Bejeweled

Bejeweled screenshot
Bejeweled screenshot

Bejeweled review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“Another classic puzzle game for the masses.”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview:

This is a pure, straight up puzzle game.

The point of the game consists of getting 3 or more of one jewel type connected in a row or column and then the game eliminates it. When that happens more jewels drop in taking up the same amount of space from the top of the screen. The more jewels you make disappear at a time, the more points you get.

There are two game modes, one that is the normal mode and the time mode.

Under the normal mode, you have unlimited time and you have to fill up the bottom bar in order to go to the next stage/level. I find this one to be more laid back and strategic.

Time mode gets pretty hectic. You are still trying to get as many in a row/column as possible but the bar at the bottom is going down constantly. You still have to fill the bar up to move on to the next level, which will make the game harder as the time bar will go down faster.

The point to leveling up is that the higher the level, the higher the score multiplier is for any combos you do. In other words, you will get more points per jewel that disappears.

Fun Factor:

This is a simple game yet it’s very entertaining. I prefer the normal (stategic) game mode the most as opposed to the hectic time mode. This game will keep you interested and it’s a great way to wake up and put your thinking cap on. The game might seem simple but there are subtle strategies for you to learn once you’ve played a bunch of games in a row.

This game keeps my interest as far as puzzle games go and I’m sure you will feel the same. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

The more you play the game, the harder it gets. It might not necessarily seem like it but you will find yourself more limited with initial combos once the new level spawns. Overall, if you find the game too easy, you can simply play it in time mode, which is much harder.

You start each game at level 1 and there is no way to artificially manipulate this, so you will go through the same difficulty curve every time. The higher the level you go higher then chance you have of dying simply from running out of moves. Once that happens, it’s game over and there is no continue.

I give Difficulty Versatility a score of 7 out of 10.

Value:

You can opt out to play the game online for free from the Popcap games website or you can buy the game for a few dollars.

The version that I played/own I got through Steam for $1-2 when it was on sale and I bought a huge package of PopCap Games. The link to the version I reviewed is the following (through Steam):

http://store.steampowered.com/app/3350/

You can play the free version through this link:

PopCap Games for Free

They sell Bejeweled there and it’s sequels as well. Most sell for $8-12, for PC and handheld systems/phones.

Considering the replayability value of the game, it’s worth at least getting the basic game or even playing the free ones through a web browser. Since the game is basically free or within the price of a budget title, the game gets a Value score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

This game is VERY addictive. Considering I was going to replay Civilization 4 for the billionth time to submit a review and I’ve been just playing this game over and over, I would say it’s VERY replayable (addictive).

Other than to be a great time killer, for me the replayability comes into trying to one up my old high scores.

The game helps me think about my strategies within the game and real life problems while I play it, so it’s relaxing and that keeps me playing often.

Replayability gets a score of 1o out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds are simple but they are enough for this game. The best sound effect is the robotic voice of the announcer which makes it sound like an old video game. Sound gets a score of 5 out of 10.

Music:

The music for the version I played, Bejeweled Deluxe sounds like classic amiga mod music and a lot like the music of other games that also use MOD files such as Uplink. It has a very oldskool feel and I always love that. There is one song for each game mode and it loops over and over but that keeps me focused. You can always lower the volume if it bothers you and play an external mp3 file if you want by alt-tabbing.

I enjoy the songs in the game. I think Music deserves a score of 8 out of 10. Some people might want more than 2 songs for the whole game.

Graphics:

The graphics are pretty spartan but this game is designed to run on any computer and not require a lot of money in hardware invested. The graphics look like enhanced c64 or Amiga graphics. I don’t expect a game like this to go all out on graphics as people will play it for it’s puzzle aspect, not to look at eye candy. Graphics get a score of 5 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game has never crashed after 30 hours of gameplay. I would declare it’s pretty rock solid. I’ve never seen the logic of the game get stuck in any game either. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

Controls don’t get simpler than this game. You just left click on what jewel you want to shift and left click on the destination. The jewel will either move up, left, right, or down (not diagonal moves allowed). Once that happens, the game calculates what stuff disappears and you keep playing. It can’t get any simpler than that. Anybody can pretty much play this game. Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

Any version of this game run perfect on any computer, phone, hand held, etc. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I got this and a bunch of other games through the Steam sale they had in December 2009. Although I know you can play the games for free on the website, since I find them very entertaining, I didn’t mind paying for them and getting the versions that had the enhanced music/graphics.

These are the kinds of games I’ve been playing whenever I take a break from playing a big game.

Free Stuff – PopCap Games

PopCap Games logo
PopCap Games logo

Free Stuff – PopCap Games

If you love puzzle games and specifically free ones then visit the website of PopCap Games and have fun! Some of my favorites are Plants vs Zombies, Zuma, Big Money, Chuzzle, and Bejeweled. These games might seem simple but they are the kind of games that improve your logic skills.

The website for Popcap Games is the following: http://www.popcap.com/

Steam Sale – all of X-COM for $2

X-COM 1 Manual
X-COM 1 Manual

Steam Sale – all of X-COM for $2

The X-COM games are the best tactical combat games where you take on aliens with great AIs. You can get all 5 games for $2 total through Steam.

The two first games are the best ones and they’re totally worth getting, at any price.

The link to the Steam sale is the following:

http://store.steampowered.com/sub/964/

Steam Sale – both Freedom Force games for $2 total!

Freedom Force vs the 3rd Reich
Freedom Force vs the 3rd Reich

Steam Sale – both Freedom Force games for $2 total!

The Freedom Force games are the BEST action-rpg-RTS games ever made for super hero comic book characters. Get them both for $2 total!

You get the original Freedom Force and the sequel Freedom Force vs the 3rd Reich.

You can get them through Steam at the following link:

http://store.steampowered.com/sub/1662/

Steam Sale – Tropico 3 for $14

Tropico 3 cover
Tropico 3 cover

Steam Sale – Tropico 3 for $14

Oppressing the masses never felt so good as for $14! If you don’t know Tropico, you take the role of your “favorite” dictator and run your own Cuba, in the style of a Sim City game only with people trying to kill you.

Tropico 3 is currently on sale through Steam for $13.60 at the following link:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/23490/

DiRT 2

DiRT 2 CRUNCHHH
DiRT 2 CRUNCHHH

DiRT 2 review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“More dirt slingling, car crunching rally madness from Codemasters!”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview:

Codemasters surprises us again with another great Colin McRae Rally racing classic.

For the campaign game, you take the role of an up and coming rally race car driver that’s finally making it to the big time. You start entering races in the lower tiers and eventually you “level up” enough to take one the mid grade tiers and up, eventually getting invites for special global events and championships, such as the X-Games, special historical races, etc.

As you do more races you keep getting paid, letting you buy different cars but there are mainly 2-3 cars that will dominate each race mode. If you figure out which those are, the rest of the cars (and money is sort of irrelevant). Some of the cars are much funner to drive than others and you might want to get them simply for the challenge of trying to take on cars with better handling (pretty much the most important characteristic for cars in this game).

The game mainly has modern day rally cars that are favorites today and less of the classic rally cars of legend from the 70s-90s (as opposed to DiRT 1).

Like DiRT 1, DiRT 2 has many big names and personalities from the world of rally racing. Ken Block, Mohammed bin Sulayem, and Travis Pastrana are some, to name a few. The racers interact with you as you race (crash) them with a little pop-up and some smart ass comment to keep you in good spirits. Once in a while, in between races, if you really owned it up or sucked big time, the game will offer you a special challenge against one of these personalities. The challenge will depend on the kind of event you just did and what kind of racing that racer favors the most.

The game offers an online racing mode, which I will discuss in detail below.

DiRT 2 is available on PC, Nintendo Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, and PSP.

Fun Factor:

I’m a big fan of racing games, particularly ones where you abuse the hell out of your car and you have to make it last as much as possible. This is such a game!

Some of the tracks will feel repetitive after a while but they do require mastering if you want to take this game on at the max difficulty or make a legend of yourself racing online. Learning every pebble can be fun in itself.

Fun factor gets a score of 7 out of 10 from me. It’s not the funnest racing game I play but it is entertaining, especially when I’m in the mood for off-road racing.

Difficulty Versatility:

DiRT 2 is a lot harder than the first game. The customization for the diffuculty is more detailed and it’s a lot like Grid’s system. You have a finite number of “flashbacks” which let you rewind part of the race in single player offline mode. The harder you set it the more damage you car can take faster, and the easier it will be for damage to disable it. The driving skill of the computer opponents will also get upgraded.

If you want a better challenge than the computer, you will often find better players online. Some players will just specialize in the game so unless you want to get owned, you might have to put in some time to take them on.

Since this game is harder than DiRT 1 and in some parts less annoying (difficulty speaking-wise), Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Value:

I bought DiRT 2 via Steam for about 33 dollars a few months ago. Through Steam at the moment of this writing, DiRT 2 is sold for $40, which is a bit steep considering you can beat the game in a few hours.

Overall, gogamer.com has the best prices for most system’s versions of Dirt 2. The link to find it at gogamer is the following: http://www.gogamer.com/searchresults.htm?keywords=dirt+2&categoryId=&x=0&y=0

Considering how little time I beat DiRT 2 in, I would say pick the game up for about 20 dollars if possible, around that price, it’s worth getting hands down. For the current price, mainly get it if you are a hardcore rally racing fan. At the current prices, Value gets a score of 4 out of 10.

Replayability:

I’ve played the campaign mode twice and it’s kind of like an experience of diminishing returns. I find the online mode now more interesting. The problem with the online mode is that most people on there are a bunch of cheating assholes (crashing you if you are doing well) so to me there’s only the rally mode where you can’t crash your competitors, so it’s more of a pure test of skill/luck.

All the tracks from DiRT 1 are missing in the sequel, which was a disappointment for me because they seem much more real as tracks/courses. I don’t know why they didn’t even bother to include the Pikes Peak Hill Climb course.

Overall, the Replayability gets a score of 6 out of 10. If they can manage to incorporate the non-cheating, non-crashing into the online mode for the modes other than Rally, I’d say it would be worth a 7 out of 10, solely for that.

Sound:

Wonderful sounds ring to my ears. Whether car crunching sounds of smashing your fellow racers or the roar of your rally car flying up a hill. I found it kind of cool in some tracks how they have a running fireworks display as you are about to finish the race and they do sound pretty real to me. Turn the volume ALL the way UP! Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

I found the music in DiRT 1 to be more fitting towards rally racing. The music in DiRT 2 feels as though you’re stuck in a Mountain Dew commercial hopped up either on MD or Red Bull or Monster, the two latter for which you will see ads for throughout the game in almost every race.

DiRT 2 certainly feels more commercial in this sense. I guess the music fits the current direction of where they are trying to get Rally racing to go (especially the infiltration into the US), so it’s more fitting towards the attitude this game has.

Music gets a score of 7 out of 10 in my book. I don’t like it myself but it gets the job done for what they want DiRT 2 to be.

Graphics:

Like DiRT 1 and Grid, DiRT 2 continues the tradition of being amazing eye candy. The game has about 8 or so different global locations and it is does feel as though you really are in the country where you are racing. The car models are simply beautiful and it’s always fun to see them all covered in dirt!

I do enjoy that this is a great game AND it also happens to look great as well.

Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

I’ve only gotten the game to crash once and that was after playing it non-stop for 5 hours, probably because my video card was overheating. Other than that the game is pretty rock solid. I believe Codemasters took steps to address the lag bug from DiRT 1 and it happens much less in DiRT 2. I will address that below under the performance explanation. Stability/Reliability get a score of 9 out of 10.

Controls:

Like DiRT 1, controls are fully customizable. The standard arrow keys for the PC version are all you need unless you want to remap them to your heart’s content.

For the PC version and consoles I’ve been told that wheel and pedal support has been improved dramatically over the first game.

Controls get a score of 10 out of 10 from me.

Performance:

Overall, this game runs pretty great for how pretty it is. I’ve had moments where it lags due to what I think is a bug inherent in the game engine, even if offline, playing against the computer. It’s a bit less drastic than DiRT 2 and I think Codemasters is trying to work this problem out for their future racing games.

The game will run fine on most gaming machines. Racing games are some of the most intense kinds of games because of how many different objects that are moving at high speeds have to be all computed in relation to each other.

Performance gets a score of 8 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This is one of the many games I played around the holidays of 2009. They kept delaying the PC version over and over, which I found annoying. I was a little disappointed as to how little time it took me to beat the game. I basically beat it on the first day.

The online mode is okay but I only like doing the Rally mode which gets repetitive once you master all the tracks.

DiRT 1 was a nice surprise for when it was released. DiRT 2 has been heavily marketed in comparison, and some of that hype got it sales, but the game itself is still a great game. Fans of the first game should probably give it a chance.

Free Stuff – The Ur-Quan Masters, the Star Control II remaster

Ur-Quan Masters title screen
Ur-Quan Masters title screen

Free Stuff – The Ur-Quan Masters, the Star Control II remaster

Ur Quan Masters is the remaster of Star Control II, one of the best space games of all time! Get it NOW for FREE!

The game has two sides of it. It has an EPIC campaign game which basically consists of fighting against time in a race to save the universe from being consumed by a deadly threat. This is all done in the humor style of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The melee (arcade) mode consists of you playing any kind of battle with any kind of ships vs any other kind of ships either you against the computer or against your friends on the same computer or system.

Get it NOW. This is just about the best free game out there.

There are versions for Windows, Mac, Linux, Linux, BSD, and also versions for handhelds.

You can download whatever version you want here: http://sc2.sourceforge.net/downloads.php

Dungeon Master says: Inmate can’t play Dungeons & Dragons

Inmate can’t play Dungeons & Dragons

No longer are the days of inmates choosing normal hobbies in-between the shanking and the group showering like soap on a rope making. In the age of the gamer prisoners must have their fix of console and PC games and even cable television. Why workout and dig elaborate escape tunnels when you can file lawsuits and play D&D?

wizard in jail

Well now at one Wisconsin prison the lawsuits are flying, but not the fireballs. Kevin T. Singer filed a lawsuit against officials at Wisconsin’s Waupun prison after a policy was initiated in 2004 to eradicate all Dungeons and Dragons game materials among concerns that playing it promotes gang-related activity.

The 33-year-old Singer is a devoted player of the fantasy role-playing game that involves recruiting others to play as a group. He argued that his First Amendment rights were being violated and demanded that Dungeons & Dragons material confiscated from his cell be returned.

But the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that the prison’s policy was reasonable.

J.A. Take

Personally I don’t understand how working out with weights is ok and playing D&D is not. I go to the gym, I see some of those guys and it must be ten times worse in prison. However, I have also seen nerd rage so it is possible there could be a hybrid between nerd and prison rage that could become unstoppable.

Gang-related activity that is one of those terms that are used far too often to keep three or more people from gathering, but this is prison and he is a murderer. Maybe they should let them play World of Warcraft. We could give them their own server called the stockades. Could you imagine the AV and Trade channel chat?

Thanks to Boston.com for the story and Youtube for the video.

Command & Conquer 4 Beta going public soon

Command & Conquer 4
Command & Conquer 4

Fans of the RTS can rejoice, EA’s Aaron Kaufman, better known as community manager Apoc, released the following on the C&C twitter page.

“C&C 4 beta will be going PUBLIC very soon, every RTS fan in the world can give CNC 4 MP a test-drive,” Apoc wrote.

That tweet was followed up by another stating that more information would be forthcoming shortly:

“Regarding the C&C 4 Public Beta, it will be done in conjunction with Gamespot, details on our official website this week.”

Command & Conquer 4: Tiberian Twilight is due out on March 16, it has been in closed beta for quite some time with access available to both those who pre-ordered the game and those who guessed the eventual subtitle – Tiberian Twilight – correctly.

The multiplayer beta allowed selected folks to try out the new 5 versus 5 gameplay modes, the new units, the persistent leveling and more. However the beta was restricted to GameSpot’s Total Access members that meant if you wanted in you would have had to fork over the $5.95 monthly fee.

There are more than a few members of the Obsolete gamer staff looking forward to this and we will have a review up soon. For more news and information on C&C 4, check out the official site here.

The Death of Customer Service – The new Lemon law

lemon law computer
lemon law computer

We all know whether we buy a two hundred dollar notebook or a seven thousand dollar gaming system we expect a product that works as advertised. Often in my time working with computers I have heard people refer to computers that experience issues time and again as lemons. Lemon laws are American state laws that provide a remedy for purchasers of cars that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance.

It is understandable that a person experiencing multiple failures could believe their computer is just a lemon and should be completely replaced. More often than not however, you will find that an entire computer is not a lemon. Perhaps a specific part or a combination of parts can lead to repeated issues, but if those parts are replaced or exchanged the issue will go away.

In this day and age the lemon is not with the computer, but the company it was sold from. It is one thing to have issues with a system, but receive first class service from day one and it is entirely another to receive good service at the start, but receive increasingly bad service during the life of your warranty and beyond.

When a computer company is formed the number one goal should be customer service. It should be the best it can be and remain consistent day after day, year after year. Computer issues can arise from many different areas from hardware, to software. Just surfing the internet can produce errors that will make you want to tear your hair out, but if you are able to call your computer company service line and get honest, helpful answers from them it makes the overall experience more tolerable.

The true lemon comes when there is a lapse in a company’s customer and technical service. This can happen for many reasons, but it mainly does due to the business model that if a department is not bringing in revenue it is not as important. When companies tighten their belts it is not the belts of the CEO’s or shareholders that get tightened, it is the belts of the customer and technical service personnel.

When this happens staffing is cut and personnel becomes overworked which can and usually does lead to lower quality and performance. In addition when new workers are added to fill positions due to large turnover rates, training is cut and lower skilled workers are accepted to match the lowered pay grade. Combined with overseas outsourcing and merging of departments and divisions, the once five star support you use to receive can quickly become two star or less.

With three to five year computer warranties being offered customers should expect the same level of quality throughout the life of their warranty and beyond. If a company changes its practices or policies which results in lower quality support the customer should be compensated. In a perfect world a company would do everything in its power to insure that their customers do not experience a drop in service no matter how long the company has been operating.

Unfortunately, as many companies grow larger and merge together the added money and personnel does not translate to improved support. On the contrary, it has been shown many times in and outside the world of computers that when this happens the first noticeable difference is a drop in customer satisfaction.

There are of course exceptions, companies that have grown or come together and made it a goal to improve service. This should not be an exception, but a norm. Just as a customer expect a product to keep a high level of performance so should they of the support behind it.

Over the next few weeks I will be showcasing examples of high and low end customer service in the world of the personal computer. My hope is to shed some light on the companies that turn their back on their customers and applaud the ones that don’t because I refuse to sit by and watch the slow painful death of customer service.

Free Stuff – Kingdom of Loathing

Kingdom of Loathing ... moxie baby YEAH!!!!
Kingdom of Loathing … moxie baby YEAH!!!!

Kingdom of Loathing is the ultimate play at work FREE MMO! The game is web based and it’s a total trip. The money system in the game consists of MEAT. The crafting system is basically making real alcoholic drinks and you gain bonuses by getting liquored up. The graphics are stick figures and drawings that are like made by little kids but what can you expect for FREE, ya cheap bastard! You can play the game at the following link: http://www.kingdomofloathing.com

DiRT

Dirt cover
Dirt cover

DiRT review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“One of the best rally racing games out there.”

 

 

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

 

Overview:

This is the 6th game in the Colin McRae Rally series. Colin McRae was a world champion in rally racing and he passed away in a helicopter accident. Both DiRT 1 and 2 are made in his honor.

Back to the game, DiRT is a refinement of the previous Colin McRae Rally games. There are many different styles of racing available, all off-road. You have traditional Rally, where you race alone with your copilot/navigator that is giving you instructions as to how much distance you have until the next turn and the severity of the turn. You have Hill Climb, which is the same thing, only that you are alone without a navigator, so it’s harder if you don’t know the course. There is a mode where you race on a racetrack with about 7 other racers at the same time, whether in super rally cars or buggies or pickups or SUVs. A neat mode is one called Cross over where you race a track composed of two tracks and you alternate with your rival through a cross over section. The races either consist of who can get the best total lowest time or who can get first place at any cost.

The game has a damage engine, which is relatively realistic (compared to most other racing games). If you damage your transmission, your car will have problems shifting. Damage the cooling system and you risk blowing the engine from overheating. Turbo cars that damage the turbo will suffer a performance hit, and so on. Damage really comes into effect when you play a 3 stage or higher Rally mode race where you will have a chance to repair your car at the end of the 2nd race. You have a finite time to do repairs so it’s better to take care of the most critical damages first. If you don’t know about car mechanics the game has a help system in which two of your team mates will give you a description of real life effects of having damage on real systems. I wish they would have implemented a more severe damage system that makes you rely on having a good team of mechanics and implemented a mini game of managing your employees, but that’s not the case.

DiRT has most legendary Rally cars of recent years and classic cars as well. You will find the Lancia Stratos and the Fiat 131 Abarth as well, as well as the special Colin McRae Ford Escort and the Subaru 1995 Impresa, which he also used to become a legend in. Apart from countless Fiat, Peugeot, Suzuki cars, you will also find the classic Subaru Impreza and the old (and better) Mitsubishi Evo rally cars. The game has some fun cars such as the racing semi-trucks and the 1000-1500 horsepower Toyota racing pickup as well as some old prototype rally cars which are simply amazing. In this sense DiRT 1 is better than DiRT 2.

As far as that comparison goes, DiRT 1 has a LOT more real life tracks compared to DiRT 2, which was a disappointment to me when I got part 2. You will find yourself racing famous tracks in Spain, England, France, and classic Rally trails in Japan and Germany. Of course, DiRT also includes Pikes Peak, one of the best Rally/Hill Climb courses in the world of off-roading.

DiRT has most of the rally world racing personalities racing against you but for the most part they are just names, other than specific people having the tendency to win over others. DiRT 2 added voices and little popup portraits that interact with you as you race with them.

I would say get DiRT 1 if you want more of a classic rally experience.

The game has a multiplayer mode, whether to play via LAN or online. I played it online when the game first came out, but when I replayed it in 2009-2010, it doesn’t work for me anymore, making me think that it has been discontinued in favor of allotting gaming servers for players of DiRT 2 instead.

The game doesn’t let you mod cars, as these are race cars, not street racers. You mainly buy other cars and liveries (think of them as skins) for them. It’s nice to eventually get all cars added to your garage and it’s also interesting that they included the history of the cars, which get narrated to you by your team mates.

DiRT is available on PC, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3.

Fun Factor:

I always enjoy most racing games as I enjoy racing fast cars in real life, whether on a desolate road, off-roading, or around a real race track (go-karts and similar stuff too!). DiRT will test your reflexes and you will be thoroughly entertained if you enjoy taking a car to its limits and keeping it together in one piece. Some game modes are more enjoyable than others and depending on what kind of challenge you want, you can just focus on those (although sometimes you are forced to do specific races to complete the career mode ladder). Overall, DiRT is a fun experience. Fun Factor gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

The game allows you to adjust the difficulty through 5 different settings per race, and you will get audio ques if you are doing too well since it is too easy or it will advice you to lower it if you keep losing. If you are a pro at racing games, you will want to play it at the top or 2nd from the top difficulty, always. Since you can keep adjusting it, you can just variate it from race to race depending on how bad you want to win or how bad you want to make the challenge for you.

What I like about the physics of this game is that it actually takes very well into account the traction and suspension system of the car you are using. Knowing your car will make a huge difference in determining which one to use for the courses you are competing on. You can always make it harder for yourself if you want to artificially manipulate the difficulty for you by selecting a car with crappy suspension AND high horsepower to weight ration for a bumpy track and you will be fighting for your life to control that monster.

Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 10 out of 10.

 

 

Value:

You can get DiRT through Steam for $20. Considering how short the game is, I wouldn’t recommend getting it for that price, although you can sometimes pick it up on there for half off. When Dirt 2 came out they were giving you Dirt 1 for $2.

You can pick up DiRT for $15 through gogamer.com which is a much better buy. You can get the PS3 version from then for $19 as of the time of this writing. You can check out all the versions of DiRT from gogamer at the following link: http://www.gogamer.com/searchresults.htm?keywords=dirt&categoryId=&x=0&y=0

ebgames.com has the Xbox 360 version for $20 as well.

I would say pick up the game for sure if it’s around $10. Maybe like around $15. Otherwise, unless you LOVE rally racing, it might not be worth the money, and if you were to spend more money most people would just opt out to buy DiRT 2 instead. Value gets a score of 6 out of 10.

Replayability:

I’ve played the campaign for this game three times through and the game is still fun to me. I love most of the cars in the game and I don’t really mind that this is now becoming an old racing game, since it was great from the start.

I’ve memorized most of the tracks in the game which make the game much easier for me (this is a tactic to be employed in all racing games, if you want to dominate). The tracks are classic though and some of you will find them in other racing games as well. The tracks feel realistic as to their layout, so I enjoy racing them over and over.

Although I have DiRT 2, I find myself playing DiRT 1 more. It’s a nice game to load up once in a while if you feel like getting your car dirty! Replayability gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Sound:

The sound in this game is simply brilliant. The cars do sound like real off-road race cars and you will hear the crackle of the engine as you floor the living hell out of your car. The ground and dirt pebbles sound wonderful and real if you have ever gone off-roading in real life. Even hitting a tree or rock at a high speed sounds “wonderful” (although your car will perish… sometimes). Sound surely gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

Like other Codemasters racing games, music is basically absent during racing, which I assume is done on purpose so that you can focus on racing and not grooving. I wish they would incorporate a an option to have it be interactive music (like Need For Speed 2 had) or have it be persistent as well. You mainly only get the hear constant music in the menu, which has a great song, and after each race with like victory music, which is nice itself. Music gets a score of 6 out of 10. The songs are GREAT but they are sparse.

Graphics:

This game might be “old” now but it sure is eye candy. Although I’ve also played part 2 and GRID, and this game came out first, sometimes I find myself staring at the background and it seems like as if you are almost racing in the real location (in some instances). Codemasters are real code masters when it comes to making the best looking, fastest running game possible. Graphics get a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game used to hang up for me while loading rarely when the game originally came out. The latest patch/build makes this hardly ever happen though, which helps in this category.

The problem I have is that there is a lag problem, which I still believe is linked to the cheat prevention system the Codemasters games have which will make the game lag sometimes randomly, usually the faster you are going. This happens sometimes and this is sort of like a killer to have in a racing game. For DiRT often when this happens, the game will lag and then speed up to catch up with the action which can be dangerous, especially when racing. Since that bug is annoying, it hurts the game in this sense. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 6 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls for the PC version are fairly standard, using the arrow keys to drive. You can remap the controls to your liking so that you get a better interface if you are so inclined. I usually map my brakes to the letter Z. I like to drive with both feet in real life, even in an automatic car to have direct control over the brakes, for me the most important part of real racing. Because you set your own controls, if you don’t like the defaults, and they are responsive, Controls get a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

The game runs great for the most part but it does have the annoying lag bug I have discussed above. I’ve played this game on 3 computers, each one faster than the previous one. It ran pretty well on all of them, even when it first came out. Performance gets a score of 7 out of 10, mainly because of the lag bug.

My history with this game:

I thought I’d give this game a try since so many games had come out that were great of the Colin McRae Rally series. I played the first one and I thought it was great for its time. This game follows that tradition.

I’m a fan of Codemasters racing games. I always buy their stuff, no matter what (when it comes to racing games, YES). I’m looking forward to them making DiRT 3 and Grid 2.

I enjoy how they release their racing games for PC and also for consoles. I see that they are basically developing for console, but that’s where the money is for racing games, the ones that sell. Sure you have a lot of enthusiasts solely using PCs for simulator racing games but the number of people who do that is very small compared to the number of people who will have a PS3 or Xbox 360 and will play games like DiRT, Grid, Grand Turismo, Need For Speed, Burnout, and some others. The only part that bothers me sometimes is that the PC version comes out 4-6 months later, which is annoying. I hope they come out with both console versions and PC versions pretty close to each other in the coming future.

Psychonauts for sale on Steam for only $2

Psychonauts cover
Psychonauts cover

Psychonauts for sale on Steam for only $2

Psychonauts, Tim Schafer’s best game, only for $2 through Steam! This is one of the best platformer/puzzle games ever made. It’s one of my favorites! Must have!!!!!!

The link to get it is the following: http://store.steampowered.com/app/3830/

Phantasy Star Universe to close English PC/PS2 Servers

Phantasy Star Universe
Phantasy Star Universe

Last week General Manager Edward Sega announced that the Playstation 2 and PC servers for the English version of PSU will be closing on March 31st 2010.

On the PSU official forums he added:

“SEGA would like to extend its sincere thanks to those who have played on the PC/PS2 servers over the past several years. The final update for PC/PS2 servers will be this January 29th, 2010, which will start the long-awaited MAG+ event. This event will receive the same updates & web support as the event on the Xbox 360 servers.

Please note that after January 29th 2010, no new PSU subscriptions will be available for purchase for PC/PS2. Those who are subscribed as of that time will be able to play, for free, until service closure.”

Those that still play PSU on the Xbox 360 will continue to receive support with regular updates including previously unreleased content.

The schedule is as follows:

• January 29th 2010: MAG+ event begins for PC/PS2 and Xbox 360 servers.

• January 29th 2010: No new PC/PS2 PSU subscriptions will be available for purchase.

• January 29th 2010: Free play for PC/PS2 PSU begins. No more billing cycles will take place on or after this date.

• March 31st 2010: PC/PS2 servers / service closure, the PlayStation2 and PC versions of Phantasy Star Universe online play will not be available after this date, however, please continue to enjoy the Single Player version of the game.

This was a game I enjoyed since the Dreamcast and though it lives on with the 360 it is sad to see it go.

RIP English PC/PS2 PSU

October 24, 2006 – March 31, 2010

Steam Sale – Company of Heroes for $12.49

Company of Heroes header
Company of Heroes header

Steam Sale – Company of Heroes for $12.49

One of our favorite and hardest RTS games, Company of Heroes is on sale this weekend through Steam for only $12.49. The link to buy it is: http://store.steampowered.com/sub/1529/

You get the original game and both expansion packs included. They would all regularly sell for a combined price of $50.

Company of Heroes All Heroes Rise OST

Company of Heroes All Heroes Rise OST
Company of Heroes All Heroes Rise OST

Free Stuff – Company of Heroes All Heroes Rise OST

Here is more epic war music from one of THQ’s best war games, Company of Heroes! This music is so great you can even play it while playing other games as well because it’s so tense and powerful. You can download the entire soundtrack for the game here at this link: CoH All Heroes Rise OST

Company of Heroes Songs From The Front OST

Company of Heroes Songs From The Front OST
Company of Heroes Songs From The Front OST

Free Stuff – Company of Heroes Songs From The Front OST

If you love war music and music that is similar to Dawn of War music then you will love the music of CoH Songs From The Front. This sound track is pretty epic, as is the game! You can download this entire soundtrack for free from this link: CoH Songs From The Front

Heavy Weapon (Atomic Tank) review

Heavy Weapon Atomic Tank!
Heavy Weapon Atomic Tank!

Heavy Weapon (Atomic Tank) review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The return of Silkworm!”

Overall Score:
8 out of 10

Overview:

The first thing that I thought of when I first played this game was that it was based on Silkworm (the mode where you play the jeep). This game takes that action but multiplies it by a factor of 20.

You take the role of the Atomic Tank, the free world’s last hope versus the red scare. The Ruskies/Commies took over most of the world and the only hope for the Americans is for you to blitz their countries in an alternate reality kind of Red Dawn kind of way and blow their home armies to smithereens.

The game is really simple. You are a tank with unlimited ammo finding a horde of helicopters, other land vehicles, fighters, bombers, blimps, killer satellites, and BOSSES. This is a traditional arcade game in every sense.

You get upgrades depending on the game mode and some on the go such as faster movement speed, faster rate of fire for the main cannon, higher DPS, and spread shot upgrades. You get on the field upgrades via white helicopters that drop them for you (which you’re not supposed to kill). The two special weapons are the mega laser and the nuke. The mega laser comes in 4 parts, being dropped after you killed a good amount of enemies. You need to catch the drops before they hit the ground (for the mega laser only) or else they shatter on the ground. Once you get that puppy built you basically scorch ANYTHING they send or shoot against you. The nuke is like your holy grail weapon. You simply activate it and everything on the screen that’s a hostile simply evaporates (even bullets, missiles, and energy balls). Regarding big upgrades they are: a defensive sphere that takes hits for you, a guided missile, a laser cannon upgrade (the best), unguided rockets (2nd best), flak cannon, and homing bouncing lightning (3rd best). There are 3 levels of upgrades for each.

Other than skill keeping you alive, your tank has an energy shield that comes in red, yellow, green, indicating how strong the shield is. Each strength takes one full hit of a weapon for you. Once your shield is gone if you get hit once by anything, say goodnight.

There are two game modes, Campaign and Survival. Campaign consists of playing though 19 different missions (half of them recycle only MUCH harder), with a boss at the end of each, and an upgrade you get to pick (and can respec later if needed) awarded after the boss is dead and the stage is over. You get 3 total lives in Campaign mode and the game saves automatically at the end of the last stage you beat. You can respec your tank build should you need to before replaying the last stage that got you killed. Survival starts you out with a pea shooter and you simply must survive as long as possible while collecting upgrades.

Heavy Weapon (Atomic Tank) is available on PC, PS 3, and Xbox 360.

The following is a video of the first two levels to the campaign game being played:

Fun Factor:

This game is a ton of fun to play because it keeps your attention going as you try to evade enemy weapon fire and focus on unleashed barrages of heavy anti-aircraft fire worth of utter destruction. It’s still simple enough of a game that you can still play it while sleepy and the game will actually probably wake you up or maybe frustrate you (for some players).

This is my kind of arcade game and it reminds me a lot of playing games on c64, amiga, the NES, and SNES. Not only does it remind me of Silkworm but a little bit of Master Blaster from the NES.

Arcade games are fun. Really good arcade games are a TON of fun. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10 from me.

Difficulty Versatility:

In Heavy Weapon, there is no way to set the difficulty. For the campaign game, for the 19 missions, you will get hard and easy missions depending on how you have your atomic tank specced out and whether the mission itself is hard or not and whether the boss is a cakewalk or a real challenge. The survival mode will continue to get harder no matter what, the longer you survive.

Overall, this game is quite challenging and it took me about a week playing the game on and off to beat the campaign game. The survival mode is the mode I play the most now and it is the most challenging since they make you start with no upgrades and upgrade drops are random. Overall, the Difficulty Versatility of this game gets a 7 out of 10.

Value:

If you get the game from the Popcap games website they sell it for $20, which is not the best price. You can get it via Steam for $10 and that’s totally worth the price of admission, to me. The link to the Steam version is: http://store.steampowered.com/app/3410/

The console versions sell about the same price via their stores. For $10, an arcade game with a good replayability that IS fun, and many many hours of game play, you can’t go wrong. I give Value a score of 9 out of 10.

Replayability:

The campaign mode can get easy, especially if you have beat it already. One basically learns all the attack patterns and spawn combinations for groups of enemies and after countless times of dying, you already know how to counter most attacks. The game still does require pure gaming skill. That mode is still worth checking out for its fun factor and the upgrades you get at the end of each level.

Survival mode is a blast if you want to see if you are making any development as far as your skill goes as the game keeps track via a highscore table your top 10 longest survival times (time, not score matters here).

Heavy Weapon is a easy game to pick up and drop so it is highly replayable if you like old skool arcade style games. I give Replayability a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

This is certainly a game where if you put the volume all the way up, you will probably play better. There are so many audio ques you can get of oncoming attacks that you want to be warned and the explosions get addictive. All the sound effects are great! Even the announcer that sounds like an old 80s arcade game gives the game a retro feel that’s classic!

If you want to have a real treat keep playing the game collecting the parts for the mega laser. The sound of hearing it fry any target instantly and seeing them just pop is simply amazing! Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

The game has a a limited number of songs. The main menu has a fake 80s hairband rock ballad that sounds real but so cheesy. I still love it. The main song sounds like a military march and it has a good beat and keeps a great mood going of “the commies are coming!” The rest of the music in the game are short tunes but they keep the atmosphere of the game constant. It just wants to make you play the game even more. Music gets a score of 8 out of 10 simply because of the lack of more music. What’s there is great though!

Graphics:

This is a budget title so you shouldn’t expect much but I found the art of the game really neat, especially all the fake Stalin statues in the background. The graphics are really neat and kind of remind me of playing Project X and Disposable Hero on the Amiga. It seems like a lot of love was put into this game based on how humorous some of the graphics are. I give Graphics a score of 10 out of 10 for what the game is.

Stability/Reliability:

I’ve never had any crashes with the game, not even while ALT-TABbing via the PC version. The game is SOLID. Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

For the PC version, the controls get some getting used to, at least at first. They are simple but some of that simplicity can get you killed. Basically, the tank will move in the direction you have the mouse pointed at. Left mouse button shoots and the only other button is the right mouse button for the nuke.

Because the tank will move towards where you are shooting (especially annoying when you have the flak cannon upgrade which will blow up around the cursor only), you need to be careful that the tank is not driving towards oncoming enemy projectiles or that it doesn’t ram any of the enemies that instakill you.

The controls are simple but they make the game challenging. That can be kind of fun but some people will find it annoying. I give Controls a score of 6 out of 10.

Performance:

This game runs perfectly on any PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. I’ve only had it lag slightly while running about 10 programs in the background but it hardly ever happens. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I first played this game when we were at my friend Frank’s house and we downloaded the demo via the PS3 Store just to check out some new games. We played the living crap out of the demo, and even that was fun. When I found that they were selling this on Steam I didn’t hesitate to buy it on the spot since I remember how challenging the demo was. I’ve been playing this game for about 2 months and I still find it entertaining.

Free Stuff – Hamachi, virtual LAN VPN program

hamachi
hamachi

If you need a free program that lets you play games online with your friends as if it were a LAN then Hamachi is the program you are looking for. This is very useful because there are games that play better over a LAN and many old games DO NOT support internet play but they do support LAN play.

The program creates an additional network device/layer with its own IP address that you can share with you friends and invite them to join your network session almost as inviting them to a game/chat room (slightly more complicated but it’s the same concept almost).

You can download Hamachi here: https://secure.logmein.com/US/products/hamachi2/default.aspx

Obscure Gamer – Refinement

Hollywood does it all the time – take an old movie from one or two generations ago, cast young actors, hype the remake and put out something that is vaguely satisfying. Unfortunately the video game industry appears to be heading down this track too.

There is a balance to be struck between revisiting old ideas and producing something fresh. Pac-Man Championship Edition was a success because it did not stray too far from the original but did have one or two new ideas thoughtfully put into it.

Another good way to gain a new audience or prepare them for a forthcoming game is to remake the last one. The God of War Collection on PS3 makes some sense, at least commercially. Here is the chance for gamers to try out the first two before the final part of the trilogy lands, and all in blood-curdling High Definition.

But all too often the ideas we see revisited and refined are not groundbreaking. For the last couple of years the “cover” system has been added to so many games it is just not funny. And the FPS genre has been particularly stale, degenerating into repetitive takes on the same basic premise. World War II and now modern conflicts have been picked over and reinvented countless times.

2010 seems to be promising more of the same. Medal of Honour is going all out for Modern Warfare’s audience. The Dubai setting and moving sand at least give The Line from Germany company Yager an interesting selling point. And I won’t even mention the stream of God of War-style games that are threatening to swamp players in the first quarter – Darksiders, Dante’s Inferno and more.

Let’s hope the audience is not blinkered to new ideas. Team Ico are on the way with PS3 exclusive The Last Guardian, David Cage’s Heavy Rain (also on PS3) has a lot of promise and Armanita Design’s beautifully put together point & click puzzler Machinarium will be getting a boxed retail release in the UK. Suda51 returns with the sequel to No More Heroes on the Wii and a HD remake for the bonkers original.

So in 2013 when you are all playing Gears of Uncharted Warfare 5, I hope there will still be an alternative for people who don’t want to stare down the barrel of a gun and bad-mouth their opponents while hiding behind realistically textured rubble.

Refinement

Video-Game-Remakes

Hollywood does it all the time – take an old movie from one or two generations ago, cast young actors, hype the remake and put out something that is vaguely satisfying. Unfortunately the video game industry appears to be heading down this track too.

There is a balance to be struck between revisiting old ideas and producing something fresh. Pac-Man Championship Edition was a success because it did not stray too far from the original but did have one or two new ideas thoughtfully put into it.

Another good way to gain a new audience or prepare them for a forthcoming game is to remake the last one. The God of War Collection on PS3 makes some sense, at least commercially. Here is the chance for gamers to try out the first two before the final part of the trilogy lands, and all in blood-curdling High Definition.

But all too often the ideas we see revisited and refined are not groundbreaking. For the last couple of years the “cover” system has been added to so many games it is just not funny. And the FPS genre has been particularly stale, degenerating into repetitive takes on the same basic premise. World War II and now modern conflicts have been picked over and reinvented countless times.

2010 seems to be promising more of the same. Medal of Honour is going all out for Modern Warfare’s audience. The Dubai setting and moving sand at least give The Line from Germany company Yager an interesting selling point. And I won’t even mention the stream of God of War-style games that are threatening to swamp players in the first quarter – Darksiders, Dante’s Inferno and more.

Let’s hope the audience is not blinkered to new ideas. Team Ico are on the way with PS3 exclusive The Last Guardian, David Cage’s Heavy Rain (also on PS3) has a lot of promise and Armanita Design’s beautifully put together point & click puzzler Machinarium will be getting a boxed retail release in the UK. Suda51 returns with the sequel to No More Heroes on the Wii and a HD remake for the bonkers original.

So in 2013 when you are all playing Gears of Uncharted Warfare 5, I hope there will still be an alternative for people who don’t want to stare down the barrel of a gun and bad-mouth their opponents while hiding behind realistically textured rubble.

Building versus Buying PCs – The great debate

custom computer vs bought computer
custom vs bought PC

Building versus Buying PCs – The great debate by J.A. Laraque

When you get right down to it, the two main factors that come into play when deciding to build or buy a gaming PC is, costs versus time and service versus support. Normally when a gamer reaches the level where he or she has the skill and knowhow to build a PC it becomes a no-brainer in their eyes what to do. If one can search the internet for the best deals and build their own system, then it is all in their hands.

The question is asked; why pay for something I can do myself? It is a valid question and when you read more and more about how many computer companies are outsourcing their support and their service quality level continues to nose dive. Anyone is completely justified to ask themselves, what am I paying for?

Would there be resistance to buying versus building be lessened if top level service is provided from day one? Many who care a great deal about their car may spend hours maintaining it themselves. However, if they can take their car to a place where it will receive the same care as they provide then not only is it worth the cost, but the time you save is also of great value.

Too many computer companies have lost their perspective. They forget that PC stands for personal computer. A computer, for many, is much more than a tool; it is part of their daily life. To return to the car analogy, it is not just to get from point A to point B, it is the journey. When you call yourself a custom computer gaming company it should mean that you understand gamers who want a custom PC and who want to feel they have gotten what they paid for.

If you provide the best support from a support staff that understands their customer’s needs then people, even in tough economic times, will spend the money on a product they know the company they bought it from will stand by.

In the end a person’s budget will make the final decision, but knowing that the company they choose to go with will not only provide them with the system they want, but the service they demand then going the extra step in not a leap of faith, but a wise investment.

You cannot expect someone to pay for an elite system and not receive elite support. It is not just about lights and a paint job. It is more than processing and video power. Elite goes beyond the hardware and software and a company that truly understands that will earn the respect and hard earned money of the price savvy gamer.

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved

Geometry Wars in game screenshot
Geometry Wars in game screenshot

Geometry Wars Retro Evolved review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The return and revenge of classic arcade games.”

 

 

Overall Score:

10 out of 10

 

Overview:

Back in the 80s, people would usually flock to arcades to see what new hard arcade games would come out and they would try to see who could get the highest score in their neighborhood. Arcade games were really hard back then since they were designed for you to keep dropping in quarters in order to keep playing in order to try to beat your friends’ scores. Continues? Never heard of that! Those days are gone but now thanks to games like this one, the challenge from those games has returned.

This game needs no storyline.You’re a spaceship/triangle and you’re trying to survive for as long as you can. You move around and shoot with endless enemies coming for you at all times. If anything touches you, you die. It’s that simple. After 10000 points, your fire modes alternate from rapid fire to a more concentrated but slower attack. You have no control over this. The only special thing that can save you when you’re really screwed is the nukes you get, in limited numbers. The game awards you with extra lives, nukes when you reach a specific score point (and multiples of that score amount).

The longer you live and the more/faster you kill, the higher your score multiplier will be. When you die, you lose a life and ALL your score multiplier. Basically, try to never die because as you have a high multiplier if you are really good you will reach a point where if you manage to stay alive you will get a 1-up/nuke much faster, but most people will not get to see that point in the game.

There are different kinds of enemies each with their own attack style pattern. The most basic enemy, a star just comes at you in a linear path, so they’re usually easy to dispatch. There is a diamond shape one that does about the same only that they spawn in groups. There is a green square cowardly one that will stay away from whatever direction you’re shooting in, will try to go around you to tag (kill) you. There is a pink one that when you kill will spawn two smaller enemies that will go kamikaze for you in a circular pattern. You have a snake one (I call them sperm) that you can only kill by shooting the head off. There is a black hole enemy that eats other enemies and also draws you in via gravity, but the best attack is also has is spitting out really fast seeker enemies when it ate until it burst. There is also a red version of you enemy that tries to ram you and has a forward facing shield (forcing you to trick it and shoot it in the back). The deadliest enemy is the smallest, taking form in a pack of “snow” that you have to shoot endlessly to try to hold back.

Geometry Wars is available for PC, Xbox 360, and also for Nintendo Wii and DS.

Fun Factor:

This game is really unforgiving. Enemies constantly keep spawning, sometimes on top of you, so that you need to keep moving at all times and alert every single second. Usually, the faster you kill enemies the faster you will have to deal with the next wave of enemies. Later on, the game will spawn more than one batch at a time, usually of different kinds of enemies that complement each other.

Here is an example of how insane this game is and how ridiculous the gameplay and your nerves will get:

The game is a pure adrenaline injection into your heart. Fun Factor is a 10 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

This game is really hard for 99.9% of all people. The longer you play Geometry Wars, the harder it gets, no matter what. You are doomed from the start as the game has no end until you run out of lives. The difficulty is simple for about the first 2-3 minutes and then you will start to see it grow at a geometric rate.

This is not a game for a casual gamer, but then again hard arcade games aren’t either. If you’re like me and like hard game, this game is going to be a favorite. You can’t change the difficulty… the game does it for you! Difficulty Versatility gets a 10 out of 10.

Value:

For the Xbox 360, you can just get it from the Xbox Marketplace for a few dollars. For the PC, the game costs $4 via Steam. The link to get Geometry Wars via Steam is the following: http://store.steampowered.com/app/8400/

Considering how challenging and fun this game is, the game is of great Value. If you are a fan of classic arcade games and MAME, you need it. Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

Literally, this is a game I play every day, myself.

This game is part of my daily routine of games, when I feel like training myself to build up more/better reflexes. I would usually turn on my computer and play this game until I would reach a minimum high score that I set for myself based on how recent I’ve been playing the game. As soon as I reach that score I let myself go play some other games. It’s part of my gaming “exercise.”

If you get mad at it or sick of it, you can always put it down and come back to it weeks or months later and the charm of the game always returns. Replayability gets a 10 out of 10 from me.

Sound:

All the sound effects are reminiscent of classic 80s arcade games such as Warlords or Sinistar. There are many zapping and electronic kind of sounds that will put a smile on an old gamer’s face. The rapid fire upgrade and the black hole enemy blowing up, as well as the nuke going off are particularly gratifying. Sound gets a score of 10 out of 10.

Music:

The game has a menu song which is pretty relaxing and an in game song that sounds like a mix of early Sega, Nintendo NES, and Amiga game music. Although you will hear this song over and over, it does not get boring or annoying. It fits the theme of the game really well and it will keep your adrenaline in synch with the action, especially if you set the volume of your speakers/headphones up really loud. The action sometimes drowns the music. Music gets a score of 8 out of 10, simply because of the limited selection of music.

Graphics:

Graphically, this game is like a remix of all those retro 80s arcade games you grew up playing. The game is such amazing eye candy that it makes one glad that small games like this are being released, bringing back the spirit of the original arcade, despite the fact that many original arcade games only had rudimentary graphics. “Retro Evolved” … the subtitle was chosen correctly as this is a rebirth/return of the classics.

You shoot enemies and they shatter into a thousand micro pixel vectors. There are so many things on the screen and they all look familiar in a good way (although they all kill y0u in one hit). The game gives one the feeling of holding down the fire buttons just to watch a stream of volleys shatter a cluster of enemies. Graphics get a 1o out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

I used to have an issue with this game and my old graphics card (an ATI 1950 Pro) where it would run out of video memory and freeze up the computer forcing me to reset the whole thing. On my newer gaming PC I’ve pretty much never had this problem, although I remember it might have done it once or twice. Other than that, the game is pretty solid. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 6 out of 10, mainly of how bad the crashes were on some older video cards/systems. The Xbox 360 version has no problems.

Controls:

The controls are really simple. Half your keyboard/game pad moves you around in the obvious direction, the other half makes you shoot in that direction. The only other button you need is the nuke, which is the spacebar for the PC version. ESC key pauses whenever you want.

Combos or special moves aren’t going to keep you alive in this game. Only tactics and pure skill really do make a difference. Controls get a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

This game runs fine on most computers. I’ve seen it lag on some machines that are not necessarily the fastest gaming machines but you’d imagine it would still run fine since it’s a 2D game. The game though does have a lot of action going on at all times. The Xbox version runs perfectly. Overall, Performance gets a score of 8 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I kept hearing about this game from Xbox 360 players, saying how good it is. I decided to pick up the PC version for a few bucks and it was a really good decision.

When I first got Geometry Wars I basically spent 3 days doing nothing but playing it non-stop until my hands hurt. As I said before, I usually play this game daily. It usually can wake me up even more than drinking 2-3 cups of cafe con leche.

There is a sequel for this game and it looks amazing but I don’t yet have an xbox 360. If I get to play it or get my hands on one of those consoles, I can assure you I will get it and review it for you.

Why I can’t stand the Wii

Wii Sucks
Wii Sucks

I completely expect to catch flack for this, but I am tired of being silent. I can’t stand the Wii console from Nintendo. I understand it has some good games like the new Mario, but the hype over the system and the fact that it’s not much more than a glorified accessory machine doesn’t help. We all know it has sold. I was not one who bought one, but I have played it. Now here is my reasoning.

The IMAC for a new generation

Remember the Apple iMac? Everyone had one, it was shown on almost every sitcom, but nobody ever used it. The Wii is the new IMAC, everyone got it because it was new and shiny, but in the end it sits unused like your treadmill.

When it was first released everyone talked about how fun it was. Funny thing is every time someone wanted to play it they were intoxicated on something. I guess the reason is nobody could have that much fun swinging wildly into the air unless you are drunk.

Now most of the people I know who have one have it sitting under a pile of accessories unused. We now play Rock Band when drunk.

Old people like it

You ever heard the saying that something is no longer cool once your parents like it? Now I don’t want to get in trouble with the AARP, but did you know there is a Wii bowling league for senior citizens?

Old Woman Wii
Old Woman Wii

Yes, that ultra hip piece of technology is the favorite plaything for the baby boomers. It narrowly beat out checkers and shuffle board. Wii Tennis has beat out not only Wolf Blitzer from CNN for things to watch after 5pm, but even Matlock gets TIVO’ed so grandpa Joe can get in a game of Tiger Woods-free Wii golf.

I have this thing called an Emulator

You know what is the number one response when I insult the Wii? “We’ll you can play old games like Excite Bike” Oh really? Well, it’s not like I ever had a chance to play that since ’85. I guess people never heard of something called M.A.M.E. or ZNES. Perhaps I am not supposed to speak about those to the public, kind of like Fight Club.

Even the so called new games like the sports pack are nothing more than glorified Yahoo games with an add-on so you can chuck hard plastic at your television.

Thanks to Dumpbase.net for the video

Hey Wii, the Game Cube called it, wants its graphics back!

Worst yet it reminds me of the console wars back in the Sega, Nintendo days except this time it’s PS3 and XBOX 360 fighting it out and the Wii getting the scraps. My question is how many Mario games can you look forward too? I love Mario, but damn. Speaking of Mario, is it just me or is it an abomination to see Sonic and Mario together in a game? I liked the back and forth of which was the better franchise. It’s like Coke and Pepsi coming out with a drink together. Well Coke tried that with New Coke and you remember what happened there.

Wii
Wii

My opinion doesn’t count

Nintendo could care less with the cash it is raking in and in the age of the ipod we know people like overpriced pretty colored devices so the Wii fits in perfectly. Between the Everybody Votes channel and the Mii’s Nintendo has the winning combination for our American Idol’d world. All Nintendo has to do now is add Farmville to the Wii and the final sign of the apocalypse will be upon us.

Happy Gaming!

Aztec Challenge (c64) review

Aztec Challenge Box
Aztec Challenge Box

Aztec Challenge (c64) review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“Apocalypto, the game”

 

 

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

 

Overview:

You take the role as an Aztec going through the worst trials possible (everything you touch kills you instantly), trying to survive to become the new ruler of the Aztecs. There are different stages composing of different run, jump, duck, cover, timing puzzles and reaction tests. The game mainly is a reflex game of reacting correctly to the environment.

You can play the game single player or two player, alternating in between players to give you a bit of rest from the tension this game gives you. Everything kills you in one hit so you will find yourself grabbing your head saying “I can’t believe that shit just happened!”

The music for the game is interactive (one of the first games that had this, other than Forbidden Forest, also by Paul Norman). Look below for an extensive look at the music.

When I saw in the movie Apocalypto the scene where they are in the Aztec capital and they are throwing spears at the main characters, I immediately though of Aztec Challenge! (check out that great movie if you haven’t already done so)

The original game came out on Atari, later on the c64 (this review), on to an Amiga port, and there is a PC remake as well.

 

 

Fun Factor:

Everything kills you in this game, so you need to pay attention at all times. Tension is always existent and then entire game feels like a gauntlet.

This is a video showing a full playthrough of all the stages in the c64 version:

I always find the unforgiving kill factor a lot of fun, every time I play this game. This game has a Fun Factor of 9 out of 10.

 

 

Difficulty Versatility:

The game keeps getting harder after you beat it each time. All the stages recycles per playthrough and that’s where the challenge lies for me. Some stages are really easy and others are extremely hard. You can’t set the difficulty from the start but the game is hard enough for most people. In the later playthroughs the game is simple ridiculously hard. Difficulty Versatility gets a 5 out of 10 because you’re forced to start out on “easy”.

 

 

Value:

Since the game came out so long ago, it’s mainly available through emulation, therefore free. The full game can be downloaded here: http://www.c64.com/games/download.php?id=338

Just fire up your favorite c64 emulator and load the D64 file.

If you’re a c64 collector, it’s very likely you already have this game in your software collection. Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

 

 

Replayability:

The game gets repetitive but considerably harder the longer you replay it in one sitting. If you like a challenge then the game is worth replaying often. Others might find themselves bored. Replayability gets a 6 out of 10.

 

 

Sound:

The sound effects are pretty average. Some stages have no sound effects, with the only noise you hear being the interactive music in the background. The best sound in the game is in the swimming stage when you die, the noise of the piranhas eating you. Because of the sparse lack of sound effects in most stages, Sound gets a score of 4 out of 10.

 

 

Music:

The music is what everybody always remembers from this game. It sounds like tribal techno and it changes depending on how well you are progressing in a stage. It also starts out with a thump thump which reminds me of a heart beat and a little bit of the beginning part of Queen – Flash Gordon.

The music for Aztec Challenge is so great that it’s often remixed by the c64 remix scene. Here is one of my favorite clips from the Press Play On Tape metal version:

Here is another video with a more techno version:

As you can hear, the music for this game is pretty epic and one of the most remembered songs for the c64. Music gets a 10 out of 10.

 

 

Graphics:

The Graphics are rather simple but this is an early c64 game. For its time the graphics were pretty impressive vs other c64 games. I like the variety of different environments that they included for the game, although some of the stages are rather spartan. The most impressive graphically are the first stage, with you running to the pyramid, and the last one where you run across a broken bridge in between two mountains. I give Graphics an 8 out of 10.

 

 

Stability/Reliability:

C64’s don’t crash unless running poorly cracked games. I’ve never seen a bad copy of Aztec Challenge. There are also no bugs or parts in the game where you can’t continue. Stability/Reliability get a 10 out of 10.

 

 

Controls:

Basic and obvious joystick controls. The fire button usually either makes you jump for some of the stages. Some stages have different kinds of jumps that vary in height/length. These are done by pushing the joystick different directions to vary the jump. In the traps stage, you press the fire button to stop running and up to jump. In the piranha stage, you press the fire button to dive for a few seconds, to prevent being eaten alive. Controls get a 7 out of 10 because the game doesn’t explain in game what you need to do and you might die the first time playing.

 

 

Performance:

There is no lag on the original c64 nor the emulators on any modern PC. Performance gets a score of 10 out of 10.

 

 

My history with this game:

This is a game from my childhood that has always blown my mind. I’ve probably played over 120 hours of this game as a child, maybe more. This is the game my cousins, friends, and I would fire up when somebody used to claim c64 games were easy.

I’ve played it many times, when I was younger, simply to hear the music. It’s not the most relaxing game but I do enjoy a good challenge so sometimes I want to fire it up to put my nerves other the edge. Give it a go and see how far you can go before getting the game over screen.

 

Max Payne

Max Payne is coming
Max Payne is coming

Max Payne review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“One of the grandfathers of pulp fiction revenge shooters.”

Overall Score:

10 out of 10

Overview:

When I think of Max Payne 1, I think of the following words: revenge, murder, cliches, bullets, lots of guns, hookers, blow jobs, the ice storm, drugs, junkies, sleaze, New York, porn, conspiracies, evil corporations, bullet time, explosions, pulp fiction, comics, black mail, nothing to lose.

You take the role of Max Payne, a New York detective who has the American Dream, an attractive wife that loves him, a small baby, living in your suburb home. As soon as the game starts these Valkyr (a new drug, sort of like Nuke in Robocop 2) junkies brake into your house and murder both your child and soul mate. After killing them, you sob over their corpses like a helpless child. Soon after that, you transfer into vice work, working deep undercover infiltrating the mafia to get to the source of the drug Valkyr. You have been working doing that for a few years but when you are finally getting some good leads, they kill your partner, the only real person who knows exactly what you were up to and you are framed with his murder. The cops are after you, the mob, and more as you go deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole in a conspiracy that has permanently made you a marked man. You’re Max Payne, you’d had nothing to lose for years now. Time to kill everybody who gets in your way of revenge and your pursuit of the truth. This is what this game is all about. It’s about not giving a fuck and going forward with a gun to the back of your head.

The game has intense action with cut scenes mainly in the form of a pulp fiction styled comic that is brilliant, which reminds me a lot of the darkest Heavy Metal comics. They made a movie for this game, which is a piece of shit. They should have just shot the comics with a few action sequences in between, in the style of the game, and they could have had something that could have rivaled Sin City. Back to the game…

This is an intense 3rd person shooter and it introduced the concept of bullet time into games, taken from the first Matrix movie, which was popular at the time. The game feels like a very gritty Jon Woo film mixed with some aspects from other games such as Sanitarium (the dream sequences are creepy as hell, with Max Payne haunted by the spirits of his dead woman and child). Regarding the dream sequences, you will never forget the blood trail of your child as you run down a haunted corridor, trying to get to your family to save them in time. Too little, too late.

The combat system consists of walking/running/jumping around in 3rd person mode. You heal by taking pain killers (Max Payne gets hurt a lot, get it?) to take the pain away/regenerate flesh. Just pretend that they’re stimpaks from Fallout.

Max Payne was/is a wonderful gaming experience and everybody should at least play it through at least once. The game is art.

Max Payne is available for PC, Xbox, PS2, Mac, and Gameboy Advanced.

Fun Factor:

If you enjoy stuff blowing up and seeing people get shot and fall down using ragdoll physics, then you need to load up Max Payne and empty out some dual ingrams on a squad of goons. The tension of the atmosphere in the game mixed with the comic styled cut scenes, the drama of revenge, the brutal ice storm mixed with everybody out to kill you makes the action adrenaline pumping and that’s a big plus for Fun Factor. Fun Factor gets a 10 out of 10, even with the age of the game.

Difficulty Versatility:

This game is ROUGH. It’s from a time when games were not catered to the masses and you had to be good if you wanted to play a challenging game.

You can only play it on the basic difficulty unless you beat the game already and had that installation on this computer when you are replaying it (or you’re just a masochist). Even to a veteran gamer, you will find yourself quick saving and quick loading OFTEN. The damage you take, even at the basic difficulty, is roughly scaled to the amount that you inflict on enemies and most of the time you’re fighting more than one enemy, so you either need to be a quick gun or rely on bullet time to take them out tactically, but it doesn’t always helps as it won’t stop them from shooting you.

If you want to be a sick puppy, you can always opt out to not ever use bullet time and then the game gets as hard as Mafia (a similar game, except with no bullet time and a harder damage engine). I have beaten the game through like this, although it is very hard.

My recommendation is to keep an alternating save game using two slots and save there manually at the beginning of the level and then quick save/load the rest of the way through until you get to the next level.

Since the game is punishing, but in a good way, but it does not let you pick the most ridiculous difficulties from the start, Max Payne gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Value:

Through Steam you can pick up both Max Payne 1 and 2 for 15 bucks when it’s not on sale and sometimes around 7 dollars when they are. On www.gogamer.com, you can get the console versions ranging from 8-14 dollars. You can pick up the console versions for about 5 dollars on www.ebgames.com. Considering the game will last you a good 8-16 hours the first time you play it or more and how fun it is, Value gets a score of 10 out of 10. This game needs to be in your video game library.

Replayability:

I’ve played Max Payne 1 over 9 times through the years. The comic cut scenes have cliched pulp fiction dialogue but I love it all. I feel Max’s sorrow as he loses his family and becomes a man with nothing to lose. The more you get into the game, the more you feel how he’s becoming a lose cannon. I know every part in this game but because it’s really well made and challenging, I visit this game yearly, as well as part 2. Since part 3 will come out this year, it’s now a great time to replay this game or play it again for the first time and follow it up with part 2 immediately, if possible. Replayability gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Sound:

The voice acting and sound effects for the game are amazing! It will immerse you into the character and you will feel the sleaze of the dark corners of New York throughout most of the game. All the voice actors sounds like professionals. Even the Russian you meet in game sounds pretty authentic.

There are a few parts where sounds will cut off another sound effect which I think is a limitation of sound cards at the time this game was released or simply a limitation of the sound engine/algorhythms the game uses. Sound itself is brilliant but because of that glitch, Sound gets a 9 out of 10.

Music:

The soundtrack to the game is perfect. It varies from the deeply sad main theme to the rock/techno from the heavy battle sequences.

The main theme is both dramatic, orchestral, and a rock ballad. Every time I hear the main song, I automatically remember everything that happened in the game. It’s that good.

The music adds a lot to the atmosphere in this game and it’s well implemented, with moments of silence to build up the tension and moments where the music is well timed like a well done action movie. Music gets a 10 out of 10.

Graphics:

The graphics are now dated, using an older version of DirectX but for it’s time the graphics were astonishing. I remember this games as being one of the first ones that implemented anti-aliasing successfully. The fire and explosions in particular look the greatest. Some scenes in the game will reminds you a lot of New York and some levels in the game will remind you of Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard and also the building battle from the Matrix part 1. Graphics get a 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

Overall, the game almost never crashes or gets stuck loading. The only problems I found were when doing alt-tab and only when running multiple programs in the background, that the game thread got stuck in oblivion/infinity. Basically, don’t alt-tab much if you’re going to play this game, as it’s an action game anyways and you ruin the flow. The physics engine itself might not be the best but it doesn’t detract from the game too much. Overall, Stability/Reliability is a 9 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are well picked for the game, both the PC and console versions. For PC, you move around with WASD, E uses, shift triggers bullet time + jump to cover, space jumps, left mouse button fires, R reloads, right mouse also bullet times. Controls being not too complicated are the key and you will enjoy that combined with the fast action and the different implementations of using the best gun for whatever the situation is. Controls get a 10 out of 10.

Performance:

When this game came out it was a machine killer. Most could run it but when you saw it running on max settings on a faster machine, it put yours to shame. Since it’s been going to be nearly a decade since the game came out, any gaming machine these days will run the game like a dream on the max settings. As a result of that Performance gets a 10 out of 10 in the modern scope, probably a 7 out of 10 if you time travel and play it back in 2001.

My history with this game:

This game is a classic. I remember seeing the screenshots in the late 90s and being completely blown away. Not only of the graphics but the story and also the comic cut scenes. You can tell that they put in the time to make the best game possible and it was worth waiting years for it to come out.

When I first played this game I had recently seen Boondock Saints and I was in the mood for murdering a bunch of criminal scumbags. The action sort of reminds me also of Dirty Harry, the Death Wish movies, and Heat/Ronin.

The gun battles are all epic and the game itself is hard, which is my cup of tea. It always keeps me interested even though I know every part of the game already.

I need part 3 to come out ASAP, so we can continue to live Max Payne’s journey to redemption.

Tomenet: A multiplayer roguelike game review

Tomenet
Tomenet

Tomenet : A multiplayer roguelike game review

One Sentence Review:

Multiplayer version of ToME, a variant of Angband, one of the great roguelike games of our time.

Overall score:

8/10

Overview:

Tomenet is a multiplayer roguelike game that originated as a variant for the multiplayer roguelike game Mangband. Both of these games are based on the original roguelike game “Rogue” and other well known classics such as Nethack, Moria, Angband, Tome, and many others that any true gamer from the 80s should know and love. The largest hurdle that was met in the creation of the multiplayer versions of these games was that the single player versions were all turn based and that wasn’t a feasible model for a multiplayer version of the game. This creates an interesting combination of difficulty and fastpaced gameplay that very few other games can rival. Another interesting part of the game is that it includes “artifacts”, items that can only be found once in the universe, so the multiplayer versions had to adjust themselves accordingly to create a fair environment for all player involved. Getting used to your character being an “@” and some of the most feared monsters in the games being “U”s, “D”s , and “P”s definitely creates a bit of a challenge for anyone not used to this sort of game. Dungeons constantly create new items and monsters to be challenged, and the evil “RNG” (Random Number Generator) is the allknowing entity that decides whether you survived at 1000ft in the dungeon or meet your ultimate demise by some ungodly U that’s far out of depth and can destroy any mid level avatar in an instant. Overall, this game is challenging and will show you all the things that new games should be based on, instead of who can throw a touchdown pass or shoot the most terrorists in a single swoop.

Fun Factor:

If you consider staying awake until the sun begins to shine through your basement window, this is the game for you. Hectic battles, insane amount of deaths, interesting chat, and an overall great community make the funfactor in this game one of the best I’ve ever played. I give this a 10 out of 10 as far as how much fun it is to conquer that dungeon level after 8 hours of staying awake on caffeine pills and Mountain Dew.

Difficulty Versatility:

This game is one of the most difficult I’ve ever played considering the fact that it’s a turn based game turned realtime, with no real changes to the benefit of the player. The dungeon scales considerably quickly, so expect to stay at low depths for lengthy periods of time to acquire the proper equipment and resistances required to descend further. I also give this a 10 out of 10 for difficulty considering I’ve only seen one player truly master it, after 10 years or so of refining his skills. Anyone up to the challenge of proving me wrong is more than welcome to, but it won’t happen!

Value:

This game is completely free, no charges ever, just a quick download and you’re good to go. The main site for Tomenet is http://www.tomenet.net and is maintained by C. Blue as far as I know. Kudos to him for hosting his server and keeping this game alive through the years. He should implement some sort of donation system because I definitely owe this game something for the years of fun I’ve had playing it. 10 out of 10 for value.

Replayability:

One thing about this game is that you will never have to “replay” it per se, rather the game will force you to start over unlimited times until you create the perfect build and get all the gear necessary, only to die to some insane pack of Greater Balrogs at 5000ft that all decide to breathe on you at the same time without mercy. Considering how tough it is to really get into this game I only give it a 6 out of 10. This game is not newb friendly and don’t try to play it unless you’re a hardcore gamer with a love for getting pissed off at your computer every few hours.

Sound:

The only sound I’ve ever seen this game make is by the /page command, which creates beeps from your motherboard speaker I believe, unless they changed it so it goes through your actual sound system, but i doubt it. Only giving this a 1 out of 10 unfortunately.

 

Music:

Load up itunes and put on your favorite songs for this one, absolutely no music. 0 out of 10.

 

Graphics:

The only graphics that this game includes are ASCII ones like any true roguelike should have. They are definitely an acquired taste but once you get used to a | being a sword and a D being an Ancient Dragon, they really become par for the course. I rate this a 5 out of 10.

 

Stability/Reliability:

Considering the main servers are located somewhere in Europe, there is a small amount of lag on the Tomenet server. If there was a larger fanbase I’m sure US servers would pop up and I could increase the rating as far as stability goes, I rate this a 5 out of 10.

Controls:

Unfortunately this is the part where I need to rant on something that needs to be changed. Basic controls are simple, but performing any action in this game is tedious and requires an extensive knowledge of the macro system, and how to create these. Once you get used to them, it is easy enough, but for a newb, this part of the game can be most daunting and create a tough experience. I rate the controls 2 out of 10.

 

My history with this game:

This was one of my first multiplayer games I’ve ever played, starting in 1995 with Mangband 0.5.4 and never looking back, I’ve played on and off since then and I wouldn’t be suprised if I will play this and other multiplayer variants for years to come. If there was one game that defines all the things I like in a game, Mangband/Tomenet would be it.

Overall I give Tomenet a 8/10, if they created a more newb friendly experience, this game would be one of the most popular ever!

 

Free Stuff – Angry Video Game Nerd

Free Stuff – Angry Video Game Nerd

Angry Video Game Nerd
Angry Video Game Nerd

If you played any crappy game in the past and you were obsessed with it, you will love the comedy gold put out by our friend Angry Video Game Nerd (James Rolfe). Here is the link to his main website http://www.cinemassacre.com/new/?page_id=13 where you can check out his video game rants and also his videos on movies and cinema in general, old forgotten board games, and other things he finds interesting.

Lazy Jones

Lazy Jones box cover
Lazy Jones box cover

Lazy Jones (c64) review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“One of the trippiest games from the c64.”

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

Overview:

Lazy Jones is a classic c64 game that’s one of a kind. You are stuck in this mad hotel/building, roaming the hallways that have wandering carts that kill you and weirdos, and you go into rooms to play other video games within the video game. Sounds like a crazy dream and the game plays exactly as crazy as that sounds.

The game has this feeling almost like the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, like the character is having a bad drug trip and only video games are his salvation.

You play as Lazy Jones, the janitor for a very strange hotel. The story of the game goes something like Lazy Jones is so lazy that any work will kill him. His cleaning cart and visitors at the hotel touching you instantly snuff you.

Here is a video showing you how crazy the gameplay really is:

 

 

The video has some music as well by the remixer Instant Remedy, but some of the original music as well. See below for more details on the sound score.

Fun Factor:

Most of the games in the rooms are parodies of existing arcade games from its time. If you love classic arcade games, the game will bring you a feeling of nostalgia. Fun Factor gets a 7 out of 10.

 

 

Difficulty Versatility:

The difficulty is rather the same overall, although most of the enemies do kill you if you touch them once. I’ve had instances where I die simply by the game spawning an enemy as soon as I leave a door, which is pretty rough. You can set the game to give you from 1 – 9 lives. In the terms of Diablo, you can be “hardcore” and set the game to only give you 1 life if you really want a challenge. Since you set your mortality, difficulty versatility gets a rating of 7 out of 10. I find the game easy myself but it’s still nerve wrecking when you’re down to your life (or only) life.

 

 

Value:

You can play the game if you have the diskettes and a working c64 but for every else, the game is free via emulation.

The full game can be downloaded here: http://www.c64.com/?type=1&id=149

Click download now on the right column and save the ZIP file, extract the D64 file to a folder you will remember.

Now you download the emulator to run the disk image of the game. You can download the emulator CCS64 at this link: http://www.ccs64.com/CCS64%20V3.7%20Install.zip

The main link to CCS64.com is http://www.ccs64.com/

in case the version file I posted gets taken down and replaced with a newer one. You can just scroll down to downloads and get the latest one (with installer you want).

Load up the emulator. Go to the File menu, select Load and Run, point it to the Lazy Jones D64 file. Let it load. Press space after the loading lights. Hit ESC to simulate the RUN/STOP key from the c64 that would let you continue. You’ll only have to do this once: go to Options, input, use the arrow keys and set control port one mode to key set 1 (go left arrow a bunch of times and control port 2 mode to keyset 2. You can control the character using the numpad arrows. Enjoy the game!

Since this is a great game and it’s free these days, Value gets a score of 10 out of 10.

 

 

Replayability:

This game is a classic and I’ve played it over 400 times as a child and into my early teens. I fire it up once in a while when I feel in a nostalgic mood. Replayability get a score of 7 out of 10.

 

 

Sound:

The sounds are pretty nice for this c64 game. In some of the mini games, the sounds are just annoying in some others they are pretty unique. Overall, Sound gets a score of 7 out of 10.

 

 

Music:

The music for this game is legendary and by David Whittacker.


 

 

It has many covers/remixes of early 80s music, including Visage – Fade to Grey and some others.

One of the songs is so catchy that everybody knows it now as Zombie Nation – Kernkraft 400. The song even became huge in the US, which often doesn’t happen for an electronic song.

If you love rare 80s music and want a trip to the past, you must play Lazy Jones. It even has Nena – 99 Love Ballons (Luftballons)

The c64 and its SID chip have a unique sound and this is one of those soundtracks that is one of the most famous for the machine and its fans. To this day it’s remixed often, more than 20-25 years later. The music is a solid 10 out of 10.

Graphics:

The game is well drawn for an early c64 game. The graphics of the mini games are sometimes better than the actual graphics of the real c64/arcade games that they parody. Graphics are an 8 out of 10 for Lazy Jones.

 

 

Stability/Reliability:

This is a c64, not Windows 95. The game never crashes. Not even the pirated warez versions. Stability/Reliability deserve a 10 out of 10.

 

 

Controls:

Simple is perfect.

For the real c64 version, you move around with your joystick. The controls are pretty self explanatory. The fire button fires, up makes you move up or jump and so on. Controls get a 10 out of 10.

For the PC emulated version through CCS64, once you set it up like I recommend (look up in the Value section as to how to get the game, and configure it), the controls are simple. The number pad arrow move you around, with 8 (up) making you jump or move up in game and enter being the fire button (used for going into rooms, the elevator, and firing in games). The only part where the control is picky is that you have to be standing in the dead center of a door to enter a room.

Under CCS64, for this game, P pauses and M mutes the music. Once you set it up, the controls are simple. I won’t rate this version because setting it up might be too complicated for some people and it might be simpler under other emulators, but that’s the emulator not the game.

 

 

Performance:

Native c64 game gets perfect performance on the system. The emulation is also spot on. Performance gets a 10 out of 10.

 

 

My history with this game:

This is one of the first games I remember vividly from the c64 as making it stand out from Atari (which my friends all owned). I have fond memories of playing this game for days at a time with my older cousin, back in Argentina. We thought it was one of most original games we had yet seen. I still think that it’s unique for its time and if you’ve never played it, you should give it a try and just have a trip back to the 80s.

 

Free Stuff – The Guild

The Guild - Do You Want To Date My Avatar
The Guild - Do You Want To Date My Avatar

The best online comedy show about MMO guild drama.

http://www.watchtheguild.com/

You might have already have heard of it or seen it with the viral “Do You Want To Date My Avatar?” music video.

And they have a new funny video in the style of Bollywood, “Game On”

Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum
Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

 

 

“I’m Batman!”

Overall Score:

9 out of 10

 

Overview:

Simple story: you’re Batman, the Joker took over Arkham Asylum, time to break every skull and take it back from Mr. J. You start out as a barebones Batman with just about every neat gadget missing, except your batwing. As the game progresses you keep getting upgrades and leveling up, while kicking ass and fighting different villains (bosses) from the Batman universe. The gameplay is similar to Max Payne (with no shooting just kicks to the face), the Prince of Persia 3D games, and some stealth elements sort of like the Metal Gear Solid series.

As Batman, you run around collecting clues, secrets, punching out every inmate in Arkham Asylum. There a “detective mode” which basically turns you into a Predator as you can see where people are through walls, which is essential for hunting and beating them all up. The mode is so effective that you might as well leave it on most of the time, although it makes the game look really alien and you get to miss out the beauty of the scenery.

You heal based on how much XP you just got from taking out enemies or finding secrets, but you just about never heal during combat.

Many favorite villains from the cartoons are present although many are missing as well (hinting a sequel). I won’t say which ones are in the game for the sake of spoilers.

Many of the secrets you find will help you level up faster and they help you find out more about how really evil some of the villains are. There are three types of secrets you can find: interview tapes, Riddler question marks, and Arkham lore symbols. The interview tapes are usually tapes that were recorded by psychologists interviewing specific villains in the course of their therapy. The Riddle question marks are usually a matter of you exploring every little bit of the map and picking them up, as well as knocking down walls or climbing up to or gliding down to hard to reach places. The Arkham lore symbols are the hardest to find and they help explain the history behind Arkham Asylum.

The game uses a Games for Windows Live login if you care about achievements.

This is the Mega64 parody of Batman Arkham Asylum that’s great:

Fun Factor:

This game is great fun, as a well balanced blend of a fighting game, stealther, and platformer. Taking on a posse of 6-14 enemies at a time is a great thrill and the action will keep you on your toes. Some enemies are top targets such as any inmates that commandeer any assault rifles (they can pretty much drill you down really fast, no matter how good your armor upgrades are). Sneaking up behind enemies and making them pass out, then zipping out with the grapple gun is tons of fun and it gives you the feeling of actually being Batman from the shows and also that of a ninja. Exploring every nook and cranny of the asylum buildings can be a lot of fun especially as you keep upgrading your toolkit. The amount of action will keep you entertained, even if you are just replaying it. Fun Factor gets a 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

This game is not too hard although it has a bunch of parts that are annoying such as taking out a bunch of goons without one seeing you not even once. Usually in those scenarios they are going to kill a hostage and Batman’s panties get in a bunch so you instantly lose and the game prompts you to load the soonest checkpoint. The game is still pretty challenging the first time you play it as there are so many parts where you can get insta-killed. Because of the linearity of the game, despite the hard setting, the game becomes predictable during replay. Difficulty Versatility gets a 4 out of 10 because of only having 3 difficulty setting and no randomly spawning enemies to surprise you.

Value:

At $50 on Steam the price is pretty steep. The shortest amount of time I beat the game in was 8 hours, and most likely you won’t want to replay it as soon as you beat it unless you really really loved it. It’s sometimes on sale on Steam for $25-30 dollars and at that price, it’s really worth it. The console versions are going for $53 and that’s pretty steep for me but then again the trend for console games are for them to be really expensive these days, especially if it’s a really popular title. For the amount of entertainment the game offers vs the cost, I give Value a score of 6 out of 10. It might be wiser to pick it up when the price in general drops $10-20 of the MSRP.

Replayability:

I’ve played this game twice so far, once in the medium setting and recently through on hard (the max setting). Since the game is linear and scripted, the only thing that hard really does is make the parts that were already annoying even more annoying. There’s no much replay value other than the breaking-people’s-skulls factor. Once you beat the game one, you already know the tricks and strategies for every area. I would say it has much replay value as Max Payne 1 and 2. I do play those games every 1-2 years since they are good too, this will join that list. However, since this game will probably be something to play once a year or two, it doesn’t get a high replay score. Replayability gets a 5 out of 10, mainly because I (Batman) like breaking people’s skulls.

Sound:

The game has great sound effects even for the menu interactions of bats flapping and the corpse of one of your victims, I mean villains, is dead, I mean unconscience, and they dematerialize. Lots of nice metal banging metal notices as well as the awesome grapple gun, which you’ll use often. If you’ve watched the Batman animated series, Batman Beyond, and Justice League, you will recognize a ton of the voice actors such as Kevin Conroy as Batman and some others, even the Joker is the same as the cartoons. All the sounds are properly implemented so the Sound category gets its 10 out of 10.

Music:

The music is tense and gloomy like Batman should be. It is finely crafted into the action of whatever you are doing in the game. It’s not always persistent though but silence can also raise the tension. The score overall is still great and specific tracks are really worthwhile. Music gets an 8 out of 10.

Graphics:

This game uses the UT3 engine which looking amazing, like all Unreal Tournament engines always do. Arkham Asylum looks bleak and filthy, yet futuristic with its multitude of security systems such as force fields, retinal scanning doors, etc. The game has some aspects that are pretty artistic such as when you pause the game, whatever the screen has gets frozen and rendered as a drawing from a comic book. Although many of the buildings around the asylum look similar, each one has its own style and purpose and they are well designed. The game itself is really beautiful. Graphics get a 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game is pretty rock solid and I’ve had no crashes at all with it after 20 hours of gameplay. I’ve only had one instance where a character kept screaming for me to save her when I was standing in front of her to say “Thanks Batman, I need you!!!” Other than that the game flows great and you don’t have to be saving like a maniac in case in breaks as is the case in some other games. You don’t need to anyways as the game auto-saves as soon as you enter another area. Stability/Reliability get a 10 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls for the PC version are adapted from the xbox 360 version, even supporting an xbox 360 controller if you have the PC adaptation for it. The game controls a lot like the Prince of Persia style of games and often plays like it a lot as well. Sometimes I found the mouse a little laggy, considering how much action was going on and the amount of blocking and quick attacks that were needed. Overall, Batman responds really well although there are many instances where you can get him to basically commit suicide easily. Controls get an 8 out of 10.

Performance:

The UT3 engine looks great and also runs amazing on most gaming machines these days (even when it first came out). On my midrange 2007 gaming PC, the game gives me an average frame rate of 71 fps. I did experience some slowdowns though on scenes where one is battling 12 or more enemies at a time. The game itself comes with a benchmark tool option. I think it deserves a score of 8 out of 10 regarding

My history with this game:

I’m a huge fan of all the Batman and DC related animated shows and I have been keeping an eye out on this game long way before it was finally released. I didn’t get the game until a month after it had come out after hearing from my friends that it was the best next thing since sliced bread was invented. It was a delight to see the writers and voice actors of my favorite cartoons involved in such a successful game and I would hope that they come back with more (I think the sequel is already being made) such as also a game for Batman Beyond (that would probably have a LOT more action). A lot of my friends who haven’t played it yet ask me about it and I tell them to go get it already and enjoy every moment of it. Playing it reminded me a lot of watching the original Batman cartoon from the early 90s. I look forward to playing part 2 as soon as its available. Considering how well this game did we are pretty much guaranteed that sequel.

Nation Red

Nation Red poster
Nation Red poster

Nation Red review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“Smash TV + zombies = fun”

 

 

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

 

Overview:

While everybody knows Left 4 Dead 1 and 2, Nation Red offers arcade zombie killing action for the single player masses. The game consist of you being a woman trapped in a zombie infected quarantine area, with endless (depending on the game mode) hordes of zombies coming to eat your sweet flesh.

There are different game modes, the campaign which involves playing a series of missions (which is basically like training/tutorial mode for me) and the free play mode and its variations. That’s basically the game mode I recommend playing as it offers an online ladder high score table in the style of old arcade games to see who is the champ.

You basically run around in a limited area blasting away at the damned with a variety of pistols, SMGs, and rifles and assorted weapons. There is an XP bar next to your score that shows you how far you are proportionately to level up and earn an upgrade. You can set the game to give you a finite upgrade path but a level cap or make it have unlimited leveling for your avatar but the upgrades will come at you randomly. I find that more challenging and funner, every time. Upgrades vary from self regeneration, faster fire rates, higher DPS in different combinations, damage reduction, special attacks, special ally summons, booster item drop modifications (drop rate, quality of spawns, variations on what items will do), and so on.

Not only is there now still the Free play mode which has been slightly altered but they added Barricade survival mode which also has a ladder high score table.

Fun Factor:

If you enjoy shooting endless hordes of flesh eaters with the constant stress of being under siege then this is your game. The developers update this game at least once a month, usually making it into a different game because of rule/item changes so this keeps the game fresh. The game has a sheer level of destruction that will bring a smile to any pyro’s face. They keep adding new guns every month and that is a sweet pleasure. I give Red Faction a Fun Factor score of 8 out of 10 with variations to that based on how the latest build changed the game.

Difficulty Versatility:

The game starts out pretty simple with the difficulty upscaling itself every 5-7 minutes in a linear path. Since the game gets updated often, the game becomes easier/harder depending on the build that month. You really don’t have control over this so that hurts versatility but it modifies the difficulty factor. I would say the Difficulty Versatility for this game is a 6 out of 10 because of the variation on the game rules but your lack of control as to what the developers do to the game.

Value:

I got this game via Steam for $10, although it’s sometimes on sale on there ranging from 3-7 dollars as well. For the amount of classic arcade fun the game provides, it’s worth getting at that price definitely. As for Value, Nation Red gets a score of 8 out of 10.

Replayability:

Because of the rate of build updates this game gets and the fact that it’s fun in general to blow away those freaking zombies, this is a game that you can come back to over and over again. I have played the game in some builds to the point where it took 50 real life minutes for me to finally die and I mainly die because I get braindead. However, that’s not the case anymore and they stepped up the difficulty/score generation rate, so it still makes me want to come back to it after 6 months of ownership. I give Replayability a score of 8 out of 10.

Sound:

The sounds for the guns are great, although the sounds for the zombies are kind of generic. The explosions sometimes sound kind of muffled so in general Sound gets a score of 7 out of 10.

Music:

The music the game comes with will drive you insane eventually because it loops relatively fast and it’s never ending. What I do is turn it off and put on a fun playlist that will keep my energy high and won’t let me get bored of hearing the same 1-2 minute loop of the same thing over and over and over and over and over. Yeah, you get it. Music gets a 4 out of 10.

Graphics:

The game looks rather gloomy as it has this nasty yellow dirt look to it but that’s fine because there is carnage all over the screen within a few minutes of playing. Eventually, most of the screen will be red covered in zombie residue. The graphics look decent for a game put out by a small studio. I give Graphics a score of 7 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game never really crashes as the engine is solid. The game never refuses to launch, even if you force it to while it was downloading an update for it. It’s stable as a mountain, so Stability/Reliability get a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

Simple controls keep you focused on the game. You move around with WASD and shoot stuff with the left mouse button. You use grenades with the right and press E to do a body roll. ESC pauses the game any time you want and you activate the level up option (which pauses the game too) by hitting space. You can force lock the weapon you’re holding by using F. There’s really no need to remap the controls as the default really work already. I give controls a score of 10 out of 10. Get ready to put in some wear and tear on your mouse though. =P

Performance:

This game runs rather well on most gaming PCs although occasionally the game engine will hickup and you will experience a slight lag, although the game is single player offline. Because of that glitch, the game loses points although it can run on most machines. Performance gets a 7 out of 10 until they fix that bug in the game engine.

My history with this game:

I got sick of playing Left 4 Dead so I thought I’d give the Nation Red demo a try. After half an hour I had already bought the game because the game can be pretty addictive at times. For the price, you really can’t go wrong. I recommended it to various people and they all have fun playing it so far, so you might want to give the demo via Steam a try, just for shits and giggles.

 

Master of Orion

Master of Orion box cover
Master of Orion box cover

Master of Orion 1 (MS-DOS) Review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The original explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate space mega empire game.”

Overall Score:

10 out of 10

Overview:

This is the grand daddy, 5000 lb gorilla of space empire games. From the now dead Microprose, this is one of those games, among XCOM and Master of Magic and Civilization that made that company a gaming legend.

You take the role of the immortal emperor of one of many emerging races that just discovered the ability to travel to other star systems and begin the competition for colonization, later leading to war, and galaxywide politics as to who will win the war for supremacy or the votes of all nations as the race to unify the galaxy as the leader of a mega empire (ending the game).

The game consists of you taking turns (non-simultaneous) with your rivals, managing your planets’ development, research directions (allows multiple research projects at a time vs 1 in later space empire games, which I think that’s unrealistic), your spy projects (they can sabotage, steal tech, be sleepers), your diplomacy (make alliances, actually never do almost, and trade tech, start trade deals, threaten and demand tribute, end and start wars), and conquer conquer conquer. You can orbitally bombard planets to dust basically or be smart about your killing (because later the weapons can literally scorch all populations out of existence, even one ship) and enslave, I mean welcome the conquered population to your empire.

There are different races that each has an advantage, whether a bonus in diplomacy or faster production or research or better combat skills (space or ground combat, which is good for taking over planets) or spying or their people breed like rabbits or some don’t require any terraforming whatsoever (which is a major part of the game, being able to actually claim and live on planets aka breathing is a major technology).

The game is won be either eliminating all rivals or becoming the new emperor of a unified star empire.

This is the game that inspired most future space empire games such as Space Empires, Galactic Civilizations, Sword of the Stars, Sins of a Solar Empire, etc.

Fun Factor:

This game is like crack. If you love micromanagement and having to defend 6 fronts at a time, this is the turn based strategy game for you. Since the game is turn based, you can take your time planning where to attack next or who to try to start a war with (or make them fight each other by making your spies start a fake terrorist attack vs each other). The game makes you feel as though you are using your brain and even to this day, over 15 years of me playing it, I’m always finding out new little secret strategies to deploy. If you’re a war gamer, you will agree that this game has a Fun Factor of 9 out of 10. It’s a game for thinkers.

Difficulty Versatility:

The game has like 5 difficulty settings and it becomes really brutal the higher you go. You can scale the size of the galaxy so that you can play a long or REALLY long game. This sometimes has a harsher effect on how hard it is. Imagine having to fight a fleet of 20 war planets producing full time vs one of 4 planets. It requires you to have the logistical foresight to be able to take on such an onslaught. I give the Difficulty Versality a score of 10 out of 10.

Value:

Well, Microprose is dead and basically so this game is now free. You can get it from sites such as http://www.abandonia.com/ or http://www.homeoftheunderdogs.net/ and run it on DOSBox for free. You can also opt to buy Master of Orion 1 + 2 together for $5.99 from Good Old Games. Since this game is amazing and it’s free or very cheap, the score for Value is maxed out at 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

I’ve been playing it at least 2-3 times a year since the mid 90s. It’s one of those games that is on a permanent list to play each year. Like Civilization, once I start playing this game it’s hard for me to do anything but that for a good 2-4 weeks, each time. Replayability gets a 10 out of 10.

Sound:

I usually have the sound off, but the sounds are okay for an early 90s DOS strategy game. I give the Sound a score of 6 out of 10.

Music:

The music is alright but I usually shut it off and play some classical or epic music in the background. Keeps the game play strong and my concentration on maxing out planets and blowing up enemy fleets. The Music that comes with the game gets a 6 out of 10.

Graphics:

Of course, the graphics are now way dated, but for it’s time they were pretty great for a war game. The weapon beam effects look great for DOS and even the homing missiles look threatening although it’s just a grey arrow almost. Considering the style behind the Microprose games of this time and that it’s a war game, Graphics get a 9 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game never, ever crashes, itself. Sometimes DOSBox has some issues when you ALT-TAB but that’s a problem with DOSBox, not the game itself. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are simply point and click with a few hotkeys integrated. The hotkeys however are not necessarily shown in game and you’d have to read the manual or look them up online. Some are essential like B for scrapping your missile bases in case they are too obsolete or your war front has moved up from that location and you’re wasting resources maintaining them. I give controls a 7 out of 10 because although some are hidden, they do what they’re meant to do properly and keep the game playable.

Performance:

This game will run godlike on any computer, maybe even a mobile phone. Performance instantly gets a 10 out of 10.

My history with this game:

This is actually one of the first PC games I’ve ever bought and it was well worth it as it has given me literally over 1000 hours of gameplay. I played it first on a 486 so you have an idea how much of a place in my gaming history this game has. Because of it’s turn based nature I’ve even played this game while working and that’s very doable so long as you have good multitasking skills and a good memory as to your strategems. I hope you will all start playing this classic even as a new gamer, you will learn new ways to think and that’s always, always rewarding in itself.

Master of Orion manual
Master of Orion manual

Techno Cop

[youtube id=”nzsYYSznaWc” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Techno Cop

This was truly one of my most favorite games on the Amiga. In 1988 the game was released for a number of platforms including the Commodore 64 and MS-Dos. In 1990 it was released for the Sega Genesis by Razorsoft.

Developed by Gremlin Graphics, Techno Cop was a single player side scrolling action game where you played a hardcore cop in a futuristic city. You began each mission in your vehicle where you drove to the hideout of the suspect you were to kill or capture. During the driving stage you would be attacked by enemy cars which you could shoot at, if in front of you or ram off the road. The driving part of the game looked at lot like your classic Outrun view with a Spy Hunter feel to the action. You had a time limit to reach the hideout and one you did you would exit you car and the side scrolling action shooter part of the game would begin.

Techno Cop driving
Techno Cop driving

In the side scrolling part of the game you would make your way through the various hideouts of the bad guy you were after. Most of the time you were placed in a rundown building of some kind blasting away at the bad guys as the approached you or popped out of closed doors. Strangely enough there were also kids jumping and playing in these criminal infested builds right next to the toxic waste barrels. Sometimes you would also come across nude or semi-nude women (in the Sega and future versions this was edited to full clothe the women).

Truth be told the graphics were pretty bad even for the late 80’s. Both the driving and side scrolling part of the game used the same backgrounds over and over with very little changes. Each level was the same, drive shooting at cars until you get your next subject then get out and traverse a rundown building until you find the boss and either kill or capture him. Your H.U.D. or heads up display took up 40% of the screen in the form of your arm and a predator-like wrist device which displayed your target, score, health, time limit, lives and an option to switch between a net or your gun.

Techno Cop walking
Techno Cop walking

What made this game fun was the blood and gore factor. Let’s face it, to find a game in the late 80’s where when you shoot a bad guy and they turn to chum was just awesome and the fact that there were nude ladies in the game just sealed the deal. You could also shoot the jumping kids, but who would do such a thing? Even with the horrible sound effects including a slurping sound whenever you picked up the giant money bag, this game had the kind of mindless violence and action that any kid of the 80’s would enjoy.

Techno cop was one of those games that you had to play over and over even once better side scrolling shooters were released. I mean it had a warning on the box which at the time was unheard of, what kid would not want it? Simply put, if you had a computer you had to have this game. It was the kind of bloody fun we would not see again until Grand Theft Auto was released. Yet, another reason the age of the Amiga and Commodore 64 was the gold age of PC gaming.

OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast

Outrun 2006 Coast 2 Coast title
Outrun 2006 Coast 2 Coast title

OutRun 2006 Coast 2 Coast review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“The return of the arcade classic, Outrun”

Overall Score:

8 out of 10

Overview:

Outrun is one of the classic arcade games that put Sega on the map in the arcade world and helped them later become a major player in the console market. If you’ve never played Outrun, Outrun is a very fast racing game where you are driving really fast in a bunch of Ferrari cars to get to the finish line, with a time limit. There are different game modes, some where you race against rivals, the traditional one where you are trying to get there as soon as possible with your girlfriend riding shotgun, and another one where you are trying to get the girl excited (no, seriously) by completing challenges. You do different stages depending on the game mode you set it to and unlock new courses, girlfriends, cars (which you buy with money), and music (which you buy in money if you don’t to cheat). You still have from the original, your girlfriend bitching you out when you get yourselves killed by ramming the Ferrari and flipping it over and over after hitting some palm trees or other obstacles.

The physics engine is basically an arcade game so don’t expect GRID or Grand Turismo. Damage is non existent so you’re basically immortal so long as the time doesn’t run out (for some game modes).

PC, PSP, Xbox, and PS 2 versions of the game are available.

Fun Factor:

If you like driving fast and want to get a good feeling of being out on a crazy road trip with hot girl, Outrun is the game for you. For me, the game brings a great feeling of nostalgia since I played the original arcade game in the 80s and at home on the c64 (both Outrun and Turbo Outrun). The game gets hard later but it only makes me want to master it even more. Fun Factor gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

The difficulty starts out easy and gets to the point where it is impossible for most people to win at all. The later stages would even put skynet to shame, as they are designed for a god to be able to beat. =P I give difficulty versality a 6 out of 10 since you can’t do much about it and it will make you cry (once it becomes insane difficulty).

Value:

I got this game on Steam for about 7 dollars when it was on sale on Christmas. They sometimes sell it on there, but not currently. You can pick it up for console for 5-10 dollars and considering how fun this game is, it’s still worth getting, although it’s old (for most video game players). You can find the game for sale on ebay, gogamer.com, and gamestop/ebgames. I give it a Value score of 10 out of 10.

Replayability:

I played this game a few months ago and it’s still fun to pick up once in a while. I would recommend doing some practice runs before really committing on it again on a replay because the later stages will usually frustrate you. I give Replayability a score of 7 out of 10.

Sound:

Some of the sounds are kind of generic like some of the car engine sounds, that don’t impress. The tires pealing out noise is wonderful and they bring back a lot of memories of the original. Overall, Sound gets a score of 7 out of 10.

Music:

The music for this game is simply BRILLIANT! Two modernized versions of the original songs are in it, and they are even better than the originals. All the original versions for all previous Outrun games and all the Outrun sequels are included. The OGG files for these songs are available within the game directories, so that you can make your own mix CD of Outrun in real life and go for a real Outrun! ;-] Even some new tracks are introduced which sound like they come from Planet Sega! =P Music gets a 10 out of 10, simply because 1o is the max!

Graphics:

This game came out in 2006 and the game designers did a decent job of balancing graphical quality (better than arcade quality at the time) and performance. The car models for the individual Ferraris are pretty well done and since the game includes some rare car models, it’s a nice treat. I give Graphics a score of 7 out of 10 overall.

Stability/Reliability:

For the most part the game never crashes, at least in the middle of a race. I’ve gotten the game to freeze up while loading if I play it for too long or just the game launched in a bad mood. Not much data loss happens when that takes place. Overall, I give Stability/Reliability a score of 8 out of 10.

Controls:

The controls are as simple as can be and since this is an arcade racer, that’s a really good thing. Because drifting is such an essential part of the game, I usually remap the brake to something other than down on the arrow keys. It allows better control. Since the game even lets you remap while in a race, the controls are solid. Controls get a rating of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

This game is 3-4 years old and it runs fine on any computer that you would be using for gaming anyways. It would probably also run fine in a light gaming computer such as a work laptop. I give performance a rating of 10 out of 10 considering how many computers will be able to run this game.

My history with this game:

From the arcade, to the c64, and then Amiga, Outrun has always had a place in my heart as far as racing games go. I hope they keep making sequels to it, even in the arcade form because the games are always fun and they’re relaxing to play (some racing games will give you a heart attack). I can usually just load up this game and have a good time without having to worry about the world ending if I lose.

Free Stuff – Play Value, the history of video games

Play Value Logo
Play Value Logo

If you want to learn in general about the history of video games, check out this web mini show made by On Networks called Play Value. From the 50s to Atari to Nintendo to Commodore to Sega to Sony and Microsoft, it covers pretty much most major events.

http://www.onnetworks.com/videos/play-value

Shaman tracked down by Hunter in World of Warcraft

Shaman tracked down by Hunter in World of Warcraft

So you’re sitting behind your keyboard at home typing away thinking the vast wasteland that is the internet will keep your identity a secret, think again. Two weeks ago, Howard County Sheriff’s Department deputy Matt Roberson tracked down a wanted fugitive through one of the most popular games on the Internet — World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft tauren

I’ve always known the Horde were a bunch of criminals, but this takes the cake. Alfred Hightower, also known as the Taren Shaman Rastlynn was wanted for dealing a variety of drugs including marijuana. He has had an arrest warrant out on him since 2007, but had eluded capture for the past two years. After some keen detective work and a tip from a childhood friend Roberson was able to discover that Hightower had fled to Canada and started playing Warcraft.

“We received information that this guy was a regular player of an online game, which was referred to as ‘some warlock and witches’ game,” said Roberson. “None of that information was sound enough to pursue on its own, but putting everything we had together gave me enough evidence to send a subpoena to Blizzard Entertainment. I knew exactly what he was playing — World of Warcraft. I used to play it. It’s one of the largest online games in the world.”

Roberson then sent a subpoena to Blizzard HQ in California, but he knew it was a long shot. Because of jurisdiction, the ambiguity of the internet and the fact that Blizzard was not compelled by law to respond chances were that Roberson would never hear back from them.

Three months had gone by and Roberson had put the subpoena in the back of his mind when he received a package from Blizzard. They had provided him with all the information on Hightower including his IP address, his account information and history, his billing address, and even his online screen name and preferred server.

“I did a search off the IP address to locate him,” said Roberson. “I got a longitude and latitude. Then I went to Google Earth. It works wonders. It uses longitude and latitude. Boom! I had an address. I was not able to go streetside at the location, but I had him.”

Not long after locating Hightower’s address the U.S. Marshals contacted the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Border Services Agency. Soon after Hightower was arrested in Ottawa, Ontario and was deported.

So the next time you are in a horrible pug and the Shaman goes AFK forever he might just have been arrested on drug charges. Remember kids, the internet might be the wild west, but even in the west the long arm of the law can find you.

P.S. Check out his Hightower’s Armory profile, lolz!

GRID

GRID logo
GRID logo

GRID review by Honorabili

One Sentence Review:

“An ultimate refinement of the TOCA Race Driver series.”

Overall Score:

9 out of 10

 

Overview:

Codemasters might be smaller than EA but they sure do know how to code the BEST racing games in the world. This is the sequel to the sequels of Race Driver (TOCA Race Driver) but the game has been polished to perfection. The game consists of being a professional race car driver that is trying to make it as a world champion overall and within three areas of the world, the USA, Europe, and Japan. There’s 4 tiers mainly, with you starting at tier 1 for each area, and then you each championship points based on how well you performed on each race, potentially unlocking the next area within that region, and ultimately you unlock tier 4 which has the most challenging championships worldwide. Once in a while when you dominate a tier in a country, the top racer of a racing team will challenge you on a duel which usually gives a decent amount of points and a hefty lump of cash. All major race cars that are world class champions are found in the game. The game has a decent damage engine built into it and the physics of the racing are pretty solid for a non-sim racing game. You make money in the game by racing and getting whatever higher position you can and by repainting your car with the decals of better and better sponsors that have specific requirements for them to pay you. Most of the car customization ends there as the game does not let you modify the parts of your car but then again this is a game about professional racing, not street racing in the style of Need For Speed. In the real racing world, real race cars have specific rules they have to follow in order to be allowed to race in that league.

Fun Factor:

It’s thrilling to take control of a 500-1000 horsepower race car and push it to the utter limit. Since the game has a damage engine, one can’t simply drive the car straight through walls and one has to be strategic regarding making the car last the entire race. I think that makes the game a more fun vs something like Grand Turismo. The only part that kind of gets boring which you must do (not really but I’m a perfectionist) is the 24-hour LeMans race which literally is an endurance race which will take 24 real minutes to complete. I’ve literally done that over 100 times and I’m kind of sick of it. I would have liked them to have offered some variations to it like 12 hours at Sebring or some other real epic races rather than just that one over and over in between the transition of racing seasons. I give fun factor a score of 9 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

The difficulty in this game is fully customizable, with about 5-7 settings and sub-settings that let you customize the experience to be as abusive as you need or want. I’m really good at racing and racing games in general and I always find a way to make this game challenging even after having played it 4 times through. Sure, it helps to memorize the tracks as it does in every racing game but the A.I. does begin to act like true professional racers in the higher settings and that’s always a plus for a challenge. The game offers “flashbacks” which let you rewind a crash and you might be able to save the car or avoid a spin-out. This and other assists can be disabled depending on how hardcore or masochistic of a gamer you are. The only complaint I have about the difficulty is that there is basically no point to money in the game. In the beginning of the game, money is scarce but after playing the game for a good hour or two, you will basically be able to afford any car you want. It would have been neat if they added the option for me to waste my money designing my own custom race car. (Ahem) Hopefully, Codemasters will add this function in a future racing game. Difficulty Versatility gets a score of 9 out of 10.

Value:

The game sells for about US$25 and sometimes you can get it bundled with other Codemaster racing games (like Dirt 1 and/or 2). Even at 25 dollars the game is worth getting because if you are a fan of authentic speed and a racing game with a somewhat realistic damage engine and well over 12-20 hours of solid game play, this is the game for you. I give it’s Value a score of 8 out of 10. Should you see it at 15 dollars or less, I recommend buying it on the spot.

Replayability:

I’ve ran 4 times through the campaign mode of the game. The races eventually become repetitive but the cars this game has are so godlike that it’s worth feeling the rush all over again. The game also has multiplayer online so you can also decide to take your competition there and see if you can best some of the other players in duels of skill. I give the game a Replayability score of 7 out of 10, despite my personal love for this game.

Sound:

The cars sound very, very mean, which I love in a racing game. When a racecar sounds like a toaster, it’s annoying. When a race car sounds like a wood-chipper with baby pumpkins being thrown into it a rate of 1000 baby pumpkin souls per second, my inner demon smiles and makes me want to drive it faster. Sounds get a score of 10 out of 10 for GRID!

Music:

The music is great especially the tracks from Queens of the Stone Age but an advantage/disadvantage is that there is no music at all while you are racing, for the most part. The only time that I really remember any music being played is during the last 4 minutes of the 24-minute Le Mans race to make you feel more tension. Because of the lack of music for the majority of the racing, but with the menu music sounding very pleasing the game gets a 5 out of 10 for Music. What’s there is great but it’s a minor detail in the game.

Graphics:

GRID is pure eye candy at its finest. Even one old hardware and DX9 the game is simple breath-taking. GRID deserves and gets a score of 10 out of 10 in the Graphics category.

Stability/Reliability:

The game rarely very has crashed for me and I’ve logged in over 60 hours of playing it. I would say it has locked up only 1-2 times while loading because my PC was by then overheating. The game has always launched, every time I’ve tried. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 9 out of 10.

Controls:

The game has pretty standard controls that basically need little to no adjustment, although you can pretty much remap all of it if need be. I played the game on keyboard and found really no problems controlling even the most dangerous, I mean fastest cars. Controls for this game deserve a score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

The game runs for the most part glitch-less on even a 2-3 year old light-to-medium gaming PC. Compared to the bloated NFS games of late, GRID runs like a champ. The only problem I detected in the game is that the cheat detection system seems to create like a bug where the car will slow down stop for a fraction of a second and then the physics engine of the game will compensate and let you continue. Not that it makes you crash, but still kind of an unrealistic thing to experience. This however, rarely happens, but I’ve played this game for way too long. I give Performance a rating of 9 out of 10.

My history with this game:

I have been playing the Race Driver (TOCA Race Driver) games since they came out and I’ve always been impressed so how well done they are in the sense of making you feel like a real race driver and how they keep getting better after each version. Some of the TOCA Race Driver games got to a point where you HAD to do a race to keep going and it was basically impossible (ugh I remember one where you had to compete in the Ford GT90 that had like zero traction and the AI was godlike/had super sticky tires that used a different physics engine than what you had to deal with). Those days are gone. In GRID, you will actually see the computer making human driver mistakes, lose control of their car and wreck it. When GRID came out it’s basically all I played nonstop for a month, even after I had beat it. I come back to visit it once in a while as it’s one of my favorites in my game collection. Check out doing the super tight tracks in Japan with the prototype class race cars. It will leave a smile on your face. 😀

 

Tom Clancy’s HAWX

HAWX logo
HAWX logo

One Sentence Review:

“The true spiritual successor to Afterburner, U.N. Squadron, and Crimson Skies.”

Overall Score:

9 out of 10

Overview:

HAWX puts you in the role of being the flight leader for a squadron of an elite air combat unit that works for the US military and soon into a private military corporation in the near, plausible future. The game flies a LOT like Crimson Skies as far as gameplay goes and it has nearly as much action as Afterburner with the spirit of U.N. Squadron’s mercenary attitude and the fun weapon configuration of your squadron of fighters. The game has just about most jets that have been around since the 60s and up and even some hypothetical fighters that are yet to be released in the military for most countries.

Fun Factor:

This is one of the funnest airplane combat games I have ever played and I’ve played both old skool arcade air combat games like Afterburner and hardcore simulators like European Air War. Some of the battles get so epic with your airplane being surrounded by 5-10 enemy fighters that it gives one the feeling of being in an X-wing and fighting for your dear life. I played this game like a crack head even when I had other stuff to do. I give the Fun Factor a score of 10 out of 10.

Difficulty Versatility:

The game overall is pretty easy, even at the max difficulty except for a few select (mainly the escort or time deadline) missions where it will have you screaming at the screen. Difficulty Versatility gets a 5 out of 10 because overall I found this game easy even on the max settings.

Value:

The game currently sells for about US$ 30 on Steam. I picked it up for about 15 or 20 when it was on sale this last Christmas. I would say at the price I got it, it’s worth getting. For 30 dollars I would still buy it considering how much fun the game was for the 9 hours it took me to destroy it. I give Value a score of 7 out of 10.

Replayability:

Some missions are a lot of fun but I already memorized what I had to do for all of them. I would say it might be more interesting to do them with a wingman for they might not be as good as the AI drone pilots that help you in some missions. =P I give Replayability a score of 6 out of 10.

Sound:

Let’s just say that the sound of 4 consecutive Anti-Aircraft missiles taking out a swarm of enemy fighters with me setting my speakers nearly at max volume does put a big smile on my face. The sounds of the electronics and the engine blasting the afterburners are amazing! The beeps even for lock-ons and oncoming missiles are authentic and it makes you feel like a real jet fighter pilot. I give Sounds for this game a 10 out of 10.

Music:

The militant score gets you in the mood to blow shit up and keeps the adrenaline going, soldier. It does sound though like the typical music you find in a Tom Clancy game or a movie like Patriot Games or Spy Game. I give Music an 8 out of 10.

Graphics:

Even running under DX9, the game looks simply amazing. I give Graphics a score of 10 out of 10.

Stability/Reliability:

The game has never crashed although you would think it would fry the video card based on how pretty everything is. I give Stability/Reliability a score of 10 out of 10.

Controls:

You are controlling a jet that goes like 1000-2000 KmPH using just the keyboard with total control. The game uses a mix of WASD (actually QWES) and the arrow keys and does it really well. It works enough that you can pull off surgical strikes with precision like a champ. One of the funnest things to do in the game and a VITAL option is to turn off all the safety features that keep you from making the plane make max G turns that would rip it apart or knock you out from the accelaration change. When this happens the camera switches from the back to a fixed angle view and it just looks amazing! Anyways, the controls are perfect. They get a well deserved score of 10 out of 10.

Performance:

The game runs flawless on my 2 year old medium range gaming PC. Considering that you often have like 20-40 units moving at VERY FAST speeds, the game engine and coding they used for HAWX is extremely well written. Performance deserves a score of 10 out of 10 and it gets it. 😀

My history with this game:

On c64, Amiga, and the arcade I grew up playing Afterburner over and over. Later, I played U.N. Squadron and it’s one of the my favorite side scrolling shooter games of all time. I loved how you could pick a plane that fit your style and then outfitted it with the weapons that you needed for the mission and that fit your play style. Around the year 2000-2001, Microsoft/Zipper Interactive shocked me with how amazing Crimson Skies was. Dogfighting was back but many years passed by and I have by now played Crimson Skies about 8 times. With HAWX, I was excepting this game to be generic and just okay based on some reviews I saw that compare it to making it feel like a world war I dogfighting sim. I’m sorry but WWI aircombat was the epitome of air combat and it was the real age of air combat aces. When I started playing HAWX and saw that you could execute real air combat moves like the cobra maneuver introduced by the SU-27, I was shocked, I was hooked. I really, really hope that an expansion for this game comes out. I would recommend going out to get it if you have the blood of an ace in you.