When the current generation of video game consoles first began we were quickly welcomed to it by The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion. Up until this point, the elder scrolls series had been popular on PC and, even though a version of the third game was released on the original Xbox, the series had never taken off on consoles before. But then of course, came Oblivion, which sold millions of copies on both he PS3 and the Xbox 360, shattering expectations.
There was, of course, a single black spot. The PS3 release of the game was incredibly buggy, laggy, and to a large extent broken. Bethesda never truly completely fixed the game, leaving it broken to this day. Does Skyrim on the PS3 share these issues as well? If it does, can the game's quality otherwise make up for it?
Certainly, Skyrim shares a lot of things with its predecessor. The game takes place in Cyrodil's northern neighbor of Skyrim, making snow and Nordic lore plentiful. The core game play remains very similar to that of Oblivion, creating a open fantasy world for players to explore. While exploring the world, you will stumble upon a seemingly endless number of quests to do, and your map will rapidly fill with places to explore.
The game's combat remains mostly unchanged from Oblivion. While it has been somewhat improved as far as feel is concerned, the first-person based combat still seems a bit clunky, though less so than it did in Oblivion. Of course, Elder Scrolls games have never really been about the combat, they've been about the stories.
Those stories, thankfully, are better than ever. The use of the Nordic aesthetic allows the writers of Oblivion to go in some really interesting directions with both the main story and the side quests. The guilds common to all elder scrolls games, remain at their core unchanged, but they also gain a distinctive Nordic twist.
Of course, none of these amazing pieces of the games are worth anything if you cannot experience them properly, and the PS3 has some serious issues. Sadly, most of the issues that existed with the Oblivion release on PS3 carry through to Skyrim. While not completely broken like Oblivion was, Skyrim has serious problems that include, but are not limited to freezes, textures not loading, and major frame rate problems. In addition, these problems are made even worse the more time that you spend playing the game.
In addition to the problems with the core game that are slowly being fixed, there are other issues with the PS3 release. As Bethesda continues to release DLC for the game, it is coming to the PS3 extremely late, if at all. A worried Sony has begun to help Bethesda with its PS3 issues, and things are improving, albeit very slowly.
At the end of the day, it is hard to recommend the PS3 version of Skyrim until its major issues are fixed, and it could be a long time until it happens.
Okami was originally released for the Playstation 2 in 2006. Normally a re release of a game on another system is nothing to write home about. That is not the case here. This enhanced port of the Playstation 2 game blows away its predecessor in every possible way. The highlight of the game even on the Playstation 2 was the Celestial Brush. You would use this brush to paint the game world to open up new paths and solve riddles and progress through the adventure. It was fun even on the PS2's analog controller. But add the Wii's nunchuk and remote and it really feels like you are painting right on your television screen. Not all of the controls transition perfectly to the Wii, the dodge function is a bit clumsy but we can forgive this simply because using the Wii's Remote to paint with the Celestial Brush is such a joy.
Initially, the game's puzzles are a little on the easy side. Your character needs to add light to one of the game's environment's and so you draw a sun in the sky, which solves the puzzle. These puzzles will get progressively more difficult as the game moves on and feel incredibly satisfying when you figure them out.
Another reason Okami was a hit on the PS2 is the deep storyline. PS2 fans said it felt like a Legend of Zelda style adventure. Perhaps that's why Nintendo fans were begging for a re release on the Wii even back then. We won't spoil it for you, but the game's world is truly epic in scope and feel and the character development throughout the title does remind you of a more traditional Nintendo franchise.
The game's overworld is not as streamlined as say, Nintendo's Zelda titles and you have the ability to go back and forth and just explore this amazing world. The game was beautiful on the Playstation 2 and Nintendo has taken advantage of the Wii's more advanced hardware to offer an even better look to the game. Okami now supports 480p progressive scan and a 16:9 widescreen mode that will look amazing on your big screen television. The game still does suffer at times from some slowdown and it is a bit disappointing that developer Ready At Dawn made no attempt to clean this up during the port process.
The game's soundtrack is easily one of my favorite of all time. It fits the Okami's different environments perfectly and the score soars during the games occasional cinematic sequences. The sound runs in Dolby Pro Logic II on the Nintendo Wii, another upgrade over the PS2 version. The game itself is a little on the easy side, although the difficulty will ramp up as Okami progresses. Perhaps the highlight of the combat is the game's amazing boss battles. You'll fight creatures that take up the whole screen.
Okami isn't a perfect port but it is a must play title for any Nintendo Wii owner, especially Zelda fans.
Fable III is your average game, with enough thrills and spins to keep you going and also has its fair share of blunders. Fable III sets its story a few decades after the Fable II, with Fable IIs hero becoming King and having two children, the elder child (your brother) takes his place at the thrown. He then proves to be a little bit evil by oppressing the people under his new rule. You then play as his brother or sister as you may choose. To rid of his bad doings and save the kingdom from your brother's evil rule, this might seem a little cliched. However, the game does have enough in its story, quests, missions and gameplay to keep you interested throughout the whole game.
When it comes to sheer fun, Fable III will not disappoint. The game integrates a sense of humor in every corner of the quest with funny punch lines and cut scenes that will surely keep gamers happy throughout the game. Fable III also poses great improvements in gameplay such as challenging battles and sword fights while also improving in overall design. Gamers can enjoy great graphics and scenery around the very well crafted map of old medieval times. Every town, every place you travel into has its certain feel and no two places look the same as the others. However, blunders also pile up for the game even with bug fixes and advancements being made at the PC version from the consoles. Fable III remains the simple and shallow game that it is on the consoles.
The lack of choice also seems to be a bore-handler for the game, with almost no other moral choice to go about your quest and very few side quests actually almost none. The game feels more like a story that you have to play through without having your choices get considered to the outcome of the game. This represents a lack of effort in the developers side in an era where action-role playing games often have good choices and other possible outcomes at the end of the game. Having none would prove to be a blunt idea that makes for a shallow and boring game.
Glitches in the game are still evident even with most of the common bugs in the console version fixed. Overall, Fable III is still a gorgeous game, if you are able to take in the lack of choice and emotional interaction with the characters and have fun with fight scenes, questing and scenery then it is a worthwhile game to play.
Ever since hitting the main stream fitness circuit in the mid 1990s, it is hard pressed to find a gym that does not offer Zumba classes on a regular basis. Zumba gained popularity by its ability to make working out more fun for those who naturally detest traditional cardio and weight training. Though Zumba work out DVDs have been available for years, Nintendo Wii attempts to cash in on the Zumba dance craze with a series of games that promises to get the player moving and grooving, all while working out major muscle groups and toning the core.
The latest Zumba game offered by Nintendo is Zumba Core. Released in October, 2012, Zumba Core offers new choreography that has specifically been designed to target the notoriously difficult core area, all while maximizing the cardio and toning benefits to the rest of the body. There are dozens of new songs as well as additional dance styles which enable the player to dance to disco, funk and celtic bluegrass music, if they feel so inclined.
Of course, there is the belt that comes with the game to hold the controller in, enabling the Wii to detect the accuracy of players' dance moves. While the belt serves it's purpose, it is a function that any old belt can also do. No need to buy multiple belts for multiple players, simply grab a few regular belts and make sure that the Wii remote is firmly in place.
While Zumba is a fun workout to do by one's self, it is even more entertaining when there are multiple players. Though it seems cheesy, when there's three or four players, a Zumba workout can quickly feel like a dance party. Working out to Zumba Core with friends can quickly bring out one's competitive side as well, since players are rated at the end of each dance.
The calorie and progress tracker is a great feature, as it can be helpful to visualize calories burned during play. Overall, Zumba Core is a great game, that can really help motivate people to work out, especially people who don't particularly like a traditional style of working out. It can be a wonderful way to spend time with friends and can be a great way to squeeze exercise into a busy day. Though Zumba Core promises to deliver moves which target the core area, it was difficult to differentiate the moves presented in this game with any of the previous Zumba Wii games. There was no real dramatic difference in abdominal muscles, even after several weeks of regular game play.
Unless someone is seriously committed to a lifestyle change, including incorporating a healthy diet and exercise routine into one's life, she should not expect occasional game play of Zumba Core to dramatically change a soft belly into a hardened six pack. However, Zumba Core can be a great way to ease into a healthy fitness routine and have fun with friends.
While Train Simulator 2013 on the PC can never generate the unique atmosphere experienced by enthusiasts on their railway journeys it can fill gaps in the enthusiasts time table when other things, such as rising train fares and home and family commitments conspire to keep them away from the real thing. Of course where the game scores highly is with the number of routes available for journeys, but unfortunately these are extras and come at a price, although with the ever rising costs of train fares, buying these extras is probably less than the fare for the equivalent journey, and this is especially true for the routes in countries other than your own.
There are five routes included in the basic package and these are London to Brighton and Isle of Wight in Britain, the North East Corridor and the Sherman Hill North America, and the Munich to Augsburg line in Germany. An extensive choice of other lines in Britain, America and Germany are also available for download.
There is also a wide range of locomotive engines and rolling stock on offer both diesel and steam, and again the basic package comes with a choice of around thirteen trains going back as far as the early sixties with representatives from the same three countries, and once again more are there for downloading. There are also some added scenarios to download which are needed for certain engines and rolling stock. For instance the British GEML Class 90 add on locomotive requires the Great Western Main Line London Ipswich add on. These mix and match add ons can be a bit confusing but they are all listed in tables in Wikipedia. I believe that there are software resources
as extras that allow the user to create their own layouts and worlds but that is beyond my knowledge.
One of the greatest improvements with this game is that you can now save multiple games which was not allowed in earlier versions, which was a bit of a drawback as some routes take up some considerable time to run. The graphics may look good but as I have never undertaken any of the journeys for real I cannot vouch for the accuracy, but i would suspect its pretty close.
To get off to a quick start, and to get a look at the possibilities the game offers to a new player, you can choose the Quick Drive option. This option allows you to get up and running quickly. You choose your train, route, time of day, weather and season. Of course all these choices and more are available in the more complex modes.
There is also a Career-Mode which will score you on your timing, speed and the level of comfort your journey provides for your passengers. The passenger comfort is something not obviously considered in a train simulation which is usually assumed to be all about driving from A to B while looking at scenery. The driver needs to know what stations he is scheduled to stop at and the times of arrival and departure.
The game has undergone the year on year upgrades in terms of graphics and sound both of which are important for real train journeys. Of course the standard of graphics depends on the quality of your computer's graphics card, the sound less so.
The game in its basic form will be of interest to almost anyone who does not want to take it too seriously, it does give them a chance to do something which most will never do ie. drive a train. In its more detailed forms with additional lines and locomotives it will be of interest to railway enthusiasts and those who have tried the basic format and enjoyed it. I enjoyed it but would not wish to go further than the starter pack and so would not recommend it too highly. How a real railway enthusiast would rate the game needs to be seen.