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Jiff "OMG A LION!" M "jiff2002" (UK)

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Spore (Mac/PC DVD)
Spore (Mac/PC DVD)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £6.80

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Definately not as it should of been..., 13 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Spore (Mac/PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
...But then again, this is Will Wright and Maxis, taking incredibly complex and compelling ideas, churning out good demo versions, then mashing it down into a fine gooey paste of repetitive gaming aimed at the lowest possible IQ to ensure everyone and their dog buys a copy. The true genius of Spore still exists - you're constantly networked to everyone else playing it, downloading new creatures, civilisations and the like from thousands of other people, thus constantly changing your game every time - in theory.

It's like the Sims. Anyone who played the original 'Sims' is lying if they say they enjoyed the game fully. What did you enjoy about the Sims? Building things and hoping cool things would happen in and around your creations. Then everyone gets bored and deletes the doors and sets the place on fire. Fact. Spore tries to take that idea of customisaton and interaction to the next level.

I'm not going to complain about having only 3 installs because in my entire life the only game i've ever reinstalled more than 3 times have been chunky RTS titles like Red Alert, which actually have a replayability factor. Spore doesn't, plain and simple.

I digress. I've given it 3 stars and so far all i've done is slate it. Allow me to explain:

Out of the box, Spore is INSANELY FUN. The problem I found is I blasted through it, not wanting to get bogged down, and suddenly found myself... completing the game, so to speak. The first Cell stage is excellent, however a few things turned me off when re-playing it:

The creatures in this stage bar my own were always the same. For some reason Cell stage creatures aren't downloadable, so if you've done it once as a herbivore and once as a carnivore, chances are doing it as an omnivore won't entice you back that much.

I can't really customize in this stage. Even the herbivores need to fight to unlock upgrades, which kind of kills the feeling that I can choose how I play.

Next is the creature stage, which is where the creature sharing really shines. I've not had the same creatures on a planet yet and i've done this 6 times. Granted, there are only a few ways to really play it, but i'm always checking out other players' inventions at least.

The last 3 stages are pretty crap-tacular. I can only guess in true EA fashion these were rushed into some form of polished mode, but the potential so badly exceeds what they've done it's almost upsetting.

Bottom line, the only replayability factor lies in the achievements. Being agressive, religious, carnivourous, all dictate how and why you play it, unlocking achievements (much like Xbox Live titles), however these carry no weight until the final Space stage where things like combat and terraforming will actually unlock a bonus.

So why did I give it a 3? Potential. It's EA, It's Maxis, it's got the ground work done. What do Maxis do best? Piles and piles of expansions and additions over the years. Who can forget such classics as 'Sims: Driving Lessons' or 'Sims: Trailer Park' expansions? Ok so I made those two up, but you get what I mean. They will almost inevitably bulk out this game with a horrendous amount of upgrades that probably cost you 20 quid a time, every 8 - 16 months. EA love getting lots of money for minimal effort, and in that sense Spore's apple didn't fall far from the Sims tree.

I really wanted to love this game and imagine myself playing it over the next 6 months on and off, but so far with a combined play time of maybe 20 hours, i'm bored and already waiting for 'Spore: Creatures at the Beach' and 'Spore: Discovery Channel Edition'. Again, i've made those up. Sue me.


Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360)
Grand Theft Auto IV (Xbox 360)
Offered by Games World Inc
Price: £14.96

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A step in the right direction but still lacking, 11 Jun. 2008
First off i'll have to state something: compared to Vice City on the PS2, San Andreas was lacking for me. I was hoping for a return to form for GTA, especially after playing Saints Row and having an absolute ball of a time. Short review - it's good, but i'm still going back and playing Saints Row and Vice City over this.

Pros:

Lovely graphics - slightly sharper on the 360 however there can be clipping 'lag' in the distance. Graphics aren't a huge thrall for me, but still, the realism does come full circle when you're looking at a game as polished as GTA4.

Realistic quality - I'm gunna state right now I don't like how the cars handle. Bikes are still a mystery to me, how you're almost safer on one because crashes don't seem to be coded right for bikes. I digress. Basically it looks and feels like a real city, down to being able to knock over trash cans to seeing random trains/helicopters and even the police chasing down random crooks.

Story - The script is suberb. I think most of it comes down to the quality of the voice cast, but there's not much cheese factor unless it's for comedic value and in that case it's obviously blatent.

Friend/Cellphone system - A great addition that's been added upon from the Saints Row system. Being able to call for backup or a cab is a good idea, it's quite shocking something like this wasn't present from GTA3 onward.

Cons:

Combat - as listed below, someone has mentioned it's quite frustrating. I'll elaborate - it's a bloody mess. The auto-target feature is horrible, and the free target ability just means you sit with your finger on the trigger spraying bullets wildly. Taking cover can be buggy aswell - instead of ducking behind crates, quite often you'll find Niko sticking to a wall better than Spider-Man himself and leaving you completely open to attack from all angles. It's no Metal Gear Solid, that's for sure.

Realism - one of it's greatest strengths is also a huge flaw, in my opinion. Rockstar have created this vast open city, with winding strees and towering buildings, shops, all the stuff you'd imagine to see in a real city like New York (on which this was modelled). However in this incarnation of GTA, almost 70% of the map is purely wasted space. There are easter eggs, granted, but there aren't as many cool little additions such as masses of shops - this is something Saints Row did well, and something San Andreas did to a lesser, more useless extent. Having a huge island may well be awe inspiring, but is it practical in a game such as GTA? Do I really want to have to drive for about 10 real minutes to get from one side of the map to the other? Do I need that level of immersion?

Friends System - quite frankly, a mission where i'm forced to date a girl isn't a mission. That's "The Sims". I could do without it, and I didn't particularly like it in San Andreas - however at least I wasn't PENALISED for not playing redundant minigames with NPC friends.

Short and sweet - it's a nice game. Like Halo 3 before it, the majority of it's selling power is hype, plain and simple. Does it deserve the title of best game ever? No, not by a long shot. GTA4 while being a competant and semi-enticing RPGSim (I'm calling it an RPG because unlike the early versions of GTA up to maybe Vice, you are on a track exploring Niko. You're not a faceless, quite man of your own choosing), is nowhere near what it should be. I can only summise that the development team felt they could make more money in the long run by adding new cars, weapons, shops and features as downloadable content (a deal was sealed between Xbox Live and Rockstar for a lot of exclusive content), which is quite a shame. I remember a time when a game gave you as much as it possibly could from the word go, and didn't drift along lazily waiting for content additions over the next 18 months. Sadly that seems to be a recurring trend with games in general now and is not limited to GTA4.

Bottom line - you'll be amazed for the first hour or so. You'll really enjoy it for the next week. Give it 2 weeks and it'll be easily forgotten about, unless you're a completionist who really can't stand not unlocking all the achievements.


Transformers (2007) [DVD]
Transformers (2007) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Shia LaBeouf
Offered by Shop4World
Price: £1.49

41 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall, extremely enjoyable, 23 Sept. 2007
This review is from: Transformers (2007) [DVD] (DVD)
First off let me state I am *NOT* a fan of the 80's Transformers. Even as a kid I never got into it, and the retro factor doesn't work me. I keep reading reviews from die hard fans who slate this for not being 'true to the original'. I have a few things to say to the biased people:

The moment I saw a 30 foot robot turn into a handheld pistol, I would of walked. Some things are acceptable in cartoons, this isn't acceptable in modern films. The cartoon versions would of looked rediculous if they were ported straight into this, and the constant Saturday morning cartoon villain vs hero archetype would NOT have worked. Basically what the old school fans wanted was the original Transformers film from the 80's to have a sequel. Average joe does not want to have to immerse himself in hundreds of hours of cartoons, comics, and toys just to understand a film. Get over it. Like many remakes nowadays, this HAD to evolve, like Spider-Man, X-men, Superman and Batman Begins. It's a 'reinvention' of a classic, not a remake.

Regardless of all of that, I was extremely excited about this film. I have no idea why, I can't explain it. Each trailer did just enough to whet the appetite, without giving away huge chunks of the overall experience (as is often a problem nowadays). With that said, I went into the cinema with low expectations, and was shocked and amazed in the best possible way.

Quick synopsis: the Transformers are a race of advanced robotic life forms from a planet outside of our solar system. They have been struggling with a civil war for thousands of years between two factions: Autobots, led by the heroic Optimus Prime, and the Decepticons, who are headed up by the evil Megatron. Both factions have to come to Earth in search of the Allspark, the cube that creates their form of life. The good guys want to keep it safe and restore their world with it, and the bad guys... well they wanna do bad guys things with it.

Transformers is one of those films you can just enjoy. You don't need to sit down and really think hard, read between the lines, or listen to commentary on the DVD afterward to fully understand. Bottom line - its a double barrel shotgun-o-fun aimed directly at your brain.

The first thing you have to do (and this helps) is suspend belief. At its core, this is quite simply a cartoon transfered and updated for the big screen. The robots have emotions, expressions, and yes, they have eye lids and lips. Not a big deal. I found this to be a bonus, as I loved some of the more comedic scenes involving the Autobots.

The cast is both the films strongest point and its weakest. Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox give excellent performances, whereas some of the scenes with Anthony Anderson and John Turturro are just plain annoying. I don't blame the actors at all, but more the fact that they had these terribly stereotypical roles to fill and had bad dialogue given to them.

Another problem is that this jam packed cast can make it feel like it's taking too many directions at once. You literally jump between scenes involving different sub plots involving Sam and Mikaela (Shia/Megan), the army guys, then to the hackers and the secretary of defense, and then suddenly back to the kids. The end result works, with all of the characters being involved in the final scenes together in some way or form, but it does make for a fairly exhausting track for your mind to stay on.

The robots are simply mind blowing. The CGI involved in this film was handled by ILM, famous for the work on Star Wars, and it shows just how far they've come from the 70's using stop motion techniques. One quote mentioned that 'Ironhide has more working graphical parts on his two cannons than some of the other robots have on their entire body', and it shows. The care and attention to detail is incredible, especially given the fact that these guys had a budget half of Spider-Man 3, which was overall a sub par film by way of effects (and in general, in my opinion).

Michael Bay is notorious for his use of 'big boom' work. He fills his films with as much real carnage as possible, using any excuse to blow stuff up. In this film? It works. Every vehicle shot is 100% real, without the use of added effects. From Humvees being thrown around in explosions to collisions on a highway. Even when the robots are duking it out and smashing up civilization in the process, it looks and feels real.

The only thing I can really complain about is it's length. It is a long film. That's not a problem to me, but I know a lot of people that I could show this film too that would become bored extremely easily during its filler segments. I also have a feeling it could of done with being made even longer, in a way - the robots didn't get as much screen time as the fans would of liked, but I suspect that was Spielbergs influence as producer, as he is all about earth shattering events revolving around a handful of people.

Bottom line? At the very least rent it. I got excited from a franchise I cared very little about, and it's totally turned me into a Transformers fan for life.

And don't get a pirate copy or a downloaded version - this film can only be done justice in full juicy glory of DVD quality. If you have HD capability, I envy you, because I think this may be the ideal film for some serious eyeball candy.

Extra tip: Watch after the credits roll for a sneaky bit of extra footage, leaving the film open for an almost certain sequel.


Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed Expansion pack (requires original game) (PC)
Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed Expansion pack (requires original game) (PC)

8 of 55 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do NOT buy this UNTIL..., 20 July 2004
Until SWG is fixed. The core game lies in a broken state.
To sum up:
This game is set in the time frame of a New Hope to Empire Strikes Back.
Yet hundreds of Jedi plague the servers. For people who Vader hunted to extinction, theres an awful lot of them, and they are next to invincible. Even if you a loyal servant of the empire you cant kill one. Pfft.
PVP in this game is busted tremendously. Due to them wanting to realise JTL to bring in more poor saps to play, they have totally kicked the players where the sun doesnt shine. For a development team that 'likes to stay true to the star wars universe' while at the same time 'taking all players suggestions and feelings into consideration' they have messed up BIG TIME.
So dont buy it. The people who play SWG arent buying it as part of a demonstration.
On the whole, JTL is a good thing. Because its totally different.
15 ships, 7 space sectors, blah blah - but whenever you touch down on a planet, you get depressed.
Peace.


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