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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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Game Preview 15:Alan Wake

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Platform Available: PC, Xbox 360
Release date: TBA

From the fellows at Microsoft, comes another psychological action thriller game, Alan Wake, which is of the same name as the character whom you will be playing as in this game. You will just need to turn your eyes at the recently released Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth to know what Alan Wake is all about. In fact, Alan Wake will put its focus heavily on the storytelling part, which works much like a season of television series. Alan Wake will introduce players to the world of Alan, and keep it as thrilling as possible to make sure that the game is engaging. Of course, being engaging is only possible when there is a touch of mystery and eeriness, which is highly evident in the game from the start. According to reports, Alan Wake begins by flashing a number of creepy images at the players, all the while with logos drifting in and out of view. Then, it shows Alan at a mountain top. Needless to say, Alan Wake allows players to explore the vast environments and interact with folks. To ensure that the game feels realistic enough, the developers have also kept the interface simple, with just a task bar in the lower left-hand corner of the screen displaying Alan’s current mission.

Players have come to expect good graphics from every game that is released in this age, and fortunately, Alan Wake will continue the tradition. Being a psychological action thriller game, it is essential for the visuals to be sharp and detailed so that every expression, every shadow can be captured, and Alan Wake does not disappoint. Audio can be described as to be on the bright side too, and at the same time, helps build the suitable atmosphere for the game. Overall, Alan wake injects a refreshing style and originality into the stagnant first-person genre. As the game nears its release date, more information will become available, so just remember to check back.

Control Schemes Part 3:Wii-mote and Nunchuck Attachment

In the third and last segment of this series of articles, Powerplay brings its focus on the special Wii-mote and its nunchuck attachment.

Thumbs up: After seeing the Wii-mote and its nunchuck attachment in action through some of the trailers, I was impressed. Players seem to behave like themselves when playing games with the remote. Actually, that is the aim of the Nintendo Wii – to revolutionalize the way games are played. No longer constricted to just buttons and sticks, players are free to move the remote about, making it feel as if they are the game characters themselves. This is one of the ingredients crucial to the extent of immersion of the game by the players. It is going to feel natural, realistic and just think of any exciting words that you can conjure out in your mind. Like the PS3 controller, the Wii-mote and its nunchuck attachment are also motion-sensitive, but it takes it a step further – the design and the shape of the controller is totally changed. It can work very much like a sword, a gun, a crossbow, a tennis racket, a magic wand, just about anything. Perhaps I should say that the control scheme is most suited to FPS games. The concept is: Point and shoot, exactly like what you will do in reality. What happens when you see an enemy? You instantly aim your weapon at the enemy and shoot. The same applies here. You get what I mean? Not only is this control scheme fantastic for FPS games, but also for sports games, and Nintendo is going to shove Wii Sports in your face and say, “I’m packaging it free with the console, so you must try it!” Just remember not to confuse the Wii-mote with a baseball bat and use it to hit someone. Do you remember flying paper aeroplanes when you were young? That is what happens when you play flight simulation games with the Wii-mote. Imagine the Wii-mote as a paper aeroplane and there you go, you are back in your childhood. Flying the Wii-mote in flight simulation games (example: Wing Island) just like what a kid does with the paper aeroplane.

Thumbs down: I am amazed by the versatility of the Wii-mote because it can be also held horizontally to represent a classic controller. But hey, the thing is that must be done in order for racing games to be played. In my opinion, tilting the Wii-mote left and right to steer your vehicle may give way to overly sensitive controls. What happens if someone accidentally knocks my hand and I tilt the Wii-mote too steeply? But until I play a racing game on the Wii, I am not going to jump to conclusions. The second flaw with the Wii-mote is that you may look weird when using it in party games like Wario Ware: Smooth Moves. Imagine holding the Wii-mote over your head. Well, as far as screenshots are concerned, it sure looks gimmicky. Just an advice: Don’t invite your friends over when you play such games. Also, I have noticed that some game developers have shunned the Wii-mote. As the Wii-mote is vastly different from other controllers, developers may be led into thinking that building a new control scheme just for the Wii versions of their games may be a little tedious and time consuming. But it remains to be seen if the Wii’s future is filled with hardcore, thrilling games (examples: Far Cry Vengeance, Red Steel, Splinter Cell Double Agent, Tony Hawk’s Downhill Jam) and fabulous, light-hearted family games (examples: Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports, Wii Music, SpongeBob Squarepants: Creature from the Krusty Krab) or with second-rate games that may overuse the special features of the Wii-mote.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Top Gaming Characters

In this article, Powerplay features 9 of the most famous gaming characters in the history of video games. Who are they? You will have to read on to find out. (The characters are in no particular order.)

Samus Aran

In a game genre that involves mostly male super heroes, Samus has fared rather well, showing her unrivalled power in various Metroid games. Samus is mostly seen in her power suit, which features advanced technologies, including an arm cannon and the ability to morph into a ball. Her next stop – Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Nintendo Wii.


With his unmistakable voice and outfit, his presence will always be felt. Coincidentally, Mario is also one of the most prominent and loveable characters in the history of video games. Created by Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario has been Nintendo’s official mascot for over 25 years now. Often, he has to save Princess Peach from the clutches of evil. Don’t miss him in the forthcoming Super Mario Galaxy for the Nintendo Wii.


Luigi is the younger brother of Mario and he can often been seen accompanying Mario on his missions. Like Mario, Luigi’s voice is refreshingly adorable. He dons a green outfit and is taller and thinner than Mario.


Another character created by Shigeru Miyamoto, Link is another one of the many familiar faces of Nintendo. Despite his young age, Link has been displaying his courage in many Zelda games and has shown his skills in handling weaponries like swords and crossbows. Time and time again, he has proved himself by saving Princess Zelda. Link is making his latest adventure in the upcoming Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Nintendo Wii and GameCube, as well as in Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for the DS next year.

Sonic the Hedgehog

One of Sega’s most famous characters, Sonic is best known for his speed. The blue color, which stands out in every part of his body, is what makes Sonic all the more recognizable. Don’t miss him. He is appearing in three soon-to-arrive Sonic games for the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii and the PSP. Sonic celebrates his 15th anniversary this year.

Sam Fisher

The guy with his distinctive green goggles has appeared in three Splinter Cell games, but unfortunately, he has ditched his green goggles in his fourth game, Splinter Cell Double Agent. This guy can get really sneaky. He can be anywhere – even behind you right now! But you will never be fully aware of his whereabouts.

Gordon Freeman

Gordon rarely speaks, if any. But the now-famous crowbar-wielding man will be appearing in his next game, Half-Life 2: Episode Two very soon. His stern looks signify his ever-strong desire to silence the Combines once and for all.

Master Chief

By now, you must have been familiar with Master Chief, whose face we have never seen before. His green armor makes him look stronger, fiercer, if that is what it takes to save the Earth from the pesky Convenant. He will feature in his last Halo first-person shooter (FPS) game next year in Halo 3. But don’t worry, fans of Master Chief, for a new Halo real-time strategy (RTS) game has just been announced – Halo Wars.

Solid Snake

Created by Hideo Kojima, Solid Snake has been featuring aggressively in Metal Gear games. (Adapted from Wikipedia) -- Solid Snake is the quintessential soldier and spy. He is repeatedly entrusted with the destruction of the latest incarnation of the Metal Gear, a bipedal, nuclear-weapon-armed mecha. In each game, Solid Snake is controlled by the player. The player must act alone, but is supported via radio by commanding officers and specialists. He enters armed only with his wits, his radio, a pair of binoculars, and a pack of cigarettes, and has to acquire any equipment on-site, such as weaponry or his signature cardboard-box disguise.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Control Schemes Part 2:Standard Game Controller

In the second part of this series of articles, Powerplay highlights the ups and downs of a standard game controller.

Thumbs up: New controllers are popping out everywhere nowadays, usually with the designs as selling points. As opposed to keyboards, different controllers do not differ much from each other. And they are suited to a variety of games too. Racing games and fighting games do well on such controllers. Rigid buttons can withstand heavy and sudden button presses, which will otherwise spoil a keyboard. The left and right triggers are easily reachable and the controller can be comfortably held, no matter how it is designed. The analog sticks provide a much more realistic feel in steering cars, and if you turn on the vibration feature that should be present in most controllers, it feels all the more enjoyable. The controller also does well in handling flight simulation games, where sharp turns are often needed. One turn of the analog stick will ensure that the plane’s response is prompt. Flying tricks can be performed with greater ease as well. The upcoming PS3 controller sports motion-sensitivity, taking the usage of controllers to a whole new level. For example, one need to just tilt the controller and the plane will turn accordingly. This makes using controllers much more intuitive.

Thumbs down: As much as the analog sticks are well-tailored for racing, fighting and flight simulation games, first-person shooter (FPS) games often come as the controller’s failing point. It takes a while before your reticule finally focuses on your enemy, making for an inimical time gap between the period you spot the enemy to the time you blast the bullet out of the weapon. This can prove to be a costly mistake as the A.I. gets more intelligent and agile for every FPS game that is released. Another game genre that the controller does not do well in is in the real-time strategy (RTS) genre. Owing to the limited number of buttons on a controller, few RTS games have been released on consoles, the newest being EA’s Lord of the Rings: Battle for MiddleEarth 2 for the Xbox 360. RTS games require several buttons by norm. Players need to line up commands, give orders and select which units to construct. The mouse can transport players to another part of the map almost as immediately as the player clicks the mouse button. On the other hand, that kind of efficiency cannot be achieved by the controller. Count the number of buttons on the controller and you will know what I mean. Also, the analog sticks do not allow for quick transportation to another region of the map, as demonstrated in the Xbox 360 RTS game. While PC players can go to another area of the map just by clicking that wanted area on the minimap, Xbox 360 players are still required to scroll with their analog sticks slowly. Action can be missed, more troops can perish in this case.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Wii:Summer and Beyond

Make way for the Wii-ly fun games for they will be dropping down in just a few weeks time. Which game should you consider buying? Powerplay lists some of the coolest and hotest down.

Red Steel

Red Steel flies players to the harsh worlds of the Japanese Yakuza, where danger always seems to lurk every corner. Master the art of the ancient katana and learn wielding the wide variety of weapons and you will have a recipe for success. The game allows for a cool slow-mo mode where time will suddenly freeze to a halt and you will have much time to aim at your opponents before they do. Make the enemy submit to you – that is, if you are merciful enough. Being able to hold the weapons horizontally is an added bonus.

Far Cry Vengeance

Once again, you play as Jack trying to clear the hordes of militants looking for your blood on the lush tropical island, that may at times, look too real. Far Cry Vengeance not only promises a fresh storyline, new characters, new weapons, but also new multiplayer maps. Unfortunately, the map editor will be sorely missed. But the best thing that you should be looking forward to in this game are the controls. No longer restricted to just buttons and sticks, gameplay is set to get more enjoyable.

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Probably the most anticipated title of the year, this game will have gamers around the world screaming for it. (Adapted from IGN) -- Link, a young man raised as a wrangler in a small, rural village, is ordered by the mayor to attend the Hyrule Summit. He sets off, oblivious to the dark fate that has descended upon the kingdom. When he enters the Twilight Realm that has covered Hyrule, he transforms into a wolf and is captured. A mysterious figure named Midna helps him break free, and with the aid of her magic, they set off to free the land from the shadows. Link must explore the vast land of Hyrule and uncover the mystery behind its plunge into darkness.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

Everyone’s favorite heroine, Samus, makes her debut on the next-gen console with this Wii outing. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption looks engaging enough, with players having the ability to shoot at mid-air or at a full run. The array of weapons will certainly aid you in destroying Samus’ arch enemy, Dark Samus, into smithereens. Join Samus on her quest.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

What happens when you put Zelda, Samus, Wario, Mario and many other of your favorite game characters together? Well, to put it simple, thy challenge each other to a fight. Take control of your preferred character and smash and box your way to victory in this unmatched Nintendo fighting franchise. Snake makes an appearance in this new game. Look out for him!

Mario Strikers Charged

Mario can do many things – basketball, karting, fighting, and escaping from Bowser, but does he play football? Yes, he does, and he is going to attempt it a second time with Mario Strikers Charged. Mario and his pals take to the fields once again as they try their best to put the balls behind the nets. Select the captain for your team and get ready for some really light-hearted action!

Battalion Wars 2

Several enemies dot the battlefield. What do you do? Of course, call in your own troops. Get your guns ready, and shoot! Blast the enemy base with that helicopter or take hold of a tank and romp right into the enemy base. Your soldier can perform tricks like rolling just by flicking the nuchuck attachment. Jump by lifting the nunchuck attachment. Simple, but wait till you see the game in action. That is when you will go, “Wow!”

Mortal Kombat: Armageddon

Mortal Kombat fighting games are most famous for – guess what? It is none other than the blood and gore. The way that you use to finish off your opponents is all up to you to decide. Do you want to break your opponent’s neck? Or … … Okay, let’s not put it any further. This game contains much more than those. Want to create your own character? Now you can. In addition to that, there is a new Konquest mode. Look forward to it.

Rayman Raving Rabbids

For a game that is created around the Wii console, expectations are high, and this game will not fail to deliver. The world is suddenly put under critical situation when it is invaded by some weird-looking bunnies, which are up to no good. Here comes Rayman – to foil their plans. Utilizing the Wii-mote and its nunchuck attachment, players will have to steer Rayman towards the goal of saving the world. With the aid of some magical creatures and new abilities, there is every chance that you will succeed. Do not forget the wacky mini-games.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Control Schemes Part 1:Keyboard and mouse

In this new series of articles, Powerplay will feature one control scheme at any one time and evaluate the said scheme. In this article, Powerplay checks out how useful is the keyboard and mouse control scheme.

Thumbs up: With a wide range of keyboards to suit your needs, you will not be afraid of finding the right one that suits your taste. Prices are generally low and even if you get the fancy ones, they are still quite affordable. Many keyboards nowadays come in cutting-edge designs like the Wolf King keyboards, which are a first-person shooter (FPS) gamer’s dream come true. These keyboards feature several programmable keys and creative key layouts, which usually helps in improving the game of a FPS gamer by ensuring that the keys are conveniently and quickly available. The Logitech G15 gaming keyboard gets even more innovative by including an LCD panel that displays game information. Couple that with glowing keys and you have a lethal combination that is set to make people scream at. The mouse comes as an added advantage that ensures your aiming reticule falls upon your enemies as soon as you spot them. Laser mice are the way to go with great sensitivity and eerie glows that seem to make you look more powerful. Good buys include the numerous Razer and Logitech mice in the market right now. Any one of them will suffice. Did I mention that the keyboard and mouse combination is also good enough for the real-time strategy (RTS) games?

Thumbs down: As far as racing and fighting games go, the keyboard and mouse combination does not seem suitable. Playing racing games using the keyboard normally just involves pressing the left, right and down keys and constantly holding down the up key to accelerate your vehicle. The rush of adrenaline is sorely missing. Playing the game does not feel realistic enough – of course, unless your keyboard is fitted with the vibration feature. If you are playing a racing game on your PC, I suggest that you get a racing wheel. Fighting games also do not go hand in hand with a keyboard. Frantic button presses and quick reflexes, which normally results in hitting a button suddenly, quickly and hard, are what that make a fighting game. The keyboard cannot handle that for long before it conks out on you, although I must say that the many keys of the keyboard make dishing out combo moves as simple as ABC.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Game Preview 14 - Full Auto 2:Battlelines

Publisher: Sega
Platform Available: PS3
Release date: PS3 launch

The much-anticipated sequel to the Xbox 360’s action racer Full Auto is finally arriving in the next few weeks. As much as graphics go, Full Auto 2: Battlelines sure looks promising enough. Full Auto 2 involves pitting the players against other racers, but with a slightly different twist. Like in Burnout Revenge, carnage is a guaranteed aspect of the game, but just how far? Well, in Full Auto 2, it has been made known that the environments will contain more destructible objects than the first game, including massive buildings, railway tracks, buses, and many others. Players are to use the destructible objects to their full advantage. For example, if you see a something hanging from the crane, there is every chance that you can shoot it down into the paths of other racers. And the debris will stay there. In other words, destroy too many things and your opponents will have a harder time catching up with you, but it also means another thing. If you are the one behind your opponents, they can do the same thing to you and then, you will need some fancy pedal skills to successfully avoid the obstacles. Of course, what is destruction without weapons? There will be 20 weapons for you to select from, but not every car can be fitted with the same weapon. The class of the car, which has been bumped up to 5 from the previous 4, will decide which type of weapons can be fitted onto your car. There is said to be a total of 27 cars, 6 of which are new.

If that is not thrilling enough, there is more. The game developers have created 13 new courses for you to bring about all those mess, and pulling up the total number of areas to 22. Wait, there is another new feature of Full Auto 2. If you think that you can pull off another trick that will allow you to reverse the fate of your car with the “Unwreck” feature (as demonstrated in the first game), think again because the game developers have said that the feature will be toned down. “Unfair!”, you may oppose, but that is supposed to make the game fairer. As far as multiplayer is concerned, 8 players can be supported at any one time, making for an intensifying racing experience. In addition to that, multiplayer will also boast many modes of play, including Base Assualt, where players need to push a bomb into their opponents’ base, as well as a “Cat and Mouse” mode, where some racers will control fast, but unarmed cars, while their teammates control the other armed cars in a bid to protect the unarmed cars and to obliterate the opponents’ unarmed cars. Exciting? It can only get better. Wait till the final version of the game is completed. Meanwhile, don’t forget to treat your eyes to the gorgeous images.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Explaining the Online Phenomenon

(SUPER EXCLUSIVE) -- The Internet is a widespread medium. More homes are wired up with broadband connections that seem to be getting faster every single day and yet at the same time, getting cheaper. There are even wireless networks in some areas. In a technological age like this, it is no wonder that online games and massive-multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs) are increasingly becoming more popular. Figures show that millions of players worldwide play online games, the lowest score even clocking a few hundred thousands. The most popular online game is MapleStory, bringing in an estimated number of 33,100,000 of registered players as of February 2006, followed by World of Warcraft, a MMORPG, hitting an amount of approximately 7 million players worldwide. What has spurred so many people, gamers and non-gamers alike, to turn to online games as entertainment?

One of the factors must be the enjoyment of playing such games. Online games are no longer limited to simple flash games, which only has a single-player mode. Instead, more are developing into massive games like MapleStory or even RuneScape, which has vast worlds for players to explore. These games either involve attacking monsters or interacting with others, or even playing golf, as demonstrated in Pangya, another free-to-play online game. Upon successful attacks, players get experience points and level-up. Get virtual cash to buy equipments for your online characters. Pangya provides more variety. Players are spoilt with choice over the selection of golf courses, characters among many other aspects. Graphics are generally adorable, attracting people from all walks of life to play them. It only gets better. The games can usually be downloaded free-of-charge and can be conveniently picked up – hassle-free. These games also do not require high-end gaming machines to play since their visuals are not demanding. This translates into playing opportunities for people who may not have a powerful computer. The only downside is that the games feature mostly 2D graphics, which may not appeal to hardcore gamers, but game studies proved otherwise. However, despite being free-to-play, not all is sweet. There are still hidden costs. For example, players, who are too impatient with collecting virtual cash to buy in-game goods, may resort to buying them from other players with real cash. It is also common to see players selling off their accounts or virtual currency to others – and these do not sell cheap. Nevertheless, online games still remain one of the world’s most popular entertainments. The game developers constantly add in new worlds and collectible items to keep the games fresh and welcome more new players.

Not far behind online games are the MMORPGs such as the ever-popular World of Warcraft, EverQuest, Guild Wars, Auto Assault, to name a few. MMORPGs, unlike the type of online games mentioned above, are not free-to-play. So, you may ask: Then, what is the draw factor? Again, I must say that it is the pure addictive fun. Players normally have to pay monthly fees to play these games, with the sole exception of Guild Wars, which releases an expansion pack every 6 to 9 months to keep customers satisfied. Like the online games, MMORPGs boasts somewhat endless environments for players to explore, be it dragons, dungeons or any other ferocious monsters. Gameplay is usually fast-paced, providing for some really intense action. There are some differences between MMORPGs and online games, though. As mentioned earlier, MMORPGs are not free. MMORPGs usually have fully 3D environments and structures that may at times, challenge the power of your computer. Graphics aside, MMORPGs cater to a more mature audience and hardcore gamers. Not any kid can pick up a MMORPG and say that, “Hey, I am going to play it.” MMORPGs also require players to dedicate a couple of hours to it – at least, by the fact that many gamers hook their eyes to the PC monitor for an unhealthy period. Not only that, MMORPGs are also more likely to turn players into zombies, who do nothing all day besides playing their game, than online games, which offer more casual fun, although people playing online games have the tendency to get addicted too.

As we move into a new year, expect more people to get sucked into this world of playing enterprise that never stops working. Welcome the new age of online phenomenon. No, I am not one of them. Are you?

Game Preview 13:Far Cry Vengeance

Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform Available: Wii
Release date: Wii launch

One of the Wii launch games that I am most enthusiastic about is Far Cry Vengeance. Since announcing it a couple of months ago, Ubisoft has been keeping details of the games under wraps, but finally, some much-awaited information about the game were revealed. Sit back and enjoy the tidbits.

Far Cry Vengeance is a first-person shooter (FPS) game that thrusts you onto a tropical island as Jack Craver. You are up against the almost limitless stream of militants, who for no apparent reason, wants you dead for good. The new storyline as promised for Far Cry Vengeance has not been revealed yet, but it will include some new characters. Fortunately, you can arm yourself with a wide variety of weapons, including some new ones, which I will touch later on. To add to Jack’s capabilities, he will also possess some form of super-human powers. Like in all the other versions of Far Cry games, Far Cry Vengeance will not disappoint in the graphics department. It is known that the game will run at 30 frames per second and will support progressive scan and 16:9 widescreen modes. Far Cry Vengeance introduces an all new control system that will utilize both the Wii-mote and nunchuck attachment. For example, to zoom in when holding a sniper rifle, simply push the Wii-mote towards the screen. You jump by lifting up the nunchuck attachment. This makes the playing experience feel all the more refreshing and natural. According to Fabrice Cuny, designer or Far Cry Vengeance, in an interview with IGN Wii, the new weapons are a machete, Bull44 large-caliber revolver and a G18 automatic rifle among others that are still unknown. Far Cry Vengeance will also sport a multiplayer mode, which supports split screen play. Other details about the multiplayer are still up in the air. The bad thing? It will not feature a map editor that allows players to create their own maps for online play. Nonetheless, Far Cry Vengeance will have 3 new maps, namely Tourist Resort, where players will engage in battle inside a hotel, an abandoned WW2 base and a petrol refinery. So far, all these descriptions point to a recipe for success, but it remains to be seen. Okay, that is all that is known for now. You will have to check back soon in case there is any update.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Mac a Game

Fancy getting some games for your Mac? Thanks to more support from software developers now, Mac owners will have an easier task in getting games. And I do not just mean simple puzzle and card games like Bejeweled, Luxor or Solitare, although they are also available for the Mac, but A list titles like Call of Suty 2 and Civilizations 4. Afraid that these games are not your cup of tea? There is still Battlefield 1942: Secret Weapons of WW2, The Sims 2 or even the light-hearted Disney/Pixar Cars for some casual fun, not forgetting the massive monsters of Quake 4. Mac owners now have a wide array of games to select from. Over the past few years, support for the Mac has been streaming in at a resonable pace, and Mac owners are no longer limited to just first-party software. Owners of older Mac computers using the PowerPC chips need not feel left out as most of the recently released Mac DVD games will play on both older and newer Macs. One factor that has contributed to the increased support of the Mac is the number of people who are converting from Microsoft Windows or Linux to Apple's latest operating system, Mac OS X Tiger, especially at a time when Apple has just revamped its line of Mac desktops and notebooks. Software developers see the improved Mac market as a new opportunity to earn more revenue. However, despite the effort from Apple to woo more software developers into making software for the Macs, its library of games is still incomparable to Microsoft Windows. Recent hits like Prey and Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion do not seem to be making their way to the Macs. One of the newest PC game releases, Company of Heroes, even has a quirky new heading of 'Games for Windows' at the top of the box art. Mac DVD games, unlike Windows games, also take a longer time to arrive, hitting back any hopes of a Mac owner in getting the latest games. Perhaps the reason for this problem is that only approximately 5% of the world's computers are powered by an Apple operating system, forcing the software developers into thinking that releasing PC games on Windows is the top priority, and hence, the Mac DVD games are pushed back. In relation to this, I must say that the Mac is still not up there yet -- the same level as Windows. Fortunately, there is still another alternative if a Mac owner wants to play more PC games that do not support the Mac. One suggestion is to install both Windows XP (or if you prefer to wait for Windows Vista) and the Mac OS X Tiger into the computer. This can be done by installing the software 'Boot Camp Public Beta' by Apple, which allows you to run both Windows and Mac OS X Tiger, but only one at a time. If you are a Mac OS X Tiger user, click here now to download the software. With this solution, it will certainly end some of the fustrations of the Mac user. But, as I mentioned earlier, Apple still need to do a better job in catching Microsoft Windows -- at least on the gaming front.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Current-gen:The Last Christmas

This Christmas is likely to be the last for the current-gen consoles, namely PS2, Xbox and GameCube. With their next-gen siblings battling it out in a new level of console competition, the current-gen consoles could be slipping into oblivion as early as the second quarter of next year, but not before Powerplay goes on a mission to uncover the final pieces of gems that will embrace the current-gen consoles.

WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007

Publisher: THQ
Current-gen platforms: PS2
Release date: November 10 (Europe), November 14 (US), February 1 (Japan)

This is your opportunity to live the life of a wrestler – in the virtual world, of course. With updated rosters, an expanded General Manager mode, in addition to a new analog control grappling system, how much more thrilling can it get? That is not to mention that new moves, new environmental controls like the ability to use more weapons and fighting in the crowd area, new match types are missing. What’s more, online multiplayer gameplay supports voice chat!

Scarface: The World is Yours

Publisher: Vivendi Games
Current-gen platforms: PS2, Xbox
Release date: October 8 (US), October 13 (Europe)

Get ready for more dangerous, aggressive gameplay with Scarface: The World is Yours. Tread through the violent-filled streets of Miami or the many other locations and you will know ‘tough’ is the word of this game. You will be able to interact with other characters to negotiate business deals and smuggle contraband among many other things, but beware, because what you know and see may not always be the same. As the name implies, ‘The World is Yours’, meaning that you are given the responsibilities of making the right decisions.


Publisher: EA
Current-gen platforms: PS2, Xbox, GameCube
Release date: October 3

Enjoy another new season of football with FIFA 07. If you are a football fan, chances are that you will adore this game. Not only do you get to control one of your favorite football stars, but also have the opportunity to become the manager of the football club of your choice and select which players will get into the starting 11. Couple that with the use of real-world tactics and realistic decision-making, as well as vibrant visuals and you get a wholesome football game that you can ask your friends to pop over to challenge with you or head online for Xbox Live and just have some casual fun.

Baten Kaitos Origins

Publisher: Namco
Current-gen platform: GameCube
Release date: Already out (Japan), September 25 (US)

Alas, GameCube owners will still have reasons to smile even if the GameCube is going in the way of the N64 soon. Welcome Baten Kaitos Origins for this may be the last top-tier RPG title that the GameCube will see before heading out for oblivion. (Adapted from IGN) – Baten Kaitos Origins takes place 20 years prior to the start of the original. You play as Sagi, a member of the empire's "Elite" force of fighters. Sagi heads off on a quest to determine the nature of a mysterious change that's appearing in the world. Actually, you don't play as Sagi like you play as the main characters of other RPGs. You actually play as a spirit that resides within Sagi, an entity that represents Sagi's "true self," and give "advice" to Sagi as the game progresses. The notion of a spirit residing in a character is actually a part of the Baten Kaitos storyline. The world of Baten Kaitos was formed when the living spirits of two separate worlds connected, and people who have spirits within them are considered wise.

Destroy All Humans! 2

Publisher: THQ
Current-gen platform: PS2, Xbox
Release date: October 17 (US), October 27 (Europe)

Destroy All Humans! returns with more quirky third-person action on the current-gen consoles. This is the second time the aliens have landed on Earth after their first experience in Destroy All Humans!. The aliens, known as Furons, plan to threaten the existence of humans again, but this time, in the sixties. Destroy All Humans! 2 introduces some new gameplay elements such as expanded open-world gameplay and amazingly, co-op multiplayer. You assume the role of a Furone Scout on the mission of disintegrating the humans from the surface of the Earth. Utilize the variety of new wepons and enhanced mental capabilities while battling anyone from secret agents to ninja warriors. There is only one request: You must succeed.

Need for Speed Carbon

Publisher: EA
Current-gen platform: PS2, Xbox, GameCube
Release date: November (specific date unknown)

Hop into one of the flashy cars and engage in a heart-thumping race down the hazardous canyons. Watch your speed, for one mistake could land you in flames. Immerse yourself in another round of dangerous street racing, where alert police roam. Fortunately, there is now an added variety – the crew. Your crew is vital in winning races, by the knowledge that they will attempt to bump opponents’ cars or block them when the need arises. More importantly, this is so that you can snatch away your opponents’ territory one by one. But at times, the police can be nuisances too. Get caught and your reputation will be tarnished. Lose the race, and your reputation will also suffer. No doubt the game will offer you the choice of tweaking you and your crew’s cars in any desirable way you deem needed. Let Need for Speed Carbon transport you to an entire new level of street racing never seen before.

God of War 2

Publisher: Sony CEA
Current-gen platform: PS2
Release date: February (US), March 30 (Europe)

(Adapted from IGN) -- Armed with all-new brutal combat moves and magic, players retake the role of Kratos and embark on a new epic adventure to change the fate of mortals and Gods alike. The original God of War saw Kratos, a mortal warrior, set upon an epic quest to dethrone a God. But his journey did not end there. In God of War II, Kratos sits atop his Olympus throne, as the new God of War – far more ruthless than Ares ever was. To end his continued torment, Kratos must journey to the far reaches of the earth and defeat untold horrors and alter that which no mortal, or god has ever changed: his fate. God of War II sets an epic stage for a devastating mythological war to end all wars.

God Hand

Publisher: Capcom
Current-gen platform: PS2
Release date: September 14 (Japan), October 10 (US)

(Adapted from IGN) -- God Hand combines a "hard boiled" atmosphere with humorous elements in a "comical, violent" action game directed by Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil 4) and produced by Atsushi Inaba (Phoenix Wright). The game follows a kind, aimless traveler named Jean who, after attempting to save a girl from some sort of danger, gets his right arm chopped off by a mercenary. Somehow, he comes into possession of the God Hand, the legendary gold-glowing hand of a great savior from olden times. Now, Jean has the power to save the world, but also has the scum of the land after him. The game is filled with wild combat as Jean uses his newly-earned skills in fighting and leaping, and the power of the glowing God Hand can charge up and give him new skills. The game also includes lots of comical gags for an over-the-top experience of violence and hilarity.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Game Review 17 - MechAssualt:Phantom War

What was once an exclusive Xbox franchise is now rumbling on your Nintendo DS/DS Lite. MechAssualt: Phantom War captures your attention once you fire up the game. The campaign mode begins innocently enough – with cut scenes that are forgiving on the eye with smooth animation. However, after you get past that, you are expected to be ready for battle right away. The action plays on the upper screen while the lower screen is handed the job of displaying some important icons like the “get in/get out button”, the “swap weapons” button, and the “defensive special” button, which is different for every mech, tank and battlearmor. The surprising thing is that the game developers have decided to dedicate some space on the lower screen to a help button and a warbook button, which tells you more about the mech, vehicle or battlearmor that you are in. To be honest, I find this feature quite helpful. The controls although twitchy at first, will become comfortable after you get used to it – believe it or not, it works as smoothly as a computer mouse! The D-pad is used for moving your mech and the A, B, X and Y buttons are used for looking and aiming. There are two other control options for you to select, but none works as well as the defaults. I understand that it is common for games that are originally made for consoles to be downgraded visually when they are brought to the handheld, and do not expect this game to be spared either. Images with lower resolution and some polygonal structures can be seen, but MechAssualt: Phantom War is still one of the graphically best DS games around. The terrain is well peppered by trees and cliffs and enemies do not suddenly appear out of nowhere. If you think that the DS rendition of MechAssualt will not contain as much content as the Xbox versions, it is time to calm down. Through the course of the game, there will be many opportunities for you to jump into several classes of mechs (light, medium, heavy and assault) and the tanks, not forgetting the battlearmor, which you will start the game with. Each mechs have their own set of statistics, including the weapons that they carry. Weapons can be upgraded temporarily by collecting the scattered power-ups or by destroying other mechs. When it comes to the missions, the action is intense, and it just keeps on intensifying towards the end of the game. Earlier in the game, the opposition goes easy on you but as you progress, you will realize that your enemy likes to keep you seriously outnumbered. And that is a very bad thing, considering that you may need to disembark from your mech quite often to change to a stronger mech.I will say that the A.I. can get challenging at times, especially when you are faced with many mechs that are stronger than yours. But that is balanced by easier boss battles. Often, you just need to activate your jumpjets to dodge homing missiles that are constantly rained at you (ah, it still requires much skills). Missions are varied, ranging from getting to point A to B, to destroying structures to escorting friendly units. Puzzles are integrated as an element into gameplay as the form of hacking. They usually involve matching symbols together and are generally simple to accomplish, so you will have no problems. Even if you fail to solve the puzzle, there are little consequences besides the need to retry it, except in crucial situation where you are hacking a mech in the middle of a tight battle. As far as multiplayer goes, (unfortunately) Wi-Fi is not supported. It is just a pity that you have to rope in a few friends to play with you in the same room, but wait! Single-card play is also not supported. Now, you need to convince them to buy the game with you. Amazingly, my only complaint about MechAssualt: Phantom War is its audio. Audio is a bit on the soft side -- it can barely be heard if there is any single noise disruption, but a pair of earphones will do the job. Other than that, I must say that MechAssualt for the DS is a good attempt at bringing the Xbox robotic action game – it is a marvelous feat. But there is another thing that the developer missed out on – the save system. MechAssualt is clearly not a portable game, given that it saves only at the start of every mission. Checkpoints accumulated in between missions are void once you shut down your DS. Overall, the nice touches override all the minor flaws (save system and lack of Wi-Fi support). Highly recommended.

Platform Available: DS
Good points: Intense action, great gameplay that keeps you on the edge of your seat, nice controls, one of the graphically best DS games around
Bad points: Game is saved only at the start of each mission, no Wi-Fi support
Overall score: 9.5/10

Monday, September 18, 2006

Xbox 360:Summer and Beyond

Some of the most exciting Xbox 360 games are arriving soon. Powerplay introduces some of them to you besides the commonly known ones like Halo 3 and Grand Theft Auto 4.

Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions

Battle deadly creatures that inhabit the hostile planet, and at the same time, prevent the unforgiving weather from eating up your health. Explore the vast environments of snow fields and deserted cities and repel the ferocious creatures. Get ready to be immersed in a riveting gaming experience in this sci-fi action shooter coming to a store near you 2007.

Dead or Alive Extreme 2

Fans of the Dead or Alive series, listen up! Another round of fun and sun awaits you in this sequel. Try out the volleyball or the many minigames, including marine races and butt battles that are sure to guarantee you an afternoon of fun. Coming this November.

Forza Motorsport 2

Forza Motorsport 2 returns with more gorgeous cars and tracks, as well as more customizable parts and options, from car engines to hoods. More effects and a better presentation of car damage are set to ‘wow’ you. Forza Motorsport 2 supports up to 11 players online, making for a more exciting play. If there is any bad news, it is the delay of this game till 2007.

Splinter Cell Double Agent

Sam Fisher returns with his fourth assignment and the action is going to get more intense than ever. Sam Fisher has a more difficult task on hand, by the fact that both the law and baddies are against him now. Silence too many criminals and you could get yourself into trouble with the law. Hesitating will bring about the consequence of the terrorists having an advantage. The choice is yours.

Assassin’s Creed

It is Prince of Persia meets Splinter Cell in this new action stealth game by Ubisoft. Blend in with the crowd to escape the guards. Make some silly moves and you may arouse the attention of the crowd, which may in turn, alert the guards. Engage in combat using swords or just your fists. Be careful to avoid the hits of the guards for it takes just a few slashes for you to go down. Make your getaway after killing the guards. If you think that is thrilling enough, the finished game will even be more thrilling.

Gears of War

Boasting the Unreal Engine 3, Gears or War will not only sport amazing visuals, but great gameplay too. Survive the battle against Locust Horde, a nightmarish race that you need to protect the planet from. Teamwork is encouraged to be able to dispose off those creatures. Voice recognition will be available, so you can discuss strategies with your friends over Xbox Live. How much more interesting can it get?

Rainbow Six: Vegas

Flashy hotels and brightly-lit casinos line the streets. Millions of people enter them daily, but the city freeze in shock as the terrorists invade the buildings and hold the people hostage. What can be done? The time calls for a specialist counter-terrorism unit. You are the leader. You must lead your team to success or else the result will be disastrous.


Get into this futuristic, next-generation game. You play as a law enforcer with super-human powers, who now has the huge task of keeping the city in control after the groups of gangsters start threatening the lives of the people. It is your responsibility to take out these thugs – quickly! Before they get out of hand.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wii Channel

Fire up your Wii and the first screen that you will encounter is the Wii Channel, a browsing screen that allows you to view all the games and content accessible from your console. Wii Channel has the ability to store up to 48 channels. Install more software into the console and more channels will appear. Some channels include the disk channel, which shows you what is currently in the disk drive, the picture channel, that allows you to display your digital photos on your television, the news channel, which gives you access to the latest news and the Internet channel, which allows you to suft the Internet on your television. Go to the Wii shopping channel to purchase Virtual Console game titles.
Save your images in a SD memory card and it can be accessed through the Wii. Zoom into your photos by moving your Wii-mote towards the screen and shrink your images by moving Wii-mote away from the screen. The picture channel also allows to view all your photos as a slideshow. You can also do some minor modifications to your images by using the paint brushes and paint buckets provided.

Go to the Internet channel to access the Internet. Using the Opera internet browser, you can zoom in and out of the webpage just like what you will do in the picture channel. Move your Wii-mote towards the screen to zoom in and vice versa. Although the web browser is suspposed to be paid, Nintendo will offer it for free download until June 2007.

The weather channel, although requiring no cost, needs an active internet connection. You can find out about the daily weather forecast in your region, as well as a weekly forecast. This services gives you a view of the Earth, which you can rotate and find out weather forcasts for other areas.

Get to know the latest news quickly through the news channel, which is regularly updated. Font size can be altered to suit your preference.

In addition to all the above mentioned channels, the Wii will also allow you to create your own avatar, which is known as a 'Mii', coveniently pronounced by 'me'. You Mii can be used in games, and surprisingly, can also be saved into your Wii-mote. Use your Wii-mote to play on other Wii consoles and your avatar will appear.

Memos can now be written digitally with your Wii console. This will be like pasting memos on the refridgerators, but it is just done digitally.

All together, the Wii interface presents a clean image. The Wii clearly positions itself as a living room product, and not just for gamers. The Wii is also value for money with so many additional features that are not present in the PS3 and Xbox 360.

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