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Richard Burns Rally (PC)
Richard Burns Rally (PC)

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard but fun!, 7 Sep 2004
This is one of the most demanding simulations I've ever played. Even getting to the end of a stage feels like a massive achievement. I've yet to complete an actually rally. You have to throw out the preconceptions all those other rally games have taught you and begin again from scratch. Pulling off a powerslide takes a lot of practice and car control, and often its not even the fastest way to get around. Rarely can you put your foot to the floor and you're constantly dancing on the brake and throttle, edging the car along the narrow strip of road, tense, waiting to react to the next danger. Listening to the co-driver is essential, and the pace notes are quite complex so it takes a lot of concentration to keep up to speed with everything he says.
The physics are fantastic. I never tire of watching every single replay the game makes, I just sit with my mouth open watching the car move in a way thats so realistic you would be forgiven for thinking it was an actual video of a real car. I'd go so far as to say it probably has the best physics of any simulation around at the moment. Perhaps only the excellent Papyrus sims exceed it in this area.
The crash damage is excellent too, and very harsh. Even just nudging a log with your rear tyre can damage the suspension, and all the damage has a big and noticeable affect on how the car handles. Bumpers break off, bodywork crumples, windscreen cracks (making it impossible to see), engine overheats and stalls, radiators get punctured... so do tyres obviously. The damage is very comprehensive and believable. It's also terminal, and this is what makes the game so hard. Half way through a rally you nudge a log which slings the car round into a ditch. The engine stalls and you cant restart it. If you can't get back to the service area you cannot continue the rally. One tiny mistake destroying many hours of hard work.
The stages are long too, and range from taking 5 minutes to taking 15 minutes to complete. 15 minutes driving on the edge of your seat, unable to relax, is very tiring. The stages feature a mixture of road surfaces, and you can feel the surface change and the grip of the car change through the fantastic force-feedback. There is also real time weather, which changes around you as you drive. You have to pick the right tyres as driving in the wet with dry tyres on is near impossible. The rain and weather graphic effects are very good. Actually, all the graphic effects are very good, such as the dust thrown up by the rear tyres.
Throughout the stages there are hundreds of tiny details which all add to the atmosphere. Spectators and camera men leap out the way, birds scatter and sometimes hit the windscreen cracking it. Apparently deer and other animals can be seen leaping in front of the car, but I admit to never having seen it. Theres a whole lot of stuff I've never seen though, so I'm quite prepared to believe it.
The game seems to be pretty aware of how damn hard it is, and it features a proper rally school which teaches you a lot of the real techniques that the drivers use. Far from feeling patronizing like many game tutorials, you really feel you're learning a lot when you work through them. They are also well made and Richard Burns himself does a good job of narrating them. His voice is certainly not as dour and boring as Mr McRae.
The game requires a very powerful PC to work and the system requirement seem a fair assessment of what you need to play it. My PC just scrapes by on the minimum spec and I can run the game smoothly in 800x600. With a powerful computer the graphics are verging photo-realistic, but at low details and resolutions they are not that impressive. Also the game doesn't have many tweaking options, which will disappoint the fiddlers amongst us. Definitely nearing the time for an upgrade! :)
My only problem with the game is that it lacks any kind of online multiplayer feature. But as rallying is more about you verses the clock, it's not a big deal. Still it would have elevated the game from excellent to truly outstanding had it been included.
OK, I wrote more than I planned and not nearly covered half the things I could say about this game. To sum up, its big and hard and very demanding. If you're a sim nut (like me :p ) looking for a new challenge or a rally fan wanted to get close to experiencing the life of your heroes, then you have to play this game. If you're looking for something to pickup and play at the weekends, then this isn't the game for you.

NASCAR Racing 2003
NASCAR Racing 2003

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best racing sim ever., 29 Jun 2004
This review is from: NASCAR Racing 2003 (Video Game)
The NASCAR racing itself is amazing, detailed and intense, but it's the mods which makes this game so fantastic. The Trans-am mod would be worthy of release on its own, and tellingly its creator, Project Wildfire, has been picked up by a real publisher. There are also hundreds of tracks available for download, with great many fan made cars and tweaks. Simply, the game is so damn modifiable that you can turn it into any kind of racing you want.
Despite developer Papyrus going out of business (don't worry, they released a good patch and the servers are still supported by Sierra) the future of the game looks bright as there are many great mods in production. There's a V8 Supercar mod, the GTP mod (kinda fast and light sportscars from the 80s), and even proper open-wheeled Indy car racing.
The multiplayer is ace with up to 42 players on track at the one time with very little lag. Man, this game has everything... there's a built in paint shop program for skinning, a replay studio which puts practically every other racing sim to shame (with a fan made replay editor which turns replays into .wmv for download)... basically, every feature you could want in a racing car sim is here, not to mention the great handling and physics, brilliant AI, and convincing graphics.
It's a cliché, but no serious racing sim fanatic should be without it!

Deus Ex: Invisible War (PC)
Deus Ex: Invisible War (PC)
Offered by gowingsstoreltd
Price: 4.72

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm not going to review it, 12 Jun 2004
Well, lets cut to the chase... the reason people hate Invisible War is not because it isn't as good as Deus Ex, it's because it's good in an entirely different way. Everywhere Deus Ex succeeded - a great story, well written characters, and memorable locations - Invisible War fails, comparative to its illustrious forbear. Where it reins however, is the gameplay. Yup, Invisible War simply has better gameplay than Deus Ex. It is the most flexible game ever made, and it is simply whatever you want it to be. Some people claim that it has been reduced to a mere shooter... well, that's because if you play it as a shooter, it will be a shooter. If you play it as an RPG, it will be a RPG. If you play it as a stealth action game, it will be a stealth action. If you play it as all of those things, it will be all of those things. It is simply what you make of it, and you'll only get out what you put in. It will shape and deform and fall apart and follow and flow through everything that you want to do, and somehow by the end it will be one total cohesive whole again. That's why I think it's a really good game

SideWinder Joystick
SideWinder Joystick

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great joystick, 27 April 2004
This review is from: SideWinder Joystick (Video Game)
I've had this joystick for over a year now, and it just occurred to mewhat a great buy it was. That's the thing with this stick, it's so easy touse and functions so well that you never have to think about it. Yousimply plug it into the USB port and then play. The movement of the stickitself is very smooth and stable, and you have very precise control. Ithas eight buttons, plenty for almost every game I've encountered, and asmall throttle which is great in flight-sims. I've also used it in racinggames to great affect, and it has stood up to many a bashing in franticonline gaming sessions. The only downside is the the design of the handgrip, which makes it impossible for any southpaws to hold it comfortably.Still, if you're right-handed your laughing.

They Live on the Sun
They Live on the Sun
Price: 22.24

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of pure genuis, 7 Jan 2004
This review is from: They Live on the Sun (Audio CD)
A rich, tormented eulogy to a dead child, this album roars with anger and chaos as Craig Minowa bares his torture and loss through six strings and a heap of computers. Every track is catchy, every lyric heartfelt, every emotion weighs in with total clarity and every track swoops and climbs unexpectedly, majestically, adding layer upon layer to this dark beautiful tapestry. Not in a long time has an album reduced me to physical tears as this one has. If you don't buy this record you're an idiot.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PC)
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (PC)
Offered by 4GamersUK
Price: 4.16

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than GTA3!, 26 July 2003
One of the best videogames of all time, with amazing Hollywood production values, and a seemingly never ending wealth of gameplay, innovations and freedoms. Not buying this game? Now, that would be criminal!

TOCA 2: Touring Cars - Sold Out Range (PC CD)
TOCA 2: Touring Cars - Sold Out Range (PC CD)

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best racing game ever!, 18 Jun 2003
This is the best racing car game I've ever played. Do I need to say more?
Once you have mastered the game and have graduated to expert level it is so hard, so challenging, so frustrating and so rewarding that it will eat your life! No other game has managed to capture the feeling of being on the absolute ragged edge, one tiny slip up causing you to spin violently into the barriers, or leaving you stranded in the middle of the track with 15 other cars coming screaming towards you.
The driving is fun, but it's the racing where this game really wins out. You really feel as though the other competitors are trying to beat you, they are not merely moving pieces of scenery, poised to get in your way at the worst opportunity. They jostle for position, squeeze past on the outside, outbreak themselves on the hairpin, and if they are a better car then they pull away from you on the straight. It's simply astonishing and no other game - even the big shiny new ones - has managed to capture edge of the seat racing to this degree.
I've not mentioned the dated graphics, because when you're hunting down the lead at Silverstone you simply won't care.
Best racing car game ever!

Billy Bragg and Wilco - Man in the Sand [DVD] [2005]
Billy Bragg and Wilco - Man in the Sand [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Billy Bragg & Wilco
Price: 12.99

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally amazing, 31 Jan 2003
This DVD is wonderful. If you're a fan of Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg or Wilco then get this! You won't regret it. In fact, get it even if you're just looking for a good movie. It's class.
It follows Billy as he travels across America looking for the Woody Guthrie behind the myth. He then goes into the studio with Wilco to record the wonderful Mermaid Avenue albums.
It's beautifully filmed by Kim Hopkins, and is stuffed full of amazing music.
I completely love it!

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