Archive for the ‘Video Games’ Category

XBox 360 – Early Interest in Halo 3

September 23, 2007

Although Halo 3 will obviously go shooting up the offical XBox 360 game charts, it’s still floating around #3 in the Swopster wanted chart – I guess quite a few members won’t bother adding it to their WishLists since there’ll be little hope of getting it in a swap for a while yet.

Interesting to see Rainbow Six Vegas still right up there just behind BioShock though:

  #1   Bioshock (13)
  #2   Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Vegas (11)
  #3   Halo 3 (10)
  #4   Crackdown (10)
  #5   The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (9)
  #6   Gears of War (9)
  #7   Forza Motorsport 2 (9)
  #8   Colin McRae: DIRT (8)
  #9   Guitar Hero 2 with X-Plorer Guitar Controller (8)
  #10   Lost Planet: Extreme Condition (8)
  #11   Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (8)
  #12   Assassin’s Creed (6)
  #13   Dead Rising (6)
  #14   The Darkness (6)
  #15   Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars (5)
  #16   Grand Theft Auto IV (5)
  #17   Mass Effect (5)
  #18   Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (4)
  #19   Burnout: Revenge (4)
  #20   Call Of Juarez (4)

(note: This is Swopster’s US chart)


Cheap Deals – Cheap Ass Gamer

September 16, 2007

I stumbled over a great site the other day for cheap game deals (note: its mainly for the US)

Not only do they list loads of up-to-the-minute video-game deals, but there’s a healthy forum there full of advice and interesting discussions. They even have a forum dedicated to game trading which, naturally, I’m kinda interested in.

What struck me about all this was how great it was to see a game swapping community doing so well. It’s given me a lot of encouragement for what Swopster could achieve (eventually).

Obviously I still have a long way to go though – the CAG site has over 25,000 members.

Getting Halo 3 Early?

September 15, 2007

Some news over at MaxConsole about at least 2 lucky gamers buying Halo 3 before the official release date.

Hey, will this start a sudden tourist rush to Norway?

Gaming News – BioShock, Metroid, Wii and Lair

September 11, 2007

A little round-up of all the recent gaming news…

While I’ve played a lot of FPS games ever since they first arrived on the scene, I thought this interesting list of the most influential FPS games over at Gunslot aptly demonstrated the huge graphical improvement through the ages. It’s funny how those early, ground-breaking games were awesome at the time, buy now they look pretty tame. It makes you wonder – will we be thinking the same of Halo 3 and BioShock in years to come?

Speaking of BioShock, Metroid is currently outselling it… Way to go Metroid!! I have a soft spot for the cute little Wii – its not as graphically impressive as the super-duper next-gen consoles, it doesn’t have the most impressive title line-up…but I have to say it is way, way, way more fun.

Not wishing to go on about the Wii too much, but I noticed a great looking crossbow controller for it. Now that would be fun!

Also (and I pray to the Jedi lords they’ll actually make these), a proper Wii light-sabre is on the cards too. Oh man, that would be fantastic!

Rather brilliantly, Sony has hit back at negative reviews of Lair and sent out a ‘reviewers guide‘ just to give those pesky reviewers an idea of how to play their game.

Eeh, you couldn’t make it up…

Can Video-Game Swapping Really Work?

July 25, 2007

Despite the misgivings of bloggers like Mike Arrington of TechCrunch, online swapping/trading services simply refuse to roll over and die. Mike argues that the barter system does not work.

Personally, I find this kind of interesting since I’ve been happily watching lots of new members sign up to Swopster every day. Successful game swaps are taking place all the time. In fact, all around, new swapping services seem to be springing up. Most recently, SwapTree went live and looks to be doing well.

So, can these swapping systems really work? What’s wrong with cash-based services for buying, selling and trading-in games?

Well, obviously, buying games at their retail price is just plain crazy when there are numerous online shops like Amazon offering substantial discounts on just about everything. But even Amazon prices look high if you’re willing to buy a pre-owned game from your local video-games shop or eBay. There, you’re likely to chop a half or even two-thirds off the original retail price. This is digital entertainment – it doesn’t need to be in pristine condition. It just needs to play.

All well and good. But that’s still a significant amount of money for something that doesn’t have a terribly long shelf-life. If I buy a music CD/MP3, I’ll keep it for decades and listen to it fairly regularly – a long, slow burn. Video-games, on the other hand, burn very brightly and fade quickly. I’ll play a game for weeks on end and then lose interest. They just gather dust on the shelf.

That’s where swapping services like Swopster can come in. You’ve bought the game, played the game…and got bored with the game. Instead of trading it in for peanuts (seriously, you will be amazed at how little you get back by trading games in at a video store), you can simply swap it for next to no cost.

If you want to play lots of different games, or you’re disappointed in a game you’ve bought, swapping is an idea way to get the maximum benefit from your games collection.

But, while there are lots of swapping services out there, Swopster is carving a nice little niche for itself in providing:

A Free Service
Some swapping services charge you each time you swap. Some charge subscriptions. But our aim is for you to try as many games as possible for the lowest possible cost. So our service is free.

Direct Swapping (no building up points)
A major problem with points-based swapping services is when members flood the system with their unwanted low-value games to accumulate points, hoping to use them to trade for a high-value game. If the majority of members do this, very few popular games end up making it into the system.

Swopster provides a more immediate way to swap, in which all games are equal. Of course, you’ll need to find someone who can fulfil your swap, but our matching process does this for you instantly.

Games Only
Video games are high-priced items that generally wouldn’t be swapped for other entertainment media like audio CDs, movie DVDs or books. So, rather than complicating everything, we’ve taken the simple approach – swap a game for another game.

By only swapping video-games, we’ve found we can concentrate fully on your likes and dislikes. Tell us the consoles you have and the types of games you like, and we can save you a lot of time by filtering out all the stuff you don’t want to look at.

Safe, Community-Based Swapping
Swapping with strangers can never be 100% safe – just look at some of the tales of woe on eBay. That’s why you can create your very own private swapping communities on Swopster. Invite your friends, colleagues, or forum buddies into your community and swap with complete confidence.

So, can swapping really work? I guess only time will tell, but Swopster is signing up new members every day. And with each new member the circle of swappers, and the choice in the game swapping pool, gets a little bigger.

Review: Killzone:Liberation (PSP)

May 30, 2007

Liberation (PSP)
Welcome to my first game review. Just to give a little perspective to my review – my favourite types of games are arcade driving games and first-person shooters. [I am not an uber-gamer]

People raved about KillZone when it first appeared on the PSP and, like the meek sheep that I am, I blindly stuck it on my list for Santa for Christmas. 5 months on, and I have only just gotten around to actually playing it (oops!).

Let me just say, this game is frighteningly addictive. The first time I sat down and played it properly, I wasted 5 hours on it. Last night, another 3 hours flew by. Exceptional!

I’ll not bore you with the elaborate back-story of the game. Instead, here’s a summary: You have a little soldier blokey, tool him up with weapons, and manoeuvre him around a series of 3rd person viewed scrolling environments to do some nonsense missions. Shoot, throw grenades, blow shit up. If the scenario is not familiar to you, welcome to planet Earth!

Liberation (PSP)

My first hurdle was having to control my psycho-soldier with the PSP’s analog stick. I have zero coordination in my left thumb and tend to prefer stabbing the directional keys in PSP games rather than being ultra precise with the stick. This was a major trauma for me and probably the reason why I left the game alone for so long after a brief initial try on Christmas Day. It was my loss – it really is worth sticking with it (no pun intended) and getting used to the analog PSP stick.

I have a mental block when it comes to reading instructions. In fact, I just ignore their existence altogether unless I’m absolutely stuck-for-four-hours kinda stuck and going mad. So it was nice that the game pops up little instructions whenever there are new things to learn. Very handy for people like me who simply can’t be arsed to wade through manuals.

So – back to the action – there are these bad dudes with glowing eyes who you’ll need to kill. Their eyes change colour depending one whether or not they know you’re there – they’ll be glowing red when they find you. This really doesn’t matter at all because these guys are just plain mean. You won’t need to see their glowing red eyes to know they’ve spotted you – the barrage of gunfire heading your way will be ample warning!

I dutifully went about mastering the control system and dying a million times getting the hang of taking these guys out. You can aim with the analog PSP stick as well as move with it, and my clumsy thumb seemed to make it incredibly difficult to line up a shot on the enemy until a few hours of practise.

Health and ammo are conveniently stashed in breakable crates, but there are some chest locker things which contain mega-health, different weapons and explosives (grenades, C4, etc). I found the menu system to select and grab these items a bit confusing at first, only really understanding what the hell I was doing about 4 hours into the game. To begin with, this aspect isn’t that important, but you’ll need to master it for the levels later on.

The game isn’t a wide-open type of environment like Grand Theft Auto. It’s very, very linear – you’ll be forced along set steps to achieve checkpoints. I quite liked not having to think too much about it or coping with anything too mentally taxing (draw your own conclusions…). So it was fun to figure out how to tackle the (relatively small-scale) staged scenarios.

After a couple of levels, the designers decided to introduce some nightmarish additional elements. Little robotic spider things that chase you – when they get close they blow up and (invariably) kill you. These little critters scuttle straight at you – and can climb over obstacles, so you eventually run out of room if you try to run away. The worst thing is, you can hear these evil suckers a mile off, so if you’re in the middle of a gun battle you need to keep alert and be ready to take out any marauding spiders as quickly as you can. You can kill them by shooting them, but the automatic weapons aren’t stunningly effective against them – better to use the sniper rifle and kill them with one or two shots.

There are also minefields and nasty rotating laser trip wires – I found these elements to be just plain annoying rather than adding to the challenge. Perhaps they were just added to vary the gameplay a bit, I don’t know. Accidentally blundering over a partially hidden mine and being blown up isn’t a whole lot of fun for me.

The enemy soldiers seem to take quite a bit to actually kill. With some of them, you need to knock them down 3 times before they eventually die. And the ones armed with rocket launchers are horrendous to take out. The rockets are heat-seekers and very, very deadly. So far, my tactics consist of crazy do-or-die kamikaze missions with frag grenades (you can only carry two at a time) hoping to take out the rocket launcher guy before he gets a chance to blow me to smithereens (yet again). He’s generally flanked by a couple of goons armed to the teeth, so this tactic generally involves losing a fair bit of health. But it’s the only way I can figure out that seems to work!

I’m not sure if it’s down to my [lack of any gaming skill] whatsoever, but I find the game has hit that sweet spot for me where it’s hard-as-nails to do some levels, and very frustrating, but you still want to give it another go and vary your tactics, try a different weapon, etc. This must be a difficult balance for the developers to pull off, but they certainly seem to have managed it.

The AI is okay – the enemy soldiers sometimes do little forward-rolls to avoid your gunfire, and they hide occasionally too. One on one, you’ll easily beat anyone without a rocket launcher – but things get quite interesting when you’re caught in a crossfire with enemies slowly outflanking you.

So, all in all, highly recommended. With this type of game, it’s the sort of thing I’ll easily play for hours and hours, rather than a quick 20-minute blast. And there seems to be enough variety and content in there to keep me hooked.

Rating: 8/10


May 30, 2007

There are loads of well-written, expertly-crafted games reviews out there. So, it’s time to rebel against this cosy little system and introduce my own series of badly-written, wholly unprofessional game review efforts 🙂

Unlike the well-researched reviews you normally read, my reviews will be bodged together with a complete lack of investigation, effort or skill:

  1. I simply don’t read instruction manuals. This greatly lengthens my gaming sessions (better value for money) but also leads to a teeny-weeny bit of frustration at times.
  2. I’m just a normal guy who likes playing games occasionally. Not an uber-gamer well versed in umpteen control systems with speedy reactions. In fact I have similar reaction times to a month-old corpse. Therefore I completely suck at playing games.
  3. I have (approximately) the same memory capacity as the guy in Memento. This leads to hours of frustration on driving games as I simply cannot memorise tracks. Be warned, I shall rage against any games where my puny memory capabilities are stretched in the slightest.
  4. I can’t remember what my fourth point was… 🙂

So, onwards to my first victim…

A Review of KillZone:Liberation on the PSP