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)

PSP Go Review

Filed under: Playstation Portable Consoles — Tags: , , , , — Mike Cieply @ 22:45 January 24, 2010

“Sony’s new handheld successfully eliminates many of the older models’ faults, while creating a few of its own.”



PSP GO Screenshot - 1Pros

Design is very appealing; Downloading games is more convenient than leaving the house; Can play music, watch video, save photos; PlayStation Store has an enormous library; Stunning graphics near the PS2 level; Fantastic audio; Free, built-in Wi-Fi web browser; PS one games can be shared with the PS3 console; Faster loading times than other PSP models; Can be synced with a PS3 controller; Fast, smooth online multiplayer

Cons

Cost is way too expensive; Terribly short battery life, even in sleep mode; No method to transfer UMD games to the system

Summary

Sony releases a complete redesign for its veteran handheld, and hopes to bring the gaming community into a completely digital world.

Introduction

The PlayStation Portable has been out on the market for five years now. It has gone through two redesigns, which have enlarged screens and are overall smaller, among other things. The PSP has not done poorly by any means; it has just been completely overshadowed by the might of the Nintendo DS. Hoping to decrease the amount of defeat, Sony releases the innovative PSP Go, an innovative and totally redesigned platform that will fight the DS alongside the other PSP models.

PSP GO Screenshot - 3Features and Design

The most noticeable difference is obviously the appearance of the system. The Go has said good riddance to the flat, brick-like structure of previous models and has adapted a slide function. When closed, only the top portion is visible. This is where the speakers and the PS button are located, along with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi indicators. On the top of the console are the two shoulder buttons (which are very smooth and easy to use), a backlight button that can be pressed at any time, volume buttons, and a mute button. On the bottom are the headphone jack and the USB port (which only accepts a proprietary cable) for charging and connecting to a computer or PS3. On the left side are the M2 memory stick slot and the wireless switch for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Finally, the power slide is on the right side of the system. So far, the buttons are all extremely useful, and are positioned perfectly. When the Go is on, but has been closed, a clock will appear on the screen, and can be switched out to a calendar. When pushed up, the system’s true control panel is revealed. As before, the directional pad is on the far-left and the four action buttons on the far-right. In between these, from left to right, are the analog nub and the select and start buttons, respectfully. I’ve found that the select/start buttons are somewhat difficult to press, namely due to them being so close together, small, and barely elevated from the surface. In the direct center is the microphone. Overall, the design of the console receives the highest ratings, and is definitely an improvement from the PSP-3000, disregarding the smaller screen.

After you turn the PSP Go on and put in your information, the menu, the media bar, is revealed. This is where everything can be accessed. The PlayStation Store can be found on the far right, and then as you go left, many more options are displayed, such as the web browser, remote play, Skype, your music, video, and photo folders, and overall settings.

I’ll try to discuss these piece by piece. You can save a large amount of music, pictures, and videos to your Go with the 16GB it comes with, and store even more by purchasing a memory card. The photos can be saved from the internet, to be viewed at any time. They can also be downloaded for free from the Store. Any picture can be set as a background. Additionally, the Go can be connected directly to a digital camera for a quick transfer. The music is also great, but it is impossible to create a playlist of any kind without using the Media Go software packaged with the system. Although free, it is quite hard to manage. You can listen to music at the menu, but not during gameplay or while online.

PSP GO Screenshot - 2The amount of things the PSP Go can do is simply staggering. Any potential buyer of one must know all these before purchasing. In fact, everyone should. With its Wi-Fi, it can browse the internet with fairly quick speed. While online, one can save bookmarks, and images to their hard drive. Surprisingly, you can have three tabs up at the same time, for optimum browsing. Furthermore, the PSP Go can do a handful of neat things when connected to a PlayStation 3. For example, connecting any PS3 controller and PSP Go to the PS3 system will allow the PS3 controller to function with any PSP game. While amazing, this has its drawbacks. The right analog cannot be used, due to the PSP’s one analog nub; the fact that this process must be redone every time the controller is synced back to the PS3; and the very requirement of the PS3 itself. Also, the PSP Go can be used to “play” the PS3. When connected to the PS3, the Go can perform Remote Play, which allows the PS3 to be accessed, in a sense, on the Go. While you can’t play games, you can take advantage of nearly every other offering that’s on the PS3.

The PlayStation Store offers an enormous library of content that will certainly satisfy everyone. Besides games, one can choose from downloadable content, demos, themes, wallpapers, game videos, trailers, and even some game music. A majority of this is free and relatively small in size, making it perfect for a quick download.

But of course, the games are truly the most important item, the Go has plenty. One can purchase the majority of PSP games from the pre-Go era, along with every game released after October 1, 2009. Most of the games are priced fairly, with a lot of them matching or even beating the prices at retail. Full PSP games can take anywhere from one to two hours to download, which quickly becomes bothersome. Although this is necessary and more convenient, it can make one long for the UMD instead. Perhaps my favorite feature, however, is the “PS one Classics.” This library offers some of the original PlayStation’s greatest games, a great feeling of nostalgia, and it is constantly growing. On top of all that, the games are extremely low-priced, for only a fraction of the price they would be on eBay. Impressively, the games, once purchased, can be downloaded to the PSP Go along with the PS3. This option is extremely beneficial to owners of both consoles, due to the possibility of save data transfer. Coupled with fully customizable controls and screen size, these games add so much to the system. Depending on size, they can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour to fully download. Besides the full games and the Classics are the Minis and the PSN Exclusives. The Exclusives are relatively smaller games that were developed for the PSP, or occasionally the PSP and PS3. They are also relatively low-priced. The Minis are Sony’s answer to the sensation of the iPhone and iPod Touch games and apps that have been downloaded billions of times. These are extremely small games that cost next to nothing (except for Tetris, which has received the highest pricing due to its extreme popularity and ability to sell). These will hardly take up any space on the PSP’s memory, and take only a short time to download. While the PSP itself does not have nearly as many amazing games than other consoles, the PSP Go offers the majority of them and will forever be obtaining more and more titles.

The console comes with 16GB of memory built into it. For the avid, core gamer that purchases games frequently, this may not be enough. Fortunately, it can be doubled by purchasing Sony’s own M2 card. However, the PSP offers so few core titles that many will definitely not come across this problem. Though it has existed for five years, the PSP offers the smallest library of games than any other current-generation platform. Furthermore, there are really only a handful of critically-acclaimed titles. While many more great games will be released, the lack of good content is unnerving. On the other hand, this information is only based on sales figures and reviews aggregators, and what constitutes a “good” game is a trait that relies solely in the consumer. While it cannot be denied that the Go has a smaller library than others, the selection really should not hinder anyone from purchasing the system.

PSP GO Screenshot - 4In short, the PSP Go is a brilliant entertainment device. With the ability to store music, games, movies, photos, and much more, it is a tremendously useful system. Some may think that the gaming community is not yet ready for the digital download stage, but I agree with Sony. By abandoning the disc and the cartridge, Sony has brought the world into a whole new era. The ways of the PSP Go are the ways of the future, no one can deny that. While slow sales and lukewarm response will thwart some of its success, everyone can appreciate Sony’s efforts in giving video games an evolution.

Technical Specifications

Size:

128 mm (W) x 69 mm (H) x 16.5 mm (D)

Weight:

158g

CPU:

PSP® CPU (System clock frequency 1 – 333MHz)

Memory:

64MB main memory

Flash Memory:

16GB

Display:

3.8 inch, 16:9 full transparent type

TFT drive:

480 x 272 pixels, approximately 16,770,000 million colors displayed

Sound:

Built-in stereo speakers

Main Input / Output:

Wi-Fi (802.11b), Bluetooth, USB2.0, Memory Stick Micro M2, Microphone

Bluetooth:

Bluetooth 2.0

Main Connectors:

Multi-functional connector, headset jack (stereo mini jack)

Key/Switches:

Directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left), Analog Stick, Enter keys (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square), START button, SELECT button, PS button, POWER/HOLD switch, WLAN switch, Display button, Sound button, Volume +/- buttons x 1

Power Sources:

Internal rechargeable battery

Supported Profile:

PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) Game, Video

Access Control:

Region Code, Parental Control

Wireless Communication:

Infrastructure mode, Ad hoc mode (connects up to 16 consoles)

Supplied Accessories:

AC adaptor, USB Cable

Supported Video Codec:

Memory Stick Video Format: MPEG-4 Simple Profile (AAC LC), H.264/MPEG-4 AVC Main Profile (AAC LC); MP4 Format: MPEG-4 Simple Profile (AAC LC), H.264/MPEG-4 AVC Main Profile – CABAC only – (AAC LC) / Baseline Profile (AAC LC); AVI: Motion JPEG (Linear PCM or µ-Lau)

Supported Music Codec:

Memory Stick Audio Format: ATRAC3™, ATRAC3plus™, MP3, MP3 (MPEG-1/2 Audio Layer3), MP4 (MPEG-4 AAC), WAVE (Linear PCM), WMA (Windows Media Audio 9 Standard Only)

Supported Photo Codec:

JPEG, TIFF, BMP, GIF, PNG

Ratings

Graphics – 10/10

Audio – 10/10

Variety of Games – 8/10

Accessories – 10/10

Price – 5/10

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Rating: 8.9/10 (12 votes cast)
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Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)