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peckinpigeon

peckinpigeon
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Member since: 15.07.2011

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    • Sony Dualshock 3 / Game Controller / 37 Readings / 37 Ratings
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      07.09.2011 02:06
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      On my top list for controllers

      Having been away for a while due to computer trouble has left me with itchy keyboard fingers, and during that time, iv'e had plenty of time to think about reviews and play some sweet games, but having enjoyed writing a review of the Xbox controller so much and with a lovely comment left by a member that made me feel somewhat wanted, I thought i'd take a little look at one of my other favourite controllers, that of the PS3. So without further "ado" (spelling?) let's take a spin on the PS3 six axis dual shock controller (long name i know).

      Suddenly iv'e decided that the first thing i'm going to write about when reviewing controllers is the shoulder buttons, coming from an earlier generation of gaming, it took a while to get used to the idea of these so called "shoulder buttons", it offered a new spectrum in the control of computer games, and as games became more complex, so did the controllers, i hate to criticise, and i mean really hate to criticise (or compare for that matter), but when we look back at the N64 controllers, frankly, it's a mess, how many buttons, and how many super cramp hand positions where needed to weild that baby! So at least in the early days of modern gaming, Sony kept a fairly simple design that still survives today with the advent of the Dual shock controller for the PS3..... So any way, shoulder buttons.

      Let's talk FPS (first person shooter) anyone who's played one knows the importance of that all important trigger button, the playstation usually favours R1 or the R2 shoulder button, the R2 has a curved aspect and your finger can sit in the groove on the controllers back so it's often used for quick moves (reloading weapons and such), as your finger can leap up while another finger sits firmly on R1 providing heavy gunfire or other actions. R1 retains a flat aspect and your fingers can comfortably reach it at all times, naturally the L1 and L2 buttons are the same design. Now, the controllers horns reach down at an angle, meaning that when holding the controller your hand pressure allows you to access both the shoulder buttons and analogues sticks with absolute ease, nothing short of fabulous design there, but of course, it's down to the game developers to make sure this is utilised to full effect.

      A word about the analogue sticks, Sony has favoured a large, mushroom shaped design with a textured top, to avoid fingers slipping off them, they work well, and I find it easy to move between gentle and harsh movement, an example would be walking in RPG's which requires soft analogue control, or running which just requires you to full throttle the analogue and push it right to the edge, the analogue provides enough resistance for optimum control.

      A big problem i have with a lot of controllers is moving between the analogue and D-pad, a lot of controllers get it very wrong, some games utilise both the analogue and D-pad and sometimes the movement needs to be quick, my favourite design for solving this problem is the X-box 360 controller, the Dual shock has the D-pad positioned above left of the analogue stick, making movement fairly easy once your used to the controller, it's not the worst iv'e seen, but it's not the best and it makes up for it in other ways, so changing the controller design after so long would be silly. Your image of me is probably sitting at my keyboard with a sony baseball hat PS3 t-shirt and tomb raider undies and crash bandicoot socks, but seriously i'm not being a fanboy, the controllers design has one or two minor flaws, but changing them would just create another couple of minor flaws, so sticking to that classic design has been good for sony.

      Triangle, Square, Circle, Ex.. ahhh, in years to come, it could be as famous as Nintendos A and B, sony would dare not change it, and looking at a PS1 controller (appreciate it, because it took me ages to dig one out of the classic controller box!)' the design and button type has barely changed other than a sleeker design, and the fact of the matter is, at least i believe, is that gamers love a bit of familiarity, and the familiar layout and button type helps us familiarise ourselves with each of sonys consoles, so even when the PS4 rolls around, hopefully the controller will remain the same, and Playstation fans (crash bandicoot socks anyone?) will flock to the stores comfortable in the knowledge that the beloved six axis dual shock is the same as ever.

      Wires are gone by the way, the controller supports wireless, with a USB charging cable that fits the front of the console as opposed to having a large battery pack, think that does help with keeping the controller size at a minimum and retaining that sleek design. Start and select button anyone? select on the left, start on the right, would you believe it's been that way since at least 1985 with the release of the NES?
      Of course there is now a PS button in the center, acting as the on/off button, favouring a less lit up version than the Xbox controller.... I wanted lights....

      All in all, don't go third party for your playstation controllers, you just can't beat a classic design for a classic controller, and hopefully Sony will keep us in Six Axis for years to come.

      ©peckinpigeon

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        28.07.2011 15:30
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        Hedgehog with attitude, doesn't live under the shed.

        I want you to sit back for a minute and take yourself back to 1991, I want you to sit on that couch you had back then, i want you perhaps to get a cool refreshing drink... Turn on your telly.. and listen.... Seeeegaa, oh my word do you remember that sound, that sound just epitomized my younger days, and it's good to see that the Wii virtual console hasn't let any of that charm go, something so simple that captivated kids and adults alike for years and years.
        Back in 91 Mario and Sonic where preparing to go head to head in a little friendly competition and get ready for a nostalgia blow to the head as we take a look at the original and best sonic the Hedgehog, not the rather sorry and unfortunate mascot you see today, skiing with princess peach and toadstool...

        Now just in case you don't know anything about sonic i'll just brush over the premise for you, there's not much you need to know but i like a little background story myself.

        THE STORY OF HOW SONIC AND ROBOTNIK CAME TO BE

        Sonics the blue Hedgehog wearing red sneakers and he can run at incredible speeds because of an experiment by Doctor Ovi Kintobor.....
        Sonic was actually a brown hedgehog who dug into Kintobor's lab... Kintobor gave Sonic his trademark sneakers and taught him to run at incredible speeds... During an experiment Sonic caused a machine to overload by breaking the sound barrier with his speed, an explosion fused his quills together and gave him his trademark blue colouring. Kintobor himself was working mainly on an experiment to take all the negative energy on their home planet (Mobius) and compress it into emeralds called the chaos emeralds, with the intention of ridding the planet of that energy. Prior to the final experiment to compress the negative energy into the crystals, Sonic and Kintobor have lunch together, Kintobor forgets about a rotten egg left in the fridge, he collects it and makes his way back to lunch. Kintobor trips over a wire and his hand and the egg end up caught in his negative energy compressor machine, in the resulting explosion Kintobor takes on the shape and rottenness of the egg and becomes Robotnik (Kintobor spelled backwards, clever eh) also the rings of power that powered the machine scatter all over the world. Because of the exposure to the negative energy, naturally he becomes wholly evil. The opposite of the kindly old professor he once was.

        Now this story is not told in the game but that is Sonics original story and i thought you should know! The game centers around sonic trying to get all the Chaos Emeralds before Robotnik can, and Robotniks never far behind with one of his Nefarious machines, also he's captured all the animals on mobius and housed them in robotic suits making them his evil slaves.

        The game play is as simple as moving to the right and pressing A B C to jump (on the classic controller) over or onto various platforms, and to beef up the entertainment value there's 1ups and powerups all over the place. In each level there's also a scattering of Gold Power Rings, collect a hundred, you earn yerself a 1up, get hit, and you lose all your rings, get hit with no rings, you die. So nice and simple, just the way we used to like it!

        It was one of those classic Sega titles that had great replay value, you'd never be able to explore every level thoroughly in one play through, plus there's all the chaos emeralds to get (remember the old screen of Robotnik juggling them if you didn't get them all? we don't want that do we!). Don't be fooled also, the game is difficult, it's a kind of retro game frustrating difficult that we all know and love, and that sense of achievement for beating the game is nothing short of euphoric, and with sonic, it's always a pleasure to see what kind of machine Robotniks got up his sleeve next! A great thing about the whole original series in general is the Robotnik machines just kept getting better and more original and boy did my heart get poundin when that boss music started up!

        Sonic is available on so many different formats and platforms now so you wouldn't have trouble finding it, and iv'e always sung the praises of the Wii virtual console, but if you still own an old Sega Megadrive or Genesis go and get yourself a cartridge, it's just an unbeatable feeling pluggin those baby's in!

        Overall, you shouyld get sonic for that classic retro feel, and plus it's an incredibly vibrant and colourful game, just like all the old Sega titles where and even now, looking at it on the Wii virtual console it's retained all it's charming Sega feel and even though Sonic as a franchise feels truly over now (unless they pull somethin seriously good out there butts), it's a good time to look back at Sonic for the cool blue dude he was back then.

        ©peckinpigeon

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          28.07.2011 14:49
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          Proudly sits at the top of piles of old controllers.

          Iv'e never written a review for a game controller before, but i'm up for trying, and where better to start than this little beauty. First off may i say what a vast improvement this controller is over the original, the old black behemoth was nothing short of an invitation to cramp city, there should be a book written on the necessary hand positions needed to use the blasted thing.

          Thankfully the 360 controller has been squeezed down into a more human hand friendly shape and maintains a lovely curvy aspect that fits snuggly in yer' mitts. They must have done a lot of design research, no matter where you put your hands on the controller, all your fingers just have a place to be, no matter what kind of awkward button press is required, and they should be applauded for the button layout which i'll take a gander at now.

          Starting with the shoulder buttons (the back ones being referred to as triggers). From holding the controller in what i'm now going to refer to as "standard" position, access to the back triggers is easy, making FPS games a breeze, the triggers sport a neat curve to accommodate the finger and you can easily move to the front shoulder buttons which retain a more simple flat button aspect, so as to avoid confusing them with the triggers during particularly tense gaming moments.

          Flip the device over to the front and your presented with my absolute favourite aspect of any controller iv'e had the pleasure of filling with crisp crumbs. The D-pad is almost perfectly spaced away from the left analogue stick, just below it to the right in fact, and so many bloody controllers get this wrong. Some games require you to move quickly between the analogue and D-pad, a lot of controllers have them positioned awkwardly away from each other making this difficult and occasionally frustrating. The Xbox 360 solves this with SIMPLE LOGICAL DESIGN. On top of that the D-pad is supported by a rollerball and sits slightly raised from the base, so fans of fighting games and the new street fighter will find it easy to handle those specials.
          A lot of the design features work to reduce the amount of time you spend looking down at the controller to check your accuracy, all the buttons have a feel to them so once your used to the controller you'll find it incredibly easy to use and you won't have much trouble adapting to new games.

          Both the left and right analogue sticks have raised bumps around the circumference which is neat because the analogue sticks are quite small and you could slip off, but not too small to be considered awkward though, they are I suppose the Baby bears porridge of analogue sticks, juuuust right. X, Y, B and A retain there classic formation, housed in there glassy bubbles on the front. And in the center taking pride and place(apart from stat and select, there there too don't worry), the Big Xbox X button, which during play glows a cheery green, you can also use it to turn the console on at a distance, making you feel completely in control, or at least like a cyborg (just me?).

          There are two power options for the wireless controller, on the back you have a clip out compartment for two AA batteries, or you could plug it in, making it not wireless but functional none the less. The battery life for the controller is pretty good, my Xbox playing is a bit sporadic, but i find that with fairly regular play you can squeeze a couple of weeks out of the little bugger. Also below the battery pack is the plug in point for your Xbox headset, the headset that comes with the actual console is not very good and you should try and replace it immediately if you intend to play online! Being able to shove the headset straight into the controller is another one of my favourite things about the controller.

          As far as playing games with the controller, the response time is about 70 percent down to the game developers but every last percent of that hundred is positive to the controllers command response. And of course what controller would be complete without the rumble feature, nothing more satisfying than taking out Locusts when you can feel the rumble of your chainsaw machine gun!

          Overall a delicious sleek design, and a vast improvement on the original controller, and all round definitely one of my top controllers, a controller that uses SIMPLE LOGICAL DESIGN to the greatest effect.

          ©peckinpigeon

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          • Bioshock (PS3) / Playstation 3 Game / 17 Readings / 17 Ratings
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            26.07.2011 16:01
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            leaves you breathless.... you know... like underwater... anyone?

            A game that receives as much hype as this one did can never live up to it can it? Bioshock really blew us out of the water (bad pun) when it hit the scene way back in 2004, highly involved twisty turny storyline, great action and some seriously stunning, stunning, stunning visuals, there's just not enough art deco in computer games, that is to say there's not enough good art deco themes, and for fans of the style like myself, we can really fill our boots here.

            Set in 1960 the opening story is brief, I can't really go any further than the opening because the plot seems very delicately balanced and nothing short of brilliant and anything more will just open a big juicy can of Spoiler for ya' so here goes.
            You play a nameless faceless character whose plane has just crashed into the ocean (FPS+Aircraft=crash), you see a tower reaching into the sky out of the ocean and you swim towards it. Inside, lights start to flicker on and a voice reveals itself as Andrew Ryan he welcomes you to what you now know is Rapture, you climb into an underwater elevator and with the voice still ringing in your ear one of the most stunning moments in gaming happens, the cityscape of Rapture is revealed to you, bright Vegas like lights and billboards, all with fishes and sharks and beautiful corals surrounding everything. You plunge into Rapture, and find that everything is dark and there's voices... Suddenly a radio whirs into life, a man with an Irish accent starts talking to you, and there's something outside....

            Such a great opening to a video game, your plunged straight into the atmosphere and you can plainly see that Rapture is a wreck of what was once a beautiful city, the entire game is worth checking out just on the basis of story to, as soon as you land in rapture the story starts to twist and turn and the mystery of the whole affair really is never truly reveled to you.

            On the game play side of things, it's a first person shooter, you also have your trusty wrench for those sticky moments on top of all the pistols and shotguns you'll be using, there's also the fabulous gangster "Tommy gun" to get your hands on. The innovation in Bioshock comes in the form of plasmids, one of the first thing the mysterious Irish man asks you to do is inject a strange red substance known as "Adam" into yourself, it grants you special abilities like firing lightning bolts out of your hand or telekinesis and mind control among'st other things. You soon find out that the citizens of Rapture have been over using Adam and plasmids for years, thinking that they where only making themselves stronger and fitter, where in fact they've all been driven completely insane and there physical bodies have become deformed because of there need for this precious substance. These unfortunate souls are known now as "Splicers" and they are the main enemy in the game, it's your job to take them out using a combination of standard weapons and plasmid abilities. To power your new found abilities you'll have to locate yet another substance, a mysterious blue liquid known as "Eve", it's found in the vending machines dotted around rapture and also scattered about the game world.

            In true FPS form the security systems in Rapture have gone haywire, luckily you can hack the systems, making various articles like gun turrets and security cameras work for you, you could even hack the vending machines for a discount, neat!
            This is done by playing the hacking mini game, you need to use a system of pipes to navigate a blue liquid to a goal, moving and rotating various shapes of pip like deranged Tetris. The minigame becomes somewhat annoying and by the end of the game you'll be an expert at it, it's probably the only thing I found remotely annoying about the game.

            Now, you'd think with a drug like substance pumping through the veins of Raptures citizens granting them immense power that there'd be some sort of policing for it? well fear not the "Big Daddies" are out there for the good of the people, until now of course. Big Daddies are great lumbering beasts in diving suits, usually equipped with a huge drill or a nice big gun, each Big Daddy looks after a creepy little girl known as a "Little Sister". It transpires that when a citizen of Rapture dies, the precious Adam needs to be extracted from there veins, the Little Sisters carry an evil looking syringe for that purpose exactly, they call the dead bodies "Angels".... *shudder*
            These days the Splicers mercilessly hunt down the little sisters to procure the Adam in there possession, but they have to get passed their Big Daddy first, there are some great moments watching Splicers take on the Big Daddies in Rapture, usually resulting in them dying a swift miserable death. Now should you be lucky enough to capture a Little Sister you can procure some precious Adam for yourself... but will you be so merciless? you can outright kill the poor creature and harvest all the Adam for yourself, or you can rescue the Little Girl and send her off to the "Orphanage" and take only a small amount of Adam.... The choice is yours....

            As you journey through Rapture, you'll really get the feel of a living city, even in it's darkest days there's still advertisement posters littered around the city and evidence of splicers having a boozeup in the bar and little splicer camps with a nice warm fire and spent syringes littered around. The city even has it's own market, Public Gardens and my personal favourite was the theatre area where a deranged Splicer is still putting on shows and "creating" artworks.

            Something I always end up mentioning is the voice acting, I do feel strongly about the role of voice acting in games and so many games get it so horribly wrong that I feel it's worth mentioning every time.
            Bioshock is a shiner when it comes to the voicing, you'll fall in love with the Mysterious Irish accent from Atlus, and you'll dig the southern flavour of Sinclairs dulcid tones. There are also the voice diary tapes to collect around Rapture and anyone who wants to get really involved with the story of Rapture can fill their boots with some brilliantly acted monologues from Raptures lost souls and deranged denziens. You'll also enjoy as I did, listening to the Splicers chatting among'st themselves, again adding to the citys truly living feel and also the sense that these poor folks had a life before becoming the twisted drug addled forms they are today.

            I only really had one gripe with the game apart from the hacking minigame and that was with the fact you have to swap between standard weapons and plasmid abilities, it's a bit of a learning curve and more often than not you can mess it up in the middle of a tense fight. This problem was actually fixed in the second installment of the game so at least it was acknowledged.

            Overall Bioshock is an absolutely stunning game, masterfully crafted with some real original ideas. And I feel even now in 2011 it offers some gameplay experiences that will last through the ages and should not be missed. It's also available at a pretty reasonable price now so if you don't have Bioshock in your library I seriously recommend it.

            ©peckinpigeon

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            • More +
              26.07.2011 15:03
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              Not worth missing for Sergio Leone fans!

              Anyone remember Gun from 2005 on the PS2? Let's all stop talking about Red Dead Redemption like we'd never seen anything like it before, fact is, it's been done. That however is not to say that Red Dead Redemption isn't fantastic, it's just not that innovative or full of new ideas like the marketing would have you believe. It is, as they say, Grand Theft Auto with horses, that's another thing that gets on my nerves, it was the marketing that told us all how not like GTA it was and the fact of the matter is that although there are huge adjustments making the game a thousand times better than GTA and there's enough new features in the game to mask the niggling similarities, but the fact of the matter is, Rockstar will have to try harder to shake there annoying little child of there back and of course the marketing department is going to harp on and on about how different it is this time... Right I think that's off my chest anyway, lets take a look at Red Dead Redemption with as few GTA references as possible.

              The Story and the world around you.

              Suffice to say your a rootin tootin cowboy bandit by the name o' John Marston, and after his ol' possie left him for dead after a job gone terribly wrong, John's lookin' ta' go straight and raise up some kids with his family. But his past is never far behind him and he's forced to work for the government who've kidnapped his missus and he's sent to hunt down his old gang.

              Nice simple storyline to get you in the mood, typical of open world games where the story is fed to you as you go along leaving room for any twists and turns there might be, and of course just enough flavour to get you in the mood, and your thrown straight into one of the most gorgeous open world environments you'll ever have the pleasure of seeing in gaming. You wouldn't have thought they had the most extensive palette under there belt here (think desert and cacti), but the world around you has some amazing texturing and detail and the lighting, it all just roars out of the screen at you, so the huge open world just sits there begging to be explored. The sun beats down on the environment and you can really feel the heat, it works a great contrast because when it's raining you feel genuinely cool and refreshed so absolutely top marks for setting with this one.

              As with most open world games there's plenty to keep you sidetracked from the main storyline. Essentially by completing the story missions and sidequests offered to you by townsfolk, you gain fame, something that was quite entertaining was when people came running at me out of nowhere and you wind up helping them defend their wagon from bandits and other times a horse thief might decide to try his luck, and you can mount up and chase em down! Other ways of gaining fame is by becoming a bounty hunter or perhaps looking out for people who want to challenge you to a duel more takes your fancy, a nice touch is that you gain more fame by taking in bounties alive, and also by shooting guns out of peoples hands in duels as opposed to killing them outright. Being famous grants you the respect of the NPC's and a discount in the local stores in each of the towns. You can however choose to be infamous by terrorising the good townsfolk and just generally drinkin' an' fightin' an' stealin' yer way round the old west. The disadvantage being that most stores won't even sell to you and you'll be accosted by bounty hunters all over the place. There is a way round this though, throw a bandanna round your moosh and you won't be recognized, but the sheriff will come out with his possie and you'll need to outrun them, even if you escape there'll be a bounty on your head unless you can pick up a letter of pardon or pay the bounty off yourself.

              Short of cash? there's a number of ways to make a little dough on your jaunt through the old west apart from bounty huntin', in town you can relax with a nice game of poker, liars dice or some other gambling mini games. Perhaps horse racing is more to your taste, or you could just run around in the wilds huntin' down the wide variety of species available and skinning them for valuable hides, and strangely.. pick wild flowers...

              So there's plenty of things to keep you occupied in the game world and to be honest, I really enjoyed exploring the world and a few side missions are a great excuse to get out there, you can even get yourself down to the train station, wait for the train to roll around and hitch a ride, just settle down and watch the world go by. Fantastic!

              Gameplay.

              John Marston is a gun slingin' galoot there's no question there, but he comes across as a genuinely likeable character with the aid of some expert voice acting, there is in fact some of the best voice acting iv'e ever heard in a game. Every single character right down to the NPC's matches their look and there place in the story. The game is just bursting with characters who you quickly learn to love or hate, and they all come across as very memorable. My particular favourite was the first sheriff you encounter who has two deputy's with him, there both thick as muck but come in very handy in a gun fight, they where like the comic relief duo, the Laurel and Hardy of the story, and despite the plots serious notes there are some comic moments, you'll come across town drunks, even a Welshman, which I thought might be a clever reference to Billy the Kid who was in fact himself a Welshman.

              So, onto the horsies. The horse riding mechanic works nicely, it has a few little niggles but overall I didn't find it too difficult, and in this game you'll be riding around a lo. so you can be thankful that the horse riding mechanic works! You can steal or buy horses as you see fit, perhaps you should shoot a bad guy off his horse, steal it, then ride around gunning down the rest of the gang, you can do that here! On top of the horse riding, one of the best parts about the "driving" aspect of the game, was thundering around in the carts and wagons, as you speed along they creak and rattle like they might fall apart at any moment! Firing a weapon while on horseback can be a little difficult but it's helped along by the dead eye mechanic, i'll get to that in a little while.

              The gun play never gets old, John will take up anything from pistols to shotguns, throwing knives and lassos! The Lasso is great fun, you can wrangle horses with it, or tie up bandits (or townsfolk) and take them for a ride on your steed, or take em' down to the ol' jailhouse. And for those of you who can't aim for toffee (me), there's the dead eye mechanic, it slows down time and allows you to select your targets and then watch the resulting bloodbath ensue Yeehaw!

              Overall

              The story missions themselves are nicely varied, seeing you take out hideouts or blow up mountain passes to block trains right down to a little cattle drivin' there's an impressive display of variety within the game, they've taken the best of the west and squeezed it all nicely into one package. It all works together to create an amazing western movie aspect and atmosphere, all nicely helped along by the Sergio Leone'esque soundtrack that can put a tear in your eye.

              Also once the credits tick over you can experience some of the sweet sweet multiplayer on offer. You can have huge shootouts or put together a possie and just roam the free world wreaking havok in the old west.

              There's not all that much to "round up" (ooh bad puns again) with Red Dead Redemption, if you like the western genre in general and you like openworld gameplay (see I didn't say GTA!), then it's safe to say that Red Dead Redemption is the game for you. Plus don't forget to check out the DLC, Red Dead Redemption Undead Nightmare!

              So saddle up boys i'm off to write me some reviews.

              ©peckinpigeon

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              • Apple iPhone 4 32 GB / Smartphone / 8 Readings / 7 Ratings
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                26.07.2011 13:31
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                your new favourite smartphone!

                Iv'e decided to review the Iphone 4, although I chiefly stick to game and game console reviews, something reminded me that iv'e been playing games on Iphone's since they came out. I find the Iphone to be a capable gaming platform, with it's own rather comprehensive APP store and Apples undefeatable support Network, Iphone is proving itself to be a truly worthy franchise and still remains on top of a market burgeoning with imposters. Blasting competition out the water and generally providing excellent products and services. But I could sit here all day and twitter about apps and games but i'm going to take a serious look at the Iphone 4.

                Design.

                Let's start with a little out of the box section. The new design is quite minimalist, the curved backs of the previous models have given way to the flat design, I personally feel the Iphone has benefited from this, for starters it's easier to set down! And it doubles up as a coaster (DON'T). The plain black design is broken up by the stainless steel sides and sports altogether chunkier buttons, personally i like them, although some people prefer the sleeker buttons on the other models I actually like the fact that the buttons are more raised and easier to press in my opinion. Only problem would be the silent switch, the new design is better but it still gets caught when you put the phone in your pocket, my sound advice is to check and double check your phone is on silent if your about to head into a meeting!

                The Phone has retained the classic front look of the previous models, big shiny home button glaring out at you in the bottom center, and is now sporting a toughened glass screen said to be made of some space age fiber. Now listen to me, toughened glass doesn't mean that Batman would keep one in his utility belt, if you drop it, it may break, the toughened glass is no substitute for a good hard case, and you should get one ASAP if your buying this phone, you may be well defended against scratches and nicks, but i don't care how many men in white coats drop the phone to show us how tough it is, you don't want to end up in the broken phone demographic.

                Overall a very striking design, and surprisingly is actually slimmer than the previous models, although it's shape doesn't give that away, it's design makes it look thicker and more industrial, but that in itself is a thing of beauty, and remains one of the thinnest smartphones on the market today.

                The Iphone as a Phone.

                A quick note on the aerial, part of the stainless steel rim on the outside of the phone acts as the aerial for the phone itself. There has been some connectivity issues with the Iphone 4, it doesn't always pick up reception properly and the problems never really had a fix. The initial rumour was that holding the phone a certain way caused it to loose connectivity, so everyone was sent those rubber cases for it, but that rumour was debunked and we never heard much back from them regarding it, in fact, lately we've had "will be fixed with the iphone 5 which will have no aerial issues", if that really did come from apple it seems a bit cheap. In my own experience I have had the dropped calls and the bad reception, but it hasn't been terrible, but still, as a device that's being touted as a "phone" there shouldn't really have been a problem there.

                Therefore the real test for the "phone" side of things would be the call quality, the Iphone has some good sound filtering, which initially claimed to block out the noise of traffic and the general riff raff of the outside world, my guess is that it works very well but i don't have a lot to compare it to. The general sound quality of the phone is good also, as with the previous model the speakers will play music and these speakers are considerably louder and clearer but there still only really good for listening to music privately or showing your mates a video on Youtube. One thing i thought the speakers where great at where the loudspeaker on the phone, iv'e been able to pop the phone down on the arm of the sofa and chat as normal (maybe a tad louder), whilst the poor mug on the other end of the phone has to actually "hold" the phone to there face! Ha, the troglodytes!

                Video calls are considerably better too, the front camera picks up fairly quickly and now that face time comes at no additional cost for most contracts perhaps i'll find more use for it, but for the time being I rarely use it so I can't really elaborate too much.

                The WiFi connectivity is pretty easy, if you have home wireless just pop the username and password in and off you go, most contracts allow you access to the 3G and Edge networks as well, the Iphone as an internet enabled phone i have found to be nothing short of excellent, Edge and 3G work flawlessly in most areas and being hooked up to WiFi offers service not much unlike your home computer.

                A quick note on the battery life, they've solved that problem, it's so unbelievably much better than the 3G and earlier models. Hard use gets about a day, and mild usage about two to three days (but that is really mild!).
                My little tip would be when you get your shiny new Iphone 4 make sure all your cables and charger wires are new or at least in a good state, bad wires can cause a bit of overheating on the device and we don't want that!

                Screen resolution and camera.

                The HD looks stunning, watching Cats on YouTube has never been so good, if you want the best out of YouTubes resolution you'll need to be hooked up to WiFi though, the resolution will adjust depending on what connection you have to reduce the streaming times. However watching HD movies and TV shows you've downloaded to the Hard Drive look amazing, it's better than the resolution on some Televisions and computer monitors and should be applauded. The only real problem is glare from the sun and bright lighting, but the auto brightness seems to sort it out so keep it switched on when your out and about, plus i don't know anyone who wants to duke it out with the sun over a little screen resolution.

                The camera quality is vastly superior over the previous models, but it's not superb, there's a lot of showcasing of peoples amazing photos that they've taken with the Iphones camera but bear in mind that these people are usually professional photographers and can take a good photo with a disposable camera if they try hard enough. The addtion of a flash comes in incredibly handy, also there are a number of apps to add filters and edit photos, so if there are any budding photographers you are catered for here. I do think however that the camera is good enough that i wouldn't bother taking an additional digital camera on a family outing or perhaps even a holiday, partly because you also get the video function on the 4G and again there a number of apps to provide you with good user friendly video editing software.

                Functionality and the Iphone as a gaming Platform.

                I won't harp on about how good swipe technology is, we all know about by now, it's innovative and it's satisfying to use. one tidbit I will release is that Apple recently won the copyright for swipe tech, i'm sure it's all very boring and business oriented but perhaps they've got something else planned with it for the future?
                My experience with the swipe technology has been favourable and I don't recall anyone having any real problems getting the hang of it. I suppose using the touch keyboard is something of a learning curve but once you've got that down even fumbling fingers like mine can navigate the keys with relative ease.

                With the Itunes store being available on the device itself, and our burgeoning music collections bursting at the seams, i'd say that the reasonably large 32GB hardrive is worth looking into when choosing which Iphone you want, you'll be surprised how fast you can fill this baby up! The extra money you dish out for the extra storage soon becomes well worth it. And one thing you should remember with the Ipod, the sound quality is only as good as the headphones you use. The sound the Iphone gives is flawless, but it's for nought if you use the headphones that have been sat in the draw for a year... you know the ones with the wires hanging out and the foam earpads missing!

                So we arrive comfortably in the gaming section of this review. Pop to Appstore and you'll be amazed at the broad range of game titles and the variety available. In among'st the physics puzzlers and Angry birds, there's also a big variety of educational games and language games, so if your just plain wasting time or educating yourself, your being catered for by the App store. Where the Iphone really shines for Apps and Gaming is the fact that it kind of harks back to the days when computer games came on cassette and people started making there own basic computer games for the market. Now, in the days of PS3 and Xbox, even bedroom developers once again have the chance to get there face out there and compete in the huge open market of gaming, and so far they've shown some real skill and come up with some original and entertaining games. This of course has worked no end to Apple's profits.

                Overall Apple and the Iphone in general are market leaders for a reason, they remain at the forefront of current technology and Apples support for it's customers has been nothing short of unbeatable.
                If your choosing a smartphone I would seriously take an Iphone into consideration.

                ©peckinpigeon

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                • Dead Space (PS3) / Playstation 3 Game / 9 Readings / 9 Ratings
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                  26.07.2011 12:15
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                  5 necromorph limbs out of five!

                  When Dead Space arrived in 2008. it was nice to see something new in the survival horror genre that didn't involve a T-virus and a shotgun, and, with a second installment and animated film the Dead Space franchise looks set to last long into the future... The dark bloody future.

                  Set in 2508 you are Isaac Clarke (i'm refusing to mention the Isaac Asimov and Arthur C Clarke reference.) an engineer who, as part of a maintenance team sent to repair the USG Ishimura, essentially a grey red dwarf (it looks scarily like red dwarf believe me), the Ishimura is a planet cracker, a ship that's part of a huge fleet of spacecraft sent to grab asteroids from the vast reaches of space and strip them of valuable resources to be taken back to earth. It transpires that Isaac has a number of pals on board the Ishimura and is plagued by visions of a mysterious woman we know little about... just yet anyway.
                  Once the crew arrive on the ship they find it's a complete wreck, there have been strange goings on in the Ishimura since they brought on board a strange alien artifact and now they find the ship infested with ghastly, lanky zombie like creatures known as Necromorphs. Your craft gets destroyed (what do computer games have against aircraft?) and it's up to you to find a way off the Ishimura. Easier said than done naturally...

                  Isaac has no weapons per say, just a handful of engineers equipment, luckily for him, the plasma cutter functions much like a pistol and conveniently the best way to kill a Necromorph is to slice it's limbs off, and Isaac has a buzzsaw for that purpose exactly! Don't get me wrong it's a really neat idea to be using re purposed engineers equipment for hacking up enemies! That's the main part of the games combat, there calling it "strategic dismemberment", enemies don't go down with head shots or body shots, you'll have to use the available weapons to blast off limbs to do maximum damage, once there on the ground Isaac can also deliver a stomp to crush the heads of anything still living that happens to be crawling along the floor. Believe me when i say the whole affair is immensely satisfying, especially using the saw, watching your unfortunate foes explode in a shower of blood and limbs!
                  A little note on Necromorphs, there's a wide variety of disturbing creatures on offer, you've got the standard type, a tall long limbed beastie with limbs just begging to be blown off, a huge juggernaut type that takes ages to take down, grotesque nasties hanging from the wall spitting at you, ones that fly through the air in deep space, ones that explode and the list goes on and on, you'll never find yourself bored for a Necromorph in Dead Space!

                  Isaac can pick up power nodes along the way to add upgrades to your weapons at one of the many workbenches scattered around the ship. You can make weapons more powerful add ammo or reduce loading times, you need to use the nodes wisely though as they are in limited supply, so you should pick your favorite child among'st the weaponry and upgrade the hell out of it!
                  Isaac can also upgrade his suit, to toughen him up against the Necromorphs bladey arms (or whatever there meant to be), or to upgrade the air supply on the suit (more on that later).
                  Isaac's suit also comes equipped with a "stasis module" granting him the ability to use telekinetic powers such as moving objects from a distance, pulling levers and even pick up items to launch at enemies which is difficult to master but tons of fun! He can also use stasis to slow down objects that... errm... Need slowing down (you'll see).

                  Now about that air supply, there are some great moments in the game that are set outside on the ships hull, and while your out in deep space you'll need to watch your air supply unless you want to see Isaac's brain come out of his nose. There's no gravity in space (obviously) so there are parts where you have to plan jumps and float through the void of space to land on platforms, there's a particularly fantastic boss fight set in a vast room and no gravity, meaning you have to concentrate on about 6 things at once to survive! Space is also silent, it offer a nice quiet part to the game, there are no alarms blaring or screeching Necromorphs, which can be nice but when you can't hear a Necromorph sneaking up on you the results can be deadly (in space no one can hear you scream, or fire a gun... or your own farts... tee hee).

                  Like most survival horror games Isaac moves quite slowly and offers that so called realism survival horrors love so much, but he does suffer from the unfortunate disability that causes him to not turn around without five minutes of free time so keep your eyes open there.
                  There's a nice little in game hud that flashes up in front of Isaac's face as a hologram, you do everything here, from selecting weapons, mapping and using first aid items. Isaac also receives transmissions from the other characters via the suit hud, and it all happens in real time effectively meaning there's no pause menu to apply first aid in the middle of a fight, it really adds to the tense isolated atmosphere of the game.

                  Speaking of atmosphere, Dead space practically sweats atmosphere out of every available pore. The Ishimura is a mess of bloodied corpses and flickering lights, with messages scrawled on the walls in blood and in places there are whole areas swamped in alien "goo". Necromorphs dive at you through vents and possess corpses, it all adds to the horrifying atmosphere that your never really safe and for a survival horror game that's just about what you want. I really felt Dead Space went out there to be a new refreshing survival horror title and succeeded thoroughly.

                  There are those traditional survival horror game bug bears, such as spending half the game back tracking because you need a different keycard or because the security system failed "yet again" blocking you off from the one area of the game you need to get to. Also a lot of the scares just kind of felt like basic shock tactics with enemies jumping out at you so frequently that by the games end your almost completely used to it, and the fear is just lost on you.
                  Those really are just minor gripes though, and there pretty common in the survival horror genre, You'll be so taken in by the visuals, which are excellent, and the general atmosphere of the game that you probably won't be too bothered.

                  Something i always seem to mention in my reviews is the voice acting in games, for Dead Space it gets my top seal of approval, both the voice acting and the voices they've picked for the characters are excellent. Even the screams of dying crew members and Necromorph Shrieks work amazingly well to add to the feel of the game. The sound of the buzzsaw and the blasting of the plasma cutter also make the action immensely satisfying.

                  Overall, turn out the lights and let Dead spaces stunning visuals, skin crawling atmosphere and tense action take you over. A nice new title to add to the survival horror genre, and one that's well worth a look in.

                  ©peckinpigeon

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                  • Fable II (Xbox 360) / Xbox 360 Game / 18 Readings / 16 Ratings
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                    21.07.2011 06:48
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                    Crisp and refreshing, the Carlsberg of RPG's

                    Peter Molyneux's second installment of fable, set 500 years after the events of the first, you follow the story (male OR female this time) of Sparrow, you begin life as a child urchin in the big city of Bowerstone. After acquiring a magic music box, and using it to make a wish, you and your sister Rose are taken to the castle Fairfax, where the evil Lucien has been alerted by the magic from the box, claiming that you and your sister are "Heroes of Albion" he shoots your sister, he shoots sparrow also but he/she falls backward through the castle window and plummets to the ground.
                    You are rescued and raised by a gypsy fortune teller. and she tells you of the "heroes of Albion" and how you must become the greatest hero in all the land (bedtime story anyone?). And so your journey begins.

                    After a couple of missions to set the scene and teach you the game mechanics, your pretty much left to your own devices, there are so many features outside the main storyline you'll be kept occupied for hours, you can take up a job to earn gold, such as smithing or woodcutting, later you'll be able to become a bar tender and pull pints for the locals. With said gold you can buy properties and rent them out, or run businesses, get married to anyone you like, have children with them and then slaughter them all if you fancy, or bring them home little pressies (you can take the missus to bed to, it's not graphic though). You can carry out side missions for the locals or other people in need around Albion, most of the side missions are a good laugh to do and have there own little story behind them. Or you could just go explore Albion and take down Bandits until the end of creation, there is no time limit in Fable 2.

                    It's not the worlds most graphically advanced game, but i think it wins there because of it's individual style, it has a 3d comic style and the whole game and the world of Albion itself really fits nicely into the graphical style, on top of that there aren't many clipping issues and the camera work is good. The individual style that the Fable series in general has, i guess is down to taste, personally i quite like it.

                    In this second installment you'll be accompanied by a dog, a very good dog at that, he never gets in your way during combat, plus he'll sniff out treasure and help take out your foes, you can train him up using books found around Albion or in shops. You don't even have to look after him or break out the pooper scooper if you don't want to because he'll never roll over dead, even if you don't keep a steady supply or treats coming his way. Some people will love the furry little cutie pie and furnish him with doggy snacks and pet him right through the game, and some people won't like him so much, scold him and withhold the scooby snacks, none of it has any affect on the game, so ultimately you shouldn't even feel guilty if you just ignore him altogether. He's there for fun and occasionally to help drive the story on a little bit, so just enjoy him.

                    There are collectibles all over Albion, 50 gargoyles to hunt down and destroy, destroying a certain number gives you access to a secret area to obtain some treasure such as gold and weapons. There are also demon doors who require you to perform a certain action to open them, to acquire more treasures, and there are 50 silver keys to find, use them to open treasure chests to obtain... yup... more treasure. Also there are a handful of magic statues, each with a riddle which must be solved.

                    So... are you loved or hated in Albion? As you traverse the world performing noble or evil actions and completing quests, your popularity in Albion will rise or lower as the case may be. For a little boost in popularity you can stand in the town square or tavern and dance for the people, or pay a bard to sing about how great you are, or you could woo the shopkeepers into giving you a little discount in there stores.
                    Alternatively you could mooch about and beg for money, or even extort money out of the them, chase after people, and even slap them about a bit!

                    All of this goes on outside the main storyline, and a lot of people consider this simply "faffing around" but my personal opinion is if you enjoy that sort of thing then my lord will you love the Fable series, it's sometimes like an incredibly elaborate and dare i say far more entertaining SIM's like game in a lovely fantasy setting.

                    So besides all that, there is a storyline, and it's that you basically must become the greatest hero in Albion, so getting into tons of scraps is a good plan, and you tailor your hero by earning experience orbs, which burst out of slain enemies and scatter over the floor, you need to hoover them up like a cat sucking treats out of the shag carpet (i didn't buy the shag carpet it was there when we moved in thank you very much).
                    These "orbs" can be allocated into three areas, using the swords and hammers gives you blue orbs for strength based abilities (more damage and combat techniques), using the guns and crossbows gives you yellow orbs, for speed and accuracy based attributes, and using magic gives you red orbs, for more spells and adding power to spells you already have. Fear not though, you won't be pigeon holed into one area of expertise because each fight yeilds a scattering of twinkly green orbs that can be allocated anywhere.

                    The look of your character changes when you acquire attributes in the three areas, using melee combat and acquiring strength attributes makes you look more muscular, using ranged weapons and associated attributes grants you more height, and using magic has a variety of little effects on your character, using fire magic blackens your hands and face, and lightning magic has you sporting glowy lightning shaped marks all over your body!

                    The combat itself is wonderfully simple affair, X is your melee combat button, Y for your ranged attack, and B for magic, holding down B gives you an area of effect magic attack (spam spam spam, spiced pork and ham), so the combat can be spiced up by chopping and changing attack modes to take out different enemies. Should you fall in battle, you'll be revived, but any experience orbs scattered on the ground will be lost forever, and you'll be sporting a scar somewhere on your body, if your not a big fan of battle scarred warriors, you might be lucky enough to stumble on a "scar vanishing potion" so Fable has an answer for everything!
                    You can heal yourself in battle with potions or food, but beware, chomping fatty treats like pies and steaks will plump up your character, if you don't like the plump look you'll have to start munching celery and carrots to slim down again!

                    Another thing on giving your character a distinctive look apart from buying and acquiring new clothes, is how you play the story, if you go a' rampaging and marauding you'll turn pale as a vampire with an evil look in your eyes. Buying propery and raising the rent, or extorting and threatening the townsfolk will turn you corrupt, covered in acne and flies will buzz around your grubby person! whereas if you rescue grannies kitty from a tree and generally act pure and good, handing out money to beggars and strangely, eating tofu, will give you perfect complexion and a glowing Halo. A nice little touch was being both evil and corrupt had you sporting a dark craggy complexion with lava scars and horns worthy of old Nick himself!

                    I've gone on and on about the extras in Fable and as i say if you like this sort of malarky you'll love Fable 2, for those looking for a rich storyline i don't think you'll be disappointed either. I really enjoyed the main storyline, it's nice and simple, but well thought out with a couple of little twists to keep you going, and the characters all have there own quirks and eccentricities. The voice acting is superb, and the type of game that benefits most from good voice acting is an RPG, it's quite comical most of the time, and oddly all the townspeople speak with a Bristol accent so there's plenty of humour in the games script, so it's not the dark fantasy style western RPG that's so popular with developers these days.

                    Overall iv'e found myself saying "if you like this sort of thing" quite a lot, but when looking at some of the criticism of the Fable series in general, I felt it was a little too harsh on Fable when it came to the features in the game, so ultimately Fable 2 is what it is, an action RPG/life slim (with a Bristol accent) with a rich game world and fun accessable gameply.

                    Fable 2 is what it is, you'll love it, or you'll hate it.

                    ©peckinpigeon

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                    • More +
                      21.07.2011 05:56
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                      An excellent all round console

                      This is quite a leap from the gameboy advance, a really huge leap with bells on it. The DS is a great little console, the portable handheld games market has peaked somewhat but it's the Nintendo DS that seems to still manage to come out on top.

                      Nintendo has a long history of handheld games consoles and have captivated gamers since the original gameboy (we'll exclude the Virtua boy though!) So now i'll be taking a look at the Nintendo DS.

                      The design of the console itself isn't stunningly beautiful per say, it's got a nice gloss polish finish and a rectangle clam shell design, and it's simplicity in design creates a console that fits nicely into your hands, you have access to all the consoles buttons very easily without strain or effort, and that's the first thing you ask for in a handheld, so it wins there over the PSP and the earlier Neo Geo, both of which are quite awkward to hold and button access is somewhat of an effort.
                      You have the two L and R shoulder buttons, A, B and a D-pad, all well designed and easy to press (you'll be surprised how many games consoles have got even that bit wrong!). There's is the top screen and the bottom screen where you'll be using the DS's stylus. The screen resolution is excellent and with the DS lite you don't have to move around too much to find a spot where you can see everything clearly, and with the backlight you can play in the dark to (not that you should be doing that!)

                      Most of the game action takes place on the top screen, and you the player will be furiously scribbling away at the bottom screen with the stylus, and may i say the stylus works flawlessly, weather your writing with it or swinging a sword you'll have little trouble getting it to work, although with writing there's a small learning curve on how to write certain letters so that the device will recognize them, but the instruction manuals for games requiring you to write usually have a section on certain letters of the alphabet and how best to write them with the stylus, so no real trouble there and you'll get used to that very quickly.

                      Overall the stylus is very satisfying to use, they seem to have been able to make it work with all games (including the ported versions of N64 titles) from brain training to zelda and each title often has it's own little way of performing certain actions, so your always on your toes with the stylus.
                      Another feature is the microphone which even now i feel has not been taken full advantage of, voice technology just doesn't work properly yet, even the voice control functions for my Iphone only work half the time, peoples voices are just too diverse for the technology to work, i had particular trouble with brain training, a typical conundrum would be

                      Brain training: say the colours you see on the screen.

                      the word red pops up on screen, the word is coloured blue

                      Me: Blue (into the microphone)
                      Brain training: Yellow? no that's wrong
                      Me: dang it!

                      the word green pops up on screen, the word is coloured yellow

                      Me:yellow
                      Brain training: try again please i didn't hear that
                      Me: YELLOW
                      Brain Training: Red? no that's wrong
                      Me: forget it

                      The strange thing is, you'll find it works for some people and hardly never for other people, i guess this is technology that needs tinkering with and a team of scientists behind it i guess, so there's always the future.....

                      As far as wireless goes, the DS has online support and multiplayer for applicable games, unfortunately i have no friends so to test the DS's online capability i had to make a friend who owned both a DS and a copy of Metroid, having done that i found the wireless capabilities to be pretty good, i only have a 10mb connection in my flat and the game ran with very little lagging or connection trouble, there are games you can play with a worldwide community but i have none of those things so i can't tell you about it, plus it was hard enough for me to make the one friend!

                      Something i also tried which i wish i had more time to play around with was the picto chat, it's just a neat little chat function but you can draw things on it! you can also write your text with the stylus (mine always comes out looking like my daughters handwriting.... and she's 5) You can also just write using the onscreen keyboard, but hell that's no fun! I know it's only a chat function but i think it just allows you to add a little personal touch to your ramblings, "I love you" always looks better embellished with little hand drawn hearts and bells and whistles and puppies and kittens.
                      After using it i also noticed there was a picto chat themed level on Super smash bros brawl!

                      Unlike the Wii the DS doesn't suffer from a lack of range in it's titles, there's something for absolutely everyone on it, from classic Mario and Zelda titles, role playing and real time strategy, to puzzling and platforming (i'm thinking also the incredibly popular Brain Training and Professor Leyton).
                      A quick note on the battery life, it's perfectly acceptable even for gamers who can't bear to be away from flashing screens for more than five minutes, you get around 6-7 hours of constant gameplay with the device, so if your out and about you won't be worrying too much about the battery conking out on you.

                      Overall, the quirky functions of the DS seem to push game developers to make new and interesting titles, so there'll be a lot to look forward to in the future. The DS is pretty much the top handheld, although it is a pretty small market it's still something Nintendo can wear on it's belt with pride and the excellent game library will keep you entertained for hours on end.

                      ©peckinpigeon

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                      • More +
                        18.07.2011 22:09
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                        would you believe Rockstar is bringing innovation to gaming?

                        It's a Rockstar title.. But first of all let's throw all thoughts of Grand Theft Auto out the window, you've still got your trusty mini map and you'll spend a lot of time driving or walking towards colorful markings on it, but to be fair the mini map is pretty standard with most sandbox style games now, where L.A Noire shines over it's younger brother and sister titles is that trusty firearm stays firmly in its holster... well... most of the time anyway.

                        You are Cole Phelps war hero turned straight talking cop, straight away in the opening cut-scenes you start to feel there's going to be some heavy character development and thats nice to see in a newer title, I wont reveal too much but Cole Phelps is a deeply troubled man and you'll enjoy listening out for the general chit chat between him and the NPC's listening out for more juicy tidbits of story line that the game so nicely drip feeds you.
                        The game play is broken down into three sections, you'll take a briefing from your grumpy boss in each particular desk you'll be working from, starting with the traffic desk tackling some regular criminals and cases right through to Homicide, Vice and Arson.
                        The game shows off some excellent pacing, you start off working some relatively simple cases, and slowly work your way into some very gritty very complex crimes, you may not think much of the Arson Desk now but wait till you get there! Plus you start off sporting a lovely LAPD uniform and as you rise through the ranks you'll be awarded snazzy suits worthy of your jaunt through 1940's Hollywood.

                        The setting is gorgeous to say the least, Hollywood and L.A have been meticulously recreated (some poetic licence thrown in of course), and between chunks of story you'll have plenty of time to explore and solve one of the 40 street crime cases dotted around the city, you'll love switching on that siren and speeding through traffic to bust some perps! The street crimes are a nice touch if you feel like you need to break up your day, and on top of that you'll have almost 100 lovingly recreated classic cars to drive around in, right down to a 1940's garbage truck! It never gets old pulling up to a homicide case in that baby!
                        So anyway, after you've taken your briefing you'll drive over to the crime scene (garbage truck anyone?), the crime scene will be littered with clues, and once you step out of your car the soft snoopy jazz music starts up and sets the mood beautifully, now get your nose to the ground and start looking for clues relevant to the case and questioning witnesses (more on that later), Cole will be jotting everything you find down in his notebook for later reference. When you pick up a clue the camera zooms in and your able to use the analogue sticks to rotate the item and zoom in on fine details, once you start dealing with bodies you'll be getting up close and personal with some beautifully rendered but horrifyingly grim victims, you'll be rifling through the pockets of dead men and searching for those ever elusive missing wedding rings.

                        Once Coles notebook is chock full of clues, leads and addresses you'll be back behind the wheel off to do some stern questioning, whats that? dont fancy driving, hold down the triangle button and let your partner do the wheel work while you think about the case notes.
                        At last we've arrived comfortably at the excellent face scan tech we've heard so much about, and boy is it good, once you start your questioning you'll be looking them right in the face and you'll be able to catch every twitch, every eye movement and any kind of poker players tell you can think of. You can really see how sophisticated the technology is, and you'll be jittering with excitement to question your first suspect, an experience that feels genuinely fresh and new, you really need to see it to believe it! So, after some nervous twitching and shifty eye movement you'll need to watch that mug closely as you'll be expected to distinguish weather their telling the truth, weather to cast doubt on their answer and press further questioning or weather to call them out as an out and out liar, you'll need the evidence to back that one up though!
                        If i where you i'd watch them closely here, your likely to get a taste of the action here. When Cole gets uncomfortably close to the truth your suspect may try to make a run for it! The first time this happened i nearly had heart failure! Giving chase felt tense and exciting, Cole shimmys up drainpipes and slides down ladders, takes leaps of faith across buildings and soon you'll be in high pursuit. There's a range of ways to take your perp down you could get close enough for a tackle or you could take aim with your pistol and once Cole gets a clear shot he'll fire a warning shot into the air, the perp stops and throws his hands into the air and you've got your man.
                        It's great to see some fine detailing in the animation here, when Cole fires into the air the guy your chasing looks genuinely shocked and jaded, before one guys hands when up he dipped his head and covered it with his hands, he thought i was firing right at him! Plus if your climbing a ladder and you get a little close Cole reaches up to grab the perps leg but he wont give up that easy Cole receives a boot in the face and his hat comes flying off while Cole clings to the ladder trying to recover, and believe me someone at Rockstar games hates that hat, it comes flying off at all intervals! But no fear you can go back to the location it fell off and Cole reaches down, picks it up and pops it back on his noggin, it never gets old!
                        More often than not Coles going to end up in fisticuffs with someone, holding down the shoulder button puts Cole in a good old boxers stance where you can trade blows dodge and grapple accompanied by some great writing "is that all you got pal!".

                        And of course there's the inevitable car chase, and unlike your Grand theft Auto types you've got the feeling you should be careful on the road, don't take out to many lamp posts and don't run down the public either, you are a cop after all! And also at the conclusion of your case you'll be awarded between one and five stars, and apart from getting everything right and bringing a little justice to the world, your also rewarded for not causing to much city damage and not running down the innocent bystanders.
                        Even though these chase and fights scenes seem to repeat themselves a lot throughout the game (everyone in L.A is an expert at climbing drainpipes... or a roofer) I still found each one pretty enjoyable and its always helped along by the vibrant and lively soundtrack which really drives the game along nicely.
                        Another thing i'd like to mention is Cole's partners, you get a partner with each desk you work and each one has his on back story and the banter you have between each other is so enjoyable to listen to it really helps us realise L.A Noire is a game with some serious thought behind it and every moment in the game has been fine tuned to get in the mood of the story and its deeply refreshing to see this in a modern game title, and game designers and developers should take note, It's just that rather than the writers and designers working in opposite camps it seems like they've finally sat down together and blended the story, the action, the game play and the graphics seamlessly.

                        Overall L.A Noire is a fantastic blend of all the game elements we enjoy and comes across as a very innovative and crisp refreshing title that has some real style, you'd be mad not to pick up L.A Noire and go for a spin!
                        ©peckinpigeon 2011

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                        • Microsoft Xbox 360 / Games Console / 6 Readings / 4 Ratings
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                          18.07.2011 22:05
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                          an excellent platform for the hardcore gamer

                          The Xbox 360 was the last of the next gen consoles i bought and i arrived a little late (not by choice, by finances), Microsoft has been getting it right with gamers for a long time now, releasing some incredibly popular titles, (i don't think i need to mention Halo and Gears of war.) And the Xbox has been building up a nice fan base with the 360 and i feel it's deserving, so let's lift the lid on the Xbox 360.

                          It's a good looking console (i think that's a standard for next gen consoles now) i have the gloss black version, i like to have it standing upright, it sports a nice little curve in the middle like a lovely lady and the open disc tray button has possibly the most satisfying beep iv'e ever had the pleasure of listening to, and people with huge gargantuan hands fear no more, there's a big sporty looking silver "on" button sitting nicely in the middle of the front face of the console.
                          It has vents over the top which unfortunately i have to say collect a lot of dust, i live in fairly dusty conditions but my Xbox seems to attract an awful lot more than most other things in my flat, and the Xbox produces ALOT of heat, you need to be really careful with the Xbox as they tend to have a case of pulling a sickie, i haven't had any problems as yet but a number of friends and associates have reported the occasional box giving up and dying so my real advice there, and i really mean this is, DON'T skimp on the warranty! Warranty packages are usually pretty reasonable and often overlooked but if your 360 decides to give up you'll be glad it's there.
                          The wiring is reasonable, it's another one of those consoles that has a huge powerpack, and that tends to get a little warm to, i don't think it's excessive heat from the power pack, but as i said above keep your eyes on the heat coming out of the console itself, a couple of occasions i found it to be excessive, it was really hot, like microwave apple pie hot, so watch your fingers!

                          Powering up the console was nice and smooth, everything loaded up nice and fast, but i did have a problem with the interface, it's very cluttered, there's a lot of adds, and the headings don't help much, when i loaded up a disc i wasn't sure where to go to play the game, it wasn't a big problem but i just feel the interface could be a bit tidier, there's a "music market place" a "video market place" a "game market place" a "spotlight" an area for "your friends" and i just felt that the hub area of the Xbox could do with a bit of tidying up, although it's fair to say that design wise, it suits the style and design of the Xbox itself. Also i really love the sound it makes when you flick between options, a satisfying *bonk* *bonk* affair which for people easily pleased (Me) can potentially sell a console.
                          It would be worth you picking up an HD cable or an HD component cable, i ran it on the scart just to take a look at the difference and it was very noticeable, with HD games you wont be able to read the text and you just don't get the full breakfast with games without the HD. The shop i found to be nice and user friendly (there trying to sell you stuff so it should be user friendly!) and there's a good range of classic titles which is always a huge plus for me, there's also the Xbox live arcade which has a broad range of titles to download to your console, so i wouldn't skip on the 360's internet capabilities. May i also say that the download speeds are fantastic, i downloaded a video of just over 100mb which isn't a huge file but can present a problem for some internet connections, it took well under 2 minutes to download on my relatively low connection speed which i happily give the Xbox top marks for.
                          Another note on the internet capabilities would be Xbox live, which unfortunately will set you back a subscription fee, but is very good with good support for online games and seems to run everything online very smoothly, but there is an issue, the online gaming community is incredibly competitive and can often come across as a little unwelcoming and on occasion abusive, I love the idea of online gaming, it's fantastic and can be a great experiance, but i don't have the time to become an expert at the games i'm playing because of work and other commitments, so paying a £40 subscription fee to have a fourteen year old scream "NOOB" at me for half an hour because i can't perform a backflip while firing a rocket launcher at a target the size of a pea 10 miles away, doesn't appeal to me, and could potentially put off gamers who want to get into online multi player and don't have the "skill" necessary to compete.

                          The Xbox controller is one of the top controllers out there at the moment for consoles, it is a VAST improvement on the original which was chunky and required super hand strain to achieve any kind of special move in a game, the 360 comes back with a gorgeous curvy roundy controller with an excellent layout, i adore the analogue stick layout, moving from the D-pad to the analogue can be a pain on some controllers but having the D-pad below the left analogue just solves the problem wonderfully, plus the D-pad is slightly raised up further simplifying the matter.
                          Overall the Xbox 360 is a fantastic console and a real contender in the next gen market, it's a user friendly console, it looks and feels great to control and it runs everything smoothly and quickly. I would however say that the Xbox is a gamers console, unlike something like the Wii it's not the most family friendly console and doesn't have much to offer in that respect so have a think about that before take the plunge and go for an Xbox, but if any part of you is in into computer games then you can't really go wrong with an Xbox.

                          ©peckinpigeon

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                          18.07.2011 20:59
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                          if this truly is the end then kratos we salute you

                          Be brave i said to myself, as the mouse pointer hovered over the four star rating, click, and it was done, anyone who's read my God of War reviews knows i'm a great lover of the series, but with the two titles released on the PSP, one had clunky controls....... and there still there with this one! what on earth happened! My guess is that if you push the PSP's processing power to it's limits this is about as good as you get, but it's still a little frustrating, this game was released after God of War three, it should have been fixed.. This game does have some fantastic features though.

                          Set after the original God of War this games objective is to tie up the loose ends of the storyline and it does it nicely. The gods believe that their end will come not by the revenge of the Titans of old, but by a marked warrior, they believe this to be Deimos, the brother of Kratos, Deimos has a strange birthmark and the gods believe this to be the sign they are looking for, Kratos tries to stop Ares from taking his brother but is brushed aside, giving Kratos the Scar over his right eye.
                          Kratos, now the God of War, and still haunted by visions of his past, goes to seek out his mortal past, he is warned by the gods not to undertake this mission, but Kratos travels to the temple of poseidon, protected by the great beast Scylla, and so the first trademark epic first boss fight begins, and these boss fights are really great to see on the smallscreen. Eventually Kratos locates his dear old mum Callisto and she tells Kratos to go and find his brother, and so the journey begins.
                          There are some fantastic moments in this game, if your a fan of the series you'll adore going back to Sparta and looking around, also you'll get something very special here, the "Spartan Shield and Spear" it is nothing short of my favorite weapon in the entire series, it just feels like Kratos going back to his roots and it is the only weapon in the series that i feel matches the satisfaction you get using the whirly death blades themselves, suffice to say "I LOVED IT"

                          God of war really is a formula that doesn't really need changing, but even a battle hardened God of War veteran like myself has to say that it's coming to a close now,
                          Red orbs, Blue orbs, Green orbs, Gorgon eyes and Pheonix feathers (minotaur horns from god of war 3 also), it's time to lay Kratos to rest and i felt that this final installment (if it really is the final installment) was an excellent way to end the series, in my Chains of Olympus review I felt the story of that PSP title was a little lacking, and that's been fixed with this one, there are some truly excellent moments in this game that any fan of the series wouldn't want to miss, you'll meet Kratos's mother, His brother, and the gravedigger returns for another cryptic monologue.
                          A little change which i thought was a nice touch was the Theras Bane ability, imbuing your blades with fire, adding attack power, and allowing Kratos to destroy heavily armoured foes and pass through some environmental obstacles, this replaces the Rage abilities from the previous titles, i feel it adds a little spice to the mix, and as the formula for the games is so similar throughout, it's a nice touch that feels well needed.

                          Graphics have been improved from the previous PSP title and they may even surpass that of a PS2 title, it's a very good looking game and the giant set pieces that god of war is known for are back in all their glory and the addition of the city of Sparta is nothing short of superb.
                          If you haven't read my Chains of Olympus review let me tell you what really annoyed me about the controls in Ghost of Sparta. The L1 R2 analogue dodge roll is back, to be fair on them though, i can't think of a better solution myself but it just feels so awkward to perform, and the game still feels a little bit stiff, it's much better but im' just guessing that it's the PSP processing to blame but i always look back on the game and think there must have been something to sacrifice in favor of evening out the controls.

                          Overall the game is a fitting end to the series, you go back to sparta, meet Kratos's mother, and of course, meet his brother who is a huge part of the God of War story and meeting him was worth working through some of the little niggles in the game play and such.
                          I hate to say it but it does feel about the right time to lay Kratos to rest now, by now we know his back story inside out, we know the combat and the upgrade system, let it go while it's still fresh, it would really be sad to see Kratos stagnating in a pool of dodgy spin offs and sequels and prequels and blah blah blah. In service of being overly dramatic this is my last God of War series review (unless they release another game ;)
                          ©peckinpigeon

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                            18.07.2011 20:57
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                            a worthy god of war title for psp

                            At last a God of War game with Kratos the Spartan facing off with the persians! Hurrah! i wondered how long it would take, there's no end to the joy of taking out legions of persian minions with Kratos's whirly death blades!
                            Set before the first God of War and the first title on the PSP, Ghost of sparta follows Kratos during his time as servant of the gods of Olympus, he is sent to Attica to fight off the persian invasion, after he slaughters there general takes out their army and fights off their HUGE Basilisk (excellent first boss as usual God of War!) he watches as the sun plummets from the sky. He travels to the city of marathon to find out whats all the hubbub. The god Morpheus has flooded the city with a deadly black fog and has allied with the goddess Persephone and the Titan Atlus in an effort to destroy the world and Mt, Olympus.

                            The game isn't as story driven as the other titles, but because the PSP memory is a lot smaller i guess they couldn't have it all, your limited to a few cut scenes narrated by Gaia and i personally felt wanting a little more from the story line, as a sequel to God of War I was expecting the story to be a little more relevant to the other games, Kratos's daughter makes an appearance but I still felt that story occasionally came across as a bit rushed, but that's not to say that i didn't enjoy the story, i enjoyed it thoroughly so i'll let those minor blips slide.
                            The game play is as the other god of war titles, but oh my word is there a big ol' problem, the dodge roll... Kratos's main functions are there, triangle for a heavy hitter and square for speedy swings and L1 to block, but to dodge roll, and anyone whos played any God of War title knows that you'll be rolling around like a lunatic unless you like a swift death, and to dodge roll you need to hold L1 R1 and flick the analogue in the direction you want to roll, but of course inevitably you'll get it wrong on multiple occasions or you'll roll straight into the enemy attack and the frustration will begin. Unfortunately the control system has the unfortunate position of being put up against the controls of the PS2 and PS3 versions respectively and i can understand that they have done a good job transferring the controls over, but i just can't help the feeling that the game feels a bit stiff and a teency bit clunky.
                            But like i say, on the plus side they've done a good job in transferring the controls over, you wont notice much difference other than that blasted dodge roll!
                            My only other real gripe is with the old PSP itself (i have the older version), because the game is quite action heavy i found my hands very quickly get cramped and it seems nigh on impossible to get into a comfortable position with the thing, but that's a console issue not a problem with the game.

                            Being an earliest PSP title in the God of War series, it's smaller, and there's only a handful of bosses, but what i really enjoyed about the game was it was handheld Kratos and you just can't beat that! If your new to the series however, this isn't really the place to start, the original God of War does a much better job of setting the story up, but this is however, a worthy addition to any God of War fans collection.
                            That excellent soundtrack is back again for another round, i have always sung praises for the god of war soundtrack and this game is no exception, what it lacks in actual written story it seems to make up for in orchestration, from quiet moody music for the inner sanctums and temples to epic ballsy orchestra busters for riding on basilisks! For anyone who wants to know by the way T.C Carson is the voice of Kratos and what a fine voice indeed, see if you can hear him in Everquest (grimgash the black anyone?)!

                            The upgrade system has been copied over too, Red for upgrades (long labourious upgrades) green for health and blue for magic. You'll be getting that nice mystery weapon along the way to, but i'll let you in on a secret here, it wasn't that great, "the Gauntlets of Zeus" is in fact one huge gauntlet which although is very slow is very powerful, i just didn't find myself using it at all, but then iv'e always preferred the whirly blades, you may quite enjoy the gauntlet if it matches your play style.
                            You'll get your taste of magic to, and i felt that unlike some other games in the series the magic felt like it was really helpful here I managed to stop myself from pouring all my souls into the blades and upgraded the Efreet, a fire demon spell that can really mess up your enemies day, you'll also pick up the light of dawn a nice little ranged bolt spell and Charons wrath which was a lot of fun to break out, it electrocutes multiple enemies holding them on the spot while you pound them into the dirt! One item you pick up along the way was a nice touch, the sun shield looked great, when you block up pops this great looking shield which you can use to bounce enemy projectiles back with, and just so you know, Pheonix feathers and Gorgon eyes are back respectively, for your health and magic bar upgrades.
                            Overall i felt i was a little harsh on this game, i'm not a massive player of PSP games and it was a bit of a learning curve i went from strutting around cutting swathes of enemies down in the other games, to feeling a little vulnerable here and no one likes that!
                            It's a great addition for the series and for those of you begging for more Kratos, it's right here on the PSP, so pick it up and enjoy.

                            ©peckinpigeon

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                            18.07.2011 20:54
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                            A game that missed out on it's own potential

                            Dantes inferno is the first part of Dante Alighieres epic poem "The Divine Comedy", if you get a chance to pick up a copy (along with purgatorio and Paradiso) then please do, it's a fascinating read. Written in the 14th century it tells the storyof Dantes journey through the nine circles of hell, accompanied by the roman poet Virgil. As a computer game if that's not enough to get the gamer juices flowing then I don't know what is!

                            Dante is now more of an action man when compared with the rather more docile and fearful Dante from the poem itself, the game is based loosely, and I really mean loosely around the poem itself, and critics have a habit of saying how it's "nothing like the poem" and that literary buffs won't like it, but for gods sake people it's a computer game, and the literary buffs probobly have better things to do than hang around with us scruffy lot playing these so called "computer entertainment devices"!
                            The action of the game kicks off with Dante fighting in the crusades, trademark Red cross crusader outfit and trusty halberd to hand, my initial thoughts where how satisfying it was swinging that halberd around! Mashing the square button gives you a light attack and triangle gives you a heavy hitter, flinging enemies mercilessly about the screen. After a hoard of foes lay scattered around you like broken legos an assassin pops up behind Dante and gives him a stabbing.. Ouchie, two minutes into the game and your dead pal, but Dante doesn't go down easy oh no! The Grim Reaper comes to claim Dantes soul, but Dante decides today is not the day. Grim is looking fantastic and pretty evil, I was begging Dante not to rumble with him but he insisted, and believe me death can give you a hard time, on the hardest setting he's pretty tough for a first boss, I really enjoyed taking him on and the fight felt tense and scary, a great scene setter fir a video game. After a lengthy battle Dante chops grim up with his own scythe and takes it for himself, oh yeah, you heard it here first folks your wielding Deaths scythe for this game! And so ends the prologue, for a prologue that's gonna be tough to follow up.

                            The opening scenes to the main game are terrific, the immortal first line of the poem chimes out over the gorgeously lush forest "on the midpoint of the journey of life, I found myself in a dark forest", Your then treated to some excellent CGI of Dante stitching a tapestry in the shape of a crucifix to his chest, as the needle penetrates his skin he emits a bloodcurdling scream that shows off some excellent voice acting, you can really feel the pain! He returns home with his new body mod stitches to his chest to find his love Beatrice and his father murdered (I really wanted to know how he was going to explain the chest thing and how he got a giant magic scythe but I guess we'll never know). He watches helplessly as Lucifer himself drags Beatrice to hell as she shouts "why did you betray me!" Dantes having none of it and gives chase to the gates of hell. The journey to hell is tense and exciting, busting open hells gates is nothing short of "Woo Hoo!" and your first baby steps into hell are simply jaw dropping. Hell has been beautifully crafted, every part of it touched by some grotesque and gruesome creativity that's worthy of admiration, and each level of hell has it's own unique look and feel........ Up until about halfway through, after level six "the city of dis" the game suddenly sumbles off it's starting block and feels as rushed as a guy who late for a business meeting. A lot of the charm and creativity suddenly gets lost and there's a huge let down towards the end which I'm going to have to tell you about. Anyone who knows anything about the poem knows that before the lowest level of hell there where 8 Bolgias, mountains populated by various sinners being punished by demons, each Bolgias has it's own gruesome torture and Dante meets a number of famous shades whilst traversing them... Sound good, hell yeah it does. In the game itself it's nothing but a challenge mode set on a square chunk of floating land where we are told that below are sinners being tortured, while you have to play some petty little challenges. After all the grotesque creativity this is how it was going to end? Look..... It can't be easy making a game and perhaps they ran out of time or money around this part but could they really not have come up with anything a little more creative? It really broke the fourth wall for me and left a bad taste in my mouth. The Beatrice part of the storyline also seems to get wrapped up incredibly quickly in That kind of "there's going to be a sequel kind of way", a sequel where now told is never coming our way as far as we know. I began to feel that the game itself was starting to take all the candy I'd carefully collected away from me and my babyish cries and wails fir some story resolution where not being heard.... Goo goo gaga.....
                            Flaws aside let's really look at the game itself, the graphics are excellent in terms of art and the set pieces are are beautiful and couldn't set te scene or create the mood any better, ain't nuthin better than climbing a wall of corpses high five! (anyone?)
                            The enemies are particularly fabulous and come in a broad range of grotesque misfits, from Chittering undead minions, huge armoured demons down to unconfirmed babies with blades for arms and hareem women who weild their deadly!..... Erm...... Well.. You'll have to check that one out for yourself... (I think nether regions is an acceptable term so let's go with that)

                            The gameplay is hack and slash pure and simple, Dante cab do some sweet moves with the scythe, you shish kebab your enemies which never gets old and the scythe can stretch out to grab enemies in the air and throw them down. The upgrade system is pretty cool, enemies who you have weakened can be grabbed, you can choose to "Absolve" or "punish" them, either option causes Dante to pound the enemy into dust but you'll collect either Holy or Unholy experience. Unholy experience offers Dante new combos with the scythe and more damage oriented skills, whilst holy yields more healing and cross based combos (the cross is a weapon acquired early in the game, it once belonged to Beatrice and is more of a ranged weapon that fires out holy crosses, BOOM! Take that Satan!). You'll pick up spells as you go along, usually by defeating a boss and acquiring there power, and you'll grab some suitably themed relics along the way, adding damage to your weapons amongst other things. On top of that there are 30 pieces of judas silver to collect, I thought that was a neat touch, adding to the overall religious feel to the game, as you know, Judas now resides within the mouth of Satan himself, being chewed all eternity for his betrayal! (Sorry to get your hopes up, this does NOT appear in the game).
                            The bosses are great, I adored king Minos in limbo, damn he was creepy, you'll fight the hellish reconfiguration of Dantes father and one of my personal favourites next to minos, would be in the circle of lust where you'll fight a colossal (and completely nude) cleopatra, accompanied by Anthony, her now slave and lover. So there are some great reimaginings of historic figures and characters. A little nod to poem itself is when Dante meets some historical figures and some characters from his own Past, you listen to their pleas for salvation and then choose to punish or absolve them for a bumper crop of experience points.

                            Overall it's a game that could have been truly great, one half of the game was beautifully crafted jaunt through a veritable cirque du freak (pardon my French) While the Other half feels rushed, unpolished and unfinished. And it's all a damn shame to because Dantes inferno appeared to have so much potential, so it seems folks... The pen is mightier than the scythe with this one (damn why did I ever write that pun......)
                            © peckinpigeon

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                            17.07.2011 03:42
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                            A nice refreshing game title

                            FromSoftware... We haven't heard much from them since the notoriously difficult "kings Field" series and my word their back with some real style and passion with this little gem of a title.

                            Get ready to enter the world of Boletaria... King Allant the 12th, by channeling the power of souls has awakened a primevil demon "the old one", a colourless fog covers the land, bringing with it demons who feast on the souls of mortals, many heroes have passed through the fog to slay the demons, none have returned...

                            As far as the beginning of the game goes that's all you get story wise and there's a beauty in that, it leaves you with a craving to get to the bottom of this mystery and enter the dark fantasy world of Boletaria, in fact as soon as you get your first taste of the world around you in Demons Souls you get a real sense of isolation and loneliness and builds you up to the magnitude of the task at hand, and as you progress through the game and the demons get bigger and bigger those feelings become more and more prominent.
                            The environments are very good looking and considering it's mostly castles and dimly lit dungeons FromSoftware manage to keep it interesting and each area has a great sense of individuality. The game world is broken down into five areas which you can enter via the hub like "Nexus" via huge Archstones, the Nexus is where you can repair your weapons, buy new ones and level up using the games currency which (shocker) is demons souls, which you collect by (shocker) killing demons, you also use this currency to level up, so they fast become your best friend but you also learn very quickly to use them wisely!

                            Just a quick rundown of the games five areas to get you in the mood. Beware though, most enemies can take you down in one or two well placed blows, the health bar doesnt mean a lot here, in fact you spend most of the game dead, thats right, Dead, in soul form your health bar is reduced by a whopping 70%, but fear not, you can regain "Body Form" with full health... If you chance to defeat one of the huge bosses you'll be encountering...... ouch.
                            Boletarian Palace.
                            A standard fantasy castle affair populated by knights, crazed "dreglings" and a dragon or two!

                            Stonefang Tunnel
                            A dimly lit network of tunnels populated by deranged miners and there slave driving masters, and a dragon temple deep below the earths surface.
                            Tower of Latria
                            A prison/church with a really eerie feel and horrifying sephalopod gaurds who weild deadly magic spells and giant man centipedes.

                            Shrine of Storms
                            A shrine to dead heroes, perched on a mountian top with legions of death themed monsters, "Here Be Skellingtons!" dual katana weilding skeletons at that!
                            Valley of Defilement.
                            Home to the damned inhabitants of a poison swamp. Full of crazed denziens who are all out to give you the plague.

                            You can choose what order you traverse the game world and each one has a handful of memorable and excellent bosses, some are colossal, requiring a good hiding place and buckets and buckets of arrows to take down, some are truly raging demons who will push your fighting skill to the very limits, and i really mean limits, the game doesn't teach you to learn how to fights properly it forces you to learn to fight skillfully and survive because... deep breath.. there are no save points, none.
                            Dying sends you hurtling back to the beginning of the level with all demons reset and all souls you've earned taken from you, but, should you make it back to the place you died, you can touch your bloodstain and regain all the souls you lost, phew! Die on the way to your bloodstain and your souls are gone forever!
                            So as far as game play goes your first little baby steps into the world will instill a fear in you, but it's that good kind of fear that teaches you to be attentive to the world around you, none of that however, will stop you from dying... a lot, get used to the "you died" screen because this game is relentless. I think it all adds to the satisfaction you'll get from getting things right and you'll really start to appreciate being able to level up.
                            Speaking of leveling up, the system is quite complex, with a huge number of alterable stats (some of us love that kind of thing), but I think it's fairly safe to say you'll learn to love it and it really lets you create any kind of character you want, the starting class doesn't mean an awful lot in Demons Souls because once you've leveled up a bit you can soon start to taylor your character to suit your playstyle which becomes very, very satisfying.
                            However don't expect an easy ride with it! As you now know, souls are your in game currency and you can level up your attributes, strength, dexterity, magic and the like, by one point at a time, and each point costs successively more demons souls and the limit is 99 for each attribute, literally millions of demons souls!
                            You can also upgrade your weapons, you'll need souls of course, but also upgrade stones, found as treasure, bought from merchants, or by hunting the "crystal lizards" found in each area. There are many different upgrades can do, from basic upgrade paths adding extra base damage right up to adding magic damage and damage bonuses that rise with your stat level. The possibilities are endless and adds a nice dimension to your character.

                            Lets talk multiplayer, demons souls manages to have multiplayer, while still retaining it's feeling of isolation and loneliness, even adding another element of danger to the world with so called "black phantoms" entering the world to hunt you down and take your precious demons souls from you! Alternatively they can enter as blue souls with your invitation, and help you out with any particular area or a tough boss your having trouble with. Also, players can leave messages for each other using a caption select menu e.g "beware of trap ahead" which can be helpful, but they can also hinder you with messages like "take a step forward" near a big hole, making you think there's treasure down there when in fact there's just a swift death, helpful messages however can be rated by other players for a nice in game health bonus.
                            One last thing you can do is touch the bloodstains of other players to witness their final moments, potentially helping you avoid the big whole with the "take a step forward" message near it!
                            Along your way you'll meet a number of NPC's who all have their own story about how they wound up in the Nexus, and some NPC's are trapped in the game world and require rescuing, and because the games limited drip feed of story, you'll really enjoy hearing what they have to say and uncovering more about the horrifying world around you and how it came to be the way it is. It almost adds a detective style element to the game, and it's a little rare to find games where you actually look forward to hearing what NPC's of all people have to say and if your nice, some may even help you out as an ally.

                            Another thing that i should mention is world and character "tendency" which ranges from white to black, you control this by killing demons, killing NPC's in certain cases and performing actions in the game world, being purely one way or the other and prompts certain things to happen in the game world, and it's always a nice to surprise to see what happens and i wont spoil it for you, you'll have to find out for yourself!
                            I didn't have many foibles with demons souls but if i had to mention something it would be the character face editor, you'll need to see this one to believe it, but my word you'd have to spend hours fiddling with the "nose bridge depth" and "forehead size" editor to avoid making a character with a face like Sloth from the Goonies, But you can always find a nice helmet for that mug only a mother could love.

                            So, there's a lot to be said about Demons Souls, but i'll try and round up nicely by saying it's brutal, there's no question there and it's relentlessness only adds to the game, it's charming, tense, lonely and you'll squeeze many hours of enjoyment obsessing over your equipment upgrades level ups and strategising your way through each level, and when your character has finally leveled up to be the superhero you wanted it to be, you'll feel like you've been on a long and arduous quest and that you've really achieved something great and I think that's what role playing games are all about.
                            ©peckinpigeon

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