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Need For Speed Shift 2: Unleashed
7 New from
I am a huge fan of the racing genre and I have a fairly powerful gaming machine. I sometimes play Need for Speed Hot Pursuit on PC and previously owned Need for Speed Shift on Xbox 360 (which I played to death).
I had high hopes for this title on the PC as the Xbox 360 is somewhat limited hardware and is a few years behind what a modern PC can do. However, it seems that EA have not taken this into account with the PC release.
Visually, it is just like looking at the first game on Xbox 360 but on a PC. The graphics are DX9 when we have had DX11 for circa 2 years. The textures are basic and there are limited visual effects. Even maxing out all settings and lashings of anisotropic filtering or anti-aliasing are not enough to improve the underlying look.
On the play side, the menus have been simplified from the first version but the selection of race events seems less clear than in the first version.
You begin with limited money and a humble choice of vehicles. You must go through a driving assessment before you begin. Once into the racing, you remember the 'feel' first introduced into NFS Shift and something previously lacking in all racers bar the highly rated Gran Turismo on Playstation.
The racing experience and handling of the cars is excellent, so I see this as closer to a simulation than arcade racer and perhaps the closest rival is Forza Motorsport. Why are the graphics such a basic console port?
Test Drive Unlimited 2
2 New from
Thankfully, as a PC owner I can tell that the graphics are better than the first outing.
Feedback about the controller not working should be ignored. It is true that if you have an Xbox 360 controller that it does not set it up by default...you need to go into the options and select it.
The graphics are stunning. The selection of cars on offer (excluding Lamborghini sadly) is mouth watering. The driving experience is slightly more realistic than TDU1. The police seem to care about traffic violations in this version though and not just crashes as in TDU1 (i.e. run a red light and you start to attract attention). Offroad is an interesting add-on and compensates for the lack of motorcycles. You can open/close the top of your car, lower the windows, honk the horn and even indicate!
I would have given this 5 stars but for two things. Firstly, you get a taste of Italian exotica at the beginning and then need to lower yourself into one of three truly miserable cars...from which it takes a long time to earn enough money to buy something 'respectable'. Secondly, the driving schools for acquiring licences to enter championships is ridiculous and detracts from the 'pick up and play' ethos of the original.
All in all, I will probably lose several weeks of my life playing this.
Avenged Sevenfold - CD
20 New from
I have to admit that I did not like Avenged Sevenfold until I heard the 'Nightmare' single on TV. My metal taste is much more 'vanilla' bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Machine Head, Fear Factory, Disturbed etc.
I have owned this CD for a fortnight and I cannot stop listening to it! The music ranges from downright heavy to outstanding technical proficiency. The lyrics range from angry snarls to reflective and beautiful harmonies. Listen to this on a decent hi-fi and you will be even more impressed.
All credit to the guys for delivering 66 minutes of talent. Even if the songs don't hook you instantly, listen to them two or three times and you begin to appreciate what is on offer. Most songs average 5 minutes and take you on a separate musically journey within each song...almost like mini-stories. Very impressed.
Audio Secrecy (CD & DVD Digipack)
Stone Sour - CD
11 New from
I am a big fan of Slipknot and was particularly impressed by Stone Sour's debut album back in 2002. Tracks like Get Inside and Inhale were instant classics.
The follow up album, Come Whatever May, landed in 2006 and was a step up in quality - a consistent quality. Many tracks remained heavy and 30/30-150 just blew me away as a single.
Come 2010 and Stone Sour have followed up with Audio Secrecy. It was always destined to be a success after the passing of the legendary Paul Gray. However, this album neither sounds like Slipknot (not that they ever did apart from some obvious similarities in Corey's voice) nor Stone Sour. It is something else entirely - a much more mellow and reflective offering that I am afraid left me cold. Some people will like this a lot and it may well award them mainstream success but it is not album of the year.
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
9 New from
I am not a hardcore player of FPS titles but have sampled the COD series, Gears of War, MoH, Halo etc over the years.
B:BC2 is simply an awesome game. The graphics are amazing if you have a midrange rig to run it on, the weapons and vehicles give you lots of options and the multiplayer is quite civilised compared to some I have experienced.
Single player is fun but relatively brief. It is rewarding and although the storyline may seem a little far-fetched, the dialogue is entertaining and the maps from around the world are very well designed. There are a few surprises in there such as the quad bike racing through the jungle.
Multiplayer has dedicated servers though sometimes I cannot connect to EA online (usually when America wakes up). I prefer the Conquest mode where you try to retain control of points on the map. Beware though, some people are extremely good at this so you will die often at first. Experienced players also have much better weapons and kit than you which gives them an advantage. However, I just want to keep coming back for more...players actually play together as a team, cheating on some servers is non-existent and it is just really cool to destroy a building containing a sniper with a tank!
Disturbed - CD
21 New from
I seem to remember Ozzy once introduced Disturbed as if they were going to be the biggest band in the world.
Disturbed are one of my favourite bands but their albums have always seemed of a mixed quality with only a handful of quality songs (Stupify, Pray, Stricken, Land of Confusion, Indestructible, Inside the Fire etc).
I was eagerly anticipating the release of Asylum after hearing 'Another way to die' on YouTube. I rated their previous effort, Indestructible, as possibly their best.
Asylum has the distinctive Disturbed sound that we all know any love. However, there are few songs of distinction. The first song is instrumental and leads you nicely into Asylum, setting the tone for what you think will be a raucous album. Infection is suitably heavy, Another Way to Die is the standout track followed closely by Never Again. I then can't remember the rest of the album, except for the fact that the heavy sound never really returns.
On my CD, there is a hidden 13th track which is a cover of U2's 'I still haven't found what I'm looking for'. This is unusually commercial for Disturbed and contributes to the feeling that they simply 'churned' out this album and need to refresh their sound.
GetNet GN-531U Wireless N USB Adapter
I purchased one of these wireless adapters about 3 months ago. I had Windows XP at the time and it installed and worked correctly from the driver CD.
I now have Windows 7 and didn't even need the driver CD. I just plugged it in, Windows found a driver for it and I connected to the hub right away. It connects without hesitation every time I start my machine, there have been no dropped connections and it is quicker than my older 3Com adapter.
I cannot complain and at this price it is nice when something just works.
Need For Speed: Shift
5 New from
This is the first NFS game I have bought since Hot Pursuit...I pre-ordered it. The first 3 NFS titles let you race the most exotic cars in the world off the race track and were great games. The later games were arcade racers and Forza/PGR were far superior in every way. NFS Shift is the best NFS title since NFSIII for me.
Is it better than Forza or PGR? I would rate it alongside these titles. The length of both Forza and PGR are off-putting, PGR being frustrating because of the difficulty and Forza irritating due to the slow cars you are forced to drive all too often.
Pros of NFS:1) Superb in-car view...good vision and real sensation of speed2) You can almost 'feel' the grip level in each car but there are less to choose from versus Forza/PGR...but it has a Veyron.3) Rewarding achievements and a good selection of racing modes4) AI is reasonable, if you try to outbrake another car it will generally stay clear of you, if you bash them you can get pushed back
Cons of NFS:1) Less cars than Forza/PGR (but they handle better)2) All race tracks and nothing in the real world or with traffic3) Damage model is a little basic compared to Forza4) No weather simulation
Please make the next game a simulation of driving supercars.