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Iron Man is one of Marvels lesser known superheroes who has been brought into the limelight by the recent film. With the new film is the inevitable game than most big budget films get.
The story of the game this told through CGI movies which show you scenes from the film, unfortunately if you have not actually seen the film that you will not be able to piece together the story as it does not give you much detail of what is going on.
The gameplay is equally disappointing, to get anywhere with the game you will have to use a game pad as the default keyboard and mouse controls are so terrible. Luckily I have a wired 360 controller which is compatible. Sadly even once you have overcome the hurdle of the controls you will disappointed to learn that the best thing I can think to say about the game is that it is functional.
You control Iron Man, you fight basic soldiers, helicopters, turrets and so on and at the end of level you will face a boss battle. You have your basic repulser weapon which is very weak and for some reason you are better off walking up to enemies and punching them. It just does not feel very satisfying to defeat enemies in this game. You can walk up to some enemies and grapple them which initiates a mini game where you mash buttons to take them down in a little stylish action scene, but there is only a single unique one for each unit so after the first time you probably won't be bothered to do it again. The levels are also extremely linear, you will walk from one end to the other destroying everything in your path.
One thing that I did like was a nice feature that lets you divert power to the various subsystems in your suit, defence, weapons and speed which increases your abilities in each area and a down tap on the d pad will bring you back to default power on each sub system. Apart from that nothing really new has been implemented in this game. There are some other decent ideas in the game, you can upgrade your weapons and armour at the end of every level. You can also unlock new suits which will please the fans but it's hardly groundbreaking stuff.
For a PC game this game looks absolutely horrible, instead of using current generation Xbox360 and PlayStation 3 versions they have simply ported over the PlayStation 2 version. This is simply not acceptable as PC is the most powerful platform out there. The voice cast consists of the original movie actors so it sounds OK, and the I am Iron Man song that plays at the start of the game is very good.
If you have a current generation console you will be much better off getting Iron Man on that. PC version is very hard to recommend unless you only have a PlayStation 2, even then you will need a game pad to be able to play this game.
Microsoft has been heavily promoting its NXE or New Xbox Experience as something we should all get very excited about, now that it's here was it worth the wait?
The first thing you will notice when you have downloaded the NXE to your console, which will take around 5 minutes and requires you to have 128MB free space on either a memory unit or hard disk, you will be greeted with this all new and improved dashboard.
Its biggest new feature is made immediately obvious, Microsoft has taken a leaf from Nintendos book and allows you to create a little Mii, sorry avatar of yourself, there are a lot of things to customize here, height, weight, face and so on. You can even dress yourself up and they plan to have an avatar store available soon so you can pay to have new clothes and so on.
Now that you have an avatar you will find a few things to do with it, there are a few games that currently support it like Uno and Scene it but that list will probably grow. Your friends will now see your avatar on their friends list which is nice, you will see theirs too. You can also use the right stick to make your avatar look around and depending on what you do you can make him or her use different expressions.
The second main feature is obviously the whole new look to the Xbox interface, gone are the blades but you can use the guide button to pop them up if you must use them. The new look is very sleek and more modern looking, now it is easier to browse the content on offer. There is also alot more information available you can now see screenshots and a detailed overview of every game. You also see the box art of games instead of a list so it is much easier to find what you want. The only problem I've noticed is that the new friends list, while it looks good, is not very practical as it only fits three on screen at once.
There are also a couple of other additions like the ability to install your games to your hard drive, these take around 5-7GB of space so if you have an older 20GB model you may want to upgrade so you can have a few titles installed. Installing reduces the noise level of your console plus it makes games load faster, some games do have problems like in PGR4 the sound pops and Halo 3 will actually take longer to load but installing benefits 99% of games. You can now Party chat which means you can talk to up to 8 people at once, no matter what games you are all playing. If you are using a PC monitor you will now be able to display in the resolutions 1440x900 and 1650x1080 this means you will no longer get the annoying picture stretching.
Overall this is a really nice update to the Xbox 360, it's totally free and you must have it if you want to continue to use Xbox Live so download it today and enjoy the new features Microsoft have been cooking up.
I'd have let this game slip by me but noticing the Rockstar Games logo I was compelled to buy it, for those of you unfamiliar with Rockstar they are the absolute geniuses that brought us the Grand Theft Auto series. If you are looking for a game like GTA this couldn't be more different. In GTA you with full health and body armour and a shotgun you can easily take out 50 guys. In Manhunt with full health you are only an inch away from death.
You play the game as James Cash sentenced to death by the law, abandoned by all of humanity. You wake up later, very much alive. You hear some freaky voice ordering you to follow his instructions and the game begins, At first you notice it plays nothing like GTA although it is a 3rd person action game ( you see the whole player instead of just a weapon or fist which is 1st person ),in Manhunt stealth is everything you must use stealth to stay alive. Your only friends are the shadows, distracting your enemies is a must by tapping on the walls (very Metal Gear Solid) and lobbing bottles.
If you thought this was just a standard 3rd person action game you couldn't be more wrong. The game is gruesome, very sickly as you use a large arsenal to take out your enemies. In this game you can only carry 3 weapons one light weapon such as a plastic bag, light weapons can only be used once, a medium weapon maybe a meat cleaver and a heavy weapon possibly a sawn off shotgun. This forces you to think tactically and is great.
Basically in Manhunt the more sick the better as you are awarded points for the execution style, with weapons such as knives and bats you can hold down the attack buttons to great effect, you have the normal attacks but the finishing attacks are special ,the crosshair helpfully lets you know how strongly you're going to finish the guy off. Green being a light attack, but it does the job, a yellow crosshair indicates a fierce attack and red is an attack so brutal it's hard to describe. I don't like the fact that whenever you execute an enemy the game goes to a cut scene where you can watch the kill in all its bloody glory. Good the first few times but it does feel slightly gimmicky and it can get tiresome.
The sound is so spine tingling, with horror styled music creeping you out in total style with the music jumping in volume and speed when the enemies spot you. The best bit is the voices the voice acting is terrific, nothing is more chilling than hearing an enemy mutter about how he's going to kill you, there is a lot of crazy talk to keep you entertained.
The graphics are more GTA than Metal Gear Solid though, for such an adult game the graphics are a bit of a letdown, slightly grainy, the gang members look a bit cartoony with brightly coloured costumes and masks. James (Mr. Cash) looks a real dodgy fellow; with a shaved head (like Hitman) and a prison uniform definitely not someone to meet on a dark night. Blood, there is a lot of this in the game but it remains a bright red colour. The scenery is no disappointment, complete with dark dingy alleyways and trashed buildings setting the scene nicely.
The game is pretty tricky sometimes and it can become repetitive and very frustrating later on when you just can't get past a certain mission. The controls are simple and there are few attack combos to master which helps keep further complication to a minimum.
This game is best played on a dark stormy night with no one around so you can really enjoy the full creepiness of the game (it nearly gave me a heart attack!). A great effort but I do find GTA more appealing. If you like lots of blood and creeping around this is for you. If you like blood but prefer to be a gun slinging hero try GTA.
007 is back in the video-game 007: Everything or Nothing.
This game is the closest I've ever felt to actually being inside an actual James Bond 007 film. It is top quality action.
The 007 games up till now have been in the first person view point (you just see a gun or hand) now it is in 3rd person and it's all the better for it. It has a hand to hand combat system which is great for those stealth kills. The game provides immense enjoyment killing all those baddies and using all those gadgets made by Q (Q Spider, Cloak to name a few). You battle some classic Bond Villians too (I won't give them all away but I'll tease you with this, Jaws is in it!).
Everything or Nothing pulls you head first into the world of Bond and sucks you in and keeps you playing. The driving sections, featuring the Porsche Cayenne, Aston Martin V12 Vanquish and Triumph Daytona 600, are better than ever before using even more gadgetry and the driving engine being borrowed from Need For Speed Underground 2.
The graphics are fantastic you James looks just like Pierce Brosnan and the other NPCs all look just as good as James. The brand new third person, in your face action camera angle is fantastic and shows off the excellent character models excellently. The scenery is also top notch with detailed environments and realistic looking locales; the video game world of Bond has never looked so good.
The Sound is so good featuring Pierce Brosnan ( James Bond ), Heidi Klum (very sexy Dr. Nadanova), Willem Dafoe ( Nikoai Diavolo ), Shannon Elizabeth (Serena Germaine ), Richard Kiel ( Jaws ), M ( Judi Dench and Q ( John Cleese). The actors do a great job of voicing the characters really getting into the experience, there are even some nice commentaries from the actors on the disk commenting on their experience making the game, which are alot fun to watch. Getting the original voice cast in for the main actors is really great and enhances the game experience tenfold. The music as you would expect is well done and features the classic guitar Bond theme tune.
The game can be hard in places but never impossible. If ever it is you can lower the difficulty choose an easier setting ( MI6 Operative, Agent , 00 Agent ).
The multiplayer in the game provides hours of enjoyment and now you will be able to enjoy all the standard multiplayer modes, death match, team death match etc. Best of all is the co- op missions where you and a friend can take on some all new missions as MI6 Agents, fantastic fun.
Overall this is still the best Bond game, you have the authentic characters, the guns, the girls, the gadgets and the cars this is a must for all James Bond fans out there. This has got to be one of my favourite games ever. Now available at a bargain price you have no excuse not to try this one, have fun!
The Slimline PS2 is great it is basically the original big model in a 75% smaller body and yes it really is that small only a bit longer and wider than a DVD case. It looks like a smaller version of the original so if you liked that, you will like this too.
The new PS2 is every bit as good as the old one but it doesn't have a motorized disk tray which I don't like but Sony say it stops the disk read error which plagues the older model so it can't be a bad thing. I also don't really like the fact that you have to buy a vertical stand for it.
The PS2 is when loading games is noticeably slower than the Xbox and much slower than the Gamecube the PS2 technology is almost a year older however.
It Features The PS2 Emotion Engine which runs at 297 MHz which is significantly less than the Xbox ( 733mhz )but it still provides adequate graphics performance especially in first party titles like WRC4 the graphics are mind-blowing as good as any Xbox game.
The PlayStation two ( or PStwo )as it is now called is even easier to use than its bigger brother it features a built in I/R receiver for the DVD remote but they have done away with the ilink (firewire) port which had no function on the old console.
You can connect to the Internet with your new slim PS2 and enjoy the online features (if you have broadband) because your new machine has a built in network adaptor. Personally I recommend you purchase a USB headset for online gaming as well or communicating with others is impossible. The best thing about the online service is unlike Xbox Live, for using the Xbox online, the PS2 online service is totally free. However to use the online service you need a Network access disk and code to utilize the service fully, I sent off for mine by applying on the Sony website and it took around 6 months to receive it! You do get a free copy of Hardware: Online Arena as a welcome gift though.
With thousands of games to choose from your bound to find something to your taste be it the excellent free roaming GTA San Andreas or the masterful role-playing experience of Final Fantasy X there are many great games for you to choose from. I don't like the fact that you still have to purchase a memory card costing you another £15 but memory cards do store an awful lot of data so one should be enough for most gamers.
Also in the box you get a Sony DualShock 2 which is the best controller I've used, not as comfortable as the Gamecube's but you can always reach the buttons. For multiplayer I recommend you purchase an additional controller costing around £15 and if you want to have more than 2 players you will need a multitap which will set you back another £15 .
With a price tag of around £80 it is worth it especially if you missed out on the PS2 because you had one of the other consoles. If you have a 40GB PS3 you may also want to pick up one because unfortunately they removed the backwards compatibility. It's a great machine. 4/5
The name GoldenEye is a big name to live up to with GoldenEye years ago on the Nintendo 64 system set the standard for all future FPS ( First Person Shooters ).
The story of the game starts with you working alongside the the legendary Bond but MI6 throw you out for brutality and sadism ( ermm isn't that describing Bond ), You then are pulled into a new Bond world the world of the bad guy. You basically work for Goldfinger fighting Dr. No for him using your weapon skills and of course a Goldeneye.
The game is a first a ton of fun as you use your goldeneye to perform various special moves, you can use the MRI mode to see through walls, the shield mode which lasts for a short time but can help you by keeping you safe while you reload. Hack which short circuits equipment, this mode is let down by only being able to use this on certain things which makes it less fun to use. Lastly the Field mode which generates a magnetic field around you and pushes objects ( eg. crates and enemies ) though the effect is suprisingly weak.
You also have a vast arsenal of weapons to get your hands on including the carbine, shotgun, various pistols including EMP, railgun, poison dart gun and a load more. The innovative feature is you can weild many weapons one in each hand with each weapon fired independantly with the sholder buttons on the contoller which feels absolutely glorious. This is the only thing the game gets absolutely spot on, its really simple to pick up extra weapons and super satisfying to use them.
Some other nice gameplay features are when you kill an enemy with style you gain respect for your character making enemys pause before shooting you or if you have enough respect an enemy thats alone may duck behind a crate. You can also use an enemy as a human shield against the bullets which is funny but best of all you can push enemys off buildings and watch them fall while laughing wildly.
The game features 8 levels which last a long time, I found myself having to play some of them for over one and a half hours before I could complete it. Thankfully it does include save points along the way which are very necessary ! The levels are very well designed by Ken Adam who created the on-screen sets for many of the classic 007 Bond Movies.
The game is let down by poor graphics with everything looking a little 2Dish and the textures are poor, on some occasions you can see the enemy soldiers spawning ( I haven't seen that for a long while ) and to top it off scenery looks terrible which really reduces the enjoyment of the game as it pulls you out of the experience.
The gameplay is fun but there is no variation or even an attempt at variety in the gameplay, you may occasionaly find a sniper rifle but that is not the same as a full blown stealth sequence. The enemy AI is not all it should be, while the soldiers seem genuinely aggressive you can predict what they are going to do next, which is bad.
The sound is much more like it, bond theme tune and great sound effects from the weapons, good voice acting too featuring Christopher Lee and others.
The multiplayer is noting short of awful the game looks visually basic in the single player mode but when in multiplayer the game has developed a lag and the on-screen action is no longer smooth. The locations are from the game but also from the movies which is all well and good but the lag makes the multiplayer mode unforgivably bad. The game was supposed to be online but the feature seems to be MIA, atleast on the PS2 version.
This game had alot to live up to and on paper it did. In reality it could have been so much more if a little more thougt had been put into the gameplay and graphics, but as it stands now it is an average single player FPS and nothing more.
The game is quite old now so you should be able to find it for a few quid, so if Bond is your thing give it a go.
Being a fan of wrestling on the TV Being a gamer I thought I'd purchase a wrestling game to play when WWE isn't on. I'd played a WWE wrestling game before and wasn't very impressed thankfully this version is a good game and helps pass the hours maybe a bit to quickly!!
Having played the Smackdown series before I knew what to expect of it and I was actually very impressed, there are all the original modes and car park brawl in which you slam the opponent against cars though the damage models are poor (Def Jam: Fight For New York does this better) the game was surprisingly fun and playable featuring 40 WWE wrestlers to wrestle with and the option of fighting clean or dirty which changes your reputation depending on which style you use. There are some game play issues though when you play the Table matches your wrestler seems to slide around like on an ice rink!
Some nice features are included in this game for example when you try and pin a wrestler who is high on health he or she will throw you off with force instead of just managing to tip you off, the referee will signal for a long 2 count which is a great aid, you can kick your heels out and the ref will stop the count (this works both ways) and my favourite if you are the champ you can use your belt as a weapon! Now let's not forget you can also chat the ladies up backstage (fun but pointless). You can also create new Belts to wrestle for.
The grappling system is slightly tricky to get to grips with as before you can attempt your main grapple you have to you need to do a preliminary grapple even for a basic wrestling move like a slam. There is a new way of fighting and that is with the analog stick which you swing to shove or hit your enemy in frenzy. When you master all aspects of the game it plays like a dream with you calling the boss to keep the ref busy while you slam your opponent with a chair (or bottle or table or even food). You can also make your opponent give into you by submission which you can activate by continually attacking the same body part.
The sound is good with all the wrestlers being called in to do voice overs for the game, The in game commentary is slightly disappointing as it is often miss-timed which can sound slightly odd, no very odd when they start talking about a move you did 30 seconds ago. Another thing is there are very few unique commentary phrases for each wrestler only usually about 2 and one more for them if they perform a dirty move. The in game music is nice if not a bit repetitive sometimes.
The graphics seem well done and polished nicely with all the wrestlers looking like there TV selves. There are a few small glitches in the graphics though; the wrestlers hold on to invisible ropes and the grapples don't always connect. The crowd is a fantastic improvement with all the people waving their signs and hands about in 3D a very nice touch.
The AI is good and bad they act like they do on TV with some wrestlers genuinely hating others, but the wrestlers seem to miss you an awful lot earlier on in the game when you are familiarising yourself you may breathe a sigh of relief but later this can get annoying as you don't feel challenged when wrestlers don't follow through with an attack or flail at the air next to you.
The multiplayer mode is immense fun as you take on a mate head to head in many different modes; bear in mind there is no need to split the screen. Online is not as good as all you can do is a one on one match with the only other option being you can use the lady fighters this disappointed me slightly as it could have easily been so much more. This game will last you a long long time and provides limitless enjoyment.
This is a good addition to the Smackdown series which takes a while to fully master a must for all mature gamers and wrestling fans.
If it is a lighter fighting experience which is easier to pick up and play you are after try the arcadey Tekken 4.
I'd forgotten how fun Conflict Desert Storm really was, looking for a decent slice of action I picked the sequel. You can play as 2 sides now the British SAS or US Delta Force both still follow the same mission patterens which was a slight setback because at first I thought I had two games ! The game is more of last time still being a 3rd person squad based shooter with tactics and strategy also playing a vital part.
Back in the Iraqi desert you control a squad of four team-mates . Each of your team mates has a various skill. Your men are Bradley the all rounder good with all guns, Conners is in control of the heavy weaponary, Foley is skilled with the sniper rifle and Jones is skilled at close quarters and dead handy with the knife. All team members carry a main weapon like an AK-47 and various other helpful things such as grenades.
The controls are quite a handful but once mastered you'll be able to blow the enemy to oblivion. Your team members can perform all the usual, they'll follow you one at a time or all together. You can order them to fire, hold the position to or maybe you'd like to position them in a pretty pattern on the horizon. Of course you can switch player at any time depending on your mood which really makes the game something special.
The enemy AI is quite sharp proving tricky to take down and they'll call for backup if your proving to much for them, in addition to the ground forces there are also a large range of vehicles which try to destroy you tanks jeeps and helicopters to name a few. You'll have to use your head to get around, the all-guns-ablazing routine may work a couple of times but you'll find yourself running low on ammo so taking the enemy out with from afar with Foley and the sniper rifle is sometimes the better option. Your team is pretty smart following orders down to the last "hold position" though sometimes you'd wish that God had taught them the art of cowardice. They'll stand there while swarms of enemy tanks surround them. However once your RPG has taught the tanks a lesson you can revive your fallen comrades with a health pack.
The game will last you a good month as there are 14 new desert missions to attempt ranging from a roaring RPG mission taking out the tanks or a stealthy mission where you hug the shadows and pray you aren't sighted so theres somthing for everyone. The missions usually take a while to complete and there are only 3 game saves per mission so use them wisely soldier. If you find yourself unable to command your team jamming the button for hold position but they go running off try the Boot Camp tutorial missions which are great fun and the skills you learn aid your enormously in the heat of battle.
The graphics are solid providing a realistic experiance with lovely textured looking sand, beautiful explosions glorious enemy bases complete with buildings, towers the works. The insides of the buildings were sculpted with the same care and effort that went into the outside scenery. Your trusted aquaintences along with those Iraqi scum look a little sqaure sometimes but the experiance of the game is so good you'll rarely notice.
The multiplayer is brilliant with a fantastic co-op mode enabling you and a friend to attempt a mission together, this is where the gameplay really comes together as you head for the objective your friend can provide covering fire and heal you when you're hit. It really has to be experianced to be believed. It is just so good.
The sound is great too with authentic sounding machine guns and the like to suck you into the gameplay experiance furthermore, also some wonderfully orchestrated music providing the rest of a very satisfying sound track.
This game is a mix of an arcade shooter and Tom Clancys Ghost Recon, not being as hard as Ghost Recon and not as simple as an arcade shooter Conflict Desert Storm plonks itself down right in the middle providing an ideal target for all gamers. Great game !
Developer: Pivotal Games
Price: £19.99 now Platinum
Wow, Killzone the game all PS2 gamers want to get there hands on. The so called Halo ( Halo being the so called best game on Xbox ) beater for the PlayStation 2 console. It does live up to its name and just about the name that is Halo.
You start the game with ISA Special ( ISA is the ingame milatary group ) Forces Captain Jan Templar who is an an all rounder, a veteran marine soldier. Jan Templar is skilled in combat with the ISA M82 Assault Rifle and the ISA pistol. A few levels in and you can play as Shadow Marshall Luger, who is a stealthy character and is skilled with the knife, ISA Slienced Machine Gun and comes equipped with nightvision. Rico is next you find him battling a tank all on his own, Rico comes equipped with his huge chaingun ( watch out it can overheat ) and a pistol. Later you rescue Hakha an EX Helghast himself Hakha is an all rounder and is skilled using the Helghast Rifle the pistol and his knife, unlike Jan Templar he can get past enemy mines safely.
There are 5 main types of enemy to battle in the game, The Helghast light Soldier who have no armour but are speedy and are equipped with the Helghast Rifle. The Helghast Base Soldier the more common Soldier equipped with the light body armour, Helghast Rifle and Standard backup pistol you'll duel with these grunts often. The Helghast Elite Soldier is a tough cookie equipped with light machine gun, pistol and grenades. The Helghast Assault Soldier are extremely tough, heavy body armour covers them and an armoured helmet protects there heads from headshots also equipped with light machine gun, pistol and grenades. Lastly the Helghast Base Commander these toughies improve the moral of enemy troops while proving more than tough to take down.
The gameplay is fantastic with all the characters providing a unique path, for example playing as Luger there are fewer enemies and sometimes she can access areas that Rico and Templar can't by climbing up wires. Rico provides you with a Serious Sam experiance being the muscle of the group when you select Rico you usually have more men to deal with, Templar is usually the same as Rico but with not so many men. Hakha can bypass Helghast patrols and mines but provides an experiance similar to Templar.
There is some brilliant gameplay with the shield system from the Halo games being featured it is also tremendously helpful it also slowly regenerates, when you kill enemies you recieve more shield though Nothing is more satisfying than overcooking a grenade then tossing it into a roomful of Helghast and hearing the shreeks of agony from just outside the door. Pure bliss. The level design is excellent with many nice features thrown in, one of those features being the weapon turrets which are great fun and cut through the swarms Helghast like a knife through butter.
The sound of the many guns are fantastic, they all sound real and believable and for the extra special punchiness in the machine guns and the blam of the pistol the roar of the chaingun all the sounds of the weapons have been artificially increased for the extra ooomph. The voice-overs have been done exceptionally well with the main four soldiers voices fitting their characters very well. However my favourite voice was Scott Visari leader of the Helghast and definately scary voiced by Brian Cox who appeared in The Bourne Supremacy and The PS2 game Manhunt. You immediately become aware that there is little actual in game music you may think this is bad but it helps add to the creepy atmosphere and adds to the ultimate experiance of the game.
The graphics are impressive with realistic looking charactors and all the weapons blazing nicely in your hands which look real too. The textures of the surroundings are incredibley well done with the burnt out buildings and the Helghast enemy bases looking as terrifyingly real as if you were actually there in person. The game instead of borrowing a Medal Of Honour game engine, as it easily could of done, does not it features a Killzone game engine which brings the game and graphics to a whole new level.
The multiplayer is great with you and a friend playing in four different modes. Assault mode: the teams defend an objective from one another 1 point is scored for kills and five for keeping the objective at the end of the game. Defend and Destroy : the teams have key objects to defend from the other, each of the teams must defend their own objects while destroying the enemies. Supply Drop : In a scramble both teams must race around the map while picking up supplies points for holding the items for a few seconds and 5 more when it is brought back to base. Domination : Each team must capture key parts of the map to score points. And If that wasn't enough for you you can take the whole lot online and challenge the world !! To utilize the online service you will need a 500kb or higher broadband connection and a network adaptor or the oh so slim PStwo.
I dare you not to enjoy this game, pick it up and play it now! This game along with Halo will go down in the record books. Which of them is better ? Play it now and decide for yourself.
Killzone is readily available from most good video-game stores for £10 as it is quite old now. It is a PlayStation 2 exclusive so dont try and find it for any other consoles! For more information visit www.playstation.co.uk.
The Xbox 360 wired controller is a refined version of the original Xbox controller S. Taking design hints from the Gamecube controller it was smaller and more ergonomic than the original black brick that was the original design, making it more appealing to a Japanese audience, the pad was so well received they brought it over to the US and Europe.
The Xbox 360 wired controller is a stylish white with a grey band on the underside of the controller. The face buttons are green, red, yellow and blue matching that of the original Xbox design. There is a metallic Xbox button surrounded by a green glowing ring of light in the centre of the controller, which has four quadrants one of which lights up depending on your player number. The analogue sticks and D-pad are grey as is the cord. The pad will look fine just about anywhere with its discreet minimalistic looks.
On the top of the pad you have the two triggers RT: right trigger and LT: left trigger, the triggers are used most commonly in shooter games which they are well suited for simulating firing a weapon. The triggers are also great for driving games as you can use one trigger for accelerating and one for the brakes. Then you have the replacements for the black and white buttons on the original Xbox controller, the right and left bumpers RB and LB. They can be used for any number of things from casting a spell, to quick selecting a weapon. At the top left and bottom right of the controller you have the analogue sticks, this placement is very comfortable and makes playing shooters much more enjoyable.
The D-pad is located just below the left analogue stick and is great for quick selecting things in game. Above the D-pad you have the back, start and Xbox Guide button, the back button usually isn't used much in gameplay merely to, as its name suggests, go back in the menus. The start button is usually used to pause the game.
The Xbox Guide button is used to bring up the Xbox dashboard anytime so you can access your friends list, custom soundtracks, profile settings etc. Finally to the top right of the pad we have the four coloured face buttons A, B, X and Y these are your main action buttons which you will no doubt mash in your gaming sessions. The layout of the controller is very natural and as a result the pad fits very comfortably into your hands.
The 360 Wired Controller is very comfortable to hold, it has two grips on each side which your palm and 3 fingers hold. The triggers are operated with your index finger and the face buttons and analogue sticks are used by your thumbs. This pad is more comfortable than the wireless pad because there is no battery box on the back leaving your fingers with ample room to move around, on the wireless pad my fingers would cramp up. It is also lighter without being to light and making it feel cheap.
Features I like:
Being wired means that you don't need to put in batteries or remember to charge it up, this may sound like a small thing but when your wireless pad suddenly decides to pack up during a match of Halo 3 it can be extremely annoying. The rumble in the wired pad also seems to be much stronger than the one in the wireless controller, this doesn't really matter a great deal but it's nice to be able to "feel" crashes and such a bit more. The wired controller also comes with a cord protection system from the controller S which releases the pad if you pull it hard enough so your console doesn't come flying down. The 360 pad is also usable on your PC without any additional hardware, just plug it in, download the drivers off the Microsoft site and you can use it in many games, most Games For Windows support this controller straight away even changing the button names in the game so for example it will say "press A to continue" instead of "press enter".
The controller does look slightly worse than the wireless pad, the grey band on the bottom of the controller is a shiny silver on the wireless variation and the analogue sticks feel like they're made from a cheaper plastic. The quality of the buttons is good apart from the D-pad which is dreadful and unresponsive often failing to recognize diagonal presses. This issue remains on all variations of the 360 controller. The pad is also marketed in two ways which is confusing and unnecessary, firstly as the Xbox 360 Wired Controller and as the Common Controller. There is no difference apart from the packaging so I fail to understand why they did this. It is also wired so if your always getting your controllers tangled up and hate wires this obviously isn't going to be for you.
You should be able to pick up one of these controllers for around £20-25 at all good video game stores like Game and Gamestation and of course online retailers such as play.com and amazon. The wireless pad is available for slightly more at £30-35. Third party accessories are also available, often for less money but I don't recommend them as they are cheaper for a good reason!
To buy or not:
If your looking for a second controller for your 360 or need a good gamepad for your PC or both, this controller fits your needs perfectly. Its a great looking pad which is easy to use and has the most comfortable button layout of any controller I've ever used. If you have large hands you'll probably prefer this over the wireless one as there is more room for your fingers. I recommend this highly. 4/5
Mass Effect is the next generation role playing game from BioWare, the studio that brought you some of the best role playing games of the past generation, Knights Of The Old Republic, and Jade Empire.
At the start of the game you can customize your character however you'd like, you can completely change the look with a robust character creator. You can also choose what class of character you would like to be, you can pick from a soldier who specializes in guns to a tech specialist who can hack and so on. If you want to play with the default guy you see on the box you can just pick him and jump straight into the game.
The story of the game is pretty good, you start off during a routine mission just investigating a planet where something appears to have gone wrong. One of your Allies is betrayed by an agent called Saren who is in league with a giant Reaper and so you must find him and bring to justice. You soon discover an ancient relic that shows you more of the ancient mechanical race, the Reapers, you discover are intent on destroying the organic population, can you stop Saren and the Reapers? The fate of the galaxy is in your hands!
The gameplay is excellent for a role playing game, it has more in common with Gears Of War than the more traditional games of the past. It is a third person shooter, but you can take cover against objects and lean around them to fire on enemies. Depending on your character class you will also be able to use special skills, which can do fun things like throw your enemies, lift them up, disable their weapons and so on.
When you are not in combat you will be interacting with the games many characters, Mass Effect has an all-new dialogue engine. Instead of just seeing your characters line and selecting the one you want, you see a wheel which you can rotate to choose the direction you want the conversation to head in. This pops up before characters have finished speaking so the flow of conversation is much more natural, you can even interrupt characters mid sentence if you don't like the direction of the conversation!
Like previous games you can choose to be either a good guy or an evil guy. You pick these options in dialogue with good choices showing up in blue and bad in red so it is obvious what path you're going down. This gives the game added replay value as it changes quite a bit from good to evil.
The graphics are for the most part stunning, characters look great especially the exotic alien creatures you come across. The environments do suffer from some textures that pop in suddenly but you can overlook that quite easily. The sound is also good featuring a good soundtrack and excellent voice work.
The only downside to the game is that it can be completed very quickly for a role playing game, if you just cover the main story mode it will be over in around 12 hours, if you do the optional side quests you can get that up to around 20. Thankfully the game is rather replayable as there are many different classes to choose and with each play through you find new things to do.
If you are in need of a good role playing experience Mass Effect will give you just that, I recommend this one highly.
Soul Calibur 4 is the highly anticipated next generation iteration of Namco Bandais popular fighting series, can it live up to the very highest standards set by the previous games? (short answer: No)
The big addition to this game is the Star Wars characters, in the Xbox 360 versions you can play Yoda and in the PlayStation 3 version of the game you can play as Darth Vader. You can also play as The Apprentice from the videogame The Force Unleashed.
The main mode in this game is the story mode, each character is given their own unique story to play through, however the way this is done is very poor. The bulk of the story is given to you in the form of a big wall of text, and a generic ending movie sequence. On top of that each story can be completed in roughly 20 minutes. This is a real disappointment as the other games had much better presented and more interesting stories.
This game is an arcade port so it is not surprising that they included arcade mode, in this mode you can pick your favourite character and just find your way through increasingly difficult battles. Unfortunately the difficulty goes through the roof after the first few fights, which happen to be ridiculously easy which makes this mode pretty frustrating.
If you do not know of any of the characters in the game, you can use the robust character creation mode to make a custom fighter, you can't completely create a unique character as you must use one of the fighting styles that the regular characters use. You can customize exactly how your character looks, equip them with different clothes, items, weapons and so on. This is quite enjoyable and is one of the high points of this game. You can also customize the existing characters with items you have unlocked which will increase their stats.
The Tower of Souls mode is the last game mode, here you can pick a team of characters and fight your way up the tower of souls, there is no actual tower you just pick floors and fight regular battles to ascend. In this mode you will be rewarded with new items for your custom characters. It is quite fun but is really nothing new, you might as well be playing any of the other modes.
The gameplay is very good, the fighting is based on button combinations, and each character has many unique moves for you to learn, this gives the game a lot of depth as there are so many fighters to master as well as your own created characters. There are new additions to all characters movesets as well as the critical finish move which lets you defeat your enemy in a single move, these are very stylish but are very hard to pull off.
The graphics are really astonishing, the character models are very detailed and they animate very well, the stages you fight on are also very highly detailed. There is nothing to complain about here, the graphics stand up to very close scrutiny. The sound design is also very good, with some great tunes throughout, and as it includes Star Wars characters it also includes a couple of the famous John Williams pieces.
It is a shame the gameplay modes are so dull as the game mechanics are very solid and the graphics are extremely good. If you just want a good fighting game with very traditional modes of gameplay this won't let you down but I get the feeling it could have been so much better.
nCleaner is a PC optimization program much like CCleaner, this tool is really great and can help you perform tasks that will keep your PC speedy.
The software is quite nicely designed, to the top it has a sleek black bar on which it says the title of the software nCleaner second generation, it is black to fit in with Microsofts new Operating System Windows Vista. Below that you have all your options, when you mouse over each option it will expand so you know what you have selected.
The menus in the cleaner are really well organised and each section has a really helpful link back to the start page, you'd be surprised how difficult it can be to get back to the start screen on some other cleaners! Overall it is a smart piece of software that will fit in with the modern operating systems of today.
The first option of the program is the clean system function, here you can clean the junk files that are created when you use your computer and its software, it will also clean possible unnecessary files, like Windows help files and fonts so if you don't know what it will clean just select the basic options. The second section will clean your registry and repair damaged registry keys, it also has a handy backup registry option so if anything goes wrong you will be able to restore your old configuration.
The second segment is the clean junk files, here you have a list of file types that may be junk on your PC. You check the types of files you want to delete and you can perform either a quick scan or a full scan. The quick scan will only browse certain folders whereas a full scan will scan your whole PC. You can also add junk files to the list if you want. This section is really for power users as there are certain important file types you may delete by accident.
The next section is the great Tweak section, here you can tweak your PC for maximum performance without fiddling around in complicated system files. It will do things like disable Windows defender, increase disk performance, reduce the menu show delay at the tick of a box. It also has presets to choose from, maximum performance, Windows default and suggested. You can also protect your personal information by restricting access to certain files and disabling sending data to Microsoft.
The last section is the Startup man section, here you can configure the programs that start with your PC. There are two sections, one for programs and one for system. The system programs you shouldn't fiddle with unless you are absolutely sure what you are doing. The programs section is easy to use and you simply uncheck the boxes of the programs you don't want to start when your PC boots.
This piece of software is great, it has more options than CCleaner while retaining the great price tag of CCleaner. nCleaner will cost you absolutely nothing! If you don't know what some of the options do I would recommend you stick with CCleaner but for more advanced PC users head to http://www.nkprods.com/ncleaner/ to download your free copy today. 4/5
Men in Black stars Tommy Lee Jones (Agent Kay) and Will Smith (Agent Jay). Situated in America NYPD cop (Will) chases down an alien, and then he is recruited by Kay. The film is about a secret organisation that keeps the aliens on the planet under control, BUT an evil alien impersonating Edgar lands on the planet and is not going to go down without a fight. Can Kay and Jay stop him watch the fantastic film to find out.
The actors play there parts well and if you too were nueralised you'd think the characters were actually real. I really like Will Smith as the cop he is very funny especially taking the test to become one of the elite Men In Black. The film unravels smoothly and there are many laugh out loud funny moments (Jay gets a tiny gun called the noisy cricket which turns out to be really powerful to his suprise!). This film seems aimed at the younger generation though older viewers will not be disappointed making this a great fun film for all the family to sit down and watch together.
It is available now on DVD with tremendous special features like original storyboards, music videos, commentary from the director and actors and cinematic trailers; they really make you feel like the director as you have so much top class behind the scenes information. The animated menus are really great each selection takes you around the MIB headquarters. The sound is digitally remastered so you can experience Dolby Digital surround in your living room (if you buy speakers).
You don't need to like the actors at the start to buy this film because by the end you will love them! There are many cool gadgets like the nueraliser which erases peoples memory (how cool is that). I strongly recommend this film to people of all ages. Though this movie is now aging it won't let you down. Also watch out for the next movie Men in Black II now also available. You can purchase this great DVD for only £3.97 from amazon, a bargain. Happy Watching!
Tommy Lee Jones ... Agent K (Kay)
Will Smith ... James Edwards / Agent J (Jay) / "Slick"
Linda Fiorentino ... Dr. Laurel Weaver / Agent L (Elle)
Vincent D'Onofrio ... Edgar
Rip Torn ... Chief Zed
Tony Shalhoub ... Jack Jeebs
F Zero X is a futuristic racing game for the Nintendo 64 games console.
F Zero X
Upon loading up F Zero X you will be greeted by a rocking guitar riff which sets the tone nicely for the game, it rocks! There is an excellent selection of great modes for you to choose from, GP Race, Time Attack, Death Race, VS battle and of course practice mode.
In GP or Grand Prix mode you will compete in a series of races, first of all you must select your difficulty from novice, standard or expert. I warn you now this game is pretty hard so don't feel ashamed if you pick the novice option! You will then pick from a selection of 3 cups Jacks, Queen or King. Jack is the easiest and King is the hardest. Then choose your driver, at first only a handful of drivers will be available to you but as you progress more will become unlocked. Each vehicle has ratings from A-E for Body, Boost and Grip, more on those aspects later. Once you have settled on a certain driver you will be whisked into your race!
Before your race starts you get an interesting tuning option, here you can choose performance bias to faster acceleration or maximum speed. It's usually best to leave this somewhere in the middle as both are equally important! Now finally you can get down to business, for some reason you always start at the back of the field and on the harder difficulties making up position can be very tricky! The races and tracks are fantastically fun, the tracks are amazing and have lots of massive jumps and loops and tunnels which you can drive upside down in which will make you feel dizzy. You also have pads on the track which you can use to give you speed boosts. Beware though it is very easy to fall off the tracks and that will force you to retire from the race!
Your racing style will depend heavily on what ratings your vehicle has, if you have a good body rating you will not lose as much energy when you hit the walls or opponents, if you have a good boost rating you will gain much more speed with your boost and if you have a good grip rating you will be able to take the corners easily. Energy is another critical component, you have an energy meter which starts full but when you collide with another vehicle or wall you will lose some, you can also use some energy to give your vehicle a speed boost. Once your energy is depleted one touch of the barriers will have your vehicle explode so you will have to use boost in a tactical way, just enough so that you won't blow up but enough so that you keep the lead.
Time attack mode is your standard, race around any track you like and try and set the fastest time, not great fun and probably the most yawn inducing mode that the game has to offer. Death race is a really interesting concept, here you must drive around and keep from dying, as soon as you lose your energy or fall off the road you lose. You must keep going and outlast all the other drivers! It's quite fun but as you have a full field of 30 vehicles a Death Race can last a while! VS battle is a splitscreen mode which can be enjoyed by upto four players, this is great fun but unfortunately you cannot race with a full field, just 2-4 players and if you don't have the full four players the remaining vehicles will be driven by the computer. Practice mode is where you can train driving around every track in the game, this is vital if you want to master some of the more difficult tracks and win the Kings cup!
Graphics & Sound
Graphically for a Nintendo 64 game this is stunning, one of the best looking games on the system. The car models are great and detailed, by N64 standards obviously. The fact that they were able to render 30 cars simultaneously is fantastic. The sense of speed is amazing as the scenery warps by you at 1000 kmph. The menus all have a really nice comic book hand drawn art style which really gives the game a great overall look. The soundtrack is also excellent, fantastic tunes each different depending on the stage you are racing on. Some standout tracks include the Mute City race and Big Blue race.
Price & Conclusion
If you were to purchase F Zero X back in the day it would have set you back from £30-50! Now head to eBay or amazon.co.uk and you can pick up this gem of a game for as little as £5. The soundtrack was available but it is very rare and can cost you upwards of £300, so the game is definitely worth the price for its music alone. You may find it in GameStation stores as they stock some older games. Overall if you are an N64 fan and want a great fast paced racing game you should definitely pick this one up. 4/5