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iamlayton
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Member since: 26.05.2010

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    • Empire: Total War (PC) / PC Game / 15 Readings / 14 Ratings
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      15.06.2010 12:22
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      My Favourite game

      Well I best start by mentioning the Game requirements, so I do not build up your desire for the game and allow you to be let down by your computer not being up to speed with the vast amount of storage space and graphics needed.
      -2.4 GHz Processor
      -256 MB Video Card
      -2 GB of RAM for Vista, or 1 GB of RAM for XP
      -15 GB Hard Drive Space. Comparing this to its predecessor, 'Rome: Total War' which required a mere 2.9 GB, 'Age of Empires III' that required 2.0 GB and 'Battlefield 2' where only 2.3 GB Hard Drive space is required. All of which are considered excellent games, with hours of gaming time available. Putting this into consideration, 'Empire: Total War,' which requires 7 times as much Hard Drive Space, should keep gamers happy with hours of epic campaign modes and stunning battles.
      The requirements are so unforgiving that a friendly message is left when purchasing the box, 'check that you meet all the requirements before opening, because you can't return it once it's opened.'

      So now we've established whether your computer is good enough to take on a game of such epic proportions, let's categorise this game as a turn-based and real-time tactics computer game, making it similar to well known games such as Sid Meier's 'Civilizations,' 'World in Conflict' and 'Cossacks 2.' Those who played 'Risk!' as a child will flourish in the campaign map and those who watched the somewhat popular BBC 2 show 'Time Commanders' can grasp the idea. The menu screen and instructions are easy to grasp, and listening to the tutorials that lead you throughout the campaign can easily combat any complications and battles, so I see no need in dwelling upon the game play too much. It offers enough technology and functions to entertain and offer the Total War experts plenty to rummage through, but still remains levels of simplicity and help so the game does not daunt the new gamers.

      The 18th century forms the background of the campaign mode. You can take control of 1 of 12 major factions, including Prussia, Britain, France, Austria, Ottomans and Poland-Lithuania. But Empire: Total War also introduces the concept of minor nations, such as Morocco, Portugal, Cherokee Nations and Savoy. These new major and minor nations allows you to trade with, ally or become protectorate over, and now with the welcome addition of the diplomacy bar makes it much easier and faster. The other main change between the this game and its prequels is the expansion of the map, to cover a world theatre, with the introduction of India, the Americas and various trade routes in Brazil, Madagascar and the East Indies amongst others. However although I think everyone is happy with the new introductions, I found it all to easy to conquer major nations such as France, as their European territories have been reduced to all but 1 major one. So if you take that city you hold their capital, and they therefore tend to crumble. Finally, with the improvement of technology, Creative Assembly was able to introduce Naval Battles. Personally I do not use the Naval Battles, I only spend time fighting these battles when the numbers are vast and when the normal graphics have already pushed my pc to the limits, a naval battle of any decent proportions runs at mind numbingly boring speeds.

      Creative Assembly then introduced a whole separate campaign, called 'the Road to Independence,' undoubtedly to appeal to the American audience. Granted the Americans did gain their independence during the 18th century there and it was an important war, I feel for a whole campaign to be based around it and many other events, such as the Seven Years War, Great Northern War and the War of the Spanish Succession, despite consisting of much greater numbers and in some cases lasted a lot longer just went unmentioned.

      The music is rather repetitive, and the sound affects nothing amazing. Although they are fitting to the game, which some may argue is more important; I didn't find myself with the sound on for long at all. But the Games Physics that I have experienced are very similar to the ones featured on the trailers, which came as quite a surprise after I reduced the games graphics by so much. However the graphics, as expected did suffer a lot. The units from a distance appear as mere marks that resemble units from a distance. It is only until you zoom in on the units do you see the detail of them, but I suppose this may be different to those who have much better computers, or those who choose quality over the speed of the battles. I also, as many others I know have done, experienced problems with the new installer that the Empire: Total War uses. Steam, brings about solutions to problems that never really existed. Granted it allows you to play the game without using the disc, but I never found that to be such a problem. And for this we have had to sacrifice a painfully complicated installation process. Whereas other games just allow you to put the game in the hard drive, and it automatically runs the installation, Steam has decided to make you sign up to and install a whole new application just to start to install. I was then subject to more waiting when the server was to busy, and then when it was finally ready to install the Steams installers speed is reminiscent of the old Windows 98 computers attempting to install a game far too powerful. So after it reached around 3% in around half an hour I decided to rummage around my computer until I was able to find the installer that should have been instantaneously available, and then we were under way. Because of Steam I also lost the collector's edition's features because it failed to install the files properly. Although it was only £3 lost because of it, it's still annoying having to sit through more installing for nothing.

      At the game's release it cost around £30 and the Collector's edition around £35, give or take around £2 depending on where you go. I decided to get the collector's edition because of the 6 exclusive units available. That may not mean a great deal to people new to the whole Total War series, but those who have played on previous games before may know how much the gaming community are striving to create more and better units all the time in 'mods,' then the chance to get 6 straight away seemed appealing at the time, but as I said I never got it to work. But that is the only major advantage I could find, besides a pretty box and map.

      Mods, or modifications, for all those who don't know are alterations people make to the game via the available files. Modders can create entire new campaigns, maps, nations and units that keep the game fresh once it starts to go dry. For instance modders were able to create a Napoleonic Campaign out of Rome: Total War. These are all available online and are pretty easy to find.

      Overall the game is very well received. The lowest rating I have seen is 8.5/10 given by GameSpot, others are all very good. Whether they have given it 5 Stars, 9.5/10, 96% or and A grade you can see that it is a bloody good game. Any trailer can be seen online with interviews with the staff and also fan-made videos on the gameplay. So if you're a cautious buyer and don't want to part with you money until you know what it's like you best check on the videos because I feel it is hard to get a good impression of the game by text alone.

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      10.06.2010 04:33
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      It would be harder not to see it when in Florence

      The Cathedral in Florence is a definite for anyone visiting Florence, and its hard not to visit once you are in Florence. It would like be someone in Agra not going to see the Taj Mahal, or a tourist in Giza refusing to visit the Pyramids. For all it's cliche to say this, it is a must see in Florence. And seeing as though it is in the centre of Florence, no queues and free, it would be harder for you to avoid a visit to the Cathedral. The real question is whether it's worth the trip from other parts of Italy to see the Cathedral and Florence's surrounding landmarks.

      The Cathedral is harder to miss than to find. Florence is a relatively small town in comparison to other popular Italian destinations like Rome and Milan, and the Cathedral towers above the rest of the city so it's very easy to find. From the main station in Florence it is about half a kilometre, and the roads are easy to negotiate, as you only have to turn left once onto via de' Cerretani. However once you're at the Cathedral it becomes slightly harder, as you have to be aware of which queue means what, and which door leads where. I cannot remember which door lead where at the top of my head, and there's little info online, even for pricing. But I found it rather misleading as a lot of doors would show the prices for various parts of the Cathedral, i.e. the Cupola, even if it didn't lead there.

      I strongly recommend visiting the top of the Dome for pretty obvious reasons. You get a closer look at the paintings on the ceiling, which are excellent no matter how peculiar they are, and fantastic sights of Florence and the surrounding countryside. It costs around 8 Euro to go to the top in August, however I'm not sure if prices vary throughout the year or not. However if you intend to go in the summer as I did, expect some quite large, yet manageable queues. And the Cupola is also unfortunately not wheelchair friendly as you have to navigate your way through hundreds of narrow steps that exhausted quite a few people. Personally I did not visit the Bell Tower just opposite the Cupola, but I expect that it provided very similar views, didn't seem as popular and didn't have the intriguing church décor, so it would seem that the cupola was the better of the 2.

      However if you are on a budget you can't go wrong with just a quick trip inside the Cathedral, or for that matter just outside. It's easy to see why so many people buy so many souvenirs and take so many photos of the cathedral; it's the Firenzian Eiffel Tower. You have the option to spend 10s of pounds or nothing at all. There are optional audio guides, gift shops, collection plates, closed rooms etc. that you could fork out for if you want to get into every nook and cranny of the cathedral. Or you could just stand outside and inspect the carvings on the walls or admire the grand interior paintings.

      Even if you see the Cathedral and aren't impressed remember you are still surrounded by other famous landmarks that are within walking distance. Michelangelo's David is housed Academia Galleria nearby, the Uffizi Gallery boasts some of the finest works of art in the world such as 'the Birth of Venus' aswell as Ponte Vecchio, the Baptistery, San Lorenzo Basilica and tonnes more.

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      05.06.2010 00:58
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      What else can you get for 1p?

      The Getaway follows the story of Mark Hammond trying to rescue his kidnapped son from by completing a set of missions for the kidnappers, while trying to escape from the police who wrongly suspect him of killing his own wife. However I won't want to spoil the storyline anymore by telling you what happens, because they clearly put a lot of work into writing the story, and there's no way in skipping the dialogue. So if I were to ruin the story for you now you will have to sit through a lot of pointless script and dialogue. They say they took inspiration from the films 'Get Carter' and 'Snatch,' which gives you some idea of what the general feel of the game is all about. And although the storyline is good, sometime the scenes are too long in my opinion, and although some people like the cinematic quality of the game, I feel there should be an option to skip it, for people like myself, who just want to get on with playing the game. The voiceovers are pretty good and the graphics can still hold up, even though it's about 7 or 8 years old now.

      The missions will take you through the remarkably accurate streets of London, which is a refreshing change after playing on years of games set in fictional American cities, like in the GTA cities. And you will be required to carry out the standard missions, i.e. follow cars, kill people, break into buildings etc. So expect a lot of action in this game as you fight the Triads, Yardies and other opposing London Gangs as well as the Police. They have introduced indicators on the car which tell you which way to go, as opposed to the map system, which although original, can sometimes be annoying. Especially when you want to just free roam around the city and you have no idea where you are. They have also taken away most of the bars on the screens of other games to show you how much ammunition you have left and the vital health bar. So to tell how much health you have left you have to go off how much your character is limping or how much blood is on his shirt. And to top up your health you simply have to lean up against the wall and rest.

      The game on the whole seems a little bit more serious and realistic than the GTA games, as it's always compared to. As they have included real cars, like Fiats and Lexus, as well as genuine places in London. This caused a little controversy initially because BT complained about their vans being used in a mission. A mission which involved you having to kill the driver and use the van to assassinate a police man. There is a soundtrack within the game, which I don't particularly enjoy, it seems a little dry and repetitive, and doesn't stand out too much, especially when you're in a gun fight or have the annoying sounds of the police sirens following you around. However it does build a little tension every now and then when you're trying to slowly creep into a room, but I'd still prefer to see a radio set up, like in GTA, when you're in the car.

      The controls I find are also a little poor. The aim isn't perfect and the camera angles don't allow you to see what you want when you want. On the other hand I find the driving controls are pretty spot on and good job too, because you will be expected to drive for large periods of time between missions. Although you can't build up a lot of speed, I feel that makes the game feel that little bit more realistic. However your enemies are pretty poor on the whole. I don't feel that many of them are much of a challenge. The police will just fly into you and other cars when they're chasing you, and can be easily lost, and when shooting you will catch them off guard a lot of the time. Yet to balance this out you cannot be shot many times, so the only downfall is the camera angle, because you cannot necessarily see who is shooting you straight away, and the aim is sometimes poor in the wrong conditions.

      Overall the graphics and storyline are great. I feel it's a very realistic game and refreshing to see a game like this finally set in the UK. And although I loved it when it first came out, going back to it 7 years later, I feel a lot of the game play could be improved upon. But if you fancy giving it a go, Amazon has new copies from £6.50, and Used copies from as little as 1p. So I would still say if you like games like GTA give it a go, especially if it's only going to cost you 1p.

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        31.05.2010 20:12
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        You're best off going online and finding out how to get subs.

        Books about Youtube are not in abundance so when this book came out I was quick to place in my order, as I am a D-list Youtuber myself and a keen follower of a lot of other Youtubers, including the author, Alan Lastufka (or some of you may know him as Fallofautumndisto on Youtube).

        The book has in total 15 chapters, helping you in everything from editing your videos to making money from them. But I would only say 6 of which actually help you in 'climbing the charts.' The others provide seem to spell out the basics, i.e. how to set up an account, how/when to reply to comments and what are views and ratings. This book would be great for someone who hasn't spent over 5 minutes on Youtube, but I doubt someone who has little interest in Youtube would actually go out and spend £20 on the book. But if you do want to start making videos, getting some views and subscribers etc. then this book will help you out as it tells you how to make videos, how to upload etc. However I get the impression that most the people who bought the book would be like me, someone who already has a channel, has a good understanding of movie making/editing and has seen how some Youtubers have become famous, and if that's you, then I wouldn't recommend getting this book. Because getting famous on Youtube is completely by chance, no 2 people have followed the same pattern or formulaic structure. This book specializes how to start out and how to make money, and doesn't help people, like myself, who are in-between those stages.

        The book is very easy to navigate your way through. Each page seems to have its own title and page reference in the contents, so you have the option to do what I did, and skip forward 185 pages. The constant changing of authors, between Lastufka and Dean, doesn't make the best reading, because rather than collaborate on the book, they take over from page to page. The authors also seem to have the idea that plugging their own or their friends channel would make good reading, but when you're barraged wit URLs of their own videos and interviews with their friends it makes the author seem like he has a hidden agenda.

        The book does put pictures and graphology to good use, as they will help some newcomers in editing and they reflect the informal tone of the book as a whole. However when I look at the screenshots of Youtube it makes it obvious as to why this seems to be one the only books about Youtube. In the 2 short years since this book was published Youtube has changed dramatically. So even to a newcomer, you're best off getting help online for free, as that is always up-to-date, as this book may ultimately confuse you more as their Youtube bears little reflection to the Youtube you'll find. For instance his instructions how to make a 'group' are just useless now.

        But there are some very useless hints scattered throughout the book. And although the interviews, life stories etc. will not help you climb the chart, they do keep you entertained in a book that's topic wouldn't prove greatly entertaining to many people. And if anyone is greatly interested in starting out in Youtube or getting a greater audience and have about £20 to spare go for it. But for those with a passing interest or short on cash, I would say look online. The tutorials will be constantly up to date and will prove just as useful

        You can get the book from their publishers website at:
        http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596521158
        $30 for a print copy of the book
        $24 for an e book.

        Or alternatively Amazon sell them for about £12

        Print Release: November 2008
        Pages: 304

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          28.05.2010 23:30
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          I would say just download a few Modifications

          Asian Dynasties is an extension of Age of Empires III, a real-time strategy and role-playing game. It is therefore it is required that you have AoE III already installed on your PC. It is the second expansion of the series, following 'War Chiefs' which was released around a year and a half prior. Asian Dynasties introduces 3 new Civilizations, the Chinese, Japanese and Indians, to the list of 8 European nations and 3 Native American nations (if you have War Chiefs as well). Once the game is installed you will notice that the graphics have vastly improved from the previous installments, and the voice acting has been complimented in a few magazines as been 'great' and/or 'lifelike.'

          Most of the battles remain the same as in AoE III. That is that the 2 options, 'supremacy' (which makes you build up your resources yourself) and 'Deathmatch' (your given resources and have to crush the enemy quickly) both remain. But they have also introduced a number of new battle types. For instance 'King of the Hill,' in which you have to maintain control over a fort for a time period, and 'Regicide,' where you have to kill your opponents king while defending your own, along with a couple treaty based battle types. The new Asian nations are also required to build Wonders, various famous monuments, such as the Great Buddha, to advance in ages, and each have their own benefits. And Asian Dynasties have also introduced a new resource for the Asian Nations, so along with Wood, Food and Gold, you can increase your number of 'export,' which you can exchange for European troops. These can prove vital as many of the Asian units, with the exception of a couple Japanese units, are greatly inferior to their European counterparts. For all they have introduced superb new units, such as Elephants and Samurais, the run of the mill infantry, although unique, are pretty weak.

          Each nation have their own advantages and disadvantages, and these are all explained in-game before selecting your nation. However the Asian civilizations, like the Native Americans, seem to be at an overall disadvantage to their European counterparts. This may not be apparent against the AI, which, to an experienced player, will be no challenge, but is more apparent in the Multiplayer option, where players choosing non-European nations are few and far between. Multiplayer games allow players from all over the world battle each other, and build up their nations points and therefore level, like in single player battles. However numbers seem to be dwindling in the multi-player lobby. And the available battles have also been reduced thanks to the introduction of the extensions, because someone with the vanilla AoE III cannot play someone with Asian Dynasties. So by having Asian Dynasties, and also War Chiefs, you will be able to find a lot more available battles than without them.

          As well as introducing new major civilizations, Asian Dynasties has also come out with a number of new minor nations, from which you can recruit new units. For instance you can recruit Shaolin Monks from a Shaolin Village. The available nations change from map to map. This leads me nicely on to one of my favorite aspect of the game. They finally stepped away from the American maps they have clung onto for the past 2 and a half years, and finally introduced maps from elsewhere. Here they, obviously, focus on Asian maps, such as Mongolia, Borneo, Honshu and Himalayas. These maps also include their own flora and fauna, which you can use to your own advantage when building up your economy and resources. They have also left the Black Family story in the campaign. For those who don't know, in the last games the campaigns focused around a families journey too and life in America. These received quite a lot of criticism from the online community, because of their lack of historical relevance. So now they have built campaigns around the unification of Japan, Sepoy Rebellion and theory that the Chinese had landed in the New World before the Europeans did.

          You can buy it off Amazon from £8 to £10. And this is surprisingly expensive given that it is about 3 years old now. So if you don't have AoE III already it will cost you around £18 to get Asian Dynasties. Or alternatively you could pick up all 3 games for about £23 in the 'Complete Collection.' For all I used to like the game a great deal, I feel it is very hard to go back to the game and feel the same way. The tactics and game play seem very dated and primitive compared to modern day strategy games like Empire Total War. There's also very little continuation, you will only receive a higher level with the ore you play, and it does get repetitive after a while. I recommend that anyone interested in the series already should buy this expansion. But to any newcomers I would say just go for the Vanilla edition and try it out. Asian Dynasties, for £10, doesn't provide a great deal more in the way of game play. And should you tire of the vanilla, you could always download modifications, i.e. the Napoleonic Era, that the online community has created on websites such as AoE3heaven. And they should provide just as many new features and units as Asian Dynasties.

          Windows
          1.4 GHz Processor
          256 MB of RAM
          2.0 GB hard disk space
          64 MB video card
          Macintosh
          1.4 GHz processor
          512 MB of RAM
          64 MB video card

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            28.05.2010 01:31
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            Probably only for those with an interest in Strategy gaming.

            Europa Universalis III shocked me as a game. I bought it very cheap on ebay for a few pounds, it had low system requirements and I hadn't played any previous EU game or heard anyone talk about it before. I just wanted to experiment with a new game when I bought it. And I'm so glad I did now.

            I bought the game expecting it to run like most strategy games, and seeing as though I've played quite a few before, I thought I could pick up the game play relatively quickly. But I was dead wrong. Once I started the campaign I barely knew how to move about my troops, never mind go about conquering the world. So I had to sit and flick through an instructions booklet that was well over 100 pages! So I would say you really have to be into strategy gaming to play this game. And I can't do the complete range of functions and utilities justice in just this short review. But what you have to do is, in a nutshell, build up your nation, in anyway you want, whether through expansion, trade, diplomacy, economy or just military might before the end of 1789. You can go out and colonize the new world, form trade monopolies in ports, spy on other countries, construct buildings, hire advisors, create national ideas, choose your own government type etc. there's 101 ways to play this game.

            It doesn't run like a lot of strategy games, as in it's not turn based, but rather you have various levels of speeds at which the campaign plays out. So if there's not much happening, put it on the top speed and just sit back and wait, or if you're in a war you'll be pausing and running the game slowly to make sure you have control over everything. And this style of play is great because you won't have to endure long, boring loading times in-between turns. There are also no real-time battles in this game either, which to some people will not sound appealing. Instead you are left to watch the computer battle them out on the campaign map for you. This may prove frustrating, as, like what always seems to happen with me, you outnumber your opponent 3 to 1, and somehow the computer gives the battle in their favor. The units in the game also seem pretty generic at times, i.e. basic cavalry and infantry. I think they've just changed the names of some to allow themselves to say they have 'over 100 unique units.' Although they do tend to become more interesting later on in the campaign with the introduction of cannons, elite units etc, you are left with a pretty narrow choice for large portions of the game.

            It has by far the largest map and available nations I have ever seen on a game. Over 250 nations are available according to the back of the box. You can take control of any nation, no matter how small, from any time period between 1453 and 1789. So you have the option to take over the nation English on the 5th of May 1561 or the Ottomans on the 15th February 1711, any combination, providing historically accurate, is possible. Although most people tend to start from the earliest possible period, just because it gives them more game time, you also have the option to take over a nation at the start of a major event, i.e. the American Revolution. This is because they have built in several default time periods for you to use if you want.

            The AI is also fantastic. Compared to other games, i.e. the Total War franchise, War Leaders, Aggression: Reign over Europe etc. the AI is far more interesting and creative. They don't remain stagnant and defensive and no 2 campaigns will ever be the same. For instance 1 game I played the small German state of Mecklenberg had made major ground in Northern Germany and starting expanding into North America within a couple decades, whereas in another they had been completely eliminated within the first decade. And that isn't just a one off, everyone will have a different experience on this game, and different nations will become powerful and threatening and others, who you think may be the ones to look out for, will wither and burn. So I can't give you any advice on who to look out for. And you can't go into the game with any pre-conceived plan, i.e. 'this time I'll send all my troops to _____ and conquer it, while defending from _____,' because you'll always have a new and fresh scenario and challenges to face up to.

            The soundtrack is pretty good, although the graphics are pretty basic. You sometimes have to wait long periods of time as the game starts up and sometimes when starting up saved games, but once you're on it runs smoothly. The game is very hard to master, and you'll probably end up like me and having to tae out a bunch of loans to fund you're empire you built up too hastily. But like most things I guess practice makes perfect. There are also a number of expansion packs that have come out, like Napoleon's Ambition and In Nomine, which expand the time periods, from the end of the 100 Years War to the End of the Napoleonic. And the latest one - Heir to the Throne, introduces a Casus Belli system, as well as a few new features.

            Minimum System Requirements: Windows XP/2000, 1.9 GHz Intel Pentium or AMD equivalent, 512 MB RAM, Direct 9.0C compatible video card with 12MB RAM and support for pixel-shader 2.0

            You can buy it for less than £5 from Amazon brand new. So even if it doesn't prove to be your sort of game, at least you're not risking much. But if you love strategy/historical games like me you'll love to play it. And you'll learn about nations you never even knew existed.

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            • Napoleon: Total War (PC) / PC Game / 43 Readings / 41 Ratings
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              27.05.2010 16:32
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              Latest installment in the Total War Franchise

              I am a huge Total War fan, and every installment has not failed to impress me. That is however until they brought out Napoleon: Total War. Now don't get me wrong, it is a fantastic game. But for someone like myself, who has followed the series since their humble beginnings, this game, in comparison to the previous, 'Empire: Total War,' is a stagnant and regressive. So I would recommend anyone holding onto their copy of Empire: Total War against buying this game. And to anyone else I'd say get Empire: Total War.

              It's obviously set during the time of Napoleon Bonaparte, so expect to see all the great nations and Empires of that time period, like the Prussians, Austrians, Russians etc. and all the famous regiments and military units. However, although I'm a fan of this time period, I find it a restrictive and disappointing period to base a Total War Game around. Unlike Empire which allowed you to form alliances, war etc. with just about anyone, NTW is pretty blatant about restricting you to fighting either the French or her enemies. There are also far fewer nations and also, to my disappointment, replaced America, India and all the trade routes (all separate maps on Empire) with absolutely nothing. They have even eliminated all North African, Middle Eastern and Asian regions that have remained in the series since Rome. And you'd think that getting rid of all of all these regions would reduce the requirements that stopped a lot of people playing Empire, but it hasn't. In fact they have somehow managed to increase the requirements.

              You need a Minimum of 21GB Free Space, 2GB RAM, 256 MB DirectX 9.0c and a 2.3GHz CPU Processor. And that's just the Minimum. They recommend you having an even better processor and more RAM. In my opinion this is a game that has replaces substance for style and I think this proves it. Empire Total War left me thinking of what maps they'll include next. I thought maybe Africa or the Far East perhaps? But instead they took a major step back in game play and replaced it with some flashy graphics. Something most people won't even be able to appreciate as you'll have to turn the graphics down so low on most PCs for the game to even run properly. But for those lucky enough to have a good PC, the graphics are good, but I wouldn't say they are as good as what the requirements would have you believe. They've introduced better graphics when it comes to firing guns, and the smoke it produces, and the sounds they create are supposed to be better as well. But I have never really cared for the smoke coming out of guns or realistic gun sounds. However I must concede that the Naval battles are pretty spectacular. When you watch sailors jump ship, or a cannon firing through your opponents vessel you will agree that it is very impressive. However, to end on a negative, the installation process remains slow and laborious. On my PC the game took over 24 hours to install.

              I guess I should explain what the game is now. Because that must have seemed like a foreign language to people unfamiliar with this sort of game. NTW is a turn-based strategy and real-time tactics game, which as I understand is a pretty niche market. So for those who are skeptical about the whole genre I would recommend an older game in the series, like Rome or Medieval II, which are both still fantastic games which you can pick up for a few pounds, as opposed to NTW, which, in it's most basic form (that is excluding all expansions and special editions) £24.99 on Steam. But to those already a fan of the genre, this game will not disappoint.

              The game has a bunch of options and different modes. You can play as Napoleon and lead the French to victory in Italy, Egypt and finally Europe in separate campaigns, which in my opinion restrict the freedom of the player. Alternatively you can play as the Prussians, Russians, British or Austrians and take on the French Empire in 'Campaigns of the Coalition,' which is by far my favorite option. And now thanks to modders on sites such as twcentre, you can download files and play as just about every Napoleonic nation you could think of and even some extra ones. You can also play historical battles in real time, such as Waterloo, Trafalgar and the Battle of the Pyramids. NTW has also kept the very popular Multiplayer Battles where you can play opponents from around the world in different scenarios and maps while also introducing the much anticipated Multiplayer campaigns. However, despite the tremendous possibilities of this new feature, I feel it's fallen short of what the community had anticipated. Keeping a campaign going requires both players to be online at the same time for large periods of time, which is even harder seeing as though many players come from different time-zones. NTW has also introduced the 'drop in' option which gives players in a campaign against the computer the opportunity to allow their friends or other players to take control of the AI's army in battle. This is an option I have not taken full advantage of, so I cannot give a very insightful critique.

              It's a very easy game to grasp, and even to master if you put the time in. And should it not have been for the modders online I would have tired of the game within about a month as they only provide you with about 5 nations to play as. But because the modders are actively creating unique and exciting versions of the game it will continue to entertain me for some time now, and I expect a lot of Total War fans aswell.

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                26.05.2010 22:20
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                Don't buy the Book.

                The worst book I have ever had the displeasure to read! And no, that isn't because I am English and disagree with what he says. It is because every page I read had at least 1 inaccuracy, but on average there were at least about 4 per page. He aims, not seriously of course, to point out everything wrong with the British history and adds a bill on at the end for everything they have to pay in reparations. He even set up a fund where thousands of people signed a petition calling for reparations.

                The Book is set out in a very basic format, i.e. each of the 101 points only has 1 page of writing, and maybe 1 picture. The language is basic, sometimes too basic and occasionally wrong, especially when it comes to Proper nouns, he spells a lot of the poorly. I'm quite fond of a lot of the llustrations, they're all pretty similiar to the one of the front cover, and they're very similiar to political cartoons and do make the book more interesting. On the other hand, when Over 100 pages are illustrations, it does make the book a remarkably shorter read than what I anticipated. He intends to use very pejorative language, I assume in an attempto to get the Brits riled up, which did work on me, because the book was a very frustrating read. A few examples of the reasons he gives to why England ruined the world are: 'they rewrote the the Bible,' 'They invented the Gibbet,' 'They invented the Machine Gun' and 'They perfected the art of carpet bombing.' Just to give you an idea of what it's about. Greatly exaggerated titles, with little justification. And it was those titles that got me curious about the book.

                I understand this book isn't supposed to be taken all that seriously, I would accept that had he not spouted a bunch of his political and religious feelings throughout, i.e. why George Bush is good and the Iraq and Afghan War is just, why monotheism is better than polytheism and why he thinks that because the British dead on D-Day were less than American we didn't play an important role. What else frustrated me was that this book is listed on Wikipedia under 'Books about Civilizations' alongside famous books such as, the Histories by Herodotus, Muqadimmah by Ibn Khaldun and Edward Gibbons Decline and fall of the Roman Empire. He has also appeared on Richard and Judy and various radio shows advertising himself (advertising is after all his profession and it worked on me).

                I could have accepted him insult British policies and the evils of its Empire, but when he disrespects thousands of casualties at D-Day and makes us read his twisted political views, I think it leaves the genre of comedy and therefore is open to criticism. And to criticize his book I have narrowed down 400+ inaccuracies into just 101 and created 'The Terrible Author: 101 reasons Stephen A. Grasse should never write again' on my Blog http://iamlayton.blogspot.com, if you're interested. But here I'll just highlight a couple pages and talk about them.

                He doesn't have a grasp of the Geography of the British Isles. The book is supposed to be aimed at England and the English, but he the Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Indian etc. are all open for criticism. For instance, when talking about the Industrial Revolution and Global Warming he calls Scotsman Jams Watt 'The guiltiest of all.' He pays no attention to the channel islands, Isle of Man etc. and just focuses on the major nations, Scotland, Wales, England and Ireland, although he doesn't call them nations or countries, but rather 'Isles.' He blames the English for William the Conquerors, a Normans, excessive taxation, while he also shows that he has no idea about when/how England and Scotland formed GB, i.e. he claims the Crusades was instigated by the 'British crown.' And even the British cities he misrepresents, i.e. 'Birmingham Ships,' he could have had the common decency to look at a map.

                He also, despite his claims of 'extensive research' has no idea about various historical events and wars. The 3 that stand out are Napoleonic wars, Battle of Omdurman and War of 1812. He says 'Duke of Wellington put a halt to Napoleon's ever-widening ambitions at Waterloo,' where in actual fact Waterloo stopped him from returning. Also, 'Britain must thank the deadly cold of the Russian Winter.' Although this is a common mistake, 5 minutes on Google would show you that Napoleon had lost most his troops before winter.
                And in fact puts these deaths down to 'Napoleon's foolish march to Moscow' where it should be retreat from Moscow. This could actually explain why he couldn't research however, he didn't know what he was looking for. He also discredits the British involvement and the thousands who died fighting the French by saying 'Napoleon was left to tromp over the European continent unmolested for 2 years' and created a myth that it was 'only when Napoleon started leering at India...did Britain finally act,' whereas we actually fought from the start. The war of 1812 he claims the British both started it and lost, whereas it was nearly the exact opposite. And finally the Madhist War, wherein he believes we did not fight the Madhist, but rather the Ottomans. He gets dates wrong, military numbers are also incorrect and entire battles are just completely fictional. The Zulus are a recurring nation throughout the book he misrepresents aswell, saying they're from Mozambique one minute, Zimbabwe the next, and then compares their King to Thomas Paine, as they both reject royal Hierarchy.

                However I must say some people may find this book humorous. I personally did not, but when he criticizes Oasis, Pagan symbolism on Led-Zeppelin drum sets, Beatle-mania, our eating habits, over-politeness etc. So there are some light-hearted, funny pages. But for me these are always overshadowed by the negatives and how he tries to push politics onto people, like his distaste of Universities and Welfare States, and gun-ho attitude to invading nations around the world. I think he should have to choose between a funny, light-hearted book, or a serious, well-researched, political book. Stephen Grasse has found neither.

                As you can tell this book is still fresh in my memory and I may have went a little overboard with criticism. So, although I don't recommend anyone buying this book, in fact I'll be disappointed if this has encouraged anyone to do so out of curiosity. On a side noteif you are curious, type the book title into Google Books and there you will find an entire version of the book online. But if you are for some reason you're still desperate to buy it heres some essential info.
                To buy the book Go on www.evilempire.com and you'll find it for: £11

                Alternatively you can go on Amazon and get the book Used for about £4, depending on exchange rate and excluding postage, which is likely to be high, seeing as though most online copies come from the states. Or, you can do what I did, and go to a traditional shop and order it in. Waterstones was happy to do it for me for no extra cost.

                ISBN: 1-59474-173-5
                Hardcover
                4-3/4 x 7-1/4
                192 pages
                Publisher: Quirk
                Publication Date: April 2007

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                  26.05.2010 14:27
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                  Easy to use Pocket Camcorder

                  The Flip Mino is a great camera with features so basic a child could use them. The camera is not much bigger than a great deal of phones, 1.5'' diagonally, so it indeed a quintessential 'Pocket Camcorder.' It has 4GB of memory, but with a 30 frames per second rate and 1280 x 720 resolution, you only get 1 hour of video capacity. Which is fine if you can find a PC, however if you're on holiday you better find a way of uploading them at an internet café and emailing them home, just to make some room for some more videos. This is because all the memory is internal, so you cannot simply replace the memory card like in other camcorders. The battery life is also internal (lithium-Ion rechargeable to be specific) and it can supply 2 hours of battery life when fully charged. And because they now use this battery as opposed to the 2x AA batteries that the Flip Ultra requires they have managed to save about 2 ounces in weight. However once again I find it a lot more practical to have the AA batteries as they can be easily bought anywhere in the world and on the whole last a lot longer. Both in the short run, as the rechargeable battery pack they give you can last 4.5 hours, and in the long run, as rechargeable batteries, if not charged when appropriate, tend to lose a few minutes here an there from their full capabilities. And the battery in the Flip Mino can not be replaced.

                  There are a grand total of 7 buttons on the front of the Flip. A huge red button, surprisingly enough that is to record and stop. Theres a button that looks a bit like this l>ll, and that is used, as you might have guessed, to play back videos. There's a button that allows you to bin videos, 2 of the buttons are for flicking through the videos when you're playing them back, and the final 2 to zoom in and out. The zoom is pretty weak, only 2x, but at least the quality remains pretty high when you zoom, unlike with the old Flip Ultra. It's a very simple camera on the whole. Hit the power button on the side, and in about 3 seconds by my counting, you are ready to record. Once you've finished recording you just need to flick the switch on the opposite side, a USB port pops out and you can upload all of your videos direct to your computer in .avi format, which works fine on most PCs. It also allows you to upload direct to Youtube, and edit your videos on Movie Maker providing you have the right codec.

                  The camera has also received a lot of great reviews from various magazines and websites. For instance Camcorderinfo.com and Cnet both called it the best budget camcorder. The Flip website gives you a list of all the shops selling Flip products, including Tesco, PC World, Comet, Currys etc. although not all of the sell the Flip MinoHD. There is a very broad range in prices, from about £115 - £180, so you best look about these shops. But, if you have some patience, you can look on eBay and find them for a lot cheaper. For instance I bought mine, still in its box, for about £55. So just shop around. However if you can't find any cheap versions of the Flip Mino, there are a lot of cameras on the market that are very similar in simplicity and size, although not all the time in quality. For instance the Creative Vado, Aiptek PocketDV, Disgo, Flip Ultra etc. or you can always just get a phone with a camcorder on. I suggest typing some of these names into Youtube and look at some sample videos to see if the quality will suit your needs.

                  Flip have also released a couple accessories that can go along with the Flip Mino. USB Cables, a tripod, action tripod, power adaptor and a soft pouch. However, although Flip Ultra has had a few extra accessories released, such as the underwater case, you can come around it by looking elsewhere, i.e. Aquapac provide packs that let you film underwater. The Flip Mino also just comes in 2 colors from most major shops, however if you buy from the website you have the option to design your own pattern or upload a photo, and they'll create your Mino accordingly for the same price.

                  Overall I think the Camcorder is well worth buying for its simplicity and quality of video. I've tried others such as the aiptek, but have found that they tend to have something wrong with them, i.e. microphone. But the Flip seems be sufficient all around, besides battery life. However I only think it's worth it if you can really afford it or find it cheaper than what most of the big shops are selling it for. So if you're like me and my student's wage, £150 might be pretty steep for a pretty basic camera, when you can get always get phones with a very similar camcorder on.

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