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The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PS3)
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PS3)
Offered by Bonisell
Price: £3.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Bureau: Worth it for about £5, 29 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
XCOM is a popular RTS-RPG that has recently been revived by previous generation of consoles. It started with Enemy From Within but prior to that game's release there were trailers for The Bureau. That was many years ago and a long drawn out complicated production is generally cause for concern.

However The Bureau is actually a decent game and very enjoyable. I got my copy for £5 including postage with amazon. I feel like I got my money's worth, but I'd be annoyed if I paid full price for it.

The graphics are dated or stylish depending on your stance. I found them stylish and they suited the era the game is based is. Combat is pulled right out of Mass Effect, RPG elements, a squad, cover based shooting. Even multiple choice conversations. All these elements are not as strong as Mass Effect but it does have better controls than the former.

The plot is enjoyable, it is less than standard evil Aliens want to consume the world. There are elements of mystery and intrigue and the sleepwalker npcs are enjoyably spooky! The dialogue is good and again feels correct for the era. The conversation branching is pointless at best. Mainly allowing you to learn more of a situation rather than have any major plot effects. There are some choices that do effect something but they are so superficial they aren't worth thinking over.

Gameplay pacing is good. Missions are rough 1 to 2 hours long with mini missions that take 20 or so minutes. Time back at base takes up the rest of your time and you can engage in some pointless quests for npcs in the base.

Gameplay itself is generally enjoyable but can at times be highly irritating. The AI of your squad is just not there. They are basically turrets that require constant management to be effective. When you master handling your team combat gets easier. Enemy AI isn't anything to write home about either. Combat is made fun purely by the variety of foes and the assortment of powers that friend and foe can wield alike. Powers for allies include a lift, laser turret, mortar strike and combat stims that boost damage.

Controls are tight which is a good thing and the levels are linear with a few nooks to seek extra supplies. Weapons are a mixed bag, as soon as you obtain alien weaponry you seem to stick with it and the game doesn't help you choose your weapons wisely. You have to experiment yourself.

Its a fun game if you can get used to your squads AI, theres not a lot to come back for once completed as the campaign doesnt really branch. Its not amazingly long about 10 to 12 hours. For a long production cycle there isnt enough meat to keep you chewing which is shame.


Oddworld Stranger's Wrath (Xbox)
Oddworld Stranger's Wrath (Xbox)

4.0 out of 5 stars Oddworld Stranger's Wrath (Xbox), 27 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I think Stranger's Wrath will go down in history as one of those benchmark games. One of those games that not only ventures into new territory, but makes it work. THAT is the main thing that is so great about this game: it works. Sure, not everything runs like a well oiled machine. There are hiccups here and there. But the simple fact that Oddworld Inhabitants was able to pull this game off is a huge accomplishment. In all areas--gameplay, graphics, story, control, and audio (for the most part)--it's brilliantly executed.

One thing I really like about Stranger's Wrath is the way the game evolves as you play it. I don't want to give anything away in this review, but I will tell you that there is much more to the game than you've seen in screen shots and read about in magazines. Some folks might have seen the wild west environments, and the Stranger acting all Clint Eastwood while he collects his bounties, and think "well, I'm just not into the wild west and cowboy heroes." Trust me, the game becomes much more than a wild west bounty collecting romp, and there is much more to our friend the Stranger than meets the eye. I reveled in joy as the game progressed and unfolded before me, becoming cooler and more engrossing as I played. The Oddworld team really outdid themselves this time with an awesome story, a complex and fascinating character, and gameplay that never lets up.

Graphically, the game is a stunner. It's hard to believe how much detail they were able to pack into the environments. The environments are absolutely enormous (they get larger as the game progresses) and the player has an incredible amount of freedom to explore. They are also quite beautiful. There are plenty of hidden goodies in these environments, so it pays to explore thoroughly. One thing I really liked is the great amount of variety the developer put into the different environments. It isn't all just desert themed wilderness with cacti and sagebrush. The environments get about as diverse as you can imagine. The game stays very interesting visually as you wander through one strangely beautiful area after another. And the draw distance is extremely long. Objects and critters retain their reality and their interactivity no matter how far away you are from them. This is another thing you don't see too often in games.

Another thing that impressed me about the game is the enemy AI. It's not always the brightest, but it's smart enough to seek cover when you get aggressive, and on the flip side, smart enough to get aggressive when you show cowardice and turn tail. At times it almost seemed as if my enemy was being controlled by an intelligent person. On the other hand, there are some truly hilarious moments when the outlaws will do some incredibly dumb things, like standing next to explosive barrels as they fire at you. It doesn't matter how many you blow up by shooting the barrel--their buddies will hold their ground right next to their own explosive barrels, just waiting for you to blow them to bits. Or you might use a Chippunk to lure an enemy underneath a heavy weight that you can drop on him by shooting a trigger, and his buddies will follow suit, one right after the other, even though they've just seen their buddies get squashed by your trap over and over again. It's funny stuff and makes for great gameplay, but you gotta have really, really dumb enemies to pull off stuff like this. The boss outlaws are where most of the really smart AI is showcased. Don't underestimate them even for a second.

Yet another thing that amazed me is how well they nailed the first person shooter aspect of the game. The game plays so well as a first person shooter, and the control is so effortless and perfect, that it called to mind comparisons with another little known shooter by the name of--yes, that's right--Halo. The calibration of the right analog stick for aiming is dead on. Your reticle doesn't move too slowly or too quickly. It's just right, and it makes aiming a breeze. Even getting a bead on the tiny critters that you hunt for ammo is effortless. Halo and Stranger's Wrath are the only first person shooters I've ever played that had such perfect movement for the aiming reticle. Another thing that led me to compare this game with Halo is the intelligence of the enemies and the intensity of the combat. These firefights are nasty, and you better have some strategy or tactics stowed away in that handbag of yours or you'll be pushin' up daisies real quick like. The areas in which the firefights take place, just like Halo, have plenty of opportunities for strategic cover. And also, just like Halo, enemies are not blind. If you step just a tiny bit into their line of sight, even from long range, they will see you, call an alarm, and sometimes begin pursuing you. This forces you to be smart about what cover you use and exactly what plan you have for advancing.

The game has a fascinating story that really pulls you into its world, and it comes with a couple of big shockers. I've never actually gasped at a video game story revelation before, but I did in this game. If you're halfway intelligent, the first big revelation probably won't come as much of a shock, but I tell you partner, the second one will. For about the first third of the game, you're just collecting bounties and leveling the Stranger up, but after that the story kicks in and it doesn't let go. The ending will have your jaw on the floor and wishing the sequel to the game was in your hands at that very moment, so you can find out more. The brilliant writing and excellent voice acting make for a wonderfully unique experience in this Oddworld. Although the game is filled with the trademark Oddworld quirkiness and humor, the story takes a decidedly more somber tone this time around, and I really liked that. We're dealing with some serious issues here: identity, environmentalism, cruelty against the weak, and the good ol' good vs. evil. But unlike previous Oddworld titles, in which evil takes the form of greedy corporations with little regard for their workers and the environmental impact of their industry, Stranger's Wrath introduces something much more sinister and much more purely evil. It's not your typical Oddworld plot, and I applaud the Oddworld team for taking this somewhat new direction.

Although Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath is a game to be applauded in many respects, it does have its problems. For one, there is an odd ( he he ) problem with the combat that just doesn't sit right. When you begin the game, you're tempted to play it like a normal FPS, running around blasting the enemies just like Halo. But then you remind yourself the game isn't supposed to be played like a normal FPS. The idea is to lure enemies out of their stations, knock them out or wrap them up, then suck them into your Bounty Can, keeping them alive. The main problem is the act of sucking enemies into your Bounty Can usually leaves you exposed to other enemies, putting you into their line of sight and allowing them to fire at you. It's very difficult to lure an enemy behind cover, because the very second you are in their line of sight, they freak out, start firing at you, and stop following your Chippunks (small animals you use to lead outlaws from one place to another). So the only choice you have, more often than not, is to kill the enemy. Or keep wrapping them up with Bolamites while you concentrate on other enemies, which is a waste of ammo. This problem would not exist if enemies stayed knocked out or wrapped up forever. They don't. You have to get them into your Bounty Can quickly. In areas with multiple enemies, many of them have to be killed before any collection can be done.

Furthermore, the combat in the game isn't quite the glorious mix of first and third person fighting styles that it was promised to be. Third person definitely puts you at a disadvantage in big firefights. Enemies are dead shots with their weapons, and your health whittles away quickly when you take fire, so you're constantly having to seek out cover. While I would enjoy having a free-style melee in third person, the game simply doesn't allow this kind of approach unless you're only facing a couple of enemies. The only way I've found to dodge enemy weapons fire is to jump while running. But you can't bloody well evade and attack at the same time. So what combat boils down to is seeking cover, going into first person mode, and using your crossbow to either kill or knock enemies out while you pop in and out of cover. That's fine I guess, but the point is, the game promises a nice blend of third and first person combat styles that it doesn't quite deliver. Perhaps if the Stranger had the ability to block enemy weapons fire, third person combat would have been more enjoyable and more balanced in difficulty. Or if he had more than two attacks in third person, or a Master Chief-like shield, or temporary invisibility . . . cripes, anything to make third person fighting a little more fair. As it is, when the crap hits the fan, you'll almost always find yourself abandoning third person to use your live crossbow ammo in first person and whatever cover may be nearby.

Another little issue I have with the game has to do with capturing boss bounties alive. The game drives the message home to the player that capturing your bounties alive gets you a lot more moolah, and then it makes the boss outlaws impossible to capture alive. Or at least next to impossible. It can be done, but it's much more difficult than it needs to be and it involves a little random luck (like pushing that X button at exactly the right microsecond).

Where third person play really shines is in navigating the environments. I don't call it platforming, because Stranger's Wrath is not a platformer, but you'd swear it was by how effortless it is to move the Stranger around, do what you want to do and go where you want to go. I never once had one of those moments we all have in third person adventure games where we're screaming, "God!!! All I want to do is freakin' get up there!! Why can't I go there!!" The environments are effortless to navigate. The Stranger's running gallop, double jump, and ability to climb ropes pretty much take him anywhere. He can even swim, a luxury which was not allowed poor Abe in in Munch's Odyssey ("Help Munch, I'm takin' a beatin' out here!").

Perfectly in keeping with the Oddworld style, the Stranger has a health system unlike any game you've ever played. The Stranger's health is replenished from his Stamina bar, which slowly builds back up when it is depleted. As long as you have Stamina, you can transfer it to your health bar. The Stranger shakes off his wounds as his health bar fills up. Stamina is depleted by long falls, running, attacking, filling your health bar, and taking damage from powerful enemy weapons. Stamina doesn't take long to build up, but don't think that makes the game easy. Far from it, Stranger's Wrath leans to the difficult side. The boss battles in particular are especially brutal. Some of them are so merciless that you'll find yourself dead just a few seconds into the fight. And the first stage of the final boss battle? It redefines the terms difficult, frustrating, and merciless.

The game's audio is great, with the exception of one little matter that really bugged me. The voices used for the town citizens that the Stranger talks to are way too quiet. I had to constantly turn up the volume on my tv to hear what they were saying. I couldn't leave the volume at that level, because then the sound effects of playing the game were way too loud. So I was continually going up and down with the volume, which got to be a real pain. In a game like this where hearing what the local inhabitants have to say is important, the voices should have been given a much higher volume, and probably should have been recorded in higher quality. Their voices have an antique, sort of grainy effect, like you're listening to them on one of those old gramophones. Other than that, the sound in the game is great. Weapon sound effects are pretty cool, like when the Stranger lets loose with a round of Stingbees. One thing I really liked is the game gives you plenty of audio cues to let you know exactly what's going on with your crossbow and your ammo. The sound effects for reloading, for ammo powering up, and the constant chatter of your selected ammo will never leave you in doubt about what ammo you have selected, if it's ready to fire, or if it needs time to charge up or reload. I love a developer that recognizes the importance of strong audio cues in games. It's easy to overlook how important sound effects are in a game until you play a game that doesn't do them very well (like Snowblind). Another great audio gem in this game is the voice of the Stranger. His voice actor does an excellent job. But the voices of the tadpole-looking folks that the Stranger helps get really annoying.

There isn't much music in the game to speak of. I thought this was odd, since I'd heard that this game has a dynamic soundtrack that plays according to what you are doing in the game. I hardly ever noticed music, but I suspect the reason is that it too, like the townspeople voices, is simply too quiet. The game emphasises explosions and weapons sound effects over any other type of sound. I wish the overall sound in the game had been balanced a little better.

All things considered, Stranger's Wrath is an amazing game that simply must be played. It is the very epitome of high production value. For those wondering if it's better than Munch's Odyssey, well you can't really compare the two. They are two completely different types of games, with the only real link between them being the fact that they both take place in the Oddworld universe. The only returning character is the loveable little fuzzle, but you may have an occasional Slog sighting. Mudokons, Glukkons, Gabbits, Vykkers, Interns and Sligs are nowhere to be found. However, the game does give the highly speculative player a clue as to the possible origin of one of the species I have mentioned above.

I had a major "Ah HA!!" moment concerning a connection between Stranger's Wrath and Munch's Odyssey that I would so, so love to tell you about, but to do so would spoil one of the game's big secrets.


Forza MotorSport (Xbox)
Forza MotorSport (Xbox)
Offered by marxwax
Price: £16.66

4.0 out of 5 stars Forza MotorSport (Xbox), 27 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The action on the track is nothing short of perfect. Forza's cars handle extremely realistically, forcing the player to drive carefully or be brutally beaten by the tough AI. The difference between driving a stock 4 wheel drive Subaru and a heavily upgraded rear wheel drive Dodge Viper is as pronounced as it should be. Especially with the high-end cars, who wins and who loses is predicated on skill, not on blind luck and who has the heaviest foot on the accelerator.

The importance of the inclusion of car damage cannot be understated. No longer can you ram opponents out of the way, nor can they do it to you. Hit anything too hard and suddenly you'll find your car pulling to the right and your transmission shifting poorly. Over rev the engine too much and you'll never get out of third gear. No game that allows you to recklessly bounce of anything in sight with no repercussions can be called a simulation. The presence of car damage in Forza will make the player change the way they play, and the challenge of keeping your car right at the edge of control becomes far more rewarding when the consequences for pushing it too far are so much greater.

The AI is the most realistic of any simulation racer on the market as well. Run the same race twice and you won't see the computer drivers doing everything the same way. They jockey for the faster line and execute reckless passes just as much as you do. And they compete with each other, not just with the player, a welcome change from most racers. It's not impossible that you'll be running in third one race and suddenly see your two opponents slide off course, having tangled too closely trying to win the race. You may come to hate the AI after it has spun you out into the grass one too many times, but the idea that an AI opponent can elicit any emotion at all is remarkable.

The controls are tight and responsive, which is all you could want from a racing game. The analog shoulder buttons are perfect for acceleration and braking, allowing for varying amounts of each rather than simple lead-footed pounding. The game supports steering wheels as well, for those intent on getting the most immersive possible experience.

It's such a shame the Xbox Live servers have now been shut down.

This is possibly both the most hyped and most detested feature of Forza. You have the option of training the game to drive the way you do, and then set that AI loose on the career mode races or even race against yourself to learn how you might be beaten and improve your game. It's a very similar feature to NFL 2K5's VIP system, except that rather than constantly gathering information about how you drive, the drivatar is only updated through specific training. To create it, you only have to go through five quick three lap time trial runs in different cars on different tracks. To really get it running well requires a fair amount of "Free Training," wherein you choose the particular car and track you want to train it on and have at it. A lot of people feel that the drivatar excels only at slamming into walls and otherwise being a nuisance, but with decent training that will not be the case. As I write this, I've got a drivatar driving a Saleen S7R torching the opposition on Nurburgring. For people who don't want to put the time into the endurance races but want to complete the game and get all the cars, the drivatar is a godsend. And if you'd rather do everything yourself, you never need to touch it. Overall, a very impressive feat of computer learning and a very useful tool for those who would rather not put in an hour on just one race.

Forza's graphics are breathtaking. The car models are extremely detailed and reflect their surroundings in real-time. As they take damage, you will see fenders hanging loose, large dents, and crumpled hoods. Hit a car hard enough from behind and you'll see its spoiler pop off and fall to the track. The cars tilt as you turn and accelerate, and bounce up and down when you run up on the rumble strips.

Inside the car, you will actually see a driver, and that driver will actually visibly turn the wheel and shift gears. It's a really nice graphical touch, especially when watching replays.

The lighting effects are beautifully done as well. You will see bright sections of pavement where the sun is hitting the track, and the shadows projected by the cars under the lights are spot on.

The tracks and their surroundings are wonderfully styled and rendered. Pavement is pavement wherever you go, but the visual differences between, say, the Maple Valley and New York City courses are astounding. The former track is lined by autumn trees and occasional cabins, with little pockets of spectators scattered about, while the latter is hemmed in by tall buildings, with a much dimmer, more urban color scheme. The attention to detail in the courses is spectacular, with little touches that you certainly won't notice while blazing past at 240mph, but which you might catch while watching a replay of your glorious victory.

It is very tempting to just sit back and watch the replays because they are gorgeous to behold. In addition to the already beautiful graphics, you will see camera effects like the focus shifting as the cars move into the background.

Really, the only graphical shortcoming is that the hubcaps look painted on. Not really a big deal.

The sound is every bit as stellar as the rest of the game. The engine sounds are true to life and vary depending on where the camera is in relation to the car. The change in engine sound when going from third to first person view is as pronounced as the change in viewpoint. Engines roar, superchargers whine, and tires skid very realistically all throughout the race. When driving past large groups of spectators, you'll hear them cheer. And you should get a little too aggressive, the sound of cars slamming into walls or other cars is as accurate as the engines.

And yes, the default music is terrible, but the game supports custom soundtracks that never stop playing. The music will play in the menu, while the races are loading, and during the race, and during the race the track can be changed and volume adjusted on the fly with the D-Pad, so there really isn't any grounds for criticism.

Career mode offers a ton of races, some of them very long indeed, and it will take most players well over 20 hours to complete every one of them. Arcade mode offers another long string of races that will take several more hours to win. And with online play and endless leaderboards, there is always another goal to shoot for, even after all of the cars are unlocked and all of the races are won.

The menus in the game are excellent and very functional. Everything is clearly laid out in pleasant looking screens. If you are on the choose race screen in career mode, and you want to race an event that your current car is not eligible for, it gives you the option of jumping straight to your garage to choose from all the cars you have that are eligible, which is an excellent touch that will save a lot of time. The online scoreboards are easy to navigate, and the car upgrading system is simply and clearly laid out, so that even those who don't know much about cars will have no trouble seeing what effect an upgrade will have.

On the down side, it is just a little bit slow going from screen to screen. It's not a problem, but during long sessions it can be just slow enough to be annoying.

Above all else, Forza Motorsport is complete. No aspect of the game seems rushed or unfinished. Microsoft Game Studios have paid incredible attention to detail at every level of the game. The amount of depth to be found is astounding, but one is not required to delve incredibly deep into the game to have a good experience.

For the gamer who just wants to race some fast cars, they can do that, but for the car enthusiast who wants to tinker with cars they might not be able to have in real life, the game provides engine graphs, telemetry readouts, and tons of tweakable settings to keep them occupied optimizing their car and their driving. This isn't a simple copy of Gran Turismo, it is the game that Gran Turismo aspires to but fails to be. It is always towards the end of a console's life cycle that the really spectacular games are released, and Forza stands as one of the finest Xbox games ever made.


Far Cry Instincts (Xbox)
Far Cry Instincts (Xbox)

3.0 out of 5 stars Far Cry: Decent, 27 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I loved the PC version of this game and the later Far Cry 3 on PS3, which made me look seriously into FC:I. Since playing it through, I felt I would share my impressions on what turns out to be a mixed bag of some excellent aspects, and others which are extremely poor.

There isn't a great amount of depth to it to be honest, but then again, this is the world of the FPS where the story is really not as important as the action elements and the gameplay itself. In case you weren't already aware, you play the role of Jack Carver, an ex military man who is dragged into a paradise gone wrong. Islands crawling with mercenaries and other less amenable creatures are your new home, and you'd better start enjoying it, because the action comes thick and fast. Due to the lack of depth, it's quite hard to go into detail without the presence of spoilers, so I will leave you with the fact that it isn't that great, but it's not really a deciding factor in how the game pans out.

There is a lot to say about the graphics in this game when looked at from a purely console orientated view. The developers have really done a fantastic job pushing the most out of what is an aging console soon in for replacement. The environmental detail and slight bloom effect will make you enjoy the outdoor areas of the game and though some of the finer detail is a little bland, when compared to many other Xbox games out there, it really does stand out. The frame rate is very solid, but unfortunately it comes at a price.

That price "pop-up" and though this is purely down to the limitations of the system upon which it is played, it is a shame that many of the finer textures and detail only come into focus when you're right on top of them. A lot of textures are also a little bland when you get close to them, which is a pity in an otherwise good looking game. It can cause a little loss of immersion, but nonetheless, it is a beautiful game and though there are indoor areas, you'll only have eyes for the tropical beaches. Character models are also a little similar at times and could have used a little more time on them to make them rival the stunning environments.

Now, to my mind, the most important thing when considering buying a game is the way it plays. Forget the sound and the graphics, you can have a great looking, yet generally dull game. It's not totally the case here, but in terms of the single player experience this game leaves a lot to be desired. Why? Well frankly, it's the shockingly bad AI. The enemies in the game do lack a little material between the ears and may often be seen getting stuck, standing still whilst firing at you or generally running in your direction waiting to get gunned down. It is poorly implemented and makes the game far too easy - add to that the fact that there are no difficulty levels and you find that you're left with a somewhat hollow experience.

The feral abilities are gimmicky. They only add to the arcade like feel this game seems to convey, with the over the top auto aim and stupid AI, it's run and gun and crazy physics for much of the time. Whilst they certainly add to the element of fun, they end up feeling tacked on and after the first few times of use, you'll find yourself going back to the guns. Vehicles are implemented well throughout the game with a variety to choose from such as the ATV, hand-glider, 4X4 and so on and add to the variety of the game. Another disappointment with the game though rests with the linearity of it all. It feels far too much like you are on rails and after the PC version showed so much potential, it is a great shame they couldn't expand on that in this game and give you some alternative routes and different ways to play out the levels.

Then we have the auto-aim, which in the single player, takes a whole lot of skill out of the playing experience. Bullets will wind their way to the target, even if they weren't aimed well in the first place if the crosshair is red. It just requires very little skill, and though this can mean a fun blasting of enemies, for me, that is not the way the game should play - if you miss, bullets shouldn't home in on their target, but sadly, a lot of the time they do. Again, this is a big negative as coupled with the poor AI, most enemies are sitting ducks for an easy take down.

So after all that criticism, I would stress that this is my take on it, and though stealth elements and feral abilities are present, they feel a little rushed and the sub-standard AI means that your traps often go unused. It is no doubt a fun run and gun shooter, but don't expect any more depth than that. It promises much and I feel, fails to deliver.

Generally no complaints here, the sound is pretty atmospheric, the music is well implemented and as in some other games around, the radio broadcasts are a fairly constant source of mild amusement. Guns and vehicles all sound nice and meaty and all effects play out well through a good TV.

In terms of single player it would score a big fat zero. For reasons already mentioned such as the lack of difficulty levels, this extremely short game (8 hours average first completion) is far too short to hold your interest for more than 2 run throughs, and that is being kind. So where does this 8 come from? Multiplayer and map maker, that's where.

Thankfully, this is the one thing that this game gets absolutely right. The multiplayer is entertaining and varied with a Predator gametype added to the usual mix which adds a new twist. One player becomes the Predator each round and is given special abilities whilst everybody else's task is to hunt them down. The map maker is intuitive and provides many opportunities to create a wide variety of maps which can keep you and your friends entertained for many an hour.

The fact that the single player of the game is too short, too easy and generally unsatisfying. The weapons and vehicles are nicely balanced and integrated well, yet when you have enemies this stupid, it really is of little consequence.

The multiplayer is the saving grace, but the xbox live component has long been shut down. A good version on the classic xbox, but sadly not a patch on the original and feels too arcade like and simplistic to last very long.


Test Drive Unlimited (Xbox 360)
Test Drive Unlimited (Xbox 360)
Offered by PARTYGAMES UK
Price: £24.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Test Drive Unlimited (Xbox 360): Servers have now been shut down, 27 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Test Drive series has been around a long time, but unlike fellow arcade racer Need for Speed, new iterations arrive infrequently. After going through various incarnations that included street racing, off roading and even a Southern style demolition derby title, the franchise went dormant. Now, the series has been resurrected for the 360 and it is clear that the developers were finally ready to bring the series into the major leagues.

Like its forebears, Unlimited is an arcade racer, but this newest iteration is different in many ways. For one, the racing is no longer confined to tracks and instead takes place in a huge open world. And this isn't just any world – it's a real location. Players are plopped down in the middle of Oahu, a tropical Hawaiian paradise, and given a huge stable of cars to buy and drive around. Unlimited allows the player to delve deeper into this fantasy of luxury, with the ability to outfit your character with a variety of clothing bought from real brands and acquire houses and garages to park your cars in.

Of course, everything starts with money. And you'll only get money by racing. There are numerous race types across the island such as circuits, sprints, time trials, and speed races. While most of them are standard racing fare, the latter deserves explanation. Speed races come in two different flavors. The first is just to get your car up to a certain speed, then end the race. The only problem is that these races are usually held on heavily trafficked or curvy roads. The other speed type is similar to NFS speed races, where you pass a number of checkpoints; your speed is registered and averaged out to a whole. Unlike the NFS games, there is no set path and you can pick which checkpoints you wish to hit first.

There is an additional type of event, called “transport”. Transport events take a number of different guises. In some you'll be driving a vehicle to a new location and in others you'll be transporting people and cargo. Each has a minor quirk that sets it apart from the others – for instance, damage during a vehicle transport mission deducts from your final reward – and a different reward, but all of them are fundamentally the same. Of course, some of these transport missions are the only way you can get the vouchers that allow you to buy clothing in the stores, but that's an ancillary diversion many people won't take an interest in.

The actual racing is good, but there are a few bugs in the vehicle physics. For the most part, these are so minor it may take a few hours to notice them, but they do affect gameplay. Sometimes it can be something as simple as a car not turning properly, or as drastic as a car suddenly losing traction and flying off the road. But as the game progresses, it becomes more of a problem because of the increasingly high performance cars you'll be driving.

Another of these subtle problems is with the transmission. This is a consistent problem, regardless of which car is being driven. At times, a shift doesn't register, or it registers late. While this isn't so much a problem while shifting up, it becomes immediately noticeable when shifting down. This problem borders on being ridiculous when you have to put your car in reverse, as it can take upwards of five seconds for it to actually go into gear. It may not sound like much on paper, but if you've just spun off the road and everyone else is going by at two-hundred miles an hour, five seconds is a lifetime. Of course, these problems can be avoided entirely by switching to automatic transmission, but that's an unacceptable solution for any self-respecting racing enthusiast.

In the case of motorcycles, it is best to avoid them altogether. While they suffer the same basic physics and transmission problems as the cars, these problems are exaggerated by the fact that motorcycles are inherently more unstable than cars. There is also no way to lean over to take a sharp turn, which means that motorcycles tend plow straight into a barricade and turn the driver into a human missile.

During the game it is likely (and inevitable) that you'll come up against the cops. They can be called in for numerous reasons, such as reckless driving or a hit and run. While they aren't especially smart, they make up for it in dogged persistence. They'll try to ram you and they'll also set up roadblocks. To make matters worse, if you hit another car, or another car hits you, your wanted level goes up. In effect, this means more police and more roadblocks. It wouldn't be so bad if there was some convenient way to shake them off - something similar to Grand Theft Auto's Pay and Spray - but no such mechanic exists. Instead, the wanted levels have to fade one their own. It also seems that this isn't based on a matter of time, but of distance driven, so if you want to lose the cops you have to stay on the roads and not just hide out. At times it is easier to just pull over and take the ticket, but the prices become astronomical in a hurry. Price factors include everything you hit as well as a loose approximation of your skill, called driver level. The good news is if you're completely broke they just put you in jail for thirty seconds and you're free to go!

Survive the police and win races, and you'll eventually get enough money to start buying cars. But don't be surprised if you have to make some hard decisions in your purchases. Unlimited has most of the big names such as Lamborghini, Ferrari, and McLaren, along with a handful of luxury vehicle manufacturers like Mercedes and some more down to earth companies like Ford and Chevrolet. All in all, there is a nice mix of cars that span from both the low to the high end of the spectrum. But, there are some very noticeable holes in the lineup. For instance, Porsche and BMW are mysteriously absent. That's not to mention some of the most prolific companies are missing many of their signature models. Ferrari has been whittled down to the bare essentials and Lamborghini is lacking the Countach, Diablo and a few others. While many of the missing cars have apparently been introduced via DLC, that doesn't do much good for those without online – and those unwilling to pay for cars that should have been in the game in the first place.

Unlike most racing games, the cars you buy in Unlimited don't just go to a mysterious invisible garage with unlimited space. You must have a garage where cars can be stored, and that's where real estate comes in. Each house on the island has a garage that holds a certain number of cars. Once it has been filled, you must sell some cars or buy another house. More expensive houses tend to have larger garages. Houses also serve as a basic hub for the game. Not only is that the place to store cars, but you can check your game progress, Achievements, and change clothes for your driver.

For a budget title, Unlimited looks okay. The cars are absolutely magnificent on the outside. By using the driver camera, it is possible to immerse yourself further into the illusion of driving one of these cars. However, the immersion is hindered by the fact that the instruments don't work on many of the cars.

In terms of the environment, it looks okay as long as you keep your eyes focused solely on the road. Look around and you'll see that this digital recreation of Oahu isn't nearly as pretty as the real thing. While it's hard to expect ultra-realism from a budget priced game that attempts to recreate an entire island, it's still a little disappointing. The landscape is filled with two-dimensional trees and bland textures. The culprit is easy to pinpoint; dozens of square miles of empty land with no roads fills the interior of the island. Had this unimportant area been ignored and the island streamlined, there would have been much more time to work on the rest of the island.

Unlimited's audio is interesting. Every car has a realistic radio, and you can choose from several stations that encompass rock, alternative, electronica and even classical music. While the song list for each station is limited, each is pretty good and fits the overall mood of the game.

While the game has its fair share of problems, it allows the player to experience something truly unique in the gaming world. How many other games out there allow you to take a Koenigsegg all the way to its top speed on a winding backroad? That's enough of a reason for this game to warrant a look by any racing fan.


Rumble Roses XX (Xbox 360)
Rumble Roses XX (Xbox 360)

1.0 out of 5 stars Rumble Roses XX: Truly awful, 26 April 2014
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Rumble Roses XX is the sequel/upgrade to the original titillation-heavy PS2 all-female grappler. While the Xbox360 version revs up the graphics, it does not remedy any of the issues from the earlier game. There's a lot of eye candy, flash and fanfare for what's really just a lot of T&A in what amounts as a juvenile peepshow grappler.

Graphic wise I wasn't thrilled with Rumble Roses XX. Character models are pretty good, almost CGI quality on the PS2 but not there yet. The arenas are kind of bland but I must admit the 3d crowd was impressive for a change. For a T&A game I guess all that matters is that the character models look good. Fans of Dead or Alive Extreme Volleyball should enjoy this game for the same reasons; it also seems to offer the same badly done setup as that title.

Sound wise I'm not thrilled either. The music is very pop-ish and I just didn't think it fit with the game. Sure it has the girl's just want to have fun vibe going for it but I need a little more fitting music. Sound effects are okay but nothing new. Voice acting also annoyed me. Bad ear splitting pitches.

I like and don't like the control, all at the same time. It's easy to pull off moves and the game feels sluggish at first until you realize you have one attack button. Your attacks vary on how you have the left analog stick pointing when you hit the button. Y lets you grapple and varies with the stick as well. B is supposed to pin your opponent but I can't seem to get it to do that most of the time unless I was coming off of a grapple.

For the game play I must say there is no substance. There are arenas to fight in. Street fights and I guess some competitions. There is also a mode where the winner forces the loser to do something like pose in a sexy bathing suit or something. The game really doesn't offer much. There is 20 characters or so but I couldn't help but feel they played too much a like, since all moves are they same, they just had different looking moves.

As I sit here typing this I can't remember much of the game. You win titles by doing stuff that I couldn't figure out. I heard it was win 15 match's and fight all of the normal characters but that didn't do it for me. The game does have a unique feature where you build your character up. Keep using a move over and over and it becomes stronger, a plus for those that love to spam moves. Besides that you also build your body up. Not sure how this works as I saw no changes and had no manual.

The game is long I guess. 40 costumes to unlock in some of the most mundane ways. Oh and everyone has 4 costumes but they are the same costumes. How fun is that to unlock? I guess there is normal multiplayer but I can't play that since I don't know any gamers. I tried to play online but there wasn't a living soul there.

Would I recommend Rumble Roses XX? No, it's boring as dirt. The wrestling felt sluggish at times and the AI seemed uneven for no reason. The problems I had with pinning and trying to get a title was just a pain in the butt. A game shouldn't need a manual to be played. The menus also felt kind of sloppy. The item shop does seem to have a fair amount of items and the photo session feature is great for the perverts who love to take panty shots. I'm not a gamer that plays a game for T&A and this game honestly has nothing to offer past that.


Gears of War: Limited Edition (Xbox 360)
Gears of War: Limited Edition (Xbox 360)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Gears Of War: Forgettable, repetitive and uninspired, 25 April 2014
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There's no disputing how fantastic this game looks. It has some of the most detailed visuals you'll likely ever lay eyes on, with exceptionally detailed characters and backdrops and satisfyingly gory enemy explosions as well as some impressively sized monsters to battle. It looks awesome. Heck, it's arguably the best looking game made to date, so impressive is it's level of detail. However, these incredible graphics seem to come at a price, in particular with regard to the amount of depth and length the game has on offer.

The levels in Gears of War are actually rather narrow and 'on-rails' for pretty much the entire game, with the occasional large area thrown in there to break up the action with a big shoot out or boss fight, but these are ultimately still herding your characters in one direction for the duration of the game. Even the rare 'choose your path' moments are rather deceptive, as the paths are usually running so close beside each other and are so similar that there's little point in the game actually giving you the option in the first place, other than to make the multiplayer a little more interesting.

There's even a rather pathetic 'driving' level thrown in there for no apparent reason that seems to have been tacked on at the last minute. It involves having to drive around a rather tiny area of the city while being pursued by the killer crows that you face throughout the game, and basically all you do is drive, stop, shoot crows with lights for a few seconds, drive, repeat.

The game has great looks, yes, but unfortunately those lush visuals come with the price of being wrapped around a series of sparsely populated, lifeless and cold series of locations that are often far too antiseptic and empty, with scattered objects like furniture adding nothing to proceedings as they break apart in rather poor looking fashion(Starts off looking pristine, shoot it once and it breaks, with random damage unrelated to where you shot it appearing on it) compared with the physics involved in how the characters and enemies come apart throughout the game. See that car near the start you can shoot until it explodes? It's the only one in the game I could see, as the rest of the vehicles in the game are completely indestructible and cannot be interacted with. Rather odd I thought.

In addition to this, there was one moment that stuck with me: The large monster with the cannon on it's back you have to reach your APC to get away from near the end of the game. It looked impressively nasty, and I was hoping to see it appear again, but no. It was in there for no real reason than to offer a flashy cut scene, when it would probably have made a far more impressive final boss than the one the game has, I believe.

Now that the graphics are out of the way, lets get down to the gameplay, which is little more than a mishmash of other games that have come before it, more often than not doing what Gears of War does much much better. In particular the mighty Resident Evil 4.

Epic made it clear they were getting many of their ideas for Gears of War from RE4 from the off, and it really shows. With several gameplay touches(like the over the shoulder aiming) and set pieces lifted straight from RE4(most notably the 'Berserker' monsters that react to sound, lifted straight from RE4 and shoved into GoW with few differences in rather shameless fashion). The 'hide' function also, is very hit and miss as you use the same button to press against a wall or other hide worthy location and dash/dodge, which makes it all too easy to hit a wall and stick to it when you're trying to dodge, or to jump over a wall when you're trying to dash off to the side to other cover. It may not happen to you often, true, but it happened enough to annoy me during my initial run through of the game.

Another gripe is your team mates in the game. This is supposed to be a squad based shoot em up, but you can only give your squad the most basic commands in the game. There's no scope for deep, ingenious strategy here, just 'fire', 'cover' and little else. Play it with a friend if you want a real squad based experience from this game, otherwise, you'll find you won't be spending a whole lot of time trying to get your team members to be of any real use in this game, as they aren't really, unless you're using them as cannon fodder or cover of course. It's a rather weakly implemented part of the game given it's supposed to be a squad based shoot em up, yes, but honestly, it probably wouldn't have added a whole lot to the game if it was more deep than it is. If you really must play a squad based shooting game, you'll no doubt already be aware of the many superior alternatives that are available in the genre to this. Play one of those instead.

To be fair though, the game IS passable if you're a hardcore shooter fan looking for a fix. Yes, it offers absolutely nothing new or even as good as some past games in the genre you'll have played, but it's arguably not BAD in what it does do if you get down to it, but while I was playing, I had a very real feeling of 'yeah, so what?', as I'd felt like I'd been here so many times before, it was hard to work up the enthusiasm to keep going at times. Make no mistake, this is unoriginality at it's most pure. Far more so than is usual for this type of game in fact. So if do go in, be sure you're expectations aren't overly high, as mine had been raised to be by months of MS and Epic hype.

Onto the story of the game, it's pure b-movie trash involving alien monsters from underground attacking a human populated world for reasons that are barely touched upon, cue poorly voiced identikit tough guy marines who have to grunt and shout their way through a wafer thin plot to make Paul Verhoven blush that even has the audacity to end on a cliffhanger that gives virtually no sense of closure or satisfaction with the climax. It's like Halo 2's ending all over again. Which also brings me to the issue of the game's length: barely six hours at a push, which is less than a third of the time it took me to finish Resident Evil 4. If I was given the choice of a beautiful, but shallow and unpolished title, or a slightly less beautiful but large, engaging and exceptionally polished title, I'd take to the latter every time.

Lastly, I'll touch on the multiplayer aspect of the game. Well, I say aspect, but it's more or less what this game was made for, as much of the gameplay seems to have been designed to accommodate a multiplayer squad shoot-em-up than it has a single player experience.

The campaign mode, admittedly, is a lot more fun when played through with a friend, as it is quite gratifying to take on the enemy with actual squad mates as opposed to AI soldiers who you can only give the most basic of commands to. The 'death matches' and 'vs' games are good for a few more hours of fun as well, but these for me highlighted the shortcomings of the cover system more than the single player did if anything, and really, I felt so shortchanged by the single player mode in this game by the time I got around to the multiplayer, I could only bring myself to spend a relatively minor amount of time on Live with this title compared to some other, better multiplayer games out there like 'Spec Ops The Line' or 'Rainbow Six Vegas'.

Overall, the hype around this game built up expectations to ridiculous levels, and it failed to deliver on just about every front. I was promised a gaming revolution.

If you want pretty, you've come to the right place, if you want fun, you can probably wring a fair amount out of this if you like this sort of game, but if you want depth, inventiveness, creative level design, interesting plot, passable voice acting, intuitive controls or a polished gaming world... you probably won't find it here.


Star Trek: Legacy (Xbox 360)
Star Trek: Legacy (Xbox 360)

2.0 out of 5 stars Star Trek: Disappointment, 25 April 2014
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Star Trek is one of the most revered science fiction intellectual properties in existence. With nearly half a century's worth of material – including an expansive stockpile of recognizable pop-culture miscellany – to work with, one would think that such an iconic franchise could easily be adapted into a top-of-the-line videogame. Then again, such thinking neglects the reality that videogames based around licensed properties in general have always cultivated a deservedly poor reputation. And so, in keeping with this hallowed tradition of underachievement, Star Trek games usually manage to procure for themselves a position near the bottom of the quality spectrum.

Star Trek: Legacy is not the breakthrough game that reverses this trend. There is a clear vision present in the title's design, and over the course of the game experience proper it manifests itself often enough to merit strong consideration for any Star Trek aficionado's time and gaming dollars. Unfortunately, it is also plagued by a series of faults and developmental concessions that at times combine to ruin the experience in fits of frustration and disappointment. All told, Legacy is a game that comes ever so painfully close to achieving the promise of its premise.

One of the strongest aspects of Legacy is its narrative. Rather than focusing exclusively on one era or character from the Star Trek universe, the game instead opts to weave a tale linking the three main Trek eras – Enterprise, Original Series, and The Next Generation – to the exploits of a rogue Vulcan scientist named T'Uerell. The plot itself is surprisingly adept at linking the sundry eras to one another, and T'Uerell serves as a suitably dislikable antagonist. Be warned, though: the story retrofits itself into Star Trek lore in a largely apocryphal manner, so it's safe to say that the events here aren't canon for the series.

While the plot may not hew exactly to Star Trek history, the ships included in the game seem to have been crafted with great deal of attention to their accuracy. You'll start out in the Enterprise-era Enterprise (big surprise there), which features comparatively weak engines and weapons and no shields of any kind. As you progress through the campaign, you'll take the helm of the Enterprise in future iterations, circa both the Original Series and The Next Generation. Regardless of the epoch, the ships all come equipped with the functions you would expect from a starship, from warp drive to phasers to tractor beam.

You're not stuck with just the Enterprise at any given time, of course. Once you've built up enough in-game currency to purchase them, you'll take the reins of up to four ships in total for any given mission. You only actually control one ship at a time, but you're capable of issuing orders to either individual members or your whole retinue via the game's command map. The crux of the gameplay revolves around directing your forces to various exigencies all over the map, switching between starships to micromanage the battles when things get hairy.

That process of micromanagement is where the wheels begin to come off the veneer of starship-to-starship combat, thanks to the borderline idiotic behavior of CPU-guided ships. There's little positive to say about the A.I. in Legacy, for either your friends or your foes. Enemies seem to be programmed to blindly chase and attack, and they show little interest in self-preservation once they begin to fire at one of your ships. Naturally, your squadmates display the same casual disregard for their safety, circling and firing away at their selected target until one side has exhausted its hull integrity.

That's not to say that such battles are all bad, though. Leading your handful of starships together for a quick hit-and-run strike on a heavily patrolled enemy base feels just right, and it can be exhilarating to destroy some of the more formidable foes (Borg cubes being the most memorable) with a coordinated assault. Problem is, there simply aren't enough combat opportunities like these. Instead, you'll frequently find yourself performing some asinine duty like reconnaissance, or protecting a sector of space from incoming asteroids. What should have been a consistently exciting game of large-scale space combat at times devolves into a micromanagement nightmare – and with no mid-mission checkpoints, it can be extremely frustrating to lose a team member after an hour of tough dog fighting because they chose to engage with an enemy when they were limping along with no shields.

Further detracting from the experience are Legacy's clunky controls. Starships feel like they're plodding through molasses as you attempt to manually maneuver them through space, a problem compounded by the inevitable scenarios in which enemy ships swarm you from numerous directions. Even more egregiously, weapons will only fire at a targeted object from fairly specific angles. Given the expansive verticality of the quadrants of space you'll explore, these two conditions coalesce often to render battles more difficult solely due to the sheer amount of choreography necessary to successfully land attacks. To top these issues off, Legacy is host to a slew of minor glitches (such as phasers that on occasion stop firing for no reason) that creep into the gameplay sporadically. All told, a great many minor detriments snowball over time to seriously affect the game experience.

Like so many other titles released in this generation of console games, Legacy offers an online multiplayer mode that features both a standard four-way deathmatch and a cooperative mode pitting users against waves of CPU assailants. Combat in these matchups at least renders the myriad A.I. problems less of an issue, but the other gameplay issues are inescapable. Furthermore, there seems to be absolutely zero online community for the game, so anyone brave enough to give it a spin will need to resort to other venues to find enough players to fill a single room. Both modes are supported offline as well, although for unknown reasons (and in spite of the game case's claims to the contrary) they do not support multiple players when played on a single console.

Whether in single- or multiplayer, Legacy never expands its purview beyond the exterior of the ships and the sectors of space they occupy. By not providing players a conception of any interior locales, the whole of the game looks like it deals in miniaturized toy replicas, rather than the enormous contraptions of the Star Trek series. At the very least, though, models for most ships and effects do look pretty good – although again with caveats, as explosion animations for certain vessels and the way-undersized planets are likely to grab your attention away from the overall positive visual production. Audio, on the other hand, is actually handled very well. Almost all of the voiceover work is delivered with sufficient gusto (including that done by the actors who actually portrayed the ships' captains on television), and the music and sound effects are appropriately employed.

Like many other Star Trek titles to reach consumers before it, Star Trek: Legacy is a deeply flawed and clearly budget-minded piece of software that likely exists solely to cash in on the goodwill of the franchise's fans. While this fact might condemn products of a lesser heritage to complete irrelevance, it does not do so to Legacy; on the contrary, any such Trekkies will likely derive a great deal of positive from a modicum of time spent with it. This is due to the fact that the game does not immediately crash and burn, unlike so many Star Trek games before it. No, at its heart, Legacy is only a moderately amusing tale set in the mysterious ‘final frontier' – but it is also a bellwether of potentially positive returns yet to come.

Any moderately avid Star Trek fan should be able to find at least some satisfaction in a few hours spent with Legacy. Players without any prior appreciation of the world of Spock, Picard and the Borg, however, are not likely to find any such sustenance, and should consider other options for their time.


Rogue Trooper (Xbox)
Rogue Trooper (Xbox)
Offered by scaddingk
Price: £15.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Rogue Trooper: Worthly of playing and in your Xbox collection, 25 April 2014
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This review is from: Rogue Trooper (Xbox) (Video Game)
Third person shooters are slowly but surely becoming one of my favorite genres. With fantastic games like Freedom Fighters, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, and of course The Punisher, they are a force to be reckoned with now days. As there are great third person shooters, sadly there are also some flat out horrible ones, one such game being the True Crime series in general. Alas though, another great third person shooter has come out of the darkness, and its name is Rogue Trooper.

Rogue Trooper takes place on a world called Nu-Earth. Once a beautiful and arguably the best place to live in the Galaxy, now has become a war town planet, with air filled with poisonous gasses and materials. The war is against two rival forces, the Norts, and well, the GI's basically since they are doing all the fighting, but they work for the Southers. The GI's are blue, genetically made, war machines. Unfortunately, your one of the last ones alive, seeing as how a General on your side tricked the GI's into a trap where they all died except you.

Thankfully, you were able to save three other GI's, by taking out their biochips in their heads, and inserting them into your gun, helmet, and back pack. So now the four of you are out to find the traitor General, and stop an entire Nord army on your own. While the story itself is original enough, I couldn't help but feel the cliques throughout it. But none the less the story will defiantly keep you interested for a while, and you will certainly like the characters and what the have to say throughout the game. The only problem was the length of the game, it felt entirely too short, and ended so abruptly that it left me wanting a lot more.

But even though the game is shorter than I would have liked, the fantastic game play will keep you hooked as long as you play it. I admit the controls are a pain to get used to and you will more than likely be pressing a few wrong buttons, especially if you're used to other games controls like GRAW, but once you master them they will become second nature. With so many different ways of killing your enemy, then what's not to like about it.

With a huge variety of weapons in the game, which includes everything from an assault rifle, to a sniper, to a beam weapon to even an EMP launcher, then you will never be without something to shoot. The different things you can do with your weapons also made it wonderful. Let's say you have to hack a computer console using Helm, the GI in your helmet, but you need some extra firepower. Place down Gunner, the GI in your gun, and have him post as a sentry while you take up point somewhere else with your pistol, and lay down the enemy's while Helm gets the job done. Or you can just make a hologram of yourself, and use it as a decoy for a while.

Unfortunately you will plow through ammo like there's no tomorrow in this game. Which is where the GI in your backpack comes in by using materials and parts you pick up on the battlefield, he can make ammo, perform upgrades, and even create new weapons for you, which is all great, but in the middle of the battle it was annoying to have to stop and buy ammo constantly.

But every GI needs someone to talk to during battle, which is something that your three comrades do a lot. They are always filled with tidbits of info or just simple little things to say, which added to the games fun, always hearing these three, supposed to be dead soldiers talk. The voice acting is great in Rogue Trooper, not the best I've ever heard, but still good enough to make the game a lot more interesting. The voices really do match the personalities of the characters especially with the GI's in your equipment.

Music wise, well Rogue Trooper was kind of generic if you ask me, didn't really impress me, and didn't really set up the intense scenes for me. The action in the game did all that. Sound wise, Rogue Trooper was pretty good, the sounds matched the guns, and the heavy foot steps of the GI and the Nords was nice. Vehicles all had a realistic sound to them, and it was impressive all around.

What made me kind of sad though were the graphics. It may be from playing the 360 everyday to go back to Xbox graphics, or it may just be lack of effort, but Rogue Trooper is not a graphical stand out at all. The character models lacked life, the environments were blocky and not very detailed, weapons and vehicles didn't really look amazing. They were decent, but in this late in the Xbox life, and with so many other games coming out now with amazing graphics, these were just very disappointing.

Rogue Trooper was probably one of the last games I'll be playing on my original Xbox, but at least it went out on a good note with Rogue Trooper. While the graphics lacked seriously, and the music wasn't the best I've heard in a video game, the game play was phenomenal, if not a little hard to master, and the story was compelling. It's a decent buy if you're still looking for titles for the box.
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TOCA Race Driver 3 (Xbox)
TOCA Race Driver 3 (Xbox)
Offered by Atlantide Videogames
Price: £33.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars TOCA Race Driver 3:, 25 April 2014
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Just like before, there's the familiar World Tour mode to wade through, giving racers the choice of at least two (but mostly three) racing disciplines to master in each tier before they can progress on to the next. So, for example, you might decide you're better at Rally driving than Indy Car or Monster Trucks, meaning your path through the game will very much be dictated by your own personal gaming preferences, which you'll appreciate more and more the harder the game gets. In particular, it's this ability to try another discipline and progress via another route that takes a lot of the potential frustration out of the TOCA Race Driver, while also giving you more of what you do want. It's a win-win.

Once again, you've got the guiding hand of Rick behind you (the thistle tongued ageing Scot) barking instructions to you when you're on the track and giving essential driving tips prior to races. Codies has sadly toned down the 'plot' elements that were such a welcome part of TRD2, and as such the game's now a more serious affair than it was. Nowadays the cut scenes are more likely to dwell on sound driving advice than flirty agents and TV crews, but the light-hearted tone helps keep your interest, while the occasional clash with a monkey-faced rival is pure comedy gold on the rare occasions that they occur.

Whichever race discipline you plump for, the formula remains unchanged, meaning there's no qualifying, no choice of which car to drive, a very limited number of laps, a pre-determined position on the grid, and the over-riding requirement to finish at least fourth in the overall table during the three or so races you'll have to clear in each tier. As annoying as some of these restrictions can be, the game's designed sympathetically so that you'll almost certainly be able to work your way into a winning position with skill and persistence. And if you don't... the races really aren't that long so replaying repeatedly them isn't too bothersome - besides, it's a formula that's fun, challenging and realistic, delivering the excitement of the more action focused racing, with much more authentic handling and damage considerations. Needless to say, the faster the vehicle, the more careful you have to be, and the more important it becomes to be familiar with each track.
Cracking up
time

Possibly a time penalty for that one.

With such a short-sharp approach to racing, you're never forced to dwell on any given race for lengthy amounts of time, and very quickly this quick fix approach to the World Tour mode makes it as compulsive as any arcade racing game you've ever come across. It also becomes quite a test, too, meaning you really have to throw yourself into the practicing the course layout and the unique handling demands of each different vehicle .Once you start making headway, though, don't expect TOCA to be a game that you'll crack easily. More than likely - with 120 championships to beat, 80 tracks to memorise and 35 racing disciplines to suss out - you'll be the one cracking first.

But that's not even half of the story.

For those that want more control over grid position, car choice, car set-up and so on, Codies have concocted an unbelievably huge Pro Career Mode for the really committed types to wade through over the next year or more. Split into eight specific racing discipline categories including Classics, GT, Oval, Touring Car, and Off Road, you get the chance to play any of them, with full racing rules, flags, pitstops and the like to adhere to during races - which certainly put paid to our corner cutting tactics and tendency to barge opponents into the sand traps whenever possible.

The basic driving experience in the Pro Career mode might feel pretty similar to the World Tour mode at first... until you realise that your aggressive driving style cuts no ice with the officials. Qualifying, for example, allows no corner cutting at all, while any crazy driving in-race soon gets slapped down, with warnings and eventually time penalties added. The series of races is much longer too, with roughly nine to compete across, rather than the three or so in World Tour mode. While this certainly makes it easier to win the championship if you're good, it forces you to put in consistently good performances over a greater breadth of tracks. It's certainly not for the faint-hearted, and should test drivers to the limit of their endurance.
Model of consistency
cardboard

Looks great. Just don't look too closely at the cardboard cut-out crowd.

The fact that the game appears to cope with any racing discipline you can throw at it and emerge with so much startling consistency makes you realise just how well executed TOCA Race Driver 3 really is. When most games struggle to pull off one racing discipline with any real aplomb, for Codies to come along and trump the competition in such emphatic style is worthy of serious acclaim. You wouldn't bet against them making tractor racing seem fun if it was an option - in fact the various unlockables (including toy cars, apparently) make it seem like the kind of project where anything's possible. Factor in the huge number of tracks on offer, the high quality of the computer AI and the ability to tinker with Simulation mode and set up your own races and championships to your own requirements and apart from maybe more cars there's virtually nothing more you could want from a racing game.

Multiplayer, but it's by no means an afterthought, with two player split screen and up to 12 players on Xbox Live, but this was long since shut down.

Not that anyone will be remotely surprised by this assessment, but Codemasters has really pulled out all the stops to make TOCA Race Driver 3 about as good as it could possibly be on Xbox. Simply, it's another excellent driving game that puts most of the competition to shame - not just because it's so utterly rammed with so much top-notch content, but that it does so to such a consistently high standard. With an excellent online mode to boot, it really does offer the lot; as far as serious driving games go, this is as good as it gets on the original Xbox.


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