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Adam McGee (Norwich)

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Olympus OM-D EM-5 Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera - Silver (Body Only)
Olympus OM-D EM-5 Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera - Silver (Body Only)
Price: £649.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OMD for the WIN, 14 Aug. 2013
Before I talk about my user experience of the OMD, I'm going to give you a bit of background on myself. I've used Canon equipment for about 7 years, about 3 years ago I bought the Panasonic GF1 as a lighter option to use (for example travelling, or social events), and my two systems of choice were very separate. Canon for proper stuff (for the past 5 years I've shot some weddings over the summer months) and the m43 camera for when I can't be bothered to lug about a great big camera plus L lens.

Anyways, ever since the OMD was first released I've had my eye on it. It looks great (some hate the hump, I love the hump) and all the reviews pointed out how far IQ had come (thanks in part from the move to Sony sensors from the Panasonic hand-me-downs Olympus usually were able to use). I loved my GF1 (and still do), it's a cult camera and it saw me through some good times. However, with the OMD coming down in price, coupled with the current (until Sept 2013) offer of a free battery grip (more on that later), I finally bit the bullet and bought an OMD in July 2013.

So, having played around with it for a bit, I was impressed (once I'd navigated the ridiculously convoluted menus). So much so that a week later I decided to bring it along for a wedding shoot, to be used as a backup to my usual Canon gear.

Here's the thing - I used my OMD so much more than the Canon. It was a dream to use (in conjunction with my current m43 lenses the Pana 20mm 1.7, Oly 45mm 1.8 and Oly 60mm 2.8 macro). A good four fifths of my shots were with the OMD and I've been absolutely delighted with it.

So why better than that Canon? Well, it isn't necessarily better. But the first thing to note is that the IQ is superb, and with the selection of m43 primes images were tack sharp - and by tack, I mean they made my fingers bleed when I touched the pictures (that didn't happen). Of course the Canon is good too, but the OMD didn't leave me thinking (maybe I should have used the Canon for this). Also, autofocus (excluding the slow 20mm 1.7) was lightning fast. Due to the lack of phase detect on the sensor, tracking moving objects is a chore and best left to a proper dslr, but for everything else the OMD was zippy and quick and enabled me to capture some great moments. The rear screen is tiltable which was great for some late night dance shots when I was holding the OMD above my head.

It's not perfect, the buttons are small and squishy (it's weather sealed, which is good, but it's not good for the buttons). Even with my child-like hands (seriously, I have small hands), pressing the playback button is difficult. The EVF is great, and for me more than high enough resolution, but if you prefer OVF you won't like it (I think both have their merits). The menu is nowehere near as fluid as my GF1 or Canon, but there are plenty of customisable buttons so you can map focus or WB or ISO etc to any button you like. Only going down to 1/4000 shutter speed isn't an issue 99.99999% of the time, but 1/8000 would have been nice, as would native 100 ISO (the OMD starts at 200). Sometimes I also found the EVF made a picture look fine but when I reviewed it on the rear screen it was actually a little darker in the shadows (and that's with the brightness of the EVF turned down).

The m43 system hasn't really taken off as much as it could do, but for me unless you're going full frame, I see no reason not to go for m43 over a dslr (okay, for sports, stick with a dslr). Contrary to popular belief the sensor isn't small, it's marginally smaller than APSC and the DoF is absolutely fine. Granted, you don't get the creamy DoF you'd get with full frame some of the time, but to say you don't get DoF is a lie. Especially with one of the fine prime lenses available lovely bokeh is at your fingertips. The OMD is small, light and with the m43 system I can comfortably carry my OMD, 3 lenses, two part battery grip and fl600r flash and not have it weigh me down. I feel weighed down just looking at the Canon 24-70L lens. If you're worried about it being too small, the battery grip is a fine addition, offering one part to increase grip and a second part to add portrait buttons and space for a spare battery.

I've had the OMD for about a month and a bit, and I am so, so happy with it. Unlike with the GF1, which as mentioned I loved, I don't feel like I'm missing out if I don't have my dlsr. In fact, aside from weddings, the dslr is pretty much redundant now. The OMD has all I need (except for an affordable extreme wide angle thank you expensive Panasonic 7-14mm). Sure, it's not full frame, the 5DMarkIII is better, but it also weighs more than I do. There's rumours of a new OMD that will support 4/3 lenses coming out November time, but I still think, pound for pound, this is one of the very best cameras available.

Oh, and one more thing, the 5 axis image stabilisation is INSANE. I love it. The camera is excellent up 1600 ISO (you can go further of course) but add this to a prime lens wide open and the 5 axis IS then low light pictures of stationary objects is out of this world. Anything moving you'd probably use a flash anyway.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 11, 2013 4:38 PM BST

The Last Of Us (PS3)
The Last Of Us (PS3)
Offered by games.empire
Price: £18.98

155 of 172 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last of Us, 17 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Last Of Us (PS3) (Video Game)
This game's been out since June 14th and there's already 76 reviews on (edit, now well above 200!), as well as all the critic reviews giving the game high praise, so I really don't need to tell you how great this game is. BUT! I'm going to do it anyway, because I want to.

Let's just say you have no idea what The Last of Us is. Okay, here's a brief description. You are Joel. You meet Ellie, a 14 year old girl. You have to get Ellie from A to B (B is far away). And humankind has been infected by a virus that essentially turns people into zombie like creatures of varying zombieness. And the world has gone to pot and lots of people are acting exactly how every end-of-the-world movie tells you they'd act - like law doesn't apply to them. Anything else is spoilers, and you really don't want that.

Now, on a personal level, while graphics can make a game even better, the fact is I will take a game with cruddy graphics but stellar gameplay over a game that looks incredible but plays like Ali Dia (retro football joke for you there). However, with The Last of Us, despite everything else that is great about it (which I'll go into in a bit, be patient), I feel the graphics need special mention. Well, I say graphics, the graphics are spectacular, but it's the pure attention to detail that got me stopping in my tracks to just take in the surroundings throughout my playthrough. For example, I went into one abandoned house and just took in all the scenery - the pictures on the wall of family members, the bespoke design of the wallpaper (which had started to sag due to damp and neglect), the rucksacks on a hanger. Children's drawings stuck to the fridge. The outside scenery is just as impressive. I even started just looking at walls, concrete walls, that had rusty parts on them, because the rust looked so good. The best rusty orange I'd ever seen on a fake wall! At one point I was on a beach and spent 10 minutes walking over muddy sand, watching my footprints appear in the shiny brown reflective goo as the waves gently lapped my feet. The fact is, even with the Uncharted series, I haven't seen a world look this, well, real, in a console game. Naughty Dog made the apocalypse look beautiful, which is no mean feat because the world really has gone, as I said, to pot. Furthermore, when I was playing, I was aware that The Last of Us is graphically so far ahead of anything else on PS3, it almost felt like the next gen was already here. If everything looks this good on PS4, we're in for a treat.

So, the game looks good, what else is good? EVERYTHING IS GOOD, to slightly varying degrees. Gameplay is definitely more stealth orientated than the Uncharted series, ammo is in limited supply and enemy AI is generally quite intelligent - shoot someone and enemies will rush to wherever they heard the noise come from and you'll be dead within seconds. That said, your companions often just run about in front of enemies or, more baffling, talk loudly in front of Clickers, an advanced kind of Zombie who cannot see so instead `clicks' to find your location. With an elevated sense of hearing, you have to sneak around as slowly as possible otherwise your in for an instant death. Yet your chums run up to them and make a lot of noise in general.

That's pretty much all I have for negatives.

So, yeah, other than that, the gameplay is really very good. The Last of Us isn't a game of big blockbuster set pieces like Uncharted, it's a game of subtlety (well, as subtle as you can get when you're blowing up a group of infected humans with a nail bomb). As mentioned stealth is the name of the game and utilising the scenery to sneak and take people out silently works best, especially with ammo at such a premium. There's also plenty of scope to explore your surroundings and find out backstory through items you find and notes you read that have been left by other people. Another thing to note is that sometimes in FPS and TPS games (and Uncharted is no exception), you just end up shooting wave after wave of faceless human enemy with no consequence. In The Last of Us, because the premise is essentially survive first, ask questions later, it makes sense that you act in this way, especially as most of your enemies are too far gone to be considered human anymore. And when you do come across humans you have to fight, there are reasons they're attacking you, rather than it just being a case that the bad guy you're chasing has sent lots of his non-union henchmen to line up for you to shoot them down in the name of fun. Everyone in The Last of Us is fighting for something, especially you.

What truly, 100% takes The Last of Us to the next level though is the story. Now, me, I love a story. I mentioned earlier how I'd always take gameplay over graphics. I'd also always take a solid storyline over graphics. In fact, if a game has a great story, I can forgive clunky gameplay. With The Last of Us, we not only get a gripping, believable story but we get the best acting in any game. Full stop, I've never played a game where the acting is on this level, the interplay and conversations between all characters but especially Joel and Ellie could be straight out of a film. Even Bioshock Infinite, which I loved (and features the same male lead voice actor in Troy Baker) doesn't reach the same level of believable immersion as The Last of Us. Joel is a sympathetic lead, Ellie is completely believable as an actual 14 year old born during an apocalypse (as opposed to how some middle-aged white guy thinks a 14 year old girl would act). The two bounce off each other with a natural progression and their relationship unfolds in a realistic fashion. I recently played Tomb Raider and (even though I enjoyed the game) I disliked how Lara went from scared `I've never shot anyone' to `I've just now shot someone, I'm a bit shocked, but I'm going to shoot 20 other guys with arrows straight away'. In TLOU, the relationship between Joel and Ellie isn't jarring in the slightest. They are paired together and it evolves from there, with ups and downs along the way as you'd expect and, as you play, you understand. Also, Ellie isn't just a weak `I need protecting' female character and Joel isn't just a gruff father figure. They are just two people caught up in a complete mess who know how to survive and they help each other to do so.

Another thing I absolutely loved about the story is that every part felt important. TLOU is the longest Naughty Dog game (it took me just shy of 18 hours on Normal) and is lengthier than many linear games of this ilk. Yet at no point did I suffer from that old gamers feeling of wondering just why I'm travelling to this place to meet this random guy for no reason. Or when you just forget why you are somewhere, or which character you're talking to. The actual plot itself is fairly simple, get from A to B, but the journey is never full of fluff, or pointless side quests. Any deviations from your route make sense, like when you travel to a nearby town to find an old friend you know may have a car. There's no `now you've got here, I need to to do me a really long, arduous, time consuming favour before I'll give you that thing you need to complete your journey'. It sounds stupid I know, but if you've played games you'll know that feeling of thinking `this bit is completely pointless'. As I said, every part feels important and that only makes the game better. Also, no spoilers, but the opening chapter is the best opening chapter of any game I've played. It was so good, that I had to stop for a whole TWO MINUTES before I decided I just had to keep playing. Seriously though it's just, a `bloody hell' moment.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine asked me what my favourite game of this generation is. I cheated a bit and said I had to count Mass Effect as a trilogy, as the three games aren't standalone stories (unlike, for example, Uncharted). Even after Bioshock Infinite, nothing would have changed that, Mass Effect No.1 with Portal 2 close behind. Now I've played The Last of Us, well, basically it's too close to call for no.1. Graphically it's the best game I've played. Storywise it's incredible, full of genuinely emotional, moving and heart-wrenching moments that blew me away and had me shouting at the screen and even welling up. The cut scenes, and the acting in the cut scenes, is the finest you'll get in gaming. The gameplay is very good. There's no other way to put this: The Last of Us is a defining moment of this generation, 7 years into it. I can't decide whether it's my new no.1 game of this generation, but the fact I'm now debating it tells a story in itself. It's pretty much a three way battle between this, Portal 2 and the Mass Effect series. Uncharted 1, 2 and 3 were great but this is Naughty Dog grown up and it's even better for it.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 23, 2014 2:30 AM GMT

Gravity Rush (PlayStation Vita)
Gravity Rush (PlayStation Vita)

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gravity Rush, 24 Jun. 2012
I recently finished playing Gravity Rush for the PS Vita. The game, known as Gravity Daze in Japan, centres on a young girl named Kat, who awakens to find herself in a strange place, with a strange sparkly cat who enables her to alter gravity, so Kat can walk on walls, upside down etc. So far, so Japanese! Gravity Rush has been seen as one of the key games to revive the fortunes of the underperforming (sales wise) Vita. Whether this is the case, I'm not sure, the game itself is as mentioned quite Japanese and pretty niche. However, if you do have a Vita, then I implore you to play it as it's also absolutely brilliant.

The most notable aspect of Gravity Rush is the controls. Suited perfectly for a handheld (much like Loco Roco) you can press the R button to make Kat hover in the air, before tilting your Vita around (or, if you prefer a more hands on approach, using the right stick). Then, centring the screen on a wall, you press R again to make Kat float to said wall and then stand on it, shifting the gravity of the world. Sounds confusing? Download the demo, have a quick play and you'll be right at home. So, we have a unique gameplay experience tailored to the Vita, so far so good.

Gravity Rush takes place in an open sandbox world, with a distinct Steam Punk aesthetic. As the game progresses, new areas are opened up (including an area which has the cutest in game map screen ever). The basic premise is that you, as Kat, don't really know why you are where you are, but you want to help the good towns people stop an evil threat called the Nevi, who are essentially great big red alien things with varying powers. You can attack these Nevi by shifting gravity to get better angles of attack (essentially, you all fight in the air). Combat can be awkward at times, but overall I found the enemies to be interesting foes to battle against, even if it is generally easiest to use one of your special moves, hide for a bit while your power gauge fills up and then rinse and repeat.

However, typically of a sandbox game, there is more to it than than just fighting. As well as finding challenges to complete (your standard get from A to B as quickly as possible, collect as many items within a time limit), you can also encounter random townsfolk to have conversations with, and there is also a sidestory featuring two people who are in other time dimension, so you can only talk to them sporadically (again, so far, so Japanese!). You can also collect purple gems that you can use to level up Kat to improve health, speed etc. Oh, did I mention that you also meet an old man who, in order to allow to you `rescue' parts of the town that are missing, makes you jump through his glowing belly to get to these hidden areas. Yep, pretty Japanese.

Cut scenes are presented in an anime style, and look great on the impressive Vita screen. While there is no English language, only text, I still found the storyline to be engaging. Kat is a likeable character and, while I found the ending to be a little abrupt (there's a definite feeling of being set up for a sequel), despite the wackiness I never felt lost, or that the story was too much. Clocking in at around 10 hours, the pacing was pretty much spot on and the mission structures (the longest mission takes around 20 minutes) is perfect for pick-up-and-play portable gaming (especially for the likes of me who work full time, my hour lunch break was most enjoyable of the last week or so!)

Overall, I very much enjoyed my Gravity Rush experience. As much as the likes of Uncharted and FIFA and other console ports will be popular, it's these types of games, the ones perfectly suited to handheld gaming, that will help the Vita excel as a device. The fact that it feels like a console experience in your hands is incredible in itself, but my overall feeling was that this game was everything great about the Vita. It looks great (give or take pretty average draw distances), it plays wonderfully (thank you, twin sticks!) and using the gyroscope to direct Kat about the place feels natural and not shoehorned in. Touch controls are minimal (you can swipe the screen to evade an attack, or later on you can hold both bottom corners of the screen to allow Kat to slide quickly about the place) but these never feel like touch control for the sake of it. The story is fun, the characters are enjoyable and I was a little bit gutted when I completed it. That, my friends, is a sign of a good game. If you have a Vita, or were thinking of buying one, then I can thoroughly recommend Gravity Rush for a unique and engaging experience.

Panasonic TX-P42X50B 42-inch Widescreen   Plasma TV HD ready with Freeview HD - Black
Panasonic TX-P42X50B 42-inch Widescreen Plasma TV HD ready with Freeview HD - Black

30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warning! Not as described!, 27 April 2012
This isn't an actual review (and if Amazon get round to updating the info, I'll take it down). Just to warn people though, this set ISN'T 1080p as written in the main description, it's an HD Ready TV so it's 720p. Most frustrating, as I thought I'd found a real bargain here. I'm sure it's still an excellent TV, but it's just not 1080p and at TV sizes over 32 inches it does make a difference.
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 7, 2015 9:11 AM GMT

Sony CMTCX5BIP 40 Watt Slim Hi-Fi System with iPod/iPhone Dock and DAB/DAB+ - White
Sony CMTCX5BIP 40 Watt Slim Hi-Fi System with iPod/iPhone Dock and DAB/DAB+ - White

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Complaints for a 2nd System, 1 Feb. 2012
I spent a while looking for a small hi-fi for a spare room that featured an iPod dock as well as a DAB radio and, after reading positive reviews here, decided to plunge for the Sony CMTCX5BIP. I have to say I am very glad I did.

Looks wise, you'll either love it or hate it. Well, you might just like it, but anyway. I had the unit ordered to my work and two colleagues asked if I'd ordered a printer and another said it looked like a trouser press (I think he may have been joking on that though). It is an interesting system, similar to an older style PS3 in a way, it's certainly unique and as it's taller and thinner than most hi-fis, quite versatile with where you can put it. So, it looks nice, what about performance? There's been a few negative points about DAB on amazon but, so far, it's been great for me. I live in Norwich where DAB reception seems to be okay on the whole. Initially I set the unit up on a shelf on one side of the spare room and it didn't pick up all DAB stations. Signal strength on my most listened station, 6Music, was around 20. I moved the unit onto a small bookcase onto the opposite side of the room and 6Music signal was around the late 40s to early 50s, and the system picked up a few more stations, sound was spot on. The aerial is just a flimsy piece of wire, but seemingly if you get it it just the right place, you've got yourself a quality DAB radio for a great price. Add that to all the other functions and you've got yourself a great little system.

The iPod function was another primary reason for looking at this system and, again, I'm happy to say results are positive. I have a 120GB iPod classic and the unit connects to it very quickly, and you can use the supplied remote to access the iPod as well. The packaging included 3 iPod dock adapters but these are all for various versions of the iPhone, however I've found the classic sits in the dock nicely as it is so if you'd prefer not to splash out on a dock adapter you don't have to. The iPod looks great sat on display too. CD playback is as you'd expect, it plays CDs! It's a vertical loading unit with no tray, an added bonus is that the system also plays mp3 CDs so you have another way of playing party playlists and compilations. Also featured is an FM radio, there's no AM but I'm sure it's pretty much redundant now anyway.

Sound wise, you get a lot of bang for your buck. 40 Watts is more than enough for a normal sized room (I'm sure there's no such thing as normal, but in a general Norwich victorian terrace normal is about 11ft by 11ft or so, as a guide). I generally don't go louder than 15 on the volume scale, about half way, and that sometimes makes me concerned the neighbours are hating me, so volume is loud enough for a social gathering without any distortion. Granted the sound isn't quite as crisp as my 10 year old technics micro separates system, but even back then that was well over double the cost of this. You have slight EQ control (increase bass and/or treble) and also utilises Sony's 'DSGX (Dynamic Sound Generator Xtra)' which apparently "adds bass while enhancing the vocals and instruments". Whether it's a silly name or not, the system does sound a bit beefier with this setting on, so I'd recommend having it on whichever function you use.

There are a few things about the system that stop it from being amazing, but at the price you can't have any real complaints for what you're getting. The speakers are wired, so you can't remove the cable out of the back of the speaker and use better cable, and also the connection to the hi-fi is proprietary, so if you have a different set of speakers you'd rather use then you'll have to start cutting and splicing bits of wire. That said, the unit is clearly designed to go with the provided speakers, as said this is a unique looking unit, and it would look odd with different speakers. This unit isn't designed for mix and match, it's an all-in-one system. A few other reviews have touched on the lack of any way of fixing the speakers to the main unit and this is also a strange one, it wouldn't take a lot just to have a small clip to connect them if you wish, to make the unit that bit more portable, however it's hardly a deal breaker.

Bottom line, for the price you're getting a solid DAB radio with a (providing your iPod is compatible) brilliant iPod dock, that also plays CDs, has an FM tuner and a connection at the back for other mp3 players/anything else you want to add (the connection is a simple audio in one, so you'll have to get the right kind of cable to connect). It looks great, sounds great, is versatile and does everything it needs to. Deserving of 5 stars!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2012 5:24 PM BST

No Title Available

62 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's Science To Do!, 27 April 2011
Do you like puzzle games? Yes? Then you owe it to yourself to play Portal 2, full stop.

However, if you're like me and you're not really into puzzle games so to speak then, well, you STILL owe it to yourself to play Portal 2. It's not often that it can be said a game has everything, but Valve have created a masterpiece here for puzzle and non-puzzle fans alike. The visuals are top notch, the storyline engaging, the script is well written and at times laugh-out-loud funny and, most importantly, the game play is spot on. This is a puzzle game so you'll need to get your logic hat on, but don't let that put you off if you're not a puzzle gamer. For while the challenges in Portal 2 can be clever, intricate and mind-blowing at times, what the game has nailed 100% is the fact every problem you encounter makes sense and all puzzles are solvable through logic. Sounds silly I know, but if you're a gamer then you'll know those moments in some games where everything you try doesn't work and when you do find out the solution, it seems so implausible that it can frustrate you even more - 'oh, of course, I needed the lightbulb from the lamp-post to give to the random man so he'd give me a dog to chase away the cat who was holding a golden ball of yarn that I need to gift to the other man so he'd give me his step ladder so I can get to the roof of the building where the matchstick is which I need to burn the candle to wake up the dinosaur who's asleep in front of the washing line I need to get to!' Or something. Portal 2 however, as I said, makes sense, mainly because of the physics of the game. Puzzles are believable and as you get used to the portal gun, you'll start to see all sorts of possibilities. Even the later levels, where the puzzles become quite difficult, you'll be happy to keep trying things out as you know the puzzles will be logical and solvable with a bit of forward thinking. As you go on there is a genuine sense of reward when you finally unlock the secret behind one of the puzzles (I don't think I've yelled 'YES!" as much playing a game since my uni days spent playing Pro Evo 4 hours on end).

The storyline continues a while after the end of the original Portal, once again you play as Chell. For those new to Portal, the game generally takes place in 'test chambers' in the Aperture Laboratory. It's presented in the first person, so if you like COD you'll be fine! You get a Portal gun that enables you to create pathways to different areas of a room - this is done by shooting a blue portal and an orange portal onto walls/floors. Think of them as holes, except when you create two holes they join up and become a pathway. A bit like a portal, really. Anyway, as you progress you gain access to other interesting elements that help you go faster, bounce higher, or even place a Portal onto any surface. The interesting thing about portals is just how they can be used to manipulate a room, it's not just a case of getting from point A to point B as hopefully you'll see if you play the game (or you'll know if you've played the 1st game). As you progress through these test chambers, the story unfolds and you then move onto other areas. I'll draw a line here though, as you don't want any spoilers now do you?! All I will say is that you start off with a friend called Wheatley (voiced brilliantly by Stephen Merchant) and you may or may not run into a certain foe called GLaDOS...other than that there's not much else to say that won't give out plot details (which is just as interesting as the puzzles!)

As I said at the start of this review, I'm not a puzzle gamer per-say. Portal 2 is so much more than a puzzle game though. It's emotive yet funny, clever yet simple, a puzzler-meets-adventure-meets-FPS game. You'll laugh, you'll have your heart strings tugged, you might get a bit stuck, but mostly you'll do as I did and spend a whole day playing it from start to finish because it's just THAT good. Then, when you've finished, you get the excellent co-op mode (and I do recommend playing single player first) which can be played locally via split screen or, online via PSN or even with someone on PC via the Steam Code included in the PS3 version of the game. I was going to review how well this part worked but at the time of writing PSN has been down for around a week now for reasons I'm sure you're all aware of. Local co op is great though (the puzzles are even more intricate when there's two of you!) and a fine extension to the main game.

It's hard to put into words how much I recommend trying this game. Even if you're apprehensive that it might not be your 'thing', similarly to Heavy Rain, it's the kind of game that may divide opinion but can genuinely be called an experience that I feel all gamers should try. I honestly don't have a negative to point out about this game, if we're being picky there's no advanced maps (like in the original), but that's a tiny criticism! Some have mentioned the longevity (I'd say a solid 8-10 hours for single player) but add in the co op and it's certainly longer. Also, as with the aforementioned Heavy Rain which clocked in around 9 hours, there's a definite case for quality over quantity and for me Portal 2 is as quality a game you will play this console generation (plus if there's a better ending to a game,'ll just have to play it and see!)
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 22, 2014 10:25 PM BST

Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed (PS3)
Need for Speed: Shift 2 Unleashed (PS3)
Offered by Ace Goods Co. Ltd
Price: £11.49

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shift 2: Unleashed Review, 3 April 2011
Shift 2: Unleashed is a strange creature really. Attempting to fill a gap between the simulation heavy Forzas and GTs and the arcade stylings of the previous NFS release 'Hot Pursuit', one could question whether it's really a necessary release as the aforementioned games do their jobs so well, especially as the last NFS game only came out in November and still enjoys a fantastic online following. The original Shift had some nice ideas but wasn't executed amazingly, can Shift 2 improve on that and join the racing heavyweights?

So, first thing first, the controls. If you've played the original Shift, I'm quite disappointed to say not much has changed here. Driving can be incredibly twitchy at times, even when you're just holding the throttle and going in a straight line - there are times when you'll start to wobble all over the place. Perhaps this is what happens when you're in a Maclaren F1 going full pelt, but in a VW Golf that isn't going so fast, it can be confusing as to why you've started to lose control down a straight. The racing isn't as smooth as Hot Pursuit and it isn't as realistic as GT5, in fact it feels like it's trying to be a simulation but with added 'wow, that was cool!' over-exaggerated reactions to things. An example of this is the collisions between other racers - while GT5 received criticism for it's unrealistic damage and gentle collisions, Shift 2 seems to go the other way. Crashes can be epic (which of course they can be in real life if you're going 150mph), however if you're just taking a corner at around 30mph and clip the side of another car, I really wouldn't expect to flip over and roll about a couple of times, as has happened. Generally it isn't too bad, but definitely for me a touch over the top, I've had other incidents where a car has tried to overtake me, I've gone to block and he's clipped me, sending both of us into impossible spins that seems to last for ages, certainly long enough for the rest of the field to take over, leaving me facing the wrong way with a blurry screen. It's not amazingly bad to control, however it does feel that often your back end will spin out and you're not sure why, as if what has happened wasn't in your control.

In a similar fashion to the original Shift, you have your career mode which lets you take part in a few events and, as you level up, opens up other events for you to try. You level up by gaining XP which you do by winning races, as well as completing objectives while you race (for example sticking to the race line, getting perfect starts and mastering corners). While nowhere near as in depth as the GT5 career mode, there is a lot on offer here, with plenty of challenges to keep you busy and lots of cash and car prizes to keep you racing.

One of the big selling points of Shift 2 is the new 'Helmet Cam' viewpoint. It's essentially an attempt at creating what is feels like to drive a car through natty on screen effects (for example when you go faster, things start to blur, or if you crash the screen becomes monochrome and goes even blurrier). Also, your helmet cam looks towards corners as you approach them, giving the effect that it really is your head looking around your car. However, the main problem with this is simply that it's much easier to get better times with the standard cockpit view or the bumper view. While there is Trophy for winning an online race with helmet cam, once you've tried it a few times I can't help but feel the majority would switch to a normal view to help their times. While choice is important, it seems strange for Shift 2 to make a fuss about the helmet cam when the majority will choose not to use it, again a case of 'wow this looks cool!' but in practice perhaps a little redundant. If helmet cam was the ONLY choice, it would perhaps make Shift 2 a more unique racer, though of course everyone has their favourite way of racing. Times are important in this game, as Shift 2 uses the very same Autolog system first introduced in the fantastic NFS Hot Pursuit. If you don't know anything about Autolog, basically it's a form of social networking in game - you set a time, and you can message your friends all about it. A friend beats your time, and the game will tell you and provide you with a quick link straight into that race. You can see who has beaten you in what race and even how many times someone has attempted to beat you in a particular race. Autolog is great and really adds to the competitive nature of racing games.

The drifting from the original Shift is back and it's pretty much the same, which is to say it isn't all that amazing. The twitchy controls are amplified here, the slightest press of the R2 button or gentle movement of the analogue stick often sends you careering out of control. Again, this is where Shift 2 seems confused between striking that balance between simulation and arcade, the drifting is difficult and requires learning, yet in the early tutorials even if you just spin about, Vaughn Gittin Jr will just tell you you've done a great job and have really mastered the art of drift. For me, when other games have done drifting either in an arcade or simulation sense so well, I find it confusing that there's been no improvement in Shift 2s drifting since the original release.

Talking of Vaughn Gittin Jr, he's an American racing driver who presents the game to you. It's all real-life footage, not a computer generated representation of him, and he'll talk you through you career through these cut scenes as well as commenting on what you do in race. Now, it's not that he's bad, he's even fairly likeable, but it's all very...dated, I guess. There's lots of 'radical dude, you really hit that one!' and 'Yeah, come on, we won, awooga!' Okay, he never says awooga, but you catch my drift so to speak as it were. For me it doesn't really suit well if the game wants to be taken seriously, it starts to get into NFS Underground cheesy (which was AWFUL) and often I just want to race. It may well be there are people who love this OTT style of presentation, it's just not for me.

All in all, Shift 2 is entertaining, however it isn't fantastic in my view. It really does feel like it doesn't know it's own identity, stuck in limbo between sim and arcade racer. For every simulation quality (like the nice touches of corner mastering) there's an underlying arcade feel, except you can't quite let loose with it because if you go to fast and so much as trade paint with another driver you'll do a couple of flips. On the face of it, the game is great - plenty of cars to drive, lots of customisation options and tons of events to enter. However, much like the first Shift, for me the controls just aren't up to scratch. Hot Pursuit I loved straight away, GT5 was a slow burner but the more you put in the more you get out. Shift 2 doesn't seem to know where it wants to be, not serious enough to be a sim and not fun enough to be an arcade racer.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2011 6:11 PM BST

Mass Effect 2 (PS3)
Mass Effect 2 (PS3)
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: £5.69

83 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Series of this Console Generation, 21 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 (PS3) (Video Game)
Mass Effect on PS3...I never thought we'd see the day, but here we are. While I still dream that the first ME game would cross over to Sony's platform, the arrival of ME2 and the news ME3 will be on PS3 too makes up for it (as does a PS3 exclusive interactive short comic that helps you not only get to speed on the back story of the first game, but lets you make decisions to help shape your ME2 experience). You see, the beauty of ME is that your game plays out uniquely to you - if a character dies it ME1 he or she won't be there in ME2 and so forth (so for the uninitiated, keep your ME2 game saves!). It's not the same as playing the original (and if you get a chance to I fully recommend it), but it the interactive comic (created by Dark Horse no less) is the next best thing.

If you've played the original on the 360, you'll know what Mass Effect will offer you. If you haven't played Mass Effect, essentially the game is part shooter, part RPG, with plenty of ways of creating 'your' story around the main linear storyline - everything from Shepard's gender, how he/she looks (the character create is amazing) to how he/she chooses to talk to other characters (passive, aggressive, or not at all) is up to you. You can also choose your powers (you can be a soldier who relies on shooting to get them through, or vanguards or engineers, which enables you to have special biotic powers for example. The game is dialogue heavy, so if you're someone who skips cut scenes to get straight to the action, you're probably best off elsewhere. However, Bioware are masters at this kind of thing and ME2 excells in almost every way over its already incredible predecessor. A nice touch in ME2s dialogue is the introduction of paragon and renegade actions - at certain points in the game, you will have the chance (via an on-screen indication) whether to choose to do a paragon action (for example, intervening if a teammate is about to shoot someone) or a renagade action (at one point I was talking to a particularly uncooperative alien who ended up being chucked out of a window courtesy of my renegade action). The joy in this is you can of course ignore the suggestion, so if you think that bad guy your teammate is about to shoot right through the head really does deserve to meet his maker, you can stand and do nothing.

A difference beween ME and ME2 is that ME2 definately leans towards a shooter rather than an RPG - levelling up (to a max of level 30) and upgrading your character is much easier and automatic if you choose it to be. So while the RPG elements are perhaps a little watered down, the combat has been scaled up - cover simplified (for example being able to sprint to cover with the same button press) and the range of tactics that can be brought to the table to defeat enemies is exhaustive (including instructing what powers your team mates should use in battle on the fly). You also select what members of your team will be best at a particular mission, for example if you know that a certain type of enemy (let's say an enemy who have strong armour) will be involved in one mission you can choose a team member with the 'incinerate' skill to burn through armour quickly. So, if you have played ME on XBOX, it does move into more action territory, but that's not to say there's not a depth to the combat or the RPG elements of ME2.

Another possible negative that I have seen discussed is that the size of the team is too large for you to feel connection to the characters. This is understandable (it is a big team), however I feel with the game structure being as it is, Bioware have taken steps to ensure that all team members get a run out with you. Without giving too much away (because I hate it when reviews do that), you have a main mission that you have to recruit a team for (I won't reveal specific mission details as again, I wish to spoil nothing). Each teammate you recruit then has a side mission for you to complete with them, thus meaning you spend time with them. One reason why this works is the strength of the characters - in most games like this, people will have their favourites, however picking your final squads is tricky in ME2, each character brings something special to the team and each character affects how the game pans out in subtle ways. Each member has their own strong back story and different reasons for you to relate to them. Another point to note with this mission structure is how it helps you mix side missions with main missions. For example, in the original ME, I did all the side missions first, then went to the main missions. In ME2 it feels like the side missions are linked to what you're doing at the time, making the experience seemless (for example, there are times where you have a primary mission to do, but a side mission will take place in the sane area, meaning that you will see to the side project also, rather than just skipping it.

Another difference introduced in ME2 is planetary exploration - now you use a scanner to go over planets in search for minerals that can be used towards research projects (like weapon and armour upgrades). It's still not perfect, but it's more interesting than in ME where you would just click on a planet and get a bit of text explaining what happens there.

I've read a couple of reviews that have said the ending is underwhelming. I'm honestly confused by this, the build up to the final mission is intense and you even get a boss fight that doesn't feel like a run-of-the-mill end-of-game tacked-on boss fight (I'm looking at you Bioshock!) The final mission is dramatic, whilst leaving it open for what may come in the third installment.

As for PS3 to XBOX differences, you have the interactive comic as I've mentioned, and you also get a whole bundle of DLC thrown in (perhaps to ease the pain of not having had ME on Playstation before!) The DLC has had mixed reviews when released on XBOX (especially the Kasumi DLC). However, as PS3 owners get it from the off, it doesn't seem out of place or that it's an expensive add on. The Lair of the Shadow Broker is especially good. Looks wise I think the PS3 shades it, but whichever console you're on, ME2 is a good looking game, notably the characters themselves.

Overall, if you liked Mass Effect, you'll love ME2. The Mass Effect series is an experience that any gamer should try, it's less a game and more a sci-fi epic that you control. In my review for InFamous on PS3, I said it was the kind of game that you thought about even when you weren't playing it. ME2 goes one better, it's the kind of gaming experience that stays with you after you've completed it, and as it clocks in at over 30 hours, it's incredible how Bioware have created a game that you immediately want to go back to, to see in what other ways the game could play out (on a side note, if you try and do every single mission and scan every planet to find every secret mission, you're looking at a good 42 hours or so!) Graphically, the game is excellent, the dialogue is top notch (as is the music score), the missions are varied and always interesting and replayability is strong (because you're going to want to do it all over again and be a total renegade!). There's no two ways about it, Mass Effect 2 is an essential purchase whether you've played the original (or, as I have, ME2 on XBOX as well). Now it's arrived on PS3, the best series of this console generation is available on two excellent gaming platforms and that can only be a good thing.

***QUICK EDIT - there's been a lot of talk of the save game bug affecting some Mass Effect 2 players (for more details google Mass Effect 2 ps3 bug). I played through the game with no problems whatsoever and am currently playing through again, also a friend of mine has completed it with no trouble whatsoever. That's not to say it doesn't exist though, as there have been many reports of consoles freezing and corrupting the save data. A patch is apparently in the works to fix this problem - as I said though, my playthrough was absolutely fine (and the word from Bioware is that if you reset your console after every mission it helps any save issues).
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 1, 2013 10:27 PM BST

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (PS3)
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (PS3)
Offered by Ace Goods Co. Ltd
Price: £9.99

92 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Need for Speed...but not as we know it., 20 Nov. 2010
If you're aware of the Need for Speed games up to this point, forget them now - this is Need for Speed in name, Criterion in nature. Having played both NFS: Undercover (which was, in my view, appalling) and NFS: Shift (which wasn't as bad but certainly not fantastic), I would have forgiven myself for not bothering with this, even if I do remember playing and enjoying old NFS games on the PC that featured racers and cops chasing each other. However, knowing Criterion were taking the reigns on this NFS my interest was revived and the game they have created is everything you'd want from an arcade racer.

The first point to note is this is not Gran Turismo - this is an out and out arcade racer designed to thrill and excite you, with high speed chases, crashes and thumping music (which you can change for your own songs, too). You can take part in two career modes, one for a racer and one for a cop (a nice feature is the fact events for both careers are on the same map so you can race a cop event and straight away afterwards have a go at a racer event without having to load up another career). The setup is pretty standard - take part in an event, do well, unlock cars and other events. NFS Hot Pursuit is pretty relentless in giving you new cars to play with and some events even let you test drive a car that you'll get later in the game (I had a great time in the McLaren F1!). Both careers involve you earning 'bounty' - essentially a levelling-up system (with a max level of 20) which earns you the cars. For example, as a cop, if you bust races before anyone finishes and drive skilfully, you get extra bounty. As a racer, drive to the limits, get lots of near misses and evade the cops to win races, then you get extra bounty. Both careers enable you to use gadgets to help you win races or stop the opposition. Cops can call in helicopters and roadblocks, racers can turbo boost out of trouble and both cops and racers can use spike strips and EMP - an electro magnetic pulse you can fire to stop your foes. While racing, the pace is incredible, especially the more powerful your car, and crashes are superbly done - for example, if racing as a cop and you bust a racer, the game will show a slow motion close-up cut scene of the takedown, before returning the game straight into the racing with your car positioned nicely on the track (so after the cut scene there won't be any frustrating crashes caused by you not being in control). The events in the career are suitably varied - not all racer events will be a pure race and not feature the police and some cop events are almost 'training' events, where you have to get from A to B as quickly as possible to see how fast your response time would be.

So far, so good, all the boxes get ticked - it's exhilarating, fast-paced, the graphics are super smooth, you have a plethora of cars to choose from and, crucially, as an arcade racer it's easy to pick up - if you're after the ability to tweak your motor so it's perfect for you, wait for GT5. This is a true pick-up-and-play racer. However, NFS Hot Pursuit has a few aces up it's sleeve, the best of which is Autolog. Autolog is a system devised to stir up the competitive nature in people - essentially, it logs all of your performances as well as those of your friends, and will offer you recommendations on what races your friends have a better time than you on. It also lets you know how many times a friend of yours has tried a particular race to beat your time. At the end of races it shows you where you place on that events 'speedwall' - a list of yours and your friends times. Other games have done this before, but the way it's presented in NFS Hot Pursuit is seamless - as soon as you sign in Autolog will let you know if your place on a speedwall has been affected, and if you do beat someone's time you can post on their wall letting them know you've taken their top spot - it's almost like social networking specific for NFS and, even if you don't think you'd be particularly competitive, it's all too easy to get the bug and start trying over and over to reclaim a fastest time taken away from you.

Another major plus point for the game is the creation of 'Seacrest County', the fictional area of the US where the game takes place. There's a little bit of everything in Seacrest - the roads are varied, with plenty of off-road shortcuts, narrow tunnels and glorious wide-open freeway routes and the scenery is every bit as good - you'll race past snowy mountains, through narrow forests and along the coast. Races take place at all times of the day and with all sorts of weather - races in the rain look especially impressive (especially when the track itself is freshly rained on), but my personal favourite is the night racing, where the blue and red lights of the cop cars fill the night sky, it's worth it just to see the lighting effects as you race through a tunnel!

As for negatives, it's hard to find any. Occasionally the game does get confused with where you are placed (in one race, the game told me I'd just taken first place and was around 11 seconds ahead of the other drivers, whereas in reality I was 6th. When I dropped to 7th, it did then show I was in 7th place). Also, as much as I enjoy having my own soundtrack to listen to while racing, the music continues after you've finished and while you're in the game menus - it would be nice to have the option of race AND menu music, or to just have my songs playing while I race. Also the lack of split-screen multiplayer isn't a gamebreaker for me but I can image for some it will be frustrating to just have solo play and online. Speaking of online, this is also exemplary, my favourite being a one-on-one chase against another player (one a cop, the other a racer), the thrill of the chase is incredible and nerve-wracking!

So, NFS Hot Pursuit - the bottom line is simple: if you enjoy a pick-up-and-play, plenty of speed and thrills arcade racer with over-the-top crashes, blistering graphics and a load of re-playability, then NFS is for you - especially with the Autolog system, Criterion have nailed that wonderful gaming sense of 'just one more go'. There's no modding, no tweaking, just pure adrenaline-fuelled racing. While I'm looking forward to GT5 finally coming out, there's no doubt that NFS will be a game I return to again and again.

***Quick edit to the review, I've read some other reviews with various criticisms that I wanted to address. Firstly, there is free roam, it's not proper free roam as there's no challenges, I believe the idea is more to give you a chance (if you wish) to learn certain sections of Seacrest if there's a race you're struggling on. Also, I have mentioned this in my review, but people seem to be confused - this is most definitely an arcade game. There's no manual shift and plays with the PS3 controller best of all. If it's steering wheels and gear changes, this isn't the game for you. Finally, while this is technically a NFS game, please don't expect it to be exactly like old NFS games - I've seen a lot of people responding to reviews saying that this isn't NFS. What's in a name? There's plenty of other NFS games still available, this is arcade all the way - Shift 2: Unleashed will be out soon, so if Hot Pursuit isn't your thing then hold on for that. As for me, I'm still loving this, online and offline merge seamlessly and autolog (which will be in Shift 2) works a treat. New DLC is pretty regular too, if a little pricey. Even though I've got platinum on this game, myself and my NFS buddies are still trying to outdo each other, getting precious seconds off of our best times (if anyone beats my time of 1.12.63 on Vanishing Point, well played to you!)
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 25, 2013 2:00 PM GMT

FIFA 11 (PS3)
FIFA 11 (PS3)
Offered by scaddingk
Price: £2.72

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A backward step in the series., 18 Oct. 2010
This review is from: FIFA 11 (PS3) (Video Game)
I started off my football game life with FIFA International Soccer, then played up to FIFA 2003, before becoming a staunch member of the PES family from Pro Evo 4 (even up to PES2009 which I reviewed on amazon). However, the release of FIFA10 really turned my head. I tried FIFA09 but couldn't get to grips with the floaty shots and the poor passing with defenders, but FIFA10 corrected these niggles and built on what FIFA09 started (which, having played it recently, was much better than I remember). FIFA10 wasn't perfect by any means, career mode especially had a lot of bugs, but it was superior to PES2010 and played a great game of football. Following on from this, and the excellent 2010 World Cup game, I was expecting a lot from the new FIFA, but in all honesty would have been happy with a few tweaks to a game that I spent a year thoroughly enjoying.

As it is, it feels like FIFA11 has taken a step backwards - maybe the EA boys have gotten carried away with being labelled the 'simulator' to Pro Evos 'arcade' style, but a lot of the fun seems to be missing this time round, especially when playing alone. There was a lot of talk about 'Personality Plus' being in the game, but aside from a few of the major stars, I don't personally feel this is particularly prevalent. Games, whoever you play with, often get bogged down in midfield and players don't seem to be able to burst away from defenders (even the quickest versus the slowest, players often seem to get 'stuck' to each other and flail around a lot). There is the new 'Be a Goalkeeper' mode which I was initially excited about, but due to the poor AI every game I've played (admittedly it's only about 5 games as a keeper) I haven't actually had a save to make, the whole game has just plodded around in the middle of the park (on a side note, this also makes for a frustrating 11v11 online experience because in some games I've played in, there have been players in control of the keeper who have been rubbish, or decided they were just going to go outfield anyway and leave an open goal a lot of the time).

But back to the main game - you've got all your modes from last time out, except now Manager Mode and Virtual Pro have been combined into one Career Mode which, on paper, seems a great idea - be a player, player-manager or manager, choose whether to control your Pro or the whole team as it suits you, in one 15-season career, instead of having to play Virtual Pro and Manager Mode separately. Great! However, for some reason (and I genuinely can't tell you why this is the case), but being your Pro this year just isn't all that fun. In FIFA10 I made it through 5 seasons or so, built up my player and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of controlling one player. This is because 1: my player didn't get tired after every game and b: because the AI was responsive and helped me to play well. This year, even on semi-pro (semi-pro!) my team struggles to even get the ball up the other end for me to score - the AI is clunky on both sides and games become very drawn out and cumbersome, and often when I request a pass they just ignore me and run into trouble (whereas in FIFA10 if you call for it, your team mates would pass, no matter what). It's the same on every difficulty level, it just gets dull, players plod about, you make a few runs, not a lot happens. And the better you get, the more games you play (cup games, Euro games) which is good, but when you have three games in a week and your manager refuses to drop you ('your fitness is down but I really need you this week' it says on the screen), often you end up playing with next to no stamina. "Oh but Adam" you say, "that's just because you're holding down sprint all the time!" - but it isn't this, as 1) I don't and b) when I had three games in a week my entire team (who I wasn't controlling) were right at the bottom of their stamina, and would my manager drop anyone? No! So I had an AI team of knackered players with one knackered Virtual Pro. Another major, major disappointment in this mode is how your player is rated. In FIFA10, you had a bar on the screen that gave you real time feedback on what you were doing. Do a good pass and you would see 'pass +' on the screen in green and the bar would go up a little bit. Keep doing good things, and the more your bar would fill with green. In FIFA11, however, you start off with 6.0 next to your name bar, and when you do good things, the number goes up, and goes down if you do bad things. Except, it doesn't really. You'll start playing, do a few passes, have a shot and stay on 6.0. You'll put through a great through ball and get nothing. Then, you'll misplace a pass and go down to 5.8. I even scored a goal after 3 minutes and set up a second shortly after and made it up to only 6.3. In real life, I think a goal and an assist would be something, I'd certainly take a goal and an assist from anyone in a Liverpool shirt at the moment! Once you get going, it seems to build up quicker, but again it seems to make little sense and have little relevance to what you actually do on the pitch. I've even set up a goal and actually gone down a point when the other team kicked off. Essentially, there seems to be no logic to your player rating. In a game I played recently, I had a shot, went down to 5.5, then it fluctuated between 5.5 and 5.6 about 5 times while all I was doing was keeping my player in the correct position on the pitch as the opposition were on the attack. Manager Mode has similar frustrations to last year (an example: a friend of mine was managing Barca, and was sacked for losing one game, despite still being a point off the top and in the cup final) - essentially, as a single-player game FIFA still struggles to implement the variety and realism necessary to hold my attention, due to the AI and the inconsistent decisions made in Manager Mode.

There are a few bugs that I have noticed along the way too, my favourite being when there is a substitution and the game shows a cut scene of a few players running about, and I have seen these player models suddenly change hairstyles and even ethnicity while the cut scene is going on. It's not a game breaker by any means, but a £40 game really shouldn't be doing that. Also, sometimes in the arena you'll have an invisible player, and once I even had the whole screen go black except for the ball, which I seemed to be able to control with my invisible player. There have also been times where the menu screen music has been playing when you're actually in game - it sounds like the music is coming over the tannoy. I've had one game freeze, but that does happen I guess, and occasionally in Career Mode when it is updating through the calendar to your next game it will sit there for ages. One of the nicer touches is the ability to add your own chants to teams, but even this has a few problems - for example you can assign a song or chant to play when a particular home team scores (I set up Norwich City to have Samba de Janeiro played as does happen at Carrow Road). Aces, you'd think! Except sometimes it doesn't work. And other times you'll score away from home and your song will start playing. I'm fairly certain the PA at Portman Road isn't going to be playing celebratory songs when Norwich score there. Again, not major, but these little things affect the realism of the game.

Another frustration with the AI is, for me, I find the pressuring unrealistic. Play on legendary, and every player chases you don't, while losing little in the way of stamina - it was like this last year, but with FIFA11 EA said that opposition strikers would not press you quite as much, and so far this isn't the case - personally, I play on professional, not because I can't play on legendary (I'm not great, but I never get thrashed), I think it's just a touch more realistic.

All this negativity may give the impression I don't like the game, and that's not true. Playing with friends is still the best way to enjoy the game and by-and-large it's a lot of fun (though playing online still is a huge chore when you play against people who just insist on holding all the defensive pressure buttons down and just chasing you round the pitch). There are positives to take from the game, it's looking much better (though not as good as PES quite yet) and it's clearly a decent football game. Get a mate or three over and the game comes into its own. I just can't help but feel a little disappointed, having gone through a couple of seasons in career mode it feels like I'm playing the same game over and over, whoever I face. Probably my favourite touch is in the main menu, where you have a big scoreboard where you can keep up to date with what people on your friends list have been doing (like how many goals have they scored with their Pro, how much they've earned in Manager Mode etc). Celebrations are also improved, it's nice seeing your teammates hugging and bundling you over when you score, rather than just waiving their arms up and down like they're directing aircraft. Also, the penalty system from the World Cup game is in which, I have to say, I really like. Once you get used to it, it does make sense, and you can end up smashing the ball right into the top corners, or place the ball low beyond the keeper.

Essentially, it's a good game, certainly - my main gripes are against the single player experience, as opposed to multiplayer which, like FIFA09 and FIFA10, can provide an incredibly entertaining experience, even if I don't quite enjoy it as much as the previous title. However, I genuinely don't feel it's as playable as 10, despite the bugs that particular game contained. It's just not all that fun, and it makes me wish we could go back to the days of Pro Evo 4 and 5, where it wasn't all about having hi-def graphics and pixel-perfect grass on the pitch, it was more about playing fluid football and having fun playing game after game with your friends. I guess that's one of my main issues, this year I don't feel that 'just one more game' feeling and part of me feels annoyed I've traded in FIFA10 for it. The 3 stars may seem a bit low, and perhaps I could have bumped it up to 4 as it still is a good game, but I feel the score reflects my feelings that it has taken a backward step. Considering this is a year-on-year franchise, I personally expected at least a subtle improvement on FIFA10, not a game with as many bugs and less playability. Careful EA, resting on your laurels can be dangerous, just ask Konami!

***A quick edit, as I like to do, a good few months down the line (we're in March!) EA have released a patch, that 'fixes' poor AI in Virtual Pro mode. I really did start to think that it was just me being rubbish, but now I feel vindicated in getting frustrated in how poor I felt my team mates were when playing as my Pro. Very happy this has been updated, it definitely makes a difference now!***
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 18, 2010 2:03 PM BST

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