Technology – Teamspeak 2 guide

As you may or may not now, many clans and guilds online use teamspeak for events.

What is teamspeak?

TeamSpeak (TS) is software for quality voice communication via the Internet.
Basically, its a program that lets you listen/talk to other players.

What do i need?

If you want to talk, you will need a mic. If you havent got a mic, its no big deal, you can listen to people on TS and they will tell you WHO to acttack and WHERE, you will need speakers to listen.

The best thing about TS is that its free and easy to use so get downloading now!


Teamspeak 2 Download Link

You will need to download Teamspeak 2 Client, it should be the top one. Either click Site 1 or Site 2, then agree to the License Agreement by clicking ‘I Agree’ at the bottom.

How do I connect to the server?

This should take about 1 minute to do, dont think its long to set up by the length of this answer.

So, open Teamspeak up (Should be in all programs or a shortcut on your desktop). At the top, click Connection, then click Connect – This will bring up a little panel.

Click the Local Addressbook tab at the top then right click Servers with the little box on the side of it. Then click add server. Label this anything you will remember it by, for example ‘Junglebiscuit Server’.

Click the sever you just added and look on the right, there should be a form.

Time to fill in the form

1 – Label should be already filled in. If not, label it anything you want.
2 – Put the server address in – normally an IP though can also be something like ts.junglebiscuit.com
3 – Tick allow server to assign nickname
4 – Tick Anonymous
5 – Fill in the server password (if required)

How To Fill Out The Teamspeak 2 Connect Screen
How To Fill Out The Teamspeak 2 Connect Screen

How To Fill Out The Teamspeak 2 Connect Screen

The rest of the form can be left blank.

How do I register with the server?

Once you’ve come onto the server, you will be allowed to remain unregistered or on some servers given access to register with the server – This means if the server keeps changing its password, you will be uneffected as you will use your own LOGIN and password, keep reading.

Once youve been given access to register, at the top click Self, then click Register with Server.

Enter your desired name and YOUR OWN password, dont tell anyone your password.

How To Fill Out The Teamspeak 2 Registration Screen
How To Fill Out The Teamspeak 2 Registration Screen

How To Fill Out The Teamspeak 2 Registration Screen

How do I log in with my registered account?

Once youve registered, you will need to modify your connect form.

1 – Tick the Registered button instead of anonymous.
2 – Enter your login name (The one you registered with).
3 – Enter YOUR password.

How To Fill Out The Teamspeak 2 Connect Screen
How To Fill Out The Teamspeak 2 Connect Screen

How To Fill Out The Teamspeak 2 Connect Screen with registered account details

If you have a mic and need to set it up, at the top click Settings, then click Sound Input/Out Settings. Make sure you set it to Push to talk!

Is there an quicker way to connect?

If your to lazy to do the normal connect (That literally takes 2 minutes), you can use the option QUICK CONNECT.

Click Connection > Quick Connect

Server Address : ts.junglebiscuit.com (example)

Nickname : Optional

Login Name : Registered Name

Password : Registered password (NOTE: If youve registered – Enter YOUR pass and not the server pass, this will log you in as REGISTERED.)

Click Connect and your good to go!

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Album Review – Muse – The Resistance

Muse – The Resistance

Muse - The Resistance Album Cover
Muse – The Resistance Album Cover

This is Muse’s fifth album. When you think that the trio simply cannot get any better they come back with this fantastic album.

The opening track on Muse’s first studio album in three years, “Uprising”, is a case in point. It takes a Goldfrapp-style schaffel beat and the “whoop-whoop” riff from Blondie’s “Call Me” and merges them into some great lyrics (“Rise up and take the power back/Fat cats will have a heart attack”).

“Undisclosed Desires” employs a sound that Timbaland might have knocked up at his missing desk, mixed with a Prince digi-funk riff which emerges into greater catchy symphonious words (“I want to exorcise the demons from your past”).

All in the entire album is mix of electronic and off the wall madness. If you missed out on their latest gigs earlier this month, then September 2010 stadium gigs should not be ones to be missed!

Runescape – Thanksgiving Cryptic Clues 2009

Clue Number 1:

Letter: Dear candidates,

If you wish to join our group, you will need to pass a series of logic tests. This induction is expected to take four days to complete and you will get a new clue each day. We do not look favourably on cheaters or those who give away the answers! Only those smart enough will reap the reward!

The exercise works like this: Each stage of this task has two clues – one clue points to one of our contacts each day, the other to some specific ‘code items’. In order for our contacts to talk to you, you will need to have (in amongst your other inventory items) that very particular set of code items, all in the right quantities! You can find the clues about which items you need in our daily news letter. Our trusted contacts will then give you a new clue on who to speak to next. Here are your first two clues to point you to the right person with the right code items…

“To a sponger of Lumbridge is to whom you must speak, He asks folks for money, week after week.”

Know who that is? Good. We thought we’d start you off with an easy one. Talking to our contact is all well and good, but don’t forget the code items in order to give him the all clear to talk to you!

Here I have a selection of items in a grid, along with some letters. Use the clues below to point you to some secret words. Building these words will give you the coordinates for the right items on the table. The words begin with the letters down the left. Simple, isn’t it? Don’t worry; things will get much tougher later on!

Bold = Person this week
Person: Lumbridge Sage

Key Code for clues:
Cake – Rope
Cane – Shrimp (Cooked)
Cate – Bronze Med. Helm
Care – Lobster (raw)

Bake – Iron Dagger
Bane – Pot (Possibly unfired I can’t tell)
Bate – Tin ore
Bare – Bucket

Rake – Potatoe
Rane – Logs (Normal or possibly oak)
Rate – Banana
Rare – Cowhide

Word for Item 1: “Hardly nutritious, but it can be frosted even during summer!”

Word for Item 2: “Oh my, sounds like a naked grizzly!”

Word for Item 3: “A judgement of quality you pass on things and people. Sometimes you do it highly, sometimes rather poorly.”

Know what those three items are? You’ll want to carry three of the first, two of the second and five of the third, so he knows you’re not just a lucky guesser!

Go and find our contact for today – he will tell you who the next contact is to be. Then read tomorrow’s edition of the newsletter for clues on the next set of code items. Fair well, hopefuls…

Clue Number 1 Solution:

The contact is Lachtopher in Lumbridge.

The items are
3 rope
2 buckets
5 bananas

Clue Number 2:

Dear candidates,

I see you’ve made contact with our first link in the chain – this is good. He should have given you a clue regarding whom you’ll need to see next. See if you can figure out what code items you’ll need in order to get him to speak to you, then go and speak to him with those items in your inventory. Cast your gaze on the text below:

For this clue, you will need to have a great deal of insight, for there are many things in this world that are not always as they appear. Can you rise to the challenge?

Highlight: When baking a cake, there’s a bucket of one ingredient you’ll need. Carry two of these.

It is a world full of mystery and magic, after all. You may need to cast your lines to the farthest reaches of Gielinor in order to obtain all you need.

Highlight: You’d never catch Herring with empty line, so carry seven of this item to catch your contact.

Lumbridge, Draynor, Falador, Varrock, Edgeville, Al-Kharid; who knows where your adventures will take you? What treasures you will discover!

Highlight: Ever heard of Roman numerals? You’ll need to carry CCXXVII gold coins!

I’m afraid I’ve told you all I can – you must now strike while the iron is hot! With wisdom comes the ability to read between the lines, so don’t let us down!

Highlight: The final item is a tool used in creating your dwellings and protecting your body from attack. Hit the nail on the head with four of these.

Clue Number 2 Solution:

The contact is Wildy Bartender, by the sawmill north of Varrock.

The items are
227 gp
2 buckets of milk
7 fishing bait
4 Hammers

Clue Number 3:

Candidates!

We must congratulate you on making it this far. It’s day three of your trial and you’re doing well. Hopefully, you’ll have the details of the third contact you will need to speak to. As always, we have a series of code items you’ll need to have with you in order to persuade our contact to speak.

The next batch of bewildering brain-teasers comes from the most fiendish annals of Varrock Museum. See if you can solve these age-old puzzles:

Puzzle 1

A tailor is making a new coat. He needs half the amount of threads that are in the hem for the collar. The sleeves need four times as many threads as the collar. The trim, which is the same as the hem, requires ten threads. The sides need five times less than the sleeves. If the tailor buys 55 threads, how many does he have left over once he’s made his coat?

The number of threads he has left is the same number of Red Spiders’ Eggs you’ll need.

Puzzle 2

Fred the Farmer and his brother, Geoff the Gardener, have acquired a ten-acre plot of land between them. They split the rights to the land evenly and go to work at planting seeds and crops on their half of the farmland.

Farmer Fred starts from the west, while Geoff the Gardener starts from the east. Fred plants seeds at twice the rate Geoff does, but Geoff ploughs an acre every ten minutes while Fred takes twenty-five minutes.

Selling all of their produce results in 400 gold coins between them.

How much of that wage is Fred entitled to? You will need to be carrying that same amount of gold coins.

Puzzle 3

My first is in jungle but not in rectangular,
My second is in blunder but not blender,
My third is in gallant but not in talent.

To this you will need to add the following:
My first is in dwarf but not in farced,
My second is in battle but not in mettle,
My third is in monster but not in ransomed,
My fourth is in mention but not in notion,
My fifth is in thread but not in death.

What am I? You’ll need to carry three!

Clue Number 3 Solution:

The contact is Gem Seller in West Falador.

The items are:
6 red spider eggs
200 gold coins
3 jug of water

Clue Number 4:

Candidates,

You’re nearly there! You have the details of the final contact you’ll need to speak to. All you need are the code items to give him the go-ahead to share his knowledge with you. Get your cryptic-crunching craniums around this clue and you’ll be all set.

For your next brain-training endeavour, we asked our good friend Sir Tiffy Cashien to come up with a complex conundrum for you to contemplate.

“On one of my many journeys about Gielinor, I encountered the strange beast known as the Chaos Elemental. When I came across this swirling vortex of randomness it was holding a rather mundane looking chest.

“What items do you have in that chest?” I asked it.

The creature responded: “Its no Mirasol all Gentle cats can tilt red Romulans rear crease bulbs salt gate”

Thoroughly confused, I told him I didn’t understand. Again, the bizarre monster responded: “43 – 35 – 27 – 19 – 11… Use what follows to skip over the answer.”

Confused? By Jove, that’s an understatement! I was dumbstruck for a while, but I remembered my lessons in deciphering secret messages and eventually I cracked it! An odd assortment of items, but then the Chaos Elemental is a strange being!

Anyway, you’ll need three of the first item, ten of the second and the number you get if you take the first from the second for the third. Haha!”

If you can solve Sir Tiffy’s little puzzle then you should know what items you will need for this part of your test! Take them to our contact for your final set of clues.

Good luck, as ever.

Clue Number 4 Solution:

The contact is Faruq, the games equpiment salesmen near to the gem seller in al-kharid.

The items are:
3 Small Nets
10 Air Runes
7 Cabbages

Clue Number 5 Solution:

The contact is Roddeck in Lumbridge

The items are:
8 Chisels
3 Eggs
234gp

Congratulations! Have a magnifying glass:

runescapethanksgivingevent
Congratulations! Have a magnifying glass Runescape thanks giving event 2009

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Review 01/12/2009


It’s too focussed on multiplayer modes for my liking, but, rather expectantly, it is amazing.

Well how do you follow an act like Modern Warfare? It was never going to be easy, especially to myself as I still maintain the first Modern Warfare is the best first person shooter ever made (it is not “Doom” or “Wolfenstein” you rose tinted spectacled fools). Well of course it is rather predictably amazing, how was it ever going to be anything else? In the same way you just know every computer game timed to coincide with a film release will be an appalling shameless quick buck making diseased anus of a game, you just know anything affiliated with the words “Modern” and “Warfare” and done by Infinity Ward will be awesome. However, it does do some odd/different things that some may not be expecting and may not like, and I will of course explain why. It’s pretty similar to the first Modern Warfare, bordering on identical, and picks up pretty much where the first one left off, bar a few years. You will not just fight a load of ultra nationalist Russian terrorists in this game, but also defend a Russian invasion of the United States (yes, you heard that right). In the few years since the events of the first game the terrorist nutters have taken control of Russia and the bastard from the first game, that you killed, Imran Zakhaev, is made a national hero. The “baddie”, initially, is now one of Zakhaev’s generals, Vladimir Makarov, who goes on a terrorism binge across Europe, the last act of which is the massacre of hundreds of unarmed civilians at a Moscow airport (a massacre you will take part in) and frames the Americans for it. With the new ultra nationalist rage bending the ideals of its people, and believing it was an American supported terrorist attack, Russia seeks revenge and invades the US. You spend the whole game switching between seeking evidence that Makarov was the killer and terrorist leader and defending the US against Russian attack, playing various characters in “task force 141” (a special anti-terrorist unit consisting of SAS and US army elite soldiers, including “soap” from the first game) and the US Rangers in these conflicts. The story is ludicrously over the top, but properly action packed and totally unrelenting and intense until it’s done, with several plot twists that not only will baffle you further but also set it up for the third game. Story mode is only a third of the game however as you now have “Spec Ops” mode and the usual online stuff. Spec Ops is a load of missions where you have various challenges such as defending a base, taking out a target and generally lots of proper elite soldier black ops style stuff .


What’s good?

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The absolute best thing about Modern Warfare 2 is that it takes action packed intensity to new levels. The gameplay is practically identical to the first game, but it takes the shooter style action and just goes ballistic in its epic-ness, intensity and action. You will have to literally kill everything that moves, and there is a hell of a lot that moves and needs killing, so you are never at any point allowed to take a breather or slow things down as it will absolutely not let up even for a second the entire time you’re playing. You may have a couple of seconds on a few missions to prepare, but it will be followed shortly by around half an hour of action packed anarchy. There are some stealth missions, of course, sniping etc, but they inevitably descend into total Armageddon as well. Although the incredibly annoying eternally respawning enemies has been got rid of now, they have compensated for it by having a stupidly vast amount of enemy troops. It is ridiculous in places. For example, there is a mission in Brazil and in particular one in Washington that have such an obscene amount of enemies, soldiers, tanks, helicopters etc, and bullets flying absolutely everywhere you really are quite overwhelmed. There have been several additions to the gameplay that make the whole experience a lot more enjoyable, such as when you have to “breach” a room. You place an explosive on a door, stand back, and as it explodes you launch in and in super slow motion you take out every bad guy before they shoot you or before they kill any hostages. It’s proper swing in through windows, gun ho, commando style aspect of the game and really good fun. There is also the infamous mission where you have to take out an airport full of unarmed civilians which is actually quite shocking, dark and unnerving. You don’t have to actually shoot anyone but you do have to watch and it really does add a creepy evil tone to the game. You will also snipe from helicopters, infiltrate oil rigs from submarines, fight through suburban areas of America picking out targets for a “Striker” (a massive 8 wheeled tank thing), gun down hoards of terrorists with mini guns onboard Humvee’s, blast helicopters from the sky with missile launchers, sneak through enemy bases in snowy mountains, launch and detonate a nuclear missile, take back the White House from enemy control before it is carpet bombed, set off an EMP so that fighter jets and attack helicopters rain from the sky (a particularly crazy mission), and generally pull off every military assault and action set piece you can think of. You even get to, briefly, control a NASA astronaut in space. It is unbelievably exhilarating and exciting that if this doesn’t get your heart racing there’s something wrong with you.



The weaponry and technology is very plentiful and good fun to use. Although practically every weapon from the first game has been copied over here, and there is a shit load of them, there are some notable really good additions. The favourites from the first game remain of course, such as the “javelin” missile launcher and you still get to man the mighty C-130 gunship, although it’s a spec ops mission now and not in the main story. The one that stands out the most are the predator drones. These are remote controlled missiles that hover round a target area and upon your command, through a lap top, descend upon the enemy and blow it pieces. You have to control the missile though upon launch, and when it makes an impact you instantly switch back to your character and you can see the explosion, debris, smoke and dust kicked up by it. There’s also a mission in a snow storm where you have to use a heart beat monitor (the one showed in all the previews and demos), as you can’t see a bloody thing, which detects the enemy’s heart beats (obviously) for you too avoid or take down. You also get riot shields, which are bullet proof plastic shields that you can hide behind, but will replace a weapon. It’s really good fun getting your pal to use these shields as you follow them and use them as cover, but the enemy also use them which makes them difficult foes to take down. Using grenades is the key and they generally add an extra tactical element to the abundant fire fights in this game. There is also guns with heat detecting sights, excellent when a level is shrouded in smoke or fog, and you can shoot two smaller guns at the same time now, such as uzi’s or desert eagles, although using double guns makes you hideously inaccurate despite the fun factor. You will use lots of vehicles this time as well, including a mental mission through Afghanistan in the first level where you have a mini gun in a Hummer and have to take out hundreds of extremists whilst being chased through the streets and being shot at, a lot. You also blow up and escape a terrorist mountain base on a couple of snow mobiles, a crazy vehicle chase in an aeroplane scrap yard (reminiscent of the final chase at the end of the first game) and the final boat chase at the end is real fast paced stuff and every scenario has an insane amount of troops permanently trying to blow the crap out of your vehicle, increasing the intensity beyond it’s already very high levels. There is also an obscene amount of guns in general, far more than the previous game, and all enemies’ guns can be picked up and swapped with your own at any time. Considering the amount of enemies you slaughter there will be a biblical amount of guns to choose from. If you love fire power and shooting then this will be your nirvana.



Spec ops mode adds more to the experience. Infinity Ward were clearly aware the main story was a bit on the short side, and a lot of missions that were the most popular in the previous game, such as the sniping mission through Chernobyl and the mission were you use the C-130 gun ship, were not included in the story this time round, not at least in any similar form (which is a shame really). Fear not Modern Warfare fans as they have simply pasted in the new Spec Ops mode, which is a full set of small missions that don’t have any story or relevance tied into them, just simple honest action sequences and soldiery. They generally revolve around defending a stronghold or position while a set amount of enemies attack, evade and sneak through some enemy territory without being seen by enemy patrols and getting through a level as quickly as possible as enemies attack you. They are not particularly complicated, just quick easy scenarios where you can challenge yourself to beet your best time, or, more importantly, take them on with a friend (discussed in a bit). They are not quite as engaging as anything story related, but they are clearly supposed to be “a bit of fun” and add some more challenges and trophies to your game time.



There’s lots and lots of multiplayer gaming. Infinity Ward have put most of their effort into the multiplayer action of this game as clearly lots of market research shows that this is what people wanted the most from the game, which is to be expected in the current market. Firstly, all the spec ops missions can be done as a split screen two player. It’s actually better this way to be honest, as several missions, ie the most fun ones, can only be done in two player form. You can do this either by using two controllers or over the internet with a pal. Two player spec ops missions are a bit easier, so you can try them on harder difficulties, and its really good fun having your friend circling the battlefield in a C-130 over head and your on the ground as a regular soldier, both fighting off the enemy to get through the level. Or one of you has to use predator drones to eliminate enemy vehicles, whilst you cover them with sniper fire, or one is in a minigun armed helicopter circling above as you try to evade militia through a slum town. It certainly demands team work and harmony if nothing else. The online stuff is immense as well, for those who like it. You have the usual team battles, last man standing etc but there is additions such as one team member can man a C-130, but opposing team members can shoot it down with RPG’s. The levels are huge as well and there is kill streak rewards that, if you kill lots of people without dying yourself, allow you to upgrade your soldier to have extra skills, such as being able to take a “last stand” after you have been downed. It adds a little more tactics to the battles and some variation. It’s not really my thing, to be honest (I don’t really like online gaming in general: too elitist, too repetitive, too competitive) but if online or multiplayer is yours, and there is a lot of you out there, there is a lot here to please you.



The graphics and sound are of an incredibly high quality. The graphics in the previous game where pretty spectacular, with the exception of the characters faces and movement being a little wooden. But they have managed to revamp it to even further extremes this time round. It’s not awe inspiring in its epic battle fields or enemies, such as “Resistance 2”, it’s the level of detail that really astounds, especially in the level design. Firstly the characters in the game are now pretty flawless, with very realistic facial movements, winks, head nods, mouth movement etc, and movements in general. In the mountain mission, for example, you can see “Soap’s” beard slightly dusted with frost, not important I know but it just shows the level of detail Infinity Ward has put into it. For another example, whenever you’re in a vehicle or car just have a little glance around and spot the attention to detail. It is outstanding. You will see the keys in the ignition, the air vents, the stitching on the steering wheel, some used drink cans on the floor and all sorts of minute details, that individually make bugger all difference but when put together make one seriously immersive experience. Every town you enter is bustling with people, who scatter at the sound of gun fire, and the missions where you go through various housing developments in the USA defending the Russians attack, are particularly impressive and have all the trade marks of a town that was deserted quickly such as bicycles left on the lawn, broken locks on front doors, burning trees with ash coming off in the wind, little things that make all the difference when trying to add atmosphere, which it has in heaps. Speaking of atmosphere, the sound goes a long way to helping this aspect as well. It’s pretty much loud full on orchestral stuff that intensifies as action comes and goes and it goes bananas whenever a scene of epic proportions is encountered. It’s very much like a John Woo film. The battle scenes in Washington, with the wrecked White House in the back ground, will emphasise this. All character voices are excellent as are all noises of gun fire, explosions, vehicles, everything. It does not miss a beat.



The control scheme is 100% perfect. I have mentioned this in previous Call of Duty games, so I won’t go on, but the control scheme is absolutely perfect. It has not changed at all from the first Modern Warfare, or “World at War” for that matter, and I’m glad to see they haven’t felt the need to change it here either. If it ain’t broke etc. Everything is just so easy and instinctual to use, and even if you have never played a FPS before you will not need any instructions. They are that good. You would be surprised how easy it can be to not get control schemes quite right, Killzone 2 for example, an awesome game, but it tried to fiddle with the controls and it doesn’t work as well as Call of Duty.


What’s bad?

The main story is a bit of a let down, as it’s far too short and ludicrously over the top and confusing. My favourite part of the first Modern Warfare was the brilliant story, that gave you a lot of gaming time and generally really satisfied action fans (that mission where the nuclear bomb is detonated is one of the greatest I have played in any game ever). Unfortunately if you’re expecting a similar experience with no. 2 then you are going to be let down, as it is literally over in a few hours and will leave you with many unanswered questions. I completed it for the first time in around 4 to 5 hours, but as it’s so fast paced the time goes quickly and it feels even shorter. The harder difficulties will take a bit longer, “veteran” mode, for example, is unbelievably hard where even the simplest easiest levels will take many attempts, but generally it wont take too much of your time to complete. Don’t get me wrong it’s engaging, and the action is so intense if it were longer it might be too much, but I really felt like I needed a lot more and I was pretty disappointed upon completion. It is also ridiculously over the top and ludicrous as you’re just expected to take for granted that the Russians invade the United States? Do me a favour, how would that ever work? I was slightly confused as to what was happening the first time I played it, as the concept of a Russian invasion seemed way too far fetched. Plus it’s quite hard to ascertain exactly what’s going on as you are not really told much, you just have to rely on random radio transmissions and brief conversations that set up a mission. How did thousands of Russian air craft packed with para-troopers manage to fly un-noticed into American air space, take over the White House and various stupid things like that? It’s apparently down to the Russians using a code from a downed American satellite to make all their other satellites useless, but you cannot ascertain this from the game. It’s like a Michael Bay film with its stupidity: action packed, yes, but mind numbing with it’s brainlessness and style over substance. It really is daft. Saying “you will be disappointed” is probably too harsh, as, despite its briefness, its really good fun, and there is something wrong with you if you don’t fancy having more than one go at it on different difficulty levels. But the game as a whole is clearly much more focussed on multiplayer modes, which I’m sure is what most players will want, but if you, like myself, have the main story down as this games, not only but, biggest appeal then you have very much got the wrong end of the stick.



The spec ops missions are not that great. Don’t get me wrong they are by no means bad, but, firstly, taking on these Spec Ops missions individually is a bit rubbish and, secondly, although your better off taking them on with two players, they are still a bit short lived and unimpressive when compared to the main story. Don’t think for a second either that its like doing a whole new story or set of missions as nearly all the spec ops missions are clones of the missions in the main story, with ever so slightly different objectives. You will have to do things such as kill 40 enemy soldiers in a specific place, get through a level as quickly as you can without being killed or, defuse some bombs scattered around a town and, weirdly, doing the snowmobile mission whilst being timed. Why in the hell would you want to do that? This isn’t a racing game. Trust me, it is not even remotely as exciting if you don’t have enemy helicopters and soldiers blasting away with guns and missiles at you, or without any dramatic background music, which that spec ops mission doesn’t have, so its pretty crap. They are generally light hearted good fun, but most are very short, unrewarding and I didn’t have more than one or two goes on each before I got bored. You might as well play the story as it’s pretty much the same just better, more engaging and dramatic. What annoyed me further still is that the only missions that do stand out, such as a revamp of the Chernobyl sniping mission from the first game, a mission where you man the C-130 gun-ship (the C-130 is included in every aspect of this game except the story, which is really annoying!) or a quick fast battle across a collapsing suspension bridge, could have easily been incorporated into the story bulking that out a lot more which it really needs. Spec Ops is basically just a check list of achievements and trophies, and the only point to them is to try and beat your best times or play with a mate. Taking them on with your friend is the point of them really and in that respect they are pretty good fun, if a bit short lived, but I personally tired of doing them individually very quickly and would have much preferred a longer story and less spec ops stuff, if any at all.



It is way to overwhelming and confusing in places. The intensity of the action is just too much at times and it becomes impossible to figure out where you are supposed to go and what you are supposed to do, especially on your first play through. The fourth mission in the story, in Brazil, suffers from this badly as you have to chase a guy who is a lead to the terrorists through a slum town, and it is just total chaos. There is militia on every roof top, in every building, behind every wall, all shooting the crap out of you (and I know the respawning enemies have gone but it certainly doesn’t feel like it in this mission), whilst this informant legs it and you are expected to chase him through the town which is a ludicrous impossible maze of small houses and dead ends, the whole time your commander is screaming at you to hurry up or the informant will escape (although there is no time limit your certainly not led to believe this). Trying to figure out where the hell to actually go is hard enough, even if the ten thousand militia where not trying to turn you into a colander. Another example is when you have to defend a house later on in the game, and even worse escaping it, which starts off easily enough, but then the enemy swarm the house from every conceivable angle, and there is loads of openings and doors they can infiltrate from, and such a ridiculous amount of flash bang grenades are tossed in every window that they are unavoidable and you will be blind for a good few minutes, whilst the enemy pile in and gun you down. You then have to escape the house and run down a hill, but there is an obscene amount of enemy troops shooting at you, from all angles, nothing to hide behind, whilst the area is being mortared, so you can’t sit still or you are blown to pieces. Avoiding taking shots in these circumstances is unbelievably tough as it is, bordering on impossible on “veteran” mode, let alone not being able to stray too far from the computer you are protecting, as if you do the enemy destroy it very quickly, and the mission is over. A lot of the spec ops missions suffer from this as well, again, particularly when it comes to defending a strong hold, as wave after wave of enemy just gets too much and it is seriously tough to keep cool and stay on top of things, especially when going solo. There is also little stupid things like exploding cars and red barrels, which are often unavoidable and when they explode vaguely in your vicinity you are killed instantly. This game has enough going on already to have to concern your self with the colour of specific barrels, for god’s sake. This is possibly more of an indication of my crapness, or unawareness, but I really fail too see how even the most skilled “switched on” gamer wont be overwhelmed at some point during their time with Modern Warfare 2, and I reckon they should have toned it down a little, not everywhere, just some of the few occasions when it goes a bit overboard.



Shooting from the hip is ludicrously inaccurate. I have never shot a real gun so I’m not sure how hard it is to aim and fire when not looking down the sights (which is called “shooting from the hip”), but I really struggle to see how it can be as ridiculously bad and inaccurate as it is Modern Warfare 2. In the tutorial you are of course told that you should never shoot from the hip and always aim down your sights, especially in order to use the excellent target snapping system, however, there will be various points in the game where you will turn a corner or open a door and there will be a gun wielding bastard ready to unload bullets into your face. There is no way you have time to aim down the sights in such circumstances so you are forced to shoot from the hip, however, I guarantee you, even standing inches from your enemy and aiming at point blank range in his face, you will empty the entire magazine and hit nothing but air and scenery. If you’re on a harder difficulty you will inevitably get your head cored like an apple by a shot gun. It’s even worse on the larger machine guns and I refuse to believe a gun will be that inaccurate at such a close range, and even if it is, I think it’s far too harsh for the game to punish you for it. Realistic or not, it sucks, basically.



The friendly AI is a bit crap and simplistic. This only effects the story mode, as there isn’t any friendly AI in spec ops or online, but I’m surprised this is not something Infinity Ward would have concentrated on a little more, as your AI pals are a bit thick. They are not as intrusive and irritating as they are in “World at War” (although they still can be), where they will stand on your face or leap in to your firing line, they are just not really any help and pretty much act like you are not there. It by no means ruins anything in the game but despite the intended realism you don’t at any point feel like part of the unit. You pretty much have to do everything on your own and they simply don’t really ever help you, have to be led everywhere, otherwise they don’t budge, will promise to “cover you” and stand there doing nothing whilst an enemy shoots you in the back, and generally don’t add a lot to the experience. They are only really good for following to the next action scene. They also occasionally jump in front of you when your aiming down a scope as well, which is particularly annoying, and you inadvertently kill them. This frustrates because, as always, “friendly fire will not be tolerated” and you have to start again. It is very frustrating to get punished for something that is not your fault. It’s by no means awful, but by no means particularly good either.


Conclusion:

Rather expectantly it is of course, as a whole, very very good. The story is far too short and stupid for my liking, but it’s just so engaging, particularly exciting to play, and you will definitely want to have a good few goes at it, let alone on each difficulty. If you want a challenge, “veteran” mode will seriously test the most hardened and sharp gamers. I wouldn’t say you will definitely be disappointed if you buy this game only for the story campaign, as that is a bit harsh, but you probably won’t feel as though you have had your fill or got the most out of this title if you do. However, if you love multiplayer stuff as well then you will get a lot of satisfaction from it. It is a proper bullet ridden balls out hairy chested intensely unrelenting action packed manly experience, that is a bit short on subtlety and intellect, but who cares when you can mow down multiple terrorist scum with a massive machine gun! The spec ops missions are not that great to be honest, but they are something else to do when you get bored of the story, and, most importantly, they are by no means bring the game down. Plus, you can even tackle them with a pal if you so choose, which is good fun and really the point of them. I don’t find the spec ops stuff as engaging as the story, therefore not as good, but the enjoyment and same ludicrous intense action remains. Further still, you have the vast multiplayer online stuff. All this playability is coupled with outstanding graphics and sound, particularly the level design and details, and it makes for one of the best experiences available on a PS3. I wouldn’t say it is better than the original Modern Warfare, it’s just about the same, as it improves on it in several areas but loses out to it in others. But, to be fair, being about as good as possibly one of the best game of the decade is not really a bad thing. It does not really blow the competition away either, as there are lots of high quality titles in the market, past and present, but I cant deny it is definitely a bit taller, fitter, and more muscular, if a bit less intelligent, than the other kids in the playground. CA.


Summary:


Is it user-friendly/easy to get into? – 9.5

Menus are all very simple and very obvious and it’s easy to get straight into whatever or who ever you fancy killing today. Control scheme is perfect and very easy to use and get used to.


Is the story any good? – 8.0

It is a good story, definitely entertaining, dramatic and a little dark, but very ridiculous, very over the top and just a bit stupid. Those of you that have a more cynical and logical outlook on life probably wont be won over very easily.


How does it look? – 9.5

It is a particularly stunning game and the level detail and design is awesome, and everything just generally looks outstanding.


How does it sound? – 9.5

Really dramatic orchestral background music that rises and falls with the intensity and suits the action and gameplay perfectly. All voice acting and sound effects are also superb.


Is it good to play? – 9.0

It can be too overwhelming in places, and too intense, but it is certainly incredibly exhilarating, huge fun and very variable so it takes a long time to get dull, be it playing the story, spec ops or online.


When will I get bored? – 8.0

If you are only interested in the single player campaign, you may not get as much game for your money as you might be expecting. Despite how much fun it is, it is just very short. If you want to do everything though, you have lots and lots of Spec Ops missions that can be done on your own or with a mate, and masses of online multiplayer stuff. So you should potentially not be bored any time soon, depending on your preferences.


OVERALL – 9.0

Review created by C. Armstrong.

Need for Speed: Shift Review 07/10/2009


Not perfect, but (at last) a really decent NFS game.

Now I have been playing Need for Speed games even before the PS2 days of “Underground”, the game of course that made the franchise as well known as it is today, and threw it into the world of customising and tuning. Before that came titles such as “Hot Pursuit”, a game I spent many hours as a young lad on my PC, being the police car and chasing down naughty boy racers. At the time it was awesome! Need for Speed is also the most successful racing franchise ever, would you believe, having been around since the 90’s, however, I wouldn’t say I’m a die-hard fan-boy of the franchise, being that several titles in the franchise have been total crap. Un-flushable turd’s such as NFS “Carbon” and “Undercover” spring to mind which were just so lame, short-lived and shallow. I didn’t even like “Underground 2” as it was too easy and also far too short. These titles are not necessarily awful, but just played like they were designed very quickly, in an EA developer’s lunch break, and put together simply in an effort to make a quick buck, rather than a desire to make a joyful celebration of vehicle, tuning and track. I even abandoned the franchise for the first time when “Undercover” was released and bought Midnight Club: LA, a good game, but not a great one, and it left me wanting for a better racing, customising and tuning game. EA can do good things, as they produced the brilliant original “Underground”, which at the time was unbelievably good, the hugely entertaining “Most Wanted”, which I particularly liked, and the controversial “Pro Street”, which, I must confess, I really enjoyed as well despite the weird handling of the cars. “Shift” is easily the most mature in the franchise as it is a proper track racing and tuning game designed by real enthusiasts, with many cars, many upgrades, many unlockables, many trophies and many tracks. You basically spend the whole game experiencing the career of a pro racing driver, starting from scratch with minimal cash and amateur rides, such as Honda Civic’s and VW Golf’s, on small tracks, to becoming the ultimate pro racer earning millions in sponsorship, racing Pagani Zonda’s and Mclaren F1’s on the worlds most famous and difficult circuits, such as Laguna Seca, Spa and the terrifying Nordschleife. Now there is no story here, like previous NFS titles, and there is no street racing or having the free roam of a city to drive around in. It’s all track based. Here is where I assume the fan boys will pipe up, but if you don’t like the racing, upgrading, customising, tuning and blistering sensation of speed delivered by Shift, simply because it doesn’t have “free roam”, then you really need to ask yourself if you are a racing game fan at all.


What’s good?

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Well of course, it’s the racing. The racing is nothing unexpected to anyone that’s played racing games before, but the driving engine is really good, where you will genuinely feel the weight, down force and speed of your vehicle and feel it differ and change between classes and models of cars, and to what extent you tweak and tune them. The cars all handle really realistically but it wont slap you in the face with a giant hand of realism. The different types of vehicle will all feel very different, for example, an M3 BMW will feel tail happy and vastly different to a front wheel drive Ford Focus ST, which is different again to a four wheel drive Nissan GTR, all of which will feel different again the more turbos, nitrous injection or spoilers you add to your vehicle. All have varying gifts of speed or grip/handling until you break into the hugely expensive works converted cars that mesh the two in a ludicrous bundle of speed, cornering g-force and noise. Taking a highly tuned Corvette Z06 to a fairly tough track, like Spa, manages to be challenging yet rewarding, and exciting yet terrifying at the same time. You will have to get breaking distances, oversteer, understeer, cornering speed, everything correct or, generally, you will lose a lot. You will face many opponents in every race as well, up to 20 opponents, which are all intelligent enough to know where you are and have varying degrees of aggression and pace. They also have accidents on their own and are just as willing to fight it out with each other as well as you, giving the full on racing experience. There are varying forms of racing as well, as it will jump between all sorts of events, from your standard track race, time trials, one on one battles, drifting, manufacturer events (where everyone has the same car), race series, invitational events (where your given a car to compete with) and generally never lets the racing become stale. This, coupled to the blistering feel of speed and the full on attack on your ear drums by the sound, makes for one seriously exciting racing game.



There is huge satisfaction derived from your progression through the career mode. There’s something so fundamentally satisfying about starting a racing career with bog all money, buying a beat up car and turning into a full on apex kissing racing machine. This is exactly what you do here, and after a quick intro in a BMW and a few laps round Brands Hatch, you are given some cash and off you go. There are 4 tiers of events, upgrades and cars, each one, predictably, harder, better and faster respectively, but the rewards are higher. 4 tiers may not sound a lot but bare in mind that the tier 2 races, for example, consist of around 10 events, with around 6 to 10 races in each one. Plus I guarantee you, if it’s not set on “easy”, you will have at least 2 or 3 goes at each race before you claim the top podium, and probably a lot more at the higher tier championship events. Each tier of vehicles has around 10-15 vehicles in each list and every one can be customised and tuned to your exact racing style. You will unlock various upgrades, vinyl’s, and cars throughout the game and you will await with eagerness what each unlockable will do to your beloved vehicle. It rewards you for hanging on to a favourite vehicle and adopting a preferred driving style, but has just enough alternative events, such as a European or Japanese manufacturer only race series, in order to make sure you vary your cars and skills. The achievements don’t stop there either, as they have incorporated a point’s and stars reward system that gives you bonuses for the manner in which you overtake, your aggression or precision during the race and generally how well you did, rather than just what place you came. This of course unlocks further cars, upgrades and gives you further cash. There is so much money to win in this game so don’t think for a second you will ever be strapped for cash, or have difficulty buying a favourite vehicle. I only got half way through the tier 2 races, around a quarter of the way through the game, and my bank balance was already in the millions. For anyone that’s a fan of career based racing games will like a lot here.



The sensation of speed in this game is unbelievable. There’s one thing that EA have definitely cracked in this latest NFS title is the thrill of speed. It will feel fairly fast in the tier 1 cars, but as you progress through the different tiers of vehicles the faster they get, and when you hit the more complex tracks, it will blow your mind. Firstly, to truly experience this you have to drive in the perspective of the cock pit, and secondly put yourself in a car with maxed out stats on a tight fast track, such as the Nordschleife. There’s several cars that have a maxed out “speed” stat, like the Bugatti Veyron for example (but it cant go round corners), but the one that delivers the most mind blowing speed sensation is the Pagani Zonda R, simply because of its savagely rapid acceleration, cornering ability and ear bleeding engine note. You hit 6th gear in this V12 beast and the madness starts. The noise of your engine escalates to deafening levels, the roar of the wind as you car carves through it increases, the vibration of the your vehicle starts to become uncontrollable, your vision starts to blur, your palms start sweating, whatever horizon you were once pointing at has rushed to meet you and just before it gets too much and you contemplate pressing your unused trembling left finger hard into the break button, the racing line goes red and its time to slow down, or become one with the crash barrier. “Fast” doesn’t come close to describing what it’s like hitting top speed in a car with maxed out stats. It’s literally a perfect 50/50 blend of the ultimate thrill and sheer unadulterated terror.



The sound is ear scorching and brilliant. The game has little to no music whatsoever. What you get instead is a full on racing car related assault on your ear drums. From the cock pit view the tyres are going to scream in rubber burning agony through every corner you go round and on every straight the engine, especially in the larger engine faster vehicles, such as the Koeniggsegg CCX, is going to bellow, roar and shout in your face the entire time your finger is on the accelerator, and in a supercharged vehicle, such as a works converted Viper SRT10, the wine of the supercharger is relentless and ear piercing. It is without a doubt immersing to say the least and “Slightly Mad Studios” has done an awesome job in capturing and enhancing the attack on your ears whilst driving a highly tuned race car. Even in the menus you don’t get music just sounds of engines at full throttle as they flash past, and tyres at the very limit of a blow out. It’s atmospheric and tense and petrol heads will love it.



There is, of course, a load to customise and tune. The customising and upgrading of your car boils down to several menus, all of which are very obvious, very clear and really easy to access. Firstly, your upgrades: each vehicle has 3 levels of upgrades, which, through one way or another, will make your car faster, accelerate quicker, have more grip, etc. However there are lots and lots of them, and the more you upgrade an aspect of your car, i.e., suspension, gear box etc, the more you can fine tune/fiddle with it in the tuning options. Once you have applied all possible upgrades to your vehicle, you will then have the option of “works converting” your beloved car. You can’t do it to all vehicles, but if you’re struggling to decide which car will serve you best in an upcoming tier, it’s generally a good bet to buy the vehicles with a “W” next to them. (Just so it’s clear) You have to apply all conceivable upgrades to the car first, then it will give you the option of pressing “select” in the upgrades menu, and your car will receive a ludicrous but awesome body kit and have all its stats increased further, often maxed out. It’s very expensive, be warned: you will be spending in the region of $1,000,000, but you will have one seriously tuned, awesome looking and fast car as a result. You then have the visuals menu where you can add an eternal amount of paint jobs, around 50 different rims and lots of vinyl’s, none of which at any point you will have to pay for, so go nuts. The vinyl options are not anything more or better than previous NFS games but there is still enough to satisfy the customising junkies. If you cant be arsed to do your own vinyl’s there are 5 racing paint and vinyl jobs already set up for you, just pick your favourite free of charge. Finally there is the tuning menu where you can adjust tyre pressures, break callipers, suspension stiffness, gear ratios, downforce, the lot. All the menus are very accessible and simple as well so nothing will be overwhelming and all tuning options have a tutorial/description, encase your wondering what the hell camber angles do. For anyone who likes customising and tuning you can spend hours doing it here. It certainly doesn’t add anything that the NFS franchise hasn’t had before, other than the fine tuning, but they have just simplified and made everything easy to use and rewarding to do, when you get it right.



There’s lots of tracks and cars. NFS has gone all grown up with its tracks this time, as instead of racing randomly around an open city, you have actual race tracks such as Laguna Seca, Spa, Brands Hatch, Silverstone, the mighty Nordschleife and all sorts. Each one has been perfectly re-produced and has various colours and backgrounds enhanced to make them a bit more exciting and interesting to behold. There are 18 in total but each one has several smaller versions of the same track plus a few make believe ones such as a circuit through central London and Tokyo. There is a lot to get your head round and you will have to race a hell of a lot to master every one of them. For the cars, although there are some missing favourites/NFS classics which may put fans off slightly (more on that later), but you have to bare in mind that there is still 72 cars to be had here, and each one, especially the works converted or tier 4 cars will take a very long time to build up enough cash to purchase and fully upgrade. Admittedly around a third of these cars can’t be used in career mode, but cars are cars and it does have that many to be fair. The list is enough for any car fan.



The game is as “arcade like” or “driving sim like” as you want and will accommodate any racer of any skill level. The racing is a mixed bag to be honest, in terms of its handling and driving. But fortunately they have managed to be very broad with its appeal, as there is definitely a lot of interest here for the hard core racing and tuning fan, the sort of person who lies awake at night debating the stiffness of his rear suspension and length of his gear ratios, and the casual racer, the sort of chap who goes “which ones the accelerator pedal?”. You don’t have to know anything about cars to play this, unlike, of course, Gran Turismo, as you can set up traction control, steering, braking and tuning assists to help you or turn them all off completely, and become a pure racer. This will remind you though of just how far away you are from a real racing driver. For most it will lean mostly towards the arcade style of racing games as, although you can’t just sling vehicles into corners at any speed (like you can in Midnight Club: LA or previous NFS games), it is forgiving to an extent. It really depends on how hard core or easy you want it, and the game can provide all variations. Bare in mind it is still a long way off Gran Turismo and Forza though, even if you make it as realistic as it allows.



The drifting is really good fun, when you get it right. Slightly Mad Studios have got rid of the various forms of racing that previous NFS gamers may be used to, such as drag racing (but honestly you wont miss it), but drifting has survived. It has also been seriously revamped and made to be a lot more realistic and will feel vastly different to any drifting you may have done before. It is incredibly difficult (more on that in a bit) as you have to be spot on perfect with every aspect of steering, throttle, braking and angle but when you nail it is supremely satisfying and good fun. Plus after lots of practice you will start to get the hang of it. The cash rewards are huge as well considering it can take barely 2 minutes to do a drifting event.


What’s bad?

It’s far too easy to earn money. This game gives you way too much cash and points for your efforts so you very rarely have to do races again for the sake of funds or try too hard to buy a car you particularly want. You can get money, points and stars, for finishing last in some events! As a result there is little incentive to “go the extra mile” to gather enough funds to buy a favourite car, or the best car in the tier. Whenever you get to a new tier or event you will always easily have enough cash for the best car in the tier. For example, I had gained enough stars and unlocked all tiers of races when I had barely started the tier 3 races, which is only about half way through the whole game! Plus I had about $4,000,000 in the bank which can buy the most expensive car in the game twice over. You also get money when in “quick race” which is basically an arcade mode, so the opportunity to make ridiculous sums of cash is overly frequent. I think it should make you work slightly harder, do races more than once, ultimatley making it more satisfying when you do purchase that Mclaren F1, for example. To rub salt in this wound, EA have done this ridiculous thing where you can go online and use your credit or debit card to purchase in-game cash, encase your struggling. I find this so insulting, as who in the hell is going to be so awful, as if it is set on “easy” its really really easy, they don’t earn enough cash in this cash filled game, and stupid enough to use your real money when you have already used your cash to buy the sodding game in the first place! It’s such a pathetic extra money making scheme, showing EA’s money grabbers still have a say in quality games such as this. It’s very underhand and devious, and I don’t like it.



You can’t upgrade the tier 4 cars! It’s seriously disappointing to get as far in the game to warrant the unlocking of the tier 4 races and cars, and finally get enough money to buy a tier 4 car and the consequential upgrades, and, after relinquishing a good $1,000,000 for it, when you go to customise your ultimate ride this message flashes up: “There are no upgrades available for this car”. That’s right, you can’t improve the performance, you can’t add aerodynamic aids/body kits, you can fine tune them, but the options are pretty limited, and you generally can’t make your tier 4 car any better than it is already. You can change the paint job, but that’s where your customising will end. This annoys and disappoints me on several levels: Firstly, this game is predominantly about customising and tuning cars, the tier 4 cars being the ultimate goal (or at least your led to believe that), and they decide to take away that aspect for the most expensive, rewarding and fastest vehicles in the game. Secondly, the majority of the tier 4 cars’ stats, which you cant change/improve, will be worse than several works converted tier 2 and 3 cars. The Corvette, Viper, Nissan GTR, Murcielago, Skyline GTR, BMW M3, Mustang GT500, Mitsubishi Evo X, for example, are all more worthy of your cash, ultimately making the tier 4 cars worse but costing about the same. Thirdly, real life GT racing versions exist for nearly all the tier 4 cars available (with the exception of the Veyron, Reventon and Carrera GT), as I have seen them race with my own eyes, so it is not as if such racing paraphernalia are not applicable to these cars, they are just not applied. Fourthly and finally, you have to go through most of the f*****g game, having these machines as your goal, only then finding out that there is no point in buying them whatsoever, as they will be worse than cars you already own! It really feels like these cars are only in the game so EA can gloat about the car roster on the box and fool people into buying it for their love of the Bugatti Veyron, for example. Maybe I am in a minority, and most players wont care, but it really really f****d me off. They are still pretty fast, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just not the same and it doesn’t feel like it’s your car if you can’t tune and customize it. The Pagani Zonda R is worth buying (but it is the most expensive in the game at $1,200,000), as its stats are maxed out (top speed is not quite maxed out, but close enough) making it one of, if not, the best car in the game, but all the others have a flaw that makes them too tough to drive. This ranges from being incredibly fast but unable to go round corners and needs brake, suspension and aerodynamic upgrades, that you cant add (Veyron, Koeniggsegg), twitchy as hell and needs down force, that you cant add (Mclaren F1, Pagani Zonda F), or just comparatively not that good and needs all upgrades in general, which you cant add (Mercedes Mclaren 722 edition, Lamborghini Reventon, Lexus LF-A, Porsche Carrera GT). Other lower tiered vehicles have such flaws as well, sure, but the difference is you can tune and upgrade these cars to suit your driving style.



The customising is definitely a step back from previous NFS games. Despite the fact there is still a lot to customise it is noticeably not as detailed or as plentiful as previous games. For those that played Pro Street, you will easily notice the difference especially in terms of your cars vinyls and wheels, as there is considerably less choice on both fronts, and far less choice in terms of what you can customise about them. For example, most wheels will have a set size and if you fancy putting 20 inch rims of a wheel design on instead of 16 inches, then that’s tough luck. You can’t. There’s no more “auto sculpt” anymore, which sucks as I liked fiddling with your cars aerodynamics and visual appeal. The real kick up the arse for me is that there is no option to mirror your cars vinyl’s at all on different sides. This really wound me up as for anal people like myself that want symmetry on their vehicles racing colours, which I firmly believe is not unreasonable to expect, there is no option at all. How could “slightly mad studios” have missed this? It seems such an obvious, simple and vital part of an otherwise good customising system. The fools! Also, you don’t get full control of the view of your vehicle when adding vinyls. You can move the camera but it’s overly sensitive, quite limited and never really makes the view any better, making the necessary DIY vinyl symmetry even more of a pain in the arse. Another irritant, is that you have several options of pre-made racing vinyls that you can apply to your car, which is fine, but you can not make such paint schemes yourself at all, as you simply do not have enough options and resources. For example, you can’t change the colour or, in any way that’s worth it, the size of the manufacturer vinyls, where often the in-game paint jobs will have such vinyls of all different shapes and colours. Your often better off using the predetermined racing colours as you wont be able to make such paint jobs yourself. How hard would it have been for them to allow you to change the colour of the manufacturer vinyls? It’s really annoying. You also have to unlock the vinyl’s as you go but you wont have all of them unlocked until you have nearly completed the game, and its annoying when you want to add simple things such as numbers to your beloved vehicle, and you can’t. There’s a lot to unlock other than vinyl’s so I cant ascertain why they bothered with this in terms of incentive to play. It honestly feels like they have been doing the customising lark for NFS games for so long, that they are just bored of it now and can’t be arsed.



The car list is not as robust as previous NFS games either. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of high performance machines here to keep you interested, however it’s not as plentiful as “Undercover” or “Pro Street”, and there is some odd choices in what was introduced this time and what was discarded. There are noticeable missing favourites from the car list, such as the tuners favourite, the Toyota Supra, and all classic muscle cars are gone. No classic Charger, Stingray, GT500, Hemi Cuda or Chevelle at all I’m afraid. In fact the choice for muscle car fans is a bit thin on the whole. The only true muscle cars are the (modern day) Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang GT500. To a lesser extent there is the Corvette Z06, Viper SRT10 and Ford GT but they are more firmly a member of the supercar family, and all have been around in NFS games for ages. There are some strange cars now introduced such as the original 1960’s Nissan Skyline 2000GTR, which, despite the fact it’s the worst car in the game, I don’t particularly have a problem with, but why at the cost of a way more awesome vehicle such as a Dodge Charger or Toyota Supra? Seems a strange choice to me. They also have several iterations of the same vehicle, for example, there are two versions of the new Nissan GTR and three versions of the BMW M3. Of course they have different variations of age, power, speed, etc, but they are not vastly different from each other. The only thing that really separates them is whether they can be works converted or not, but lets be honest, you really want to works convert all your cars anyway. Considering some of the missing NFS favourites, there doesn’t appear to be a particularly good case for the inclusion of some of these vehicles, especially the totally useless tier 4 cars. For those foolish enough to have played “NFS Undercover”, that one game’s perk was the awesome vehicle list, which is just not as good in Shift I’m afraid.



The drifting is really hard. It’s not all simply track racing in Shift as you can still do drift events, the only reprise from track racing mind. Although it is good when you get it right, and there is not many of them, the drifting events are really really tough. The same mechanics of the drifting will be vaguely familiar with NFS veterans, however they have made this a lot more realistic, and just like everything in real life, it’s much harder. The steering and throttle are so insanely delicate and if you put the tiniest amount of either in too much it will spin, instantly. Even going in straight line, even in 4th gear, it’s really tough to keep your vehicle from spinning, and if you are in a high powered vehicle, car control becomes impossible. Your line, angle and speed into the corner also have to spot on perfect or the entire remainder of the course is buggered. You simply cannot make even one mistake and it’s just far too hard to get it 100% perfect, and if it is not your in for a hug with the crash barrier. The tracks don’t help either as some of them are a ludicrous maze of chicanes, tyre walls and hair pin bends. It’s a lot more realistic, yes, but at the cost of having 20 goes at each event and it generally frustrating you into boredom makes you occasionally wish they had simply left this one out. The key is smoothness, throttle control and never ever using a powerful vehicle (seriously, don’t ever upgrade your drifter too much, you wont be able to handle it), despite how tempting it will often be. Fortunately, there are so many points, stars and rewards in general available elsewhere you can simply just not do them at all and still progress through the game just fine. That does kinda defeat the point though and, although it is satisfying despite the extreme difficulty, I did think it could have given you a bit more of an easier time with it.



Several cars are a bit too “twitchy”, “slidey” and “skiddy”. Apologies for using words that don’t exist but its quite frustrating trying to drive some of these cars. It seems like several vehicles, no matter how much you tune them or fiddle with their handling you can never really truly sort them completely. Several cars will still fling the back out wildly or understeer into a wall no matter what you do. The works converted BMW M3 is a good example of this, as it is ludicrously tail happy, constantly, and no matter how much downforce you add, how much you deflate your tyres or how much you stiffen the suspension it will still be a nightmare to drive. It literally feels like it’s constantly driving on sheet ice. Any tuning you do will be futile and furthermore, are works converted racing vehicles not supposed to eliminate such handling difficulty? Isn’t that the point of slick tyres and spoilers? Do you see the grid of the Japanese GT Championship or Le Mans sliding and skidding round every corner? In Shift’s defense this is what modern racing cars are like, as every conceivable tiny aspect has to be working in conjunction with every other part, otherwise it will simply spin off the track. It’s the difference between “Mclaren” and “Force India” in the Formula 1 world championship, but several cars will make your tuning efforts feel so futile. Most vehicles you will probably manage just fine and some feel very planted and predictable, such as the Mitsubishi Evo, Nissan GTR, Dodge SRT10 Viper and Audi R8, but quite a few will drive you mad. For example, the Subaru Impreza has the most appalling brakes and understeers like a b***h, no matter how much you tune it. The Corvette Z06, although one of the best cars in the game, will be ridiculously tail happy until you add loads of downforce, but it will seriously effect the top speed, and the Lamborghini Murcielago has a serious “twitchyness” problem, making it a real handful and tough to keep on bumpy track. Nothing you can tune on any of these cars is going to make much difference to its handling, whilst still being able to use it in a race. It is possibly down to my crapness at tuning, but I know a lot about cars and how they handle, and besides, I have spent hours tweaking and fine tuning every conceivable component for it to make no difference at all. HINT: whenever you works convert a car, don’t ever use the “quick tune” option for your car as it will seriously muck up it’s handling. Always use “detailed tuning”, press “L3” to switch everything to default settings and simply make small adjustments to these settings, if needed at all. On some vehicles, though, you are wasting your time.



There’s no where to practise. The tracks are so variable you really want some practise space before you race, to get used to the track, figure out its tricky corners, its breaking zones or, if you have just been fiddling with your cars set-up, to figure out if it’s all working in conjunction with each other or if it is now uncontrollable. But there is no option to do this. If you want to practise on a track you have to race on it, full on with all opponents, whether you like it or not. It’s kind of irritating especially when tweaking your cars set-up, as you are not really ready to race, that’s the whole point of experimenting with the handling of your vehicle. I fiddled with the stiffness of the suspension on my BMW M3 only to find out in the race that it was far too stiff and the car simply bounced off the track every time it went over bump. I would rather have found this out by practicing, not in a full on race. Shift does compensate for this by having a racing line on the track with breaking zones, and the fact that everything rewards you whether you suck or not, but I reckon having an option to do some warm up laps or something is not to much to ask.



You win cars throughout the career mode, but you can’t use them. Yet another bizarre decision in the way this game rewards you is that while going through your career you will, amongst other things, unlock several cars as prizes. These include a “Falken Mustang GT”, a “Le Mans Audi R8”, a racing “Porsche 911 GTS”, the BMW M3 GT (the car on the box), a “Maserati MC12 GT” and various other high powered exclusive vehicles that you would love to have at your disposal in the career mode. But, as a lot of things in this game, you simply can’t. You can use them in the “quick race” mode but that’s it. Why? Yet again, why would it have been so difficult to allow you the use of these cars in career mode? What’s stopping this? They would be of use to you in career mode. “Quick Race” does not really serve any purpose, other than winning some extra cash, and has nothing to do with the career mode, so why did they have to give you this limitation? What makes it worse is that you can’t works convert an Audi R8, Aston Martin DB9, Porsche 911 or the 2009 BMW M3 in career mode, so it rewards you with works converted versions of these cars that you can not convert or use in career mode. Why could they not allow you to simply works convert these cars in the sodding career mode, rather than rewarding you with something you can’t really use? It is utterly incomprehensible as to why they would do this, almost as though Slightly Mad Studios were being deliberately obtuse. Again, I may be in a minority here as you do get to race them, but I just reckon it’s yet another strange decision in this games production.



You can’t view your vehicle how you want too. This is admittedly a “nit pick”, but I don’t care as it still bugged me. You can’t control the view of your vehicles in your garage, or anywhere at all in fact. If you have just spent hours customising your car with awesome visuals, wheels and body kit etc and want to look at it, your only option is a weird tilted orbit of your vehicle, that shows it through various angles that don’t really show it that well. Why would it have been so difficult to allow you control of the camera view? Another odd decision.


Conclusion:

If you like cars, there is a lot to like here. There is loads of fast paced edge of your seat racing, loads of cars, loads of tuning, lots of customising, lots of tracks and it will deliver a seriously rewarding career mode for those who enjoy the thrill of turning road cars into snarling speed machines. The sound is an assault on the senses and it will deliver the most amazing thrill of speed you will have ever experienced. The game will also accommodate almost any driver of any experience and help you as often as you want it, or don’t want it to. It does a lot of things well, but rather expectantly it does things badly: the vinyls and cars are noticeably more limited than previous games, you cant mirror your vinyl’s, which really is proper stupid and annoying, the drifting borders to finely on “too hard to bother with”, there’s some odd decisions in the car line up, you cant upgrade or tune the best cars in the game (tier 4 cars), several cars are very “twitchy” and “slidey”, no matter how much you tune them and generally some really odd decisions and pointless thought processes that they really should have contemplated a lot more. As a whole though “Slightly Mad Studios” have done the most important parts very well and as a result, have made a really decent NFS game, but with a few cons that stop it being perfect. It will inevitably put off the hardcore fans, as there is no street racing or free roam aspects, but I certainly didn’t care, and I’m confident next years title will return to the streets, as that seems to be EA’s thinking at the moment, one on, one off etc. If you like cars and racing then this is a “must” for purchase at the moment. How does it stack up against the competition? There is not really a lot of competition to be honest, however, it easily better than any previous NFS game and much better than Midnight Club: LA, although they are much older games to be fair. Race Driver: Grid is really good, if slightly simplistic and short, and although Shift is very similar to Grid, it expands on a lot of areas that Grid doesn’t, I suppose, ultimately making it the best racing game available right now. At least until Gran Turismo 5 comes out, that is. CA.


Summary:


Is it user-friendly/easy to get into? – 8.0

Very easy and simple menus throughout. Will accommodate all drivers of all skill levels and technical knowledge. Will underline the joys of the career racing driver. Couple of unclear menu choices and missing customising options though.


Is the story any good? – 0.0

There isn’t one, but it doesn’t need it.


How does it look? – 9.0

Won’t exactly pop your eye balls with visual brilliance (but what racing game can?) but tracks and cars look really good, with lots of details.


How does it sound? – 10.0

No music, but a full on attack on your ears, through roaring engines and screaming tyres, without any SFX ever sounding poor. Any car enthusiast will fully appreciate.


Is it good to play? – 8.5

Exciting and seriously exhilarating. The sensation of speed is mind blowing. Lots to upgrade and customise, but less than previous games, you can’t touch the really fast metal (tier 4 cars) and several cars will be impossible to drive and un-tuneable.


When will I get bored? – 9.0

It gives you far too much reward for your efforts, but if you want to win all races and get all trophies then there’s a hell of a lot of racing here for you. The fact that you won’t have to however, kinda takes away the sense of achievement.


OVERALL – 9.0

Review created by C. Armstrong.

Resident Evil 5 Review 27/08/2009


It’s a really good zombie slaughtering quest, but could/should have been better.

I have not ever played a Resident Evil game. Before I get verbally stoned to death by fan boys, I must point out that although I have never actually picked up a controller for this franchise, I am very aware of what it’s about and how popular it is. I have several friends who are huge fans, and have frequently walked me through previous titles. So I know Resident Evil well enough to know this is a bit of a departure from what people are used to, albeit that it does have lots of “old school”/traditional aspects. Most notably there is a lot of action to be had in this game as it is basically like playing a big budget Hollywood action flick, with many kills, zombies, guns, explosions and big big monsters. Further still, unlike the “Metal Gear: Solid” franchise, you really don’t need to know too much about previous Resident Evil story lines to understand what’s going on here. So what is going on here? You play (initially) the ludicrously muscular Chris Redfield, who, in the ten years since the events of the first game, and since the collapse of the infamous Umbrella Corporation, has become a member of the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance (BSAA). The BSAA try and keep a handle on all bio-weapon dealings to terrorists round the world. The BSAA send Chris to Kijuju, Africa, to arrest a guy called Ricardo Irving, who the BSAA have been tracking as they believe he wants to sell a bio-organic weapon, called the Uroboros Virus, on the black market out there. You meet up with a fellow BSAA member, Sheva Alomar, who will be your guide and partner for the whole game. Things quickly go wrong though as Chris and Sheva witness a native being fed a parasite which instantly takes control of him and makes him into a Majini (which means “evil spirit” but should mean “psychopathic zombie killing machine”). They then realise that almost all life in this part of Africa has been “zombified” as an experiment by whoever created it the virus. As a result the entire BSAA squad is wiped out, leaving just Chris and Sheva and they need to get to Irving’s deal location to find out who created the virus and stop it before it gets worse. As expected everything goes wrong and it becomes an intense struggle for survival for you and your partner where you will almost certainly have to shoot your way out of all situations. It’s not a particularly complex storyline, and the ending is a bit cheesy and unspectacular, but it’s entertaining enough, especially as it’s full of massive amounts of zombie and monster massacring action.


What’s good?

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The action packed game play is the best thing here. If you want to kill zombies, freaky bug things and enormous beasts with big guns then this is for you. It’s clever with its deliverance of action/zombie slaughtering though, as its not non-stop fighting and explosions as the action moments are in small portions, between which the tension is almost unbearable. You will basically run to each action set piece, constantly killing everything that moves, only occasionally stopping for a cut scene, an action sequence that requires input (designated by on-screen prompts) or a puzzle to solve. There are some awesome action set pieces that are memorable, such as an intense motor bike chase through the desert, a trip through some pitch black abandoned diamond mines, an air boat ride through some tribal villages and swamps and every single boss battle, particularly the one on the freighter boat at the end, where you have to fight a giant squirmy beast of epic proportions. The puzzles are a bit lame but you will never feel like its running on empty, even when the pace has slowed, as you feel very exposed and unsafe, contemplating what horrible massive thing awaits you round the next corner. It’s still very much a Resident Evil game however and is nothing like a shooter style action game. Its much more subtle and eerie than, say, Call of Duty. It’s more fast paced than previous Resident evil games, which makes it slightly less eerie and atmospheric as a result, but this manages to be intelligent with its violence, through excellent timing of the action, whilst having lots of it. The campaign will take a very long time to do, without ever getting dull, and there is much incentive to play again and again.



The enemies here are big, scary, intimidating and hugely variable. I was very impressed with the monsters you have to kill in this game, mainly due to the sheer amount of variety. There are so many variations and all are very big and imposing. There are the bog standard zombies of course, normal people with red eyes and usually axes and knifes. These guys swarm at you and it can be very panic inducing at first. But then there’s normal zombies that upon blowing off a head or killing them will sprout huge freaky insect things out of their heads, that thrash around frantically. Then there is squelchy winged things that burst out of corpses and flap around trying to decapitate you. There is also really disturbing zombies with chain saws who come at you so quickly whirling like the most manic of dervishes and screaming, and these guys will kill you in one hack of a chain saw so its even more intimidating. You will also have to fight zombies with guns, machine guns, mini guns, rocket launchers, proving you have to be more tactical than simply blasting away, and zombies on vehicles. That’s before you get to the horrible looking infected dogs that burst apart showing rank squiggly things with teeth on their insides, and the little insect like spider things that come at you in their hundreds. Plus there’s also the return of foes from previous iterations of the game such as the “lickers”. There are so many all involving different tactics of various degrees, all of which will challenge you, and such variety in cannon fodder results in the game begging to be played again and again.



The boss battles are epic in size and intensity. This game is on a par with “Resistance: Fall of Man 2” with its massive boss battles, except they are far less of a walk over in Resident Evil 5 and there are more of them. Fairly regularly in the game you will have a boss battle but not one of these will be small on scale or a let down, and all will challenge your skills and more than likely kill you many times, if not set on the easiest difficulty. You have to fight some pretty big beasts in this that will range from being the size of houses to the size of sky scrapers, no joke. They all generally have a tactical way of killing them that’s not too difficult to do but they will absorb a lot of fire power and some will take you a good 10 to 15 minutes to vanquish. The big bad guy, “Wesker”, is possibly the coolest bad guy in any game I have seen recently and every encounter with him will be pretty tough. This just makes vanquishing him all the more satisfying, however. All boss fights are intense and nerve racking and are easily a highlight of the game.



It’s an incredibly good looking game. There is a hell of a lot of achingly pretty games out right now, as consoles and processors become more powerful, but even still this manages to stand out from the competition. The environments are utterly flawless for a start, no matter where you are in the game not one single detail will be missed, not one shadow, lick of flame or piece of grass will look dodgy. The character animations are particularly impressive with fully functioning facial features, expressions and general movement. It’s very life like. You may laugh and claim that’s to be expected but you watch nearly all games these days, even with consoles as powerful as the PS3, and tell me that the character animations are life like. They will often be good enough, but only Killzone 2 comes close to this game in its character detail. It’s stunning. The cut scenes are all also of an excellent quality as well, and often contain very entertaining action packed fight scenes, that wouldn’t look out of place in a big budget Hollywood movie. They never feel like a link or brief summary to the next level but integral parts of the story. You can skip them but you will rarely want too I assure you.



There is a lot of variety and customising for your fire power. There’s nothing here any action or shooter game fan will have not used before, but there is a lot of them and most are packing seriously powerful ammunition. You will use magnums, assault rifles, mini-guns, powerful shot guns, grenade launchers, sniper rifles, grenades and explosives in general. All, with the exception of a couple, will give you a huge satisfaction when unloaded into a zombies face, mostly through the distance in which your foe is thrown and the amount of blood such a kill produces. Furthermore, there are several examples of each weapon, that can be bought or found as you progress, and all can be upgraded with money in order to make them more powerful, hold more ammo reload faster etc, so it’s a must for all fans of fire power. You can combine your fire power with melee attacks as well, as you can shoot a zombie with a pistol, and whilst he recoils, punch his head clean off, literally. Or you can stomp in his face, kick him in the back and generally physically clobber them. And “yes”, punching a zombies head off is just as entertaining as shooting it off.



You get to keep everything once you have completed the game. All upgrades weapons and money are carried over each time you play through, so there is no let down like in “Bioshock”, once completed. All efforts are therefore rewarded and its all the more reason to play again and again. Plus when certain weapons are upgraded to the maximum you are rewarded with unlockable secret weapons, such as mini-guns and RPG’s. You can even switch on an unlimited ammo option which is ludicrous, but always good if you just fancy a laugh. May I recommend a fully upgraded “lightning Hawk Magnum” with unlimited ammo for a quick play through and killing spree?



Your mate can jump in whenever you want. The good thing about doing the whole game with a partner is your pal can pick up a controller, jump straight into the game and play Sheva/Chris whenever you want. I know this is not exactly ground breaking or new technology but when was the last time you played a game that was a simple old school 2 player (excluding online buddies)? I can’t think of one. With increasing focus on the always hugely over rated online modes, it’s nice to see Capcom not forget about the much loved classic ways in which to enjoy gaming. But you can play with an online buddy as well though, if you are into that sort of thing.


What’s bad?

The control scheme is rubbish. I know it’s what every review of this game has said, but it’s true. It is terrible. I have read several reviewers claim that it demands you be more tactical with movement, which I’m sure is true, but movement and firing shouldn’t feel like a set back or disadvantage. It does here. If you have not heard this game sticks to its roots, as with all Resident Evil games, and uses a very old school control scheme, which means you can’t fire or reload and move at the same time. You either run or shoot, you can’t do both, just like real life ayy (sarcasm, obviously). You also have to stop and press a button every time you want to pick something up or crack a box open for an item, which of course makes you incapable of doing anything else at the time as well, leaving you very much exposed, considering the enemy can move and attack you at the same time really frustrates. It’s so irritating and clumsy and you constantly have to run back and forth to line up your enemy for a shot. It’s ludicrous in places as, when stuck in a narrow corridor, you run past an enemy to stop turn round and shoot him, then run straight past him again to do the same. It just looks stupid. The enemy compensates for this by being forgiving in its attacks and very slow but it’s just doesn’t flow smoothly at all and doesn’t look right either. It’s more jagged, pointy and uncomfortable than a cactus, wrapped in barb wire, with nails and razor blades stuck in it, and then rammed up your arse. You’re constantly stopping then starting, moving then shooting, picking something up then having to turn round etc. If you’re unfamiliar with Resident Evil games it’s going to drive you mad initially, especially in pressure filled moments (which I will get on to) where the enemy swarm you. I know why they have stuck with this control scheme, as it will please the fan boys, but why try and please a select group of nerds, with one aspect, and then use the majority of the game to break away from traditional game play, which this so clearly does? Why could they not simply join the modern gaming era and make this game so much better than it is? Do we use horse and carts? No. Do we use steam trains? No. Do we live in caves? No. Should we be subjected to such old school game play? No! There’s a reason why such technology is abandoned: Its crap. If you’re a Resident Evil fan you will at least know how to best use such controls, maybe even prefer them this way (to which I think you’re mad). But if you’re new, like me, it will feel like taking a step back from other games you may have played recently and wind you right up. I have learnt to tolerate and use them to the best effect the more I have played it, but that’s as far I will ever go in terms of acceptance of them.



Your AI partner is a real pain in the arse. You have to play as Chris initially but are rewarded after the first play through by being able to play as Sheva. Either way you will always have to take one or the other with you as an AI partner through the whole game, if you’re playing on your own. You don’t get a say in the matter. Your AI pal in this can be helpful, but they really only help about half the time. The rest of the time they will generally annoy, frustrate, get in the way, use all your resources and make you wish they were not there. Would you buy a car that worked half the time? Of course not, so I don’t know why the AI is so crap here. I’ve seen AI much better than this on other titles (Killzone 2 springs to mind) so I can’t see that there’s much excuse. If you give your AI pal a gun and ammo (other than a pistol or slow firing weapon), they will extinguish the whole lot in a split second on the crappest of zombies so you have to constantly concern yourself with their inventory. The only gun the AI is useful with is the pistol, which is the least powerful gun, and they still persist on shooting the larger enemies even though they say so themselves that your fire power is useless, simply wasting ammo. Surely the AI should know not to shoot at a foe that cannot be harmed by normal weapons, which is the case at several points? They will heal you every time you scrape your knee, if you give them any healing herbs, wasting the whole lot on something trivial. They will simply bugger off somewhere, with no explanation, when you need them to get into a lift or something, or, if you command them to attack (which you can do) you might as well shoot them through the head as they will advance on the enemy regardless of how outnumbered they are and inevitably be killed. All this wouldn’t be so bad if you could ignore your partner, but you are forced to be totally and utterly reliant on them. Firstly you need their inventory badly as you will not have enough space to carry everything you need by yourself. But you will be too scared to give them anything because they just use it up straight away, which means you can’t give them anything better than a pistol which makes them not particularly effective in combat. Secondly, if your partner dies the game is over! So if they go sprinting off in the direction of a huge hoard of zombies, which they sometimes do regardless of whether you told them too or not, and get their head ripped off you have to save them or be punished for it. It’s infuriating. They will also stick to you glue sometimes and stand in front of you like a lemon when your trying to go somewhere. To make it even more ridiculous, you can turn on an ability that makes them able to be harmed by your weapons, but, seriously, leave this off as they will constantly, and I mean all the time without fail, get in your way when your doing anything that involves fighting and get killed by it. They can help you out to be fair, from time to time, but they are way more of hindrance than a help.



The bigger harder enemies take far too much fire power to kill. As you go through the game there are a lot of enemies to kill, of course, but occasionally there will be some big tough guys. These consist of a huge Majini with an even huger axe at the beginning, really big fat Majini, scary big tall tribesmen, the chainsaw wielding dudes and big fat soldier Majini with mini-guns. They absorb an unbelievable amount of bullets before being vanquished. I kid you not, they will soak up an entire 100 round machine gun magazine, at point blank range, in the face and it won’t faze them at all. Even on the easiest difficulty, I have unloaded shot gun blast after shot gun blast, grenade after grenade, at these guys and they simply don’t go down. Of course they will eventually fall but the huge gaping chasm in the amount of fire power taken to kill them, between them and normal enemies, is unbelievable, and physically they are not that different. The huge bosses are far worse bullet sponges but that’s to be expected, as they are often bigger than whole towns. These guys are not as they are just either tall, fat or have a weapon. When your guns get upgraded as you play through several times it gets easier, and they leave handsome rewards when dead, but your first play through is going to be the hardest by a long way whenever you encounter these guys. The only gun that will fell them efficiently is a fully upgraded magnum, but you won’t get one until later on in the game, let alone have the time and money at that point to fully upgrade it and further still to unlock the unlimited ammo option, as magnum ammo is seriously scarce. It’s not really an option basically, until you have played it through at least three times. I know it’s important to have enemies that are a little harder to slaughter than others but the difference between them is far too big, and Capcom have definitely overdone it here.



You are very much thrown in the deep end. Don’t think for a second that this game will ease you in, by having you kill a few zombies at first and slowly building it up. It won’t. Your first proper fight in this for example, is barley the second scene from the beginning and you have to simply survive for a certain amount of time in a market square. But the enemy will swarm at you in their never ending droves, the whole time a giant Majini with the mother of all axes is trying to slice you into butcher meat. One hit from this massive indestructible bastard will almost certainly kill you, on the harder difficulties (he’s not actually indestructible but he will be to your puny weapons on the first play through, so don’t bother trying to kill him, just run). Considering if you are, like I was, not used to the stupid controls and unsure what to do or where to go, as it’s not explained anywhere, it becomes very difficult indeed. Not too long after that, you will encounter a crazy chain saw wielding Majini, in a similar situation, and then a giant bug thing which you have to be far more devious when attacking. It won’t be merciful in the slightest and newcomers or beginners will have a tough time getting through this one first time round.



It’s just not gory and bloody enough. Don’t get me wrong this is a blood filled game, but it is supposed to be an 18 years of age rated survival horror title, but its too clean cut for my liking. You get small bursts of blood from the enemy when shooting and you can blow heads off, which are surprisingly blood free and clean, but that’s it. Even when a chainsaw wielding Majini gets you, it’s surprisingly subdued and un-bloody. Considering you have games like “Dead Space” out there, where the idea is to decapitate limbs with mining equipment, you would expect some more gore and violence. My issue is the enemies are completely unresponsive to where you have shot them, with the exception of head shots, and they do not show damage at all. It’s just simply shooting a required amount of fire power at them in general and they keel over. But I want to blow arms and legs off. I want big holes in my enemies. I want to splatter them all over the scenery when I launch a grenade in their face. It exists in other games (Dead Space, Fallout 3, Call of Duty: World at War) so why not here? I know it’s slightly disturbed, but I wanted more blood and gore.



Finally, a minor gripe, is that your knife/machete is total rubbish. Chris and Sheva carry round these massive knifes with them which you would assume is a weapon? Well its not. They are only supposed to be used for slicing apart barrels and boxes to gather items, and if you ever try and use them on the enemy you will learn the hard way that these are definitely not what they are for. It annoyed me because if I have a huge machete on my back I want to be able to use it to have some good old fashioned decapitating fun, say if you run out of ammo, or are in close quarters combat or part of a melee attack. You can use it but it will take a ludicrous amount of time to do the slightest harm to the weakest enemies. You can use melee attacks, like punching and kicking, so why not use a huge knife at your disposal as well? Like I said, I know why its there, but I’m just bitter because I wanted to use it as a weapon, and why not god-dammit?


Conclusion:

I must firstly point out that this is generally a really good title and totally worth your cash if you have not yet played it. The action is very well paced and intense, the enemies are scary and entertaining to slaughter, the boss fights are utterly amazing, there’s loads of guns, loads of upgrades, loads of incentive to play over and over and the visuals are proper stunning. I really enjoyed it. But why could Capcom not just sort out the old school game play? It’s so hard to get to grips with, really slows the game down, and results in several stupid scenarios in combat like running back and forth past an enemy. It’s like cooking the tenderest most succulent steak and dropping it on the floor, which is what Capcom has done here. If you’re a Resident Evil fan, you won’t read reviews of it and will already have bought it, but anyway, you will love it. If you’re a newcomer you will like it but it will feel like a step back in terms of modern game play, and although there is much to enjoy, it will take some adjusting before you’re used to it. It’s direct competition, as far as I’m concerned, is EA’s fantastic “Dead Space”, which is a slightly superior game. Dead space is very similar, except it’s scarier, the enemy is just as unique and plentiful, the game play is smoother, it’s more bloody and gory (more like a horror), there’s no stupid AI partner, the story is more engaging and it’s just as good looking. There’s not a huge amount in it to be fair, but I would say play Dead Space first if you have a neutral perspective, and then give this a bash, if survival horror/action games are your gamming preference. Like I said, Resident Evil 5 is a really good game that’s worth playing but could have easily been better than it was, which, for me anyway, stops it from being a great game. CA.


Summary:


Is it user-friendly/easy to get into? – 8.0

All menus and accessibility are easy to navigate. Controls will feel very strange initially and it will show you no mercy however, so be prepared to die.


Is the story any good? – 8.0

The story is action packed and engaging, if a little cheesy. You don’t have to be a fan boy to appreciate it or know what’s going on.


How does it look? – 10.0

Excellent, really outstanding even in tough competition. Character animation, bosses and cut scenes really shine.


How does it sound? – 9.5

Very high standard and fits well with the game play. Weapon effects are good as are all voices. Music fades in and out when enemies are near, and boss music really adds to the intensity.


Is it good to play? – 7.5

I just don’t like the old school controls and your partners stupid AI. Hard to get to grips with, clumsy and slow. It really brings down an otherwise excellent action packed “gun ho” zombie killing fest.


When will I get bored? – 9.0

Takes ages to go through initially, whilst always avoiding monotony, with lots of reasons to play again and again, especially upgrading your guns and testing them out. You can tackle it with a mate whenever you want as well.


OVERALL – 8.5

Review created by C. Armstrong.

Call Of Duty 5 – World at War Review 22/07/2009


Not just the best WWII game, but one of the best shooters on the PS3.

WWII games have been flying off shelves since the days of the PS1. EA’s “medal of Honour” and Activision’s “Call of duty” have been reproducing the most famous battles from the world’s most destructive struggle for years now, initially with Call of duty nearly always following in Medal of honour’s footsteps. Both franchises have squeezed every scenario and battle from the whole conflict and as a result I’m not quite convinced there is much more either can do to such a franchise. The last Medal of honour game I played (was it “airbourne squadron” or something? See, instantly forgettable) was a bit bland and very repetitive and EA haven’t delved into WWII since, with the exception of the odd pretty decent PSP title. The Call of Duty lads ventured into “Modern Warfare”, which was a big hit and I still maintain the best shooter I have ever played. The franchise had appeared to have gone stale; however this new game “World at War” has really risen out of the ashes, and makes the franchise the best it’s ever been. It is brilliant. You don’t even have to be into WWII games to like this, as it is generally one of the best shooters/games on the PS3 at the moment. This game is mostly based in the final weeks of WWII and you play two soldiers, Private Miller, on the front lines of the American’s conflict with Japan as they tried to retake territory back from the Japanese, and Private Dimitri Petrenko, as the Russian army invades Germany and takes Berlin. You jump between battles playing as the American and the Russian soldiers as you slowly bring this conflict to an end. Although it is an excellent game, please remember it has particularly stiff competition that it has to live up to, which includes its older brother, Modern Warfare, the excellent Killzone 2 and the hugely entertaining Resistance 2, and they are just the competition of this genre and on this system. How does it stack up then?


What’s good?

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The action set pieces are epic, action packed and hugely enjoyable. You pretty much spend the whole game going from action set piece to action set piece, but none of them disappoint. The majority of them are huge on scale with so many troops fighting on each side that it’s quite overwhelming in places. You will use machine guns, flame throwers, bazooka’s, sniper rifles, tanks and planes to carve your way through this bloody adrenaline filled gun fight. Some of the most memorable moments include your first mission as a Russian, where you have to hunt and snipe a German commander through the streets of Stalingrad, take a Japanese air base, a vast tank mission where you are in control of a Russian tank taking out German base after German base, an airborne raid on a Japanese cargo ship convoy in a sea plane with more machine guns than a battle ship (my personal favourite), and the final epic battle as the Russians descend on the last German stronghold in Berlin, the Reichstag, ultimately bringing the war to an end. All of them are spectacular and Activision have been very careful not to just take you from fire fight to fire fight, as in previous games of this genre, and really vary the action and settings, which they have succeeded at very well. The constant jumping around of locations, missions, guns, vehicles and soldiers mean they have avoided turning a potentially very repetitive game into an addictive exciting one. They have done an excellent job and it is easily the most explosive, bullet ridden and action packed WWII shooter yet.



It’s going to show the dark side of war. Something else that stood out for me was that this is easily the most bloody and brutal foray into World War II I have ever seen. It actually warns you that a lot of images will be “disturbing” and that “discretion is advised” before you play it, but naturally I dismissed these warnings. How bad can it be? Well it’s not bad in the sense it’s not enjoyable but you are instantly thrown into the savagery of war as your first scene in the game you have to watch your fellow soldier get tortured and have his throat slit right in front of you. From this first and brief moment you suddenly realise that this is not going to be for the faint hearted. Of course you have blood bursting out of enemy troops as you shoot them, but there are moments where you will have to stab enemy soldiers in the neck as they try and turn you into a kebab with their bayonets, you can stab people at will with your knife using R3, you can blow off limbs and watch your enemy stand their in shock, blood pouring from where the limb once was and incinerate people with a flame thrower and watch them scream and panic as they try and put the flames out, and not succeed. There is also a scene where you call in a napalm stirke that decimates a Japanese front line. When the smoke clears you can see char grilled troops staggering around close to death, often with various body parts missing. You obviously put them down permanently and it genuinely feels like a mercy killing. You will see executions of troops from all sides particularly the Russians, who want bloody satisfaction from the slaughter of their troops on their home soil at the battle of Stalingrad (which is touched upon in the first Russian mission as well). Your comrades will literally shout “no mercy” as they burn Germans alive with Molotov cocktails and slice them in three with huge butcher like blades and machetes. It is a full test of the strength of your stomach, I warn you, but it fits so well with the game and after all, this is the most devastating conflict in human history, no fairy cake tea party.



The graphics are excellent. Although the character animations are not brilliant in this, as they look very wooden and solid, Activision has poured its effort into the scenery and settings of battle. Most of the battles fields are so detailed especially the ruined towns of Germany and the jungles of the tropical islands the Japanese inhabit. You progress through several towns in the game and they are amazing to behold and every tiny detail has been accounted for. The buildings are all half destroyed and completely dilapidated but you can still see remnants of kitchen tables, cupboards, radios and general hints that these places were once inhabited. The Reichstag at the end has been very carefully re-sculpted and has all the remnants of Nazi Germany as though it happened yesterday. The tropical islands, inhabited by the Japanese, have every blade of grass and palm tree that you would expect. It really does not miss a beat.



The sound and music is also excellent. The sounds of battle are very immersing here. You will hear the snap of bullets and explosions all round, whilst every character voice sounds realistic and never inappropriate. One of the things I didn’t like about Killzone 2 was the random crap the characters would come out with at very inappropriate times, which luckily doesn’t happen here. They include voices by Keither Sutherland, who plays American corporal Roebuck, and Gary Oldman who plays Sergeant Reznov. As you would expect these two are brilliant. Japanese soldiers, heavily camouflaged, will spring up from the grass and scream “Banzai” as they attempt to impale you and it’s so shocking to your ears it will make you jump. Through all the explosions and gun fire there is excellent background music that ranges from orchestral sounds with heavy metal riffs to full Russian anthems blasted by what must be a full choir. Having this blaring out your sound system whilst advancing on German bases in a tank, blasting shell after shell and flaming all Nazi troops around you is exhilarating to say the least. My favourite though, was a traditional Japanese drums mixed in with a dance beat when playing through the air raid on Japanese convoy boats. It’s very infectious and really adds adrenaline to that particular scene, one of the best in the game.



These are the best controls for first person shooter games. The controls are absolutely perfect here (they are identical to Modern warfare’s btw), and that’s not a word I like to use often. Your movement, firing your gun, zooming in, selecting an air strike, throwing a grenade, everything is exactly where it should be. You don’t even have to look up the controls in the manual or on screen as everything is exactly where it should be, to the point where it is scarily instinctual. Your knife (R3) is as quick and easy to use as it should be and there is not one bit of confusion or unobvious button usage. It even has the excellent “snapping” system used in Modern Warfare, where if you aim down the scope vaguely at the enemy it will automatically snap onto him, allowing multiple kills by repeatedly and quickly aiming and firing. I do get a little confused when you have to throw a grenade back, when the enemy throws one at you, but it’s the same R2 button used to throw your grenades, so I can easily put this down to panicking and lack of quick thinking. All shooters should have these controls and they should not change, as they will not ever be bettered.



The Nazi Zombie level is really good fun (you thought zombies were bad but these are Nazi zombies!). The chaps at Activision have decided to add a little bit of fun to this game and created a weird survival level that requires you to slaughter many Nazi Zombies. When you complete the game for the first time you are rewarded with this level and it basically involves you occupying an old tumbled down house with boarded up windows, in the middle of a misty setting. Nazi zombies will start appearing out of the mist and attempt to break into this house and get you. You have to defend it with your gun, by killing them and repairing your defences. It’s surprisingly scary and just like playing a 70’s zombie movie, ala “Night of the Living Dead”, except set in WWII. They have glowing yellow eyes and scare the crap out of you if you’re repairing the boarded up windows and whip round to have one right in your face. The waves of zombies gets more and more intense the longer you survive until eventually you are overwhelmed. You get bonuses as you persevere, such as “one shot – one kill” and an explosion that kills every zombie in the building, and better guns that you buy with points. The more you kill and repair the more points you get and you simply have to survive as long as you can. It’s quite addictive and intense with a comedy arcade like style and its really good fun to play with your mates.


What’s bad?

Rather predictably of Call of Duty games, the most annoying thing is the eternally re-spawning enemies. I really can’t get my head round why COD games persist with this idea. For those not in the know, this game relies on you going from battle to battle but the enemies will just keep coming forever and ever until you advance past a certain invisible line or check point, or run out of ammo and die. It’s interminable. There are often so many enemies constantly re-spawning, no matter how many you gun down, and you are expected to sprint towards the hundreds of machine gun wielding troops simply to cross an invisible line that will stop them from appearing. It’s just stupid and on the harder difficulties it becomes ludicrously difficult, as one shot kills you. Plus you have to do all the work/advancing as your AI pals will just sit there for an eternity until you advance. Further still, the enemy will sometimes literally magically appear next to you, if you accidently decide to take cover at a spawning area and haven’t quite crossed the invisible line, and kill you. Now that really winds me up as it’s completely out of your hands! Why do they do this? I can sort of understand that it constantly keeps you advancing to stop the game going stale, but if this will inevitably result in death then it doesn’t help matters let alone increase the enjoyment of playing. I have read that Activision are aware that this aspect of their COD games (as it happens in all of them) is unpopular and have fixed it for the up-and-coming “Modern Warefare 2”, but that means sod all in World at War so this stays at the top of the “things that annoyed me” list.



It’s contradicting and inconsistent in how you progress through the stages. Normally you will simply come to an action set piece and your commander will bark orders at you that you have to achieve. Generally though you are constantly being told to “advance” and “push on” where sometimes you actually have to hang around killing enemies for a few minutes before something happens, like a tank blowing a hole in something for you to get through. But there’s no indication of what’s about to happen at all or how long it will take, so you hang back for ages getting lower and lower on ammo, also taking into account the enemy will re-spawn forever, upon which you come to the conclusion you are supposed to try and advance. However, when you do you find there is no where to go and you simply get your head blown off. It does keep you moving constantly and I agree that it stops the play from going stagnant, but it needs to be a little clearer as to when you hold still or advance.



It’s hard to tell when your about to die. There’s no medi packs or first aid kits here, as, if you take a few hits, you are expected to take cover behind something and wait a minute while you recover. That’s fine except you don’t really get much of an indication when this is about to happen. Taking hits is part of the game and will happen a lot and other games such as Killzone 2, Resistance 2 and Modern Warfare the screen goes red, fills with blood, goes grey, the sound of a beating heart is increased in volume, your breaths become short etc. It’s very obvious that you are in trouble basically. This doesn’t do that, as it goes a bit red, indicating that you have taken a hit or two, but then a second later you will just drop dead. Its not nearly urgent or attention grabbing enough and its too easy to dismiss. When making a dash for cover or trying to advance it can be very deceptive and will often lead to your demise without seeing it coming. This is not much of a problem on the two hardest difficulties, as generally one shot kills you, but you are a fool if you try to take this game on straight in to “Veteran” mode.



The AI only ranges from bog standard simplicity to the downright retarded. You will have many AI friends through the whole of this game and about 70% of the time they back you up and help you out, which is good. They are good at taking fire away from you but sometimes they really screw you over with sheer stupidity. One thing they like to do is block you in a corner. It’s really annoying. On several occasions I have run up to a sand bag wall or cover in general and been firing away at the enemy, when I will spot a “Panzershrek” (German for f*****g great big missile launcher) being readied to aim in my direction. If this thing explodes anywhere near you you’re done for. Naturally you have to sprint for cover but as you try to move, you find you can’t! As you turn around you will notice a pal of yours has taken to standing basically on top of you and blocked you in completely. The AI is not intelligent enough to realise death is imminent and you can’t run through him either. Plus you can’t shoot him or slice him with your knife as firstly, the game doesn’t let you, and secondly if you do manage it you will restart from the last check point as “friendly fire will not be tolerated”. Death by Panzershrek is inevitable for you and your, very unaware of personal space, friend. It doesn’t happen constantly but they regularly just get in your way and bungle around often enough for it to be annoying. It would have been better off for you to be able to run through your pals, not realistic I know, but it would stop such things from happening. The AI does further stupid stuff as well as sometimes enemy “Banzai” troops will jump up out of hiding and run straight past you going for one of your pals who’s quite a way behind you. It’s good that they decided to ignore you but it just looks daft. They can also be utterly useless at some points, for example, as several snipers are shooting the crap out of you they will stand there and watch you get turned into Swiss cheese until you sort the problem or get killed. There are little glitches as well such as sometimes you will see two enemies standing a meter apart unable to fire, just pointing their guns at each other, neither moving. I know it doesn’t really matter but considering all hell is irrupting around them and there’s two people locked in an intense staring competition standing in the middle it just looks stupid and ruins the atmosphere a bit. Having just played Killzone 2, where the AI is superb, you really notice how dumb it is in World at War.



Your movement is far too slow. It may be just me but I really noticed when running along normally you are interminably slow. When going up hill this becomes even slower and it’s really infuriating. You can sprint but you barely increase in velocity at all, you just lose the use of your weapon and you can only keep it up for about 5 seconds. Crawling is even worse as you move at the speed of the most asthmatic snail and movement is generally really noticeably slow. This is irritating for several reasons as sometimes you have to walk for a minute or two to get to the next battle, and it takes an eternity, and when dodging or diving for cover you are like a giant fat moving target, with “shoot me” written on you in neon lights. It’s far too sluggish. Aiming and moving your point of view is fine, its just walking/running feels so cumbersome.



The flame thrower is crap. A new weapon to WWII games is the flame thrower in world at war, and, although it looks pretty good, it really is pretty useless. I always drop it and pick up a rifle. The problem is its range and endurance as unless the enemy is really close you won’t get them and you can barely shoot any fire at all before it over heats. It takes a really long time to cool down and it’s un-useable until it does. There is not even a single scenario in the game where the flame thrower is vital and you will nearly always have to charge in and run right up to the enemy in close quarters for it to actually work effectively, like a shot gun. It’s quite good fun on the easier difficulties where you can take loads of hits and enemies die easier but as you get onto the harder difficulties I would just drop it for a rifle or machine gun if I were you.


Conclusion:

This is a seriously entertaining title. Just as I thought WWII games had become tiresome and repetitive this turns up. The epic battles and relentless action packed set pieces will leave you wanting more and more, coupled with the excellent visuals, sound, music and the constant reminder of how brutal such a war was make this one of the best shooters/action games out on the PS3. There are a few gripes and grumbles that could have been avoided, but if you’re a fan of WWII games, this will easily be the best one you have ever played, and if you’re a gamer in general you would be wise to give this a go. I was sceptical as I wasn’t convinced anything more could be added to WWII games but they really have pulled this one out of the bag. It’s really good. How does it stack up against the competition though? Killzone 2 and Resistance 2 are also excellent games in their own right and I really couldn’t pick between them and World at War. If I had a gun to my head and I had to pick one of the three I would probably go for Killzone 2, as it is such a well developed and entertaining title, but generally none of these titles will be a let down. Is it better than Modern Warfare however? No. Modern Warfare is still the king and is always the first shooter I would visit before anything. World at War just isn’t as sharp, entertaining and flawless and has to play second fiddle to its bigger brother, albeit by very tiny margins. But such small details always make the difference between a really good game and an excellent one. CA.


Summary:


Is it user-friendly/easy to get into? – 9.5

Everything is simple and easy to use and the control scheme is perfect and strangely instinctual.


Is the story any good? – 8.0

History has already revealed what happens, but it adds some Hollywood blockbuster drama, with some big name actors, to good effect. Entertaining, but not exactly intellectual.


How does it look? – 8.5

Generally very good. The stages are of an excellent quality, particularly ruined Germany, but character animations look a bit solid and wooden and several effects such as water and shadows are a bit pixelated.


How does it sound? – 10.0

It’s excellent, savage and a full on bombardment on your ears. All voice acting, sound effects and background music in particular are of a very high quality, and suit the action perfectly.


Is it good to play? – 8.0

It’s the most epic, brutal and action packed WWII shooter yet. The air raid stage, and several others, will get your adrenaline going. Eternally re-spawning enemies, unclear objectives, slow movement and dumb-assed AI bring it down a little though.


When will I get bored? – 8.0

It will definitely last 5 or 6 play through’s. Online play will drag interests further, and yet still you have the Nazi zombie survival level. It does not have any longer lasting appeal than other simplistic FPS though.


OVERALL – 8.5

Review created by C. Armstrong.