Street Fighter IV Review 09/03/2009


Good fun, addictive but very tough for beginners.

I have never ever played any of the street fighter games. Although I am very much aware of the impact no.2 had on the gaming world, I never had the necessary system to play it/never really got into it etc. So Street Fighter IV is completely new to me, and this is why I had issues with it. The problem is that I was raised on Tekken, and Dragonball Z Budokai so the whole fighting process and button configuration was alien to me for street fighter. It took a considerable amount of long painful infuriating hours to get used to the controls, and I had to utilise several online sources for help and guidance, but after much perseverance things started to “click” and you very slowly start to see what all the hype is about. There’s a lot of disappointment here but if your punching thumbs are itching for a good brawl then it is very much worth your cash.


What’s good?

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Well luckily the fighting is the best thing about this game. If you want anything more than a one on one fighter then you will be let down here, as that is all its about. There’s a variety of different stuff for you to do, like story, versus, time trial, survivor and online modes, but they are all basically a simple one on one fight, and nothing new to anyone who’s played fighting games before. But that doesn’t matter as Capcom have solely focussed on the said genre, and you can tell. It is very difficult to get the hang of it if you have not played a previous street fighter game but when you start to nail combos and special moves more consistently it is a very satisfying process. In combat, you have pretty standard light, medium and heavy punches/kicks, throws, a “super” bar and “revenge” meter that represent your ability to power up normal moves, perform super moves or the most powerful ultra combos. You fill up the super meter by constantly pounding your opponent and fill up the revenge meter by getting your ass kicked. These add brilliant balance to the fighting and generally allow a battle to be 50/50 for most of the time. All special and ultra moves look awesome, are very satisfying and never get dull. There is also a counter move, called a focus attack, and a fairly unlimited ability to perform combos. Combos are brilliant here and not a set selection of moves, ala Tekken. The genius is that there is really no pre-defined method of stringing moves together which leaves you pretty open as to which moves can and cannot combine together. It’s very good at leaving you open to develop your own technique and combinations with your chosen character, which is excellent. What will work for one character will not work for others, so master your chosen fighter. There is real depth and focus here, and, like I said, when you get it right, when you nail your first special move etc it is an incredibly satisfying process. There’s a definite feeling of weight and impact when your fist contacts your opponent, which makes pounding the crap out of someone very satisfying. The lasting appeal of this is very high as there are further techniques that develop you into an expert, such as “focus attack dash cancelling” and “buffering”. When these are mastered there will be very few out there who will beat you.



The visuals are very impressive. To be fare though, they should be as it is in spirit a typical 2D fighter, on a system as powerful as the PS3. Each character is so very finely inked as you can see each finger and each bulging muscle on all of them. The character “Rufus” is particularly odd and well animated as he has a huge stomach that wobbles and ripples as he moves. It’s stupid but very well done. The animation is incredibly smooth and I have yet to experience any glitches. Your chosen fighter will contort his/her facial features when dealing out pain or receiving it. The backgrounds are a bit lame and I’m not convinced to the point of a lot of them (why would you be fighting in a brewery or laundry house?) but luckily you really don’t have time to notice the backgrounds. Overall, it is a very good looking game.



The legendary fighters are all back. The names that made the franchise famous in the first place, Chun Li, Ryu, Ken, E. Honda etc are all available, most of them from the start as well. There are some unlockable new characters but not many. Again though, this was to be expected especially as they had created all of these guys about 20 years ago and if they had altered/fiddled with any of the normal line up it would get badly received by fans. The point is however, fans won’t be disappointed, and new comers will be presented with lots of variety. Each character has their own signature moves, feels and fights differently. For example, Ken feels light on his feet and fast whereas Zangief feels heavy, slow and solid. Also, for example, someone like Sagat can pepper you with fireballs and other attacks whereas as Guile is a more defensive character, whos moves are based on tactics/reacting to the other opponent’s attacks. You reap the rewards for developing expertise with a specific character, and it encourages you to stick with and master them.


What’s bad?

The worst thing is that, if you are new to Street Fighter, the game is absolutely no help at all. If you’re a newcomer you can learn to play the game in the training arena, but it doesn’t really teach you how to do much. When first presented with the moves they do seem incomprehensible and it totally relies on symbols rather than words to display the skills. When displayed on a screen the symbols used don’t make a lot of sense, plus the displays are far too small so it’s too hard to ascertain in which direction your analog stick has to move. As an example of the move lists being crap, to perform Ken’s ultra move it says you have to move the analog stick from facing down, diagonally upwards to towards your opponent, twice, and press a punch button three times. When I first got the game I had to research on the internet how to do this as it did not work. It turns out that when three punch symbols are displayed it means you have to hit the “all” button (L1 and L2) for the punch or kick and that triggers the ultra move. It seems fairly obvious when it’s been explained to you but it is incredibly unobvious when sourcing information purely from the game or manual, especially if you are unfamiliar. I assure you, on that site alone I was not the only person asking that question. How hard would it have been for Capcom to explain that in a small caption somewhere? It so easily could have just said L1 or “all punch button” instead of fooling you with 3 punch symbols! I know they have to be universal linguistically to cut down on production costs, which explains the symbols, but they really are not good. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting to be spoon fed but this is almost like Capcom thought “sod the newcomers” or “if you don’t know don’t try” when developing this. I still cant figure out some of the moves such as Sagats “fake kick”. It simply has the hard kick symbol with an arrow next to it pointing up and down. What the hell does that mean? I can assure you that using hard kick in any form of up or down achieves nothing. I have (again!!!!) researched on the internet and a few guys have explained how to do it, but I am yet to succeed. I have mastered practically everything else in the game so I’m not totally sure it’s entirely down to my incompetence. If you are new to Street Fighter, learning to play really really sucks.



This brings me to my next point about the challenge mode that teaches you move’s. It teaches you, precisely, sod all. There is a mode, in challenge mode, which enables you to enter the training arena and prompts you to perform various moves and combos, depending on the character, to make sure you have got them right and teach you possible combat techniques. Despite what a lot of reviewers have said, I don’t see how this helps you in anyway. Instead of teaching/progressing your skills it simply tells you if you have correctly done the move or combo or not. If you are unaware of how to do it in the first place this is not, and never could possibly be, any help whatsoever. It’s like a teacher at primary/elementary school not teaching you how to perform multiplication, then demanding an answer to “3 x 4”. You can’t possibly know the answer as you have not been taught anything and even if you get it right its still guess work. It’s all very well saying “medium punch” then “hard punch” but simply performing these two moves together will not allow you to progress, as if your timing is off, even by a millisecond, then it won’t work. As the timing of performing moves is a mystery/not explained anywhere it becomes an almost impossible game of guess work that infuriates and disappoints. Why would have it been difficult to give you an option of the computer performing them as an example so you can see how it is supposed to be done and get your timing right? Tekken managed it. Maybe I am just too impatient, but at least if the option were there it would negate a lot of the frustration for such players.



The learning curve is massive. Apparently if you have played the previous street fighter games then this should be a piece of cake. I have not and initially I found it interminable. All the professional reviewers have stated that if you’re a newcomer to the franchise you can simply pick up and play, but its absolute rubbish. If you are a newcomer you are going to struggle first of all, a lot. The only way you can really improve is by fighting, not training, which means you will basically get your ass handed to you, even on the easiest difficulty, pretty much constantly for hours and hours, before things start to sink in. Plus the chances are you won’t have figured out any of the games cool moves either by that point, let alone perform them under pressure, and it draws a seriously fine line between being satisfying when you eventually master it and being just too annoying to bother with. I would recommend you stick at it, however, I would totally understand if gamers didn’t bother. It’s the sort of 50/50 Capcom should have avoided. I’ve been playing for over a month now and I am only just starting to beet opponents on the “medium” setting. How degrading is that? I really don’t see how hard it could have been for the game to give you a bit more aid.



HINT: If you are a newcomer and are interested in this game, and you should be, then I highly recommend you simply start off with either Ken or Ryu (I prefer Ken but Ryu is a better character). Put in some hours in the training room and learn to master their relatively simple moves. Don’t attempt at all to try other characters until you are consistently kicking butt with either of these two, as their moves form the most basic functions and timing for all other characters. Most others, Like M.Bison, are way more complicated. When you become competent with these two then you are ready to delve into everyone else.



The music is really annoying. The sound effects are really good and I even don’t mind the announcer, but the background music, in particular the intro song, is quite bad and irritating. It’s not of a poor quality it’s just awful, and sounds like it was produced by a middle aged balding guy on a Yamaha keyboard. Listen to the intro song and you will understand. It is truly diabolical. To cap it off you can’t turn it off; you can only turn it down to quite a low volume.



The Story aspect of the game is rubbish. The beginning and end of each characters story is played out in a short anime scene before you begin and after you defeat Seth (the big bad guy). These look quite nice and are very “anime-like” but tell you very little about the characters story. They are utterly pointless. I like the story aspect of games and character development, but if you (and I mean Capcom) really don’t have a decent narrative just don’t bother putting one in. It makes it worse by having a rubbish story than not having one at all. It does not really spoil anything, but I really don’t like half arsed efforts, especially where so much effort has been dispensed into the combat.



The big bad guy, Seth, is such a cheap character. The final boss in story mode, and one of the toughest characters to beat, is a guy called Seth and he is interminable. All his moves are designed to be irritating and unfair. I know he is supposed to be tough but often you literally don’t stand a chance. For example, he will warp anywhere randomly (you can’t predict it), normally right next to you and instantly perform a spinning pile driver throw. Although such a move is hard to pull off the CPU doesn’t need to waste time entering a command, so it’s far to quick to possibly react to. As I said he’s just cheap. There is no originality to him either. He looks almost identical to the silver surfer and has exactly the same background as “Cell” from “Dragonball Z”. He is a robot formed from data collected on all the other fighters and consequently uses all their moves etc etc. That idea has been done so many times its ridiculous and I would rather M. Bison was the main bad guy again, rather than this Seth idiot.



The game has too much of a hint of “button basher” about it. This is probably more personal preference than anything else, but I hate button bashers. I can’t stand trying really hard to learn moves and skills and having your ass whipped by your mate, who’s never played it, because he just hammers all the buttons. There’s no skill in that! Do not fear, as it is definitely more biased towards skill than button luck. However, for example, to perform Guile’s ultimate combo you have to hold diagonally down and backwards for an amount of time (the amount of time is totally non-specific), then move it diagonally forwards and down, then back to diagonally backwards and down, then straight to diagonally forwards and up and hit the “all” kick button. That does seem a bit overly complicated for my liking and unnatural for performing fighting moves via your fingers. I get it right about 60% of the time but you can very easily accidently perform something else which could leave you open for attack. In Tekken this very rarely happens as if you don’t do it quite right, it simply doesn’t happen. In Street Fighters defence though, I have got better at it and will probably get better at it as I continue.


Conclusion:

I know I have slagged it off but, in its defence, all criticisms are based on the fact that I have never played Street Fighter before. But after a few weeks or so of practising, playing and losing, things start to sink in. You then start to create your own combos and nail the special moves more consistently and it becomes very satisfying and very very addictive. It has a very intrinsically well developed fighting system that, although simple, will take a lot of time to master, but will ultimately satisfy you when things start to “click”. Plus it looks brilliant. It’s just a shame Capcom couldn’t put in as much effort as they did for the combat as they could have done for other aspects of the game, and I don’t like the fact they just assume you’re an automatic expert. If you’re a fan of the franchise, you won’t be reading this, you will have got a copy ages ago and will be beating the crap out of someone on it right now, as it is pretty much overly and squarely aimed at you guys. If you’re new, like me, then I do recommend it as the more I have been playing the more I have begun to get addicted to it. It’s just so annoying that Capcom couldn’t provide more in terms of help or training. I really do not see how hard it could have been. I had to utilise a bit of online research and help but when you get over initial confusion and difficulties you will start to enjoy it. CA.


Summary:


Is it user-friendly/easy to get into? – 5.0

No, basically. Most things are easy to navigate. However, the “moves” menu’s and combo training (challenge mode) are no help at all. The game is designed assuming you have played all the previous games. If this is not the case you are going to struggle.


Is the story any good? – 5.0

The character’s stories are all really crap, uninteresting, and very short. They are not offensive, just not interesting.


How does it look? – 9.0

Backgrounds suck a bit, but everything else is truly stunning and all animations are super smooth, as it should be.


How does it sound? – 7.0

Love the fighting SFX and character voices. Music is really tacky though, especially the intro song. It is truly diabolical.


Is it good to play? – 8.0

The best part (luckily). So many moves, combos and methods of fighting, you wont know where to start. Should have been easier and more helpful for beginners, however, and button mashers will prosper, which I hate.


When will I get bored? – 8.0

Although I’m not sure I will ever have the patience to truly master this one, most people will have many months of fighting before they even get close to mastering it. Fight people though, not the CPU.


OVERALL – 7.5

Review created by C. Armstrong.

Resistance 2 Review 09/03/2009


It is brilliant, but different from the first one.

First of all (encase you have no intention of reading my two cense) Resistance 2 is an absolute blinder. All PS3 owners should purchase and thank Sony that they have secured another exclusive franchise that makes you want to own a PS3. For those who want to know why, please let me explain. The first Resistance: Fall of Man was the first game I ever played on the PS3 and I really liked it. The story and depth where really interesting, the graphics where (at the time) spectacular and although it was a pretty standard FPS it had plenty of action, crazy guns and intrigue to keep me interested for months. I have, as a result, been long awaiting the sequel and Insomniac have not let me down, or any fan of the franchise either. However, it is not your typical bog standard first person shooter anymore as it has been tuned, tweaked and harnessed to become a very different game, so be warned. Although it is bigger and better, it is definitely not overly familiar territory for fans of the first game. The game starts off exactly where the first one left off (play it to find out the details. It’s worth it I assure you). Nathan Hale is taken back to America, after a brief struggle in Iceland, and 2 years later he is now a member of the “Sentinels”, a squad of super soldier commandos who share similar Chimeran infections to Hale and are almost as tough and fast as he is. The Chimera where believed to be defeated, however vast space ships, the size of cities, arrive on the shores of the United States and start attacking forcing Hale, the Sentinels and the US army in general into battle on their home soil. Although you are led to believe the Chimera are simply on a mission to take over planet Earth, assaulting Europe in the first game and now invading the US, but, as you find out, their plans are far more devious and secretive.


What’s good?

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The first thing you really notice is that Insomniac has worked wonders with the visuals and representation of this game. I know its cliche and shallow to go on about graphics as the best thing, but some of the scenes and battles in this game will absolutely stupefy you. They are incredible! In particular they have worked on the “big stuff”. You have to fight beasts and war ships larger than the biggest sky scrapers and they have not missed the slightest detail or imperfection on any of them. Every gun, every Chimeran enemy, every tree, everything is absolutely beautifully simulated, including character animations, explosions, bullets, like I said, everything. It is achingly good looking and easily one of the best looking games I have ever seen. No matter how vast the monster your fighting or how many troops are on the battlefield, firing an untold amount of firepower, it wont ever falter. This game has to be seen to take in all its visual brilliance.



The action and battles are epic in size and intensity. Although the first game was very much a fairly solo effort from Hale this time he has an army backing him up. The game does vary in its action, but some of the battles in this are so vast you have to ponder that Insomniac used witch craft and magic to cram so many friendly and enemy AI into one game. The battle in Chicago is a particular highlight with at least a good 50 troops per side going at it, with tanks and stalkers in the background, as well as U.S fighter jets making bombing runs overhead. It’s so intense with literally thousands of bullets flying in every direction and if you blink or sneeze you are dead. The battle fields are vast places with more enemies than you can handle individually. Every city and town shows how badly humanity has taken a battering and enemies’ spring from everywhere. The intensity does raise the bar of difficulty, and where the first one was fairly easy this sequel is going to test you and you are going to die a hell of a lot – be warned.



Insomniac’s mad weapons are back. If you loved the hugely unique and variable weaponry from the first game it’s just as good and better in ways here. Old favourites such as the Bulls eye, Carbine and Far eye are back but all have been revamped and upgraded to become more efficient killing machines. The Auger II for example, now allows you to see all enemies in bright green whether they are behind a wall or not. This of course is perfect as this particular weapon can shoot through anything. It’s such a simple yet brilliant touch. There are also new ones, such as a medium range sniper rifle (Marksmen) that fires off several shots at once and is excellent for close quarters sniping. The Bellock, which is basically a grenade launcher, the Splicer, which fires saw blades for lots of limb amputating fun and the pulse cannon, which fires a large concentrated beam of energy good for taking down the larger beasts. My favourite though is the manic mini gun (Wraith) which holds 300 rounds and is perfect for gunning down hoards of troops, possibly the most fun thing you can do in any game. The Bulls eye II is now available much earlier on and is often carried by regular Chimeran ground troops/hybrids. Plus all guns dropped by fallen chimera can be picked up and changed whenever you want so their use and frequency is fairly limitless. If you like fire power then you will love this game.



The Chimera are back and packing WAY more heat than ever. The previous Resistance game didn’t stray too far from standard troops/hybrids. There was the odd big lad to take down but it was generally gunning down the same Chimeran hybrid after another. Now they have new, bigger and more heavily armed troops. They also have robotic help as well, through the incredibly frustrating turrets and little hovering drones and attack droids (God I hate them!!!). The new Chameleon Chimeran hybrid is going to be a shock to the system when you first encounter it, as it is invisible (like the “Predator”), very fast and armed with long sharp knives on his fingers. You will need the fastest reactions with this guy, as all you here is the ground shake then a roar and your sliced in two. Another new enemy that stood out were the Grim’s. These guys are a result of the new Chimeran conversion process (they look like the zombies from the “I am Legend” film). They look very creepy and will swarm at you very quickly, in vast numbers and without warning. There is a scene in a cinema, for example, that is haunting to say the least. Again, many wits about you are needed. The real highlights are the big bosses of course which include the ridiculously large “Kraken”, which is about the size of a house, and the “Leviathan”, that is the size of a sky scraper, literally. They are awesome to behold and fight but are a bit of a let down, but more on that in a bit. The Chimera have upgraded a lot since the first game but luckily your not facing them alone this time. Hale now fights with the Sentinels, as I said, and you regularly take on the enemy with these guys by your side and they are more than capable of taking down many foes without your help. Most missions cannot be done without these guys, and unlike a lot of AI help in games these days, they genuinely help you.



The story/Resistance universe is now even more intriguing. Although there are downsides to the main campaign of the game (which I will get on too) it is quite an incredible story which has become a lot darker and creepier, with new plot twists that will boggle the mind. Anything you thought was explained about the Chimera is now obsolete as they are far more advanced and devious than you could have possibly hypothesized in the first game, and if you liked the intrigue of the first game, its ten fold here. It’s hard to talk about without giving stuff away, and I really don’t want to give anything way as its vital you know as little as possible. It is now also told from Nathan Hale’s perspective, rather than the external source from the first one, so you will get a handle of Hale’s opinion on things and you will feel more in touch with the character in which you play. Some aspects it loses as a result of this but I imagine a lot of fans will much prefer it this way. Either way it’s not a bad thing.


What’s bad?

The most disappointing thing I found was that manoeuvrability is too slow in this sequel. In the first game dodging and jinking was a very necessary part of combat, as it would be in any proper FPS, as you have to dodge incoming enemy fire. It’s either that or have a cover system, such as the one found in Killzone 2, which it does not have. But Hale is now really quite slow, which is definitely more realistic, but the game still plays like a proper FPS, like the first game, where dodging and jinking through enemy fire is still necessary. However, Hale has now lost all of such movement, so basic side to side movement is ridiculously slow. This makes taking cover and fighting a beast such as a Titan stupidly difficult. The titan fires large fireballs at you, and if they hit vaguely in your vicinity you are killed instantly. As Hale is now so slow this becomes an incredibly frustrating process and you are constantly running for cover or hiding behind things. As there is no cover system you sort of have to run out, fire, then scamper back behind something or continuously run and shoot. It just does not work particularly well and it really needs a cover system, or have more old school gameplay as in the first one. I know this is more like a real battle, but I don’t care. That doesn’t make it more fun. Insomniac is clearly trying to heighten the concept but it was simply not necessary and movement feels more like a burden, clumsy and slow, when compared with the first game. You will get used to it but it will feel weird initially.



You are now limited to just two weapons. Yes. That’s it – 2. Instead of having all the wonderful weaponry at your disposal as in the first game Hale can now only have two at any time. This basically brings you to having only one option of a standard rifle and a sniper rifle or shot gun. It annoys me that Insomniac is arguably the kings of weaponry, and they limit you to when and where you can use them. They also conveniently place a gun that you are going to need before you enter a particular battlefield. I find that condescending and I would rather have my pick of the weapons and figure it out for myself. You basically can’t hold on to a favourite gun and then get told when to use a particular weapon. Bad form Insomniac, we can figure these things out for ourselves.



The Chimera really really don’t like you. Despite the epic battles with many troops on both sides going at it, there are points where every single Chimeran enemy on the battlefield will stand up and aim straight for you. It doesn’t matter how many other soldiers are firing at them they will run straight at you and won’t be satisfied until your dead and to hell with the hundreds of other troops firing at them. It actually borders on the ridiculous at times as a horde of Chimera will run out of a building and go straight for you, despite many of your pals blasting the crap out of them. You can run away from them all the way back to the beginning of the stage and they will follow. Why did Insomniac put so much emphasis on Hale being the target? The sheer amount of troops on each side may make it too easy to sit back and let your mates take the fire, but they will never progress anywhere unless you make it do, so I can’t see much justification for it. It is very hard, very stupid and very annoying.



There are no vehicles in this one. I thought that driving the tank and jeep in the first game were the more fun aspects of the game, but there is nothing like it in Resistance 2. Neither the enemy nor your friends use them at all. The only vehicles you get in are in the cinematic cut scenes, which you can’t control. I’m curious as to why they left this one out, but maybe my love of the vehicle aspect of it is in a minority.



The large enemies are far too easy to kill. Despite the spectacular visual thrill of fighting some of the larger beasts they die so easily it’s almost disappointing. In particular the “Leviathan” that you fight in Chicago, the biggest and baddest of them all, goes down after a few well placed LARK rocket shots. Considering this big fella could easily squash you with a little finger your left with a very big feeling of anticlimax. If he goes down that easily why didn’t the air force just take it out with missiles? The final boss, a huge floating brain, is strangely the easiest enemy you fight in the game. It really doesn’t do much except feebly try and slap you with its tentacles and float around after you. It uses its telekinesis to take control of you and throw bits of metal at you as well, but both attacks are woefully crap and easy to avoid. I was not impressed.



The campaign is too short. On my first attempt it didn’t take me any longer than a day to complete and I died lots of times as well. You can go straight through it in around 9 hours, which sounds like a long time but it really isn’t if you think about it (Insomniac spent too much time on the online stuff if you ask me). I know it is supposed to leave you wanting more (which it does) and I know the online stuff is immense, but upon completion you are left feeling a little undernourished. You will definitely have several goes on each difficulty, and it does get more fun when you work out what to do and with what guns, but it does leave you feeling very hollow.



The story is left too wide open at the end. I like a game with a brilliant story line, I like plot twists, I like open endings and I even like not really fully understanding what’s just happened, as it adds to mystery and intrigue. This story however, is left so ridiculously wide open with so many unanswered questions and much confusion you don’t feel like you have achieved anything. Obviously I can’t wait until the third one now, but some sort of indicator or direction would have been nice. Prepare to be baffled is all I say.



This might be personal preference, but I didn’t like the story being told from Hales perspective. He’s a man of few words and there is now no inner monologue. You don’t know what he’s doing, planning or thinking until you do it or it happens, and despite the attempts to make you feel more attached, it actually feels more detached as you never really know what’s going on. It definitely misses the external source story telling from the first one, and the curious mystery surrounding Hale is completely lost.



The final “nit-pick” is there is no way in hell this game feels like it’s based in the 1950’s. I thought it was a brilliant atmospheric touch in the first one, but this feels far too modern and technologically advanced. Apart from the odd vehicle (tail finned Cadillac’s etc) or radio transmission the retro feel of the game has completely gone.


Conclusion:

If you have a PS3 you would be a fool not to pick this one up. It is like playing a big budget sci-fi movie. I highly recommend you play the first one before Resistance 2, as the story will make absolutely no sense whatsoever, but it is easily worth your cash. I don’t like some of the changes such as the weapon limiting, slow movement and daft enemy AI, but they have upgraded the franchise in other areas to make it a whole lot more. It is definitely not perfect, but the flaws I pointed out really are “nit-picking” as it is an outstanding all round package. From visuals that will take your breath away, to the intense and epic battles, to the new meaner Chimera, this is simply bigger and better. The main story will leave you with many unanswered questions by the end, which I’m not convinced by, however if you totally “get” the whole Resistance franchise and the Chimera story then you will be chewing through many finger nails until Resistance 3. If you have never heard of this game, trust me on this, you will be very impressed and it is definitely one of the best shooter/action games out on the PS3. CA.


Summary:


Is it user-friendly/easy to get into? – 9.0

Everything is logically presented and easy to use. Easy to simply pick and start blasting, whether online or doing a campaign.


Is the story any good? – 8.0

The story is dark, complex and intriguing, but you will be left unnourished by its many unanswered questions.


How does it look? – 9.5

There are a few small parts where detail is a bit rough, dripping water for example, but generally the visuals in this game will blow your mind! Some of the best I have ever seen.


How does it sound? – 9.5

Outstanding. Guns all sound good and all voices and dialogue are well produced, the radio transmissions in particular adding to the intensity. Atmospheric orchestral back ground music also adds to the whole experience.


Is it good to play? – 8.0

It’s intense, vast and action packed, if slightly linear. Bullets flying everywhere and explosions a plenty. Movement does feel very slow and cumbersome and it’s much harder than you may be expecting.


When will I get bored? – 8.0

The online appeal of this game is its saving grace for lasting appeal, with huge amounts of players per team battle, co-op team stories etc. The single player campaign is very short though.


OVERALL – 8.5

Review created by C. Armstrong.

Motorstorm: Pacific Rift Review 09/03/2009


Proper big loud simple fun. Brilliant!

This game is basically exactly the same as the original launch title for the PS3 where every little detail has been enhanced and refined. This means to say there is nothing ground breaking here, but it is one giant explosion of crushed metal, broken bones, huge jumps, rugged rides, big fun, mud and chaos. It’s not a game that demands attention, has a plot etc, but when you simply want to pick up a controller, have a race and smash things there are few better alternatives. It’s basically big simple laughs. Whereas the first game was based in the rocky mountains and desert, the racing is now on a volcanic island covered in dense jungle, raging waterfalls and sheer cliff faces.


What’s good?

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The tracks are the most impressive thing here. They are ridiculous. They have stuck very firmly to the ideals of the original by creating big open tracks with many routes for all the different vehicles. Whereas in the first game there were only 6 tracks, there is now 16 in Pacific Rift, albeit only about 6 of them are memorable. You drive round erupting volcanoes, through breath taking waterfalls, smashing through dense jungle and jump cliff faces with drops that would result in absolute certain doom. It’s crazy. The key is still finding the best route for the particular vehicle you are in, and even when you have played all the tracks you still have a lot to learn. Some of the volcano levels are particularly impressive as dodging burning lava becomes part of the race. The tracks are split up into 4 different sections: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. I think you can guess what each one is going to be like, but the brilliant thing is that these are all different environments that will affect your car in different ways. Boosting near lava on a volcano level will of course heat up your vehicle quicker, which results in exploding, and driving through water will of course cool it down. This adds a slight tactical element to the race. I have a love for the ludicrous jumps, which makes the air levels my favourite, and believe me when I say some of the jumps are massive and you fall an extremely long way.



The visuals have been revamped very impressively. The different textures and surfaces from dried up volcanic rock to thick rainforest are incredibly detailed. The water effects are not the greatest (I’ve seen very few games whose graphics can master water effects???) but there is so much detail here you really don’t notice. Even the vehicles are very detailed as you can see each suspension spring and wheel spoke as it is ripped from your vehicle in an accident. When you have a particularly violent head on crash the metal crumples and distorts, just like those slow motion crash test dummy films. It is quite stunning.



The racing is much more aggressive and generally even more total and utter chaos than before. The computer AI is very aggressive and will often try and ram you off a cliff or something similar. There are extra attack buttons now included but they only work for the bikes and quads and are fairly useless. The key is to smash as many things as possible but not at a cost of your momentum, especially in the larger vehicles. In the lighter vehicles, bikes and quads etc, you are better off avoiding contact altogether. Your opponents are just as eager to kill each other as they are you, so don’t worry about the AI ganging up on you. You can never really escape the action as it does not matter how well you race or how little you crash, you will never be that far in front of your opponents. This adds to the adrenaline rush as most races will be won on the final few corners. I think its a very fine line to draw, but its been nailed perfectly in this game, as even if you crash a lot its never worth giving up, and if you race perfectly you can never afford to relax.



You will need to be a more skilful driver this time. In the original game it was basically floor the accelerator, turn right and left. Although entertaining it was a little monotonous. Now “Evolution Studios”demands more of you. You will have to use the brakes a lot more than you may expect and constantly adjust the angle of your vehicle when you fly over jumps or bumps, as messy landings will result in a wreck, or flying off a cliff face, or into some molten lava. Don’t worry though, it’s no “Gran Turismo”and still very arcade like.



The different vehicle classes are back. You can still choose from a bike, quad, buggy, rally car, racing truck, mudplugger, big rig, and now, monster trucks (more on the monster trucks later). Although there are more variations on the different paint jobs or models of vehicle, it makes no difference to their performance. Bikes are agile and fast but explode with a slight gust of wind, whereas the big rigs are practically indestructible, but a bit short on acceleration and handling. Although it’s not a new idea to have different vehicle types you really can notice the difference in all of these rides and none can be approached similarly. It basically adds to the element that racing needs more than anything: Unpredictability. Each vehicle feels very different and it is actually difficult to pick a favourite. I tend to go for the rally cars if I can help it but such a vehicle is useless on some tracks, so you really have to vary your racing skills. Different surfaces effect the different vehicles as well as mud and water will slow down the faster and lighter vehicles but the larger ones can plough through all surfaces. Again, it’s nothing new but what’s there works very well and adds to the unpredictability of the race.



There are more aims and objectives in the general racing this time. Although there is mostly your standard first to the chequered flag race, there is also time trials, wreck limits, eliminators and the incredibly frustrating check point events. These are used alongside normal racing to further unlock points, and therefore vehicles, paint jobs and races. Although nothing new, these elements add new aims and goals to stop you from getting bored as easily. For time trials you have to finish in the top 3 under a certain time, for wreck limits you must finish in the top 3 without crashing a certain amount of times and eliminators mean the guy in last is blown up every ten seconds or so, until only one driver is left. The check point races are very frustrating but it all adds to the lasting appeal and keep the interest up (more on them in a bit).



You can have multi player racing now, something that was surprisingly left out of the original. You can have up to four other players all racing on the same track (like a psychopathic Mario Kart) and is huge laughs for you and your mates. The online stuff is also good, if your into that sort of thing, and has all the usual races you would expect.


What’s bad?

I suppose the worst thing is often you will crash/flip over/get re-set for no reason whatsoever. Crashing is hugely important and entertaining part of the game but, basically you can be bowling along quite nicely, nobody is near you, and your car will suddenly flip over upside down and explode, or hit an invisible wall crumple up and explode, or simply get re-set as if you have crashed, but you didn’t. It doesn’t happen constantly, but often enough to be annoying. I’m guessing that its small rivets, bumps or contact zones in the tracks that have not been ironed out in development. You could argue that that is what off road racing would be like, but I don’t care. You cannot see or predict when said problems will occur so don’t punish me with a big demoralising slap of reality across the face. What part of this game could be deemed realistic anyway? It could have done with a bit more development on this aspect.



The computer AI is aggressive to the point of stupidity at some points. For example, on occasion I have come up behind an opponent and tried to ram him off the track, as you do, only for him to slam his breaks on and basically grind him and me to a halt. On a narrow track it becomes impossible to pass and you are forced to reset your vehicle. Surely you would be better to take evasive manoeuvres and try and get a few hits back? If you lock wheels with an opponent in a buggy, quad or monster truck (as they have exposed wheels) then your opponent will do everything in his power to keep you stranded stuck together unable to accelerate or steer. Again you have to reset your vehicle. You could be hammering over the dirt with no problems, when a computer opponent will hurtle in from the side with the suicidal intention of taking you and him out. They often succeed and are frequently more intent on removing you from the competition rather than winning themselves. I know its AI being told to be aggressive, and you can’t blame a game for doing what it’s told to do, but it’s sometimes just stupid and it doesn’t stop it from being annoying regardless (the online nerds are worse though).



The monster trucks are disappointing. This could be a result of me expecting too much (like Grand theft auto 4) but they simply failed to impress me. As soon as I unlocked them I was expecting to crush all my opponents beneath my mighty wheels and plough through any jungle or obstacle, like the big rigs do. However, the reality is that they are slow, surprisingly fragile, and very unstable and, despite being smaller, big rigs will eat them for breakfast. They have good grip, steering and can go through all surfaces without a loss of speed or traction, but as soon as a big rig touches you, all the wheels fall off and it flips over upside down and explodes. You can easily run over the smaller opponents, but instead of crushing them and moving on you are catapulted into the air, when your wheels make contact (even with bikes) in a huge bounce which ultimately slows you down or often stops you completely. They are very unstable as they like to turn upside down as often as possible, and it’s also far too easy to tangle wheels with your monster truck opponents as well. This results in a total loss of steering or traction and you will mostly only have the option of re-setting your vehicle. Or you flip upside down and explode. They are basically not nearly as good as you might expect and should have been a lot more satisfying than they were.



The check point races are not good. I like the idea of expanding on the basic racing but these check point races are far too overly complicated. They often do not even require you to race round the track normally and you will often have to make 180&#176 hand brake turns and go in the opposite direction to get the checkpoints. You will end up having a million goes before you are successful, and considering the most fun aspects of the race have been removed (actual racing, the opponents and ability to take different routes etc) I can’t see why this was included. A step too far I reckon.



The difficulty level goes too far towards the end. On the single player, as you get further to the end of completing all the races some of the tasks asked of you are too much. You don’t really realise this until you try them, for example, you are expected to complete a race in the top 3 under a certain time. I’m confident that some of them simply cannot be done as I have had a flawless race, boosting constantly, avoiding contact with the opponents, not one crash or loss of speed, come first by some margin and I’m 40 seconds over the time limit. 40 seconds! If it was 5 seconds I would persevere as I could easily shave a few seconds off here and there but 40! I really don’t think it can be done and I have given up completely with that particular time trial. There are several others that have defeated me also and I think they took things a little too far here. I’m not a particularly outstanding or talented gamer but I’m pretty confident even the most skilled drivers will struggle to achieve all that can be achieved here.



I’m pretty sure this is personal preference/”nit picking”but it just doesn’t feel fast enough. Burnout gives the ultimate perception of speed, and makes you feel like you are travelling at a million miles an hour, but this honestly feels sluggish to me. It doesn’t ruin the whole game but you can be boosting along in the fastest rally car (which is the fastest vehicle) and it just doesn’t give you the sensation of speed that you might expect. You can be at top revs flying up to the foot of a jump, boost button pressed through the controller, flames pouring out of the exhausts, you’re expecting to blast out of the game!!!………..and it just doesn’t happen. To be fair if you made the vehicles faster it may make the game unplayable, as there is already much opportunity for crashing and generally making a hash of things, but I would have liked more of a rush (personally).


Conclusion:

In defence of Motorstorm, I am really clutching at straws with the downsides of this game as none of the flaws are important or influential enough to spoil the whole experience. Some are ironically as a result of attempts to improve things. The AI can be annoying, the monster trucks are surprisingly rubbish, it doesn’t give as much of a speed sensation as I would like, however, fortunately Evolution Studios seems to have realised that the difficult second album is not necessarily down to adding new things but simply improving and polishing what was already there. What we have here is the original Motorstorm that’s simply been enhanced and improved in every aspect. The tracks are huge and stunning to behold with many different routes for the many different types of vehicle. Its big action, big crashes, big explosions and, most importantly, big laughs. There’s nothing new or ground breaking here, it won’t win any “game of the year”awards but if you liked the first game or are just after some fun action packed racing in general there are many far worse things you can do with your cash. CA.


Summary:


Is it user-friendly/easy to get into? – 9.0

Menus are simple and getting to a race is easy. Controls are as simple as. The new garage function for your vehicles speeds the selection up a hell of a lot – its all what you would expect.


Is the story any good? – 0.0

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


How does it look? – 9.0

It’s a very good looking game. All environments, tracks and vehicles look brilliant with no glitches or flaws.


How does it sound? – 9.0

Again, I can’t fault the sound. The music selection is awsome and the SFX are all impressive. Increased wind speed when falling from a great height is particularly impressive.


Is it good to play? – 8.0

Nothing new or unfamiliar but solid and easy to use. Anyone can pick this up and play it. The different vehicles, tracks and chaos add to the unpredictability and therefore the excitement. Does get monotonous though.


When will I get bored? – 7.0

You will start to tire of the action after not too long, I’m afraid. Although it is really good fun its simplicity provokes monotony, and inevitably boredom will set in. Online stuff doesn’t really add anything, as you are always doing the same thing.


OVERALL – 8.0

Review created by C. Armstrong.

Midnight Club: Los Angeles Review 09/03/2009


It’s a quality game, but it will frustrate and annoy.

Two fairly big franchises are going to head to head at the moment: Midnight Club and Need for Speed. I’m a huge car freak/fan and have a deep love of racing games and customising cars I will never own in real life. In the past I’ve always gone straight to NFS games when I need my racing fix, as they churn so many out and the, now legendary, NFS: Underground games really impressed me. Recently though EA have made NFS: Undercover and, although I have not played it, it’s supposed to be pretty pants. The critics, never really fans of NFS games anyway, have slated it even more than other crap NFS games which must mean it is truly diabolical and I simply do not wish to waste my money. Luckily there is an alternative that has been around for a while, but generally sneaks under the radar of NFS fans like myself and its called Midnight Club: Los Angeles. The people that brought you the hugely overrated “Grand Theft Auto 4” have made a racing and tuning game, the second of this franchise, and I must state it’s pretty good. You have the whole of central LA to drive around in and around 30 cars to buy and customise. It’s good but it’s not fantastic however and I will endeavour to explain why. There is a story here but it is pointless me explaining it. You basically play a guy who’s new in town and wants to make a name and money for himself in the street racing scene in LA blah blah blah….. The more you win the bigger and better the opponents etc. There is really not any point on elaborating on it but, lets face it, who cares. It’s not why you play such games.


What’s good?

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The absolute best thing about this game is the sheer amount of racing to be had. There are so many races to go to, drivers to meet up with and challenges laid out to you, it will take a long time to get bored of it. The city is jammed full of other street racers and race meetings, all marked on the map, and you can simply drive around flash your lights at an opponent and the race is on. It’s that simple and you will never run out of competition or beat everyone as you can race anyone and everyone as often as you like. All tracks are based round the streets of LA but there is a hell of a lot of them and even if you race the same track twice it will not be the same as the traffic and light levels are always changing. You will also have different tasks to do, not just simple races, such as delivering other peoples cars in a time limit, smashing other cars off the road, time trials, etc. You also race for other cars and not just money all the time as well. It is a tiny bit overwhelming in parts but I much prefer a game that will take you a few months to do than a couple of weeks. I’m not big on online play (because I don’t like having my ass handed to me every time by a spotty nerd who lives in his parents basement, and has nothing to do all day except play online) and so many new games these days take focus off the one player, the core of gaming. Fortunately for those that disagree, this provides plenty for both opinions so either way you will never be bored.



You have the whole of Los Angeles to drive around in. The city of LA is impressive and detailed and you really get the feel that you are immersed in this city and making a living out of racing illegally. The city is also very life like and doesn’t feel empty or devoid of bustling city life at any point. The town is thriving with people walking the streets, plenty of other road users, all the famous landmarks are there and the fact that it fades to night and day really absorb you into the whole experience. I love the way that you zoom in and out of the city when you view maps showing just how detailed the city is, and its really a proper huge spaghetti of concrete highways, freeways and back streets, which of course means there is a lot to explore. It is so engaging and large it encourages you to just go driving around, meeting up with other racers, pissing off the police and generally exploring. Like I said, you will not be bored.



The customising is immense. A lot like the game play there is so much you can do with your various rides. The combinations of vinyls, paint and body kits is massive and no one design will ever be the same as another. You can change lights, hoods/bonnets, trunks/boots, spoilers, wheels, tyres, brake callipers, side skirts, ride heights, doors and the list goes on. That’s before we even get onto the inside where you can change steering wheels, seats, internal neon, dials and all sorts. It’s really deep and if you love customising, you can spend hours doing it here. It doesn’t offer anything like NFS’s excellent “Autosculpt”, but it’s not worse its just different and offers a few more options such as side exhausts and superchargers that stick out of the top of your bonnet/hood, like a 1950’s dragster. There’s lots of very cool small additions that anyone who likes customising will appreciate. Im not sure its better than NFS’s autosculpt, but it’s certainly on a par with it.



The racing is very much “edge of your seat” arcade style stuff. Even with the slower cars you hurtle down streets with traffic flashing past and it seriously gives you the sense of speed you desire. The way the cars handle is very arcade like and easy to get to grips with. The cars handle how you would expect them too and are very forgiving to an extent. You can just jump in and race and the learning curve is not savage. You can sling your car into a 90 degree bend at stupid speeds, slide round it, and come out fine on the other side. Although it is ridiculous, and nothing like Gran Turismo (obviously), it is very fun and rewarding. All cars handle differently as well, as a rear wheel drive heavy dodge challenger will feel completely different to a light on its feet front wheel drive Ford Focus ST. It’s detailed basically, and you can tell there is a depth in this, created by genuine car enthusiasts. If that wasn’t enough it also has motor bikes. There is only three options for the motorbikes but the fastest, the Kawasaki Ninja, is very very rapid and seems to heighten the ridiculous speeds as, because you can fall off them, there is more risk.


What’s bad?

The most obvious and worst thing is that this game is really really seriously infuriatingly difficult! I can guarantee you right now you are going to lose a hell of a lot if you play this. You are going to crash a lot. You are going to be “smack talked” by your opponents a lot. You are going to be arrested a lot. You are going to have victory snatched from you, on the last bend as a bus comes out of a blind side turning and stops you dead, as your opponents flash past, a lot. It is incredibly frustrating and heart breaking and I have never hurled my controller across the room as often as I did for this game. Ultimately, this does make it rewarding when you eventually win but it is a fine line to draw and Rockstar have gone slightly overboard with this one. It is just too hard for my liking and it is mainly due to several things. Firstly, your opponents are always much much better than you. It doesn’t matter how much NOS you have or how big your turbo charger is, your opponents will always be better than you. If you race someone on a “hard” difficulty they will simply drive away into the distance regardless of whether your in a Lamborghini Gallardo and they are in a Mitsubishi Evo. It feels totally futile a lot of the time. They also do not come under the same rules as you either, as I have seen an opponent slam into an oncoming vehicle and he just careers through it as though it was not there and boosts off into the distance. I know there are special abilities that allow your car to do this, but your opponents can’t use them. It really doesn’t give you a chance and I know you can try easier races, but then you win bugger all cash. Secondly, it’s just too overwhelming in places. There is so much traffic and things to avoid and be aware of you just cant react to all of them at once. You often blast round a corner and there is literally solid rush hour traffic, which you cant avoid. Your opponents always do however. And thirdly, the races are mostly check point races and it’s far to easy to miss a turning as you have to constantly keep one eye on the map in the right hand corner of the screen, which is far too hard considering what you are already having to concentrate on. There are few things more infuriating than having to stop and reverse back to a turning mid race. You are basically always one step behind and playing catch up the whole time and it does add to the frustration factor and is very unrewarding. Rockstar have compensated for the extreme difficulty by ensuring that everything you do in the game counts, as whether you lose or not you will earn money and “rep”. That doesn’t make it fun though and you are going to lose your rag a lot. Be warned.



The gear changes are appalling. Obviously I chose to have an auto gear box for all my cars, as there is far too much other stuff to worry about than changing gear, and it is ridiculous. It never seems to know what gear to put you in, and so often I have been on the rev limiter for about 4 or 5 seconds before the sodding thing actually changes gear! It is so annoying. Then, if you’re in 6th gear at high speed and need to break briefly, it will slam it into 1st gear and you will screech to a halt to simply crawl along whilst your engine screams with high revs for another 4 or 5 seconds. It’s maddening! It will change up when you are at low revs, it will change down when you’re at the rev limit and will generally drive you insane. It’s not even an infrequent occurrence as it happens most of the time. I know the answer to the problem is to switch to a manual gear box, but I simply do not have the time to learn its use or the skill level, and I’m fairly sure I’m not alone. It’s absolutely appalling and it’s not as if it’s not frustrating enough already.



The special abilities are crap. You can equip your ride with various special features that allow you to cheat in order to gain advantage. These are an EMP, for shutting down your opponent’s car, “Agro”, that allows your car to plough through anything oncoming for a limited time, “Zone”, an ability to slow down time to make tricky or tight turns, and “Roar” which sends out a blast to send your opponents flying. You can also slip stream someone and hit the “boost” button for a burst of speed. It is not so much a boost button, as a suicide button. Hit it and you will be sent flying at warp speed into anything that is oncoming, steering and braking become irrelevant. It’s only actually useful when your destination is a perfectly straight line away and there is nothing in front of you, which, coincidently, never ever happens. It is therefore utterly useless and one of the few things that gives you an advantage in the game is taken away from you. Furthermore, the EMP doesn’t really do anything, as it only very briefly and vaguely slows down your opponents but it also slows your car as well! The Agro ability does allow you plough through other cars on the road but it also sends your car flying as well and is impossible to control! The only actual useful one is the Zone but often you have already crashed before you need it, as there is no human on the planet that can react that quickly. You have to predict when you’re going to use it and how in the hell are you supposed to predict something you don’t do on purpose? They are awful. I have read that previous versions of this game always include these abilities, so it’s a kind of trademark but this game simply doesn’t need them and they are too much of a “gimmick” and useless for my liking. It is also yet more things you really don’t need for taking up your concentration.



The car line up is not fantastic. It’s good enough, but not great. The vehicle list is a little limited and (having seen the line up) it does not look as good as the one in NFS Undercover. It obviously depends on what you like but there are not a lot of options for those who prefer the exotics/super cars. I of course do. It’s not that I don’t like a dodge challenger, or Nissan Skyline GTR, I just prefer a Koenigsegg or Porsche Carrera GT. The most extreme thing in this game is the Saleen S7 and Lamborghini Murcielago. There’s also the Audi R8 (download only) and Aston Martin Vantage, but the quantity is not in the same super league as the Veyrons and McLaren Mercedes of NFS. Its mainly muscle cars and tuners, which again is fine, but I would have liked some Porsche’s, BMW’s and basically more choice at the extreme end of the vehicle scale. Who the hell wants to customise cars they could pimp in real life anyway, like VW Golf’s?



The customising is good and there is lots of choice for paint and vinyls, but it’s a little limited for the more extreme body customisations. You only get one wide body kit per car and they are all pretty hideous, plus you can’t add your own spoilers or exhausts to them, or do anything to them whatsoever. So you are left with simply changing bumpers, lights, side skirts etc if you actually want to customise but the choices are fairly limited to around 5 per component and, despite some neat additions, it’s not as good NFS’s auto sculpt or customising options in general.



The cops are very tough to shake. It’s easy to keep from being arrested, however it’s very very hard to lose the LAPD altogether. It’s easier to lose them on the highways, but I have been hacking around the city for ages trying to shake them and they stick to me like glue. You are supposed to be able to lose them once you are out of their sight, but I have been in situations where they are not even on my mini map but somehow they can still see me and are still chasing me. Eventually, a few times, I have given up as I got bored and wanted to go racing instead, so decided to pay the fine. The police are made visible to you by showing them as markers on the map and you have a radar device on your car that “bips” when one gets close. It is best to avoid them altogether, as occasionally I have been stationary and one will swing round and arrest me for no reason at all. You get a lame little scene, which looks like the film from a “Police Camera Action” TV show, and you can choose to drive off but it’s really not spectacular and pointless.



The bikes are better to drive to the extent that you will stop using the cars. The bikes are really rewarding, to the point that when you buy one you will eventually come to the conclusion that they are actually much more fun and easier to use than the cars. They also cost a fraction of the price to buy and tune and are faster and easier to drive than their same tier four wheeled counterparts. The chances are you won’t go back to the cars at all for the rest of the game once you have raced one. Every time you jump back into a car it feels sluggish and slow, so does that not defeat the point of the game? Why not make it about bikes and tuning if the game is better off that way, rather than cars? A car racing game that makes you not want to own the cars is very strange indeed.


Conclusion:

The problem is, is that this is a good game, it’s just going to drive you mad. As much as there is too enjoy, there is to hate. I like the fact you have the whole of LA to race around in, I like the cars and especially the bikes. The visuals are pretty good, and once you get on a winning streak the racing is really fast and exhilarating. But the difficulty, the gear changes (in particular), the police, the limited customising etc really do test your will to play. Rockstar are clearly trying to muscle in on EA’s NFS franchise and they have done a good job, but not a great job. Considering how EA is slowly choking the NFS franchise game by game, each one crapper than the last, then you would expect this to blow NFS out of the water. But it just doesn’t. If you liked any of the previous Midnight club games then you will like it. If you love cars and customising, you will like it, although you won’t love it and it will drive you mental. If you are a diehard NFS fan, you will hate it. If you don’t like really challenging games, you will hate it. If you lose your temper easily, you will hate it. If you (like me) are 50/50 on NFS or MC, then you should probably rent both before making a decision or get neither, and wait for either franchise to make a better one. Take from that what you will. If you simply have to tune and race, and considering the current competition in the market, this is the game to buy. I personally however, would recommend “Race Driver: Grid” if you really want to race cars, as it is much better than NFS and MC. It doesn’t have street racing, free roam and customising as such but if you are an appreciator of cars and racing you will enjoy Grid a lot more. Either that or wait for what the future holds for racing games. CA.


Summary:


Is it user-friendly/easy to get into? – 9.0

The city of LA is vast and detailed. The maps all look good, especially the zooming in and out of them, and in game menus are easily navigated. Controls and car handling is easy to “pick up and play” as well.


Is the story any good? – 5.0

The story is pretty pointless here, and adds nothing to the experience. None of the characters you meet are engaging and there is nothing to really grab your interest. It doesn’t really matter though as it’s not the reason for playing.


How does it look? – 7.5

Generally good quality. Occasional slow down, but all landmarks and cars are detailed and look how they should. Take a close look though, and you will see that details and quality are a bit bland.


How does it sound? – 9.0

You don’t really get a chance to notice the sound, but the tune line-up is excellent, and you can choose which songs are played and when. Vehicles all sound good and it really sounds like a bustling downtown LA.


Is it good to play? – 7.0

Cars are easy and fun to handle, but the difficulty, the gear changes, the relentless cops and crappy “special abilities” will drive you mental. This is not one for the intolerant.


When will I get bored? – 9.0

There is a huge amount to do, race and tune, and (if your dedicated enough) you should not tire of it quickly.


OVERALL – 7.5

Review created by C. Armstrong.

Eve Online – One of the Largest Scams Ever pulled in a MMORPG

What Is Eve Online?

EVE is a massive multiplayer online game (MMOG) set in a science-fiction based, persistent world. Players take the role of spaceship pilots seeking fame, fortune, and adventure in a huge, complex, exciting, and sometimes hostile galaxy.

The Scam:

The following story covers one of most beautifully executed in-game scams in a MMORPG ever pulled. It breaks all previous world records for ‘virtual crime’.

In Eve Online, developers try to give their players as much freedom as possible, politics and espionage have become a part of the game.

The perpetrator of the heist was the Guiding Hand Social Club (GHSC) corporation (a corporation being similar to a clan in Eve); a freelance mercenary outfit who offers their services (which usually involves corp infiltration, theft and assassination) to the highest bidder. Over a year in planning, the GHSC infilitrated their target’s corporation with their own members and gained their trust, as well as access to the corp hangers. It all concluded in a perfectly timed climax, with a massive theft in multiple corp hangars synchronised with the in-game killing of the corporation’s CEO, the primary target of the contract.

What’s most interesting and impressive about this operation is that it was entirely ‘legal’ and within the game’s own rules, and the mastermind and his agents pulled it off together flawlessly, all the while staying in character. The estimated real-life value of the items stolen is, according to PC Gamer, $16,500 US. The in-game value of course is much, much higher as the things stolen would take years and years to aquire.

The following article was published in September 2005 PC Gamer and is a really good read. It goes into great detail about the scam and all involved. Here are the scans:

September 2005 PC Gamer Scans

Eve September 2005 PC Gamer Scans

Eve September 2005 PC Gamer Scans

Eve September 2005 PC Gamer Scans

Eve September 2005 PC Gamer Scans

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Eve Online Scammers Guide

Contents

[1] Introduction

[2] The Tricks

[3] Scenarios

[4] Social Engineering

 

[1] Introduction

When a person thinks of scamming, they think of deception; however in today’s EVE, most scams have already been tried out/done before, thus being convincing and sincere is what helps drives the most successful EVE scammers.

All of these conversations are based off of the Payout Scam, a guide on that will be posted later.

 

[2] The Tricks

The trick here is to convince others that what you are saying is true, thus being persistent and wordy can pay off; even on the most stubborn cookies.

1) Be prepared, have your photoshop open; have your game in windowed mode, have pre-fabricated
screenshots ready so you can just insert a timestamp.

2) Details, details, details; it’s good to put time into your pre-fab pictures, because these people are persistent.

3) Calm and collect; the two greatest virtues ever.

[3] Scenarios

Let’s take this into various scenarios, with the answers/responses below it.

 

Scenario A.

 

(The gullible person)

Victim – hi

You – Hello, how are you doing?

(Always be courteous and welcoming)

Victim – are you doing the offer still?

(This shows that the person believes what you are saying)

You – Yes I am, any amount of ISK sent will be doubled, and if you break the record (X amount) you will get 4x the ISK; please note it is one time per person.

(It’s good to have the one time per person thing; I find it helps increase the odds of getting larger funds)

Victim – okay, ISK sent

(Depending on how much they send, you can either take it or you can pay out; typically if it is a low amount (In this case I will make it 1,000,000 ISK) I will pay out, and offer them a chance to pay again for a higher amount, remember earn trust of the low-paying majority is key, however 10m up in some cases is keeper amount; however there have been times when I would pay 100m out.)

You – Okay, one moment

You – 2m ISK sent

Victim – wow thanks

You – Wait

Victim- ?

You – Tell you what, that was a really low number; I will give you an exclusive offer, so you can get more, I will give you a chance to send whatever amount, and I will double it, and as before; if you break the record of (X amount), I will 4x it, but this is your last one.

(It’s good to reinstate it, to show that you’re sincere and professional)

Victim – well… okay…

(Typically the person will send more than before, if it’s,the same amount, you can choose to take it or pay out, if it’s a small amount, paying out is the best option. In this scenario we will say he sent more.)

You – Alright, I am waiting

Victim – Sent 10 Million

You – Alright, let me check

Victim – K

(You can either choose to close the convo screen or you can continue; it really depends if you want hate mail or not.)

(Close convo screen )

Scenario B.

(The rebellious)

Victim- lol, are you serious?

You- About?

(This is a good idea to just use “?”, so it implies that you have no idea what they’re talking about, thus proclaiming innocence)

Victim- do people really fall for this scam?

You- I am sorry, I didn’t know it was a scam to pay people out…

(Play along on this comment, and this proclaims innocence)

Victim- yeh, you pay people out as your cronies or you just payout the lower payers, but you take the higher payers

You- Sorry mate, but for your information I have payed everyone out (and if there are people in Jita who are saying otherwise, say that didn’t pay you), the people in local are just trying to rip me off

Victim- yeh sure lol

You- Tell you what

You- You can try me out, however the same one time per person rule applies to you, but if I don’t pay; you can spam in Jita to your heart’s content.

(The spam to your heart’s content is a reverse bluff, because typically they won’t do it; if they do, you can claim photoshop)

Victim- lol nice try

You- Look, if you aren’t going to try me out, you really have no say in this matter whatsoever

(If you play them down like this, it should strike their curiosity)

Victim- (Will either respond to prove that you’re legit, that’s where the previous transactions with your alt who is the ‘record payer’ is taken in a screenshot from that person when you bring them in the channel or they will say “ISK sent” or they will say “No nice try”)

(If they ask for proof) – Bring your alt in to the conversation, it’s important that you act differently on your alt, be impatient and not too wordy/grammatical, and post the screenshot, also be quick/slow on the chat between you, your alt, and the person; just mix it up a bit. Be convincing, calm and collect; and you will come to one of the two scenarios, but remember keep trying and question/solve why they are suspicious, put yourself in their shoes.

(If they send ISK)- Depending on the amount sent, you can either take it or payout and offer for one more chance at the ‘deal’.

(If they say no)- Don’t reveal yourself, because they can use that in an SS; just close the convo window.

Scenario C.

(Requires an Alt or Cronies)

(The Disturbers)

You- Hello, How are you?

Victim- What do you want?

You- You are saying in chat that I am scammer, may I ask if you have evidence to prove this?

(It’s good to be straight up with the person to confront their initial fear)

Victim- It’s obvious you’re scamming, no need to…

You- Tell you what

You- You can try me out, and you can SS the WHOLE thing.

Victim- Why would I do that when I know you’re scamming?

You- Well, I do have a few people online whom I sent ISK to, I can bring one of them in if you want.

(The person is your alt or cronie, it’s good if they ‘sent’ more than 300m ISK)

Victim- Who is it?

You- NAME (don’t forget to link him/her)

You- He/She broke the record of ISK sent with (in this case we will use 400m) 400m ISK, and I sent her 1.6b.

Victim- How do I know she’s not an alt?

You- Well, trust is a limited thing on EVE, I trust that you do not believe so, besides I have others to back me up; and if that’s the case, how many alts do I have, like 20?

Victim- Well… fine, let me talk to her/him

You- Okay one moment, let me invite her

(It’s important to wait a minute or so – accept the invite, so it isn’t like you’re alt-tabbing to accept)

Alt- What?

You- Hey man, didn’t I send you 1.6b earlier today for you breaking the record?

(Now, when your alt talks, you want him or her to be talking as a different personality, i.e. if your main talks with correct punctuation and is rather timid; you want your alt to type with improper punctuation/grammar and is rather quick/impatient, so on and so forth)

Alt- yeh why?

Victim- Well… I wanted to do what (YOU) are offering but I am skeptical of a scam

You- I will let you two talk about this, I am going to grab a drink

(Do this so your alt and the victim can talk without you having to alt-tab)

Alt- yeh she sent me the isk, i mean how much aer you sending?

Victim- I want to break the record you set, so maybe 500 or 700m

Alt- if i had more money to send i would send it but i dont

Alt- If i were you, i would go with it

(It’s good to reinforce your intentions with your alt without being too suspicious)

You- Back!

(Now that you’ve made your point with your alt, it is time for your alts exit)

Alt- okay can i go now? I have stuff to do

You- o/

Victim- yeh

(Alt leaves)

You- So have you decided?

Victim- (Will either respond to prove that you’re legit, that’s where the previous transactions with your alt who is the ‘record payer’ is taken in a screenshot from that person when you bring them in the channel or they will say “ISK sent” or they will say “No nice try”)

(If they ask for more proof) – Bring your other alt or bring one of your cronies in to the conversation, it’s important that you act differently on your alt, be impatient and not too wordy/grammatical, and post the screenshot, also be quick/slow on the chat between you, your alt, and the person; just mix it up a bit. Be convincing, calm
and collect; and you will come to one of the two scenarios, but remember keep trying and question/solve why they are suspicious, put yourself in their shoes.

(If they send ISK)- Depending on the amount sent, you can either take it or payout and offer for one more chance at the ‘deal’.

(If they say no)- Don’t reveal yourself, just keep trying by rinsing and repeating the whole ‘bring a person in’ which can be another alt or another one of your cronies.

 

[4] Social Engineering

Quoting from:
Social Engineering (Security) – Wikipedia, edited for EVE uses.

Social engineering is the act of manipulating people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.
While similar to a confidence trick or simple fraud, the term typically applies to trickery or deception for the purpose
of information gathering, fraud or computer system access; in most cases the attacker never comes face-to-face
with the victim.

How this applies to us EVE Online scammers is that we want to earn the trust of our victims and for them to invest
in our scam.

Pretexting

Pretexting is the act of creating and using an invented scenario (the pretext) to persuade a targeted victim to
release information or perform an action and is typically done over the telephone. It is more than a simple lie as
it most often involves some prior research or set up and the use of pieces of known information (e.g. for
impersonation: fake convo, fake wallet screens, etc) to establish legitimacy in the mind of the target.

“Preparation is key, for that results in success”

This technique is often used to trick a corporation into providing you with a higher rank. The information can then
be used to establish even greater legitimacy under tougher questioning with a manager (e.g., to make certain transactions,
access to the corp vault, etc).

Pretexting can also be used to impersonate corp members, alliance members, investors, conversations or transactions – or any other individual/action that could have perceived authority or right-to-know in the mind of the targeted victim.
The pretexter must simply prepare answers to questions that might be asked by the victim. In some cases all that is
needed is a voice that sounds authoritative, an earnest tone, and an ability to think on one’s feet.

==================
Applying Social Engineering
==================

How to perform social engineering in a 2x Ponzi Scheme, you will need:

1) Fake Wallet screenshot

2) Fake Full Screen screenshot

3) An alibi, and/or some cronies/alts

Tricks/Tips for Social Engineering a 2x Ponzi Scheme:

1) Be assertive

2) Be confident

3) Never reveal yourself

4) Have confidants or people that can back you up, ALWAYS!

5) The older your character is, the better

6) As stated before, an alibi on why you’re doing the particular ‘giveaway’

 

Usually, a Victim will present you with three scenarios:

a) Can I talk to someone who has done a transaction with you?

(Typically the highest donation person will be the target, in other-words, your alt or cronies)

b) Can I see a Full Screenshot?

(You have shown them your wallet only screenshot, and by request, the Fullscreen)

c) Do you have any proof that you’re legit?

(As mentioned before, show them everything you go, remember: “Preparation is key”

Remember the three C’s:

C- Calm

C- Collect

C- Confident

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Eve Online Pirating / scamming, and everything else god has forbidden

This generally means letting other people make money, and you take it away from them the “easy” way, this includes scamming, pirating, gatecamping, etc.

Scamming:

One of my personal favorites. Im not gonna go into details about how I do it, but lets say I didnt exactly mine for that raven of mine. This basically means using the stupidity of others, I will tell you people some old scams though so you might think of your own way:

Selling shuttles for 10 million a piece, selling minerals for ridiculous prices, putting a condor named scorpion in the trade window (they used to look a like), etc.
Scamming is commonly done with alts, but this no longer works because people know alts are being used and won’t buy from them. Scammers can however expect to become outcasts and can expect to no longer be appreciated if this gets known to others. It can definitely be the most profitable thing to do, but it will get you on more blacklists then pirating itself will.

Ore theft:

Now I have to admit prior to making this guide I wanted to know what it was like, so I trained an alt to fly a small basic indy, within 2 days I was on the KOS (kill on sight) lists of at least 3 alliances. This is the most hated profession in the game, it makes about twice the profit mining normally does. You just basically get an indy, sit in 0.5 and grab the unsecured cans of poor miners (they can attack without police response as of yet). Sometimes they will attack you, with a nice explosion as a reward. Can flipping is often done by people in fast ships. You basically steal the ore from a miners can and put it in your own can then run away. That way when the miner goes to take it back they are effectively stealing it from you and will therefore be flagged as a criminal, allowing you to pop them legally!

Pirating:

Now the real forms of pirating would of course be killing miners/npc hunters and camping gates, most people see pirates attacking alliances, but I consider these people to be space vikings not real pirates (m0o for instance). This profession can be among the most profitable around, if you’re lucky (and any good) you can have people ejecting from their battleships to save their pods, and you can collect an easy 30 million from most smart pilots that desire to live. Unlike what most people think pirating is commonly done in 0.1 – 0.4, not 0.0, 0.0 is usually filled with groups of people, this usually ends up in a fleet battle, and not a fast miner holdup. To start the way of pirating described here you used to only need a blackbird, but since the nerf you need a little more, you also need to make sure friends are not to close, and you need to put pressure on people. however blowing them up is not much profit so negotiation is a must.

Corp theft:

Among these are the most famous, hated and richest people in eve. It means betraying friends you’ve been with for months, and often means being hunted to the end of the world. Some examples of these are agent shield (who corptheft after his corp let a corpthief join, dual corptheft). and Fallzone (who stole form the richest corporation at the time).
This is a profession most hated and it will not get you friends, even among pirates. But it will get you immense wealth, after which you can sell your account…

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