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J. P. Taylor "jpt8" (Birkenhead)

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Just Cause (Xbox 360)
Just Cause (Xbox 360)
Offered by Excess Gaming
Price: £17.65

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ever wanted to take over a country?, 2 Oct. 2006
This review is from: Just Cause (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
You play Rico, an American spy dropped (literally) into a large South American country with the mission to topple the military dictator currently running things. To help you need to make friends with the rebels who are currently trying to overthrow the government and start a drugs war between two big cartels.

The game is a nice third person shooter. A lot of the style of play will be familiar to anyone that's played any of the GTA games. Anything that drives on the road, floats on the water or flys in the sky can be borrowed or stolen and used. Weapons are plentiful and as you progress through the game more are opened up as your standing goes up. The greatest thrill comes the first time you hijack a helicopter. Once you've flown over the countryside you'll never want to travel by any other means again.

The story is good, but you don't usually buy a game for the plot. One of the small problems I have with the setup is Rico seems to be able to take a lot of punishment before your health gets low. This means most of the early fights will just be you running around without a care shooting lots of people. This also makes it easy to unlock the achievements and get a good score quickly. There are a lot of side missions, things worth doing to help you unlock new, better weapons and vehicles. The country the game is played in is huge, so get used to travelling around in vehicles early on. You can car jack, steal planes and helicopters, even tanks if you want and store them in safehouses dotted aroud the country. There are also technical glitches. You can pass through trees in cars, walk through some vehicles and the side quests get repetative really quickly. There's also a lot of travelling around which can get dull quickly.

An impressive game although graphically not exactly taxing the Xbox 360's limits. I've gone through the whole game once without taking any side quests and it was well worth it. I'm going through again but this time doing everything to see what it's like, and I don't often replay a game so quickly after finishing.

Well worth it.

Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II (PC DVD)
Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II (PC DVD)

16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The battle for Middle-Earth goes on., 23 Aug. 2006
The game returns you to Middle-Earth, this time to fight part of the war of the ring in the North. You can take command of either Men, Dwarves, Elves, the forces of Mordor, the Isengard troops or Goblins. With two main campaigns to fight through, Good and Evil, there's also new features added on to give the game extra life.

Anyone who's played any EA RTS games (the later Command&Conquer games) will know exactly what they're getting. The battles are a kind of scissor-paper-stone game where a type of troop is weak against one particular other type (mounted are weak against pikes) but strong against another (mounted are strong against swordsmen). The new interface has methods to set up proper tactical deployment of your army, but the types of units available is limited. The battles are also very small in scale.

The economic side is again very basic with only a dozen or so buildings for any side.

The skirmish games are really useful as a way of learning how you like to build your army. Although the computer AI is fairly predictable and comes at you right from the off if you stick with it you'll be able to defeat the computer all the time, even on harder difficulty settings. There are a wide range of terrains to fight across, each with detailed features. The best way to learn is to fight online against human opponents.

One much hailed feature is the design a hero section. This is a real disappointment. Although you can pick from many different races and types of base hero there are very few options to change the look. You can also customize the special powers the hero can build up, but again there are few options. This feature could have made the game great, but it's such a let-down.

If you love LotR and the previous games then you're probably going to buy this game anyway. If you're looking for a good RTS game then you might want to try THQ's Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War series.

Knife Of Dreams: Book 11 of the Wheel of Time: 11/12
Knife Of Dreams: Book 11 of the Wheel of Time: 11/12
by Robert Jordan
Edition: Paperback

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yet another installment., 22 Aug. 2006
With the final battle of Tarmon Gai'don looking likely to happen soon all the players in this complicated tale are moving forward with their plans. The White Tower is still divided, Elayne is still trying to seize her throne, Perrin is still trying to rescue his wife Faile from the Shaido.

Finally some of the bit part characters are being taken out of the story, although this book doesn't do much to tie off loose ends. As with the last few books this is all about the politics and schemes of the characters although there is some action. What Jordan still continues to do is lose where the story is going.

The first six or so books in the series had a definite agenda and story to tell. Now it seems they're being written purely for the sake of writing. With any luck there won't be too many more and the whole thing can be wrapped up.

Not a bad book all-in-all, but it suffers from the loss of direction that's plagued the last four books. If you love this series already then you'll know whether you want to spend the money on getting Knife of Dreams. If you've read the books but don't enjoy where the story is going then stop reading them.

Chromehounds (Xbox 360)
Chromehounds (Xbox 360)
Price: £19.98

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a good try really., 24 July 2006
I've played a few games similar to this in the past, for both PC and the original Xbox. The game is set in an laternate future where huge war machine roam the battle field destroying each other and anything that gets in the way.

What I enjoyed most was the garage facility in the game. As you complete missions you're given parts where you can build your own Hound from the ground up. With six classes of Hound to pick from you can soon find your favourite and specialise if you want, although that doesn't open the whole game and all the components.

The bad bits: It's relatively easy to fail missions. Some of the Hounds are really slow and you need to move rapidly between points to attack certain enemies. Some of the weapons are very slow loading leaving you open to attack as you wait for them to reload. You do have a range of weapon groups to switch between, but the most effective usually are the slowest to reload. There's also no crosshair on the main screen and the target is set in a tiny box in the top right. Although the view can be changed to give you a first-person aim this cuts your field of vision down so much it's easy for the enemy to get in close. You also have a lot to remember and take in all at the same time as your instructions are flashed up on screen in the middle of the action.

What's so disappointing is that this type of Mech game has been done on consoles and PC's (Mechassault 2 on Xbox, Mechwarriors on PC) for over a decade. The storyline is very basic and easy to ignore. The missions are too short and can be low on action depending on what Hound class you're using.

Wait for the price to come down before buying the game.

Future Lost: A Cybernetic Sci-Fi Role Playing Game
Future Lost: A Cybernetic Sci-Fi Role Playing Game
by Vincent Venturella
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.95

2.0 out of 5 stars Derived from the d20 role play system, but not very good., 3 July 2006
Based on the d20 role playing system used well in the Wizards of the Coast Dungeons and Dragons books, this book is set in a post-apocalypse America. Some of the country is in ruins. The big cities have been taken over by companies and are mainly lawful and safe. Out in the deserts however...

The D&D world has been a great success over the last five or so years. The Dark Future sticks to the same system for play, but has it's own unique spin on things. Where the Wizards books have lots of beautiful, colourful artwork this book has only a few, poor quality drawings. The one thing I noticed on the first flick through was the page after page of solid text. It isn't an easy read either. Badly set out and too short, it leaves lots of gaps that need filling. Instead of magic like D&D would have, some characters have psychic abilities. These are almost word for word taken from spell books already published by Wizards. Not a bad character selection with plenty of advanced classes.

A good idea for a world, but anyone who already knows D&D well might want to avoid this book.

Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires (Xbox 360)
Dynasty Warriors 5: Empires (Xbox 360)

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A strategy beat 'em up., 29 Jun. 2006
Set in ancient China, you take control of one of the warlords fighting for control of the provinces of the land. Fighting through many battles you hope to unite the land under your banner.

An ambitious project, taking the best features from the previous games in the series, but moving further back into history. The game tries to bring a strategy element to what is effectively a beat 'em up. As well as taking control of the mighty warriors you also have to make policy decisions that can help or hinder you in combat. A lot of the game is spent trying to decide what path to choose to help you. A good element of choice making can't make up for a repetative combat system. Run or ride around the land smashing your weapon in to various enemies. Repeat until you win or lose.

A good idea. The basic level of experience is a good place to learn the tactics, but the difficulty ramps up hugely as you reach higher levels. The good bits of play can't make up for the repetative combat system.

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)
A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 4)
by George R.R. Martin
Edition: Paperback

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another book in a growing franchise., 23 May 2006
After the events of the last book A Storm of Swords: Blood and Gold the story picks up with the fall-out of the Red Wedding. More political intrigue than all-out battles, the plot mainly concerns Queen Ceresei, her brother Jaime as well as the Stark daughters and Brienne of Tarly's search for Sansa to fulfill her promise to find and protect the girl.

Yet again Martin sticks to his stereotypes like glue. There are a few shades of grey when it comes to characters, but the majority are either good or evil. His writing is entertaining in places and deeply involved with pushing the plot forward.

Some of the most interesting characters from the series are missing and the book finishes with a promise to pick up with them in the next installment. What is a little concerning is that there doesn't appear to be an end in sight, a definate conclusion to where the story will end.

A good book in the genre, but not the best Martin has written.

Perfect Dark Zero (Xbox 360)
Perfect Dark Zero (Xbox 360)
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: £9.91

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfect? Not by a long way., 6 Mar. 2006
I played the first Perfect Dark on the N64 almost a decade ago now. Following on from GoldenEye, this was really a great game.
Excited to hear that Perfect Dark Zero (PDZ) was going to come out as a launch title for the Xbox 360 I made sure I had it ordered to play as soon as the new console came out. But, two months later I now have almost finished the game on the highest difficulty level (only three missions left to go).
Since Halo came out on the Xbox the first person shooters have come on a long way from the original Doom. Graphically PDZ is good and well realised. The levels are fairly diverse and take you all around the world. The game play is a mix of stealth and FPS. One issue I've found is that if you don't really need all the sneaking around in some areas. If you get spotted pull out a gun and blast your way clear.
Changes from the original include limited slots for weapons. Each gun has a 'weight' so you can't go through levels totally tooled up (an idea taken from Bungie/Microsoft in Halo?). Making the right selection is vital and one of the many guides is a real help. All the weapons have two firing modes with a few even having three. You also now have the option of a waypoint marker. This makes the game a simple follow-the-arrows exercise, so I'd suggest turning it off once you've played the game all the way through once.
What makes this a really good buy is the multiplayer Death Matches. You have the option of either online or against bots, as well as multiplayers on one machine. This is a great way to test out all the guns and find out which suits you best.
A good multiplayer saves this from being a total waste of money. Some levels are too easy and some will have you tearing out your hair. Maybe wait for the price to come down some more.

Jade Empire (Xbox)
Jade Empire (Xbox)
Offered by multimedia-online
Price: £15.34

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic game., 10 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Jade Empire (Xbox) (Video Game)
This is a game that everyone should try at least once if you're a serious RPG fan.
Set in a mythical version of ancient China, you start as a student of a wise master in a temple near a quiet village. After your training you have a whole world to explore full of choices that will affect how the people around you behave towards you. The chances for character development are epic with dozens of different decisions to make as you progress.
Aside from the beautiful graphics and quick game play the lands are peopled with fantastic characters. Talking to different people opens up side-quests and mini adventures.
With multiple combat styles to master you can even bring friends you meet along the way with you as help. You'll find certain styles will suit you better than others and will learn to perfect these in favour of other systems that you come across. Switiching between styles during fights can be difficult, but stick with it and you should come through easily.
As with most console RPG's the plot is rather linear. You have time to wander around and take in the sites, but you aren't really free to wander as much as you'd like.
Apart from that small fact this is a fantastic game for expert RPG players as well as anyone who would like to start in the genre. Well worth having a look at.

Fable: The Lost Chapters (Xbox)
Fable: The Lost Chapters (Xbox)
Offered by multimedia-online
Price: £22.99

20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This wasn't worth the wait., 10 Nov. 2005
I bought the Xbox so I could play the original Fable over a year ago now. I was hugely disappointed with how short the last game was (10 hours of play) and hoped for some sort of expansion to come along.
TLC is almost exactly the same as the original. There are some new side-quests to complete in the early stages and new weapons and equipment to gather, but it doesn't really add anything much.
The new chapter that continues where the old game left off adds less than an hour to the game time but has some nice touches and new monsters and locations. Was it worth spending the extra money? Probably not.
If you have the original then steer clear until the price comes down more. If this is the first time you're picking up a Fable game then buy Fable:TLC.

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