Total Reviews: 4
Average Overall Score Given: 9.42500 / 10
Total Forum Posts: 150

Grand Theft Auto IV

Overall: Grand Theft Auto means different things to different people. It really does a great job of combining the most popular forms of gaming into one, huge package. Grand Theft Auto IV has expounded on that formula in a way that makes the game feel somewhat familiar but still fresh enough to be worth the play through and then some. All in all, GTA IV has done what some didn't think it could: It is the game that Rockstar swore was worth the wait.

Gameplay: The gameplay of GTA has to be broken down into it's component parts. The two core gameplay elements are Single Player and Multiplayer. Each version has several of the same gameplay elements in common.

Single Player

The single player mode in GTA brings back the familiar gameplay that fans of the series will remember fondly. The different modes include driving, stealth/tactical movement, action/plaftorming, and adventure gaming. I'm going to call it adventure because of the story... It could almost be Role Playing, but I'm not willing to call it that just yet.

In single player, the controls are quite good; rarely did I feel like movement was an issue that I didn't put myself into (cars getting wedged in the environment is my fault). The camera took a bit to get used to but that was because I haven't played this angle in a while. Once I got used to it, it was almost second nature. The controls for using weapons were likewise easy to get used to. Switching from fists to a shotgun with an enemy in your face is as easy as tappin' the control pad.

Driving the vehicles in the game were basically just the way I remember my recenty jaunt in the GTA Universe, San Andreas. The vehicles do control differently. Try to make a turn with the SUV at the same speed as the sports car and see if you don't end up rolling it... There were a ton of different options in the vehicle arena as well... My current favorite is the chopper (motorcycle not helo) although plowin' into someone with a dumptruck was a blast!

The story is what this game thrives on. It is involving and gives you something to think about with each character. I have heard that late in the game that this character development/attachment is not as strong as early in the game and that may be so. However, at this stage in the game, I see nothing wrong with the way it is running.

Combat is pretty straight forward... Punch, Kick, combo, Defend. That's about it, but it works pretty well. Once you get the hang of it, anyway. It does take awhile and alot of times you may find yourself whippin' out a gun to deal with an @!%#*! whippin' you're receiving. And to me, that's an okay answer too...

All in all, Single Player rocks...


Multiplayer in this game is not, I REPEAT, NOT CALL OF DUTY 4. That being said, it's a great experience. I think that multiplayer will calm down once people stop trying to play it like CoD4. Play it like you play the game, folks, and you'll have a blast. It is wide open and completely exciting. With the exception of the Adventure/Story trappings, all the things I said about the single player apply to the multiplayer.

Play it, and give it a chance...

Graphics: Visually this game is not the hottest piece of @!%#*! on the block. However it is the most exposive piece of art in the GTA series. The detail on everything is incredible. There are some shared textures and a little pop-in from time to time, but by and large, this is still one of the slickest looking games on any system.

One of the things I was really impressed by was just driving down the road. Especially at full speed. Everything looks so great that I believe they really tried to immerse you in everything you did. Excellent graphics.

Audio: The audio has always been a strong point of the GTA series and this game is no slouch. While I have a hard time finding a music station that I can stay with, the talk radio sections are great. I also love the voice acting in this game. I hated the character Vlad, but I loved the voice acting for him.

Rarely have I thought that the voice acting in a game was on par with anything nearing movie quality but this one definitely is. I have nothing but gushing things to say about the audio in this game...

Suggestions: What can I say... I think this is hands down the best game of the year. PERIOD.

Overall Score: 9.9 / 10 Army of Two

Overall: Army of Two has so much potential that it was a foregone conclussion that I would buy the game. It has beautiful graphics the likes of which most games today can't touch. While I think maybe the terrain graphics could have been better, they were still very good. The characters, though, are outrageously detailed and probably my favorite to date in an FPS game.

With that beings said, however, the game definitely has it's downfalls. I find it hard to rate this game higher than average due to what I feel are a lot of unpolished issues. If you want to know more, read on and I'll explain my ratings and the reasons behind them.

Gameplay: Gameplay is where you would expect this game to shine. It's mulitplayer co-op is the core mechanic in the game. When you look at other games, though, this is really more or less something that didn't help the overall gameplay. Aspects of the game, such as the co-op snipe are really interesting as are the back to back sessions.

The problem with those are there are too few uses for the co-op snipe and the back to back is would be a lot more fun if you could initiate when you needed to as opposed to it being a scripted event that you can't break out of. The other issue that I and my compatriot had as we tried to work through the co-op game was the movement.

Alot of times, I thought I was sliding into cover when I guess I was too close and I lept the barricade and got my @!%#*! shot off. This leads to turning to try and get back into cover. Turning is way to slow and there is no way to adjust the look speed. There were times when I was being circle-strafed by enemies and I couldn't keep up with them as I turned around to shoot them. In most games I would just up the sensitivity on the stick/mouse but it's not an option and therefore it is a problem for me.

My last gameplay complaint is the cover system. Had I never owned or played Gears of War, I probably wouldn't know that there were issues at all. However, having played in and out of cover online and offline with Gear of War, Army of Two's cover system felt completely inadequate. In GoW, you knew when you were at the edge of cover. In Ao2, you're never really sure until you see your weapon shift to the outside of the bunker. This can often lead to you sliding left, sliding left, sliding left until you have completely exposed yourself and you are getting peppered by enemy fire.

The one thing that I do think is absolutely brilliant about this game is the Aggro-based gameplay. Being able to work cooperatively and distract enemies was a great addition to FPS gaming. Had Ao2 omitted the cover system completely, which felt like it was thrown in at the last minute, the game may have had a more arcadey feel to it, but I think based on the style of gameplay, it would have been more appropriate.

All in all, while I wanted to love this game, it's gameplay simply wouldn't let me.

Graphics: Wow... that's about all I can say. Rios and Salem are two hyper-detailed soldiers who are customizable. That's everything I want in a game avatar. The weapons are detailed and look great in-game..

There levels aren't bad looking either. There is a lot of detail and variety in them. It's not uber, but it's not bad either. If graphics could carry a game, this game would go pretty far on that alone.

Audio: The audio is really what you would expect from a game like this with a few exceptions. Rios and Salem chattering back and forth was nice. It never really got boring listening to them bicker at each other. The only thing that did get old was the comments after being healed. But hey I had to get healed alot so maybe that was my fault.

All in all, I thought the sound was great. The voice acting wasn't bad, either. It's not going to win an Oscar or anything, but it has been done much, much worse before.

Good stuff.

Suggestions: Wow... where do we start...

If you want to model a game after a blockbuster, you'd better be sure to at least attain the same level of gameplay as those you're emulating. If you want a full cover system, look at how it's been done and, if you can't improve on it, copy it. I know it sounds cheesy or cheating, but @!%#*!...

Also allow for more user options. I don't want my character to turn like he's standing in mud. Allow me to adjust that sensitivity to my liking.

While I like what you're trying to do here and I know this game had a troubled development cycle, don't release the game before it's ready. This one isn't ready.

Overall Score: 8.5 / 10 Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Overall: Overall, this game is one of the best games I've played this year. I'm not some fanboy slathering a game with praise or anything, but if I was, this game would be worthy of it. Call of Duty 4 places you in the shoes of an SAS SGT and a USMC SGT as they individually progress through missions is several theatres of operations.

The near-photo-realistic graphics bring you into game like never before. In fact, in the beginning, a scene I expected to be far more controversial than it actually turned out to be, you are placed in the shoes of the soon to be executed president of a middle eastern country. Needless to say, you are hung up at the stake and execute as you watch, from a first-person perspective. It was an intriguing scene and one that sets the tone for the game at large.

The combination of the games single player and multiplayer games makes for the single best value in gaming at the moment, even more so than the much-ballyhooed Orange Box. Not that that particular product is lacking in anything, I just think that this is where it's at right now. And I think it will be for most of the year, if not all of it.

Now that that is out of the way, read the rest of the review and then go buy this game. Or, if you want to save some time and get right to it, stop reading, take my advice, and hit up Best Buy; the game is on sale for $49.99 right now. It's worth every penny, my friend.

Gameplay: Single Player
The single player campaign, while short, is pretty engaging. It can be hard to get attached to the two separate characters you play in this iteration, SAS SGT "Soap" MacTavish and USMC SGT Paul Jackson. The cast of characters is memorable at times, though, my personal favorites being SAS CPT Price and SAS soldier Gaz, whose rank I honestly can't remember ever hearing.

The campaigns jump back and forth between the SAS and the USMC. While the SAS missions tend to be in Eastern Europe, the USMC missions are almost exclusively in the middle east. And because of that, I enjoyed the SAS missions alot more. There is one memorable sequence in the game where the player is placed in the gunner's chair aboard a C130 gunship and must selectively blast the insurgents in a small town. It's a great stage that really broke up the single player campaign.

In the end, the game ends up coming up a bit short in the single player campaign. It's not bad by any stretch, but the single player experience in games like Halo 3 are more involving and easier to feel an attachment to the main character. Still, a great overall effort.

Now this is where Call of Duty really shines. The pacing of the games is first rate and the experience system is the best in any FPS game I've played. The experience system in Battlefield 2 and BF2142 was similar enough, but this improves on that a great deal. The maps are extremely well balanced, from my experience. The only complaint that I've heard at all about the multiplayer is that people don't like the ability to shoot through soft cover. However, as a more realistic game than it's competition, Halo and such, this is well within the ideals that the game is trying to cover.

I've played both the 360 version of this game and the PC version. And while I had a little trouble getting used to clicking the stick to run, I'd say I'm definitely having more fun in multiplayer on the 360. My opinion thus far is that this is the most complete multiplayer FPS experience available at the moment.

Graphics: The graphics in the game are realistic and extremely well-done. I have found nothing at all to complain about and everything in the world to say good about it. If I had to nit pick the game at all, I would have to so that the only thing is there could be more textures for the different soldiers. But the game paces itself so well, that I only noticed that after watching several videos on YouTube. I've never noticed it playing the game as a gamer.

The style of the individual models is incredible. The ghillie suit that you wear in Ghillies In the Mist and that you can wear as a sniper look great even at speed. Ghillies in the mist really shows off some serious graphic prowess as you low crawl through knee-high gr@!%#*!.

The game is about as much of a cl@!%#*! act as anything you'll find these days. I've played a ton of other shooters and they all fall way short after playing this game.

Audio: The audio is exactly what it needs to be in this game. In the single player it doesn't detract from anything. It adds a little moments, as it builds sometimes, but this isn't as much of a concern for me as the sound effects and realistic noises are.

The sound in the game is, overall, excellent.

Suggestions: What do you tell a developer about a game that is probably going to be the Game of the Year? It's early in '08, I know, but the game could easily be the best game I play this year. The only thing I could think of to tell the developer would be to add more customizability to the actual player avatar.

That's it... That's terrible, isn't it? Wow, I can't think of anything else to do to make this better...

Overall Score: 9.8 / 10 Mass Effect

Overall: The story is where M@!%#*! Effect really shines, just as the hype would lead you to expect. The story line starts out with a bang. Without giving anything away, there is deceit, intrigue, and a lot of pure old hatred. You have the ability to be as good as you want. You can never really go straight out evil, you are a good guy, after all. But you can be a complete @!%#*!, though. You can make tough choices and pop people. But in the end, you are saving the universe. One of my favorite lines/scenes in the game is when you are accosted by a tele-journalist. She tries to twist you around and, if you choose to go all renegade, you can slap her. Great stuff.

The story has a lot of side quests that you can do or skip, offering you the path to the end fairly quickly. However, if you don't do the side missions, in my oppinion, you are missing out on why Shepard is who he is in the first place, not to mention a ton of the game's content.

I'm a sci-fi nut. So the game holds something for me that is kind of intangible. I've played nearly every game that has had the sci-fi RPG and this one really has to be at the top of those games. I know some may say that's blashpemous, especially considering KOTOR I&II. But I think M@!%#*! Effect is the end-all/be-all of this generation of Sci-Fi games.

So there you have it. My final review score is going to be a little skewered. The pop-in thing really lowered my score on the graphics. Beyond that, the graphics really shined in my mind. The enemies looked great, the areas were sometimes beautiful and sometimes desolate, but always when they should have been. This game is a must-buy game for anyone who loves sci-fi or RPGs. It really is that good.

Gameplay: Gameplay is what you'll notice right from the beginning, even moreso than the story so that's where we'll start. M@!%#*! Effect's third-person view works well and really lets you see what's going on around you. The game pushes up to a first-person view when you choose to zoom in with your weapons. It is a fairly smooth transition. The controls seem only slightly off at times, but I never felt that they hindered you in any given situation.

The squad mechanic was a nice touch, but it's implementation seems almost an afterthought as I rarely use it and have still done very well in the game. Being able to choose your companions can make for very interesting dialogue at times. The interplay between the different characters is memorable at times and completely dismissable at others.

Graphics: Graphics are a key element of any next-gen game and M@!%#*! Effect's graphics are great; once they pop in. That's the biggest problem with the graphics. It's not like it's a quick thing, either. The graphics can take up to 3-5 seconds to pop in. Even on the characters.

I do like the graphical differences of the different weapons and armors. It is a nice touch and good to see that it is becoming more prominent in gaming everywhere. The characters in the game display a wide range of physical and facial movements that really push the boundaries of movie-quality stuff. The one thing I will say is that it is sometimes difficult to predict what your created character will look like in a cut-scene. They look one way, and then when you see them in these scenes you realize just how blocky you've made some particular aspect. Oh well, that's a personal gripe. There are sometimes odd looks with the facial expressions, but you have that in most any games where the characters are as detailed as these are.

I do want to add that the game has a very high-tech, and alien look which aides in the suspension of belief that is critical with this type of game. Excellent work, all around.

Audio: I didn't specifically address this in my initial review of the game. But thinking about it, it is just as important as any other part of the game. M@!%#*! Effect's sound effects are not lacking in any department. The voice acting never got on my nerves, although at times, my male Shepard did sound a little tinny and as manly looking as he was, the voice didn't always fit the model. But that's a personal thing and not a critique of the actor's performance.

The game's score was well handled and appropriate for the genre as were the accompanying sound effects. Overall, I have to say that the sounds and music added to a very immersive experience.

Suggestions: While there are several things I would love to BioWare do with the inevitable sequel. These include widening the romance angles, including different playable races, more planet-based side-quests, and too many other things to mention.

The thing about releasing a game that is critically lauded, as M@!%#*! Effect has been, is that everyone is at the ready with ideas about how to improve it or the sequel. BioWare has shown no indication that they will drop the ball on this or their other products so I believe that the series is in very capable hands.

Overall Score: 9.5 / 10

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