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Xbox Official Memory Unit
Xbox Official Memory Unit

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Plug-and-Play units, but small save space..., 6 April 2003
"Why the hell would I need a memory card?!?! The Xbox has a hard disk!"
I've thought this one before, but the answer is simple. You can't take the hard disk with you.
At 8MB, the Xbox Official Memory Unit is larger than many other memory units for other consoles, being quadruple the Playstation memory card's size. However, this size pales in comparison with an 8 GIG hard disk. Hence the only real problem with the unit.
Saves are all this is really any good for. Developers have taken advantage of the huge Xbox storage on their replays, so you will only fit a couple of these on there.
The units are Plug-and-Play, meaning you can add and remove them without turning the Xbox off, but of course never removing them during a save. They can be named, so that your Memory Unit isn't confused with another, essential for those late night drunk sessions when you can barely see the TV, let alone play games.
And finally, no you can't put music on them. They're too small, and the Xbox has no copy option on the music saved.
Overall, they are functional, but as it turns out that function is slightly limited.


Xbox Official Memory Unit
Xbox Official Memory Unit

49 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Plug-and-Play units, but small save space..., 6 April 2003
"Why the hell would I need a memory card?!?! The Xbox has a hard disk!"
I've thought this one before, but the answer is simple. You can't take the hard disk with you.
At 8MB, the Xbox Official Memory Unit is larger than many other memory units for other consoles, being quadruple the Playstation memory card's size. However, this size pales in comparison with an 8 GIG hard disk. Hence the only real problem with the unit.
Saves are all this is really any good for. Developers have taken advantage of the huge Xbox storage on their replays, so you will only fit a couple of these on there.
The units are Plug-and-Play, meaning you can add and remove them without turning the Xbox off, but of course never removing them during a save. They can be named, so that your Memory Unit isn't confused with another, essential for those late night drunk sessions when you can barely see the TV, let alone play games.
And finally, no you can't put music on them. They're too small, and the Xbox has no copy option on the music saved.
Overall, they are functional, but as it turns out that function is slightly limited.


Shenmue II (Xbox)
Shenmue II (Xbox)

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you have the patience..., 6 April 2003
This review is from: Shenmue II (Xbox) (Video Game)
After appearing on the Dreamcast, Shenmue II (btw, that's "Shun-moo" :-D) arrives on Xbox. It casts you as Ryo Hazuki, father's son and all-round good guy. After your father was killed, you have been searching for his killer, Lan Di, with the intent of beating him to a bloody pulp. The game begins in Hong Kong...
As Ryo, you will have to go into the towns of Hong Kong, piecing together exactly what your father was involved in. You'll have to earn money, either through gambling, streetfighting, pawnshops or hard labour. You'll also have to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. Think of Shenmue as a life on one disc, rather than a game.
Yu Suzuki has created a clever mix of action, RPG, and Virtua Fighter-style combat. As the game progresses, you will have to talk to various characters to find out crucial information, leading to further RPG-ness. But along the way, Quick-Time Events (QTEs) will jump in, say for example the chase sequence at the beginning of the game as you chase a gang who steal your bag. The chase occurs through areas such as a cafe, and various commands are shown on-screen. Press the right command, and Ryo leaps over the table. Mess it up, and he goes head-first into the soup.
The fighting sequences takes place via third-person one-on-one action, feeling like a cross between the Virtua Fighter and Dead or Alive series. As you progress through the game, new techniques will be learnt and mastered. Although confusing at first, the systems quickly become intuitive, as do the moves.
The graphics, while impressively detailed, are exactly the same as the Dreamcast version, limiting some of the impact of the game. Some surfaces, such as stone tiles, are very impressively represented under normal viewing, but due to the Dreamcast's lesser abilities will cause some strained eyes when the zoom is held down.
Having said that, the detail on everything is impressive; the older population have wrinkles like walnuts, the clothes all have folds and every surface looks the way it should.
Perhaps the most impressive area of the game is the population of the cities. Every character has their own life, characterisation, ways and even speed of walking. They'll always be in a certain area at a certain time, and always give you the same answers. This gives the game a very realistic feel to it.
Sometimes, however, the game feels slightly let down by its ambitions. Shenmue II at times feels very on-rails... you find this guy, talk to him, then find another guy, find out some more information, look for a certain building, talk to the guy in that building... you got the picture a long time ago. You are always free to talk to who you like, but you know who you have to find every time.
This is sometimes compounded by the conversation with the people in the game. Shenmue has a system whereby Ryo has a set amount of answers, and each person in the population has a set answer to each question. But often Ryo's answers don't flow from the responses given by the other. The following is very typical:
Ryo:"Excuse me, I'm looking for [somebody]."
"I'm afraid I don't know, perhaps you should ask someone else"
"I see. I'll try asking someone else"
This gives the game a very artificial feel at times, and although a small point, affects the entire game. It itches away at you like some sort of rash, changing the atmosphere of the game completely.
As to whether you will buy it, that's the million-dollar question, with no clear answer. If you want a deep, enthralling storyline, that can be tackled at its own pace, with no real sense of urgency, this is your game.
If you think that all games should have a definitive point and aim to them, and dreamier games irritate you, your copy will end up in the 2nd-hand bargain bin after a few days. The game is unique, I can't think of another series anything like this, except maybe in Riven you have the same sense of freedom.
I come under the first category, and haven't put another disc in my Xbox. Hence 5 stars.
Overall:
+ The story however, is huge, top-notch, and a real addictive one, if you have the time. Get immersed in this and you will lose sleep, friends and possibly your social life.
+ Intensly rewarding...
- ... if you have the time.
+ Impressive "digest" and full-length Shemue I movies to get you up to speed.
~ Graphics are impressively detailed, if not quite so stunning as before
- Somewhat stilted conversations sometimes steals the atmosphere away from you.


Sega GT 2002 (Xbox)
Sega GT 2002 (Xbox)
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Gran Turismo, and the name is better too :-), 6 Jan 2003
This review is from: Sega GT 2002 (Xbox) (Video Game)
Having read zero reviews of this game, I played this expecting a good game, but was ready for a let down. I'm still waiting for that, because this is about the best racer I've played in quite a while.
The graphics are stunning. I was impressed by the inclusion of lens flares and glare from the sun (which on several corners, causes you difficulty seeing the corner ahead). But then I used the first-person mode and was stunned: the game includes heat waves produced by the engine as well. Can you get more realistic?
This is the first game I've played where mastering the handbrake is a necessity (one of my few criticisms of the first Gran Turismo was that you could get through the whole game without ever really mastering how to corner properly, just sliding about a bit in the most powerful car you could find.)
I like the way in which crash damage is accounted for. I like the way that your engine, tires, brakes and suspension all wear after each race, and how the engine wears more if shift down into too low a gear and rev the engine too high, for example. Every other racing simulator assumes that you just do this yourself and it doesn't charge you a dime.
The handling is superb, with true analogue control. This is probably the first racing game I've seen where this is so evident.
But possibly the most impressive feature of this game is the other cars. They don't just follow pre-determined routes like other racing sims. When they're behind you they'll hound you into making mistakes, they'll try and go around you so you really have to use the rear view or the mirror in first person view. But also, when you're behind them and trying to get in front, they will make small mistakes when cornering, they'll hit walls as they push too hard to get away from you. It's this that makes the game so enjoyable. In other racers you feel like other cars are just automated, in this one you really feel like you're racing other drivers.
All in all, a really good racer.


Jet Set Radio Future
Jet Set Radio Future

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simply Breathtaking, 6 Jan 2003
This review is from: Jet Set Radio Future (Video Game)
JSRF, as you've probably already read, is a platform game on skates. The original on Dreamcast is hailed as a classic, and this continues the trend. The gameplay is truly unique and feels very intuitive, fusing elements of several genres in the process. There's the skate element, but the game builds on this with level constructions that can only be conquered in a certain way, adding button-pushing elements (more Parappa the Rapper than Tony Hawk's Skateboarding) to perform tricks on rails and in the air. If you every played NiGHTS on the Sega Saturn, imagine that on skates and you're pretty close.
Set in the near-future, the game focuses on the city of Tokyo and a skater group, the GGs. Some rich guy is buying up all the areas in Tokyo and oppressing the people within them, and the GGs are fighting this, along with other groups like Poison Jam or Rapid 99. However, despite this, strong territorial feelings evolved so a turf battle between the different groups has developed. Your aim is to go claim as much of this as possible.
Whereas the original game was a race against the clock to score points, this game has become much more platform-genre orientated, with huge structures such as Shibuya Terminal (where several sets of bridges converge over roads and a bus stop), through to 99th Street (with a frankly massive dragon structure as a focal point).
In terms of level contents, Smilebit's game also excels: every pipe, tower, or grind rail is there for a reason and it is both a challenge and a pleasure to find all of the possible uses for them.
The graphics have been a bone of contention with many reviewers. But not me. The original JSR, in my opinion, "invented" a new style of graphics in cell-shading, and this has only been improved with the power of the Xbox. Everything is well-detailed and there are no areas where you feel the construction has been rushed.
The sound of the game is one of the game's strongest points, but there is a slight niggle with me. Kudos to Smilebit for being so brave with the soundtrack selections, varying the content between punk, dance, and other genres. Each song is mixed into the next so that there are no pauses: it FEELS like the Jet Set Radio station would sound in real life. Some of the musical content, however, may be too "strong" for the mainstream however, and herein lies my reservation. One track in particular, which sits on the fence between metal and grunge styles, sticks out in my mind. Having said this, all of the tracks suit the game so well that any reservations quickly melt away.
The controls fit the game, period. The Xbox controller is not an interface method in this game, it's a part of your hand. Everything you do is in easy reach of your fingers, from clicking the left thumbstick to "grind" on flat surfaces (used to regulate speed when tagging surfaces, or to circle opponents) to the use of the other thumbstick to look around the area to figure out routes etc.
My only major negative with the game, which is the only real reason I give 4 stars rather than the full 5, is that perhaps Smilebit attempted too much in some areas. The cell shading utilise a lot of the Xbox's power, and some of the areas of the game use just a little too much. This was a launch game, so it hints that maybe the game engine was rushed. I say this because, for 99% of the game, everything runs at full speed and the frame rate holds constant. But in a few select areas, such as the upper-most area of Rokkudai Heights, slight slowdown occurs. It's not enough to spoil your game or you flow (which is what this game is all about), but it is mildly irritating after a while.
The game will suit you if you look for something else in a game, it's not one where the emphasis is on finishing the game a la Halo, Splinter Cell, Resident Evil. There's a real feeling that the idea is just to enjoy playing the game. If you enjoyed "just playing" games such as NiGHTS, Burning Rangers, or Parappa the Rapper, for their enjoyment content alone, you will find this in JSRF.
A suprisingly refreshing take on an old genre, that harks back to the core element of all those 80s classics: having fun. Buy ten copies...


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