Gran Turismo 5 Review

So, the coveted Gran Turismo 5 is finally out in the world, after about 6 years of delays and teasers, we got the final product in our hands on Wednesday. The only thing is, was it worth the wait?

Well, I’ll start with the initial movie at the beginning. It looks superb, but I can’t quite figure out if it is rendered graphics, or real life video, but it’s spectacular none-the-less. One issue with it though, is it doesn’t actually show any cars driving around, or anything like that. It’s just a lot of industrial footage with some cool crazy pianist playing in the background. Still, it’s pretty cool.

Instead of jumping straight into career mode, I played arcade mode for a while. Now, this menu is pretty simple to use, and it’s is very easy to navigate. You get to choose from 4 games modes. Single Race, Time Trial, Drift Trial and Split Screen. Yes, that’s right guys, Split Screen. That’s a pretty rare feature today what with online gaming taking over. In single race, you can choose from your favourite cars, a selection of arcade cars, or cars from your garage. There isn’t that much of a choice in the arcade car selection, but it does hold host to some cool cars. You get to choose from the gran turismo original tracks, a selection of real world tracks, city tracks, snow and dirt tracks and to my surprise, your own tracks. The same goes for all the other modes in arcade. You get very basic tuning functions such as tyre type and ABS and other little things, and there are 3 difficulty levels. Pretty basic arcade mode to be honest.

Now, the actual racing is what you have bought this game for, and I shall review that. Did you play Gran Turismo 5 Prologue? Because if you did, then you will be very familiar with this game. I was very disappointed with this. The physics engine doesn’t seem to have had much of a revamp in the 5 or so years since Prologue was released. The handling feels very heavy, but with that it’s very easy to spin your car. I’m not too sure what it’s like in real life, but this is pretty annoying in a game. However, one thing they have kinda got right, or fun as it should be said, is their dirt engine. When you are racing on dirt or snow, the cars are pretty easy to slide along and it’s incredible fun. I mean, it’s not the best dirt engine around, but this is still very fun. Especially with the drift trials. They are a party game in themselves.

Something that was shown off was the weather engine and the change of light. These two features alone get a part in the review because of what they actually add to the game. When rain starts, it doesn’t just start full on like in other racing games (need for speed underground 2), it gently brings it in and then it can start thrashing should it wish to. This really affects the handling and causes your car to be more likely to slide. It is in fact very similar to the weather engine used in the F1 2010 game, which is fantastic. Now, the change of light is also epic. The way the sun sets, and the lights come on is epic, and not just that, but the lights reflect off dust clouds and road signs and it looks the balls. It is the most advanced light feature I have ever seen in a game like this.

Something else that was bragged about was the amount of detail put into the cars, eventually bringing it the title of most realistic looking racing game of this generation. I must admit, I am a little disappointed here as well. You get two classes of cars in the game. Standard and Premium. The premium cars hold up to the most realistic looking racing game as the in car detail is spectacular, and nothing has been missed out. Even when you look behind you see the back seats and the rear of the car. On these premium cars, there are a few extra features too, such as working windscreen wipers and a horn. That’s right, you can beep the horn throughout the race, annoying all the other racers. However, these features don’t appear on all the cars. The standard cars, which make up the most part of the selection only have the outside. You can’t even get behind the steering wheel. Compared to Forza 3, this is pants. Literally, pants, and coming from a game where it says it goes into extreme detail on the cars.

The career mode is very similar to that of forza 2. Some races are only accessible when you reach a certain level as a driver. This gives the game some form of progression, which is nice. However, the menu is scattered all over the place on the home page, and can be very confusing when trying to find your garage as some of the options aren’t labelled.  In career mode, you unlock special races which are races designed to test you. Now, these races are really cool. One of them is a camper van race on the top gear test track. That’s awesome fun, and another is a karting race. The issue with these races is that they are shown as being a huge part of the game, but they aren’t. They are only special races. Well, up until the professional races that is, i haven’t got any further than that.

The car customisation isn’t better than forza, and is actually still at a very basic level. You can tune up your cars by buying parts and such unlike the prologue, but other than that, it isn’t too good for the amount of time we’ve waited for the game. The theatre mode returns so you can save and watch your replays back, especially if you did something awesome. A feature i haven’t been able to test is the Playstaion Eye feature. Apparently you can look left and right just by turning your head or something. That’s cool, but i’m sure it’ll get really confusing should you turn to look at your cat, or to get a quick drink on a straight. Another feature i haven’t used is the track builder. I can only imagine what it will be like, but i’ll leave that for you to comment and tell me about.  On top of that, you can play the game in stereoscopic 3D if you have the capabilities. I tried that out at eurogamer and it was awesome, especially the view that overlooks the whole car. The car popped out the screen while the track went into the screen.

All in all, a 6 year wait for a game is pretty rare, especially when it is promised time and time again. Considering they pushed the release date again and again, the game doesn’t really hold up to it’s expectation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic game, but doesn’t really beat anything else out at the moment, especailly Forza 3. The handling is heavy, the cars are too easy to spin, the graphics are good, but too rich. I’m giving this game a 7.1/10.

HTC HD7 Review

So, I acquired the HTC HD7 on release date, and replaced my iPhone. One thing i never thought i would do, and it’s one thing that Tom said i would do. Made me laugh anyway

So, let’s get on with this. The HTC HD7 is pretty big as it rocks a 4.3″ WVGA screen. In comparison to the iPhone 4, the clarity isn’t too great, but the size really helps as it is nearly a whole inch bigger. And as this is the first thing you see, i feel they have done a good job there. After this, it’s the boot time of the phone. Now, the iPhone 4 booted a lot faster than the 3GS, but the HD7 is something else when it boots. It’s so much quicker than any other phone i have used before. It loads in about 10 seconds, which is a lot better than the 20 – 30 the iPhone took. Well, mine did anyway. One major factor in this speed is the 1GHz processor it has. It’s the same clock speed as the iPhone, but the other thing that assists with this is the fact the HD7 has RAM and ROM.

As far as i’m aware, the iPhone 4 has 512MB of RAM, which, supported by the processor and the OS, is still very snappy. The HD7 however, has 576MB RAM and 512MB ROM. The ROM is dedicated to the phone’s OS, windows phone 7, and really helps with the running of apps, and the like. Since using the HD7 i haven’t noticed any lag at all, and no crashes other than OS and App related mishaps. In terms of speed, the HD7 is lightning fast compared to the iPhone 4.

Now, the OS is something of awesome on the HD7. Windows Phone 7 is a massive improvement to Windows Phone 6.5. It’s a lot quicker, and far more user friendly. The main screen is called the Start Screen and on it you can pin your apps and other useful thing like your calender. On top of that you can re-arrange them to how you want them. This is very similar to iOS and Android, but it has a fresh feel with the updating images and such. If you swipe left, you get your menu that has all your apps on. And this is good for the apps you don’t use that often. They are stored alphabetically, which makes them very easy to find. The one thing that is lacking on the main interface is folders. I would like to keep similar apps in folders, like on the iPhone, but you can’t win them all.

There are two features of this phone, and windows phone 7 that i love. The first is the facebook integration. It’s very similar to that of WebOS, but with a few awesome extras. Right, so all your contacts sync with facebook, as they all go into your contact list on the phone. It also downloads their contact pictures off facebook to, so don’t worry about taking photos of everyone you know. Here is where it gets good though. Straight from the contact list, you can write on your mates wall. This is pretty swell, and loads faster than loading up an app, so if you need to get to someone on facebook, it’s simple and fast. Just to top this feature off, microsoft made it so your friends news feed is in the contact list as well. It’s superb! I know what everyone is doing without having to open an app.

For me, one of the most intriguing features is the Xbox Live app. This is real Xbox Live. And with the Xbox Live Extras app, it just gets better. From your phone, you can see your gamerscore, message your Xbox Live friends and earn achievements from the Xbox Live games! It’s AMAZING!!! The games, are brilliant. I have 3 myself, and need to get more, but i don’t have the funds. From the games i have played, they are brilliant. And with the Xbox Live features, i see developers taking the platform in their stride and making some awesome games. It was said that you can start playing a game on your xbox and then continue on your phone later, how true that is at this time, isn’t clear, but that would be epic.

I haven’t covered all the features here, but i’ll give a quick run down now:

  • The phone has a 4.3″ WVGA touch screen that just blows away most competition
  • It uses Dolby Mobile technology for crystal clear phone calls
  • It sports Windows Phone 7, which is brilliant and a real contender in the market
  • Facebook, contacts and e-mails sync effortlessly
  • The OS up-dates over the air, which is useful if a computer isn’t handy
  • Records 720p videos and has a 5 megapixel camera
  • Has xbox live integration which gives for fantastic games
  • Has a built in FM Radio receiver for on the go listening to the radio

Overall, this is the best phone i have had in a while. Some of the features are just awesome. It’s a shame the multi-tasking is a lame/non-existent and the Internet Explorer is on there. I’d give it a solid 7.5/10

Call Of Duty: Black Ops review

So, one of the biggest releases this year was Call Of Duty: Black Ops. Now, on a personal level, I don’t like the Call Of Duty games at all. And i thought this was going to be another one that i didn’t like, but it surprised me.

So, when release day finally came, my friend was all like “do you wanna go to the black ops midnight launch with me?” So me being me, went along for the ride. I took some of my older games so if I decided to buy it I wouldn’t have to pay too much. And guess what, i did end up buying it that night. Mental, I know, but I wanted to see what the fuss was about.

Anyway, upon playing it I found that it is a lot more than I expected it could be. A lot more. Firstly, the campaign is awesome. The story has so many twists and turns in it, it’s like a country road somewhere here in Britain. On top of that, the characters are very well-developed from the very beginning. The game really draws you in from the start, and makes you want to find out what happens. I completed it on hardened in two sittings. Now, i’m not saying it’s an easy game, i’m saying that i wanted to get to the end to find out what happens. It’s that good, and seriously, the ending is incredible.

Normally in a Call Of Duty game though, the story blows, just like with Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2, so it relies quite heavily on the gameplay itself. Not, in terms of first person shooters, this game is more advanced than your basic shooter, but less advanced than a really good shooter. It sits pretty comfortably in the middle, and it does it quite well too. The few new features they have introduced are the dive. When sprinting, hold the crouch button and you dive to the floor into a prone stance. It’s pretty fun, especially when moving forward behind cover. Other than that, the game is very much the same as the others. The graphics aren’t great and the gameplay can get a bit intense, especially on the harder difficulties.

Another thing they have changed on this game, is the level progression in the multiplayer. Instead of having to use a certain weapon for a certain amount of kills to get a cool attachment, you can just buy it. Useful if you don’t have the patience to get 150 kills with a weapon before you can start using a scope or red dot sight. On top of that, the customisation has kinda gone all Halo on everyone. They have taken one of the best aspects of Halo, and applied it quite well to a modern war situation. You get to choose your weapon attachments, your side arms and even the colour of the weapons. Yes, that’s right, i’ve been killed by someone who had a purple gun. PURPLE!! It’s epic.

All the features we all know and love about Call Of Duty online are still there, and all the game types too. Treyarch have just added some more. There are Wager matches now. In these, you place a bet and get put in a random game type out of a choice of four. If you win, you win your money back, and then some! It can get quite addictive, so i made sure i played that before playing the other multiplayer modes.

Another thing that has made a return for this game is the Zombies mode. Yup, that’s right guys, the thing that made World At War worth playing has returned. And this time, it’s that little bit more epic. When you complete the campaign, you are greeted with a cut scene of epic proportions that involve a few people from history, and i must say it’s hilarious. This then takes you to a game of Zombies and you play as an ex-president. It’s very much the same as World At Wars zombie mode, but with an added hint of awesome in the way of characters. The zombies this time aren’t Nazi’s which is a shame, but there is supposed to be Nazi zombie mode with the Prestige edition. It’s a fun game type to play with three other people to see how long you survive.

All in all, i would say that Black Ops is a good game. Not game of the year, not by a long shot. But it is something special. The campaign mode really gives it pull as well, especially compared to all the other Call Of Duty games. On a whole, the multiplayer experience hasn’t changed much, but has some nice refreshing features added. For that the game gets 7.9/10. Like it’s good, but not that good.

Donkey Kong – Childhood years relived as a teenager!

When I was younger I didn’t play many video games other than occasional times sat down chilling with my Dad. I’d generally demand one of three games around then, these being Mario, Sonic, and Donkey Kong (Obviously something about side-scrolling gaming interested me as a child!). Back then I don’t think i had much idea as to what was going on other than the general move left to right thing that goes on in all the games, so unfortunately didn’t appreciate the NES version for what it was.. This however changed as the game was released on Gameboy Colour in 2000, a year that saw me frantically mashing buttons to get all of the letters to make up KONG, and swing across vines with precise timings!

With Donkey Kong being a game I’d enjoyed in ways through various points in my life, the announcement that it was being released on the Wii filled me with some joy. The Wii game promises to bring new levels and environments to explore, along with the next gen graphics that would be expected with a Wii release. One new feature that is being brought onto the Wii release is a two player mode that will allow both DK and Diddy to be controlled at the same time, rather than the players needing to switch between the two to progress through the level. The Two player aspect is something I’m personally looking forward to as I love playing through co-op style levels with friends! It’s part of the reason I found myself falling in love with Little Big Planet so much!

The game gets release on December 3rd, and I intend to review the game around then so you can expect a full review and rating on the overall gameplay after i’ve had a bit of time bashing through the levels! My only hope right now is that it maintains some of the roots that made it so popular with me, however this is something I’m not worrying about too much thanks to the E3 footage of the game!

Been craving more WarioWare?

In the run upto Christmas this year Nintendo will be releasing various treats for fans WarioWare: Do It Yourself. These treats will come in the form of weekly micro-games, available for game owners to download as in-game content over a wifi connection. Additionally, each game will come from a different European Wii/DSiWare Developer giving a better range of gameplay and challenges for people to take on as they play through levels with friends and family, or even alone!

The first game will go live Friday 19th November, with new ones going up weekly from then so make sure you don’t miss out and keep on top of downloading these potentially awesome microgames! I will be downloading them and hope to get a general overview review of them up by the end of the Christmas season (Figuring that’s better than flooding the blog with weekly short reviews!)

 

Is the YouTube Sub box letting content producers down?

For well over a year now it has often been noted that the YouTube sub box has failed; whether it be people saying videos didn’t appear for them, or people getting annoyed at lack of views.  I myself have often blamed the sub box failure on occasion for lack of views, especially with things that I find myself more proud of having made. In a way this blame kind of becomes a safety blanket, the easy excuse for lack of views without considering that maybe people just don’t like your videos anymore..

Of course peoples tastes change, people subscribe and unsubscribe multiple channels on a daily basis, but admittedly that doesnt necesarily explain why channels with 5k+ are only reaching interaction levels around 100. This combined with the fact people who view videos actually curse the sub box for making them miss the videos like just goes to show that perhaps this failure and lack of viewership is down to a problem that’s been long in need of repair. I mean… what were YouTube doing in the first place to break the sub box anyway?! All I know is that it’s been existant for more than a year now, with new glitches arising every now and again.. and no real acknowledgement of an issue from YouTube.

I kind of hoped that when they added the publish percentage to the videos page this would ment it and was their way of forcing it into sub boxes. Unfortunately, even when this did hit 100% I found people subscribed telling me on Twitter od Dailybooth that “It hadnt appeared” in their sub boxes… and now to add to this it would appear this feature is even broken for me as it merrily sits on 0%

I don’t have mutliple tens of thousands of viewers (and in some cases even that doesnt seem to be doing any good!) so when it does fail or my viewship dips i find myself hit hard, as unfortunately for me, it seems to always occur on videos im more proud of and have put more thought into. The only benefit to the failure is the relief it brings in knowing the lack of views and output of video isnt necessarily all to myself. All the same i still find it disheartening at times and just wish YouTube would bother to try and fix it.. after all the subscription box is something that sits at the hub of YouTube.. without it it’d be pure luck of the draw!

Entering a New World – Pokemon Black and White first impressions

Some franchises are huge, others are not so big. One of the big ones round at the moment, mainly in Japan, is Pokemon. In Japan, Pokemon Black and White are the new huge ones. According to their records over there, they have been the most pre-ordered DS games so far, and the fastest selling. So what is all the hype about? I’ll tell you!

First thing i noticed was the new art style they are using for the opening. And it’s fantastic. They have gone from the really cartoony anime to a more serious style. And it works. Along with this, the actual graphics are much better than before. This is noticeable from the very beginning. Everything about this game just feels more refined, and it feels fresh.

Secondly, is the actual gameplay. Not a lot has changed in terms of the way movement is controlled, but there have been some major changes in the battle system and the menu has been completely overhauled. The menu is completely touch screen again, and can be controlled with the D pad, and it all feels more flashy. They have really developed the little aspects of the menu to make it that bit more awesome. And i know it’s just a menu, but it is a good one. On top of the awesome menu, the Pokedex is now awesome too. It’s much easier to get from the very top to the bottom, and easier to find the pokemon you are looking for. It’s really quite a good feature now. With all the boring stuff aside, I can get to the battle system. It’s still a turn based system where you select from four moves, items, pokemon and run. However, the main changes are what types of battles there are. Now, there are wild double battles and triple battles with trainers. Now, i’ve only been in one triple battle, and i didn’t understand what was going on as it was all in Japanese, but it’s still pretty cool. On top of all that, and this is a biggun, they have developed the 3D aspect they introduced in Diamond and Pearl to a much more extreme level. Buildings have height, width and depth, and stuff gets bigger as you get closer to it, and smaller as you move away from it. I know it’s nothing new to the DS as it’s very similar in Animal Crossing DS, but this is a nice new feature to the pokemon games, and it makes them that much more enjoyable.

Something they have decided with this game is to have a completely separate set of pokemon. This means 156 new pokemon! Now, i’m not saying it’s a good thing or a bad thing that they have done this, but some of the new pokemon look bad-ass. Like, there’s one that looks like a cauliflower, there’s one that looks just like Casey off chuck, hell, there’s even one that looks like a sperm with a face on it. But, again, as they only have Japanese names at the moment, I don’t know their real names, but they are all wicked cool. And with this whole new set of pokemon, they have done something they haven’t done since red and blue. They have reset everything. You can only initially see and catch these 156 pokemon, and the route numbers have all been reset too. That’s right, route 1 is back.

So far, these games are pretty epic, and even though i have no idea what is going on, the story seems more developed than before. In terms of gameplay, they have developed it in such a way that everything feels fresh and new, and that’s what i believe they were trying to achieve. It doesn’t feel like a more developed Diamond and Pearl, it feels like the start of a brand new series. As soon as they become available in a language i can understand, you can expect a far more story based and feature fact review from me. I’m giving this game a good

8.9/10