Latest Game and Movie Reviews (Live Update)

* Game Ratings (/10), Movie Ratings (/5)

DS Tokyo Beat Down 7.1
Xbox 360 Fracture 8.0
MOVIE The Unborn 0
PC Left 4 Dead 8.7
Xbox 360 Mirror's Edge 8.5
MOVIE Dead Space Downfall 3.5
MOVIE The Day the Earth Stood Still 0.5
PSP Super Stardust Portable 9.7  CHOICE PICK
PSP Need for Speed Undercover 2.8
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Monday, June 26, 2006

Prey demo hands-on

The demo allows you to experience the first 5 levels of the upcoming game, Prey, which will be in stores from early July. After trying out the demo, I realized that Prey (for the PC and Xbox 360) is not your typical FPS (first-person shooter). Firstly, there is the story, which is one of its kind. Abducted by aliens and then trapped on their spaceship? This is my first time hearing about it. Of course, the story gives way to new gameplay elements because it allows the developers to be more flexible and creative with the environment. Think about this: What can you possibly do on an alien spaceship? Many. So, here comes the ability to walk on walls. Well, actually, not walls, but special long stretch of glowing panels that allow you to walk, vertically and upside-down, defying gravity in every way! You will also notice that the weapons that you will aqquire in the game are non-existant in real life (because they are of alien origins!). Unlike other FPS games, your character in Prey has some narrative roles in the game, making of some amusing moments. What you see on the spaceship is somewhat gruesome (fortunately, it is not another movie like 'Saw'). The way the humans are slaughtered ... ... Okay, back to the point. So, now, your character not only has to save his girlfriend, but also the Earth. Good luck on your mission! Until the game is out, we will not know for sure if the game is good or bad. Now, just leave all the work to time and wait patiently.

Download the demo and try it out for yourself here (from Filecloud).

Saturday, June 24, 2006

RTS games on the go!

What was once an exclusive game genre to the PC is now becoming more common on the ... ... guess what ... ... the DS! 3 game titles have shown it -- Advanced Wars:Dual Strike, Age of Empires:Age of Kings and the forthcoming Panzer Tactics DS. Although the pace of the gameplay of the portable RTS (Real-time Strategy) games is slower than that of their PC counterparts, the crux of RTS games still remains -- the need to strategize. Sure, the landscapes are not as detailed as the PC versions, but why not give these games a try? Panzer Tactics DS gave me a scare the other day when I heard that it is arriving. Well, this is defintely the trend (more RTS games on portable consoles) to look out for for the next few years. Here, take a look at the 3 portable RTS games I mentioned earlier.

Advanced Wars: Dual Strike

Age of Empires: Age of Kings

Panzer Tactics DS (No box art available yet)

This game is not in stores yet; it will be released soon.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Game Review 16:New Super Mario Bros.

Do not be tricked by the word 'New'. In fact, New Super Mario Bros. is very similar to the original Mario game, Super Mario Bros., except the fact that Mario looks better now, because he is no longer drawn using big pixels. The increased power of the DS, compared to earlier consoles, not only improves the graphics, but at the same time, gives the developers a chance to add more gameplay elements like the deforming terrains into New Super Mario Bros. Yeah, there are special actions that Mario can perform like swimming, rope climbing and even vertical wall jumps, but otherwise, gameplay is still very much the same, so you can expect lots of jumping -- timed ones, of course. Wait, there is more meaning to the word 'New'. And the answer lies within the power-ups. New power-ups include a mega and mini mushroom and a special koopa suit (a blue turtle shell). The mega mushroom is quite rare, but if you happen to get it, it is fun! The mega mushrooms inflates Mario to a giant, filling almost the entire upper DS screen, brushing away any resistance in Mario's way (Just walk into them!). Although the effects only last for a brief moment, it is amazingly nice while they last. The mini mushroom shrinks Mario down to a very small size, so small that he can float on water and in the air, but that makes Mario very vulnerable to enemies. At times, Mario may also see power-ups like the special koopa suit. When Mario is in danger, he can hide in the shell. These type of new power-ups give us additional ways to play the game. It is just fantastic! There are also some hidden or sealed ways that can only be accessed by spending the Star Coins that Mario has collected. 2 of the 8 worlds cannot be accessed directly too. However, before rushing out to get your copy of this game, please be warned that this game is no walk in the park. Instead, it is very close to insanely difficult, especially in the later worlds, and you just have to perform a 'trial-and-error' method. I can swear that some jumps are absolutely impossible and the only way you can proceed with the game is to destroy the enemy using fireballs or be a Super Mario, so when you sustain damage, you will revert back to the Standard Mario instead of starting from the last checkpoint (Well, if you are none of those Mario types, Fire Mario and Super Mario I mention, then good luck). It becomes increasingly fustrating as you go deeper into the game. Yes, I like Mario games very much, but this one is just not engaging enough, and it gets pretty boring after a while. The collection of mini-games included with the game does no help with making my playing experience better. Alright, let me get this straight. (I am very honest here) Although New Super Mario Bros. sounds good, it just lacks the feeling I always get when I play excellent games like Half-Life 2 or even Mario Kart DS (this game is better than this). In other words, New Super Mario Bros. is a good game (no doubt about that), but not good enough. What that has been successful in engaging gamers in the earlier days (for example, Super Mario Bros.) are not what that makes a good game today.

Overall score: 9.1/10
Platform available: Nintendo DS

Double delight for July

[[ PREY ]]

I have to admit that I am really excited about this game. The experience of playing Doom 3 before just strengthens that view. Why? The answer is very simple. Prey is very similar to Doom 3 in many ways, most obviously being the graphics. Check out the story! Trapped in a spaceship. Now, that is as good as being trapped in an abandoned space station on Mars! Check out the monsters that you will get to shoot at in the head! Perhaps they can be new additions to the Doom 3's monster arsenal. Looks like Prey is another Doom 3 in the making! If Doom 3 is excellent, then Prey must be faring about the same. Well, only time will tell. Coming to Xbox 360 and PC.

[[Mario Hoops 3-on-3]]
Mario has played football, tennis and raced before, and now Mario wants to play basketball? It is simply amazing to know everyone's favorite Italian plumber is really capable of so many things. What can go wrong when you are able to use red, green turtle shells and the other various wacky power-ups to play basketball? Mario games never fail to impress and I think this is no exception. Bowser can consider going on a diet, so he can play better basketball. Looks to be the next Mario Kart DS (fun and addictive), not forgetting Mario's cute voice! Coming to DS.

Fate of the consoles (Part 3)

Introducing the the portable consoles ... ...

GameBoy Advanced/GBA SP :::::
Do not bother about this console if you are above 12 because most of the games are aimed at kids below that age. Pokemon games, anyone? I doubt that anybody above 12 will be interested in those kind of game, or am I wrong? Well, anyway, you should not be getting this in the first place -- that is, if you are above 12.
Grade: Bad

GameBoy Micro :::::
No doubt this is one absolutely unnecessary device that Nintendo has produced. If you take a look at the screen size, you will notice that it is as tiny as those on most older mobile phones and playing games on such a small screen is no fun thing. Perhaps you can consider giving this to a child for a birthday gift. Come on, even the GBA is better!
Grade: Very Bad

Nintendo DS/DS Lite :::::
With its excellent mix of innovative, yet high quality games, it has managed to beat its superior rival, PSP. The numerous Mario games are enough to make the DS a must-buy for all gamers. Highly recommended!
Grade: Excellent

PSP :::::
Although I can confidently say that the PSP's hardware is better than its competitor, DS's, in every way, the same cannot be said for the games. The several poor ports and average games sum up the PSP's game library. Sure, the features are rich, but unless Sony does something with the PSP's game library, the PSP will win neither me nor the DS-crazy Japanese gamers over.
Grade: Acceptable

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fate of the consoles (Part 2)

In part 2, the next-generation consoles and the PC (although it is not a console) will be looked at. If you have not read Part 1, click here.

PS3 :::::
Oh, its price tag really pissed me off, but if you can afford it, why not? Afterall, it is a good deal, considering the fact that Sony has managed to squeeze in many juicy features into the console. Regarding the games, most of them look quite average to me, but that should not stop you from buying it because there are still those amazing HD graphics to drool over. All said, I think that Sony's status as a console market leader will not diminish. Got the penny to spare?
Grade: Good

Xbox 360 :::::
8 months into its launch and yet, the Xbox 360 still has no really memorable games to speak off. Game releases come in batches of 1 to 2 per month and in my opinion, that is just too slow. You need more games, Xbox 360, and faster! Until Microsoft rolls out its big cannon, Halo 3, the Xbox 360 will not be in a good position to challenge Sony. So what if it was launched one year earlier? Looks like its future will be similar to the Xbox's -- if it does not pull up its socks.
Grade: Average

Wii :::::
Nintendo has managed to produce yet another innovative and cheap console (the other one being the DS). While the cool controller and games are impressive, Nintendo is going nowhere with that kind of graphics. As long as Nintendo is able to increase the Wii's graphical power, I do not mind paying more and if it supports HD, Nintendo will have a sure wii-ner in the console market. In my opinion, the Wii will not replace the PS3 or Xbox 360, but will complement it. Fortunately, the Wii looks to have a bright future and I see Mario, Metroid and Zelda (the 3 big Nintendo franchises) pushing sales for the Wii.
Grade: Good

PC ::::: (not a console)
Some people say that PC gaming is dead, but I can only agree to the statement only to a certain extent, defintely not entirely. Sure, these days, PC gaming seems to be dying in some areas, but hey, the PC is still the only place to play those intensifying RTS games! MMORPGs are also mainly played on PC. It is a big pity that the PC is not as powerful as the PS3 or Xbox 360. Nevertheless, the graphics still look gorgeous, provided that you have a good graphics card. Umh, recent game releases are nothing that make gamers scream for. Poor PC, you have seen better days.
Grade: Doesn't look quite good

In part 3, we will take a look at the portable consoles. I hope that you have enjoyed this article.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Fate of the consoles (Part 1)

How do these consoles fare and what are their future like? In this article, each console, both current and next generation ones, are accessed and graded. Read on!

PS2 :::::
Even in its golden age, the PS2 has shown no sign of slowing down. Remember? God of War 2 is arriving on the PS2 platform early next year. The PS2's recent price cut has made the console a more attractive buy for new gamers. The PS2 still has quite a lot of life in it.
Grade: Good

Xbox :::::
The demise of the big black box seems to be in the offing with the quickly thining amount of game releases in recent months. Recent releases like X3:The Official Game, Over the Hedge and Disney/Pixar's Cars are in no way exceptional and they can be played on the PC too. However, the Xbox still has some gems to show with games like the Painkiller and Destroy All Humans! 2 coming soon. Don't forget Call of Duty 3 is also debuting on the Xbox (surprise)!
Grade: Acceptable

GameCube :::::
My verdict: The GameCube has virtually died -- long ago. If you look at the GameCube's third-party game library, you will notice that the record is not as impressive as those of the PS2 and the Xbox. Fortunately, for GameCube owners, Nintendo is still planning on releasing four more games for this dying console. It is time to upgrade, GameCube owners! Hey, that controller looks ugly!
Grade: On the brink of extinction

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Game Review 15:Half-Life 2

I encountered many problems concerning Steam when attempting to play Half-Life 2 on PC 2 years ago. After many tries, the game still refuses to launch. Yeah, so I got this Xbox version and here is the review of the game. Taking into consideration that HL2 Xbox was released at the end of last year, I agree that this review is quite late, but I will just write it anyway.

If you have played the original HL on PC, this game is more or less the same, save for the weapons and enemies. The puzzle element is still present, but they are quite simple compared to HL. Needless to say, the graphics is better (even on the Xbox, where the game fades in comparison to the PC version). The music in HL2 is as intensifying as that in the HL. However, what I did not like is that many enemies from HL are gone in HL2 and I realised that HL2 has got far lesser weapon count than HL. Nevertheless, the gravity gun in HL2 compensates for this. It introduces an entire new way to play the game. The gravity gun is very crucial in some missions and is also a great way to save ammo. In fact, the whole game is designed around the gravity gun. The crossbow received an upgrade; it shoots electric arrows that causes any organisms to die instantly. Sadly, the amazing gauss gun gets relegated to being mounted on the buggy. The developer, Valve, drew many inspirations from other movies when it comes to the enemies in HL2. The Striders, those big walking giants, which you will face in the last few chapters of the game, look like those machines from H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. The antlions look like those bugs from Starship Troopers. The all new Combine replaces the Marines from the HL2 with three variations. Not forgetting the headcrabs and the zombies, Valve has also added another two variations of them. There are now fast headcrab and poison headcrab (very fatal, because it reduces your health to 1), which give rise to fast zombie (monkey-like creatures) and poison zombies respectively. The Vortigaunts (known as alien slaves in HL) have joined the rebels (the good guys). Good news! The barnacle is back, but I still missed some of the aliens like houndeyes from HL2. Every game has at least one bad point and HL2 is no different. Well, be warned that HL2 storyline is as confusing as Halo 2. The game is not even finished at the last chapter. The first expansion, Episode One, is out now, but the story remains uncompleted. There are other minor glitches in this Xbox version, most obvious when the game starts to 'freeze' for a few seconds in some areas. Your allies (the rebels) also have no common sense when they keep on blocking your way, forcing you to sustain more damage in the line of fire. Overall, HL2 is a fantastic game that ought to be remembered -- even after you have finished playing it. However, I still think that the original Half-Life is so much better. Go to the nearest PC and start playing Half-Life if you have not, for an introduction. Do not be mistaken, HL2 is impressive and is a must-try for any gamer; it gives me the 'Hey! This is the best game I have ever played' feeling that even Call of Duty 2 and Halo (two of my best games) do not even match up. Bravo, HL2, you have just received the title of the top game I have ever played (HL2 is now no. 1 for my top 10 games of all times). I wish I have played it much earlier. Heard that it is arriving on the PS3 platform in the future.

Overall score: 10/10
Platform available: PC, Xbox
If you are looking for a HL2 guide, I think I've found one good one from The best coverage!

Monday, June 05, 2006

New Top 10

Here is the list of the new all-time greatest top 10 games I have played.

1::: Counter Strike (all variations)
Counter Strike has been around for many years, but the fun you get from playing the game never stops -- since the game is mostly played with other humans! The big fan community keeps on churning out new maps for its multiplayer, making Counter Strike a relatively fresh game every time I play it. The action is also very immersive. Once played, never forgotten.

I played it on: PC

2::: Call of Duty 2
Call of Duty 2 is only behind Counter Strike in the ranking because Counter Strike's multiplayer is better. However, when it comes to single-player content, Call of Duty 2 beats every other game in the market hands down. Not only does the game has a cinematic feel to it that makes you feel as if you are the soldier himself, the game is also very memorable. Memories of playing the game will still be embedded in your mind long after you have finished the game. To add to the fun, the developers has also added some humor into it. Do not miss this game! It is a must-try for everyone!

I played it on: PC

3::: Mario Kart DS
I never feel bored or tired playing Mario Kart DS. In fact, I have been playing it since I bought it! The wacky balloon battle just keeps me playing over and over again. Mario and his pals have also made an attempt to make the game more interesting to play by making many funny and cute voices in gameplay. If all the single-player content is not enough for you, head over to the multiplayer. In my opinion, yes, this is game that you must get. This is also the game that prompted me to buy my DS.

I played it on: Nintendo DS

4::: Halo
Halo must have been the greatest Xbox shooter of all times, even better than its sequel, Halo 2. Extremely addictive gameplay bundled with intriguing storyline, wrapped up with the most memorable in-game music I have ever heard. The previous sentence sums up what Halo is, but you won't feel it until you play it! So, go get it if you have not played it! This is not a normal shooter; it is an extraordinary shooter that you will remember forever.

I played it on: Xbox

5::: Mario and Luigi:Partners In Time
Another super great game for the DS. Featuring Mario and his pals again, you can look forward to some humor. Lasting about 23 hours, this is a great buy. The enemies are challenging and the storyline just pushes you forward into playing the game. Definetely one of the greatest portables RPGs! This is the game to get after Mario Kart DS -- if you're a DS owner, of course!

I played it on: Nintendo DS

6::: Doom 3
What I like about Doom 3 is that it has gotten everything right. The storyline, the enemies, the weapons. The storyline is solid and clear. The enemies are great in variety and there is a truckload of weapons to equip yourself with. The somewhat scary gameplay environment and jumping-out-of-nowhere enemies further increases Doom 3's rankings. Expect to see a resonable amount of blood.

I played it on: Xbox

7::: Project:Snowblind
This game is relatively unheard of by most gamers, but that does not mean that this game is bad. Instead, I really like this game, especially the many innovative weapons. The ice pick that you can use to hack into security cameras, machines, turrets adds a new aspect to the gameplay. If you need some allies, release the spider bots. They can help you in your fight or perhaps, distract the enemies. This game is very creative. Never have I seen such innovative weapons in any other shooter.

I played it on: Xbox

8::: Need for Speed Most Wanted
This game is extremely difficult to play and somewhat repetitive, but I still like this game for its police chases, which look like it came out of holloywood. The environments look realistic enough and this game is all you need to satisfy your sudden thirst for speed. There are many unlockables too. The car crashes are a sight to behold. Trust me, this is better than Burnout Revenge or Full Auto. The black edition comes with an extra DVD containing many video clips.

I played it on: Xbox

9::: Total Annihilation and Total Annihilation Core Contingency
Forget looking for this game in the stores. It is already out of production and the original Total Annihilation is around 9 year old, its expansion, Core Contingency at 7 year old. But how can I ever forget this game? How can I forget its intensifying battles and memorable in-game music? How can I forget the Krogoth? How can I forget the time when I used to play this game? Never. It is too memorable. If you want to get this game now, I suggest that you head over to eBay or burn a copy from your friend.

I played it on: PC

10::: Farcry
No, I am not talking about the Xbox or Xbox 360 version. I am talking about the PC version here. Anyway, aren't they quite similar? When I first played Farcry, I was blown away by its graphics. The gorgeous environments look like paradise. That is one thing I like about the game. Then, you can have mutant powers later in the game. Cool! Farcry is truly a shooter that is better than the rest. Outstanding, but not as impressive as Call of Duty 2 or Halo.

I played it on: PC

Outside of top 10

11. Forza Motorsport (very retard A.I. spoils the game)
12. Halo 2 (excuse me, may I know what is the story driving at? The ending is quite sudden too)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Special feature:The Art of Game Saving

I have been discovering more and more ways to save games. Some are simple, but some of them are quite fustrating. Here, take a look at these 'game saving systems' found in many of the games that are latterly put on the store shelves.

Save Method 1: Save it whenever you like
This is probably the best method for saving games. Just save it whenever you feel like it! This ensures that you can start from your preferred part of the game just in case you die after you save the game. This method is also the safest! No fustration ever again from dying midway through the journey to the next checkpoint.

Save Method 2: The Save Room
I have only seen this method once. There will be many save rooms in a mission and all you need to do to save the game is to go inside the save room, find the big 'S' on the wall and hit it. Do not get too apprehensive about the save rooms; they will be marked by a huge and prominent alphabet 'S'.

Save Method 3:Checkpoint
Deployed in many games, this is the most popular save method. The game automatically saves itself when you have arrived at a 'checkpoint', which is an imaginary line of progress in a game. The next time you play the game, you will continue from your last checkpoint. The distances between these checkpoints are relatively short and therefore, there is no need for worry because even if you die midway, you won't be too far away from the point where you die.

Save Method 4:The Deleted Checkpoint
I am not sure if this method is a friend or foe. If you like challenges and demand more difficult games, you will prefer this method, but if you are just the causual gamer, this method is your ultimate foe, not the enemies in the gameplay. This method works very much like the previous method, but if you end your mission or exit the game before the current mission is completed, all your checkpoint progress will be lost. You will have to restart the entire same mission the next time you play the game, which is extremely fustrating! Make sure you wear a cap while playing this kind of game, or else it will result in loss of hair whenever you tear them out! This method is seen in Black and more recently, Hitman:Blood Money. You have been warned!

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