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  • DCEmu Games Reviews Latest News

    by Published on January 1st, 2011 18:18
    1. Categories:
    2. Xbox 360 News,
    3. DCEmu Games Reviews


    _____________________________
    Developer: MommysBest
    Genre: Side Scrolling Shooter
    Players: 1
    Price: 400
    Rating By Community:
    Violence=3/3
    Sex=2/3
    Mature Content=2/3

    _____________________________________

    Overview: The new Xbox experience is out along with a hand full of XNA or "Community" games, there are many to pick from and after playing all the demo's on a $5 budget this one seemed like the clear winner, does it live up to its name? or is this just another one of those games that are thrown out there to make a quick buck?

    Gameplay: Tho ridiculously short, this game brings a new fresh twist to side scrolling shooters with a good deal of characters to choose from each with their own weapon, special double jump AND secondary fire for each, plus, they all hold one extra weapon in common that you will be completely ignoring throughout the game but is still nice to have.
    A problem I have with XNA games is that you MUST be connected to Xbox live in order to play them, I found this out when I went to play it as I was just starting this review (I like to have the games on while I write about it in case I have to double check anything) this off course became an instant frustration for me. Off course no points will be taken off for this as ALL games are the same, but this is one thing to have in mind for any future purchase of an XNA game.

    Another problem that I wish Microsoft would fix is the lack of achievements on these XNA games, it was fun playing them, but would be even funner if I knew that all my hard work would be rewarded, plus, it adds value. Now that I have listed the problems of ALL XNA games, allow me to continue by listing the problems of this particular one, the frame drops at least once per level, this is not consistent but very noticeable, also, it takes about fifteen minutes to get through the story once, you have the option to complete each level through different paths which adds a bit of replay value but not much. All the characters can be unlocked within half an hour which is about how long it takes to beat the whole game seance you have three different paths to choose from starting from the first level and each path takes ten to fifteen minutes to complete.
    Each character also has a strange gadget that will grab on to walls and roofs for you, this not only looks cool but once you get used to it can be very helpful as well.
    One last feature of this game that needs to be mentioned is the automatic "bullet time" effect that activates when you are near death, this looks and feels cool, plus gives you a second chance at avoiding mortal hazards near you, this makes the game very forgiving, but the fact that this game revolves around the hone hit kill philosophy sort of evens things out. Once you die you will be taken to the character selection menu and after you choose one, you will be blasted back to action, once all of the players die, the game is over.

    There are various enemies and terrains in this game.

    Graphics: The game has a visual style unlike any other, monsters are imaginative and colorful, the backgrounds and environment are well detailed, and bullets in weapons are distinct. Opponents are animated strangely, their bodies are often stretched and my best guess is that its part of the style they are trying to pull of.

    Sound: This seems like a game made for the stereotypical gamer male, there are big buns, chicks (you don't really get to see them up close tho) explosions, monsters, and aliens.....the sound is no different, it is very squishy and crunchy at times mostly when an enemy is killed, and there is rock on the background, could this possibly get more manly?

    Replay Value: If you have been ether reading or paying attention to my review so far, you will know that there are not many reasons to come back to this game, no multilayer support, only about seven levels, and even tho it has three different endings, it only takes about thirty minutes to get there, on the bright side, there are seven unique characters. For 400 I would really have liked to get at least one hour of fun, overall whether or not you should buy this game comes down to how much is 400 worth to YOU, and how much you are willing to pay for a fun, but VERY short experience.

    Conclusion: It seems like almost every single game that does something new or cool for the first time is very short, take portal for example, it was a completely new and awesome puzzle game but only lasted about two hours and it always ends up coming down to how much you are willing to pay for a very short but awesome experience. There IS a surprisingly alright story, and this is how the three endings are broken up, whoever you choose to serve will determine where you will go next, but be careful, you die in two out of the three endings.

    It is easy to ignore backgrounds while in the heat of battle...don't.
    _____________________________________

    Final Score:
    .:AVERAGE:.
    by Published on January 1st, 2011 18:18
    1. Categories:
    2. GBA News,
    3. DCEmu Games Reviews

    Klonoa: Empire of Dreams
    Publisher: Namco
    Developer: Namco
    Genre: Action
    Players: 1

    Klonoa: Empire of Dreams
    for the Game Boy Advance Nintendo handheld game system



    Now this was the first Klonoa game I bought. After playing it, I was hooked. This game set a gold standard for GBA games for me, platformers specifically, and this was a definate before-its-time, being one of the first GBA games to be released.

    As with all Klonoa games, its a standard platformer. Unlike its earlier relatives, it is full 2D, as a GBA able to emulate 3D would be a miracle. The sprites a well done, they fit together very well, fully articulate design spaing no pixel of Klonoa's character and essence in attacking, jumping, and the other things a game character basically does. The enemies are particularly something, as they reflect the lighting effect that would be present in a 3D game. The background is not as intricately designed, often being a single landscape. The level design is a bit more detailed on most maps, despite the glossy background. Here is a screenshot of ingame play:


    While not showing much in foreground, you can plainly see the glossy land-scaped background, but it isn't very noticable during in-game play, despite its obvious nature. Cut-scenes have nicely rounded textures, showing obvious work in detailing most parts of the character and background images, with touch ups to the already nicely drawn and created sprites. Heres another screenshot for the good nature of adding them:



    The sound is perfect for the levels...but sometimes the levels are a little too fluffy for their own good, much like in the Kirby game series. This makes some levels music both vexing and calming, which usually makes you tune them out. This doesn't mean the music is bad, its simply not very noticable when indulged within the addicting gameplay. The music in the cutscenes usually fits the scene to the best I would think possible. Again, like in the other Klonoa games, they speak they're own, un-interpretable language. For the music type the GBA is able to chug out, this is a good addition to the game.

    The battle system remains the same in this Klonoa game as all others; sucking in enemies with your ring and expounding them to other enemies or into a walls or to gain distance. Although this style has gotton a bit old, hte Klonoa game series is still holding to it strong. With that effort they also make it continue to remain interesting. In this game, like Door to Phantomile, your ring is powered by the spirit which dwells inside it, namely Huepow.

    The story begins as you, Klonoa, find yourself in multiple visions where you are not sure where you are, or whether theis place even exists or not. Soon you find out that the King of this land has put a law out which claims that no one may sleep, or dream more importantly as the law states. So now I know what your all thinking: "So what if they dream? Whos gonna stop them?" In answer to that: the guards. They, even though made miserable from this law, go and arrest anyone who they find sleeping, even breaking into homes to perform the arrests. The king's reasoning upon the law? The king is having a sever case of abnormal insomnia. He has not been able to sleep in days, and will not permit others to sleep. So comes Klonoa, the "dream traveller". Not really sure what he's doing, he fights through the visions to find out why the King is having insomnia and to liberate the land from this dreaming deprevation.

    Now onto the ratings:

    Graphics: 4 out of 5Nicely drawn sprites and eneies, and great front-gound scenerio textures. Now we get to that screwy-looking background. Sheesh...good thing its not very noticable.

    Sound: 3.5 out of 5
    Very calming music, which fits the levels. Unfortunately, sometimes you just wanna start smashing stuff to some jamming music, but oh well, this is second best!

    Replay Value: 4.5 out of 5
    Im not sure just what it was about this game that made me want to play it about 3 times over before I got bored. All I know is that it is wicked fun from start to finish and back again.

    Gameplay: 4.5 out of 5
    Another well done, good-to go platformer. What makes this one special is its the first best I've seen for GBA, AKA handheld.

    Overall: 4 out of 5
    As GBA games go, this one has held out to me as one of the strongest een since its release at the beginning of the GBA saga of gaming.

    Score:
    by Published on January 1st, 2011 18:18
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    2. PS3 News,
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    ________________________
    Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
    Developer: Media Molecule
    Genre: Platformer
    Players: 1-4
    Price: $59.99

    Video Review:


    Overview: When LittleBigPlanet was first announced everyone became curious about what this little sack people were all about, as more and more information was released about this ambitious game the more people seemed to get hyped for it. A few weeks after its release I finally get to put my slimy hands all over this one of a kind platformer to calm my own hype for it, is it really as fun as it seems? find out NOW!

    Gameplay: LittleBigPlanet is a platfomer like no other in almost every single way and there is alot to be said about it so I am going to separate it into different sections.
    I am going to go ahead and start with the main story. After about a good ten minutes of tutorials and explanations you will be able to head on straight to the story mode, actually, until you complete the first three levels or so, that is the ONLY thing you will be able to do, no matter tho, they are short and off course, fun. The whole story consists of you being a sack boy or girl, and you pretty much just travel the world helping out friends with all sorts of problems, towards the end, a nemesis shows up and you have to save everyone but that is all I can say without spoiling too much.
    The main story takes place on a world where all dreams go to, here you will get to play through levels from all over the world, each being as stereotypical as they can be, you will fight ninjas in Asia, explore Mayan ruins in Mexico, ect, this makes each world completely unique and non repetitive. The way levels are spread out is each continent has one or two buttons you can click on, once you click on of of them, all levels within that area will pop up, each area also has a few challenges outside of the main story that can be unlocked ether by beating levels, or by finding hidden keys within levels, these challenges are well varied from bull riding to rope jumping and can as well be played with friends.
    Now allow me to go on with gameplay. There are three different lanes of the map in which you can be at during the game, this is new in the world of 2D platforming, you can change lanes at any time by pressing up or down on the left joystick, this works well, but can be frustrating when you are at a crucial moment and it decides it wants to rebel, luckily, the game changes lanes for you whenever it thinks it needs to, and again, this works fine most of the time, but sometimes it will change into a lane that you want to get out of over and over again just because it thinks you WANT to go to that lane, I wish there was a way to turn this off.
    Aside from that, another new thing that LittleBigPlanet wanted to do was make their game physics based, now this opens up the game to new platforming opportunities such as launching yourself from a spinning wheel onto another, or picking up momentum while swinging to land further, but this also restricts the level of control that you have over your character while it is in mid air, as well as once it lands, this lead up to a few frustrating moments for me when I landed on a small platform, only to walk off of it because I didn't want to slide off.

    Every family has a black sheep, sack boys have four.

    Aside from the story there are two other things you can do, one is create levels with amazingly powerful tools, and two, is play user made levels, both great choices.
    Starting with making your own levels, this is probably where LittleBigPlanet shines the most, at first, you will be bored with a good 40 minutes of tutorials, on the bright side, most of the things they tell you are things you will want to know, so pay attention! plus, you get a trophy for going through all the tutorials after that you are pretty much left alone to do what you wish on the level creator and what a creator it is, stickers, textures, figures, even buttons and hidden action events are at your disposal and even tho they are great at doing the things they were meant to do, it feels even better to do things they weren't meant to do, to use items in ways that no one ever though of before.
    Even tho it is very easy to make levels, it takes up alot of your time, it took me a good two days to make my first level and it was just a boss fight with a giant alien, and it wasn't all fun, I had to test my level over and over again, then go back and fix whatever it is that needed to be fixed, and seance it is physics based, you need to give anything you make extra thought.
    A big let down for LittleBigPlanet was the fact that it is very easy to completely mess up your level, during my first attempt at making a giant boss, I made a dragon, after I thought I was done I tested him to see if he would disappear when you hit his weak spot, so I did and he DID disappear and all the point bubbles came falling from the sky like I had programed it to, right after this event I saved the level, exited out of edit mode I went into "play" mode where you get to play the level you made as it will be once you publish it, to my surprise, the level started as I had saved it, the dragon was destroyed and the ground was covered with points, I tried to get my level back but it was all in vain, my level had been ruined and there was no way to get it back. Another thing that should be pointed out is that you can't undo actions, you can only reset time to a the moment of the last action, this is just like an undo button except it can take a good 10 seconds or so at random times, still, despite all of this issues, once you become familiar with the way things work, you will get used to them and won't bother you as much.
    Once you are finally done with a level and publish it, you can see how many people have played it, and how many people have hearted it, once this is done you can't update it anymore, but you CAN go back to the level editor, fix it up, delete the already published and outdated level, and replace it with the new and improved one.

    One last thing you will be able to do, and probably the mode you will spend about half your time with is playing levels that other people made. You can go straight to "cool levels" which will show you bunch of the most played levels, you could also look at "recent levels" which shows you the latest levels you have played, and lastly you can search for levels yourself. The amazing thing about LittleBigPlanet is that games that are dependent on a community to make awesome levels normally fail to succeed, but LittleBigPlanet seems to slap all those other games on the face with already plenty of great and imaginative levels to play. You can "heart" any level you see, this allows you to look at a list of "hearted" levels and play them whenever you wish without having to search for them, you can also heart people, so if there is a single person who has made multiple levels that you like, instead of hearting all of his levels you can just heart the creator himself. It seems like LittleBigPlanet has great potential to be even better as time goes on, you would not believe the creativity that some people have and have been able to bring to life with LittleBigPlanet.

    You can turn your creations into prize bubbles and give them to others during or at the end of a level as a reward for beating it.

    Graphics: In one word: "OUTSTANDING!" I have never stared at character models the way I have been at the sack boys ever seance I first played gears of war. The character animations are as smooth as you can get without sacrificing the control over it and the fact that you can control their emotions during gameplay is genius and IS be constantly used by users, this is not only a great way to express yourself online when you don't feel like typing or don't have a mic, but mostly it is plain hilarious! as I was driving an unstoppable car while the road behind me exploded, the fact that my sack boy was making an incredibly scared face actually made me laugh out loud, small moments like these make the game even more fun, and they pop up constantly. Smoke effects are top notch and the environments are non repetitive and well made, everything in LittleBigPlanet looks like it came out of a kid's fairy tale book, everything is bright, colorful, and overall has a very nice and attractive look to it that brings me back to my kinder garden days. The game has an amazing and unique new visual style never before seen in video games as far as I am concerned, seriously, everything looks so good in this game it may at first distract you from gameplay, then again I AM graphics freak. (Insert Nintendo fanboy comment about that being the reason I hate the wii here)
    And then we have the double edged sword of the fact that it is physics based, on one side, everything looks and acts natural adding to the great animations and making it feel like you are actually interacting with things, and on the other side, because it is physics based, poor little sack boy gets his limbs stretched as far as the whole screen every now and then because of some strange error and even tho this could potentially be fixed with future updates, it is not fixed now and it DOES happen enough times to the point where I have to point it out, this will off course, not interfere with the overall experience.

    Sound: There are a bunch of different sound tracks and each of them is completely different from the last specially seance they come from all over the world. You can unlock them to use in your own levels the same way you unlock everything else, by ether collecting the sometimes hidden prize bubbles, or by beating a level with a certain condition. Sound effects are wacky but often easily ignored, the two main sound effects you will hear are the "woosh" from the character jumping and the "bloop" and "pop" whenever you collect a point bubble. Overall they fit well with the whole visual style of the game as they are mostly the kind of sound effects you would expect from a happy Nintendo game.

    Replay Value: The story mode literally has HUNDREDS of unlockable prize bubbles, some can be found easily, but some are well hidden, and you will need the assistance of one or more sack person in order to get to them. New levels will keep on coming from the community for a good few months if not years, not to mention that alot of them are really fun, and with the ability to create your own levels like no other game allows you to including the fact that you can make a level with friends which is rarely seen, I would say that the replay value of this game is probably about as good as it gets.

    Conclusion: There are some things that need to be tweaked here and there and I specifically have to complain about not being able to copy and paste props without converting them into objects which will remain on your prop menu until you delete it. specially the online play, but nothing that will affect your final decision on whether or not to buy this game, this is seriously a must buy for all ps3 users this holiday, and for those of you platformer haters, you might want to try this one out, there is enough non-platforming levels online for you to enjoy it even if you end up not liking the story mode. Also, if you want to get someone started in gaming, this is one great friendly game that can attract many people due to its simplicity in control (left, right, jump, grab).

    The game looks WAY better on a T.V.


    Overall Score:
    .:Amazing Game!:.
    by Published on January 1st, 2011 18:18
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    2. Nintendo DS News,
    3. DCEmu Games Reviews



    Platform: Nintendo DS
    Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
    Publisher: Square Enix
    Ratings: Not yet rated by PEGI

    ESRB:


    Disgaea DS is not a new game. The original Disgaea was released on the PS2 in 2004. Disgaea DS is a port of the PS2 version, albeit with some changes suitable to the DS such as stylus support and less shiny graphics.

    The main character is Laharl, a demon prince of the Netherworld. He has slept for the past 2 years, during which his father, the king, has died and his throne is under contest. Laharl naturally believes that the throne is his inheritance, so he sets off to become King of the Netherworld. He is joined by a variety of different characters, including an angel and a team of earth defenders, to assist him with his goal. Main story events are recounted with voice-acting for the main characters, and it's very good voice acting too.

    The game takes a very light hearted approach to the story, many character are amusing, even Laharl's servants such as dragons and chimeras come off as comical and lazy. This is a diversion from most RPG's which take a very serious story, but it's a welcome change. What it doesn't change however, is the genre's other notable aspect: deep mechanics.

    The battle system is an isometric, turn-based strategy system. Your team will spawn, one at a time in the order you choose, from a starting tile. You may then move them and attack with them as you see fit. A couple of twists to this grant the player more control and strategy. One of these is the team attack system. By placing characters next to each other and having one attack, there is a chance that those in base contact with gang up on the enemy, with each of them letting off an attack. While each attack is slightly less powerful than a normal blow, the total damage is greater than any individual attack. The other change is that movement can be canceled unless an action is taken. This allows a smart player to move his units to a team attack formation, let off one attack, then cancel the movements of the team to allow those who didn't attack a chance to move elsewhere, and possible take part in another team attack!



    Each level may also contain pyramids known as geo-effects. These geo-effects grant a bonus or penalty onto any colour of tile which they sit on. For example if a geo-effect with the bonus of “+50 defense” is placed on a red tile anyone, friend or foe, who stands on a red tile will gain that bonus. Furthermore destroying a geo-effect will cause all tiles of the colour its on to change to the colour of the geo-effect damaging anyone who stands on those tiles, should a different coloured geo-effect be destroyed in the process all of the new tiles will change colour also. This gives the potential for huge damage combos and is possible to wipe out an entire map of enemies in a single turn by smart positioning and destruction of geo-effects.

    Regarding the skill system of the game, Disgaea takes a very in-depth approach. Everything in the game can be leveled up. Items, spells, skills and characters. Characters are leveled up by defeating enemies. Skills and spells are leveled up by using them. Items however require a different approach.

    Each item in the game has its own world with 'inhabitants'. There inhabitants provide bonuses to stats when that item is equipped. It is possible through the use of an NPC to enter the item's dimension known as an Item World. If you do this you fight through randomly generated levels back to back filled with enemies, defeating the inhabitants subdues them and allows you to move them to other items. Also each level you defeat increases the natural bonuses of the item. This item world allows you to take even the starter weapons of the game and turn them into very powerful items.

    Whilst there are story characters which join you, these don't comprise your entire team. There exists a Senate, through which any of your characters can make propositions, these can include more expensive items in the store, unlocking a secret world, but the main use is to create characters.
    Now every time a character defeats an enemy, they gain mana equal to the level of that enemy. The higher the mana, the more powerful a new character they can create. What kind of character can you make? Any monster you have defeated, yes including dragons, or any humanoid with classes such as cleric, mage, warrior, ninja etc. More classes get unlocked as you progress in the game. In addition to this the new character will be the pupil of the one who created him. When a master and pupil are in base contact, the master can cast any spells the pupil can. If the master levels up that spell, he learns it permanently. This grants huge control over the skills and spells of your characters, allowing even your cleric to cast very high level fire and ice spells.

    Now all this sounds very complicated, and it is. However the main story of the game is well balanced and even if you only create characters with no care for master/pupil or learning spells, you can still complete the game with the bare bone basics.

    My only problem with the game is that it gives you too many options too quickly. From your first chapter of the story you are able to enter the item world, approach the senate, create new characters and learn all manner of skills. Whilst more hardcore RPG players or Disgaea veterans won't be bothered by this, it could be off-putting to a new player.

    Sounds: Very good voice acting, though the battle cries in combat become annoyingly repetitive. Music is varied and fits the scenes well. Also includes the option to buy tracks to have as the music for the Item World

    Graphics: Anime style characters allow for easy showing of emotion. Animations of combat and special abilities are all very good. However the graphics are a downgrade from the PS2 version.

    Gameplay
    : Fantastic in-depth RPG. Many many options and near infinite team combinations available. Weapon and Armour use isn't restricted by class allowing a wide variation of equipment. Inclusion of top screen mini-map and camera rotation allows easy location of hard to see enemies and tiles.

    Overall: Great game. It can be overwhelming in the beginning, but none of the advanced functions are necessary to beat the game, allowing for as casual or hardcore a game as you choose to make it. If you enjoy RPGs and never had the chance to play Disgaea before, pick this up and you won't be disappointed.

    by Published on January 1st, 2011 18:18
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    Portal: Still Alive
    Publisher: Microsoft
    Developer: Valve
    Genre: Action
    System: XBLA
    Price:1200 MS Points

    The first iteration of Portal we saw was attached to the sweet-as-a-nut deal The Orange Box. At the time I paid 60 quid for the Orange Box, and I was noted for saying that I'd have paid that for Portal alone. This was of course a lie, that would be mad, but Portal's quality and uniqueness stood out from the other parts of the Orange Box (Half Life 2 and it's episodes, and Team Fortress 2. The Orange Box as a whole was great, Half Life 2 and it's episodes are a fantastic play, they age well and converted to the 360 nicely. Team Fortress 2 has a big following even today. The 'Box was full of Diamonds, and Portal was like a, Golden Diamond.


    A number of things set it apart - for one it wasn't a First Person Shooter, it was an FPP (first person puzzler). Puzzle games until then had largely been restricted to 2D, with no real story to speak of. Portal showed us unique puzzle situations with a deep and often darkly humorous story, and a good game mechanic which was well realised. The way the game plays is simple enough, one trigger puts up one portal, the other trigger, a second portal. You can travel between the two. And that's it, but I can't explain in words how intricate this game mechanic makes Portal. It sounds simple, but when you take into account that you can use portals to redirect missiles, take objects through to use elsewhere, and that momentum and gravity are unaffected by portals, then the game becomes much more rich and rewarding.


    Portal: Still Alive, is a hard one to figure out. To be brutally honest, it's a mutilated version of the original. There are puzzles I remember that are cut out (perhaps to fit the XBox Live Arcade maximum size limit). So you get the feel for what the game is, and you get a good taste for the puzzle element, and most of the story is here in tact. There are no new story bits that I noticed, but some of the puzzles themselves seemed to have small additions or twists I don't remember from first time around.

    There are extra and new test chambers (puzzles) to be done individually (i.e. not featuring any of the classic Glados chatter or story). These are simply puzzles and that's it. So I found myself asking - what is this? It's not a prequel or a sequel, and it's not a remake, because a remake would warrant extra and updated content. It's more like a dowloadable content pack for Portal. But it included most of the original game so the only real extras if this were classed as DLC, would be the 20 or so extra puzzles, and if I paid over 5 quid for 20 short enough puzzles, even for what was and is one of the greatest games of all time, I'd cry blood. I'd want more than that for DLC!

    But as it stands, Portal: Still Alive is not DLC, it's standalone Arcade game. So where does that leave my opinion? I love the original Portal, but for this review, I just had to play a bastardized version of the game I love. Why would I play this game? For the extra puzzles? I want more of the excellent story! For the achievements? It's a bit lame to be buying something you already completed just to get extra points (or just to be able to say "rub it up ye, Paddy, I gots more points than u!") There are also modes where you have to do each test using only a set amount of portals or footsteps but really, could you be arsed if you've already done them?

    I seem to be giving this game a bollocking so far, but the best way I would recommend this game, and this is the important part of this review, this is what I want you to remember - If, AND ONLY IF, you have never played, and have no intention of ever paying for and playing, the full Orange Box package, Portal included, then you owe it to yourself to get this. This will probably be the case if you don't like first person shooters much. And that's fair enough, but Portal is not a first person shooter, not at all. The rest of the Orage Box however, is. And if indeed you are that small minority that doesn't like shooting the christ out of anything that moves, then you should opt for Portal: Still Alive on the Arcade.


    It is a great game, even in this slimmed down arcade version, and if you are not a FPS fan, there's no point going for the full Orange Box, take this and enjoy it, because although it's not a complete version, it's enough to show you how awesome the world of Portal is, and you will get almost as much as enjoyment out of this version as the original.

    Scores:

    if you have the Orange Box
    if you haven't
    by Published on January 1st, 2011 18:17
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    Article Preview

    Platform: Windows (XP or Vista) PC
    Developer: Stardock Entertainment (official game page)
    Publisher: Stardock Entertainment
    Ratings:PEGI















    ESRB:



    The Political Machine is a turn-based strategy game where the goal is to conquer the worl... become President of the United States. You do this by flying your candidate around the country, state to state, building country awareness of you and promoting yourself on various issues, such as Gas prices or the War on Terror, all over the course of 41 turns. At the same time you manage your funds, build Election Headquarters, belittle your opponent, kiss a few hands, shake a few babies and overall make the world a better place.

    The most obvious aspect of this game is the graphics. Bubble-head characters very similar to Nintendo's Mii's. The country is depicted in a 3D cartoon style and each state pops out of the country when highlighted. This adds a flavour of parody to the game and gives the impression that this game isn't going to take itself too seriously. The music of this game isn't noticeable. It's possible to play through the game without noticing music was even playing.


    When you begin the game it becomes apparent that there is no interactive tutorial to guide you on your first couple of weeks. There is a tutorial on the main menu and its purpose is to tell you what everything on the screen is and what buildings do. The opening help screen upon starting the game tells you how to move around and some general details. What neither assistance does is tell you what to do to actually win. Once you click past the opening help screen, you're on your own.

    The main screen gives the player options to display a plethora of information, little of which is defined or explained. You are given no help during the game in the way of strategies or tips and as a result a first time player will lose their first games badly whilst they work out, through trial and error, what it is they're supposed to do to win.

    At the end of the game each of the states lights up in turn in either Blue or Red to represent the candidate they vote for. This will create confusion to some players as many of the states they were most popular in voted for the opponent instead, this is because the popular vote and the electoral vote aren't the same. Americans should know this, non-American's won't.

    One of the most customisable areas of this game is the character creation. This allows you to create custom candidates, you could create yourself or go so far as to make a blue skinned eyeless alien. Choosing your appearance and position on topics is very easy to do. However knowing what these topics are will require reading through them, this will presumably affect an American player less as they will already have an understanding of the meaning of some these issues, such as Federal Government. A Foreign player however will need to read them carefully. Some of the issues are ambiguously named and you're left uncertain as to which side is 'For' and which is 'Against'. One important issue here is selecting your party of either Democrat or Republican, who both favour one side or the other of a topic. The player is left in the dark as to which party favours what viewpoint.

    Overall this game has a learning curve like a mountain, one which could have been avoided with giving the player more assistance. Calculating votes and popularity in states is very math heavy and although calculations are done for you, you still need to understand what the numbers mean and how to improve each in order to gain ground in a state. As the game is very heavily based upon American Politics and terminology, it's likely to alienate foreign players from even picking it up.

    The inclusion of custom characters gives the game a bit more of a foothold outside of the USA, as at the very least, a player can create themselves in the game as opposed to playing as Barack Obama or George Bush. Also the Quick-Play option, despite the very misleading name, allows the player to play a Custom Scenario in a comedy style Europe , Civil War USA or an alien planet whose denizens are hell bent on Galaxy Conquest. The alien planet is particularly amusing with their issues of alien destruction and artificial slaves and terror star building. I'm just disappointed I can't have Darth Vader as my Vice-President.


    The most important question to ask is: Is it fun?

    The answer is not really. It's a frustrating game to get to grips with, working out the maths is tedious and the only reason you'll keep playing is because you're stubborn enough to want to beat your opponent. After you beat him however, you realise you now ...
    by Published on January 1st, 2011 18:17
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    Fable: The Lost Chapters
    publisher: Microsoft
    Developer: Lionhead Studios
    Genre: Action RPG
    Players: 1
    System: Xbox Original

    Fable 2 is coming up, so it might be a good idea to do a "pastview", eh?

    Fable had promised gamers the world; or at least leader of lionhead Studios Peter Molyneux had promised it. One of the oddest surprises about the original Fable which had failed to deliver anywhere near the promises of peter M. was that it was still an absolutely fantastic game.(I wasn't really mainstream at the time, so wow, I could only imagine what he actually said was gonna be in the game at the time o_0) Fable still held its own in the gaming world for a few reasons; one, it had an intense magic and melee combat system. Two, it had a hugeopen world and lots to do. And three, you could be a hero in the game, or a villain, and the line wasn't drawn that clear either.Fable: The Lost Chapters was essentially Fable 1 with some the stuff that SHOULD have been in the original. This included more side missions, weapons, magic, and other things, but nothing truly warrenting a repurchase of the game. if you were like me, however, and never had the game in the first place, it was a spectacular deal.

    Fable had a pretty average combat system for its time; emphasis on melee without many different combo attacks, magic that was sweet but ran out too quickly, and a bow for ranged attacks. But the combat system was very fluid, and battles commenced in seamless real time on the overworld. Boss battles were grand and fun. The only problem was that the combat system wasn't very deep. Racking up combos then delivering finishers was fun with melee, but thats about as deep as it went. magic was pretty fun, but overall not as helpful as melee, and rendered pretty useless in comparison. the Extra skills that you could purchase at the Guild made things a little more interesting, but not by a huge amount. Overall, Fable had a very fluid and easy to use combat system, but it didn't contain the depth of such games as Ninja Gaiden and God of War. The control you have in battles and the overworld is spot-on. The controls don't stick, the camera isn't jumpy or messy, and it all around works well.



    What was probably the main selling point of the game was its twisting storyline. This was one of the few games where you have immemse amounts of decisions that truly affect how the rest of the game will be played out. And a lot of these decisions actually are decided by your moral standing.(A study once showed that only 5% of the players of Fable could actually stand to be bad all the way through. I know I ended up with a halo, though I wanted to be an assasin :/ )These choices don't just affect the story, they effect you and the people around you. If your bad, people will tend to avoid you or run away when they see you. If your good, people flock to you, and usually bug the crap out of you. but its not so black and white. You can be good or bad, or a mix of the two. Or closer to good then bad, or vice versa. Even the quests you complete at the Guild will decide how people veiw you, so much that if you don't actually do anything, people won't know you. on the other hand, if you take on many quests and emerge victorious each time, you'll get famous. If you drink too much booze you'll get a beer gut, if you work out enough you'll get buffer, and really many things effect your character in adverse ways. And best of all, the choice is up to you. It could even be called a 'benchmark in gaming interactivity', if you use the term loosely.

    Score:
    With Fable 2 on the horizon, it may be a good idea to pick up Fable: TLC if you haven't already played it. Its selling for dirt cheap now, and its still a fun game today. Its backwards compatible with the 360 as well. So if you've run out of games to try and want a new experience for cheap, give it a go. Be sure to look out for our DCEmu Fable II review coming soon.
    by Published on January 1st, 2011 18:17
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    Platform: Windows (98, ME, 2000, XP or Vista) PC
    Developer: Stardock Entertainment (official game page)
    Publisher: Kalypso Media
    Designer: Brad Wardell
    MSRP: £29.99
    Ratings: PEGI






    ESRB: Not rated (European Release, although all previous Galactic Civilizations II games received an E10)
    Note: This is a standalone version of the Dark Avatar and Twilight of the Arnor expansions to the original Galactic Civilizations 2.

    Short Overview: Planet/starship centered Turn Based Strategy game. Very mature due to it's lineage (second expansion to a second game in a series all made by the same core group). You can spend anywhere from a few hours to a few months on a single game. My favorite thing was most definetly the humor, which drives the gameplay and gives needed respite from the epic nature of the game. Only flaw is the absense of a number of features that make the game difficult to micromanage or macromanage.

    Overall Score:
    Rating:

    Click HERE to see the full review. ...
    by Published on January 1st, 2011 18:16
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    Fable II
    Publisher: Microsoft
    Developer: Lionhead Studios
    Genre: Adventure RPG
    System: Xbox 360 (exclusive)

    Opening:
    The original Fable was quite a controversial game. The game's creator Peter Molyneux had promised the world to gamers, and much of that promise went unfulfilled in the first game. The strange thing about it, was that although many of the features that were said to be in the game weren't, it still proved to be a very fun game, and the features that were in it were very innovative. The opposite of the scandal is true with Fable 2. This time around, Peter Molyneux under promised, and over delivered. Whereas Fable was a good game, Fable 2 takes everything from Fable, entirely new concepts, and a world ten times larger the the original, and expands upon it in every way imaginable. Funny, thrilling, emotional, and entirely too short, Fable 2 is everything people wanted it to be and then some.

    Story
    Like the original, Fable 2 is all about its satirical nature, that is, its very very funny. What makes it stand out from other "funny" games is that its GENUINELY funny in its nature. While containing a very serious plot and story, everything from the people to the expressions, which are basically your way of communicating to people, to the things that the characters say, it has a unique charm and humor to it.( A bit of an understatement; this is one of the most unique game worlds ever created, in part due to its charming atmosphere.) This atmosphere of Fable sets it apart from the countless other fairy-tale style games, and it truly gives it its own image and personality as a game. This is by and large the most endearing aspect of the game, and what will have you coming back for more, even after you've completed all the quests and the story. And about the story...

    The original Fable had a rather weak story, although thats what in part made it so fun(Not many times had a game been made where you can choose which way a generic fairy tale will be told). Fable II's story, while by a good margin better, isn't great. What it boils down to is a rather generic story of a hero who must combine powers with 3 other heroes to save the world. Not so original. What makes it original, is how you can essentially choose the way the story is told.(For all I know you might be able to even kill the mains, I never tried.) Everything you do, even down to the small chores you did in the beginning of the game influence how the world is shaped for you and how the story and sub stories will play out. This also means you sometimes have to be careful as to what quests you don't do(For the most part, quests you do do won't mean the desolation of entire cities) Still, the story mode itself

    Graphics
    The graphical style for Fable 2 is one of those games that you could call art and not have Kojima slapping you across the face for it. If a game should have ever been called "art" due only on its visuals, Fable 2 is up there with Okami and Shadow of the Colossus. The bright and colorful vibrant shades during the daytime in such places as Bowerstone lake and Market make you entranced by the world as very few games have been able to accomplish before. Just as well, in contrast the dreary, dark and pale colors of such places as Wraithmarsh and The Bandit Coast give the game a true air of tense feeling. Its these great graphical styles that really suck you into the world, and make it a treat to just run through the roads and look at the world itself.

    The game isn't so much technically impressive as it is creative. The graphics are simple, as are the water effects and most of the game. The magic is positively striking, but the effects do have some negative effects on the game. For instance, most massive level 5 spells will cause the game to slowdown for a few seconds. Nothing major, but defineatly an annoyance. The thing is, as colorful and fun-filled as the graphics are, the sheer lack of technicality in this age of gaming is disappointing. Also, when night falls on the forest levels and other levels where the color attracts you to them, the levels appear very drab and boring.


    You can jump off this bridge, like most things.

    Animations are something that needs work as well. Stiff looking attack and magic animations, and enemies are no different. Expressions are well done. The characters movements pertaining to interaction with your character, such as fear, joy, admiration, and most actions on the parts of the villagers just feel fake and hollow. Despite this, your characters animations are fantastic when it comes to the customization you can do. Instead of the animations being absolutely terrible to fit with all the different clothing possibilities you'll have, the animations stay the same, even if the same does need a bit of work.

    Gameplay
    Fable 2 has a very fun and repetitive combat system. That sentence about sums up what you'll be feeling by the combat. The thing about it is that it stays mostly fresh throughout the entire game. Its absolutely simple and has, as the creator pointed out, a one button combat system, yet the feeling of combat in the game doesn't get boring for a long while. This is due in part to the upgrades you can level up during the game. As you earn experience from killing enemies, you can use the experience to level up different areas of your character, such as power, skill, and will--or in other words, swords, guns, and magic. Each time you level these areas up, you gain a different skill in that area--whether its the ability to block an attack, zoom in on your gun, or get a far more powerful spell, the combat will stay fresh until you've unlocked everything that can be unlocked. Unfortunately, unlocking everything doesn't take a huge amount of time to do, so the combat may bore some people after a while. Its simple, which is a double edged blade in this case. Figuratively and literally. The control is responsive, though there are occasional hiccups during combat. Movement could be a little more fine tuned. But the choices for how you kill the enemy are still there. Tons of different weapons, both melee and range that have their own special attributes make it very fun to swap out weapons every so often and see how the battles will play out that way.

    Also, leveling up your character in these three aspects will produce physical changes on your characters appearance as well. Level up power and you'll get buffer. Skill and you'll grow taller. Will and blue magic lines(which I thought looked kickass) will start appearing on your skin. For the most part, these changes are appealing in the game. The problem is, if you don't want these changes to occur but still want the benefits of that certain level, your outta luck. For example, if your playing as a female character and actually care about appearance in the game, then your not going to want to level up power much or you'll start to look like a berserker from Gears of War(i.e. like a freak). Or, if you don't want to be a Goliath looking creature you'll probably refrain from upgrading skill.

    Thankfully, Lionhead seemed to come prepared for this. They split each group--skill,power,and will-- into 3 groups each. only one upgrade group within each group effects your characters appearance, and thats the group that determines the amount of damage they will do. And once you have legendary weapons with massive amounts of damage, you will no longer need those possibly-freaky enhancements. Just in case though, Lionhead made a feature where you can downgrade at any time, one of your upgrades. So if your extremely tall but want to be shorter again, simply downgrade that skill. Its simple.



    Undead. What RPG would be complete without them.


    Another feature that will effect your characters appearance is also one of the most innovative features in an RPG, that of the ability to choose your path in a non-linear fashion. Most of the actions you take in Albion will yeild you either Good or Bad karma. This can be anything from stealing random stuff from someones house or killing your spouse, to making a crowd of people upbeat by playing the lute to donating to the Temple of Light. The game lives up to its motto "For every action, a consequence. Who will you become?" But all these choices you make won't be for nothing, and many of them will certainly be very hard to make(especially if you plan on being good.) Depending on how evil or good you are, your physical appearance will change. You hair will become golden and you'll get a halo if your good. If your bad, your eyes will become red and you'll grow horns. There is also a more subtle layer of "good and evil", which is more of the grey area in between, called Purity and Corruption. Doing kind acts and eating good foods will give you purity points, which will make your character look attractive. Eating pies and meats all the time and charging your tenants massive rent will give you corruption, in turn making you fat and ugly. These features are where Fable 2 shines its brightest, and are one of the most fantastic innovations in an RPG in years.

    There is also the world around you that reacts to your actions. For instance, if you go on a crime spree in a town and kill people, then crime and panic will break loose in the town. The economy will drop, and it will become a miserable place to be. On other other hand, if you spend tons of money there and charge your tenants less in that area, it begins to flourish, and the economy will skyrocket. People will love you more, and more people will begin to appear there. Your ability to influence and change the world around you as well as yourself is, too, a fantastic innovation that Fable 2 introduces well. Oh, and yes, P.M. was telling the truth when he said that you can buy everything in the game world of Fable. Pretty much, everything.

    Sound:
    A good bit of the music is recycled from the original Fable with minor changes in what instruments seem to be used to play the song. Still, the music sounds like orchestral music, which fits the game's "epic fairy tale" premise well. Sound effects are nice and varied; different blades and guns yeild different sounds, as well as each different spell you cast. The sound also helps the world come alive to you, as this game plays fantastic in Dolby 5.1(Lets give a round of applause to Thomas, who let me test his surround sound to the point of almost breaking it. Sorry Tom.)

    The game also runs on some fantastic voice overs. Each NPC has some well written and executed lspeech they want to say to you, and the greatest thing about the VOs is that they are done comically, like the rest of the game. In fact, I'd be willing to go so far as to say that without the VOs being as funny as they are, the game simply would be far more boring. At least to your ears it would be.



    When a game manages to make hopping fences fun, you know its good. Fable II is good.


    Replayability:
    The game's story takes about a mere 12 hours to finish. But to be perfectly honest, thats not what your gonna be doing most of the time anyway. After opening all the doors, buying all the property, spending a good while at the crucible and finishing most of the quests, I found that I had taken about 50 hours, give or take a few. That means, after basically finishing the game, it took a good deal of time to accomplish. This really isn't much in the way of Oblivion or a JRPG, but its fairly long.

    Co-op won't have you running back for more. Playing with a friend whos right beside you will end up being more funthen the online co-op. This is due to a number of reasons. First off, the joining player can't play as his character, only a premade one. Second, your Skill powers get flushed down the drain. Third, if your "friend" is bored, he can just as easily slaughter a very important character who you can never get back. And fourth is the lag. Lots of lag. Stupendous ammounts I have experianced in fact. If you can get over these issues, then you may yet have some fun here. Well....

    Closing Comments:
    In all honesty, I love this game to death now. Pretty much one of the only games I've really went back and did all the side quests after finishing the story mode. I bought this game with moderate expectaions, which made it a pleasent surprise to find out it was worth the money. But I won't lie; errors and glitches mess this game up badly. If you can get over those errors though, you'll find an experiance deeper then any RPG or JRPG you've played in the last ten years.

    Major Selling points:
    -Fantastic and colorful graphics
    -Addictive Combat system
    -Ability to play the game on your own path, and be as good or evil as you want to be.
    -Lots of cutomization and choices that reflect on your character
    -Wide, open freeroam world
    -Huge game; many quests and things to do

    Major Breaking Points:
    -Lots of technical hiccups
    -Co-op sucks
    -Story mode is a bit short

    Final Scoring:
    Graphics: 4.5
    Story: 4
    Gameplay: 5
    Sound: 4.5
    Replayability: 4

    Overall Score:

    by Published on January 1st, 2011 17:52
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    Published by: THQ
    Developed by: Volition
    Genre: Third Person Shooter / Open World
    RRP: £44.99
    ESRB: TBC

    Release: Jun 2009

    I was lucky enough to be able to grab a keycode for the new Red Faction Guerilla demo.

    *edit - the demo is now up for download by the general public - go try it!*



    I haven't played much of the first few games - I think I rented red faction 1 ages ago. I was impressed enough by it's Geomod(1.0) technology which allowed you to burrow holes in levels with rockets, create trenches, etc. However, it was limited back in the day and only so much damage could be done to a level before everything became un-destroyable.

    Now we have a handful of games which expand on how destructible scenery comes into play, such as Battlefield: Bad Company, and Mercenaries 2.

    Mercenaries 2 I felt was particularly underwhelming in this respect, it's graphics lacked polish (terrible water effects) and, whilst you could indeed destroy every building and structure in the game, there was again a lack of polish, and the feeling that quantity was prioritized over quality. For example, a building took a set amount of damage before it began to crumble and raise dust, and shortly after a standard pile of rubble was left. Of course, within minutes these buildings were magically reconstructed so as not to break gameplay.

    Battlefield Bad Company tried a more subtle approach, with a lot of fully destructible scenery, and buildings, which could be skeletonized, rather than completely demolished. It worked fairly well, though it could get annoying that you could destroy some things and not others.

    So, given that destructible scenery is one of Red Faction: Guerilla's major selling points, this is the first aspect I wished to investigate.



    What I can say for certain is that if you like breaking stuff, and seeing things destroyed in an overly gratuitous fashion, then you will not be disappointed. The buildings on Mars, from military installations to flimsy shacks, will shatter, splinter, explode, collapse, break, twist and fall. Pipes, bricks, bits of metal and concrete all break apart as you'd expect and secondary explosions caused by good old fashioned exploding barrels can really rack up the carnage.



    The smashing-up-of-things is the star of the show, no doubt, but a concern I had is one exemplefied by Battlefield: Bad Company's single player. This is the fact that in BF:BC, the enemy AI had trouble distinguishing between broken scenery, and untouched, solid walls. Red Faction: Guerilla's AI seems to handle it well enough, and at no point in the demo (although short) did I feel like the AI was being especially stupid.

    In fact, the AI worked better than I thought. In the open world of RF:G, there are friendly miners going about their business, not bothering anyone, and driving random cars and trucks about (which you can 'borrow').

    Then there are restricted areas, which, if you enter, the local guards will pop a cap in your ass, provided they see you. You can back up against walls, and crouch walk to avoid detection, and there's also a handy minimap to show nearby guard positions.



    Of course, being fairly open world means that you'll probably get spotted sooner or later and then the guards come - with re-enforcements depending on how much shit you are fecking up - cause too much mayhem and truckload after truckload of enemies will bail in, overwhelming you.

    Dealing with the enemies is fair enough too, there's usually accuracy issues in 3rd person shooters but enough has been done to eliminate frustration. For example, 3rd person melee attacking can tend to be a bit fiddly in most 3rd person games, but an auto lock on/lunge makes this a bit more satisfying. Though it could be cheap in multiplayer if the lunge distance is as it is in single player, I'd be annoyed if I got whacked by someone ten feet away, because the lunge auto-targets the nearest person. Still, works well in single player.



    The guns, in the demo at least, are intuitive to use and feel meaty in sound and effect, and the remote detonation mines - whilst a little inaccurate when thrown, are a hell of a lot of fun, and creative use of them can result in some crazy situations.



    So the actual mission in the demo is to first 'liberate' an Aliens-style mech loader from a garage which is in a restricted area. I had a few attempts at this. First, running in with guns and bombs was fairly effective, but as you raise more attention, you need to be on the ball or else you'll get swarmed by guards.



    The second attempt I used was stealth - carefully avoiding enemies where I could, and taking the less travelled path, this too proved to be a valid - if slightly more boring option.



    The third attempt I enjoyed the most. Hijacking a random truck which looked like a martian bin lorry, I proceeded to stick 4 remote mines all over the truck, after driving it to a secluded location. Once I had the explosives stuck to it, I began driving it straight at the enemy compound, jumped out whilst at full speed, and watched as it bore a truck-shaped hole through a major building, with girders and pipes crashing down in it's wake, and the enemies who were all about the building, naturally came to assess the damage and shoot at me through the gaping truck-shaped hole.

    Detonating the mines on the truck soon stopped their shenannigans and pretty much levelled half of the building, with the other half collapsing shortly after, due to a lack of wall support.



    So it's good to see different directions and tactics that you can use for the missions, it does scream replayability if you are free to approach all missions in the game like this.



    So we get to the garage containing the hulking power loader mech thing, and jump in. At this point, stealth and subtlety are smashed into a crumpled heap, along with anything or anyone else who has the misfortune to get in your path.

    The mech is a lot of fun to play with; the triggers on your controller swing the arms like windmills, mashing up guards, vehicles, and anything else. The bumper buttons do a left or right arm sweep, useful for smacking pesky trucks away.

    With the mech you gain a good bit of damage resistance, although turrets and guards in great number can wear you down eventually.

    You have to take your mech to a waiting truck, which parks outside the compound. I found the best way to get to it was to ignore any other enemies behind you, and walk in a straight line towards it - cutting through any buildings or vehicles like a hot knife through butter, destroying anything in your path - it's a lot of fun.

    Of course, it's not that easy, you have to stay clear of explosive things when ploughing through scenery, and if any turrets or heavy weapons are hassling you - you need to back track a bit to smack them about.



    Once at the waiting truck, your mech gets loaded on, and you hop out to man the vehicle's turret for some on rails shooter action. A brief chase ensues, with you pummelling any attacker who dares get too close to your cargo. This bit was perhaps the least fun part of the demo, but it was relieved by the crazy carnage that you could bring down on anything behind you.



    All in all, I'm cautiously optimistic about this game. It is definitely fun and the physics and Geomod2.0 powered destruction are very well realised and work with the gameplay wonderfully.

    A multiplayer demo would have been interesting, to see how they balance the powerful weapons to prevent one jerk flattening anything and everything on the map. It will be interesting to see if this is possible in the final build.



    Let's keep an eye on this one.

    - Bratman Du.

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