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Opera or Mozilla....hmm

I've been using both, I'll admit the older version of Mozilla kinda sucked...but I've upgraded and it kicks Opera's ass, or so to speak. I mean I had to wait for all the images to load on Opera plus muti-tab browsing was inconvenient. Mozilla Firefox (the new one) is sooo much better and I don't know why people were saying Opera is better in the first place...the only advantage is the speed dial feature or w/e it's called.


Metal Gear Online - PS3

Confusion and misinformation are familiar friends to the Metal Gear series but a special level of commotion seems to have been reserved for this new spin-off.

First it was a standalone game and then it was bundled with Metal Gear Solid 4.

The ridiculously convoluted sign-up procedure for the current public beta test then managed to turn confusion into full blown internet chaos.

Beta testing, for those unfamiliar with what until recently was purely a PC phenomenon, is a way for developers to test how an unfinished game works in terms of technology and gameplay, before releasing it properly.

It's essential for online games, where's it's impossible to predict how the general public will play them.

So even though this isn't the finished game it's still impressively complete.

Although this uses the same graphics engine as Metal Gear Solid 4, the gameplay is a cross between the online components of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and Portable Ops on PSP.

Essentially a third-person shooter, the game uses the same behind the shoulder camera view introduced in Subsistence.

The auto lock-on doesn't prove very reliable and so as usual fine aiming has to be done in first-person mode.

Since the fiddlier controls would quickly frustrate in a standard online action game, considerable effort is made to incorporate stealth gameplay.

Or at least it is in the Sneaking Mission game mode.

The other four are very limp versions of the usual deathmatch and capture game modes, that can be found in any shooter from the last five years and which the controls really do not suit.

The idea in Sneaking Mission is that one player is Snake and everyone else is split into two teams and have to fight for the right to kill him.

Snake's task is to nab the dog tags off the other players with the help of his camouflage cloak and other gadgets.

This all works well since it actually plays like a regular Metal Gear Solid game, rather than the cod shoot 'em-ups that the other game modes represent.

Another welcome feature is the degree to which you can customise your character before a battle.

A wide range of upgrades can be assigned, allowing everything from quicker reloads to the ability to track enemies.

Taking a leaf out of Counter-Strike's book, you also have to balance your budget when it comes to new items and equipment before a match.

We imagine that the majority of feedback Konami gets back from this beta testing is that Sneaking Mission mode is great and the other modes are a complete waste of time.

Hopefully it'll also get the hint that some of the maps are rather dull.

That the best by far is the newest one is a good sign though and one that will hopefully ensure that this will be an equal partner to Metal Gear Solid 4.

Lets talk GTA

I never expected to write a blog post about a game, but dammit, its GTA! =D

In the short term the future of Grand Theft Auto is very easy to see.

It doesn't need Mystic Meg to predict that there will be two more games using the same basic game engine, in the manner of Vice City and San Andreas. But what after that? What is the future of GTA and by extension the whole "sandbox" genre? Could it be the start of a genuine virtual reality?

Lets talk about the game itself first. I want to eliminate any fanboyism so if you are a hardcore Cow/Lem (if you dont understand what the hell I'm saying, be happy that you're normal :P) I want to make a few comparisons to the two versions on the Xbox 360 and PS3.

To any normal person there are essentially none. If you want to be picky though, the PS3 loads slightly quicker (after a 10-minute install) and has less texture pop-in and jaggies. Let me add that these differences are only apparent if you opt to play the game a meter away from the screen of a HDTV with a magnifying glass.

The Xbox 360 version is not without its advantages, namely the custom soundtracks and out-of-the-box rumble. What's likely to make more difference, though, is the prospect of extra downloadable content on the Xbox 360. From my knowledge they are two downloadable episodes that accumulate to at least another 10 hours + of gameplay.

Whichever version you play Grand Theft Auto IV is the current state of the art in virtual reality, not necessarily in terms of its graphics but in the sheer variety of things you can do and interact with. The game is essentially trying to simulate a whole life, albeit one of a game-friendly gangster. From that point of view it's possible to see it as the male equivalent of The Sims.

So many of gaming's most popular titles nowadays are consumed with the idea of offering a life away from life – from World Of WarCraft to Animal Crossing and Second Life, not to mention current gen entities like Oblivion and Mass Effect. It's hard to imagine Rockstar won't be close behind with their own game.

Future iterations will include ever more vast cities and varieties of vehicles but the number of non-violent activities will surely also multiply. If Grand Theft Auto VI begins to segue into an all-encompassing "everything" simulator it's because of the foundations being grounded today. The sheer prospect of this sounds very promising if R* manage to deliver, but hey, when haven't they?