Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fifa 10 DS

My interest in football (soccer for my friends across the pond) games has been sporadic at best. The first football game I played with any regularity was Sega World Wide Soccer '97 on the Saturn. Fast forward to 2004 and I had a big stint playing Sega World Wide Soccer 2000 (Euro Edition) on the Dreamcast. But the playing of the two most popular franchises, Pro-Evolution Soccer or Fifa, (usually against my sons) would result in huge 'hissy fits', controller-throwing and general all round bad sportsmanship on my part.
In 2007, however, I found my footballing nirvana in the unlikely form of Fifa 07 for the DS. No longer did I have to play my sons, no longer did I have to face the humiliation of being out-skilled, out-played and generally shown up as inferior. Now my only opposition was the CPU players, and they soon turned out to be little opposition at all.

I played that particular title to death. I played it as my beloved Manchester City, (a club who in 'real life' have not won a domestic or European title for over thirty years) and took them to unprecedented heights of glory. For five seasons I won everything, the premiership, the FA Cup, the European cup and the Community Shield. The game could also be played in it's entirety without using the stylus or touch screen, which was great because my first generation DS was very poorly at the time!

However, time moves on, and a new DS demanded a new Fifa. Besides, Manchester City have gone through such a major squad shake up since their financial revolution, that there was only Stephen Ireland and Micah Richards from the '07 line up still in the squad in 2009. The kits had changed and... well... damn it! I just wanted an update! Now I did have Fifa 09 for the PSP (it came bundled with my PSP which also had a stick-on Fifa 09 'skin') but I never got into it, preferring instead to stick with my beloved DS '07 game. So buying the new Fifa 10 at full price was a big deal for me.

I was full of anticipation when I put the cartridge into my DS. Sure enough, apart from the inclusion of Richard Dunne, the squad was all present and correct. The new stylish black away kit was there and all looked good! I eagerly looked for the 'career mode' with which I had had such success on Fifa 07, but alas it wasn't there! Instead it had been replaced by a mode called "Be A Pro". Rather than guiding your team to glory, the emphasis was now on the career of one player, who has to succeed at a series of challenges in order to progress through the ranks of the home team and be selected by coaches for international duty.

Unfortunately, this was SO different from the game play of the '07 edition, that I found it almost impossible to play, let alone find any success. I was massively disappointed and about to vent my spleen over here at Gnome's Gaming On The Go. That was before I switched game modes. 'Kick Off' Mode' allows you to play a one off match against any rival of your choice. It also gives you the choice of playing in the "Be A Pro" mode, or "Classic" mode. And it was in "Classic" mode, that I found my salvation.

Although not exactly the same as Fifa '07, it was similar enough for me to play with some degree of success. The 'game settings' allows you to set the game's difficulty level, according to your own skill level. I set the CPU skill at 'amateur' and got rid of the 'offside' rule to allow the game greater flow. The ability to play a variety of tournaments in "Classic" mode means I've already taken Manchester City to the final of the English FA Cup (which I won on penalties). However, this incarnation of the game does not give one the option of taking a mid-table club into Europe... You can only play as one one of the the English Premiership's top four teams - Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea, which is a bit of a bummer!

One of the biggest changes so far is the use of the stylus. During penalty shoot outs, the stylus is employed as a means of shooting (by swiping the stylus towards the goal) and saving (a large pair of gloves appear in the goal which you move with the stylus to save the opposition's shot.) I love this feature! It helped me win the FA cup ha ha!

Now I realise that this is a very subjective review (mine always are...) so I'll provide links to more informative sites... Would I recommend it as a full price purchase? Well, no. You can pick up Fifa 07, 08 and 09 for buttons in second hand gaming emporiums. If it's 'game play' you're after then these titles will more than adequately suffice. If you are anal about having current players and kits then go ahead and splurge your hard earned pennies on Fifa 10. But it's because of people like me that EA are able to squeeze cash from a gullible audience every time they bring out a new football or golf game.

However, if you see Fifa 10 cheap or even with a few quid/euros/dollars knocked off, it's a great game for the handheld gamer, which can be played in short little bursts, as a handheld titles should be.

Father K Rating: 7.5/10!

Monday, November 02, 2009

GTA China Town Wars DS

First of all, I'll confess that this is not an entirely new article, but instead something I first posted on the frankly under-read Father Krishna's Wiikly Sermons . Oh and I've not been that well either, so I can be excused a bit of lazy recycling, LOL! However, with the Ballad Of Gay Tony on general release, it's time to think once again about the wonderful GTA! This franchise kept me very me busy throughout some turbulent times thanks to the wonderful Grand Theft Auto universe, Rockstar’s fabulous gift to the gaming world. And the game that kick-started my current obsession? Why perhaps the least obviously appealing outing of the franchise so far, GTA China Town Wars for the DS.

Rockstar have already had a good degree of success in it’s transference of the GTA world onto handheld consoles (ignoring the GTA GBA fiasco) with Vice City and Liberty City stories for PSP (and indeed I will come to these games later…)

With the money I accrued for my 42nd birthday, I decided to invest in a DS Lite and GTA CTW. The whole package cost me £80-ish and at last I had a fully functional DS with a responsive touch screen again! (My old ‘original’ DS had been sketchy for ages…)

And so I dipped into the world of Huang Lee, ‘Uncle Kenny’, triads, mafia and ancient stolen katanas. But can the tiny cartridge of the DS really encompass the vast world of Liberty City and do it justice? The short and emphatic answer to that question is “YES!” All but one of the boroughs of Liberty City found in GTA IV are recreated in the world of GTA CTW. You can actually recognise areas and neighbourhoods, despite the top-down “birds eye” view, and when you do, it’s quite a thrill! It’s also a testament to what Rockstar Leeds have managed to cram into a cartridge no bigger than a postage stamp!

Yes, there have been compromises in order to get a fully fledged GTA experience onto the DS. The ‘radio stations’ have been replaced by a variety of set soundtracks of different musical genres (although even these have been lovingly created by current artists such as Deadmaus, mentioned on these hallowed pages just a few weeks ago!)

Cut-scenes are limited to still pictures and captions (think Phoenix Wright) and of course we have the 2.5 D top down view, but once you begin to play the game sucks you straight in and you very quickly forget the differences between this incarnation and those brought out on full-size consoles. It’s pure, unbridled GTA fun. All the elements are there, driving, drive-by shootings, securing safe-houses and encountering a wealth of colourful and intriguing characters (like the cross-dressing Mafioso), all served up with a tinge of irony and a good dash of humour.

Did I mention the drugs? Drug dealing is the backbone of Huang’s existence in Liberty City. It’s how he earns money to buy weapons and builds his empire. You’ve got to know your smack from your crack and your weed from your speed if you’re gonna progress in the game!

The game is just SO much better than either of the PSP titles, which have me struggling and a tad bored. GTA CTW was a joy to play and complete, encouraging me to pick up GTA IV again and finish it, quickly downloading ‘Lost and Damned’ as soon as Niko’s adventures had come to an end. I’ve also downloaded GTA San Andreas, and the Ballad Of Gay Tony so I've got a glut of GTA goodness for the big console under the telly, that I'm still yet to play...
Since writing this post, the cogs of time have turned, and now GTA CTW is not only a 2.5D DS game, but a fully fledged, fleshed out PSP game, with the promise of delivering more than it's DS counterpart, (or indeed the two sub-standard PSP titles previously mentioned... I'm hoping to pick this up soon, but in the meantime I'll give you all a little video-taster!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Resident Evil 4 (iPod/iPhone)

I recently got my iPod and was determined to keep it as a repository for my music, a place to download all my Cds, so I could get rid of them, but still retain the music. I was determined that I wouldn't cram it full of games, (as I do with every new phone I get) and I wouldn't buy a load of games for it that I subsequently never played ( as I have with every console I've ever owned!)

The music project is going pretty well, thanks for asking! I'm about a third of the way through my CD collection, and although I'm having to buy an external hard drive to back up the catalogue, I'm pretty happy with it.

However, when I saw that Resident Evil 4 (one of my favourite games of all time) was available for the iPod, I just couldn't resist getting the game as a demo. When you first see Leon S. Kennedy in that village with the Las Plagas shuffling towards him, pitchforks in hand, you can't fail to be impressed. The graphics are just gorgeous, although they do suffer from that all pervasive "brown-ness" that so many of todays games seem to love.

It's only when you start to play the game and try to negotiate it's clumsy touch screen icons which allow you to switch from weapons, to movement, to itinerary, that you realise that this whole beatutiful mess just isn't going to work.

I'm not sure that it's me... it could well be. I find 'tweeting' off my iPod nearly impossible, because my clumsy sausage like fingers find negotiating the tiny keys really tricky. I'd love to hear from more dexterous readers who have found the game as delightful as it was on the Gamecube, The PS2 or the Wii.

If nothing else, it's a very hopeful step in the right direction. Surely the PSP would have been a better vehicle for this game? If the hardware can make such a good job of God Of War, Tekken 5, Soul Calibur and Sega Rally Revo, then perhaps Resi 4 too?

Anyway, the (very short) gaming experience on the iPod has galvanised my resolve to keep it as a music only accessory, so I guess I can be philosophical about my disappointment about RE4!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sega Rally Revo PSP

Now, from one massive disappointment on the PSP (see previous post), to one major triumph. Sega Rally Revo PSP is not only one of the best driving games I've played on a handheld, but also one of the best driving games I've ever played full stop.

Like Soul Calibur, I've owned every incarnation of Sega Rally since it's debut on the Sega Saturn back in 1995. I've also loved it's only other handheld incarnation, back on the Gameboy Advance, although it was as basic as any driving game could be.

Sega Rally Revo on the 360 and PS3 was met with critical acclaim, but commercial failure. I loved it, but GGOTG's other satellite correspondent, Nebachadnezzar didn't. The handling was very sensitive, but the game's driving physics, particularly the car's correspondence to the break up of the driving surface in successive laps was absolutely spot on.

Now if i'm honest, I only bought the PSP version to be completist in my Sega Rally collection. I wasn't expecting much and I also had both Colin McRae and Toca Racing on the PSP which I hadn't explored at all. But as soon as I started to play, I was sucked in completely.

Like my other driving passion these days (Burnout 3: Takedown), the joy of Sega Rally Revo is in the joy of unlocking new races and new cars. This addictive cycle just keeps me coming back for more and more. The game is not just addictive because of this however, it plays like a dream. Whereas the original Revo for 360/PS3 had a steep learning curve in terms of driving, (putting many off before the party got started,) the PSP version is just easy to play and therefore fun from the off.

This has lead some critics to dismiss it as TOO easy and therefore, well... crap. (The usually reliable Gamespot scored it a meagre 6/10.) I know these creatures, they eat games for breakfast and shit 'em for lunch. Well I don't. I love a game that is easy to pick up and play, and dare I say it complete quickly ready for the next game to fill the gaming gap. If you're looking for a quick driving fix, you could do a lot worse than Sega Rally Revo PSP. I'd give it a very healthy 9/10!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Soul Calibur 'Broken Destiny': PSP

Hello Peeps! It's been an age since I last posted here, and for that I apologise. And it's not even as if I'm returning on a high. I'm returning here with something of a moan, so here goes. I rushed out to buy SC:BD, as I have every other Soul Calibur release since SC2 on the PS2.

I absolutely LOVE Soul Calibur. I have every incarnation of the game including it's 'prequel' Soul Blade on PS1. It's my favourite fighting game of all time, and I love fighting games. So when I heard there was a handheld version coming out for the PSP, and that the frankly wonderful Kratos, star of PSP classic GOW: Chains Of Olympus was going to be a playable character, I was nearly wetting my pants.

I'd loved Tekken: Dark Resurrection for PSP, with it's single UMD versus mode and resplendent graphics. SC:BD promised to surpass it. So off I skipped to Game and picked up a copy.
Disappointment #1. was the fact that I bought a faulty copy which kept 'freezing' in my PSP. Not a great start...

Onto the second copy. New characters? Check! But the first one was the foppish Dampierre, a top-hatted dandy with a penchant for stabbing himself in the arm. WTF??? Count me unimpressed... Next, Kratos... Brilliant surely? Well, erm, no actually... Would it be the most controversial thing in the world to say I preferred playing as Yoda in SC IV? 'Cos I did!

The games modes are uninspiring to say the least. I've no idea how to play random players online, in fact I've not managed to play versus anyone... The Gauntlet Mode, requiring the player to pull off specific moves, against a variety of opponents, is one of the most frustrating game modes I have ever encountered. I got to a certain point and could just not get past it.

I ended up wanting to throw my PSP against the wall in rage, then I remembered that would be a rubbish idea, LOL! In the end I just took the UMD out and I've not put it back in since. I can't remember a time I was more disappointed by a game.

With GTA: Chinatown Wars, I got one of the best and most satisfying game experiences I can remember, which was coincidentally on a handheld. With SC:BD I got one of the most annoying game experiences I can remember, which just so happened to look amazing and feature one of the most iconic gaming characters of all time. Go figure!

Now very often, when I don't take to a game, it's me and not the game. I wonder of anyone else could confirm or deny which one if at fault? In the interest of fairness, I'll post a video review. Then you can make up your mind!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Golden Sun DS

Thought this place was dead? Well, think again! :D Let's delve back into the hand-helds, shall we?

The near future of the big portable systems (DS and PSP) was unveiled last week at E3, and Nintendo's conference was easily the week of the big three. There were a couple of interesting announcements, but between a new Super Mario Galaxy, a...meh...port of the DS's New Super Mario Bros., and a new "vitality sensor" for the Wii, that let's you feel like you're in the hospital on life-support while you play, the DS's future didn't seem that bright (unless you're into the tween games, in that case prepare to be overwhelmed...). That is...until this beauty was announced!

Golden Sun DS, bitches!!!

Oh, am I excited! The original Golden Sun is only one of my favourite jRPG's of all time! Unfortunately I never played the sequel, The Lost Age, but I guess now's a good time to correct that. Can't wait! :D

BTW, there was another big announcement, but I'll save that to another post ;)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

MobileZX: an ultra portable Speccy

MobileZX Spectrum emuChances are you, dear reader, already have a phone, a PDA or some other sort of portable device that sports a colour screen and happily supports Java. If that is indeed the case, then chances are MobileZX is the app for you. It is, you see, a freeware emulator for the masively popular 8-bit (mostly) gaming computer that was the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and thus an emulator that will let you enjoy Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy, Arcadia and even the abomination that was Super Gran on the road.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Amazon Kindle 2

Amazon Kindle 2Say hi to the latest portable reading device that isn't a book: Kindle 2 by Amazon. A wireless, small, shiny and particularly good looking little gadget with an impressive paper like screen, that can hold up over 1500 books, allows you to actually read in the dark (or while camping in the wilderness, I guess) and will even read for you via its Text to Speech feature. Over 230,000 books have already been made available for the thing and the new Kindle 2 can be pre-ordered here. It will ship later this month, mind.

Monday, January 19, 2009

From the Abyss to the DS

From the Abyss DS RPGIf hacking and slashing your way though randomly generated levels while waiting for the bus is your idea of fun, well, I'm pretty sure that From the Abyss is the RPG for you and your dear DS. Have a look. The thing even sports a co-op mode you know.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce - PSP screens

Dynasty Warriors: StrikeforceDynasty Warriors: Strikeforce PSPDynasty Warriors: Strikeforce koeiDynasty Warriors StrikeforceShiny and filled with lovely PS One era effects, wouldn't you say? Oh, and they are quite obviously from the Japanese version of the game, mind.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pocket Physics DS

Pocket Physics Crayon DSHaving just mentioned Crayon Physics on another blog, a wise man from the gutter pointed me towards the seemingly impressive homebrew offering that is Pocket Physics. It's an attempt to recreate Crayon Physics for the DS and for free, it is. Have a look.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Giana Sisters DS. Could it be?

Possibly the most interesting DS video, well, possible. The Great Giana Sisters might just be back, and this time its all about jumping around the double small screens, without having blood sucking lawyers harass them. Mario, eat your heart out.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Frontier 1337: Elite for the PSP

If you've never played Elite, you just can't imagine what you're missing. The rest of you will be more than happy to learn about this seemingly great and definitely freeware port/remake for the PSP: Frontier 1337. It's not exactly Elite (more than Elite II really), but definitely worth a download and try.