[24/10/12] Windows 8 Release Preview
I have been playing around with the Windows 8 Release Preview for some
weeks now. During that time, I have also read other reviews from other
websites. Most have been criticising of this new OS, but I think it is
great. A new step up from the old.
Starting with the installation,
it is fast and simple. Once it has loaded all the files necessary for
installation, it will progress, taking roughly twenty minutes. Once it
boots up again, it will ask for your colour and a PC name. Do this, and
then it is to the next part of setting up an internet connection. Again,
simple. Then you have a choice to make a normal PC account, or use your
Microsoft Account to sync all apps together and be able to access the
Store and get easy access to other apps like SkyDrive. Once the account
has been set up, you will see a black screen with "Your PC will be ready
in a moment". Then you are taken to the new Start menu, the previously
The Metro interface runs in conjunction with the
normal desktop view. While other reviews have had a lot of negative to
say about this new interface, I think it is the best with what it does.
Initially for the new Microsoft Surface tablets launching alongside the
proper release [October 26, though the Surface Pro doesn't release until
January], it is quick and simple to use. Open up an app and it will
load almost instantly, with the occasional longer time for the more
complex apps. Then, when done, just bring the mouse cursor to the top of
the page and drag it to the bottom. Or if not, place the cursor on the
bottom left corner to bring the start menu icon up then move it up along
the side of the screen to see all open apps. You can also see the last
open app by doing the same thing but placing the cursor at the top left.
Or you can just press the Windows button to get to the start menu.
apps themselves work wonders, and work in great order. The Store, where
you buy all the apps necessary for work and play, the XBOX LIVE Games
app for the serious gaming, is very much like the XBOX 360 Dashboard,
with its apps split into different areas like Entertainment and Social.
Talking of the apps, some work in conjunction with others. Load up the
People app, and it will show you all contacts linked with your Microsoft
account in alphabetical order. Just click on a name and it gives you
their info and options. If they are online, and you want to send a
message, the Messaging app will open up for you to type. Sending an
email and the Mail app will open. It can also work the other way around.
Want to start a group message? Go to the Messaging app, right click and
choose new, People app will open up and you can then choose who to
include in the message. Same goes for mail.
Working in the
desktop, you can swap between any Metro app and the desktop at any time,
as, in effect, the entire desktop view is another app in Metro as well.
Or that's what it treats it like, anyway. Gone is the usual messages
when you insert a disk or memory stick. Instead you'll see a message in a
box at the top right corner in the colour of your Start Screen asking
you what you want to do instead.
The faults I can
recognise are that, while fast, it has had to do away with some of the
things that would slow it up. No booting to the desktop as soon as you
start up. You will see the Start Screen first. No visible settings are
available, including the option to turn it off. That is in a menu
helpfully hidden at the right hand side of the screen, ready to appear
when you put the cursor in a right hand side corner.
I haven't had a test of all features, Gadgets return, but the Aero
feature, which produced the glass bar effects in Windows 7, has gone.
There are still Aero themes, but you will have to select them from
Personalize. Having more than one monitor is also included, but how that
works, I have no idea. I suppose it would be easier than on Windows 7
All of this, the move to a new interface, and
the syncing with a Microsoft account, might seem useless to most, but
Microsoft is working to get all services it produces together. Windows 8
and Windows Phone 8 work with the same Metro interface, both can
connect with the XBOX 360 to search the new Internet Explorer on it, and
can also be used as a second screen, as part of the new XBOX Smartglass
In other words, it seems that Microsoft are
doing the right thing, even if most people aren't inclined to think that
due to the touchscreen friendly look that Microsoft have adopted for
this new operating system, which most seem to think is a pain with a
mouse and keyboard. Yes, it will get a bit of getting used to, but if
you consider it, the Metro interface, with its Start Screen and hidden
settings, aren't that different from Windows 7 and its Start Menu.
Edit [26/10/12] I now have upgraded to Windows 8 Pro through the upgrade assistant,
and can report that, in the final version, the Gadgets and Sidebar have
been removed. Unfortunate, I know. This was because all of the preview
releases were using the Windows 7 desktop view with an edited taskbar.
Hence why the Aero themes were still available. The new themes are
alright, and have a good active/inactive scheme.
[3/11/12] Need For Speed Most Wanted PSV
The way this game has turned out surprises me. EA showed off the footage
for the console versions, showing us the open world, the high octane
police chases, and the races through traffic. Then they said the whole
thing would come to the Playstation Vita as well. Ony recently was it
confirmed that the PSV version would be exactly like the console
versions but with a few minor adjustments.
How true to their word they were.
see, the main idea of this game is a Burnout Paradise style game, but
more gritty. Instead of the Paradise radio, you have access to the
police radio whenever you get into trouble with them. This means you can
better escape them. Talking of the police, the system used is like that
of the GTA games. The more wreckage you perform and the more persistant
you are, the higher your code rate goes. Escaping is the same as well.
Get out from their gaze and you enter 'cooldown'. Your code ratings will
start to go down, until either the cops get you in their sight again or
you lose all your code ratings. The longer you can keep the cops off
you, the more your Most Wanted score will go up.
it's this Most Wanted score that is the main aim of the game. During
racing, meeting special requirements or the police chases, you will earn
Most Wanted points. The races themselves are great. Whether circuit or
street rally, they will provide a challenge, what with fighting the
traffic as well as battling for position. However, I've only come across
five of them during my playtime. There might be more, but they are
still diverse. When you get enough Most Wanted score, you can challenge
the elite racers, then earn their car. This is much the same as in
Burnout Paradise, where if you win, the car is released into the world
and you have to take it down. But with Paradise you didn't have police
onto you and the other as soon as the race starts, or the fact that it
is a code three chase and you cannot enter 'cooldown' no matter what.
Not that you'd want to anyway, as the police are as much help as
hinderance, and the fact that these elite racers aren't called elite for
nothing. These racers are harder than the normal ones, as they'll be
speeding along to the max. Unless they make a mistake.
there is all the other things you've got to do in the game. Just like
Burnout Paradise, there are gates and billboards dotted all over the
map, which you locate and smash. Doing this will also get you Most
Wanted score. As well as these, there are jackspots, where you
can find new cars, including an Ariel Atom V8, and speed cameras which
you need to hit. The billboards record your jump length, and the speed
cameras record your speed. Any reason for this? The new Autolog of
This shares your data between your Need For Speed
friends, so they can try and beat your records. But that's not all on
the online front. While I haven't extensively tested it, the online is
great as well. Joining a group, you have a number of challenges, in
which you get more Most Wanted score. You can unlock other mods for your
cars through the online mode, and you can still do what you want.
However, if you don't get to the meet up after a certain amount of time,
you will be relocate there. While the events are fun, there is a bit of
lag. Hence why there are no police in online mode. At the end of the
events,the total points are added up, and your Most Wanted score is
added to the full score on your profile. You can join or leave a game at
The graphics are top notch, but with a few
glitches here and there, especially with the skid marks. The sound is
also good, but you might be asking, any reason specifically for the PSV
version? Why yes. Since the PSV can play music at the same time
as playing a game, it makes great sense. But here is this game's
masterpiece. If you are playing music from the PSV's player, the in-game
music is muted. You still have all your engine sounds and police radio,
but your own music is slotted into the game. Genius.
Those who'll most likely enjoy this - those who play racing, action, adventure or simulation games, or a mixture of those.
- When winning a race, you will also get extra additons to add to your
car to make it better. These are only for that particular car, however,
hence the repeating of races in different cars. As such, this adds a
sort of RPG element to the game.
PSS - Critereon
weren't kidding when they said it was a significant achievement and that
there were performance issues. To be honest, it is a significant
achievement to get this game running almost perfectly on the PSV, but
they still haven't got rid of most of the performance challenges. I had
something I have never seen before on my PSV. A GPU error. And that
doesn't count all the times it has seemlessly crashed. However, don't be
downheartened at this, since it doesn't happen that often if you close
everything else except music, and seems to go away all together if you
run it without the music player.
[11/4/13] Things On Wheels - Xbox Live Arcade
So then. Another review.
This one will be a work in progress
though, as I work my way through the full of the game. I'll still manage
to cover most of the game straight off though.
on Wheels is an RC racing game found on XBLA for 400 points. A good deal
for the content it hosts. Or so it seems. The game features twenty
tracks set over four episodes, making it five per episode. What
makes it interesting is it's story. Even if there isn't much of it. A
millionnaire hosts an RC racing car tournament every year in his
mansion. Your uncle has a champion in the tournament, but that champion
acquires a broken wrist, and so you have to take his place. You start by
going to the prologue, reading the first blog entry which explains all
this, then head out to the sandbox to practise driving. It's cool, as
this sandbox is the garden of the mansion, and some of the races will
come out here as well. Once you've had enough practise, exit out of the
sandbox, move back to the menu and select Championship [or arcade if you
want to practise actually racing] to get straight into the first race.
This first race is where we get our first look at the powerups.
powerups are fairly straight forward. Boost, shield, ice, and electric.
The first two are fairly obvious, boost and shield, but the other two
are attacking moves. Ice covers the wheels of nearby drivers to make
grip a thing of the past. Electric slows nearby drivers down, sort of a
slow motion thing. These powerups are freely available to all drivers
and are visible on field so you can see what you will be getting. And
that's a good thing, as you can drive through the same powerup again to
stack the meter so you can use that powerup for longer. But beware -
drive through a different powerup, and you'll get that powerup
instead, and it will drag the meter back to minimum power.
this is an RC game, you can forgive the shonky physics. Really? In the
first five races you might think this. "It's just an RC game. These kind
of driving physics are expected." But then you get to the next five,
where the tracks become more complicated, and you'll find yourself
wanting to be struck by the electric powerup yourself just so you can
make a tight corner properly. Things aren't helped by the fact that no
matter what race you are in, you have to finish first. Thankfully there
are checkpoints on the track, and you can press Y to reset to the last
checkpoint passed if you get lost [or stuck].
leads us onto the AI, which to be fair, is completely terrible. If
you're not busy crashing into every item you see on the track, it is
easy to get way ahead of them. So much so that if you do get stuck right
near another checkpoint but don't pass it, then reset to the previous
checkpoint, no-one will have passed you. Other times, they're uselessly
barrelling themselves into a wall right next to a checkpoint. Honestly,
its the most silliest thing ever. In the last race, I made a complete
mess of the first corner and gave the competition a huge lead. Instead
of restarting, I decided to go ahead and catch them up. It was only on
the second lap that I realised I was in seventh. I hadn't passed anyone, or
so I thought. Coming up on a checkpoint, I see another racer curve too
early and hit the wall. It then reset. It made exactly the same move,
then reset again. I continued watching it, and again and again it would
make the same move.
Now then, I don't want to make any
more paragraphs on this title, so important things to note. The sounds
don't seem to have had much effort put into them, and even the
soundtrack is just one track. The graphics are alright, and stand up
with most games, but against others of the latest times, there is a
pretty sizeable difference. If you want to go online - don't bother,
it's dead. Local multiplayer is alright though, and features the same
modes from the single player arcade mode. Some of the achievements are
god-damn easy [look at the last page of blog??] and others are just so
near impossible it's untrue [complete a lap in 56 seconds on a track
that doesn't even seem able to be completed in under a minute].
the only thing this seems worth it for is this XBOX Live Rewards [April
2013] MyPunchcard promotion as one of the games you buy.
-Good for pick-up and play despite the radical controls
-Range of modes
-The tracks are good, but...
-...can be a pain to navigate at times
-Uninspired sounds and soundtrack
-Dead online multiplayer
-Stats that are just for show
Last Word: I can see now why this was launched "quietly" on XBLA.
While a good racer, the only thing I can recommend if for is being
cheap, and at 400 MSPoints, I'm pretty sure there are more better things
to buy anyway.
[16/6/13] My Reviews From Now On [Update]
So, I was thinking about my reviews that I have done on here so far, and
feel that they have been very varied in their style and approach.
Especially the games. If anyone has been on Neoseeker and read my
reviews on there, you'll know what I'm talking about.
This is for game reviews only, however, and when I do other reviews, I will outline how I will go about them first.
now on, I'll be doing a free flow approach, starting with what I feel
is the main point of discussion. From there, I will cover a lot of other
things as well that are needed for that game. This will be varied,
depending on how much time is needed to cover it. Once that is over, I
will then list ten pointers, both good and bad, which will form the
basis of the entire review. There will be no score, although the good
pointers of the review will sort of form the basics of that score. Eight
good points will be eight out of ten, for example.
be a shorter post than what it previously was, but that was explained in
detail with each pointer. This type of review hardly needs much
explanation, and is better shown through example, which is why there'll
be a review in a couple of days. And since I'm halfway through writing
this one, it will be posted.
[30/10/13] Sonic Lost World 3DS
Lost in the World.
Don't get me wrong. This game is good.
But something is lacking within. It's a typical Sonic affair. Eggman's
up to no good, and Sonic and Tails set out to stop him. Amy and
Knuckles are in the game too, but Knuckles hardly does anything, and Amy
is just for contact with the Earth below, and due to a very specific
plot point, I can't say more than that. The Lost Hex, where the action
takes place, is home of the Zeti, who are under Eggman's control. The
story has some interesting twists in it, but the end result can be
predicted. The best part of this story has already been shown to hype up
the game, where the Deadly Six take control of Eggman's mechs after
Sonic makes a mistake. This doesn't take place until the end of the
second world, but the rest of the story follows on from this with Sonic
and Eggman teaming up to take back control of the situation. The ending,
not to put too fine a point on it, is sort of anti-climatic, leaving
out big questions that need answering. But it is a better story than the
previous offerings of Colours and Generations, and for the first time
in a handheld Sonic game - proper cutscenes. While the cutscenes
themselves only show a glimmer of their beauty, they are considerably
compressed so that they hardly shine above those in the WiiU version.
And talking of the WiiU version, the 3DS version has less cutscenes
included, though none of these are actually vital to the story, as they
involve the first encounter with each of the Deadly Six which isn't
included in the 3DS version, and are referenced in the second encounter,
which are shown in the 3DS version before each boss battle.
leads us into the gameplay itself. And that first time thing is
continued here as well. As for the first time in a handheld Sonic game,
we have 3D levels. Seven zones, three acts and a boss fight in each
zone. We get a tutorial in Windy Hill, but the controls are simple
enough anyway. A and B control jumping, double jumping and homing
attack. X and Y control spin dash [in which you'll need to release the
button and hold it again to get the unlimited dash, which is sort of
like the boost of previous games] and the bounce attack when in the air.
The R button makes Sonic run, which is vital for speed, and the L
button centers the camera, which seems pointless when it could have been
used for Wisp activation instead. Unlike the WiiU version, no Wisps are
controlled with the gimmicks of the console [except quake] but have to
be activated by tapping the Wisp icon. The bottom screen holds the Wisp
icon, the gadget icon, and the power-up icon, as well as showing how far
along the level you actually are. The controls themselves work well
enough, with gameplay being smooth if a bit jarring. Running is good
enough but does feel a bit of a risk on smaller platforms. Sonic also
still has his annoying brake slide, which always feels as though it's on
ice. That means if you can't slow down quick enough, it's goodbye to
one of your lives. And you can only find the lives within stages, as
collecting 100 rings no longer gives you a life.
activated if you have enough speed for it, so even if you aren't holding
down the R button [which is the only way to activate it in the WiiU
version] you'll run up or across a wall. Even when in a spin dash. It
isn't much of an issue in the earlier levels, but when you get to the
last few zones, it does become a bit of a problem when using parkour,
especially when you need to use the sidestep. The jump also feels too
floaty to be very effective, although it does the job more often than
not. The homing attack now comes fully charged, with a wind kick
activated with X or Y when locked on, and a triple tier system which
charges depending on how long the lock is left for. These two moves are
vital for most enemies. For example, in the E3 and other demos which
showcased Desert Ruins Zone 1, people were stuck on the giant purple
worms and couldn't work out how they defeated them [if they ever did].
The trick is to use the wind kick [weirdly classed as the somersault
in-game] when locked on, which then reveals the yellow stripe. Wait
until the full lock is shown [three yellow rings with the normal red
lock] then attack. You'll have to dodge the purple sludge spewed by the
worms, but if the lock-on is quick enough, you'll have nothing to worry
about. And most of the enemies follow the same sort of format.
that is Lost World's biggest flaw. Aside from the basic controls and
some slight tricks [which can be accessed from the pause menu anyway] it
hardly gives any tips whatsoever. And for a game that is meant for
newcomers to the series, that is a bad sign. But if even veterans are
getting stuck, you know it's a serious flaw. When you work it out
though, it does become a lot easier to defeat these types of enemies.
The puzzles in this game also suffer from the same fate. They tell you
what you need to do, but little beyond. There are many classic
references in this game, but the difficulty and hints needn't have been
fully referenced as well.
And talking of references,
access to special stages is granted by holding onto fifty rings at the
end of a level after hitting the button on the Egg Pod [also a reference
to the Mega Drive games]. If the access to them is easy though, playing
them is a lot harder. If the Wisps hardly use the gyroscope of the 3DS,
these special stages test it to the limit. In a SEGA take of Face
Raiders, you have to twist and turn to control Sonic through space
collecting orbs and plus time while avoiding obstacles and negative
time. There are three sets of orbs to collect [except in the seventh
stage, where there are four], and then a mad dash to the Emerald itself.
Collect all seven, and you get access to Super Sonic. That's if
you can, of course. While the first few are easy, later stages get
harder, reducing the time and placing more time reducing boxes around
Other collectibles include five Red Star Rings
hidden in each level [except bosses], materials [which you get upon
completion of a level], and hard mode stages which unlock upon
completion of the final boss, then after completing the boss of the hard
mode zone. These hard mode stages make slight changes to the levels to
make them harder [obviously] but only give you one ring to get the level
complete. To add to the hardness of it, the stages are set at night.
The effect is slightly ruined though when some assets still look exactly
like their daytime counterparts.
This then, brings us
to graphical quality. While it does look good, it also looks a little
basic. Rings are less flashy than usual, as are the enemies. Objects are
blocky, and textures look more flat than usual. Sonic's model, and
in-game models of the Deadly Six, look a little blocky, or to use the
better term, pixelated. Effects like explosions are also horribly
rendered. The background, while good to look at, also looks low-res.
graphics don't spoil the gameplay though, or in fact, the music. As per
Sonic tradition as of late, Tomoya Ohtani and the musicians of
Unleashed return, and the first thing you'll notice is how wonderful the
music is. The main theme seems to show that, what with it being called
Wonder World. That name also means a whole new world to explore. The
music is as diverse and varied as the levels themselves, but it still
doesn't feature such a varied soundtrack as the Adventure games
[and perhaps that's for the better]. What we do get is beautiful to
listen to music, all orchestrated. And with earphones in, it sounds even
Then we get to Tail's lab. This is where you use those
collected materials to create gadgets and power-ups to help you on your
playthrough of the levels. Upgrading the lab gets you even more to
build. These range from stealth jets, fighters, and helicopters. While
good in practise, you have no control of them other than to activate
them. Which means you can't deactivate them. These can also be
transferred to the WiiU version for use in the WiiU co-op mode.
Multiplayer is good fun. There are one custom level of each of the seven zones
that up to four people can play on, either online, in local play, or
download play. The ranking system returns, giving you points when you
win, and taking points off if you lose. It also helps if you come first,
as you can attack the pod multiple times to get materials from it. Some
of these are harder to get in single player unless you 'aced it' and
got an S rank. The frame rate suffers here though, even more so than in
the single player, where it only really slows when underwater and you
get hit by an enemy.
This is one of the better Sonic games
on handhelds, and can even compete with some of the 3D console games,
but the flaws of the 3D Sonic games come with it as well, including
twitchy controls and camera, though both seem less pronounced here.
+ + One of the better stories in a Sonic game, and arguably the best of recent times.
+ +Diverse levels across seven zones, but some fall a bit flat
+ + + A great soundtrack
- - Controls are troublesome in later stages and sometimes earlier stages
- Final boss fight is a bit underwhelming after a build up of better end of zone boss fights.
- - Good special stages but use the gyroscope controls, making them fiddly.