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Virtua Tennis has been a favorite of multiplayer fans ever since it launched on the Dreamcast more than a decade ago. Since then it has been ported, updated and released on multiple consoles under multiple names. However, despite attempts to freshen things up, this solid iteration of the game ends up being just that: a solid iteration of a game that we have all played before.
As SEGA's first PSVita title, Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour translates to the small screen admirably. While Virtua Tennis's main competitor, Top Spin, has always attempted to make a more realistic Tennis Sim, Virtua Tennis goes for a more arcade-y feel, allowing players to instantly pick up and play. This dynamic is still apparent in Virtua Tennis 4 and the game is better for it. Players are able to concentrate only on getting to the ball on time, hitting it and setting themselves up for the return volley. This is perfect for smaller screens and playing in small bursts, making it ideal for gaming on the go.
As always in the Virtua Tennis series the controls are quick and responsive. You will lose and it will be frustrating at times (as any good tennis game should be) but it will be because of your own failings and not because of any fault of the controls. The graphics are sharp and crisp and the animations look great on the Vita's screen. Additionally, each opponent feels completely unique, requiring different strategies to beat each one.
As has been tradition since Virtua Tennis 2, this game comes with wacky mini games and a career mode. The career mode is a little frustrating, in an attempt to improve the replay value SEGA decided to make the career mode a zany but more importantly random board game. The frustration factors in when a certain tournament or event is missed because you rolled over it. A more streamlined version with more player-choice would have been preferable. The mini-games are as crazy as ever and range from hitting targets, to hitting a soccer ball pass a goalie, to collecting and leading chicks to their hen house without getting hit by a red ball. Additionally some modes have been added exclusively for this Vita version. Players can take a picture of their own face with the PSVita camera and then convert that into their own created character for the World Tour mode. More interestingly two players can play on one screen using the touchscreen, although more of a novelty, it can be used to kill some time and is a nice addition. The real multiplayer is the online or Vita to Vita version and it works fine, although more variety and options for tournaments would have been nice. Players are also given a few new control schemes, the traditional control scheme, a touchscreen version and a hybrid version that utilizes one stick and touchscreen buttons.
A solid version of a solid series, this is probably the definitive version of Tennis available on any mobile platform. However, for veterans of the series the gameplay elements might be getting a tad stale.
The Assassins Creed series has grabbed gamers by the short hairs and refused to let go practically since its inception, and Assassins Creed III Liberation doesn't look like it will be stopping the tradition any time soon. Set in the back alleys and dark byways of late 1700s New Orleans, Assassins Creed III Liberation tells the story of Aveline de Grandpere; a woman whose father is a wealthy white man and whose mother was a freed slave risen to the status of his common law wife. Despite growing up in the lap of luxury for the time period, Aveline's life is thrown into turmoil when her mother vanishes. When she's taken under the wing of Agate, he teaches her everything she needs to know about the ways of the assassin.
The Evolution of the Plot
As far as the Assassins Creed series goes, the storyline has never been shy about crossing national boundaries and time periods. However this game gets further and further away from the historical-esque roots of the game series, while staying true to the themes that the Assassins Creed games have put into practically every game since the first. Betrayal, a burning need for justice and taking someone and turning him (or in this case her) into a force to be reckoned with. The plot of the game, while occasionally focused more on stealth and infiltration, hits all the same high notes as previous games by intermingling story and character training as it ups the challenges.
Gameplay and Mechanics
Assassins Creed III Liberation for the PS Vita has learned from all of the past Assassins Creed games when it comes to practically everything regarding gameplay and mechanics. Whether it's combat style, stealth missions or just getting around New Orleans as quickly and efficiently as possible (always a major factor when it comes to games with the sweeping grandeur of the Assassins Creed series) is relatively simple to master. However, the PS Vita does run into several problems when it's compared to the full sized Playstation controller.
Players will need to get used to the smaller controls that the Vita provides. The system takes some adjustment, but once players have gotten used to the setup it's no more difficult than mastering any other part of a game with as much motion and movement as Assassins Creed III. However, while the setup on the Vita does make it very difficult for more traditional button mashers to do cool things on accident, it is still not impossible to pull off.
All in all fans of Assassins Creed will enjoy Liberation. Those who haven't played any previous Assassins Creed games might find it a better bet to start earlier in the series so they aren't thrown right into the deep end. However, when it comes to the best graphics, fantastic story, good cut scenes and the very latest in gameplay mechanics then Assassins Creed III Liberation is right where players are going to want to be to experience the best Assassins Creed.
The Ninja Gaiden Series has been running for a very, VERY long time. Since 1988, the series has been on arcade machines, Nintendo's NES, S-NES, and the more current portable DS, Sega's Master System and Game Gear, as well as XBOX, PS2 and PS3, and PC's. There had even been an Anime OVA (Original Video Animation) released in Japan in 1991. Originally known as Ninja Ryukenden in Japan, Ninja Gaiden can be placed alongside Mario and Sonic as a game that has stood the test of time.
Originally created by the game company, Tecmo, Ninja Gaiden is a video game the follows the story of Ryu Hayabusa, a cutthroat stealth assassin. What was once a side-scrolling beat-em-up adventure, the series has taken a turn to the three dimensional world of today's action adventure genre of video games. Fast forward to today, the series is now also developed by Team Ninja, under Tecmo, which has created Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus, one of the latest installments of this video game franchise for the PS Vita. This video game follows the story of the Xbox version of Ninja Gaiden, which is the precedent to all the 3D versions of the game that we see in store shelves today.
The version now still sets the main Player's character as Ryu, however, Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus has a segment where players play as a demon hunter named Rachel. The premise is simple, follow the story line, beat up all the bad guys, get as many points as possible, and exact revenge for the characters being played.
The game mechanics are a lot more fluid than the Side-scrolling counterparts of yesteryear. The ninjas are able to scale walls, find power ups to upgrade abilities, and have many different weapons from which to choose from and unlock. The controls are fluid and very responsive. Which is great because enemies will stop at nothing to defeat the player, regardless of the difficulty level chosen. And in order to counter the onslaught of enemies (on average, the battles, except for boss fights, are always multiple versus one), it would sometimes be necessary to use Ninpo techniques. These are special techniques that make use of the Vitas touch screen, located in the back of the portable console. Some Ninpo techniques utilize the elements such as water or fire. This gives it a very unique taste, allowing gamers to feel the true strength of a ninja during gameplay.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus is a beautifully made game for the PS Vita, and makes great use of the console's graphics card and system. Although the environment may be considered slightly bland by some of today's standards, the character design and integration within the environment is fairly superb.
While there is quite the learning curve for some people, once mastered, the game will be able to take up hours of a gamer's time, because of the extensive plot and sequence of events. Anyone who picks up the game is sure to experience greatness.
Atlus has once again taken their off beat brand of Japanese role-playing games to new heights. Having taken the mantle of premier JRPG developer from Square-Enix, they have not looked back. Persona 4 Golden only serves to solidify the gulf that stands between Altus and the rest of the Japanese developers. So let us learn more about the twist of fate in the life of an unsuspecting Japanese teenager.
Persona 4 Golden is a revamped and remixed edition of Persona 4. Atlus has done this in the past with remixed versions of Persona 3 Fes for the PlayStation 2 and Persona 3 Portable for Sony's PSP. With more development time, the Atlus team is able to fine tune the gameplay and broaden the scope of the game with additional story lines, personas and items to collect.
For the average Persona fan, the overall feeling of the game is as familiar as a comfy sweater or slippers. This is due to the fact that Altus have positioned the structure of these games in a fantastic manner. Shortly after starting the game, you find yourself once again in the Velvet Room, where Igor serves as the host as he does in other Persona games. It is here in the Velvet Room where you learn about play mechanics and most importantly, the personas. Additionally, the time of midnight again plays a role in a Persona game. In Persona 3, when the clock struck midnight, the dark hour began and you had the ability to fight in a tower of a dungeon called Tartarus. In Persona 4 Golden, you have to be mindful of the Midnight Channel and who appears on the television.
Personas are very integral to this game, hence the name sake. Personas are creatures that are created through fusion. It is through this fusion that more distinctive personas can be created. These personas are used in battle when you fight against various enemies or shadows in the game. Through social links in the game for each type of persona, your personal personas can grow to be even stronger in battle. It is through these Persons that pick up specific traits such as being powerful in the domains of ice, fire, electricity, among others. Enemies have weaknesses that can be exploited and picking the proper Persona does the trick for that job.
The story of Persona 4 Golden is more of a lighthearted affair than Persona 3 as Persona 4 Golden is asking our protagonists to look within themselves to see that there are sides of them that they might not like, however, these unfortunate deficiencies that we have still make us who we are.
In conclusion, something has to be said for the quality of a product when the gaming community knows exactly what we are to expect with the advent of a new Persona game, yet when we get it, it goes down easy like our favorite meal. There was a dearth of system selling titles for the PlayStation Vita when it hit the scene but with the release of Persona 4 Golden, can finally lay claim to have a killer app. Vita means life in Latin, let's hope the star power of this newest edition of the Persona franchise gives some to the Vita.
There is a nostalgic appeal to the Epic Mickey series that cannot be denied. Not nostalgia for the golden age of Disney films but the very genesis of film animation and the construction of the Disney Parks from there inception in 1956 to today. Epic Mickey 2, guided by the expertise of Warren Spector, constructs a world built from pieces of Disney history.
The story of Epic Mickey is pretty barebones. The Mad Doctor, who was supposedly defeated in the first game, returns to wreak more havoc on the Wasteland. Mickey is called to save the day again with his magic paintbrush, and Oswald comes along for the ride this time around. A game like this doesn't call for a complex narrative though. The simplicity is typical of any children's game and effectively opens the door for any range of imaginative level design. The story's cutscenes are also given an excellent shot in the arm with the addition of some excellent voice acting plus full-blown musical numbers to give the game a Disney musical feel.
Where the game falls apart though is in the game play. There is a problem that every 3D platformer encounters and must address at some point in its development, and that is camera controls. Nintendo, in a stroke of genius, solved this problem in the Super Mario Galaxy games by having the majority of the levels take place on spheres, meaning that the camera will never have any walls to navigate or to block the player's view of the character. This elegant solution unfortunately cannot be applied to every 3D platformer and Junction Point's previous Epic Mickey game was marred by poor camera controls. Nothing has changed in that field for Epic Mickey 2. Though playing with two analog sticks is much preferred to the stopping and re-centering the camera that Wii players will endure. The camera tends to want to be too close to the ground and seems to always want to get stuck or bounce off of walls. The effect the camera has on a 3D platformer like Epic Mickey cannot be understated either. Adjusting the camera angle to make the perfect jump is one of gaming's great pleasures, and Epic Mickey 2 leaves the player feeling more frustrated than satisfied.
Epic Mickey 2 offers a cooperative mode that allows you to play the campaign along with another friend. This mode makes it infinitely easier to access the game's more interesting nooks and crannies because the AI driving Oswald always seems to be one or two steps behind what you actually want him to do. Playing through the game alone is an unsatisfactory way to experience this vivid world because the inconsistency of Oswald makes it hard to expect him to do anything beyond what is necessary to move on to the next area in the game.
Warren Spector is known for realizing vivid game worlds and Junction Point delivers his vision adequately. Despite the intricacy of the world however and the beautiful High Definition graphics on the WiiU, this game is plagued with all the classic pitfalls of a 3D platformer, issues which, in this console generation, are hard to forgive.
ZombiU was supposed to be a flagship title for the console, displaying it's graphical abilities and the new features of the gamepad in a manner that would make the console the "in" thing for gamers everywhere.
Instead, what it became was an extremely polarizing game. There are very few people who are of the mindset that this game is "just alright". Most people you run into will find it either a brilliant video game, full of depth and difficulty, or a janky, poorly executed mess.
ZombiU takes place in London in November, 2012. An old legend called the Black Prophecy is coming to pass, with a zombie outbreak. There has been an underground group researching and preparing for this day. As one of the survivors of the apocalypse, you are tasked with working with this underground group to find the cure.
ZombiU doesn't set out to be your typical run-and-gun shoot-'em-up first person shooter. It, instead, wants to be a survival horror game. You can shoot all the zombies you want, great. What's more important is the goal of survival. Survive so that you can get samples. Survive so that you can help find the cure. Survive so that you can just keep living. It takes an angle on the zombie fad that a lot of games just look past.
One of the more polarizing aspects of the game is it's permadeth. In ZombiU, when your character dies, you don't play as that character anymore. Instead, you respawn as another one of the survivors. Your old character, in keeping with the elements of the game, doesn't just disappear- it becomes a zombie. You have to kill your old self to get your items back, which is a surreal experience. You have just spent three hours or so as character A, and now you are character B, and your first mission? Smash in Zombie Character A's brains. The weakness to this system is that there is only one dead copy at a time, so if you die again before you can retrieve your loot, it's all gone.
Another polarizing aspect is the combat. It tries to do so well. You are always armed with a melee weapon, a cricket bat. Along the way, you can pick up other weapons, including, of course, guns. The problem with guns is that they make noise. The noise attracts other zombies to come see what all the fuss is about, which turns your group of three zombies that you got the drop on into five or six guys trying to eat your brains. Add in that kickback causes problems for you (which, if you're thinking about yourself as a survivor in England who might not have the most experience shooting a gun, adds a level to this game that isn't always thought about) and that ammo is very, very scarce, and you have all the elements for a great survival horror game. However, the problem is that the melee with the cricket bat is unrewarding. It can take five or six hits at times to down a zombie. Finding a group of three or four means fifteen to twenty hits, and that's a chore.
The use of the WiiU gamepad is a fun part of this game. When you go to loot things, rather than a menu coming up and the game pausing, you are directed to look at the gamepad's screen. There, you can see what is in the filing cabinet and decide what you want to keep. While that is happening, though, the game isn't paused. Everything is still going on around you. It adds an element of tension to your adventures that is not found in many other games.
This game tries to be one of the best zombie games out there. It tries to take a fresh approach to things. It has all of the right ideas, too. Rather than an amazing story or just being a game about killing a million zombies, it really nails the feeling that you are trying to survive so, so well. Unfortunately, it misses in execution of parts. I really hope we see a sequel to this with more polished combat, or at least another game trying to do the same things here. This game is the epitome of having great ideas, but not quite executing them in the right way. It's an enjoyable and unique experience for sure if you're willing to forgive it of it's faults, but that is a bridge too far for some people.
Everyone should know by now that Infinity Wards latest is not to be missed, and it was more than just a video game release. It amassed millions of hours of playtime and had gotten endless amount of press over the past year, making it practically a force of nature unleashed on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Every nuance of the game as been inspected, every detail has been examined, to the point that if they wanted an unspoiled experience when their copy arrived they would need to make an effort to avoid the news about it. The developer has honed its well-worn formula to achievable and logical shine, far from shunning the weight of expectation; rarely in mechanics, it crafts a campaign that surprises with scope.
The series of Modern Warfare 2 is back on the hands of Infinity Ward, the developer that brought us Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the most significant multiplayer FPS. But between Call of Duty 4 and Modern Warfare 2 was another game that managed to be successful in its own right, which was Call of Duty: World at War, it never had a chance at being another Modern Warfare, though.
I need to get one thing straight – it was obvious that Modern Warfare 2 wasn’t going to be able to compete against its original, but that’s not to say this sequel has practically no chance of being anything other than a great game. COD4 had featured a strong single player campaign and was nearly perfect as a multiple game, Infinity Ward is simply building off this. Their mission, which turned out to be very successful, was to keep gamers interested and to add to the franchise regardless of how much time they might typically spend on a first-person shooter. Modern Warfare 2 has a top-notch online experience, a great single player campaign, and a new Spec-Ops mode that lets players test their skills in one-off missions and builds off COD4’s popular coda.
The single player campaign in MW2 takes everything a step further, but can be found a lot similar to COD4. The story is much harder hitting; they get you ready for a much more in-your-face look at nuclear attack, terrorism, and hand-to-hand combat than the previous game. Despite that MW2 is more of a mature game than the series’ previous titles, it also takes the story and goes completely over-the-top with it. It’s a military plot combined with different vehicular sequences, and slow-motion action stunts along the lines of the Watchmen movie.
The story isn’t entirely clear why certain things take place, following it can be very hard and muddled, and many of the character’s relationships with one another remain foggy. While there are some missing links they don’t really detract from the story and their almost always clear what your character needs to accomplish, why you’re on a specific mission, and the larger strategy that you are operating under. The story doesn’t quite hold up for the same period as the original, which is a huge shock since COD4’s campaign mode was a quick run through. It’s not by much but I would have imagined Infinity Ward trying to make something longer with their sequel to listen to all of the criticism. You may want to not ask too many questions and suspend your disbelief though, especially if you’re geo-politically minded. One point that’s interesting though is that you never fight in the anonymous, sandy regions found in COD4, instead the game mentions many specific places and countries which you never step foot on. Another thing is how quick the set pieces get put together just apparently after America went to war. It looks like the war has been going on for years!
This is a title that oozes a confidence built on collective experience, from the comforting and safe assault course opener. It’s the sort of videogame that doesn’t flinch in delivering set-piece after set-piece understanding exactly what its audience wants with barely a pause to load the next scenario. The commitment certainly isn’t questionable, but the politics may be.
The developer has – controversially – included an extremely graphic depiction that the player has full control over of a very specific act of terrorism early on in the game. This is something of a talking point, unsurprisingly, and to ignore the issue would be remiss.
I wouldn’t say it was deeply disturbing but the level is, without the doubt, an experience that is the most thought-provoking I have yet encountered in any mainstream game. Providing you’re immersed in the context and its atmosphere it can also be a pretty sobering experience, but you can easily skip or ignore this level if you don’t want to put yourself through a fairly clearly-defined moralistic mill. Despite the abhorrent undertone running beneath, it’s powerful in a way that videogames rarely are, and I just can’t help but admire it in some twisted way. It shocked me all the way through of playing it.
For those of you in the persuasion of wondering what all the fuss was about, as there will be a significant chunk of the gamers that will end up feeling this way, MW2’s action beat and constantly assaults the senses that proves the primary draw.
At times the visual panache and superlative gunplay borders best-in-show which is here Infinity Ward steps above and beyond criticism. Set-piece animation is integrated in an almost seamless fashion within the level design, enemies crumple realistically under fire, and you’ll be hard-pushed to spot a single respawning set of foes, which even if early reports of veteran difficulty as a direct consequence are to be believed.
The colour and lighting is noticeably improved in this second iteration, the crisp 60fps console versions are surprisingly well-detailed, and whilst the environment remains resolutely non-interactive, it’s a sheer pleasure to keep the eyes locked onto the screen when things are being blown up for you with relative frequency.
New additions to the mission structure will be pleasingly well judged, from climbing mechanics that offer up a healthy dose of tension to vehicle sections that work within the confines of the physics engine – it’s all integrated with a strong taint of talent and money behind the scenes, but whilst all this is great fun the majority of the missions will be familiar (clear the house, destroy the AA gun, follow the tank, etc). Even this is still done brilliantly, its Infinity Ward’s baby after all, and even though Treyarch may well be an improving off-year custodian, the fingerprints are unmistakable.
There is a new part to the game called The Special Operations (Spec Ops). These are short missions where you have a very clear goal – kill this many rebels, win this race, get to this point, etc. They are basically run through missions on either normal, hard, or veteran modes that are Call of Duty skill challenges in order to win stars. More stars will win you some achievement points and will increase your ever-present completion percentage. The missions include defending a point and stealth escapes, though you also get vehicle missions like a snowmobile race and a helicopter attack, even though their varied they stick to the same operations and settings handled in the game. These Ops can be fun, but not long lasting as there isn’t any way-points making the missions very challenging – you have to start over by making one critical mistake, which is not so easy when you have attack dogs and about 40 guys to kill. Anyone who dreams of getting 1000 Xbox achievement points must know that Veteran-level challenges are only for the most skilled gamers and anyone else putting in the time is going to be disappointed. Ops is a great way to improve your game while playing with a friend as it can be done in single player or multiplayer (including local) modes.
It’s all about more within MW2’s multiplayer. More mayhem, more levels, more weapons, more skills, and so on. COD4’s multiplayer has become the baseline against which all online FPS games are measured, and what better way could there be to follow this experience with MW2? With highly customizable skills and weapons and huge skill streak bonuses, Infinity War this time made sure to keep Veteran players interested while allowing new players to get into the game, with solid early level weapons and death streak bonuses. You feel like your achieving something with every session you are playing multiplayer because you are building up towards the next level. So that next holographic sight or launcher could be right around the corner. This means two things – there is a constant sense of achievement whether you were victorious or not and you don’t want to put the game down. It might not be a huge step up from COD4 but it’s still a great experience with enough changed to keep things interesting.
This may arguably be the best online FPS right now, but not everything is perfect with the multiplayer though. The game is now largely silent as MW2 has basically killed voicechat. This was about the opposite in COD4, this was mainly put down by numerous homophobia, racism and cheating. So instead Infinity Ward decided to curtail the chat, except allowing it in a few games. Most players (at least on the Xbox 360) have unplugged their headsets because the cuts that were made were large enough. Teamwork is what could have taken MW2 multiplayer to the next level, unfortunately it just doesn’t look like its going to happen in this generation.
MW2 refines and builds on the most solid of bases and is spectacular, as a whole, in all the right areas. This game has problems just like any other, but despite this it’s a game you should play for what it does achieve. The single player subject matter is often hard to follow and mostly over-the-top, but it also has powerful settings and compelling characters with a thought-provoking undertone. It really gets players into the mindset of the game as it’s a much more cynical look at the battlefield than previous titles. Spec Ops often requires a second player due to its difficulty, but it’s the single biggest addition to the game, and lets players perfect their skills in scenario-based combat which becomes quite rewarding. It’s definitely not as brilliant as its original, since it’s the same type of exercise but with a few different ideas added in, but MW2 is still a brilliant game in its own merits and stands proudly head up high above most other FPS shooters. This is a game every FPS and war veteran fan should definitely buy.
Kane & Lynch are back and its darker and deeper than ever. Kane, who you played in the first game, is mercenary who was convicted of killing tens of innocent people for which he denys. Lynch, who met Kane when he bust him out of death row, is a schizophrenic. Kane reluctantly teams back up with Lynch for another job, this time you play as Lynch. However they accidentally anger the Shanghai underworld and are left on their own.
Story -- 8.5/0
The story suits the game play well, the story finds them on their own. Against Shanghai underworld; full of twists, backstabs, death, betrayal and lots of blood, the story sticks true to its motive. The way that the characters are shown is perfect, we know they are not good guys but we still would hate to see them fall and die, however theres plenty of times when they do. This helps create unique characters and when we find a character dead this also shocks us back and lets us know that they are not afraid to kill off people, again drawing us deeper into the story.
Gameplay -- 9/10
The jump'y camera movements and style was inspired by the "Youtube look" as they call it. This helps give it a unique, gritty, dark amateur feel. However the cam holds its self still when you get into fights, this transition is so subtle that I, myself, have never noticed it. The layout is that of a basic third-person shooter with cover to use. A great example of how dark the game is, is a very odd one. The camera will normally blur out the image of someone you shoot in the face. While that sounds horrible and not very gruesome, when you run around and shoot some one point-blank in the face and it suddenly blurs it out, your attention is draw to it instantly and you will probably say "Awe man, I just shot that dude in the head!". However you may not say that as you are probably not a stereotypical 60's American teenager...anyway.
Graphics/Sound -- 8.5/10
The style compliments the characters and storyline well with the graphics matching a amateur video of two mad men you could find on the internet. The character detail is great, however the voice sync is not very well done. But the feel of the game is to always keep moving, hence the jump'y and rolling camera movements along with short cut-scenes to always keep you in the action. So you may notice bu just like me just sit there and think "Meh..." and carry on. The environments and weapons all feel realistic enough with time obviously spent on the more dominant areas, eg the cars, weapons, clothes and environmental reactions to fights.
Online -- 7.5
With a unique multi player and new type of online games it instantly sets its self as a unique game. It use's the lobby picking style, normally typical to computer online games, still allows people to join friends with alot of ease. Or make new friends through familiar lobby's. For a list of what online game style's there are you can find them on other sites, but a quick list is Fragile alliance, under cover cop and Cops and Robbers. For more info on what they are visit either, and/or any other game websites you know and trust. Just to leave you saying, there all brilliant online games.
Overall this game definitely tops the first Kane & Lynch and draws you into the world and thoughts of Lynch. To all new and old fans out there I say its a must buy, to new fans it doesn't matter which you buy first but I'm sure if you buy this you'll want the first so you can see some back story to what they say...so you might as well just buy that one first. Its cheaper and it will let you know if you like it.
Hope This was helpful! If so push the thank button and/or give this a thumbs up, if not please feel free give me a thumbs down =)
Starcraft II Wings of Liberty for the PC has been eagerly anticipated ever since the end of Starcraft: Brood War over a decade ago. Luckily, Blizzard does not disappoint with this new continuation of the Starcraft saga. As the story goes, Arcturus Mengsk has regained support after his disastrous defeat at the hands of Kerrign at the end of Starcraft: Brood War, but his vendetta is aimed primarily at Jim Raynor. Raynor, now an outlaw engaged in guerrilla warfare with Mengsk's empire, is shocked to discover his old friend has been released from prison: the cigar-smoking Tychus Findlay. From here the story twists and turns until coming to a satisfying conclusion, with just enough of a teaser for future expansions that could only be done so expertly by a company such as Blizzard.
The campaign itself is interesting for its since of persistence: upgrades can be purchased aboard the Hyperion that directly affect future missions. This also makes optional mission objectives much more important, as they are what directly fund these technological upgrades. The value of upgrades range in importance: from giving marines permanent increases in health to providing medics with the ability to heal multiple units at once. In addition, "xenos samples" can be gathered from Protoss and Zerg artifacts to research further advantages for Raynor's men.
Owing to how long it's been since the first Starcraft was released, and how much games have evolved since then, this new one offers a branching narrative. Raynor can choose which missions he wants to undertake and which he wants to ignore. Each of the optional missions ultimately culminates in a choice that will dictate not only where Raynor's story goes, but what units will join him in his cause. Without spoiling too much, Blizzard has interwoven decisions into the campaign that will leave many players scratching their heads as to what is the most appropriate decision.
Of course, Starcraft is known for its amazing multiplayer just as much as its known for its interesting campaign. Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty holds its own as a great real time strategy game (RTS). Blizzard has shown commitment to its support of Starcraft II with its endless release of patches to fix any exploitable mechanics in the game until the end result is a perfectly balanced RTS experience. Players can form parties with their friends to participate in matches of up to four on four.
If the normal matchmaking isn't of interest, players can also join their friends for custom games. Made by the players for the players, these custom games can range from simple tower defense games to highly complicated role playing games that save your progress from one custom match to the next. Blizzard takes its custom map-making community very seriously, working around the clock to make sure these Starcraft cartographers get the support they deserve. It is through them that Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty remains such an endlessly replayable game.
Ultimately, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty PC version is a great choice for anyone interested in experiencing Blizzard's sci-fi masterpiece.
I have never really been a huge fan of racing games. However, Ive always had a soft spot for the Gran Turismo series by Polyphony Digital. I guess thats because Gran Turismo is more of a racing simulator than a racing game. Gran Turismo 5 is the latest entry into the series and although it doesnt live up to the hype, its still a great game.
As a racing simulator, the way the vehicles handle is one of the more important aspects of gameplay. In that regard, Gran Turismo 5 is a vast improvement over the games in the series before it. The physics system employed here really gives each car a distinct feel. Even a teenager with a learners permit can easily tell a 1969 Mustang from a 2009 Corvette with their eyes closed. Well, if they could still drive with their eyes closed. With that in mind, this is definitely not a pick up and play type game. It will take many hours behind the wheel for a Gran Turismo novice to gain any kind of comfort level. Although, the inclusion of many driving assist options make the transition from arcade racer to simulation racer much easier. There is one thing in particular though that many players, myself included, wanted to see in Gran Turismo 5 that was inexplicably left out. Well, it wasnt really left out as much as it just wasnt fully implemented. Im talking of course about the allowance of all cars to be fully damaged from accidents. Yes, the cars do take damage, but it isnt very realistic. If you hit a concrete wall head on at 200 mph, it would be crushed. Not in Gran Turismo 5. Here it would look more like you ran into a shopping cart at 25 mph. This is one area where the game was over-hyped, as players were just expecting more from the damage system in a game that was in development for 7 years.
Car Selection/Models 8.5/10
There isnt a racing game in the galaxy with the car selection on display in Gran Turismo 5. Theres everything from an old VW van, all the way up to prototypes that only exist in some car designers mind. Theres even a DeLorean as seen in the Back To The Future Movie Franchise. How many racing games can boast that? All these cars look gorgeous on the track too, most of all the Premium models. There are two types of cars in this game, Standard and Premium. The Premium models are flawlessly detailed and feature 100% true-to-life cockpit views. Standard cars, while graphically acceptable for a PS3 game, really suffer from the cockpit view standpoint. Each standard car only has a basic shadowy interior with almost no detail. This is very disappointing since the cockpit view is my favorite view to drive from.
Dont get me wrong, there really is nothing wrong with the tracks in Gran Turismo 5. The low score is based more on lack of variety than anything else. Yes Polyphony Digital added day and night cycles and changing weather, but unfortunately this great feature isnt available on all the tracks. This really makes for a high level of redundancy when you consider the vast amount of cars at your disposal, and such a small variety of tracks to drive them on. There is a Course Maker, but it seems more like a last second tack-on than a full fledged feature.
Im not really in love with the soundtrack in this game, but that's easily remedied with the option to play tracks straight from the audio library stored on your PS3 console. Want to drag race while listening to Metallica? Go for it. How about a 100 lap race around Daytona Speedway while blasting Taylor Swift? If youve got the songs on your hard drive the opportunity is yours for the taking. Where the sound really shines though are the cars and their corresponding effects. Each car sounds exactly as it should and is easily identifiable by sound alone. Plus nothing beats the thrill of blowing away that rival car on a straightway while hearing my Camaro roar like the beast that it is.
Final Score 8.5/10
Gran Turismo 5 was over-hyped and it shows with the lack of vehicle damage, poor track selection, and a failure to have all cars rendered as Premium models. Even so, theres no way to deny its an outstanding game because the positives far outweigh the negatives. Gran Turismo 5 is proudly displayed in my gaming collection and is without a doubt my favorite racing game in a long time. Hope to see you in my rear-view mirror very soon. Happy Gaming!
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