MEMBER PROFILE FOR dustintarditi

Total Reviews: 7
Average Overall Score Given: 9.00000 / 10
Total Forum Posts: 0

Sid Meier's Pirates!

Overall: Excellent capture of the fun gameplay in the classic game.

Everything fun about the classic was preserved, new features just make it more interesting & enjoyable.

If you liked the classic (I had the C=64 version, played the Amiga version, had the Sega version and the PC 'Pirates! Gold' for the 486) this is truly the best.

This game is fun for a few hours or several days in a row as you try to collect extra skill-enhancing gear or fleet build-ups.

It is one of my all-time favorites. Excellent job!

Gameplay: The controls are quite easy to understand.

Swordplay, sailing, and land tactics are pretty easy to grasp, but can take a while to really build proficiency. You will find that in the case of sea battles, size doesn't always equate to victory...

The game is not a fast-paced action shoot-em-up... you need some tactics, patience (your ship(s) are often at the mercy of the weather/geography) and thought.

The wooing of the governer's daughter by dancing at the ball is a bit tedious after a few times, but as you get better at it you can reap the rewards with info and presents... and eventually a wife (which also has rewards in the game)

One note to those not familiar with any of the Pirates! instances... keep your crew fresh - divvy up the plunder every year or so...

Graphics: The graphics are fun - not photorealistic, but offer enough eye candy to enjoy the effects and game. The ability to change the look of your ships is welcomed, and the cast of characters is enough to break up some of the monotonous tasks like always checking in with the governor and taverns at each port...

The mini-scene fills in the sword fights are fun and add interest to the mechanics of winning/losing the fight... miss the opponent and it may be due to stepping in a bucket on the deck or your opponent pulls a pirate/ninja back flip dodge like in the old Erol Flynn campy pirate movies.

There are a lot of details in the game though - dolphins playing in your wake as you sail, the crew jumping overboard and ships suffering splash effects during broadsides battles, etc.

The visuals aren't as rich as something like Pirates of the Carribean, but they're fun and not too busy.

Audio: The sounds are decent - I enjoy the atmospheric and ambient sounds to set the mood. If period chamber and tavern music get on your nerves, turn the music way down, though.

The character voices/sounds are like something out of the sims, but they seem to have accents based on the appropriate nationality. Odd, but it makes sense somehow...

The sounds during combat are great though - you hear all sorts of sounds during swordfights and sea combat is filled with the barking of commands and surrounding combat sounds.

Suggestions: What a fun game! Great job capturing the spirit of the original.

Overall Score: 10.0 / 10 Destroy All Humans

Overall: Fun game - The storyline is funky and refreshing, with due homage paid to the "B" sci-fi movies of the 50s... in fact, you unlock movie snippets from Plan 9 From OUter Space and others for finding lost "pods" throughout your travels.

Gameplay: The controls take a little getting used to, but not nearly as complicated as the finishing moves in many fighter games...

The HUD is clean and easily understood with just a few moments of gameplay.

The game offers unobtrusive hints and tips as you learn how to play, but you can always review the lessons in your "handbook".

You can really rack up "kills" since everything reconstitutes in the originating location... care to telekenetically hurl 100 explosive radioactive zombie cows? hang out long enough and they'll come back!
The respawning sort of hurts the DNA collection-for-currency theme, but it makes it interesting since you can't blast your way to an objective than just walk back to your UFO for another mission... you need to fight back, or sometimes evade and escape your way back to safety.

There are lots of cool powers and equipment mods you can get in the game. It's fun to perform the side-missions, and the banter from both the main character "Crypto" and his mentor/leader, Pox is pretty funny, too. The game is all about subtle jokes and throw-away lines.

Graphics: The visuals are good (8/10). The elements don't have as many polygons as some games, but there is a very rich, destructable environment in which to conduct your genocide/mayhem.

I give extra points for having a smooth visual game with so many actors running around.

Audio: The sound is OK - not hte best, but it's certainly acceptable. The music score is like something form the 50's sci-fi movies, so it certainly fits the mood. The sound effects are straight from the cheezy movies about interplanetary invasion.

Suggestions: I would like to save the game anytime, not just between missions (especially multi-part missions)

More equipment/skill mods would be fun... They don't need to be terribly powerful as long as they have funny/interesting effects.

Overall Score: 9.0 / 10 Forza Motorsport

Overall: Excellent simulator... This game is not like Project Gotham... the physics and telemetry is VERY real. Damage can be turned on or off - game difficulty makes the calculations determining the purse for placing in races MUCH more lucrative.

Campaign mode will start with a run-of-the-mill car from a particular region... wins = CASH, buy upgrades, new cars, win cars and gain strategic partnerships with manufacturers and aftermarket companies... the level of customization is amazing.

If you tune your car too much, you get bumped up in classes to be matched with tougher opponents - winning can lead to more money, leading to more cars, leading to more wins, the head-spinning cycle continues. Only certain cars and classes can race in some races and venues.

Gameplay: I started driving like it was Project Gotham and couldn't stay on the track - it's a SIMULATOR, not a game, per se... to the casual gamer, the difficulty controlling these cars may be a turn-off. I honestly almost took my game back to EB Games after crashing for 2 hours straight.

Once I started driving like it was actually a car and not a 400hp bumper car, my times improved and I started really appreciating the game.

Not only do the cars have different feels to them (and are tunable) but the tracks themselves are subject to ambient temperature and, of course, weather effects... tracks can "speed up" and "slow down" with temperature.

Like a car, it takes a few laps to "warm up" your skills. Force feedback steering is about the only major improvement that could be made to this awesome game.

The different play styles offer lots of interesting ways to enjoy this game (arcade, H2H, campaign, tuner, etc.).

You don't need to race every race in a circuit - you can train an AI driver to drive in your style and send them off to go win (or at least try to win) races for you.

Tune your car, take it to the test track and check out the fruits of your labors and get everything dialed-in. You can compare cars in your garage to each other, you can even benchmark performance to see how mods effect performance overall.

Online play is very cool with lots of features - you can trade cars, parts, and sell stuff to your XBL buddies.

Graphics: The rich graphics are often overlooked as you're white-knuckle drifting around turns or going wheel-to-wheel, but the level of customization you can apply to your car(s) is amazing. Layering graphics, adding bolt-ons or performance mods give you a completely custom experience...

HUD controls are largely customizable, and you can even turn on tellemetry and driving coach visuals to train you to drive better.

Audio: Great sound - different engines have distinct sounds... add a supercharger and your engine gets the respective whine... turbos spool up, cars backfire... it's great.

Suggestions: Excellent game!

Force feedback steering wheel would be great!

The ability to add new cars to the "library" over XBL would really increase the appeal of this game. There are a TON of cars in the library, but there are always odd cars that can't get into the production release in time, or new cars introduced to the public.

Overall Score: 10.0 / 10 Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction

Overall: Great game! Grand Theft Auto meets Full Spectrum Warrior!

You control one of three mercenaries (each has their own benefits) in a political hotbed. Rival factions (UN, South Korea, China, Russian Mafia) vie for power and you profit by accepting their contracts, accomplishing challenges, destroying enemy (North Korea) equipment and, most importantly, collecting bounties on the 52 most wanted (based on suits of cards) "Deck of 52."

As you mass more and more money you can buy weapons, equipment and "services" (surgical air strikes, artillery support, etc.). You get charged for "collateral damage" as well as using medical services (you're not bulletproof, Rambo!).

Flexibility to move through huge maps and interract with personnel and equipment make for an exciting and entertaining game that can be a few hours of mindless fun or serious "call in sick & stock up on mountain dew" game fest.

Gameplay: If you can see it, it can be picked up, shot at, blown up, moved, "borrowed with the intent to own" etc. As the advertisement says: "Blow stuff up... blow it up again... blow the SNOT out of it!"

The effects (physics, ballistics, weather, particle, ragdoll, etc.) of this game are truly raising the bar for new games to come.

The UI is quite easy to adapt to - ranging from running around the battlefield, driving a wheeled vehicle or helicopter, using special equipment, etc.

A very simple HUD/crosshair system makes for an easy shooter - it only gets hairy when it gets HAIRY - as in being shot at from multiple directions while trying to evade fire to get to some cover.

Powerups are few and far between... make friends with the Russian Mafia quickly and you open channels to resupply through their covert store "Merchents of Mayhem" - you can buy cool stuff and as you progress, you unlock more and more cool stuff... how about driving around the battlefield in a HUmmer H2? :-)

Game saves cannot occur during "contracts" but you can save any other time... you can spend as much (or as little) time between contracts as you care to. Take some time to stop and smell the roses - then blow them up!

Your character only dies when you require medevac and don't have the money to pay for the services (hasn't happened to me yet!).

This isn't DOOM where you can run around with an arsenal, either - choose your weapons wisely - you get 2 firearm types (I like a MG and an RPG), 2 grenade types (frag and flash/bang), C4 (did I say BLOW STUFF UP yet?), Hi-tech PDA (no MP3 player) and binoculars (gotta see what you plan to blow up, right?) - additional firearms are available from your local, friendly black market merchant, and more become available as you unlock them in the game.

Graphics: Good graphics - effects and sprites are awesome! Animation is smooth and the game unfolds very nicely.

The bumpmaps on buildings are a bit drab, but it is North Korea... I guess it shouldn't look like the inside of a Las Vegas casino!

Audio: Sound is good and dimensional - you will be shouted at in several different languages - and the voice acting is spot on.

Prepare for sensory overload and you will suffer a little "fog of war" during tense firefights.

The musical score and ambient sounds are quality as well.

Suggestions: Multiplayer coop or H2H would be fun.. as would an XBL option - perhaps in Merc2.

Great job - the game is lots of fun and an excellent addition to any gamer's library.

Overall Score: 10.0 / 10 The Bard's Tale

Overall: Single-player RPG that doesn't take itself too seriously - not like the old Bard's Tale games of the 1980s...

This game is a fun RPG that does not require a steep learning curve to play. If you're looking for a die-hard D&D game, look elsewhere... this is a little more like the D&D movie.

I find some humor infused into the game refreshing (like Fable) but it quickly gets old and can seem like a hackneyed attempt at a Monty Python product. The tongue in cheek humor is clever for a bit, but I think the focus is too often on silly aspects of the game (listen to the drunk sing-along in the "drunken rat" pub) and not in areas where it could really have a huge positive impact (like camera control).

Gameplay: Easy to use controls, simple command system. Health power-ups are a little far-between at first, so save often. Dying is dead, and saves are only at pre-determined locations, so save whenever you get the chance.

You rely heavily on summoned creatures, and there's quite a bit of puzzle/problem solving and prose exploration... you can rush through and seek out combat, but that is only a portion of the game... if you want a hack & slash adventure this isn't a great opportunity - get D&D Heroes or Baldur's Gate instead!

They use a similar (becoming popular with RPGs) system to KOTOR/Fable where your responses effect interraction adn outcomes during the game - this is not a strong point of this game in my opinion... it has no bearing on the character really... just the responses you get from NPCs in subsequent conversations.

You have very little influence on how your character looks or evolves through the course of the game - I just finished Fable and am playing KOTOR II, so perhaps my expectations were too high.

The game area has a HUD that takes a little getting used to, but not too bad, but the fog of war and "you are here" mapping makes navigating a little clumsy and it's easy to get misoriented and re-cross yourself a lot. It's a realistic aspect of adventure gaming, but not a component I think is needed... let me get around easier and I'm more likely to enjoy the game.

Graphics: Main and ambient graphics are excellent.

The camera is a bit of a pain, as you are forced to a overhead view with minimal pan and zoom control, but can freely spin the camera until you get dizzy.

The camera will swing into better view when interracting with NPCs throughout the game - BT adopts the latest "seamless cinematic" sequencing, so it's a fairly rich visual experience.

Audio: Sound is excellent - ambient sounds (water, music in the distance, etc.) is great and the voice acting is done quite well.

Suggestions: A couple of annoyances:
1) Allow player to escape cinematics (fun the first time, boring after we've seen how talented the art department is...)

2) More control of the camera - I played this game on a 65" TV and had trouble seeing elements of the game/items I could interract with... there are beautiful graphics... let me see them!

3) Some way to advance NPC conversations - I don't want to hear every little detail during every interraction with NPCs

4) Let the player save wherever they want

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10 Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords

Overall: It ROCKS! Similar feel to KOTOR I, but deeper, richer, and more foreboding. This game is very immersive - prepare for LONG sessions, as I've logged 20 hours and am only on my 1st visited planet (of several).

You start off as a jedi exile (stripped of your force bond by the jedi council). You quickly discover that you are the last known jedi (adept) left after the jedi civil war (jedi vs. sith)... or are you? Your journey will take you all over the galaxy to discover yourself and unfold your destiny... light or dark? You decide - supposedly there are multiple game endings, so we'll just have to wait and see...

You will see some familiar characters and voices, but the game stands alone on it's own - if you've never finished (or even played) KOTOR I you won't be left wondering what's going on.

The sound is even better than KOTOR I (which was good for its time), as it is now true 5.1 and the video supports a HDTV (480i) which the first one got quite distorted trying to play without letterboxing it.

I played KOTOR 1 many, many times. It's fun to try to see how different classes and light/dark approaches change the game - this version is very sensitive to such manipulations, so it should provide a LOT of entertainment.

Gameplay: I'm glad Pazaak and swoop racing are downplayed in this version - they are still there, but there are a host of other ways to get money and equipment without worring about these mini games (wich simply annoyed me).

The quests are now broken down into core and bonus categories, the NPC interaction is much deeper (you gain/lose incluence with them based on your game decisions, conversations, etc. and your alignment can have pos/neg effects on their dialog with you as well).

The combat is similar to the 1st KOTOR (it can run on autopilot) but you can change styles in your action menu, switch weapons configurations (2 per character), and even learn jedi fighting forms.
You now have a freelook feature, as well as the ability to create/salvage items you find.

There isn't as much "treasure hunting" in this version, lots of containers, many aren't open-able, but the HUD tells you if it is and if it's already been visited.

Certain skills are now core to player type, but you can add then to your list via feats and no longer take a non-type penalty for adding points to these skills.
Constructing a lightsaber is now a quest that takes a while to scavenge the components, and your lightsaber now has a lot of upgrade options other than just a few crystals to change around.

The game is very balanced now, and there are a LOT more jedi powers available - choose your powers carefully. There are many more weapons and armor as well, with a lot more upgradable options/variations - many of which you or other characters may construct from components you collect through the game.

There are a lot of break out sections where you play as a different character than your main protagonist, so save often and in different slots - you never know when an action (or inaction) will send you down a path you wish you hadn't (or would do differently if you knew the reprecus actual combat on the Ebon Hawk now, and NPCs busy themselves with activities when you're onboard.

Graphics: Very rich graphics - definately a darker feel than KOTOR I. The interior bumpmaps are very detailed, and the voice acting is a bit more in synch (although not perfected) than #1.

The physics are quite nice, as robes ruffle as you walk, and there are new moves based on combat style, action, and form.

Freelook allows you to look around your surroundings (not needed for gameplay, just ambience) and enjoy the world, and visual effects like splashing water on a beaches shore add a nice level of realism.

Shadows and lighting effects are dialed in nicely, and there are lots of richly detailed equipment to change your character's appearance.

Ambient visials abound in this version - space craft moving about in the city, grass blowing in the plains, waves in the water, etc.

You see a few of the same heads and bodies from the first game (Hey, look! It's Davik Kang! :-) ) but the NPCs are much more interesting looking and have a lot more incidental scripts compared to the first game (and other role playing games).

Audio: The sound is quite good. True dolby 5.1 this time, and turning your character changes sound source location accordingly, as does proximity to the sound's source in the game. (play around in the cantina by moving around as the band is playing... I had to call my wife into the room to check it out!)

The score is great and you don't get beaten to death by the typical star wars music - it changes based on the progress of the storyline and picks up pace during combat.

The ambient sound effects are quite nice and add a level of realism to the game.

Suggestions: Great job! Start working on #3! :-)
(Add in some ambient effects from Jedi Academy).

I did find one little glitch, where I got trapped behind a rock and couldn't move, but loaded from a save I made a few seconds before and it was no problem... not a big deal - save often anyway!

Overall Score: 10.0 / 10 The Hobbit

Overall: A fun game - definately suited for a console system, though. I got the PC version and my hand hurt after 1 hour of play.
This game has a lot of potential to attract a mature, JRR Tolkien fan, but is aimed at the youngsters. Unfortunately, this isn't evident until you open the box.
If you want a fun, playful romp solving puzzles and jumping around in a beautifully-rendered world with cool background music, this is the game for you...
If you are looking forward to a dark role-playing game starring the most famous Hobbit in Middle Earth, look elsewhere.

Gameplay: "Sonic Meets Legend of Zelda" based on the gameplay and the way the protagonist (Bilbo) interracts with the NPCs and collects "courage" and "pennies."
As bad guys are vanquished, they explode into a puff of air, but there is no gore.
This game is easy to move around in and the Hobbiton section of the game as well as a combat dream sequence teaches you everything you'll need to match wits with Smaug the Dragon (much) later in the game.

Graphics: The characters are quite lively, and the NPCs are well rendered, but the "Jimmy Neutron" look is a little too plastic sometimes.
The cinematics are quite entertaining, and the 3D rendering, effects, and physics are quite good considering the complexity of the world you are in.

Audio: The sound track is great. The effects are realistic and dimensional, whether they are ambient sounds, voice acting, or the musical score.

Suggestions: Market this game to kids, not adults!

Overall Score: 7.0 / 10

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