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S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat, Review PC


Following on from the mysterious events of the previous two games, S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat sees a return to the radiated and hostile wastelands surrounding Chernobyl. This time you play part of an undercover Ukrainian expeditionary force, sent in to discover the secrets of the zone and investigate the mysterious disappearance of the last bunch of guys who were sent in. Call of Pripyat manages to feel both oddly comfortable and unsettling at the same time, capturing as it does the exploratory nature and palpable fear levels of the original game whilst never straying too far from the original in terms of gameplay mechanics.

Continue reading: S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat, Review PC

The Godfather, Review PC, EA Games


Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather movie is a jewel in the crown of 70's cinema (as some describe it, the Golden Decade), The multi Oscar winner tells the story of the Corleone family. Itialian immigrants, caring people, and mafioso. It is the ultimate hood movie and over a quarter of a century after its original release the film is still as scary as it is intelligent and as funny and touching, as it was at it's release. The Godfather is a prime example of how great movies can really be.

Continue reading: The Godfather, Review PC, EA Games

Star Wars: Empire at War, Review PC, Lucas Arts


Star Wars: Empire at War (PC) - There have been some truly awful Star Wars titles in the past but Star Wars: Empire at War goes some way to redressing the balance. In a nutshell, Empire at war offers you the opportunity to take strategic charge of the fight for the Star Wars galaxy whether in the heat of a battle or from the perspective of managing the strategic intricacies of your attempt to take hold of the galaxy. You are given to option to take charge of both sides in this civil war. Lead the rebels to the victory that we know they take or change history by leading Darth's minions to victory and crushing the rebel alliance.

Continue reading: Star Wars: Empire at War, Review PC, Lucas Arts

Call of Duty 2, Review PC


Call of Duty 2 – Review PC

There is no doubt that when the original Call of Duty hit the stores back in '03 it made waves in the FPS, War simulation genre. Call of Duty was a huge success and sold bucket loads of copies. It raised the bar in the world of cinematic quality in war games and since then other titles have had to up their standards to align and compete. So, a lot of time has past, Activision are back with Call of Duty 2. Has the wait been worth it?

For those who didn't get to play Call of Duty, we are basically talking about a first person shooter set in WW2. You play through interwoven campaigns which see you as a British, Russian or American soldier fighting against the German army. As I mentioned before the cinematography is what set the original apart from the pack and you find yourself in many heart stopping scenarios, for example, firing out of the back of trucks as the driver speeds up narrow mountain passes and so on. The game isn't like some of the other free roaming titles out there; you progress through the game on a fairly rigid track which can take away the feeling of actually being in a war zone but keeps the tempo high and the story moving. This said Call of Duty was still a cracking romp and was accessible to all kinds of gamer's not just hard-core war players.

Call of Duty 2 is very much like its predecessor you control an allied troop in various WW2 scenarios. One thing that has changed is you can jump from mission to mission instead of having to play through in sequence. This is no big shakes really but it is a nice option to have. Graphically COD2 is looking hot! Much better than before but saying that, computer hardware has advanced a lot in two years. Like many new games COD2 auto-detects what hardware you are running and alters display settings to suite. On my machine at a fairly healthy spec the graphics are outstanding, this graphical beauty brings a lot of atmosphere to the game, and sometimes when you should be hiding you just want to look around to appreciate the scenery. Once you hear the bullets whistle past your head you will soon be keeping a fairly low profile. The music, as players of the original will remember, also plays a major role in the game. When the music swells you know s**t is about to hit the fan! And your pulse does race.

I mentioned before that the game runs on a track. Well, with COD2 it doesn't feel as heavily tracked. On the original the script was too predictable; by crossing invisible markers set in the game you trigger the scripting. This means that if you are defending a point and don't quite go forward enough to trigger the sequence, you can be stuck fighting off endless amounts of enemies.

The damage meter works in an interesting manor. You can heal yourself by hiding away to recuperate, so if you take a head shot or two and your vision blurs and your peripheral sight turns red you can simply duck down behind a rock out of the line of fire and re-heal yourself. I am not too keen on this, and believe having medics or health packs is a far more realistic way to portray health issues, although, this does open COD2 up to many more players and not just battlefield aficionado's.

You will pass through some recognizable setting including the American landing at Normandy and the taking of Stalingrad which does help with the realism of the whole thing.

Player AI is very well balanced. Your own automated team mates perform well and help you out a lot when it comes to cover fire and shouts of incoming missiles. Enemy AI is also well crafted and you will encounter some rather persistent enemies out there.

The single player mission pans out well, and once you have completed this you have the added extra of multi-player mode which holds up to 32 players per server and features lots of maps, extra weapons and the usual game-play modes.

Overall, COD2 isn't blowing me away in the same way the original did. Other than the better graphics I don't think COD2 takes the title onto a new level. It is more of a lush extension of the first. If you know the game and have been waiting for COD2 to come out, I don't think you will be disappointed and COD2 will remind you how engrossing this title can be. If you are new to COD and like FPS war titles then this is one of the greats. COD2 is a great way to spend your Sunday afternoons. Re-write the history of Europe as you fight for freedom!

8 out of 10

 

Black & White 2 PC Review


Lionhead Studios is back after five years with Black & White 2 designed by Peter Molyneux. In the first game it is all about strategically building towns and armies to fight along with a huge pet monster. Once again you are a god helping people to win against their enemies and you control a hand which makes the game very interactive so you can pick and move huge objects. The game is huge and every part of the game gives you a choice of being good or bad which means the game doesn't get that boring with different ways in defeating your enemies. So along comes Black & White 2 again you control a god but Lionhead have done a lot better in making you feel god like. The main goal of the game is to conquer over and destroy the Aztecs. Who destroyed nearly all of your tribe at the start of the game.

What is different in Black and White 2 is you do really get a God like feeling when playing. Through the game you can choose to be good or bad and at each of the dissision making junctures your actions will end up affecting the whole game. Once again your conscience of a good god and bad devil is back to advise you in playing the game which add a nice comedy element to the game. If you are good you will move a rock for a villager but if you're evil why not drop the rock on his head. The way in which Lionhead have designed moving is very unique .You grab the ground and pull so it feels like you're pulling yourself forward or pushing yourself backward. The hand feels even more interactive by being able to interact with nearly everything. Pulling huge rocks or trees from the ground gives a feeling of a godly strength. Also the people are like flies you can pick them up and throw them flying. As well you can zoom right into the action or out and are able to control the sun so it never gets dark. You don't need to use the keyboard at all to play so you can relax while playing.

The pet creature is the other great part in the game you pick one at the beginning of the game from a monkey, lion, wolf and cow. Like everything else you can influence your creature to be evil or good forming him into a nice and cuddly or demonic beast. The creature has free will and can do what it likes or it can be used like a tool listening to your commands to be a fighting machine. This is the same as the last game what is different is the creature's thoughts are displayed above their head. Your monster will remember what is taught and act on that in free will then you are able to customize these commands. So if you praise him for eating people he will eat them when he is hungry. On the other hand if you scold him for eating people then he will not eat them which is very clever AI. As you progress your monster will grow in size into a giant and will be able to cast some impressive spells.

As you start you just care for your villagers, building them houses to live in and keeping them from being destroyed. You assign them to breed, farm, build, and forest. If you like you can build yourself, you are god after all. Another different aspect in the game is when you build a nice town, cities can be drawn to join you because violence isn't always the answer. If that doesn't work then you can go back to the old way of building huge armies and taking over your enemies by force. If you are a good god and draw people to your town it will look nice. On the other hand if you are a bad god and take your enemies by force then your town will look bad. As well as your villagers using force you are able to cast some awesome spells to destroy your enemies with thunder bolts from the sky. As you progress you will be able to choose to improve what you can build and the spells you can cast.

What is a bit of a drag is it can take a long time to build your armies and town up. Also you can find yourself having to do the same building process to get your town ready to battle. People moaning in the background can get annoying after a while but the game has been made very slickly by Lionhead Studios so there is little wrong.

Overall the games graphics are very good and have been very well finished which really makes the surroundings look 3D. On the monster and water is where they really do have great effects in the game. The sound is great and ties the action together smoothly with the graphics so when you brush through the grass it sounds very realistic. The game is easy to get into and learn the controls not having to use the keyboard makes it very relaxing. If you played the last game it may only seem that there are only little changes which have taken ages. Although these little changes and better storyline mean it was all worth while for the wait. Great game.

8.7 out of 10

Miles Spencer

 

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