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Final Fantasy XIII
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Played this after playing the PS3 version back when it first came out. Game itself is inferior to pretty much every FF game to date, but even moreso this Xbox 360 version is vastly inferior to the PS3 version I played with less detailed visuals, a blurry look to the whole game that makes it look like you're playing in standard definition on HDTVs, low quality FMV sequences that wouldn't look out of place on Youtube and of course the game comes on three discs!
A shoddy port of a game that wasn't great to begin with. The RPG equivalent of a corridor shooter... it's a boring mess.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game
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Played this on my PS3 when it came out many many months ago and enjoyed it but the experience was very shortlived and there's not much reason to go back to it after finishing, especially now that so many other great titles are coming out at this time of year. It was good for a laugh during the dry summer months though, but those are long past.
Sony PSPgo Console - Black
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Like it or not folks, digital downloading is the future of portable gaming and that's the truth of it. The Nintendo DS has shown that cartridges are long since past the point where they can produce games to keep in step with current technology and the original PSP's UMD drive has proven to be fairly cumbersome at times, with loading screens and excessive battery drainage. The PSPGo is an experimental console that gives us a look at how ALL handhelds will soon operate.
Ditching UMDs to use download only games, the PSPGo has boldly become the first dedicated gaming machine to make the inevitable leap to online distribution and it does so in spectacular fashion.
Feeling a lot smaller in the hands than old PSPs, the feel takes much getting used to, and the shiny finish will smudge to hell in a matter of minutes sadly. Plus, you'd be WELL advised to pick up an accessory pack with a screen protector and a wrist strap for safety purposes, becuase this machine feels a lot less durable than the old PSP ever did. It's design isn't perfect, but it's functionality more than makes up for it.
As of today, there are literally hundreds of downloadable games on offer for the PSPGo. From revamped favourite bite sized games from the iPod like Hero of Sparta, Fieldrunners and Tetris being available for less than 4 quid a piece to classic PS1 titles like Final Fantasy VII, G-Police and the Command and Conquer trilogy from about 3.50 each to full blown PSP titles like the recent marvels Gran Turismo and Motorstorm Arctic Edge to handheld masterpieces like God of War. It caters to some many tastes it is obscene, and the pricing is, for the most part, very reasonable, with a special offer giving you a free download of the full game of Gran Turismo PSP if you buy the PSP Go before 10/10/09, and a further deal giving you three more free titles on top of that if you already have(Or at least temporarily have access to) an older PSP, which runs for at least 3 or 4 months I think. Top this off with soon arriving online stores for downloading movies, TV shows and comic books and you've got a wealth of choice in one tiny little machine.
Obviously the price is EXTREMELY off putting, and I personally wouldn't have been so keen if I didn't get it at a massive discount, but trust me, this will see a price drop very quickly and when that happens you'd be a fool not to give it a try. It really is a fantastic piece of kit, and one that you'll get countless hours of fun out of.
Dissidia: Final Fantasy - Limited Collector's Edition
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Now HERE is how you do a fighting game on PSP. Gorgeous visuals, tons of variety in it's modes and unlockables, excellent multiplayer options, and a wealth of Final Fantasy fanservice.
It can be quite daunting to get to grips with at the start and the difficulty is at times unforgiving, but this game will last you months easily if you're prepared to lose yourself in it. I've logged six hours already, and I've yet to finish a single one of the games main story chapters(Of which there are a LOT), as the arcade mode and it's unlockable goods is proving entertaining enough on their own.
A superb game to kick off what is looking like the PSP's strongest games line up season ever between now and Christmas.
Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny
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First, this game both looks and plays incredibly, with probably the best visuals you've seen on a handheld game. It runs super smoothly and the level of detail in the character models is astounding.
However... the game modes on offer are very limited. There's no arcade mode, a rather unengaging "story" mode called Gauntlet, a 'trial mode' and little else beyond the versus and character creation stuff. It really is quite barren compared to the likes of Tekken Dark Resurrection or Naruto Ultimate Ninja Heroes 2 on PSP.
It's the best multiplayer fighter you'll find on PSP for sure, but if you're playing by yourself, this one probably won't last you a weekend.
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Infamous takes the usual, done to death sandbox city game and puts a fantastic new twist on proceeding by blending all the best elements from games like Assassin's Creed, Star Wars Force Unleashed and GTAIV with some traditional Sucker Punch gameplay traits from the classic Sly Racoon series and gives you a fairly unique power set to play around with in a huge, desolate, intricately designed city scape that has an incredible sense of scale to it and where no location is denied to you. This game has fun and freedom in huge doses and no mistake.
As to comparisons to the forthcoming 'Prototype'... I played Prototype this week during a demonstration I got to attend and while it is a decent game, it is far more generic a sandbox title than Infamous, with virtually no new ideas and visuals that are unexciting at best.
I don't doubt there are some that will prefer a more familiar approach to this type of game, but for sheer inventiveness and outright fun, Infamous is the daddy.
Toshiba XD-E500 Advanced Upscaling DVD Player
I bought this as I needed a decent quality multi-region DVD player with upscaling capabilities, and while this IS as good a DVD upscaler as you're likely to find, the mere suggestion that this player will somehow magically transform your DVD collection into a crystal clear 1080p outputting wonderland is pure, ignorant comedy.
Yes, this IS as 'close' to HD as you'll get for under a hundred quid, but don't be fooled into thinking you'll be getting anything other than a watered down substitute for the real thing. I've watched movies on DVD in this player and on Blu-Ray via my PS3, and there is simply no comparison between the two(Especially on my 50 inch Samsung HDTV, where you can really see the imperfections in DVD video encoding)), Blu-Ray really is the only way to go if you want ACTUAL HD movies.
A decent machine, but make sure you stay realistic about what you're actually getting.
Gears Of War 2 (Classics)
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Pretty much exactly like the first game in every way, but with a far heavier amount of scripted set pieces that make the entire boring affair feel like it's on rails, with the same enemies always in the same spot whenever you play a section. It gets real old real fast, and for a game as short as this, that's a very bad thing.
Visually, the game is detailed, but looks ridiculous, with massive characters that look like action figures rather than real people, with the most oversized hands I've ever seen. It's like a cartoon or something. So pretty, and yet so ugly at the same time.
Online is the same as last time, and pales compared to the likes of GTA 4 and Call of Duty 4.
All in all, another case of overhype by Microsoft that fails to match up to other titles that have been available for an age now.
Don't waste your money.
The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya: Volume 1
It would be easy to sneer at a show like Haruhi, but for a change this is an anime that has more than earned every ounce of praise heaped upon it.
Telling the story of a schoolboy known only by the nickname 'Kyon' and how he inadvertently becomes the whipping boy of hyperactive nut job schoolgirl Suzumiya Haruhi, a girl obsessed with the discovery of psychics, aliens, and time travellers at her school. In order to realise her goals, she forms the vaguely defined 'SOS brigade', a school club consisting of schoolmates Haruhi has forced to join. However, as the group members begin spending time together, Kyon begins to discover all is not as it seems, as the new members of the group, withdrawn bookworm Yuki Nagato, cute but timid Mikuru Asahina, and laid back Koizumi Itsuki are each respectively an alien android, a time traveller and a psychic who have all positioned themselves close to Haruhi due to her having an importance to the very fabric of reality itself that they each want to investigate and protect, all while preventing Haruhi from discovering anything is out of the ordinary.
Kyon is basically the original 'guy in over his head' in this scif if drama/comedy that manages to weave an exceptionally well thought out universe with an intriguing amount of mystery and some really fantastic characters together to give us one of the most entertaining anime series of recent years.
It looks incredibly colourful, has slick animation and a wonderful soundtrack combined with absolutely stellar voice acting in both Japanese and English. There is genuinely nothing I'd fault with this series.
Except perhaps... the temptation right from the off will be to watch the series in chronological order, as it is in on the main discs, but each volume of the series comes with a second disc containing the show in it's original TV broadcast order(Subtitled form only sadly), which arranged the episodes in a seemingly random order, but the way they were arranged actually heavily supported and heightened the show's love of and basis in the chaotic and the random. It's difficult to explain, but trust me, if you can, watch the broadcast order first, it helps immensely with the final episode alone(Episode six in chronological order).
A genuinely must have anime series.
Batman: Gotham Knight
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Batman Gotham Knight operates in much the same vein as The Matrix Trilogy's 'Animatrix' DVD special, in the sense that it provides a series of animated shorts based on the Batman Begins/The Dark Knight series of movies, with each short produced by a different Japanese anime studio. What Gotham Knight does differently though is to provide a running plot that ties each of these shorts together in small and subtle ways, so while you get six standalone shorts that can be enjoyed on their own, each one has it's own pieces of a larger story that comes together nicely at the climactic short 'Deadshot' to give a much more consistent, coherent experience than anything the Animatrix offered.
The stories are all written by veteran Batman writers from both the comics(Like Greg Rucka and Brian Azzarello) and the classic Paul Dini animated series(Alan Burnett) and the voice cast is even headed up by definitive Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy returning as the Dark Knight for what is likely the last time. They're all very well written and entertaining, each one offering a glimpse at different aspects of Bruce Wayne and Batman's dual lives and the methods he uses and the lengths he often has to go to just to survive doing what he does. In particular, the Azzarello written 'Working through pain' short is a fascinating look at a younger Bruce Wayne's time spent training with an outcast Indian healer in the workings of pain and how to control it that really gives fresh insight into the extremes taking on a mission like the Batman's would subject the human body to.
Animation wise, the shorts vary wildly, with each one offering completely different character designs for the characters and animation styles. They all look fantastic, but it can feel a little jarring seeing Bruce Wayne change both appearance and hair colour in the space of a couple of minutes. At worst, it can be a visually disjointed experience, but for the most part, you'll be too busy enjoying yourself to care.
I personally loved this movie, as it captures the spirit of Batman in a manner so perfect it shames the currently running 'The Batman' animated series completely.
A must see for any Bat-fans out there, and an excellent primer for the new movie arriving very soon. A great watch.