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microwavedapple Blog

Just submitted my first review in over a year!

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So, I used to love writing reviews. I really enjoyed it, and wanted to get into it even more. I had improved my writing a great deal from when I first started writing reviews, till the point that I stopped. I don't really know why I stopped, I guess I just lost my motivation. But today, I have just submitted my first review in over a year. I tried to make this review different to my previous reviews. I don't want to use all of the big, fancy words that journalists plaster all over their pages these days. I wanted my personality to come out into this review, so I wrote the review as if I was telling a close friend about the game (or at least, that's how I wanted it to come across, I don't know how well it worked).

So anyways, yay for me.

My top 5 most wanted/underappreciated games

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Top [insert number here] lists are all the rage these days, although heavily overused. But I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon and list my top 5 most wanted/underappreciated games that are coming out in the future. E3 really enlightened me to some of these games, and I really can't wait to get my hands on them. So here we go:

1. Afrika

Afrika

This underhyped gem is at the top of my most wanted list for combining my top two interests, animals and video games, and merged them into one giant photography game. Although little is known about Afrika as of this time, a Japan only release is likely.

2. Mirror's Edge

Mirror's Edge

Although you've very likely heard of this first-person action adventure game, there is no doubt that Mirror's Edge is underhyped. Heavily inspired by the French sport "Parkour", Mirror's Edge sets to redefine players views on movement in first-person games.

3. Flower

Flower

Developed by the same studio as the creators of flOw, Flower sets to boggle players minds once more in a technically astounding and therapeutically relaxing experience. With over 2,000 blades of grass rendered individually, Flower will provide a unique experience where you control a gust of wind that glides flower petals across beautiful landscapes.

4. de Blob

de Blob

de Blob is a game devoid of colour. At least until the Blob comes along and restores colour to the city. With interesting gameplay mechanics and a beautiful art sty|e, de Blob seems like it will be a sleeper hit on the Wii.

5. LittleBigPlanet

LittleBigPlanet

Who cares if this is a well known and well hyped game for the PS3? Can you honestly say that a game as unique and fun as LittleBigPlanet doesn't deserve to be on this list? Well, then you just made Sackboy cry.

And there we go. I hope I've enlightened you to some of the underapreciated upcoming games, and maybe even got you excited for some of them. Well, enjoy!

GTAIV: Two steps forward and one step back

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Revolutionary. That is the word I'd give if I were asked to sum up GTA3 into one word. Not only did it do what none of us thought was capable at the time, it practically created it's own genre as well. Many copy-cats followed but none came close to the awesomeness of Grand Theft Auto.

And now, seven years later, GTAIV is here! And unsurprisingly, it's great! But just how great is it? Well, if Vice City and San Andreas were never made, then you could call GTAIV as big as a revolution as GTA3. But both of those games added new features such as buying houses, motorbikes and awesome new weapons which made GTAIV have less of an impact. But what really annoys me about GTAIV is the lack of some of these features that many of us considered the norm.

The character customisation (that admittedly, went into the extremes in San Andreas) is very limited, only offering a change of clothes. Now this wouldn't be too bad, but there aren't that many clothes to choose from, and alot of those clothes don't make Niko look any good. Being able to buy safehouses would of been a nice feature in GTAIV, not only to give players that extra amount of freedom, but it would be something to spend some money on (as money is far too plentiful). The lack of planes and parachutes also detract from the fun-factor as base jumping from these sky-scrapers would be awesome fun and planes would be great to pilot. But these are all minor flaws when compared to my next point:

The lack of mid-mission checkpoints. I cannot output the amount of frustration that had built up inside me when I had to restart a half-hour long mission just because Niko accidentaly nudged a car while chasing someone. This led Niko to be hurtled through the air, and before Niko could get to his feet, the guy had gotten away. And this didn't just happen once, but over six times before I finally nailed the ****.

But we should always look on the bright side of life or, in this case, look on the bright side of beating hookers with a baseball bat. I would list what makes GTAIV so great, but this rant has gone on long enough as it is, and I'm sure you already know what makes GTAIV great anyways. To sum up: Grand Theft Auto IV is good ol' Grand Theft Auto minus some of the fun extras that we took for granted in previous GTAs.

**SPOILERS** Princess Peach gets kidnapped!!

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Sorry for ruining almost every Mario game ever made for you, right there. I'm sure you'll get over it. But what you may not get over is the fact that Nintendo are rehashing, or even milking their franchises, and even spoiling the greats. Some consider Shigeru Miyamoto to be a very creative man, a visionist, even. Sure, gaming wouldn't be where it is today without him, but his so called 'creativity' is practically non-existant and it may just be time for him to throw in the towel.

How creative are you when you make 60+ games of the same franchise, with the same storyline, with little new gameplay mechanics? How creative are you when you not just do that with one of your franchises, but with almost all of them? I'm not saying Nintendo games are bad, but just unoriginal.

There are so many more creative developers out there who don't get the attention they deserve. Team ICO is one, the now non-existant Clover Studios is another. Media Molecule are up there too.

All you Nintendo fans may now be screaming that it's the gameplay that matters, and not the originality of it. And of course, that's true. Nintendo can and do make fun games, just not original ones. Soon people will get bored of these franchises and move on, and then Miyamoto's creativeness may spark again.

Simultaneous good and bad luck...

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After listening to the ever-so-delightful GameSpot UK Podcast and learning of a wonderful competition they were hosting, I tested my luck. The prize was a Patapon Press Kit (For those not in the know: http://uk.gamespot.com/users/R-Force/show_blog_entry.php?topic_id=m-100-25342154 ). This was before the release of Patapon, so I thought I could bag myself a free copy of Patapon and some extra Patapon goodies as well. Unfortunately, the competition ended AFTER Patapon's UK launch, which I had already planned to march down into stores and pick it up on release day. Knowing my horrendous luck, I went out and bought Patapon. It is a very hard game, but mainly because I have the rythm of a dead weasel. So, I chucked it to the side and focused on Eye of Judgement and Final Fantasy Tactics which I also bought on that fateful day. A few days ago, a package arrived for me in the mail. Ontop was a form from Sony with the words "Patapon Press Kit". My heart raced. Has my years of bad luck actually run out, or was this a very, very good dream? I hadn't payed attention to GameSpot UK when they announced the three winners, so I had no idea beforehand that I had actually won. So here I am. Stuck with a big package of a great game that I already have, but I'm not that big a fan of it. Maybe my luck should've gone into that high-end gaming PC that was a few competitions back, but I shouldn't be ungrateful. But was this the end of my bad luck? Hell no. Since then I've been soaked by a passing car speeding through a puddle, lost some money, woke up with strange wounds down my arm and to top things off, Condemned 2's been delayed. Oh well, only another 3 years before I find a penny on the floor.

Are the SIXAXIS' motion sensing abilities destined to fail?

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I've been away for a while. Two weeks to be exact. So, as you do after a long time without video games, you sit down, grab a litre bottle of Red Bull, sickening amounts of chocolate and have one of the gaming binges that last so long, you hear people on the news that have died attempting such a feat. Luckily for me, I'm fine and dandy. Even luckier for me, however, is that I had a host of games to come back to. The anticipated release of Burnout Paradise happened while I was away, so that was first on my list. Then there was PAIN, the hugely funny download only game that, for the moment, is only released in the US. So I was lucky to get it, even luckier to get it for free. Decided to grab Go Sports Ski, another download only game for the PS3. High Velocity Bowling also grabbed my attention. And then there was lots of Team Fortress 2 to catch up on. What a binge indeed. But after reluctantly switching on Go Sports Ski after reading GameSpot's 4.0 review of the game, I have to say that I completely agree. Not only are the customization options so limited a flash game would be embaressed, but the controls suck, too. Motion sensing only...Yawn. Unfortunately, this isn't the first game with crappy motion sensing controls. Anyone tried completing MotorStorm using the motion sensing? Good luck to you. Over sensitivity makes it almost impossible. Burnout Paradise's aren't any better either. Especially in traffic filled roads. The infamous Lair is also guilty of crappy motion sensing controls. And there are plenty more I haven't mentioned. So it hit me: Are the SIXAXIS' motion sensing abilities destined to fail? Sure, videogames are nothing without the all so mighty analog stick (minus PC games), and quite frankly that's a great thing. They're easy to use and a lot of fun trying to pop headshots in the terrifyingly addictive Team Fortress 2. But think back to the pre-analog days. Back when the D-pad was number one. I can say for most of us that I was reluctant to make the almighty switch to the analog stick. Mainly because I found it hard, and I (stupidly) felt that the D-pad gave me more control. But, alas, we all made the switch. And I'm sure none of us regret one second of 'giving the analog stick a second chance.' So, is this the same case with the SIXAXIS? Are we afraid of using it just because it's different and not used to it? Or is it ok to give props to lazy developers who sloppily throw motion sensing in to the game like a donut into chocolate sauce? To be honest, I think it's a bit of both. Sure, there are those games that badly represent the SIXAXIS' motion sensing, but there are those that do motion sensing really well. Look at Folklore for example. It's superb motion sensing controls give the game that special charm, the same charm of playing through Resident Evil 2's Duel Shock Edition for the first time. So, within time, I'm sure we'll be tearing through the streets of whatever comes next in the Burnout series, using the SIXAXIS as a steering wheel, like we've done it all of our life.

Half-Life 2...

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I recently purchased The Orange Box for the PS3. I have never played a Half-Life game before, because of several reasons. I have never been a PC gamer. 30+ small buttons on a keyboard that need split-second reactions to press just isn't my idea of fun. Never have got around the controls. I also neverowned an Xbox, so the Xbox version was out of my reach. I do have the original Half-Life on the PS2 though, but you can't uninvert the controls, which makes it unplayable to me. So unfortunately, Half-Life has just stayed out of my reach, despite the never-ending praise it has received.

So, thanks to the genius at Valve who decided they should create The Orange Box, I have gotten chance to experience the series. Well, the Half-Life 2 and it's expansions anyway. And what a game it is. A 3 year old game, and it looks great! It stacks up to some of the most recently released games. Now that's a feat that many games can't live up to. But what really stands proud is the gameplay. In all of my years of FPS gaming, I have never come across such an innovative, refreshing game. How the physics, puzzles, envrionment and shooting all play together, you really have to think outside of the box. The best physics based puzzle was in Half-Life 2, when there was a bridge half submerged in water. I had to grab some barrels full of air, drag it down underwater, and but it in a basket attached to the bottom of the bridge, which made it raise up, and let my hoverboat go over it. There are plenty of more puzzles like this throughout the game, and they're a blast to solve.

Many games do not even compare today to the greatness that is Half-Life 2. Best FPS ever made? Without a doubt... What's more amazing is that it's 3 years old! Bring on Half-Life 3!!!

Note: I will not be reviewing The Orange Box anytime soonas I can't play Team Fortress 2 (Due to online problems). But what I will say about the 4 out of 5 games that I have played, The Orange Box is a 9.5/10 amazing game. Long loading times and occasional slowdown are the only problems I have with it. Portal is awesome.

GameSpot's GOTY Nominee's...

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They're disappointing. Very disappointing. I don't like how much they've looked past the PS3. No Warhawk for Best Multiplayer? No Folklore for Best Story? Have I been playing the same games they have? No Uncharted: Drake's Fortune for Best Action/Adventure either. Some of you may call me a fanboy, but if you have played the same games that I have, you will know that these games deserve at least a mention. None of the GOTY Nominee's were my absoloute favourite, bar from a few titles. But I guess as long as I think these games deserve the title, then that's all that matters.

Testing...

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If you're reading this, then you've wasted your time as I'm using this to test something. I'll delete this if necessary.