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Cambridge Writer "CK" (Northampton, UK)

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God Hand (PS2)
God Hand (PS2)

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Humorous and comically violent - good fun!, 30 April 2007
This review is from: God Hand (PS2) (Video Game)
What I liked most about God Hand was the range of moves (there are over 100) and how you can use so many different objects to do damage. Unlike many such games where you roam about hitting people, in this one you don't do exactly the same attacks over and over again - it's much more fluid and intelligently handled, in the way that you don't have to learn complicated button combinations but can still do impressive and varied attacks. The game also has a good (if dark) sense of humour, a scene in particular which stuck in my mind is one involving smacking of the bottom of an enemy!

As a veteran gamer I did feel it was a bit simplified and traditional (in the way that you just go around getting into fights) but that's what it's trying to do, and it does achieve this aim (of being a straightforward, pick up and play, fun, comically violent title).

If you like action, martial arts and throwing objects about then God Hand is well worth checking out. It's from Capcom, one of the best developers/publishers in the world and it shows - you can't go wrong with Capcom.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 30, 2013 11:01 PM BST

Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS)
Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin (Nintendo DS)
Offered by Netro Enterprise
Price: £28.95

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Castlevania title since Symphony of the Night, 30 April 2007
Although I really enjoyed the Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS Castlevania games, I never felt (before this title) that they squared up to Castlevania Symphony of the Night. I think my reservations mainly came down to the fact that the handheld titles before Portrait of Ruin didn't seem to build on the Castlevania gameplay in any meaningful way.

HOWEVER! Portrait of Ruin really does do something new and worthwhile with the series: there are two characters that you can control in turns, with one tagging along helping out and use as a combination to do damaging moves.

I really loved the idea of accessing different castles by travelling through paintings too. That was a very Mario 64ish touch and again sets the title out from the other 2D Castlevania titles which are essentially just one or two castles.

I thoroughly enjoyed the game - it's certainly the most original and interesting of the handheld Castlevania titles, and the superior sound and partially 3D graphics really brought it up a notch from Dawn of Sorrow (the previous Nintendo DS Castlevania game).

A perfect title for Castlevania fans and novices alike.

Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters (PSP)
Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters (PSP)

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A successful portable debut, 11 April 2007
As a big fan of the Playstation 2 Ratchet and Clank games, I was extremely pleased to find that this Playstation Portable installment manages to keep the same gameplay, hardly cutting graphics and features down at all. The same gigantic weapons and lightweight platforming sections are present as in the Playstation 2 games and the minigames and puzzles keep up the same high level of entertainment.

I suppose I was slightly disappointed that the game did feel so much like a straight copy of the Playstation 2 style of Ratchet and Clank game and not something new and specially designed around the Playstation Portable but at the end of the day it is an all-new Ratchet and Clank game, it is more of the same and it should more than satisfy any fans of the series - it certainly satisfied me, for a first PSP Ratchet and Clank title.

If you've not played a Ratchet and Clank game before then this PSP version is a good place to start on the simple, clean series of shooting and puzzling. It's not the most sophisticated and taxing of titles but it's technically impressive and the pacing is really well considered so beginners won't find it too challenging but anyone up to intermediate level gamers will still be able to work through the title with a well pitched level of difficulty and reward. The only gamers I think would not like this game in any way are those who are so high level that they can only play brutally challenging titles that require extreme concentration and reactions, because for such gamers a laid back title like this is slightly patronising. For everyone else it's good clean fun!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 14, 2008 2:53 PM BST

It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken
It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken
by Seth
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars A highly readable and well drawn work, but irritatingly indulgent, 11 April 2007
This book is about the quest of Seth (the author) to find out more about an old cartoonist for The New Yorker called "Kalo". Along the way, we are shown the people in Seth's life (family, friends, lovers) and his difficulty at times in communicating with them and their failure to share his passion for comics, particularly Kalo's.

It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken is as much about one man's old-fashioned and often lonely perception of the world as it is about the real quest to find "Kalo". Really, the search for Kalo is just one large embodiment of Seth's love for the past and the old way of doing things. At times this is enchanting, and the ways that Seth views everything through a comic fan's eyes is charming and insightful, at other times the work feels incredibly indulgent and almost stubborn in its desire to portray the present negatively and the past as some golden era to be esteemed. In this sense, It's a Good Life is a curate's egg - an excellently stylised work with some really great observations but whose contrived plot and general construction can antagonise and patronise the reader.

The issue of contrived plot is an important one as the book is presented as an account, as though this is a memoir or telling of an autobiographical story but in fact almost all of the work is fictionalised and the clash of styles shows in the lack of tightness in the way the story is told.

Virtua Fighter 5 (PS3)
Virtua Fighter 5 (PS3)

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This deserves to be the new most popular fighting title, 10 April 2007
Virtua Fighter has always been the more technically demanding fighting game, with previous versions offering extensive training modes to understand how all the complicated pieces fit together (frames, evading, reversals, throw breaks, etc.). Virtua Fighter 5 does nothing to dumb down the complexity of the series but is slightly more accessible due to certain characters being tweaked.

The excellent Quest mode is still present, providing an environment of "arcades" to learn against AI opponents of different difficulties which - unlike in many fighting games - do actually play in a punishing and human style that serves as an acceptable practice for real opponents. Of course, real opponents are what Virtua Fighter 5 is all about and, with the depth of the game and the fact that it's the first major fighting game on the console, I predict a strong UK scene appearing of PS3 owners battling hard and to a high level with their chosen characters.

While Quest mode is the most exciting and compelling single player mode, the game of course has the standard story/arcade and time attack single player modes too, to complement the fully customisable one-on-one, human-on-human versus battle the forms the core of the package (for me at least, as a competitive gamer).

My only criticism of this PS3 Virtua Fighter 5 is that it lacks the comprehensiveness in training modes that Virtua Fighter 4 Evo had so it's not quite as easy to get up to speed on the subtleties of the game. I hope this will not matter if a lot of people play the game and pass on the detailed knowledge required for truly high level play.

For the serious, competitive gamer, Virtua Fighter 5 is one of the strongest reasons to buy a PS3. For anyone who already owns one, it is the must buy fighting game at the moment.

Diddy Kong Racing (Nintendo DS)
Diddy Kong Racing (Nintendo DS)

29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Nintendo 64 classic made portable but still two generations late, 10 April 2007
I really loved this game on the Nintendo 64 and played it obsessively until I had worked through every single race, and beaten all the bosses (bosses in a racing game? indeed! you race against a giant opponent, it's brilliant). Because of this I was keen to pick it up on the DS (US version - UK version will be identical, I am sure) and relieve those old memories. In this respect the game didn't disappoint, I was transported back to the dreamy, kids cartoon-style world of Diddy Kong Racing with its brilliant themed ice, jungle, fire and water levels.

However, my enjoyment was largely a nostalgic one - I was enjoying the game because I enjoyed it "back in the day" and could forgive the way it looks and feels now. Unfortunately, in objective terms I have to admit that the game does feel dated, even running on a handheld. The superb Super Mario Kart DS simply blows Diddy Kong Racing out of the water. If you are a Kart racing obsessive or a fan of the game on Nintendo 64 (like me) then this is worth considering. However, standing next to the main Kart game on the format already, it just isn't worth buying.

Infernal (PC DVD)
Infernal (PC DVD)
Price: £3.90

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit of fun for a short while but lacking the substance that we've come to expect from action games, 10 April 2007
This review is from: Infernal (PC DVD) (Video Game)
Infernal feels like a 3 or 4 year old game. Not because of the graphics - which look fine with lots of nice special effects - but because of the disparate mish mash of weapons, puzzles and plot ideas that offer a lot to mess about with but don't make the game fun to play beyond the 3 hour mark. For those first few hours new weapons and skills are constantly being introduced, with annoying accompanying tutorials and it's all good fun to play with but there's no compelling game to get stuck into, no Half-Life style plot pushing the action through new and interesting environments, no Grand Theft Auto freedom to experiment in the gameworld and not even the staple endless supply of enemies and abundance of ammo that would at least make using all the skills and weapons a bit more enjoyable.

In short, Infernal feels more like a tech demo plaything than a fully fleshed out game and is, unfortunately, highly disappointing.

TrackMania United (PC DVD)
TrackMania United (PC DVD)
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simple, clean, addictive racing fun, 10 April 2007
There are two racing game extremes. At one is the hyper-customisable, hyper-realistic title that requires a huge time investment to get into. At the other end of the spectrum is TrackMania - a simple and fun racing game that is more about the tracks than the cars.

TrackMania United contains hundreds of brilliantly designed tracks from the previous games, as well as many new ones and, of course, the usual options for making your own tracks - one of the best things about the TrackMania series is the lively community of track building and time trial racing.

It may not be the most complex or realistic racing game but the racing has an abstract purity and the tracks a mathematical elegance. It's perfect for short bursts of racing fun.

Archer Maclean's Mercury (PSP)
Archer Maclean's Mercury (PSP)

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprise gem for the skill-based puzzle fan, 24 Mar. 2007
When I first heard about Mercury back before the PSP came out, I thought it sounded boring. However, I am a huge fan of Super Monkey Ball on the Gamecube and many of my friends told me that they thought I'd like Mercury because it has that same element of highly refined skill that Super Monkey Ball has. So I picked Mercury up cheap and was indeed pleasantly surprised by the depth and elegance of the title.

Each level is a maze with a blob of mercury in it which you move by effectively "tilting" the maze with the analogue nub. The other buttons provide detailed camera control so that you can position the view to show exactly where the mercury is going. Some levels involve pressing switches, some guiding the mercury through a tricky maze in as short a time as possible, and some demand that you lose as little mercury as possible (it is easy to split the mercury so some falls off the maze). A lot of the later and secret bonus levels are a combination of these objectives.

What I like so much about Mercury is the way that the levels require you to work out a strategy (it is not usually obvious exactly how best to get through a level) and then develop the skills, over many attempts, to carry out that strategy. In the same way that Monkey Ball was challenging and offered extra specially difficult levels for those willing to put the time in to master it, so too does Mercury offer steep challenge in the form of competitive in-game score boards which encourage players to work out the best possible way through a level. By getting to number 1 in the rankings, extra levels are unlocked with more exciting gimmicks and more elaborate designs.

Mercury belongs to that school of video games like Marble Madness and Super Monkey Ball and board games such as Labyrinth and Screwball Scramble: it's a test of strategy and skill that is immensely satisfying to master.

If you like games of high skill then you'll love it. If not, then try first and see if the Mercury buzz hooks you.

Some have criticised the game for being too short, but I don't agree with this criticism because there are lots of levels to be unlocked, they just require mastery of the basic set - Mercury isn't about rushing through doing the levels to a mediocre standard, it's about putting in the time to be perfect. In this way, the game offers great value for money.

WipEout Pure (PSP)
WipEout Pure (PSP)

4.0 out of 5 stars A perfect Wipeout Anthology, 24 Mar. 2007
This review is from: WipEout Pure (PSP) (Video Game)
Wipeout Pure contains a range of vehicles, tracks and modes across all the Wipeout games up to its release. Because of this and the portability of the PSP format, it is my favourite Wipeout game and a worthwhile addition to any PSP collection. It's the best racing game on the format - technically it never chugs, even at the higher speed classes where Wipeout's legendary high speed shines through, and the whole game looks brilliant with light effects, bright colours and detailed explosions. In the same way that Mario Kart DS contains a hand-picked range of features across the whole series and offers up pretty much the perfect incarnation of Mario Kart, so too does Wipeout Pure for the Wipeout series.

The well-balanced weapon set, the downloadable content (new tracks, etc.) and the classic Wipeout gameplay makes this one of my favourite PSP titles. I'm not the world's biggest Wipeout fan, but I can appreciate a few tracks before bed or on the train, and found myself getting hooked and spending serious time working through all the modes (the cups, the time trials and zone mode - where you can't slow down and keep going until your ship runs out of energy and explodes).

My only criticism is the lack of an online multiplayer. Sure, you can play with your friends who have PSPs in the same room wirelessly but I would have liked to be able to compete online over the internet. Other than that, this is a great summation of everything that's good about the Wipeout series, and portable to boot.

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