Sunday, October 31, 2010

Grand Theft Auto IV : Episodes from Liberty City Review

Grand Theft Auto IV : Episodes from Liberty City Review
By Rita S

Grand Theft Auto or GTA IV was another addition to the majorly popular series made by Rockstar Games. There was so much to do in GTA IV and to this very day we are still going back to that game for a nice bit of free roam or whatever online multiplayer game tickled your fancy. Later on down the track Rockstar released another two brand spanking new episodes in GTA IV – Episodes from Liberty City which are titled; ‘The Lost and the Damned’ and ‘The Ballad of Gay Tony’.

Both episodes are once again in Liberty City (Obviously) and are placed alongside the original GTA IV storyline. The episodes are downloadable via Xbox Live Marketplace or available on disk and do NOT require GTA IV to function.

Both episodes adapt the exact same core elements of gameplay and controls so all of us GTA elders can adapt easily to the game or right away. For those whom have not played this game before it will give you a run through of the controls so you don’t have to stress at all. If you want to get into detail within the game then it does help if you have played GTA just before as there are subtle connections between GTA IV and the two episodes. Clearly it is not essential to know the links between the two but they are there just incase you did.

If you want to go from old to new then start with the Lost and the Damned which was released eight months before The Ballad of Gay Tony. In The Lost and the Damned you gain the role of Johnny Klebitz, you are a highly regarded member of the Lost biker gang and you often conflict with the leader Billy Grey. Johnny Klebitz sees no real need to go to war with the gang’s rivals titled The Angels of Death. Having said that, when in conflict, you do most of the killing... Can the Lost biker gang survive?

All the weapons that were in GTA IV are in both episodes but there are the addition of some new weapons to this episode that include; grenade launchers, pipe bombs and shotguns. As you are a gang of bikers most of the combat is done from your bike which was not a feature of GTA IV.

Another feature that has been incorporated into both episodes is a checkpoint system for each mission. Some of the missions are quite tedious and take quite some time to complete as they can involve riding to locations that are far away before your real mission gets underway. It’s nice to know that a game developer has addressed a key issue in a game, in GTA IV you could get to the last point of a mission but it would feel like it was all for nothing thanks you a cop killing you with a single bullet and having to repeat the mission all over again resulting in rage quitting. With these episodes if you die you only have to start over from the last checkpoint you successfully completed, thank-goodness!

Between the two episodes The Ballad of Gay Tony has many more different missions rather than The Lost and the Damned which is much alike GTA IV. You get to ride around with your gang members and some missions you will have to collect people, for much of the time you will feel like you are playing as Niko Bellic (The main character of GTA IV for those who don’t know). Don’t get me wrong though, both episodes are very fun, very fun indeed.

If you have played GTA previously then you may notice that Klebitz and Bellic cross paths occasionally, it’s nice to see a mutual connection between two characters. The Ballad of Gay Tony does an even more superior job of referencing characters between the two games both in cut scenes and missions. Luis Lopez, the role you play as in The Ballad of Gay Tony is somehow different from the other two characters I have mentioned. Lopez is a full time assistant to Tony Prince whom is better known as Gay Tony. Tony adds glitz and glam to the game with a chain of nightclubs. Players will have a battle on their hands with the contending devotion to both family and friends, in the episode players will learn who is true, fake and that everyone has a cost to you no matter how big or small. Lopez can be rented out to kill and does some drug dealing also and just like him there are a few new added features that will have players drooling.

Parachutes are the most prominent feature of The Ballad of Gay Tony, although there aren’t heaps of missions that will use them but when they are used gosh its fun! As a matter of fact, it’s fair to say that some of the missions that use them are the best missions that you will experience in this episode. There are specific controls that are used to control your gliding Lopez which are easy enough to handle and in some missions you will find that you need to land on targets such as moving vehicles. Other than that you will encounter many mini-game activities such as a drinking game or you can try your luck at dancing which will then involve getting lucky with a lady in the bathroom. If you want more then try your luck at the driving range or even compete in the cage fighting championship, the main point is, there are never dull moments in these episodes. In The Lost and the Damned there are also a multitude of minigames such as arm wrestling, hi-lo card games and air hockey.  

Once you feel like a break from the storylines there are online multiplayer modes for us to indulge in. The Lost and the Damned has seven modes and has the usual deathmatch, team deathmatch and race. Besides that, there are some much more interesting one of my favourites is Chopper vs. Chopper; in this mode one player rides a bike to a checkpoint where the other player controls a helicopter with a gun and has to shoot them down before arriving at the checkpoint. Another few fun modes are Witness Protection, in this mode one player is a bus driver and a team of police must protect him from being killed by a group of bikers. Club Business will also have you glued to your screen for ages, in this mode you and seven others become a biker gang and complete missions cooperatively.

In the Ballad of Gay Tony it only has four online game modes which are just enhanced versions of GTA IV, in deathmatch and team deathmatch you get such weaponry such as sticky bombs, shotguns with explosive rounds and sniper rifles. In race mode and GTA race mode they feature new street race modes also each player can drive a tank, which adds to a joyful time.

Summary: Both episodes are amazing to play whether you are new to GTA or not. Rockstar upped the ante of all that you can do in each episode. Both offer a very different story and are both worth giving a shot, not to mention that the stories and the characters are memorable more so than GTA IV. The online multiplayer modes tie the episodes up nicely for a very enjoyable gaming session overall. They are really worth the money if you want to get back into the amazing GTA. The only downfall is that the graphics of GTA are just starting to look a little past their use by date but it’s easily overlooked. Now we can fall in love with Liberty City all over again.

Rating: 9.5 / 10

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Just waiting for tomorrow.

Thankyou for the people that have voted on what blog they wish to see up next. Its leaning towards GTA: Episodes of Liberty City at the moment but I'm going to wait one more night to see if there is any more votes coming my way. First thing tomorrow morning i shall be working hard on writing up my review of whatever game has the most votes; so yes, tomorrows post will be a review. Beyond that i am going to dust off my collection of old school games and actually review one, so that shall be a time warp situation for myself.

Until next time,


Friday, October 29, 2010

Help me?! ...Please.

I'm going to be writing another review very shortly, could do with some help deciding on a game to review. I've managed to narrow it down to a couple of games sooo... what shall i review out of; Super Mario Galaxy, Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City or Battlefield Bad Company 2. I'll get around to reviewing all of them but what would you prefer to see up first?

Thankyou for helping me out!

Happy gaming,

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What I've realised about gaming...

So, after a very hot day (now that the REAL hot Aussie weather has decided to make its way back to us for another year) i find myself blogging... as a matter of a fact I’m multitasking, playing Reach and blogging all at once (GO ME!).

The reason i decided to write this post is because i feel proud that I did so well in a game of Halo just then but without getting all psychological on you, isn't the feeling of doing good in a game just amazing?! I know it’s sort of odd to say that and I think many people don't even realise the self satisfaction whether it be a multi-kill in a deathmatch game or beating an extremely annoying boss level. It seems any kind of well doing in a game makes us feel as happy as a ...ummm... fluffy little marshmallow, or the alike of course.

What I’m getting at is that those of us who love gaming seem to be at our happiest element when we are gaming... and its true if you actually think about it (YAY for gaming!). Alas, if we play games that exasperate us into a rage quit, well... clearly that will have some kind of negative effect... of which, some people will throw their gaming console of choice out their window, there are just clearly positive and negative effects of gaming, no in-between.

Beware of gaming, it causes harsh emotional effects.

I'll be off to bed now, thankyou for reading and goodnight.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So this is the interlude... Or something...

Well, I'd like to thank everyone so far that has been reading my blog... I didn't think that it would do this well at this point in time but there have been many views so I must be doing something right. I'd hoped to write review blogs way more frequently but life factors often get in the way (Unfortunately).

Besides that, it’s been quite eventful on the gaming front lately. We have had Halo Reach released and are now satisfied with the amazing online multiplayer glory and my god its fun. I’ve been playing it for hours and hours and I am still loving it (Only hating the snipers!) I also started up my xbox the other day put in the Halo disk waited for the glory-ness to load and to my great pleasure there is now Living Dead as an actual playlist, how exciting! For those who enjoy Griffball we will be seeing that come as a playlist over the Christmas holidays. Also if you are thinking about getting some points to get something then save them! Halo Reach will have a map pack released on the 30th of November which will include three new maps for 800 Microsoft points. I love the community forge creations, especially the race maps many of which are very enjoyable indeed, and if you make them... thankyou!!!

The latest edition to my game collection has been Fallout: New Vegas. I so happy that I've got this game to be honest... There has been so many mixed emotions about this game that I've noticed on many forums and it is all due to the bugs lurking in the game, I guess I'm one of the fortunate few that have not had many issues or personal complains with the game. There are still a few bugs present in the game; I have found a mutant bug floating in the air and it didn’t have wings and that was since the released patch over the weekend, there will be other patches released over time as more bugs are noticed.

Vegas would have to be my favourite game at the moment, there is something so mystical about it you see... it has the most simple concept, walk around, kill stuff, open boxes and talk to people but you just keep wanting more. It’s such an ‘I want to escape from my life’ kind of game.

I think I love gaming too much... way too much for a girl at least, haha. I’ll have a new review up real soon. Hit me up with a comment if you have any games you’d like to see me review, I'm all up for suggestions and I will go to any measures to review the game whether I have to rent it or something I’ll do my best (I promise) and I have a few platforms (Xbox360, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii and PC)

So I'm now signing off on this blog with a goodnight to you all around the world. Remember, the virtual world is the best world.

Bye bye... for now J


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fallout New Vegas Review

Fallout Vegas Review
By Rita S


'Welcome to Vegas, New Vegas' The year is 2281, this is the aftermath of a nuclear war... So we now finally have Fallout New Vegas to enjoy, this is the most wanted game of 2010 and gosh, it has been worth the wait! Bethesda Softworks and Obsidian Entertainment have given us a new world to explore since their last game, Fallout 3. In Fallout 3 you were immersed into a character of your own choice right from birth down to your final, most last choice in life. The world in Fallout 3 was huge and completely detailed with much to do other than the main storyline; almost everyone that played Fallout 3 had loved the game so much and it was easy to see why...

Now it’s time for Fallout: New Vegas and please note this game is not linked to Fallout 3 in any way or any of the other Fallout games so therefore you can still play this game even if you are new to Fallout. For some, the game may start a bit slow which seems to be a trend in many games lately but for those who are new to the game and its controls it eases you into the game slowly which is better rather than just being dropped into the deep end.

Overview of a part of the storyline: Your character is a courier with a parcel which gets stolen by an unknown gang. You are then shot in the head and left to die in a shallow grave in Mojave. Intervention starts with a cute cowboy-like robot named Victor finds you barely clinging to life and therefore takes you to a doctor. Gamers will survive this brush with death and will have amnesia, a thirst for revenge and an ultimatum to find out why and who accomplished this malicious attack.

There are so many main storylines and missions to complete with this game and to be honest there is more than one main storyline, and for some gamers this may all seem a little confusing but for others this should be no problem as long as you pay attention to dialogue and cut scenes. The storyline is very much compelling; you are a courier as stated and have lost the package that you was to deliver. By the blow to the head you have no recollection of the past so; why were you attacked? What was in the parcel that was so important?

As stated, there are many more main storylines so you have yet to see what the war is all about from the headline statement of the New Vegas trailer ‘War... War never dies’ you will find out about the importance of the casinos and the Hoover Dam. Just as a rule of thumb or so to speak there are a few factions that run New Vegas or at least all do in some way or another... The largest group you will encounter is the NCR – New California Republic (They do what they can to keep the peace but do so by force in whatever means are necessary) and then there is the Caesar’s Legion (they like to dictate and are slavers) these are the two that are most focused on but there are other factions also seen in the game that are much smaller and lesser heard of. You will have the choice to become a member of a faction or you can choose to go against them all. Just remember, there is no right or wrong with what you choose.

If you think there has been a graphic upgrade since Fallout 3 then think again, the same engine has been used for Vegas but having said that, it seems much more refined now than ever. Gameplay wise is very much the same as Fallout 3 however there is now the Companion Wheel which makes it much easier for your character to communicate with followers as well as being able to heal them when in combat, this is a nice feature to be able to use in the game and it helps sometimes when companions lag behind you... if only they would listen better.

There is a slight American Wild West theme in the Mojave Wasteland but rather than in Fallout 3 and its dull colour scheme we can now be exposed to a bit more colour (Yippeeeee!!) You will encounter bottles upon bottles of Sarsaparilla in the game in which will have you dashing to your fridge for a nice icy cold beverage. Workbenches are a new feature where you can make special ammo, tonics and just recycle junk to make various useful things, although it may seem pointless its rather fun to search for materials to be able to make something practical. Other than that you will meet an array of people and casino mini-games to play and not to mention robots that have the personalities of cowboys.

Vegas now has the choice of Hardcore mode, it can be switched on or off at any time. So what is this mode??? Well, hardcore is much more lifelike, there are such things to consider like dehydration and hunger as well as ammo having weight. So to keep well and alive you obviously have to eat and drink to survive and carry ammo around sparingly. It’s really a feature to look forward to but it’s only recommended for the experienced so if you don’t want to go the extra mile when playing the game simply don’t turn the mode on.

Summary: Is this game worth is? YES! OH GOSH YES! x1000000000000. But there might be some little niggles that might annoy SOME gamers such as the slow starting of the game, the same graphics or maybe they won’t like the characters as much as Fallout 3. Having said that, the storyline of Vegas compared to Fallout 3 has a much bigger and deeper meaning, this game will teach us the effects of a war and how it can harm so many beings even in a small town. If you enjoyed Fallout 3 then there is no doubt that you will love this game. There are so many hidden things to look for and if you rush through the main story alone you will get about 20 hours out of the game, do side missions and look for other hidden treasures and expect to play for another 150 hours. This game will keep you entertained for so very long and that is hard to find with any game. Obsidian and Bethesda have created a true gem here.  

I am using the Xbox360 version of the game for this review and there is some glitching going on currently with some mutant insects that are either getting stuck or floating in midair, yet they don’t have wings... BUT never fear!!! There will be a patch soon enough to fix issues.

Overall Rating: 9.5 / 10

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Sims 3 Review

The Sims 3 Review
By Rita S

‘Commas nala’ means ‘hello’ in the great Simmish language. If you have begun to read this, then chances are that you have either played or known of The Sims, the greatest life simulation game on the PC platform of all time.

In 2000 Electronic Arts released the very first version of The Sims; ever since, Will Wright the developer or god-like creator of this game went on to make the Sims 2 which was released in 2004. Its latest edition Sims 3, which was released in 2009. In the first week alone of The Sims 3 release it sold a major 1.4 million copies, the game had once again gone global and it had fans all around the world glued to the screens of their PC playing the ultimate living ‘doll house’.

The Sims 3 contains many elements from its predecessors or so to speak but does also have a funky fresh new outlook for the third edition so those who have been exposed to The Sims previously will feel like a welcomed guest. For those who have not played this amazing life simulation before, never fear!! The game will give you guiders as you play... which of course is very handy. If you are a newcomer to the Sims this is a life simulation game. You control a household of people that you create and they are called Sims. Sims work much the same as us, they need to eat, drain their bladder, sleep, make friends, find a job just amongst many factors of life. In this game you become someone like God and control their actions as you please. It goes further than that though, you can make your Sims fit by training them at the gym or fat by eating too much food; you can get your Sims pregnant and have a houseful of kids... the possibilities are endless. Much like life again you can find adult Sims jobs and earn their form of currency which is known as Simoleans with this money they can buy new furnishings or groceries. Your Sims are just like real life people doing real life things and that is the most attractive thing about this entire game, this by all means will keep you at your computer easily for hours.

For the gamers who have some experience with The Sims there are a whole list of new features but obviously the biggest and most noticed will of course be the simplicity of being able to move around your virtual town. In previous Sim games you could not do this so you felt a bit left out from the rest of the community. Being able to move around the town lets you watch your sim drive, walk or bike to work, the movies, or to go to a stranger’s house and randomly introduce themselves.

Having an open town unlocks a whole new range of community aspects to explore in The Sims 3. There are many public parks and beaches to be explored and to socialise with other Sims, you can find a new friend or the love of your life. If you feel more adventurous though you could get your Sim to head down to the local cemetery and meet with some see-through pals. There are just so many ways to socialise this time around, maybe more so then in real life. Other than your Sim venturing out other Sims may call you, or if your Sim has the knack for fixing then someone may ask you over to fix a broken appliance and for your troubles they will give you some cash. Honestly, this game has really stepped up a level since The Sims 2 and it’s very exciting to see.

In The Sims 3 many things that your Sim does or the way that it reacts to social situations will depend on how you create your Sim. The new feature that decides this is the social traits, you have to pick only five from a list of many and these determine so many things so... you guessed it, choose carefully!! Some examples are; friendly, insane, kleptomaniac, neurotic and so many others. So for example depending on what you choose you can either have someone that is happy but a neat freak so if they go into a messy environment then they stress and get very unhappy. Or you can have someone that likes to be a sleazy Sim and sleep with everyone in the district, the choice is yours. Other than having to spend so many hours just deciding on the personality alone there are sooooo very many customisation tools to create your Sims. You now get to do anything you want to your Sim for example one very new feature is to change the colour of their hair style into two colours so they look like they have dyed in streaks. There are also slide bars to get the perfect skin colour to customise a certain facial feature. The next big feature you will notice is when you add some clothing, there is a tool called ‘Create a Style’ this tool lets you choose all the colours for your Sims clothing, it’s very much needed in this game and you’ll be happy to use it. Expect to pay a long amount of time on this; there is much to do to perfect your Sims, very much indeed.

When you design your dream home you can expect to pay triple the time that you put into creating your Sims until you bought a pre-made house. There are many different styles of paint wallpaper, flooring and furniture and on top of that the ‘Create a Style’ tool can also be used, once you get stuck into the colour customisation you feel like an interior designer... If only you got paid to create your Sim’s houses. From a plain house to a multi floor mansion, you will build it.

Once your house is all finished and your Sims move in you are in for a jolly good time. You can either take control or just sit back and watch and let your Sim do its own thing and they do a good job of it too. Sims will dedicate their life to the personality traits you have dedicated to them. Watching social encounters will have you in stiches at times such as trying to get a smooch from a love interest and he or her may push you away, making an unfit Sim go to the gym and watching them fear the gym equipment or Cheating on your husband or wife Sim. There is so much entertainment lurking in every reaction and interaction, this is all why The Sims is so fun to play.

There are so many more things to experience in The Sims and this game is just like no other, it’s an experience all of its own kind and I’ve only touched the surface of the gameplay in The Sims 3, it is so amazing.

Now, if there is so much good then where are the bad bits? Well there is one major downfall if you want to play this game then you need a really good graphics card and more RAM then you can poke a stick at. Also, you will need to have a rather large hard drive, for most people with modern computers that won’t be a problem though. If you don’t have the right specs to play this game then either it won’t work at all or you can expect some random crashing due to memory leakage or the game just decides to lock up your PC so then you have to restart which means you lose all your unsaved work so remember, SAVE OFTEN! The bad thing is the game can choke up a bit from time to time because it is so big and it’s a shame because sometimes you have to get your Sim to run from large crowds of Sims that are on the screen as most of the time that is what causes the game to crash. Just incase you want to know the specifications that you need in order for your PC or MAC to run this game I will list them below...

Sims 3 Specifications for PC:
PC operating system: Windows XP service pack 2 or Windows Vista (Service Pack 1)
CPU: (XP) 2.0 GHz processor or equivalent (VISTA) 2.4 GHz processor or equivalent.
RAM: (XP) 1 GB RAM (VISTA) 1.5 GB of RAM
HARD DRIVE: 6.1 GB of hard disk space with an additional 1 GB of RAM for saved games and custom content.
VIDEO: 128 MB video card with support for pixel shader 2.0

Sims 3 Specifications for MAC:
PC operating system: Mac OS X 10.5.7 Leopard or higher
CPU: Intel Core Duo Processor
HARD DRIVE: 6.1 GB of hard disk space with an additional 1 GB of RAM for saved games and custom content.
VIDEO: ATI X 1600 or Nvidia 7300 GT with 128 MB of video ram or Intel integrated GMA X3100

Summary: The Sims 3 is a whole new virtual world waiting just for you to explore it. EA have once again done a marvellous job of putting this game together and have topped all of the previous Sims games. Keeping all the old features but adding so many new features in gives it a whole new outlook. Social interactions are much more lifelike and are a hoot to watch; the game will not disappoint old fans and will welcome all newcomers. The game will never get boring and if you are looking for something that will keep you hooked all day, then look no further. It’s a tad disappointing that the game can crash randomly from time to time but it’s easily forgiven with all the things that you can do in this game. This is life simulation that will never be beaten thank you to EA.

Please note that the Sims 3 will very soon be available on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and DS. Whether the game is very much the same as PC or not is yet to be known.

Overall Rating: 9 / 10