Reviews for Gamers by Gamers…

A Graphical Warrior: Colin McRae: Dirt 2 Review

Filed under: Colin McRae: Dirt 2,PC Games,Playstation 3 Games,Xbox 360 Games — Tags: , , , , , — Kellen Beck @ 16:32 February 9, 2010

Format

PC, Xbox 360, PS3, DS, PSP

Style

Racing

Modes

Single Player, Online

Pros

Fantastic graphics (DirectX 11), Flashback ability.

Cons

Not much variety in courses, some aspects are not really clear

Colin Mac Rae - Screenshot 1Introduction

Codemasters released Colin McRae: Dirt 2 in September 2009 for consoles, and on Windows Live in December. There are no surprises with this game, it’s a racer, an excellent one at that…

Gameplay

Starting out, you put in your name and what you would like other drivers to call you. This is odd because your name could be Greg, but the drivers would call you John; it doesn’t make much sense. Once you start racing, you won’t want to stop. You start on easy difficulty races and work your way up to pro by completing the X Games tournaments. As you race, you earn experience and gain levels which grants you access to more regions to race in and new tournaments. After you beat the last X Games tournament you can still continue and gain levels and get achievements.

Winning races also gives you money, car accessories, and on the rare occasion, a car. You can’t upgrade your car parts, but you can choose what full-body advert (a liverie) is displayed on your car, and what bobble-head you want inside it. The only upgrades you can get are whole other cars, and you can just save your money and get the best of each type, instead of buying each one. By the end you should have a few million dollars, so you can go back and buy them all .

There are 5 main race types in Dirt 2: Rally, Rallycross, Trailblazer, Raid and Landrush. Rally, Rallycross and Raid are long non-circuit courses that are pretty challenging. The Rally races include a passenger who tells you what turns and jumps are coming, and you are not racing against others (staggered starts). Rallycrosses are the exact opposite; you race against 8 others and you have no passenger. Trailblazers are roughly the same as Rallies, except for the cars you can use. Raids only use the big cars (trucks and buggies) and are also non-circuit races, but, like a Rallycross, you race against 8 others. And lastly the Landrush, which is the same as the Raid, but takes place on a circuit. There are two special races, Gatecrasher, which requires you to break through stacks of blocks while being timed, and Domination, an elimination race.

Colin Mac Rae - Screenshot 2Compared to other racing games like Forza, the choice of vehicles isn’t very expansive, and the stats aren’t very detailed. The different cars are a mix of massive trucks, buggies, sleek compacts and off-road compacts. Each car is graded out of ten in three categories: Top Speed, Acceleration, and Drivability; don’t expect any more detail than that.

After playing for a while and getting bored of the same old grid, you should try the online. Finally a racing game has gotten it right; Dirt 2’s online racing is plain and simple, just get in and race. You are limited to the Rallycross, Raid and Landrush races, which makes sense. There are also random ranked races you can do, and it takes you time and places you on the leaderboard.

A unique feature incorporated into Dirt 2 is the Flashback. When your car is damaged beyond racing conditions, or you spun out and lost your place, really whenever you feel like it, you can use Flashback to rewind a few seconds. This helps a lot so you don’t have to keep restarting the race if you mess up. Sometimes the crash cut scene goes on for too long and the flashback does not help, and that can get annoying. When you hit things like other cars, walls or rocks, your car gets either wheel damage or engine damage. Wheel damage just annoys your steering, and the engine damage doesn’t really do anything. After the race, if your car is damaged, is just seems to repair itself as opposed to the original Dirt. This is another one of those odd things that Dirt 2 seemed to overlook.

Graphics/Audio

Colin Mac Rae - Screenshot 3On the Xbox360 and PS3, Dirt 2 looks fantastic, but on the PC it looks more than fantastic. If you happen to have a new graphics card that supports DirectX 11 graphics, this game is like putting a juicy steak in front of a starving dog, and that starving dog is you. Every cloud of dust and splash of water is so real, it could bring tears to your eyes. It was a great idea to wait out the few months and update the graphics to DX11, because it’s the best animation I’ve ever seen.

The other racers in the game are voiced by the real racers, and voiced well. Pounding engines and screeching tires make up most of the sound in the game, and they are done very nicely. There is a slew of music in the game which can be easily muted or changed. It should be noted that Dirt 2 is the first PC game that uses Blue Ripple Sound’s Rapture 3D sound engine by default, and it completely immerses you in the thrill of the race.

Ratings

Graphics – 10/10

Audio – 10/10

Gameplay – 8/10

Replayability – 8/10

Final Score – 9/10

Required Specs

OS:

Windows XP, Vista or 7

CPU:

Intel Pentium D 2.6Ghz, AMD Athalon 64 X2

Memory:

1GB XP, 2GB Vista and 7

GPU:

ATI Radeon X1600, NVidia GeForce 6800

Hard Drive Space:

10GB

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Rating: 10.0/10 (5 votes cast)
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Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)

Nintendo DS Lite – One Step Closer to Perfectness…

Filed under: Nintendo DS Consoles — Tags: , , , , , , — Mike Cieply @ 16:46 December 22, 2009

Pros

Display panels clearly larger than original model; Overall size smaller; Several more screen brightness settings; Design exceptionally dazzling; Extended battery life; Colors brighter, more pronounced, and more noticeable; Weighs less; Buttons easier to press; Start button relocated to prevent accidental shutdown; Massive selection of colors; Affordable

Cons

May be too small for some hands; More likely to break than original model; Game Boy Advance game paks protrude from bottom by about a centimeter

Summary

Two years after mild success with the platform, Nintendo releases a stunning upgrade that improves the console in almost every way.

Nintendo DS LiteIntroduction

The Nintendo DS was once considered a failure. The system had been out on the market for two years, lagging behind Sony’s PlayStation Portable in sales, and there was an obvious lack of quality games developed for it. Coupling these reasons with its unattractive, awkward design and low-quality display panels, it’s no wonder why the DS hadn’t take off like previous consoles. However, in 2006, Nintendo thrilled the world with the DS Lite, a redesigned model of the platform. The gorgeous new system, together with a few AAA games, launched the DS to a new success. The DS Lite continues to sell now more than ever, even three years after its initial release. Nintendo has reclaimed the throne yet again.

Features and Design

Gamers will first see the difference as soon as they open the box. When closed, the DS Lite is considerably smaller than the original. Furthermore, the top half no longer has that strange, curved shape to it; it has been replaced with a smooth, flat shell. In fact, the entire shape is very straight and rectangular, but with its smooth and rounded edges, fits into your hands comfortably.


However, one does not witness the true change until they open up the DS Lite. Both screens are a great deal bigger than last model’s, and the presentation is far better. The colors are all displayed much more smoothly and clearly, and the graphics grab your attention this time around and will appear crisp and striking. With four different brightness settings, the DS Lite can be used in all situations, indoors, and outdoors. The original DS’s poor backlight quality has been totally fixed, and then some.

Nintendo DS Lite ButtonsAdditionally, the buttons and switches on the bottom half have been moved and reorganized which makes everything much more convenient. Rather than the two rectangular Start and Select buttons above the A-B-X-Y group, they have been relocated to the bottom right and now take the shape of smaller circles. Perhaps the most appreciated change was the movement of the Power button. Originally located right above the directional-pad (which was the source of many accidental shutdowns), it is now seen on the right side of the system. Furthermore, one needs to slide the switch up, rather than pressing it, which completely erases this old problem. All buttons are noticeably easier to press down, and are very soft and enjoyable to touch. Revisions such as these are a blessing to gamers, and we should all thank Nintendo for their efforts.

A further evident modification is the extended battery life. The original DS’s 850 mAh battery would only allow the console to last for roughly ten to twelve hours, after a full four-hour charge. However, the DS Lite, on only a three-hour charge, can survive from fifteen to even nineteen hours of gameplay on its 1000 mAh battery. Hours such as these are simply astounding, and this is definitely one of the greatest changes to the DS.

Besides the substantial improvements, there are several minor ones. For instance, the volume switch protrudes from the system, making it easier to adjust the audio level. Another improvement is stylus. The stylus is now longer, and thicker than the original one, making it much easier to hold on to and use. Furthermore, it is held in the right side of the DS, as opposed to the top, which makes it incredibly effortless to remove and put away. Also, the mic has been repositioned to the direct center of the console, for natural usage.

In the midst of all the positives, there are of course a few negatives. While the DS Lite comes close to perfectness, one notices a few bothersome details; the largest of them being the protuberance of the Game Boy Advance game pak. When inserted into the bottom of the console, the top of the cartridge will stick out by about a centimeter, ruining the system’s smooth, sleek, rectangular shape. Though this may look unappealing, it does not affect gameplay whatsoever, and your hands will never touch the protruding portion. Another negative aspect is that for those of you who were used to holding the original DS will have a difficult transition to the DS Lite. Rather than supporting the entire DS with your palm and all your fingers, one only needs to use the very tips of the fingers to balance the device, due to its feathery weight. In the end, the DS Lite will be more comfortable to hold than the original, but the transition may take some time. The only other downside to the product is that it is less secure. The single hinge is much more likely to crack and break that the previous multiple-hinged DS. All of these negatives, however, really are not that significant, and should not sway you from purchasing this remarkable platform.Nintendo DS Lite GameBoy Advance Game

The DS Lite is exactly what an upgrade should be. It took everything wrong with the design of the original system and improved it tenfold. With improved visuals, lengthy battery life, glossy and sleek figure, bigger screens, and improved button interface, the DS Lite becomes one of Nintendo’s greatest consoles created. Everyone who owns an original or even thought about owning one should without a doubt purchase this upgrade. Everyone should understand the power and majesty that is the Nintendo DS Lite, the savior of the Nintendo handheld console.

Technical Specifications

Size (closed):

5.2″ (133 mm) wide / 2.9″ (21.5 mm) long / 0.85″ (73.9 mm) tall

Weight:

218 g / 7.69 oz

Upper Screen:

Backlit, 3-inch, transparent reflective TFT color LCD with 256×192 pixel resolution and .24 mm dot pitch

Touch Screen:

Backlit, 3-inch, transparent reflective TFT color LCD with 256×192 pixel resolution and .24 mm dot pitch with transparent analog touch screen

Brightness:

Four settings

Color:

Capable of displaying 260,000 colors

Memory:

RAM – 4 MB; VRAM – 656 KB

Wireless Communication:

IEEE 802.11 and Nintendo’s proprietary format; wireless range is 30 to 100 feet; multiple players can play multiplayer games using just one DS game card

Controls:

Touch screen, embedded microphone for voice recognition, A/B/X/Y face buttons, plus control pad, L/R shoulder buttons, Start and Select buttons

Input/Output:

Ports for both Nintendo DS game cards and Game Boy Advance Game Paks, terminals for stereo headphones and microphone

Other Features:

Embedded Pictochat software that allows up to 16 users to chat at once; embedded real-time clock; date, time and alarm; touch-screen calibration

CPUs:

Main CPU – ARM 9, 67 MHz; Secondary CPU – ARM 7, 33 MHz

Sound:

Stereo speakers providing virtual surround sound, depending on the software

Battery:

Lithium ion battery delivering five to nineteen hours of play on a three-hour charge, depending on use; power-saving sleep mode; AC adapter

Languages:

English, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, Italian

Color:

Dozens of combinations of colors, and many limited edition colors

Ratings

Graphics 9/10
Audio 8/10
Variety of Games 10/10
Accessories 10/10
Price 10/10

Buy the Nintendo DS Lite From Amazon.com

Buy the Nintendo DS Lite From Amazon.co.uk

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Rating: 10.0/10 (4 votes cast)
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Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)

Nintendo DS Review – The Lowdown on this great Bundle

Filed under: Nintendo DS Consoles — Tags: , , , , — Mike Cieply @ 00:08 December 17, 2009

Pros

Affordable; Large library of games; Touch screen is easy and fun to use; Built-in microphone; Online capabilities; Many innovative games; Two LCD display panels , GBA backwards compatibility; Long battery life; Free Wi-Fi service; Great stereo sound quality; Many online multiplayer features, such as Download Play and Pictochat; Many accessories like the headset and rumble pak

Cons

Poorer graphics than the Sony PSP; Does not have nearly as many features as PSP; Many “shovelware” games; Uses primitive cartridges as opposed to discs; No analog stick; Web browser will cost you; Unable to connect to GameCube with the GBA games that have this ability; No accessible internal storage; Button layout can occasionally feel awkward

Summary

This affordable, easy-to-use handheld system will certainly please gamers of all types with its huge selection of games spanning many genres…

Nintendo DS

Nintendo DS

Introduction

Nintendo’s latest handheld console has driven gamers and non-gamers alike mad, with its unique gameplay and features. The device boasts current-generation graphics with dual screens; the bottom being a touch screen. Nintendo has been working on the system for years, and everyone can appreciate the value of their labour.

Features and Design

Of the two current handhelds, Nintendo’s is definitely not the most powerful. Its graphics and audio will, to some, pale in comparison to Sony’s PSP. Although the device may be technically inferior, the DS offers a unique way to play games, and has many of its own features absent from the PSP that certainly entice many to purchase it.

Perhaps the main reason one would acquire a DS would be the touch screen. The bottom display panel allows the player to interact with the game themselves, which adds a great deal of fun and creativity to most of the system’s library. Although many games do not use this concept to its full potential (or exploit it too much), the touch screen is an extremely innovative idea that helped the DS sell over one hundred million units. Additionally, for those of you who prefer classic gameplay, many games allow the use of the directional-pad instead.

Another strong selling point is the Game Boy Advance slot, allowing gamers to play titles from Nintendo’s previous handheld. These games can be played on either screen, complete with backlight. This feature adds a strong sense of nostalgia to the console, and all gamers will benefit from this.

The system’s microphone is another interesting feature. Some games (such as WarioWare: Touched!, or Star Fox Command) implement this directly into the gameplay, while others (such as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, or Pokémon Diamond/Pearl/Platinum), use it as a type of communication when playing online. This inclusion offers an online experience similar to that of home consoles. Also, it should be noted that the first two models of the PSP did not include any microphone at all.

As aforementioned above, the platform has compatibility with Wi-Fi, which opens up many doors in the multiplayer aspect. Using Wi-Fi to connect to Nintendo Wi-Fi connection, gamers who own a DS can connect with friends and strangers alike in many different ways. First and foremost is multiplayer in a game. In some games, players can compete against others online. The DS connects to other DS consoles across the world, so one can virtually play with anybody, anywhere. You can also save friend codes, which allows you to quickly connect with people you personally are familiar with. Another interesting feature is “Download Play,” which allows two DS systems to play the same game together, even if only one person actually owns the game. For example, someone who does not own Mario Kart DS can still race against a friend of theirs, if that friend owns the game. This feature is enormously helpful and great addition to competitive gaming. Pictochat, another feature, allows up to sixteen people to enter a chat room and communicate by either typing, or drawing images on the touch screen. There are four chat rooms total. The only drawback is that players must be within sixty feet of each to access the same chat room. Finally, Nintendo offers a web browser for the system. The Opera-based internet browser is inserted into the Game Boy Advance cartridge slot, and allows one to access the internet, which is certainly a welcomed addition.

Besides the main features mentioned above, the DS menu includes a customizable clock and calendar. The system, additionally, allows owners to create profiles, which can customize settings to someone’s own personal taste. The DS also has multiple backlight settings and an alarm clock.

In short, the Nintendo DS is a tremendously innovative and ground-breaking platform, with a massive selection of software that is constantly growing. When you get right down to it, Nintendo has achieved their goal. They have created a console that redefines the way people play games and, ultimately, is a load of fun. The Nintendo DS is a must-have for all gamers, whether they have been gaming for decades or are just thinking about starting. The DS will live down in history as one of the greatest consoles, let alone handhelds, ever developed.

Technical Specifications

Size (closed):

5.85″ wide / 3.33″ long / 1.13″ tall

Weight:

280 grams

Upper Screen:

Backlit, 3-inch, semitransparent reflective TFT color LCD with 256×192 pixel resolution and .24 mm dot pitch

Touch Screen:

Backlit, 3-inch, semitransparent reflective TFT color LCD with 256×192 pixel resolution and .24 mm dot pitch with transparent analog touch screen

Brightness:

Two settings

Color:

Capable of displaying 260,000 colors

Memory:

RAM – 4 MB; VRAM – 656 KB

Wireless Communication:

IEEE 802.11 and Nintendo’s proprietary format; wireless range is 30 to 100 feet; multiple players can play multiplayer games using just one DS game card

Controls:

Touch screen, embedded microphone for voice recognition, A/B/X/Y face buttons, plus control pad, L/R shoulder buttons, Start and Select buttons

Input/Output:

Ports for both Nintendo DS game cards and Game Boy Advance Game Paks, terminals for stereo headphones and microphone

Other Features:

Embedded Pictochat software that allows up to 16 users to chat at once; embedded real-time clock; date, time and alarm; touch-screen calibration

CPUs:

Main CPU – ARM 9, 67 MHz; Secondary CPU – ARM 7, 33 MHz

Sound:

Stereo speakers providing virtual surround sound, depending on the software

Battery:

Lithium ion battery delivering six to ten hours of play on a four-hour charge, depending on use; power-saving sleep mode; AC adapter

Languages:

English, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, Italian

Color:

Silver and Black

Ratings

Graphics 8/10
Audio 8/10
Variety of Games 9/10
Accessories 10/10
Price 10/10

Buy the Nintendo DS from Amazon.com

Buy the Nintendo DS from Amazon.co.uk

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Rating: 10.0/10 (6 votes cast)
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Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)