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From the creators of the much-hyped Crysis (CRYTEK) comes their stand-alone expansion pack following the side-story of Psycho that runs parallel to the original game.
Before I begin, I must seriously stress that you do not buy this game unless you have a very powerful PC and are sure that you will be able to run this as to this day, Crysis remains the most returned game in history due to the fact many find their PC is not good enough to handle it (unlucky for them).
The game focuses around a team of soldiers with prototype nanosuits that give the user special abilities such as enhanced strength, speed and cloaking. The team have been sent to investigate North Korean nuclear testing on an un-inhabited island. However, they soon find that the North Koreans are not testing weapons but excavating something buried beneath the volcano in the centre of the island. Deep within the ground, an alien race rests waiting for their day to strike. Soon you find yourself alone fighting not only the Koreans but the aliens as well in a three way war.
With some of the most groundbreaking graphics to date as well as fully destructible environments, this game is immense. Okay so the story is a little short and can be completed in less than a day if you play non-stop however, there are multiple ways to complete the different missions with a fully explorable island, you can go anywhere you want (just don't swim to far away from the coast as a giant shark will scare you senseless).
This game is in every sense of the word, perfection. What's more, it comes with Crysis Wars a separate multiplayer addition to the game which offers one of the most fun multiplayer experiences i've ever encountered.
A must for any true gamer.
The X series of games has been around for some time now and yet is still relatively unknown to many people. X games are as series of space combat/empire building games that are set in an open-ended universe much like Freelancer (see my review "Oldie but goody").
In X3: Terran Conflict, an stand-alone expansion of X3:Reunion, the story continues on from where x2: The Threat left off and yet works well as a standalone adventure. You play a member of one of the different races in the X universe (Boron, Split, Terran, Argon, Teladi) each with a different starting point in the universe and ship. From then on, it is up to you. You can take part in one of the many story-based missions for each individual race or explore the many sectors in the universe looking for freelance combat or trading missions.
The sheer scale of this game is immense and I have often found myself engaged within the X universe for hours on end. With space pirates that try to steal your wares or hijack your ship, you cannot just let this game run in the background with autopilot engaged. With this said, the time some ships take to cross a single sector is a little annoying. Frigates or capital ships for example can take up to 10-15 minutes to make it from one side of a sector to another and considering there are more than 100 sectors you will spend a lot of your time flying around. With the ability to purchase and upgrade all the different ships from the multiple races as well as the ability to build up stations and complexes for trading, the possibilities really are endless.
Performing on the spot missions in a sector belonging to a certain race will gain you notoriety with that race. This means that you will be able to purchase better weapons and ships as well as being favoured by the race as a trading partner. Furthermore, after gaining a set amount of notoriety you will be able to join the police force of that particular race. However, if you wish to take a walk on the wild side you can destroy stations and ships belonging to a race or pirates to make them your enemy. Once this occurs, they will hunt you down across the galaxy as well as launching attacks against your stations and trading ships.
As amazing as this game is, there are still some drawbacks that are worth a mention. Firstly, the voice acting is pretty shoddy and the high-memory it requires to run this game may cause your computer to lag in certain sectors (even mine at some points and mine is top of the range).
I feel that the game would be far better with the ability to dock at the planets you see as well as the 1000s of stations you have access to at the moment however, with an active modding and scripting community as well as the ability to mod and script to enhance the AI yourself (such as enabling sector takeovers and wars between races) this game will never get tiring.
If you buy this game i'd suggest you move all of your amenities into one room as you'll he glued to it for months. Definitely my favourite PC game of all time.
The world of wrestling has produced many wannabe hollywood actors through the years. From Hulk Hogan in the 80s to more recently the Rock and even Stone Cold, there is no doubt that with its own film branch, the WWE is going to keep trying to throw there superstars into the world of movies.
The latest offering is controversial superstar John Cena who has already starred in the Marine a couple of years back alongside Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, The X-files). In this offering, Cena plays a detective named Danny Fisher who puts away a felon wanted by the FBI, Miles Jackson (Aiden Gillen). During the pursuit, Jackson's girlfriend is involved in a tragic accident and Jackson swears that he will remember the then officer Fisher.
Flash forward a couple of years and Fisher is now a detective who finds that Jackson has escaped from prison and is after payback. After kidnapping Fisher's girlfriend Molly (Ashely Scott), Jackson taunts Fisher telling him that if he plays a 12 round game he will get to see his girlfriend again.
As expected, Fisher sets out on a one man crusade causing destruction and thousands of dollars of damage whilst the FBI just sit back and watch playing such rounds as 'stop the moving tram that has no brakes and will kill some people' to 'stop the elevator from falling down the shaft'. You can see that this film draws upon director Renny Harlin's past experiences from movies such as Die Hard 2 and Speed. However, unlike these movies, this seems dry and stale in comparison.
From start to finish (unlike his performance in the Marine), Cena's performance is a little wooden and his character unbelievable. Furthermore, the action sequences don't feel all that tense or dramatic. Instead of evoking a feeling of extreme danger such as falling off a cliff with 1000 live grenades strapped to your body, it only manages to invoke light panic of the kind you would feel if you lost your car keys and were late for a meeting. The plot itself is predictable throughout apart from at the end which in itself is a rather boring twist to the story.
Overall, this is your typical action movie that follows the usual storyboard that a complete nobody can survive huge falls, fires and being electrocuted. Both unbelievable and boring, I would recommend this film to anyone who has come of a course of sleeping pills and is wanting that little something to assist them in having a kip. Believe me, this will do the trick.
Rarely does a compilation album come along that will satisfy everyone however, BIg Tunes: Back 2 The 90s is one of a kind. From the era that spawned Oasis, Adidas poppers and a craze for yo-yos comes some of the biggest dance and club hits of the time. Although I wasn't old enough at the time to go clubbing, many of the songs on this album were a big part of mine and others lives at the time. From such big hits as Mr.Vain, No Limit and No Good this 3 Cd collection is a step back 10 or so years to a time when clubs still contained music you could dance to. From the more obvious hits by Whigfield to some less obvious and memorable one hit wonders, Ministry of Sound who compiled this album have come up with a gem. Full of base, repetition and sampling, Big Tunes: Back 2 The 90s is guaranteed to bring back anyone's memories of the 90s. From the good to the bad to the outright wacky, this 3 cd collection is well worth the price tag for the amount of big tunes you get. A fitting name indeed.
With Apple dominating the market of MP3 players, it is hard for any other competing device to get a foothold especially in the UK. This is the case with Microsoft's offering to the market, the Zune.
Somewhat of a rival to the Ipod, the Zune has been going steady in the US but has never and probably never will be formally released in the UK. Despite this, many people (including myself) decided to ship one of these in from the states due to their impressive features. Firstly, in comparison to the Ipod, the Zune is a little bulky however, this makes it so much more durable than the flimsy Ipod. Secondly, the screen is much larger than an Ipod meaning video playback looks far better in comparison. Another feature of the video playback is that unlike the iPod, the Zune rotates the video image so that you view it in Landscape not portrait. This both improves the quality of your viewing and does not leave you squinting at the screen like the Ipod often does. Further to this, unlike the Ipod, the Zune has an in-built radio option meaning it is also a portable radio player as well as an MP4/MP3.
The most impressive feature of the Zune is the Zune Marketplace. This is somewhat like iTunes allowing you to purchase tracks and albums however the most notable feature of this is within the Zune device itself. You have a friend who also has a Zune. You have a new track or album you think they might like. Through wireless association built into the Zune, you can send the track to your friend allowing them a certain amount of free listens to the track. Me and my friends often found ourselves doing this with a number of new songs that we found during our time at 6th Form. In terms of the software that comes with it, the Zune far surpasses the iTunes. Okay, so it doesn't have things such as coverflow however it is brighter, less drab and easier to use.
There are however, some drawbacks to the Zune. Firstly, there is no click-wheel like the iPod meaning you have to navigate through menus with a d-pad style control. Furthermore, the range of colours that the Zune is available in is rather drab. Finally, if you plan of switching from an iPod as I did, you will find that any files you have in .aiff format will not play on the Zune as it only play MP3 and WMA.
This is a great little player and is much cheaper than the rip-off Ipod for what you get. I'd seriously recommend getting one instead of an Ipod if you do not yet own an MP3 player.
The world has been taken by storm by the numerous ranges of MP3 players now available on the market. There is no doubt, that Apple is the undisputed king of this market with the Apple Ipod still holding the crown of the best selling range of MP3 players available. With the iPod shuffle mk2, Apple show that they also still lead the way in innovation.
This tiny little device is the replacement for the original much larger iPod shuffle mk1. With its range of neon colours from pink, blue, green and yellow and its small scale, this device is ideal for short journeys, the gym or as a first MP3 player. The device is light, durable and functional coming with either 1gb or 2gb of memory meaning it's not designed to hold too many songs but just enough to get you by.
The idea of the shuffle is that your music is selected at random, with the typical ipod screen being done away with (as it wouldn't fit). The device features a simple on and off switch with the option to either shuffle the songs or play them in the order you put them onto the device. Playback is handled with two backwards and forwards skip buttons, a central play button and two volume controls. The device comes with a set of white iPod headphones and also a USB charger which plugs into your computer and the headphone socket of the device to both charge the battery as well as import songs.
After having this device for some time and only paying around £30 for it, I have found it very useful on short journeys. However, there are some issues which do need addressing. Firstly, error notification is handled through a sequence of lights on the top of the device. I often found that I did not know what was wrong with the device due to not learning what the sequence of lights meant. Furthermore, the absence of a screen means that music cannot be selected and you will have to skip through your songs until you find the songs that you want (this is however the point of the shuffle).
The device is light and durable and as I have said is ideal for short trips or maybe trips to the gym. However, if you are looking for a serious MP3 player I would recommend another model from the Ipod range.
In todays computer orientated society, more and more of us are spending increasing amounts of time on the web whether it be shopping, gaming or communicating through instant messenger services. However, with this increase in usage comes the increase in both cyber related crimes as well as risk to a users system. These are some of the main reasons why every computer should have some form of antivirus package to help maintain the overall security of your system and personal files.
Many of you may be familiar with such names as Norton or Mcafee however, these products are often very costly to both purchase and maintain. Frankly, both of these anti-virus products are not worth wasting your money on as they are often a resource hog as well as somewhat in-efficient in virus detection and removal. So, with some of the most well known names being somewhat useless, what are the alternatives? Well believe it or not, there are many cheaper or free alternatives which are 100% better than their expensive counterparts. At the top of this list of alternatives in my eyes is Avast 4 Home Edition.
Available under a free licence that you review every year, this software is available for download from : http://www.avast.com. With an on-access scanner which constantly scans your computer as you work and perform tasks, it is very good for both people who do not have the time to initiate scans themselves or those who cannot be bothered. With adjustable risk setting, you can increase the level of scans conducted from a normal state to a high risk state which will increase the likelihood of virus detection. Furthermore, Avast offers a pre-boot scan of your computer every now and again which means that your system will be scanned and rid of any viruses found before your actual operating system kicks in.
With an easy to use interface as well as at least one virus database update every day, you can actually be safe in the knowledge that Avast works. Unlike Norton which finds viruses and sometimes goes "Ahhhh what do I do?", Avast will remove or quarantine the files based upon what will be better for your system. As well as the on-access scanner, there is also the ability to conduct manual scans of individual files or a system wide scan.
Of all the anti-virus software I have used over the years, I am most impressed with Avast. It does what it is supposed to do and gives the user a sense of security unlike some of the other anti-virus software available. Furthermore, with its talking update notifications and crisp interface design it not only performs but feels more complete than Norton, McAfee and even AVG.
A definite must for any computer system, I would definitely recommend you download and use this as your main anti-virus as opposed to paying rip-off prices for others which don't work as well.
Not many game franchises stand the test of time. However, Command & Conquer is a series that still remains as fresh today as it was when the original came out in the early 90's. Differing somewhat from the traditional storyline set in the tiberium wars, the Red Alert series has been more focussed on an alternate reality in which the cold war turns hostile.
With the Soviet Union in tatters and the Allies at the door, the premier is forced to use a secret experimental weapon to travel back in time and assassinate Einstein causing a chain reaction of events where the Atomic Bomb was never invented giving the Soviets the upper hand. When they return to the present, they find that the tables have turned and the Allies are on the back foot. However, with the lack of the atomic bomb, a new empire has been allowed to rise in the East. The Empire of the rising sun. The Soviets now find themselves fighting a three way war with the Allies and their new more technologically advanced enemy.
The game allows you play as all three sides, with an in-depth story for each. You can be the Soviets (the easier missions) with their zany and madcap prototype weaponry such as tanks which fire troops from cannons into battle. On the other hand, you could be the allies with their ferocious bombers and sonic wave dolphins (they are actual dolphins with lazers on their heads :s). Then there are the Empire. With their mecha-tengu (mechanical walkers that transform into jets) and psychic special unit, they are a formidable opponent.
The game plays out as you would expect of a command and conquer game. Build up resources, create units and structures and then attack. However, RA3 has a co-commander which can either be a computer player or another player online who you can command to help you out on missions by designating targets etc. Apart from this, this plays like any familiar RTS and is therefore relatively easy to get used to.
Accompanying the action both during and between missions are live action actors such as Tim Curry and Jenny Mccarthy keeping you up to date on your next mission and the current mission as well as progressing the story. These of course are all in HD and look amazing giving the game a futuristic feel with live action communication.
This is relatively cheesy in comparison to most RTS but this is part of what makes the series so great. I've played it on both the 360 and the PC and found that it is relatively the same on both however the controls for the 360 are a bit of a nightmare. My advise is to get this for the PC if you can rather than for the console.
With technology advancing faster than probably any other period in history at the moment, things are constantly getting smaller. One particular area in which this is apparent is desktop PCs in which the bulky rigs we are used to are now being reduced in size to form the newer 'space saving' PCs.
When my younger brother's laptop decided to stop functioning, I was tasked with finding him a practical replacement that was cheap, fast and ideal for a student. The result was an Acer Aspire X3200 with an AMD Athlon X2 Dual Core processor from Ebuyer. The rig came with 3 GB of memory and GeForce 8200 onboard graphics with Vista Home Basic pre-installed and no monitor at a cost of £276.
The first thing we noticed upon receipt of delivery was how surprisingly small the system was. Space saving indeed! Furthermore, the sleek black design and matching keyboard and mouse looked very stylish indeed.
So what are the benefits of this system?
Well, it has onboard graphics from a series which has now been replaced by the 9 series however, it is still able to run a lot of games that are being released nowadays at a decent spec. Bearing in mind it has onboard graphics which are less desirable than a card due to memory sharing issues, this is relatively good considering it will only be used for occasional gaming. The system also has a HDMI port meaning it can be connected up to a HD television giving high definition output particularly if you choose to install a Blueray drive which is a cheaper option than buying a Blueray player.
The system also comes with a built in card reader which is almost standard with all PCs that are produced now. The 3GB of memory are sufficient as there is only a 32 bit operating system installed meaning the user is limited to a maximum of 3.5GB anyway. There are plenty of USB ports with this system (4 USB 2.0 at the front and back) as well as surround sound capabilities.
Although the system we received differs in processor to the more widely available models, the principles are largely the same. The system is ideal for students or home businesses however I would not recommend it for any intense gaming unless you purchase a separate graphics card and install it in the only available PCI Express slot.
A good system with a sleek design. Definitely worth the price we paid for it.
This review is a follow up from my review of Vista business and therefore will contain some of the original text which explains some of the features present in both flavours of this operating system.
The dreaded Vista. Many people fall on different sides of the argument. Is it good? Is it crappy?
A lot of the people who outright slate Vista are often those who you see reminiscing about the days when it took 10 minutes to download a picture on the web. If they do not fall into this category they are either those who own a Mac or the dreaded 'I hate Microsoft for the sake of it' bunch that I find seem to grace my Computer Science lectures on a regular basis.
So what is my opinion? Well, I've grown up with computers and they are my biggest interest. I've used Linux (you'll find my Ubuntu review on here) and thought it was very good however when it comes to hardware compatibility it falls short of most of Microsoft's offerings. Then there is Mac. Mac is largely Linux that you pay for and although it can boast being virus free it is only a matter of time before some genius causes its downfall. XP is much loved by many users and a number of those who used Vista ended up returning to the OS they had come to know and love. I on the over hand have stuck with Vista and given it a chance. I can safely say, that I am proud to be a Vista user.
So why does it get such bad press? Well if like me you have a very powerful computer then you will probably be asking this question. Let's get to it, Vista is very demanding on resources in comparison to XP and as many users are operating on 2GB of memory or less then they are of course going to see a performance lag as Vista uses around 1GB during routine operation whereas XP uses 512mb.
Vista is designed for the dual and quad core generation and these systems will obviously feel its benefits. At first, many found that a lot of their original hardware would not work with Vista however since service pack 1 and 2 this problem is now non existent.
In terms of security, Vista Home Basic is not as secure as the Business, Enterprise or Ultimate editions of the OS however, as it is mainly intended for home use by your average users as opposed to superusers (techies) the level of security that Home basic offers is sufficient for your average user. Furthermore, some of the features are more tailored to suit the home use with such features as games and communications such as MSN installed as standard in Home edition whereas they have to be activated in Vista Business.
Vista is visually stunning and the much showed of Aero scheme is a step towards the dizzying heights that Linux OS have achieved visually however Vista Home Basic does not feature this scheme. This means that you cannot perform the windows flip/slide function that allows you to switch between 3d visual representations of active programs and Windows. However, this is purely for show and in no way effects the overall operating system.
Vista is different from XP and takes a lot of getting used to however once you give it time you will see that it is more powerful and altogether smoother to use than the now almost ancient XP.
If you have a copy of Vista I would seriously advise you give it another try. If not, I would seriously recommend that you buy a copy as even if you don't like it you will get a free upgrade to the new Windows 7 OS when it comes out in October this year.
Vista Home Basic is the cheapest version of Vista that is available and is not as feature packed as business and premium however, the underlying OS is the same and therefore if you are not bothered about the flashy visual features then I would recommend you choose this flavour to ensure you are not paying for features you do not need.
With increasing internet speeds and more people now owning a PC, many people are choosing to join in one of the many massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORG) that are available. With the most popular and well known of these being World Of Warcraft (not that it deserves this crown) many people may have overlooked Guild Wars in their search for such a game. So what is it?
Guild wars is set in the world of Tyria, inhabited by all sort of races and mythical creatures. Much like Warcraft, you create your character and are plunged into an open-ended world of story and experience boosting missions with the aim of levelling up your character allowing you to progress in the story and tackle more difficult missions. The world of Tyria is made up of the monsters you fight, non-player characters (NPCs) and other players like yourself playing online. You can choose to join up with other players and form a party to adventure together or to play solo and accomplish missions single handedly.
The most impressive feature of Guild Wars is the ability to form your own Guild which others can join. Build a guild hall and create your own emblem, and you can identify yourself to the rest of the world as well as being able to compete against other guilds for a place in the hall of champions.
With endless possibilities as well as far better graphics and character designs that WoW this is one of the best MMORGs around. What's more, unlike its rival World of Warcraft, Guild Wars has no monthly fees and all you pay is the price of the software which is around £10. It's well worth the money and an absolute steal. Furthermore, you're getting a far better and more interesting game than you will if you buy Warcraft.
Ever fancied running your own movie studio? The movies allows just that.
Produced by Lionheadm The Movies is a top-down strategy/simulation game that combines the building aspects of Simcity with the people management aspects of the Sims. Throw in the ability to create, produce and publish your own movies online and you have all the fundamental aspects of this game.
You start with an empty studio lot in 1920 with a heap load of cash. From here you must build up your studio with sets and facilities before hiring scriptwriters to lay the foundations for your movie. All that is left then is to hire some stars and a crew and use them to produce your movie.
After a few years, you will find that rival studios will open up with rival stars and movies competing for titles such as best actor and top studio as well as top movie. These titles are handled through awards ceremonies held every five years which means you are constantly having to improve both your stars and your studio in order to be a contender for each award.
With the ability to produce your own scripts and constant new technologies and sets available for research ( up until the year 2000 in-game) this game never gets boring with numerous possibilities for movies and studio layout.
The gameplay is relatively simple and is accompanied by comical radio commentary throughout which produces a few laughs now and again. With the Stunts & Effects expansion pack also available there is now even greater scope and depth to this game.
Calvin Klein are renowned in many aspects, from their clothing to the fragrances that they produce. This latest fragrance Calvin Klein: Man is no exception.
I was brought this as part of a set in Xmas of 2008 and have stuck with it ever since. With a sleek black bottle that scream sophistication, you only have to look at this fragrance to see that there is something about it. At around £31 now, I initially thought that many aftershaves are overpriced for what they are when you can get a cheap one however I was proved wrong by this.
After using this for the first time, I found that the fragrance lasted for over 3 hours without a top-up something I was not familiar with. Furthermore, the smell itself is a rather subtle yet spicy smell that in itself says masculinity. With newer fragrances aimed at replacing this, I would seriously recommend you snap it up whilst you can as it is ideal for everyday use or for special occasions. I myself tend to use it now for everyday occasions but have been known to wear it at important interviews as it is not overpowering yet is good enough to mask any perspiration that may occur at such an event.
The bottle itself is rather large in comparison to some of the fragrances you can get for the same price and last around 3 or 4 months if you use a little for everyday use.
Freelancer is a 3D sci-fi space simulator that is getting pretty old now. I recently decided to dig out my copy and give it a go as I never actually got around to playing it seriously.
Unlike most games, Freelancer is set in an open universe meaning the player is not tied to a specific storyline. This means that the player can drop in and out of the storyline whenever they please allowing them to craft their own adventure. From trading to combat missions, it is all present in Freelancer.
The game is set 800 years after a war between two factions in which one eventually conquered the other forcing many colonies to flee deep into the universe. The story picks up after the destruction of a space station by some unknown fighters. You play one of the survivors who is a 'freelancer' a person who is both a mercenary for hire as well as a universal trader.
The game is rather big and allows you to explore different sectors at your own pace. Furthermore, most of the sectors contain a planet at which you can land your ship and talk to the patrons at the local bar to find out the news or to be hired for jobs.
The game features numerous ships to be brought and upgraded and a relatively easy to use yet exciting combat system. Starting with a relatively small ship, you can work your way up to much larger heavily defended ships in no time.
With this being such a classic in many people's eyes, it is no surprise that there is still a die-hard multiplayer community for this game. THe multiplayer mode basically allows you to carry on your single player mission but within a multiplayer world allowing other players to assist you or giving you the chance to engage in combat with other players from around the world.
The graphics are not the best however with a good graphics card they do look pretty good and don't seem dated. The game itself is still very enjoyable and after playing for many hours I found that I couldn't get enough of the fast paced combat.
With such a large online community, there are also numerous mods (add-ons) available for this game which both add to the storyline or change the game altogether. Once I had completed the single play storyline, I decided to download the popular Star Wars edition of these mods giving you access to the popular ships from the Star Wars films as well as some storylines.
This is an excellent game that wouldn't be out of place if it was released today. I would definately recommend you pick it up for a few pounds and give it a try. I hope that one day, you will gain as much enjoyment out of this game as I have.
Being a specialist in website design and Internet technologies at Uni, I often have 5 or 6 browsers on my PC at any one time to test my websites under these different browsers. The Opera browser has been around for some time and at its peak was better than Firefox, that there is no doubt about. However, over the years as more names enter into the 'browser wars' Opera has slipped down the ladder in terms of speed and efficiency and has slipped so far, that it is almost as slow as Internet Explorer which is very slow indeed.
It is not that Opera haven't made breakthroughs or increased the speed of their browser, it's the fact that their rivals are simply one step ahead of them.
One of the main features of Opera is its speed dial screen which allows you to enter 9 of your favourite websites that you can click and be directly linked to. At one time, this was unique to Opera however now many browsers (particularly Chrome which is near identical) have a feature such as this. Opera, like Safari, also contains widgets. These are little applications that can be run to perform certain tasks or provide some momentary entertainment. However, I must admit that Opera's widgets are pretty poor in comparison to those of the Safari browser.
One bonus of the Opera browser is that there are numerous themes available both from the Opera website and third party sources. However, this is Opera's only saving grace.
This would have been a great browser if it was released much earlier however, Opera browsers now seem dated in comparison to their competition.