Selasa, 13 Mei 2008


HD DVD vs. Blu-ray

Editors' note: Toshiba has officially announced that it will stop producing HD DVD products, bringing an end to the format war. This guide will be updated to reflect Toshiba's announcement shortly, but in the meantime buyers should steer clear of the now-defunct HD DVD format.

DVD is, by some measurements, the greatest success in consumer electronics history. Following its 1997 debut, it took the format just a few years to completely conquer the home-video market previously ruled by VHS tapes. Before DVD even reached its 10th birthday, however, the electronics industry and the Hollywood studios began putting it out to pasture. Two rival next-generation formats--Blu-ray and HD DVD--are now vying to become the successor to DVD's throne. Both display movies in full high-definition resolution, addressing one shortfall of the current DVD format, which is only standard-def. The video and audio quality of both formats can be truly spectacular when shown on an HDTV with a quality home theater audio system, surpassing even high-def television itself in fidelity and impact.

The bad news? To get that improved fidelity, you have to decide between either a Blu-ray player or an HD DVD player, and you won't be able to play certain studios' movies on either one. For example, if you're a sci-fi fan and want to watch The Fifth Element (Sony Pictures), you'll need a Blu-ray player, but if you want to watch Serenity (Universal) you'll need an HD DVD player. Yes, combo players that can handle both formats are available, but they currently cost more than actually purchasing two players, one for each format!

In the next few pages, we'll take a look at both formats, examine how they compare to one another, and highlight the advantages--and disadvantages--they offer compared to the current generation of DVD. And if you're looking for a prediction on the format war, we're finally ready to offer it: unless something completely unexpected happens, we expect Blu-ray to ultimately win the format war. But before we explain why, let's take a look at what both formats have to offer.


REVIEW Super Mario Galaxy Wii

"A must have if you own a Wii..."

A new Nintendo system is out and that can only mean one thing, a new Mario title is sure to follow. Super Mario Galaxy has been out for a few months on the Nintendo Wii and there have been a ton of reviews out praising the game. I feel I should offer my two cents on the title just for the hell of it.


Mario is invited to the castle to celebrate some festival with Princess Peach. Suddenly, Bowser comes crashing in and takes the castle up into space with Peach still inside. Yes, outer space. Mario ended up on this space station ship sort of thing full of these small star things called Lumas that are cared for by a women called Rosalina. She is like a mother figure to them(There is more backstory to unlock once you progress further on through the game). Rosalina tells Mario that Peach was kidnapped by Bowser, and that Bowser is threatening the universe or something and must be stopped. The problem is that her space station does not work at the moment because it needs stars to power it. It is up to Mario to collect the stars to power the station to rescue Peach and to stop Bowser. There are the regular stars( a few are different colors, but the majority are gold) and grand stars. There are 6 or 7 Grand Stars that are received after beating a boss and once you gather a grand star a new observatory is unlocked meaning more worlds to explore.


This is where the gameplay comes in. Traditional Mario games have always been platformers. You go from level to level going from point A to Point B while overcoming obstacles in your way. That's the basic idea. Going back to the NES and SNES days it was just moving Mario to the right side of your screen towards the end of the level hoping you would not die along the way. Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64 managed to evolve the series for the whole new 3D aspect of platforming and it was a great addition to the series and one of the best Mario titles. Picture a level in Mario 64, say the one where you fight the King Bob-omb. Now separate the areas into small chunks. Now make them into small globes. Now picture Mario going from globe to globe until he reaches the final globe where he fights the King Bob-omb on top of the mountain. This is the general setup for Super Mario Galaxy. The giant worlds are now a galaxy and the components comprising them are planets or whatever. They vary in shapes and sizes and consist of numerous kinds of enemies(Koopas, Goombas, Magikoopas, etc.) as well as friends(Toads, Penguins, etc.) Instead of jumping into paintings you go into an observatory that can propel you to a certain number of galaxies in said observatory. Once you select a galaxy to play you pick the star you want to go after and then you get it. Along the way you collect coins, star bits, and various mushrooms/powerups. Coins are honestly useless unless you want to collect 50 of them to get an extra life. There are no 100 star coins like in Super Mario 64, but there are specific levels that have coin collecting stars. I'm just talking about the gold coins in general. Star bits are the latest collectible in the Mario franchise. They are multicolored mini stars that are scattered all around the various worlds. Star bits are like candy to Lumas. Certain Lumas require you to feed them x-amount of Star Bits in order to create a new planet or galaxy depending on where they appear. There are two totals for star bits. The first is for the galaxies and how many you collect in them. There is no fixed amount in any of the worlds or a counter telling you that you collected so many out of so many. They reappear over and over again once you die and you can collect more and more. One time I reached the cap at 999. Anyway, besides that you can move a star cursor around the screen with the Wii-mote's motion sensing to shoot star bits at enemies. I found myself hardly shooting them because they do not do a whole lot other than stun enemies for a second. Finally, we shall discuss the mushrooms. What would a Mario game be without shrooms? Super Mario Galaxy introduces new powerups for Mario. There is a bee costume that allows Mario to fly for a few seconds. Just make sure not to touch water because the suit will disappear. There is a Mushroom to turn Mario into a Boo. With it he can be invisible for a few seconds and go through walls. The Spring Mushroom transforms Mario into a spring so he can jump higher. The fire flower makes its return, but it is on a timer. An ice flower allows mario to freeze water so he can make ice platforms to walk on. These powerups are like the three caps in Mario 64 in that they are only used to accomplish certain tasks to get to certain stars. No semi-permanent fire flower Mario like in the older games sadly. The green mushroom makes its return as the item that gives Mario an extra life. A new shroom is this red one that adds 3 hit points to Mario making a total of 6. Again, only temporary. Over all, the gameplay is very nice and feels more in the same vein as Mario 64 as opposed to Mario Sunshine for the Gamecube. I mentioned how some parts were pointless, but that is the picky gamer in me. Yes, coins and star bits are pretty damn pointless but they do not detract from the overall fun of the game.


Except for what little voice acting there is, the sound is incredible. Specifically the music. You have these awesome orchestra pieces playing in the background as well as remixes of various older Mario tracks. If anything, I think the music is one of the best parts of the game. This is all I really have to say as far as audio is concerned. Amazing job Nintendo!


Work well for the Wiimote, but they can still work without it for the most part. You have some instances where it uses the motion sensor just for the sake of it. Like shaking it to do certain moves or tilting it left ot right for Manta Ray surfing. Still, no real complaints unless you really hate the Wii and think it is just a gimmick. Otherwise everything was fine except for some minor camera issues for some worlds and trying to figure out how to get Mario to go in the direction you want.

Final Thoughts

When deciding to review this game my opinions on it changed back and forth. There are two ways I see it. The first is just looking at the game generally. The second is looking at it compared to everything else. By itself It is a great Mario game that is a must own for those that have a Nintendo Wii. People less picky than me will like this game a lot. With that I give the game a 9/10. My picky side says that this game could have been a lot better in some areas. The whole lives system is pointless and outdated. The series itself is feeling tired and drawn out. Yay I get to collect more stars and save Princess Peach from Bowser yet again. The least they could have done was create a better two player system. Why not have have the second player play as Luigi? Why can't we have a turn system like SMB3 or SMW? Also, where is Yoshi? Come on! Again, these are just my gripes. To most, however, this game is the best of 2007. To me it does not feel like anything too new or exciting, but just another Mario game. Still, I say pick up the game and play it. There is fun and excitement to be had, and younger kids will really like this game. With that I say buy the game, play it, and enjoy it. Thank you for reading my review.

Game Release: Super Mario Galaxy (US, 11/12/07)


REVIEW NO More Heroes Wii

"Amazing games like this one only come around once every console generation."

During the Gamecube era there was a game released by Suda 51 and his Grasshopper Studios called Killer 7, and it went largely unnoticed by the general public. The game, which combined on-rails gameplay with a bizarre, confusing, violent, disturbing, funny, political, and overall completely over-the-top story, managed to find a small cult following who eagerly anticipated Suda 51's (an undertaker-turned video game developer,) next project, and here it is, No More Heroes, a game that's excellent in a whole different way. There are some games that when played, just feel "right," and No More Heroes is a home run in every department, from gameplay, to the sound, to the graphics, (well...not entirely there,) to the brilliant writing and long length....this game provides an experience unlike what any other video game offers and it deserves to be played by every Wii owner whose mature enough to handle the subject matter.

Graphics; Let's start here, because it's the game's biggest mixed bag. No More Heroes features a visual style that can be compared to Killer 7's; it's a cel shaded game with characters and environments that look like they're all drawings taken right out of a comic book. Although I wasn't a big fan of Killer 7's much darker take on cel shading, (which, however, did go with that game's theme,) No More Heroes instead uses the same type of visual style and applies it to much sunnier environments that are overall much more appealing on the eyes. Hands down, No More Heroes features a great visual style and the character models are vastly superior to Killer 7's; stylistically, No More Heroes is great.

Unfortunately, the technical-side of things isn't so great. Unlike Killer 7, which was backed by Resident Evil producer Shinji Mikami and his people at Capcom, No More Heroes was developed almost entirely as an indie project by Suda 51's Grasshopper Studios, and as a result, the game was clearly a bit lower-budget. It opts out of the lengthy anime FMV's that permeated Killer 7, instead going for almost entirely in-game cutscenes. (Which still look good, by the way, and are well-directed.) The graphics just don't seem as clean as Killer 7's overall, unfortunately, mostly due to an abundance of jaggies, extremely obvious pop-up when journeying across the city of Santa Destroy, as well as many clipping issues and other graphical glitches. Framerate drops also occasionally occur during combat, but I was still amazed how much action sometimes occurs on screen without the framerate taking an obvious hit. People who play No More Heroes should be prepared for an excellent and inviting graphics style, but the vast amounts of technical glitches, especially when in the city, are too much to be ignored.

Gameplay; No More Heroes's gameplay, though, is with very little flaws. Much like Killer 7, the game begins with a tutorial and first mission that make the game seem MUCH more complicated than it is. Once I came to grips with No More Heroes's combat system, though, I began to realize that I've rarely had so much fun and satisfaction when playing a video game.

The game is set up like this: Travis Touchdown's an all-American hero: a frequent renter at Beef Head Videos, (where he records over their porn tapes and returns those instead of the originals,) and aside from his video gaming, his action figure collections, and his interest in pro wrestling, Travis also happens to be an assassin on the side. One night he gets drunk at a bar and runs into a woman named Sylvia, who sets him up in a ranked battle to become "#1." He starts at 11, and must kill each assassin above him, (using a Beam Katana he won in an online auction,) to reach the acclaimed spot of "#1." It's a fairly simple premise (nothing like the complete and total chaos presented in Killer 7's monster of a politically-charged plot,) but one that provides No More Heroes with tons of humor and of course, gets you from one memorable boss to the other. Each of these assassins have unique and interesting personalities and they are all very good fighters. No More Heroes is not a huge challenge overall but these bosses are serious; they are intense and they demand a lot out of the gamer, and several tries are often required to find their weaknesses and exploit them. Luckily, the game has a hint system that will provide you a helpful hint if you get killed by a boss, which is always appreciated. To get to these bosses, you must first hack-and-slash your way through tons of enemies. This is done by hitting the A-button to hack away at the enemy, and as their health meters reach the end, a Wii-remote gesture is prompted and Travis will either slice their heads off or even cut them right down the middle, (to a Kill Bill-like torrent of blood that rains down on the proceedings) and catching several enemies with this at once is one of the most satisfying elements of the game, and at times my vision was entirely obscured by the torrents and torrents of blood that sprayed from enemies (who yell out lines like "MY SPLEEN!!!") as they're cut to bits. There's much more to the combat system than meets the eye, including wrestling moves, blocking and dodging techniques, additional powers, a lottery system, etc. and despite the simplistic nature of it (the game's a hack-and-slash, afterall,) there's a ton of depth and strategy. It always remains completely fun and satisfying both when hacking and slashing your way towards these bosses, and when fighting these very intense fights against some of the coolest bosses in the history of gaming.

To get to these assassination missions, Travis needs to pay an entrance fee. To do this, he must complete hilariously mundane odd-jobs in the city of Santa Destroy. These include everything from carrying coconuts to cleaning up vandalism. Although mundane in nature, they're actually pretty fun to play. Successfully completing one of these get Travis some cash to visit K Entertainment to complete a "shadier" job, typically involving killing some henchmen. These pay well and of course are often extremely fun, giving us more time with the game's perfect combat system. Once you have enough cash you deposit it in a bank account and then journey to the next Assassination Mission. Traveling is done by motorbike, which controls solidly (just make sure you brake as you turn,) and the city the game takes place in is one of the most twisted versions of LA I've ever seen. Called Santa Destroy, it's home to several places to go and things to do. Need to get more strength or max HP? Head to the gym to work out. You can also buy videos (to learn new wrestling moves,) you can buy new weapons and upgrades, you can participate in several challenging (but optional) killing missions, buy new clothes for Travis, and more. You can also have some fun inside Travis's motel room/apartment, where you can interact with a lot of cool stuff. Although Santa Destroy's much lighter on activity than the cities in most open world games (and while it's home to several technical issues,) I really enjoyed these portions of the game. After the non-stop and linear action of the Assassination Missions, (including some very challenging and intense bosses,) I loved then getting to simply relax and enjoy traveling Santa Destroy, moving forward at my own pace, earning money and preparing for my next Assassination Mission. I'm confident that this game wouldn't have been nearly as complete or fun without this aspect to it.

What's also fun about Santa Destroy is the opportunity to interact with Suda 51's trademark bizarre characters. All the shopkeepers in this game speak with the weirdest dialogue ever, some of it fairly philosophical (the subject of souls often comes up,) and their small amount of voice acting is, for some hilarious reason, heavily accented Japanese (despite the whole game otherwise being voiced in full English,) and the comments they make to you, for example, as you leave their stores, are hilarious. They also have their own strange quirks, like a physical trainer that first demands Travis remove his pants and underwear before weightlifting, a paranoid t-shirt salesman in the Area 51 clothing store, a sexy femme fatale sword saleswoman, and more. All are awesome and add so much personality to a game already overflowing with it. Everything about the city of Santa Destroy is bizarre and extremely weird, and the game's world is definitely "America by way of Japan." Although the game definitely takes place in America, everyone acts in such a bizarre and strange way that it's almost like its own world, and certain Japanese things make their way into the game as well, making Suda 51's love of both cultures extremely apparent. As if the heavily accented shopkeepers weren't enough, a Japanese pop song also plays on the loudspeakers of several stores; not the type of thing one typically hears in LA stores but a very nice touch all the same. Although No More Heroes takes place in America and features all American characters, it's clearly a Japanese game, and this always shows. The theme of "rock" is also always present, as a heavy guitar riff plays every time a character enters or exits a room, and Grasshopper Studio's logo at the start of the game even proclaims "Punk is not dead!" Toilets are also a big theme here, as saving in No More Heroes is done by taking a crap at a toilet.

In a way, the game's structured exactly like those classic video games from the 80's, where the goal was simply to become "#1" on a scoreboard. No More Heroes follows the same basic design, even illustrating this inspiration with its retro menus, and even having a scoreboard (very reminiscent of something from Pac Man) appear on screen after each Assassination Mission is completed, showing Travis moving up a rank. Admittedly, this structure (which the game rigidly sticks by for the entire game; make money, Assassination Mission, boss, make money, Assassination Mission, boss, make money, Assassination Mission, boss, etc. etc. etc.) does begin to wear a bit thin at around the game's midpoint, but the game luckily comes back in the last few fights with the introduction of some new characters and some of the game's best boss fights. Video Gaming and the fact that this is a video game is a theme common throughout No More Heroes, and during the game's ending (especially if you view the HIGHLY recommended Full all swords to get the full ending,) it breaks the 4th wall entirely to some hilarious results.

Gameplay-wise, Suda 51 and his team have achieved near perfection with No More Heroes. The combat system's amazingly fun, it makes PERFECT use of the Wii Remote and Nunchuck, the characters are all awesome, Santa Destroy's brimming with character thanks to some truly hilarious NPC's, the plot's funny, and Travis is probably one of the most bad-ass heroes I've ever controlled in a video game. It also provides a lengthy quest (slightly over 15 hours) which is always a plus, especially since this is the type of game where I stayed up literally until 4:00 AM at times playing; I could not put the controller down. I really can't express how excellent this game is.

Sound; The voice acting's intentionally over the top and it works perfectly with the rest of the game. The actors weren't going for Oscar-winning performances, they were trying to be as crazy, intense, or as funny as possible, and they were successful on all levels. Musically, certain things work, certain don't. The game's main theme is remixed and played WAY too much over the course of No More Heroes, but otherwise the soundtrack here's awesome, with the music during some boss fights (Rank 2 being the most memorable) providing the perfect atmosphere. The song that plays inside the shops, the music during the's all cool stuff and while none of it's quite as memorable as some of Killer 7's soundtrack, it definitely provides a slick and cool backdrop to the game's events. The game also makes excellent use of the Wii Remote speaker; make sure your speaker's on, as not only does it add lots of great sound effects to the fighting, but before boss fights Travis will get a cell phone call, (which comes out of the Wii Remote speaker like a cell phone,) and this unfortunately doesn't come out of the TV speakers if the Wii Remote's is turned off, so make sure the speaker's on.

No More Heroes is an example of a game where everything just clicked and it worked perfectly. Yes, things become slightly "deja-vu" at around the game's mid-point (a feeling that thankfully goes away as you near the end,) and on rare occasions the gesture response wasn't perfect, and also rarely poor checkpoint placement and the occasionally frustrating boss become issues, and no, the graphics aren't always pretty...but these occasional hiccups are nothing compared to what the game does right. The game plays amazingly, it flows great, it's both hilariously funny, excessively violent, extremely suggestive, (wait till you see how Travis charges his Beam Katana,) totally self-aware, and also, of course, bizarre as hell. While admittedly the plot here's not even close to being in the same league as Killer 7's (nor does it even try to be,) and while the technical aspects are not always up to snuff, the game is, overall, superior to Killer 7 in almost every other way imaginable. It's a game that was made by people with a great sense of humor and who love what they do, and it shows in every aspect of No More Heroes. It deserves to find an audience and it deserves to be a hit. Suda 51...what can I say, the man's a genius and if he ever gets a publisher who gives him a huge budget and isn't afraid to market his games, he will be an unstoppable force in the video game industry. So buy No More Heroes and, as Sylvia says, "Head for the Garden of Madness!"

Note; No More Heroes is not a game for a young audience, as it features strong violence, lots of sexual themes, strong language, and some disturbing images. But it's all done in a comic and over-the-top style that was meant to be social's very unfortunate that the blood was removed from the game for its Japanese and European releases. I'm still recommending you guys play the game, it will be awesome even with the censoring. But looking at Europe particularly, it's a shame that the current controversy surrounding Manhunt 2 being banned from release in the UK has given Grasshopper and the game's European publisher a reason to release the censored version there. It's sad because Manhunt 2 was a horrible game that was the result of developers who didn't care about anything but a quick buck...and it put another dark mark on the video game industry and prevented REAL GAMES, like this one, from being released in their true form. Games with actual substance, where the developers were actually passionate about making the best game imaginable. Manhunt 2 was nothing but a rushed "murder simulation" with as much charm as a loaded shotgun, while No More Heroes, also sickeningly violent, is a true piece of comedic satire and over-the-top cartoony violence, and it sucks that, clearly, some people, even apparently the game's developers, couldn't tell the difference.

Game Release: No More Heroes (US, 01/22/08)


REVIEW Rock Band PS3

"Hands down, the best music game ever created."

I've been playing music games for quite some time. Parappa was the first I played, and for a while, the best I'd played. I've played almost any worthwhile music game that's come down the pipeline, including Samba de Amigo, DDR, Gitaroo Man, and many others. They were all fun, and a had a flow between visuals and music that wasn't matched by many other genres.

Then Guitar Hero came out. A lot of people initially thought it was just an Americanized Guitar Freaks (which it is), but it had a certain quality that elevated it above its niche market. I don't think anyone, Harmonix and Red Octane included, could have guessed the popularity the series has reached. But after 2 great games in the franchise, and one lackluster entry, Harmonix split to do something different, and, as it turns out, better.

Rock Band brings all of those "what if Guitar Hero had..." wishes to life. Everything from the GH franchise is in play in Rock Band, with many noticeable, and some subtle improvements. Presentation is second to none, and the track list is full of winners. I'll break the review down into chunks.

Visuals (technical): 8/10
The visuals in Rock Band are pretty outstanding for the Playstation 3. The characters models aren't hyper-realistic, but the details are incredible. The characters, crowds, and arenas (of which there are 40+) all look fantastic, all boasting great animation and lighting effects. The stadiums should especially be noted for the lighting; the effects in GH were fun to look at, but the effects in Rock Band are the best recreation of a concert I've ever seen in a game. The only real gripe I can hold against the game is that character model's hair has poor collision detection, but that really is a minor gripe. Harmonix nailed the technical details to the visuals, but they aren't even the best part of the visual presentation.

Visuals (art design): 9.5/10
This is where the game shines in the visual department. Each of the characters are given a more realistic look, when compared to Guitar Hero, but that doesn't hamper the art direction. From the menus, to the stadiums, even to the accessory and shirt designs, everything is top-notch. The in-game camera filters were a brilliant choice. Instead of going for a clean, static look, more akin to Guitar Hero, Rock Band includes fast zooms, Shaw bros style, shaky cams, grain filters, and even some cool black and white effects. It all comes together to look like a concert DVD. The visual design flows together very well, and Harmonix deserves some recognition for that.

Music: 9/10
A music game must have good music, and the songs on the disc are, not surprisingly, great tracks. From Bowie, to the Chili Peppers, to some Sabbath, nearly every track is a winner included with the game. One of the gripes I had with Guitar Hero III was that it went for tracks people knew, instead of tracks that were fun to play. Harmonix took the smart route and got the big name bands, but didn't go with their most popular tracks. It was a good choice, and leads to some very fun songs. I was also extremely glad to see the indie tracks return: I loved Honest Bob's songs in GHI and GHII, and the song included by them is great. Overall, the tracklist is great.

Gameplay: 9.5/10 (Single player: 8.5/10 Multiplayer: 10/10 Online: 9/10)
The game play, basically, is a hybrid of Karaoke Revolution, Guitar Hero, and an altered Drummania. Each instrument has a solo campaign, in which you make your own character, and quickplay. Each also can be used simultaneously in multiplayer, either in quick play or the Band World Tour Mode. There is also online, with multiplayer and downloadable (and fairly cheap) songs.

The single player mode is the standard Guitar Hero campaign mode, just stretched across each instrument (except bass). In my review for GHIII, I said that the GH formula was getting stale, and the same holds true here. The drums and vocals, however, extend the single player life by far, essentially adding 2 new games to the package. It really shows how much GH pales in comparison, both longevity-wise and value-wise. The fact that you can use your own custom character also gets some points for the single player. Overall, it's what was expected, but has great tweaks that keep it fresh.

The multiplayer, of course, is where the game shines. Quick play is fun, and fairly intuitive to swap instruments. The real meat is the Band World Tour. The game essentially turns into a music game-RPG hybrid, something that I have never seen or heard of before. For a first time effort, Harmonix almost completely nailed it. You and 1-3 friends go around the world gathering fans and cash, and play different set lists. Many of them are one songs, but occasionally you get a themed (and often clever) set list, some themed around the city, other just a grab bag. Every member of the band is customizable, which adds to the feeling that your band is truly different from everyone else's. Add to fact that you can design logos and tattoos for the band and members, and it gets pretty deep. If there is one hangup I have with this mode, it's the fact that band member cannot switch instruments. It's an understandable design choice, but the leader of the band must always be present, and they must play their designated instrument. It's a tad annoying that I chose guitar and can't play drums without someone filling in. It's only one minor gripe I have with a fairly brilliant mode.

The online is also well done. It's widely known that the Band World Tour mode is not online, but given the structure, it's understandable. The quick play mode is just as it is in offline, and it's good to know I can play with my buddies when they're out of town. The biggest part of online, though, is the downloadable content. The songs are only 2 bucks a pop, with 3 song pack costing 5.50. It's really not bad, especially compared to GHIII, considering how many game play options you have per song. The fact that new songs are up every week pretty much extends Rock Band's lifespan indefinitely.

Overall: 9.5/10
This game is my choice (as of now) for game of the year. Harmonix tried many new things with this game: new game play concepts, new game play modes, and an ambitious online structure. They succeeded largely, and that's more than I can say for most games that have come out in the past few years. Harmonix has been in the business for a while, with some small masterpieces like FreQuency and Amplitude. This is the game they will be remembered for. Yeah, the game has a huge price tag, and isn't a brand name, but the same was said about Guitar Hero when it came out. Despite a few quirks I had with the game, Harmonix nailed every aspect it shot for. If they keep their promise of new songs every week, then I see no reason for Guitar Hero to exist anymore. Harmonix has a hit on their hands. My personal score says 9.5, because it isn't absolutely perfect, but I bumped it up to a 10 for GameFAQs' scale. It deserves it. I can say, without a doubt, buy this game. It's the best I've played all year, and it's the best music game since Parappa started it all.

Game Release: Rock Band (Bundle) (US, 11/20/07)


MGS 4: Guns Of The Patriots PS3

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots features an aging and exhausted Solid Snake in the middle of a futuristic battlefield. In spite of his failing body, Snake is equipped with a crucial new device tentatively known as "OctoCamo," a high-tech suit that dynamically transforms its texture based on Snake's surroundings. This revolutionary new gameplay mechanic allows him to seamlessly blend into the environment, providing him with the means to stalk his enemies like never before. This latest chapter in Hideo Kojima's legendary tactical espionage actin series marks the return of several characters from previous Metal Gear Solid games including Revolver Ocelot, Meryl Silverburgh, Naomi Hunter and Raiden, and features an unforgettable story that depicts the desperate state of the future as seen through the eyes of an older Solid Snake.


REVIEW The World End With You NDS

"This game cannot get better anymore........ because it is already best!"

World Ends With You

World Ends With You was developed by our best friend, Square Enix and Also the very same team who made Kingdom Hearts. World Ends With You also have the same battling style as Kingdom Hearts have so don't worry it is not turn based. World Ends with You have many features including the food system and even an exercise system. Want to discover a new World? Then Discover the World Ends With You.

Story Plot is quite complicated, you play in the game and your job is to survive this for seven days and after winning you can go back to the real grounds which is the real world, that means you must be dead before joining this so called game of life.

The World where you play the game is simply called as Underground, a place where people cannot hear, talk or help you. Sad life under there huh? Don't worry you can read people's minds who are still living and sometimes then can help you too by giving clues. Other people can also see and talk to you if you enter a room with a reaper decal it is created by the Composer to help you progress throughout the game.

Don't worry there are also other players like you who play for another chance on the Real Grounds and one of these players must be your partner or else you cannot battle. The Underground is also being composed of Noise, these noise are also like Kingdom Heart's Heartless. Noise stop you from going back to the Real grounds by means of attacking. Noise are created by Reapers who are being tasked to prevent you from coming back and without Reapers there are no more fun that is why the Composer made them. The Composer is the one who created the game and everything starting from the rules up to pins. Composers assigned Game Masters or GMs to become the Game Master on that whole week.

Game Play
The Game Play is hardcore, you choose Pins that can be collected from shops. These are your Weapon on the game and battling itself. Each Pins have different powers and very unique mechanics on how to use it. Even weak Pins can become destructive on the hands of a skillful master. Pins also evolve on how you get experience from enemies like if you defeat Enemy A you get A experience and If you defeat Enemy B you get B experience, the Evolution of Pins depends on how you level them up and if you got the wrong experience the pin will not evolve so be careful. Pins can be used depending on their command namely Slash, Draw A Circle, Tap, Press and Shout. So with the wrong command you do on your DS the Pin will not work.

On the very battle itself you play as either Neku, which is the Main character or your partner that is varying from time to time but of course if you are an expert you can use both of them on the same time for a clean sweep.

There are also other things on World Ends with you which are the Food System, Exercise System and the Friendship Gauge. On the Food System you can consume up 24 bytes of foods per day (Real Life Time) and by means of Exercising you can digest these foods you ate that gives a permanent effect like HP up or a Temporary effect which is Sync Rate Plus. The Friendship Gauge is your relationship to the store owner and because there are a lot of shops this will never go down but this will never go up if you don't buy to the owner. Buying items and gaining Friendship gauge or simply FSG means unlocking new quest items and these quest items are very rare and strong. These three are just one of the factors that make World Ends with you a great game.

Graphics and Sounds

Graphics are very artistically designed in 2D because DS can't handle 3D but 2D isn't bad at all because they look very alive and I'm impressed they even look better than 3D so Square just got to stay on 2D graphics. Modern Tokyo setting is colorful but can be dull sometimes because of the road color. The streets are just like full of paintings and modern places are very colorful with lots of billboards and of course the human's clothing's that makes Tokyo very alive and I'm happy that it does not give off any dark aura setting.

The Sounds on the menu can be changed anytime as long as you own CDs of them that can be bought on music stores. Simply tap the CD and it will now play the music. The music is very relaxing and you can find all sorts of Genres of on shops but to get rare CDs you must also have a high FSG with the owner.


It will really take some time to go through the Learning Curve and it is about 3 hours. Imagine that 3 hours just on the Learning Curve. The story is very long and Collecting all pins and playing Tin Pins are also the factors which make this game long and good thing it also have a new game plus.

Final Recommendation

If you own a DS you must get this game, why? Because you cannot do your assignment anymore because this game sucks you in to the World Ends You.

Game Release: The World Ends With You (EU, 04/18/08)


REVIEW Assasin's Creed PS3

"Late Game Of The Year entry?"

This is an Ubisoft game, in which an accurate description would be that it is a mix of Prince of Persia, Thief, Hitman and Spiderman. You could say it takes the best features of all of these games and puts them together, and that would be true on some fronts.

This game is definitely a landmark of modern gaming. It combines a good combat system, which I'll explain later, brilliant exploration and movement in cities and great assassination mechanisms which, if done correctly, can produce a spectacular kill.

What I mean by the movement and exploration being brilliant is of course the free running. It has mainly realistic climbing and movement which look and feel fantastic of which very few games can achieve, and even the more surreal actions look amazing, and you won't find yourself asking 'how and why did he do such an impossible thing'. Never (apart from the latest Spiderman games) have I wanted to explore the towns for such a long time, running, jumping and climbing your way through a massive city. The feeling of freedom is very much alive in this game, even if the levels have specific missions set up.

Coming back to the combat system, I must say there has been a lot of debate about this recently. People say it is way too easy to kill dozens of guards by your self, making you a 'one man army'. In one aspect I agree, and it would have been nice to see an emphasis on running away through the spectacular cities. On the other hand, I quite enjoyed it, and I like having a fair chance to kill anyone apposing my way, as I can still run away if I feel it's going to take a long time to kill, or if my odds are against me. It is a very simple system anyone can pick up, and I do like the varying counters for different weapons, which are always pretty gruesome.

The AI of this game varies, as some of the harder enemies or 'bosses' don't just stand around, they do something, usually involving shoving their sword down your back while you're trying to kill his guards. I have complaints, but I know it wouldn't any more fun with guards which can think for themselves. It's not any worse with the civilians, nor is it any better and that's all there is to it.

The additional side-quests you can do in every city are pretty darn repetitive, as with some things in the game, but you might still end up doing them all like me for the sake of it being fun. They are either going to every view point in a certain area of the city, or rescuing citizens from evil guards. This is pretty basic, and sometimes I wish there would be more of this, as exploring would be much more fun. There are loads of things called flags with are little things, which differ in amounts in most cities, and you might want to try that with all of them, even if this is extremely time-consuming. There is also no reward for doing this on the PS3 version, until Home comes out, and even then it's not for sure.

Controls are as easy as it's gonna get, with most things just one or two button-presses away. This will let you get on in the game without any hassle. There are sometimes minor problems, such as having to hold R, X and the left analog stick. This seems fine, but when climbing building you will need to tilt the camera angle, and this is where it gets tricky and uncomfortable. Also, you cannot change the controls to set your own configuration, which is a disappointment in a game like this.

Weapon selection is good, but not great. You get a short sword, a hidden blade thing, throwing knives, a dagger and hand to hand, which is useless apart from interrogations. Some of these get upgraded after missions, which is a nice touch but nothing more that that. That happens to skills too, and some are useful, while others are just extra things to play around with.

Everyone expected and knew the graphics were going to be amazing. It didn't disappoint in that department, and I've ran out of words to describe how good it is. The cities can be seen from one end to the other, even if the buildings at the other end look like tiny little toy houses. The area of vision seems nearly infinite. I have no complaints with the character models, but the clothing is somewhat static, and it feels like there is no wind, as soft cloth barely ever moves.

In terms of fighting, I liked the effects of when you counter it sometimes slows down and zooms in, you can see the blade go in, and the blood splatter. The motion in the fighting and the game in general is very smooth and it looks natural, which is what I think this game was trying to create anyway.

The story in this game at first put me off a little, and I thought mixing the past and present/future was a little lame, but after a while I got used to it and accepted it, and it turned out to be quite a good story with twists and secrets revealing themselves in both worlds. I can't say a lot without spoiling anything, but it is two stories which intertwine closely, and is interesting to follow.

First off, the character voices. I liked the voice acting, and thought they did quite a good job on it. Some of the voices, like Altair's voice has an American accent, and as you may know he is in the time of the Crusades. As most things though, you will get an explanation for this. As far am I'm aware the rest of the voice acting is accurate enough for the date. There is, funnily enough, also an explanation for why everyone, nearly always, speaks English in the old, Arabic settings.

I might be wrong in saying this, but I will anyway. I hate, and I mean I hate the comments made by the citizens in the street while you're climbing up. They're always the same damn things, they're said in the same voices, and they're just annoying. Another thing I don't like are the comments made by the guards, as sometimes it doesn't work properly due to a glitch and wrong things are said at wrong times. However, this is just a minor annoyance.

Music in the game was designed to fit the mood. Getting chased turns on faster, moving music. Fighting provides something similar to this. On the other hand things like walking around the streets of cities, or free running about the buildings lets the music set the scene. It's Arabic, but it's good, as it should be. It doesn't hurt the ears, and if needed, reminds the player of where he is. Having something like rap music, or heavy rock in the game would be silly, and I'm glad a mistake like that wasn't made.

Normally this wouldn't be separate, but it has been a center of arguments in the boards. It really depends entirely on how you enjoy the game. If you like it, you will try and find those silly flags, and you will do every side-mission, like me. If you don't, or just want to complete it, you can do the minimal amount in 10-15 hours. Doing the rest can take another 50+. After completing the main missions, you can unlock a thing, which lets you go back and do anything you want, including killing citizens without penalty, which can be fun for a little while.

In terms of replayability, there isn't much because you can go back from your original save file, and starting a new one seems pointless then, as there is no difficulty settings.

I think apart from all of the minor glitches and things that could and should be tweaked, we have something which shows the possibilities of the next-gen consoles. Yes, it has been over-hyped, but as long as you weren't expecting the greatest game ever, you'll be happy once you've picked this game up.

Rent or buy? I think this is up to taste. If you like old style games with swords and knights and assassins then by all means buy. But, if it off your normal agenda, then you might think about renting the game to see if you like it.

Overall score: 9/10

Game Release: Assassin's Creed (EU, 11/16/07)


Senin, 12 Mei 2008


"Crisis Core - The spin-off we've been waiting for"
When Square-Enix announced the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, many fans were skeptic and fearful that the numerous new titles will only tarnish the reputation of the 1997 masterpiece. For many fans, these fears took on a body with Advent Children, which, while visually stunning, felt a little shallow and lacked the feel of the original game. Then came two other projects: the half-baked Dirge of Cerberus and the untouched, almost unheard-of Before Crisis, which only intensified the consensus that the true purpose behind this so-called "Compilation" was to use the reputation of Final Fantasy VII as a money magnet, fooling the loyal fans in the process.

However, there was one hope left – Crisis Core, the prequel for the Playstation Portable handheld system. This, too, faced some concerns – the traditional and much-loved battle system has been replaced with a slot machine, the main (and only playable) character is Zack, who was barely seen in the original FFVII, and the game was made for a handheld system, which doesn't seem quite as grand as a home console, no matter how you spin it.

With that, I am more than glad to announce that, for once, the greatness of the original Final Fantasy VII has finally been matched. Crisis Core is a fantastic game.

Shortly after viewing the stunning, action-packed intro (whose true purpose is to show how much Square-Enix's CG skills have improved over the past ten years), you begin the game almost the exact same way you did the original game, in the exact same location fighting the exact same enemies. Only… what's this? The battle system is completely different and, at first sight, horribly simplistic and stale. Not only are you unable to jump, but after every slash of your sword you have to come to a pause before you can strike your enemy again, unlike any other action game in which you can chain you strikes into combos. You can press R and L to toggle through 3 default spells, but seeing as simply mashing the attack button can kill the enemies in a matter of seconds, there doesn't seem to be much of a need for anything else. This introduction to the game is awfully misleading, and could easily create a negative first impression on most players.
But don't let it fool you – the more you progress, the more exciting and complex the battles become, practically forcing you to use your entire arsenal of spells and physical commands in order to succeed in battle. In-fact, the battles in Crisis Core are anything but simplistic, thanks to a number of innovative game mechanics.

The most prominent of these new features is the large slot machine on the upper left corner of the screen. This slot machine is called the Digital Mind Wave, or DMW. What it does is basically spin continuously, granting special attacks (Limit Breaks) upon lining up the three reels of the same character. For example, if 3 pictures of Aerith line up in the DMW, a special Limit Break will be initiated, healing Zack completely and granting temporary immunity to enemies' attacks, and if 3 pictures of Tseng line up, Zack picks up his cell-phone and shouts at Tseng, who in-turn sends a helicopter to shoot down the troublemakers. In total, there are 6 characters in the regular DMW spin which you obtain during the main storyline, each granting a different Limit Break. Additionally, every character is accompanied by a number, which, when lined up with 2 other numbers of the same value, grants certain effects and increases certain stats and Materia, or your own level if you get 3 sevens. This game mechanic may seem gimmicky and overly-complex at first, but after a while it grows on you and provides an amazing surprise factor to the otherwise repetitive battle system.

Of course, Crisis Core wouldn't be a Final Fantasy VII spin-off without Materia. Like the original game, each color of Materia represents a different type – green Materia represents MP-using magic spells, yellow Materia represents AP-using physical attacks and purple Materia increases your stats. You get more Materia slots as you go, which proves useful as there's a good amount of Materia in the game, ranging from spells like Cure and Thunder, to various command Materia, such as a Jump command (similar to Kimahri's from FFX or Kain's from FFIV) or a spinning attack which damages several enemies. Each Materia is an exciting tool in battle and can change the way you fight completely. You can also convert your spare Materia to SP, which affects the frequency of Limit Breaks.

Later on in the game, you get the option to combine two Materia into a new one. Additionally, you can combine purple Materia with green or yellow Materia, so, for instance, you can create a Deathblow-like skill which will also grant you +HP 20%. With the proper Materia combination, you can reach a bonus as high as +HP 500%, and more. This new implementation to the otherwise familiar Materia system is a brilliant one, adding a whole new level of depth to the game.

If you ever feel like you're rushing through the game too quickly, you can use your fighting abilities to go through missions. You get more missions as you progress through the main storyline, but in general, there are more than 350 missions to do, each varying in difficulty and granting a different reward. Some of the most sought-after rewards are the summons. If "red Materia" comes to mind, you'll be disappointed to hear that such a thing does not exist in Crisis Core – instead, summons are added as special DMW characters, and are used randomly depending on the level of your limit break, which ranges from the lowest "Normal" to the highest "Heavenly". Fortunately, you'll be treated to a stunning CG sequence for every Summon that you happen to line up in the DMW, which also comes with a stupendous amount of damage. All in all, there are 12 secret DMW Summons and characters to obtain from the missions. The process of getting them, however, can often be nerve-racking as the stages mostly consist of the same four types of environments. Nonetheless, the missions are still an enjoyable and worthy addition to the already-fulfilling game-play.

The main thing that the masterminds over at Square-Enix are perhaps best known for are their graphical skills. Even knowing that, the obsessive level of graphical detail in Crisis Core is simply staggering, and has raised the bar for what the PSP is capable of. It certainly is an enormous difference from the polygonal mess that is Final Fantasy VII (and for the record: yes, I know the visuals were fantastic ten years ago), and one cannot help but be filled with glee at the sight of his favorite characters looking like proper humans, and damn cool ones, at that. The typical Final Fantasy VII fan will want to spend hours running around the Shinra HQ, or Sector 7, or Aerith's church, and see those areas from different angles, something that couldn't be done in the original game. Additionally, the characters' faces show an impressive level of emotion, ranging from pain, to angst (it's not a Final Fantasy without angst!) to laughter. Sadly, some of the areas -- especially from the missions-- are often rather bland and repetitive, though the large majority of the game's environments are remarkably well-made.

Anyone who's watched Advent Children will notice a clear similarity between the two, as Crisis Core has the exact same art style as Advent Children, which includes the flamboyant body movements, the sinister facial expressions and the bizarre way characters can jump to seemingly endless heights and can cut through pretty much anything. This may seem over-the-top to some people, but those who enjoyed the style of Advent Children are in for a real treat, especially during the CG sequences, which are absolutely beautiful.

Surprisingly, perhaps the strongest aspect of Crisis Core is its sound. Composed by Takeharu Ishimoto, one of the composers of Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy X, the soundtrack consists of loud, heart-pumping electric guitar tracks for the battles and remarkably touching, soft tunes for the more emotional scenes. With this soundtrack, Takeharu Ishimoto went back to the old Uematsu days, back when video game music was more than just "background music" whose role was to simply set the mood, back when music helped define a game. One would often found oneself stopping, putting down the PSP and simply listening to the music, especially in the last quarter of the game. Also, much to the fans' delight, numerous themes from the original game – such as "Those Who Fight Further" and "Anxious Heart" – have been remixed and extended.

Many of the voice actors for Advent Children and Kingdom Hearts II have lent their voices to Crisis Core, which is a great thing as they're completely believable and instill some life into the previously mute characters. The only major addition is the inclusion of J-Rock legend Gackt, the voice and face behind Genesis. Gackt does an admirable job, especially considering the fact that it's not even his field.

Predictably, Crisis Core isn't especially purist-friendly. Indeed, there have been a number of additions and bold changes to familiar scenes. Without giving too much away, it's worth noting that, although there have been numerous significant alterations to the original Final Fantasy VII events, the story never contradicts itself. It is, however, slightly bizarre for characters who have never once been mentioned in the original game to have such major roles which directly affect the actions of the "original" characters. The addition of characters was inevitable, of course. Nonetheless, they sometimes feel a bit tacked on.

Overview of Crisis Core

Graphics: Probably the best-looking game on the PSP, the graphics are absolutely phenomenal, bringing the previously Lego-like characters to life and rivaling even some of Advent Children's most remarkable scenes. 10/10

Gameplay: Although the battle system is difficult to get used to at first, once you get the hang of it and use it to its full potential, it can lead to some of the most fulfilling action in recent action RPGs. 8/10

Sound: Perfectly timed, brilliantly-composed music and top-notch voice acting renders the sound of Crisis Core flawless. 10/10

Length & Replayability: The main storyline can be completed in merely 10 to 15 hours, and although the extra missions can add a few dozen hours, a few more lengthy side-quests wouldn't hurt. 7/10

Story: Although the addition of several important characters could possibly damage the authenticity of the original game to some fans, Crisis Core would've been rather predictable without them. The events that occurred in Final Fantasy VII have been extended and elaborated upon, and can be very nostalgic and enthralling to fans of the original game. 8/10

Crisis Core is the title that put Final Fantasy VII back on its feet, and made it soar. It succeeds on so many levels, and could be enjoyed (although slightly less understood) even by gamers who've never played the original game. It's also surprisingly import-friendly, and, with the help of a few guides and a Katakana chart, can be completed without speaking a word of Japanese, although the most important part of the game—the plot—will be missed out. For anyone who wants to enjoy a mature, exciting and moving video game, do yourself a favor and get your hands on the masterpiece that is Crisis Core.

Game Release: Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (JP, 09/13/07)



Gue mau sharing Review GTA IV guw FYI ( For Your Info) aja sih sebenarnya! Terutama bagi seorang gamer seperti guw. Well that's what I need to say, so read the rest of my Blog with a HOT coffee, a doughnut, and a Sorority Girls that can entertains you.. Peace out! CNG spread the Words of Freedom, Social Equalation, and Anti Racist AROUND THE GLOBE! Hampir lupa, Review GTA IV guw untuk Platform Next-Gen Full HD 1080HD PS3, dan Review guw IN ENGLISH, gag ngerti? Ya Siapin Kamus sebelom lo baca!

Grand Theft Auto 4 is an action, third person shooter, and sometimes platforming game developed by Rockstar Games. It has had 3 previous iterations of a core GTA game. In this series of games you play a character who is down and out at the beginning and works his way up to a higher status by the end of the game through means of violence, mischievous acts, and whatever grimy tactics R* can think up. And every one of these games uses satire and comedy to poke fun of American Culture. Now that you've gotten the basis of the seems immigrants have been pulled out of the stereotype hat..

Let me introduce you to Niko Bellic, an immigrant coming to the America for a better life, thanks to the lures of his cousin Roman. He promised large mammary glands, and opportunities for a new life in his glorious mansion, and lied horribly. Roman got Niko into a mess of debt, deceit, and dealing with scumbags, and they both have to clean it up now. But Niko had his own reasons for coming to Liberty City....

Here is the real meat of the game, you fist fight, drive, shoot, and kill your way through mission after mission with an assortment of weapons, that you can either collect from enemies, or purchase from the gun shop. The catch to this is, you cannot buy the weapons from the gun shop until you have obtained it from other means, like brutally beating a police officer to death for a pistol. Now many might not understand why this is such a glaring flaw so let me break it down for you. If you have the money to purchase the weapon and you're going to buy the weapon, then you have already got the weapon. It is as simple as that. Reduces the Gun Shop to merely "Ammo Shop" and only enables you to use the tools you already have, and destroys any chance of getting rewarded for your effort. Now let me break down the game play elements:

--Fist Fighting:
This is perhaps the only feature that was vastly improved upon in GTA4, with buttons to dodge, counter, kick, and punch your way to a beaten and broken opponent, sadly one of the most improved aspects is only a very small selection of scenes, for when you get a weapon, who would bring a knife to a gun fight? Let alone your bare hands?

The driving mechanics are very wish-washy, and you'll find yourself and your vehicle behaving unrealistically at times, especially turning -- the whole car looks like its flipping, lack of any seatbelt causing you always to eject from the front in a decent speed head on collision, losing your glasses through an enclosed helmet when you crash on a motorized bike. Not to mention falling from outrageous heights and continuing to drive, and for a game that was so heavily designed for realism, it sticks out. And this isn't even the half of the driving complaints, I could nitpick about the lack of airbags..but I digress. Now that being said, the driving itself can be mastered, albeit annoyingly, but it will certainly throw you off when switching to another game with driving. But I wouldn't call it fun.

This is where the game really went downhill, the default controls have you set to Lock-On targeting which is extremely simplistic. They try to make it better with the use of taking cover, but you'll find yourself getting stuck on walls when enemies rush you, or your character behaving unexpectedly such as aiming at an enemy 3 states away instead of the guy in front of you with a shotgun, and eventually you'll find the best tactic to be. Stand or crouch behind literally anything (far from the action), Hold L2, Press R2 in bursts, and tap the RStick left or right. This takes care of all encounters that can be solved with a gunfight. Many gun fights can be done without looking at the screen. The lock-on in this game over simplifies shooting allowing you to shoot enemies you can't even see. (Note: Some people think of this as something good?) In a word, the shoot-outs in this game are boring. Now, you can downgrade your aim system, by setting controls to classic, and turning lock-on off, but many people simply go through the game oblivious of the feature, not to mention, why would you intentionally make the game harder than intended? Your job is to play the game and have fun at the challenges, not make up a goofy set of rules to change how you interact with the game. This is how they made the shooting aspect of the game, and it is not fun.

--Driving+Shooting = More Annoyances:
The only challenge is when you combine Shooting+Driving, as timing, and aim becomes crucial to success, and with already flaky car control, it can be a bit difficult. The only problem is....Many of the missions that require this are impossible to complete in that manner! Examples of this include: The vehicle and driver being completely immune to weapons, the car speeds up and drives likes a complete pro to get away, any car that the target car hits flies in the air like it was hit by a dump truck, this takes away from the level of realism, and immersion into the game, when you have to stop and think -- WOW. I just RPG'd that guy in the face, and he drove away on his boat.

--Friendship Reputation:
This has got to be the most annoying feature in the game, hands down. If you use it that is, because for your effort, the reward is pitiful, because the game is already easy, the perks that you might receive from being good friends with a character is useless, it doesn't bail you out of a tough situation, it just makes easy, easier. Now the reason it is annoying, is while you play the game, if you don't interact with these game characters, your reputation with them will go down, like real life, if you don't go out with your friends, they become distant. Now at first you might be thinking, what a neat feature, its realistic, and fits in -- but the problem is, it is in fact unrealistic.

Instead of being able to get all your friends together and go do an activity, or hang out once in a while, you have a bunch of needy game characters who call you relentlessly to schedule activities, and if you don't accept -- they start to like you less (not that it honestly matters). Now once again, you might be thinking, well thats not so bad, getting interrupted to hang out with people with half-baked personalities (except maybe 1 or 2 fleshed out characters) because you get to go play these fun minigames! Wrong! The minigames include things like, playing darts, bowling, playing pool. These games feel like some sort of PS3 version of Wii Sports, but instead you're playing with an apparatus not suited for the job. And it either makes it, extremely easy, or ridiculously unrealistic (I.E. Pool which I basically had to relearn for this game). Now all together this might not be completely terrible, but then add in the fact you can easily exploit (using simple methods) the game to maintain/increase reputation and it crashes completely. It feels like they made all this as an afterthought, decided it wasn't worth putting in the game, then threw it back in for no apparent reason at the end.

The cellphone (I'll just lump this into reputation, as it is used mostly for this purpose) in this game only adds to the stress, some missions glitch and you're still being shot at when Niko Dials the phone up, and you can miss important plot conversations, not to mention how slow you walk while talking, so getting hit by a car is a real possibility (which ends the conversation immediately), even the cheat code entry (Which is a big part of the GTA series) Is horrible! One gun shot and you drop your phone, can you say frustrating when you're trying to put in a health code taking on a full swat team and you can't pull up the darn phone for more than a millisecond?

The missions on GTA4 is the way to progress the story, if you are not blinded by the artsy feel of the game these will bore you to tears. There isn't much to say because every mission is move from point A to B, Kill, Complete objective. But with mechanics like the aforementioned, of course the missions aren't going to be entertaining, because the only ways to complete them are easy and/or annoying. In addition, there is no planning to these missions, if you need something to complete a mission, you get it on the spot. Just plow right along, I suppose this is to be expected as the game was marketed towards casual gamers, what better way to make them feel like their purchase was worth it when its the first game they've played since GTA:SA? Now there are exceptions to this, one or two extremely interesting missions, that somehow let you overlook some of the more glaring flaws to enjoy yourself, but 2/90 is pretty close to 2/10.

------Side Missions
Some of the characters will offer you side missions, such as stealing cars, delivering drugs, or assassinating people. Apparently stealing cars is improved because of the hot wiring aspect, but if you have 1 finger on each hand, hot wiring is almost instant, in fact I don't even notice a difference. Not to say its a BAD addition, just lost the point of it. Delivering drugs is about the most tedious thing you can do, while when you steal cars you get to see a pretty new graphic, with drug dealing, it never goes smoothly, its the same thing, take the drugs to dealer, deal goes bad, kill and/or escape cops. Playing glorified delivery boy isn't my idea of entertainment. For the assassinations see: --Shooting, its same as the main missions, and just as boring. Now keep in mind for the side quests you can't expect original audio for anything more than the address of the street, so you'll be hearing a lot of the same instructions, which is fine, because you're basically doing the same thing over and over.

Now there are decent parts to this game, such as internet/radio/television/comedy clubs, which are extremely hilarious when you aren't listening to the same bit repeatedly. But this is classic GTA comedy, over-the-top and just plain well done, if not lacking a little bit of content on the radio side. Done over, I would definitely buy the GTA soundtrack over the game, and I recommend it over the game.

--Physics Engine:
Euphoria is the name of the game, and it performs pretty well, this is proof that good engines can power crappy cars. To be honest, its the best thing in the game. The characters respond pretty well to being shot, many things move extremely realistically. But it cannot support the weight of the game. It tries to, and many people get fooled by it, it doesn't really make the game as much as gameplay has broken it.

Possibly the only use for money at the beginning of the game, but as it moves forward you can easily purchase every available outfit, and its not like you'll have anything to show for it other than making Niko wear a suit for a mission, which is used once or twice, pretty much a gimmick to make you think your clothing is more valuable than it really is. A lot of the designs are just different colors of the same thing. And for the only thing you need to spend money on to complete the game, its disappointing how little there is.

This is supposed to be the heart of the GTA games, people always talk about how the story is one of the most important aspects, well this game doesn't let you down....sort of. It does seem like they spent the most time working on the story, but for the quality, all it does is give testament to what the rest of the game is like. From what you can gather at the beginning you are helping you and your cousin Roman out by amassing money (For god knows what reason, you never spend it on anything other than frivolous things) so that you might live a better life, now the plot does thicken eventually, and Niko has a bit of a branched storyline, but the bulk of the game has you collecting money to fund Roman (Which he doesn't use, and you can easily go through the game without spending much ) and then you're collecting money to fund Niko's operations even though he never spends it on anything that actually HELPS the investigation. So the whole plot is fundamentally flawed. Why do I mindlessly gather money to never use it? Most people don't pay attention to what they are actually doing in this game, they go from cut scene to cut scene without questioning the point of the content in between, which is fundamental to any developing story. The story has multiple ending for one choice at the end of the game, even though the story tries to throw you through a loop with choices early on, they boil down to not mattering in the slightest. In simpler terms:

Step 1. Get money to Help Roman
Step 2. Give no money to Help Roman
Step 3. Get money to help yourself
Step 4. Spend no money to achieve the mission goal.
Step 5. Report how great the story is.

Now to be fair there is back story on Niko, but hes just about the only character who gets it, and none of it is actually surprising. Think "Really? The deranged lunatic that kills without a second thought had a messed up past?"

Compared to other next-gen titles....they don't. On there own? The graphics are pretty in some spots, mediocre in others. Other than the opening theme, I didn't hear any compositions that caught my ear. The difference between display on an XBOX 360, and a PS3 is slightly noticeable in PS3's favor, and the difference between HD and SD TV (with HDMI component cables) is definitely visible.

Play Time/Replayability:
You can finish this game in less than 30 hours. As I did, or you can leisurely pursue the story and end up with a game time of several hundred hours. But that doesn't make those hours worth it, or even fun. The multiplayer adds some playability, but not much, as many users are having immense problems getting it to work in the first place. So if you get it to work, you'll still be plagued with network issues, game freezing, and general lack of QA work.

Final Recommendation:
There are pros and cons to this game, but the cons heavily out weight the pros. But hey, With DLC on the way for both consoles, who knows, if they can recognize and fix a lot of these gaping holes in the game, maybe it could be worth a decent score, but right now I am sticking with 2/10 -Severe problems prevent any real fun- As of now? Rent, don't buy. You might like it, I know people out there do....

Release Date in US : 04/29/08!!

Source: With appropriate EDIT!