a fiver as it is not a long game or an experience which you'll look to replay later.
Devil May Cry 4 puts you in control of a new character Nero although you will still encounter Dante during the story, being able to play as him in the later stages. The game continues the traditional Devil May Cry story of demons that you must destroy with sword and gun attacks. The fight system works basically the same as in previous games as you combine gun and sword play to string together combos and attempt to reach the SSS rank during fights. Devil trigger returns when you play as Dante but not when you are in control of Nero. The game looks good and has the usual heavy metal soundtrack you'd expect from a Devil May Cry game. Boss fights are big in scale although the game is far easier than Devil May Cry 3 was. This is easily resolved by choosing the higher difficulty level, but if you had a tough time with the third game this is alot easier. There are a few puzzles along the way but nothing really challenging, they simply serve as a way to break up the action. A worthy addition to the Devil May Cry timeline and with ranks to earn and upgrades to buy there is plenty of replay value here. Great for old and new fans.
I watch quite alot of TV and when I first started to hear the buzz about this new HBO series called The Wire I couldn't wait to find out what the fuss was about. As the first season was just starting on FX at the time I set the Sky+ up and was ready to go. The show blew me away with its realism and gritty storytelling. This first season introduces you to the cast that will be seen throughout the 5 seasons. The basic premise is of cops and crooks but thst tells little of what this show is really about. You see the story from both the side of the law, using wiretaps to try and catch their targets, and the drug dealing crews of Baltimore doing their best to change their tactics and continue to thwart the polices effort. We see stellar performances from near every member of the cast from the cocky cop McNulty to the sleek, stylish ringleader Stringer Bell. The characters' progression through the story will have you feeling as much for both sides of the equation. The shotgun toting Omar is also added to the mix as he raids the drug rings for his own gain. The city of Baltimore is itself a character too in the series lending itslef perfectly with a great variety of built up areas and over populated 'slum like' areas. The interactions between characters feel as if they were real with both tense action sequences and emotional moments being handled equally well. The language and violence of the show may be offputtting for some but this is what the creators were aiming for in creating a true represntation of whta life is like on the 'corner' for many in cities such as Baltimores poorer areas. It may be worth watching with subtitles if you feel you are unable to decipher the Baltimore slang used by the characters. The show is often compared somewhat to a book in that each episode is like a chapter in the story and an episode should never be skipped, I would have to agree with this analysis of what has been one of the most engrossing series I've ever watched on par only with another HBO gem The Sopranos. I have really enjoyed my time with this series and I urge you to at least give The Wire a chance. I guarantee once you have watched the first few episodes you will be itching to put the next one on. The DVD has some commentary tracks as extras but with a show this good you may aswell just watch it all over again.
The first PS3 outing for Insomniac games Ratchet and Clank is a game that adults and kids can enjoy equally. A fun mix of cartoon graphics and innovative guns give this game a unique feel that you are playing in a toybox world with the lovable Lombax Ratchet. Ratchet is accompanied by his robot friend Clank who also has some interesting portions during the game. The games graphics feature a cartoon style that would not look out of place in a Disney Pixar movie. The character design is brilliant and really draws you into Ratchets toybox universe. There is also a large variety of enemies that you will encounter with many larger than life bosses. While all this will keep the kids interested it is the large variety of physics challenging guns that make this game fun for adults too. From a simple grenade launcher to a gun that shoots a disco ball which disables your enemies whilst they dance. The game is played from a 3rd person perspective and you control Ratchet for the majority of the game. His sections are simply made up of blasting your way through obstacles and enemies collecting bolts, used for power ups and new weapons. The more puzzle based sections of this game occur whilst in control of Clank. He is far less agile than Ratchet and relies on the mysterious Zoni to get around. The game is fun to play from start to finish with Clanks section nicely breaking up the all action Ratchet sequences. An early gem for the PS3, this can now easily be picked up on the cheap. A single player experience that will give you 10-15 hours, this is one to pick up if you've yet to experience Ratchet and Clank's adventures on the PS3.
With the Godfather films set as the reference point for any new mob/mafia film it is very difficult to match up to Francis Ford Coppola's masterpieces in any way shape or form. The fact that Goodfella's is one of the few to be considered in the same league says pretty much all you need to know about this film. Martin Scorsese directs this film about a young boy who rises through the ranks of the mafia before a run in with the cops has him decide whether his friends or his freedom mean more. The movie is based on the true story of Henry Hill, who is portrayed excellently by Ray Liotta. Liotta narrates the film as he stars which gives a real insight into the characters mind as events unfold. He is supported brilliantly by Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci whose characters are both volatile but likeable. The way the film is presented is great and part of why Scorsese is so renowned in his field, fast cuts keep the action flowing and he makes sure you will not get bored at any point during this film. The mainly classic rock music is also a great fit and will have you delving into your record collection to listen once the film is done. As a fan of mob movies is the best you can get if the first two Godfather films are unavailable; it is a fun, high energy, slick mafia tale that will surely take its place amongst your favourites.
Every year EA delivers a new Fifa game with updated rosters and usually minute gameplay changes. There is always the question over whether the update is worth purchasing year after year. This years iteration boasts dribbling improvements and improved physics, but does it deliver a fresh experience. Gameplay is the same old Fifa, nothing wrong with that and they have certainly tightened up a few things with very few annoying glitches that have been a problem in recent titles. That said i have encountered a few such as a defender not responding as the keeper passes to him, this situation can usually be saved just about but it is annoying nonetheless. 360 degree dribbling was perhaps the most anticipated feature in this years Fifa allowing the player to dribble in any direction using the analogue stick. This works reasonably well and makes bearing down on goal slightly easier as you are no longer confined to a certain number of paths. Game modes here are again the usual. You can jump straight into a match with Play Now and choose from a large variety of leagues worldwide. Be a Pro mode allows you to control just one player during a match and both of these options can be experienced online, which is a pleasant experience only suffering from occasional lag. Manager Mode lets you take control of teams for a 15 year career and is the best way to enjoy Fifa long term. The mode is not perfect though as transfers, fatigue and game scheduling are handled fairly badly. Anyone looking for a managerial experience should stick to Football Manager. The presentation of this game looks much like Fifa09 which is somewhat disappointing as the in game commentary is also a rehash of last year. Although the menus songs are good enough, I feel it is a disappointment that mroe effort was not put into the commentary. This is the best football experience available on a console and football fans should definately purchase this as it has jumped ahead of Pro Evo on the football sim front.