Jackie Chan Adventures – Demo PlayStation 2

Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Atomic Planet Entertainment
Released – October 8th 2004
Price : £39.99

When you visit your local game store and begin to browse the shelves, in the hope that you might find something that catches your eye, it’s a fair bet that you probably don’t give some titles a second look because of their packaging or because you think the game is aimed at another age group. Recently we got to play a demo of Jackie Chan Adventures and whilst you may think this is a game for children (which is natural as the game is based on the cartoon of the same name) it’s actually a solid action adventure that will appeal to most gamers.

Starring as Jackie Chan, who’s an expert on ancient artifacts as well as a secret agent for the government’s secret Section 13 in the cartoon and the game, you’ll begin the game heading for Mexico to search for valuable talimans. Throughout the game you’ll be traversing the globe with your niece in search of other talimans that are said to have the power to protect the planet from ancient Chinese demons. You’re not the only one in search of these talismans though. An evil group of Ninjas known collectively as the Dark Hand want these talismans for the evil demon Shendu. As you might expect though Jackie can make use of his Kung Fu to defeat these ninjas. Each of these talismans gives its owner a special power. Early in the game Jackie finds a talisman that gives him extreme running speed. Using a talismans power though will deplete your Chi so you have to be careful when and where you use these abilities.

As you can see from the screenshots on the right Atomic Planet went for a cel-shaded look with Jackie Chan Adventures and for the most part it works well and helps create the illusion that you’re involved in a cartoon adventure. Holding down the R2 button will allow you to enter a first person mode which is useful for having a good look around. The camera is controlled with the right analogue stick and for the most part the camera causes very few problems. Cel-shaded games have been really popular over the last few years but not all of the games that have used cel-shading have made an appropriate use of it. Jackie Chan Adventures however is definitely suited to this graphical style.

From what we’ve seen of Jackie Chan Adventures it’s deaf gamer friendly, although there are ways it could be better. Subtitles can be enabled so you’ll be able to enjoy the game’s story. Tutorial hints also appear in text so you’ll have no problem in learning what to do in a game. An exclamation icon appears over items that can be used or moved etc. Your health and Chi levels are shown via gauges which is always helpful. What we did notice though was that some key sounds are not captioned and whilst this doesn’t cause any major problems it is unfortunate. There was one puzzle where you have to step on a button and platforms rise from the ground. A ticking sound can be heard to signify that you have a limited amount of time to cross over these platforms but there is no visual clue to signify how much time you have left or that your time is limited.

Obviously without having played the full game it’s difficult to say how the game is overall but from what we’ve played it’s going to be one fans of the Jackie Chan Adventures should really appreciate. More importantly though it looks like the game might appeal to those who like a good action adventure. As we’ve already said the combat is fairly simplistic but the exploration and puzzle elements that are here should make it far more than a button basher. There is even a variety of EyeToy games that can be unlocked which will be a most welcome addition for those of you who own an EyeToy camera. This could well be one of the big surprises of 2004 and we’re actually looking forward to playing the game. Expect a review sometime in October.

 

PaRappa the Rapper PSP

Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.
Release Date: Out Now

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of PaRappa the Rapper, which first appeared back in 1997 on the PlayStation, Sony have re-released the game for the PSP. One of the first rhythm games to be released, PaRappa the Rapper was successful because it was not only a lot of fun but also because it was unique. Ten years later and we seem to have rhythm games galore. Has PaRappa the Rapper aged well or is this one blast from the past that’s definitely showing its age?

During the course of the game PaRappa, the paper cut-out young pup, will find himself in some challenging situations as he seeks to impress Sunny, the girl (or should that be sunflower) of his dreams. He needs to do things such as become a hero, learn to drive and pay for his Dad’s car that he’s wrecked. These are big tasks for PaRappa but all he has to do is believe, which essentially means that he has to play a rap-based, rhythm mini-game.

Every rap involves pressing either the X, square, circle, triangle, L and R buttons at the appropriate time. Each rap features a series of lessons. First of all the character who is accompanying PaRappa will do their moves, which enables you to see the button sequence, and then it will be your turn. This pattern continues throughout the rap. Timing is all important as you’re given points for getting the timing right and you lose points for being even a fraction out of step. On the lower right of the screen you’ll see how you’re currently rated. Ratings range from U rappin’ cool to U rappin’ awful. If at the end of a lesson you’re rated poorly you’ll fail the challenge and will have to attempt the rap again. Should you complete the rap; the story will progress with a cutscene before moving onto another rap.

After ten years PaRappa the Rapper still manages to be an enjoyable game. However, there are problems. The major problem for deaf gamers is that a large part of the game’s appeal is the music and this is something that deaf gamers will be completely unaware of. The game only has six rap challenges which in effect, makes the game very short. If it wasn’t for the fact that the game requires perfect timing in the rap mini-games (unless you’re playing on the extremely forgiving easy difficulty level), you’d be done in less than an hour. As we’ve just mentioned, perfect timing is required but this is trickier than it should be thanks to the L and R buttons not being responsive enough for a game of this nature. You can download extra songs and the game does support Ad Hoc play, which has you and three others carrying out the same rap mini-game and the winner being the one with the highest score, but these extras do little to hide the small amount of content that’s on offer.

The game’s presentation is absolutely fine. The graphics have a charming 2D, flat look to them with paper cut-out characters (in the same fashion as the Paper Mario games). The graphics in this PSP version appear to have had some smoothing applied to give the graphics less of a jagged look and the game’s cutscenes, which still look great, don’t actually fill the screen. Deaf gamers will be able to follow the game’s storyline thanks to all of the important dialogue being subtitled. All of the game’s tutorial messages are shown in text. The cutscene dialogue has no character portraits or names placed alongside the text but it’s always clear who is saying what. Even the song lyrics are subtitled.

The PSP version of PaRappa the Rapper is essentially a game for those who enjoyed the original game all those years ago and who now want to play the game again whilst on their travels. Even at its budget price of £19.99 though, the game does feel light on content. Rhythm games have moved on a lot since PaRappa the Rapper was originally released back in 1997. Back then it was seen as innovative and original but compared with the rhythm games you can buy today on the PSP, such as Gitaroo Man Lives!, it feels quite basic. Still the game manages to retain its charm and I daresay some will appreciate being able to play this on their PSP. Like those who are interested in floating ,oney in the market can never get over the benefits offered by Bitcoins, similarly if you are a game lover, you will enjoy this game till the end. You can go through my top article to see how well bitcoins have taken over the industry and are attractive users towards it just like any other A List game.

Overall Game Rating 6.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification C
(Click the letter or here for details)

Despite not being a game that’s aimed at deaf gamers, PaRappa the Rapper can be played without any problems although deaf gamers won’t be able to appreciate how the music ties in with the rest of the game. The game is pretty light on content and the six rap stages won’t take too long to complete. In fact it’s disappointing that more content hasn’t been included. The game also feels a little basic when compared to the many rhythm games that have appeared over the years.

 

PaRappa the Rapper pic 1PaRappa the Rapper pic 2

PaRappa the Rapper pic 3

PaRappa the Rapper pic 4

© Deaf Gamers 2000 – 2008

Birth of America PC

Published by Matrix Games
Developed by AGEOD
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £18.99 (Digital Download)
Available from: Matrix Games

When you think of turn-based wargames there are several adjectives that spring to mind. Complex, tactical and I daresay for some people (although certainly not for this reviewer), tedious. One adjective that certainly does not spring to mind is the word stylish. Turn-based wargames are many things but when it comes to their appearance they are usually way behind the standards of other genres. Of course this doesn’t matter because we play the games for their depth and involving nature. Wouldn’t it be nice though if for once we had a turn-based strategy game that was not only complex and deep but also looked great? Well maybe we can have it all as Birth of America not only plays a great game but also has a visual style that few in the genre can even come close to.

As the title suggests Birth of America is concerned with historical American battles in the latter half of the 18th Century covering both the French & Indian War (1754-1763) and the American War of Independence. The game has a mix of campaigns and scenarios ranging from an introductory tutorial scenario to the 1813 Great Lakes scenario.  The game can be played against the challenging AI or against a human opponent. It’s worth pointing out that some scenarios are a little unbalanced. That is to say that the balance is usually lopsided and one side is considerably easier to play than the other. This may not be an issue when playing against the AI but when playing against a human rival it can definitely be more problematic. Essentially the goals in a scenario are to control the strategic cities and the objective cities in order to gain Victory Points, although there are some exceptions.

Usually historical based wargames are rather on the heavy side and in truth they are rather inaccessible for most gamers other than most grizzled grognard. Birth of America is more accessible than most wargames. However, that’s not to say the game lacks depth just that some of the tedium has been removed from the experience. Micromanagement has been kept to a minimum. There are no lines of supply to keep an eye on as forts, friendly regions and depots etc. generate supply. Armies can draw supply from either the region they are in, the inherent supply reserves, supply wagons they have with them or an adjacent region. Moving your armies around is a straightforward procedure as the game makes use of the drag and drop mechanic. What you’ll have to keep an eye on is the nature of the terrain and the weather and both can have adverse effects on your men with attrition occurring and movement being hampered.

So does Birth of America finally give us a wargame that’s completely accessible to everyone? The answer has to be no, although it’s more accessible than most. There’s still a lot going on here that may be a little overwhelming to those not familiar with such games. The tutorial doesn’t really do much to ease in new players and it could have been much more comprehensive. Going on to the first scenario after playing through the tutorial can be a little overwhelming and you’re going to need to read through the manual in order to feel comfortable with the game. The play-by-e-mail method does seem rather awkward and again it’s a feature that only the most dedicated gamers are going to take advantage of. Of course for the grognards out there none of these complaints are going to really matter but it’s a shame the game wasn’t more accessible.

Birth of America is a good strategy game no matter which way you look at it. However, one of the most refreshing aspects of the game is the quality of the graphics. The map looks fantastic with its beautiful hand drawn style. The unit pieces look rather impressive too. In fact the game on the whole has a strong board game look to it that certainly suits the game very nicely.  For being an overall well-packaged game, it is doing pretty well in the industry similar to how Bitcoins are performing. The two can be compared as they are equally attracting a lot of users and managing to keep them glued despite of several twists and turns in the functioning. One can navigate here how the Bitcoin market is flourishing every single year just like play station games. The game’s original and stylish look definitely adds visual appeal to the game however it does appear to be rather heavy on the system resources. I played the game on a PC that contained a Pentium D 805 CPU, 1GB RAM and an ATi X800XT which is far from being a cutting edge PC but it usually has no problems with games such as Birth of America. However, I frequently experienced the game slowing to a crawl when scrolling around which was disconcerting. Naturally the more units involved on the map you play on the more problematic the slowdown is.

In regards to its suitability for deaf gamers Birth of America is absolutely fine. All of the information in the game is given in text. Most games in this genre usually require you to print out a PDF manual in order to follow the tutorial but thankfully that’s not the case here as all of the tutorial is in text (all of the messages in the game are delivered exclusively in text). In fact deaf gamers will be unaware of the one area that the game falls short, the sound, which certainly isn’t a problem. Some of the text in the game is rather small which is a little unfortunate and it’s certainly hoped that this could be addressed in an update at some point.

Birth of America is recommended for those gamers looking for an enjoyable turn-based wargame based on the French & Indian War and the American War of Independence. The game has a unique look and it certainly makes a refreshing change from the basic look that most wargames have. However, it’s a shame the game is so demanding. It’s quite common for the game to take seemingly forever just to scroll around at times and it can become a real test of patience. The tutorial could also have been more comprehensive and provided a better introduction to the game. Still if you’re an experienced wargamer that’s not going to be a problem (although the demanding system resources might be) and you’ll find a game that’s both challenging and interesting, especially if you’re interested in the battles that took place in North America in the latter half of the 18th Century.

Overall Game Rating 7.6/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification D
(Click the letter or here for details)

Birth of America is not only an enjoyable turn-based wargame but it looks impressive too. It’s a bit of a system resource hog though and the tutorial could have been much better.

Birth of America packBirth of America pic 1

Birth of America pic 2

Birth of America pic 3

Birth of America pic 4

© Deaf Gamers 2000 – 2008

 

Pro Evolution Soccer 2008PlayStation 3

Published by: Konami
Developed by: Konami
Release Date: Out Now

Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 for the PlayStation 3 is both satisfying and downright disappointing. The Pro Evolution Soccer series has been one of the highlights of the PlayStation 2’s gaming catalogue and each yearly release has been eagerly awaited by the series’ many fans. Needless to say then, the wait for the series to arrive on the PlayStation 3 has been highly anticipated. With the game now finally released the feeling is one of anticlimax. The series plays a better, more realistic game of football than anything else on the PlayStation 3 but there’s a strong feeling that the game isn’t finished and could have done with far more time in the hands of the developers.

Those who have been expecting big things of PES 2008 may be surprised to find that not a lot has been done to alter the core experience. Last year’s Xbox 360 version of PES 6 was technically the first ‘next-generation’ version of the game but it was so light on modes that it paled in significance to the PlayStation 2 and PC versions of the game. This year Konami have given us all the modes we expect. The problem is that not a great deal has changed from what we were seeing in the PES games that appeared on the PlayStation 2. Sure the presentation of the Master League has been improved, you’ll receive some degree of fan feedback and pictures of your loyal supporters (as well as a rating for the appeal of your team) but it’s nothing that impressive in all honesty. The game’s main menu has received an overhaul but it’s debatable as to whether it’s an improvement.

Of course fans of the series are more concerned with how the game plays and here big things have been expected with the developers talking about a feature known as Teamvision. Essentially this is a feature that gives you an adaptive AI to play against. The AI is supposed to learn and adapt to your style of play. We saw a similar feature in NHL 08 a few weeks ago. In NHL 08 the adaptive AI did a truly impressive job of picking up on how you played and reacting in a natural way to combat it. In PES 2008 I’m not so sure the AI is as intelligent in this respect. What you will notice is that the game has become more physical. Players now use the full weight of their bodies in a challenge and it’s possible to muscle players off the ball in order to gain possession. There is a side effect to this more physical game-play though as there seems to be far more free-kicks given than in previous versions. The referee seems to be rather finicky and the amount of free-kicks that are given really breaks up the flow of the game.

Some additions to the game-play are a little bewildering. Konami have included the ability to make your player take a dive. This is something I would rather not have seen in a PES game as it’s a feature that you usually only find in an arcade football game. The goalkeepers also seem to have problems keeping hold of the ball. They are good at shot stopping but they have a tendency to spill the ball into the path of the opposition, which can lead to you conceding silly goals. Another peeve of mine is how goals which are wildly deflected off defenders don’t always go down as own goals. I’ve scored several goals that have taken wicked deflections off an opposing defender and yet my player has been credited with the goal.

The biggest problem that PES 2008 on the PlayStation 3 has is performance issues. To be blunt, I’ve never played a Pro Evolution Soccer game that performed as poorly as the PlayStation 3 version of PES 2008. At times the frame rate simply bombs to a level that the result is a temporary slide show. The crazy thing is that the frame rate issues seem to be dependent on the stadium you play in and whether you use the wide camera angle. Some stadia really cause the frame rate to plummet (it is worst of all when using the wide camera angle, which most PES fans do), whilst it’s possible to play match after match in other stadia without any real hint of slowdown. You can install key files to the PS3 HDD (around 1.8GB in total) and you can turn off the stadium effects but this doesn’t really seem to do anything to ease the situation. The replays and pre-match presentations also suffer from slowdown. Playing online is also a bit of joke at present. There are major lag problems and Konami have acknowledged that there are problems to be sorted out (a message from Konami, informing you that the problems are being looked at, greets you when choosing to play an online game). As a side issue it’s worth noting that you have a registration code that must be entered before you can play online, which effectively ties a copy of the game to its original owner. PES fans are unlikely to part with their copy but it’s not good to see such a measure taken in a console game.

In regards to the game’s presentation, the game is not that much different from last year’s PES 6 that appeared on the 360. There’s a fair collection of licensed leagues here from countries such as Italy, France, Spain and Holland. Sadly there are only two official teams from England so you’ll have to put up with the likes of Merseyside Red and Man Blue once again. Graphically the game looks quite sharp. There are a good amount of player likenesses in the game and the quality of the animations is generally impressive.  This quality is actually quite similar to the graphics that you get to see when you visit the website of any leading Bitcoin exchange. No matter what their source of information is, the exchange ensures to offer perfect information for the users that can motivate them to invest their money for high profits in Bitcoins.That said, you’ll notice in replays that the ball doesn’t always make contact with the players for deflections and saves etc., which is pretty disappointing. From a deaf gamer’s standpoint there are no problems with the game’s presentation. The match commentary, which often lags behind the action or is completely inaccurate, isn’t subtitled but that’s not really much of a problem. I do wish Konami hadn’t done away with the icons that showed whether the advantage rule was being played. That said deaf gamers won’t have any real problems with PES 2008.

The crazy thing is that despite the aforementioned problems, PES 2008 still plays an addictive game of football that’s more realistic than any other football game on the PlayStation 3. It’s difficult to reconcile the disappointment of the game’s problems with the satisfaction the game can still give you. Make no mistake though; PES 2008 on the PlayStation 3 is a flawed effort from Konami. For loyal fans of the series I daresay it will help to tide them over until next year’s game but no PES fan can be totally happy with PES 2008 because of the aforementioned problems.

Overall Game Rating 7.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification C
(Click the letter or here for details)

 

Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 pic 1Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 pic 2

Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 pic 3

© Deaf Gamers 2000 – 2008

Crysis PC DVD

Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Crytek
Release Date: Out Now

There are plenty of great games that never sell well because they are either released alongside a glut of other great titles or because they are in a genre that’s already crowded. Occasionally though, a game is released at the ideal time and even though it’s in a genre that’s already crowded, it manages to do well. Far Cry, developed by Crytek, was a game that managed to benefit from its timing. FPS fans were cheesed off with the delays to Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 and were left wanting for a quality FPS to fill the void. Far Cry filled that void rather nicely and proved to be not only a great game to play but also a great game to look at.  This is exactly how my feelings were when I first learnt about Bitcoins and how they are gradually taking over the finance industry by storm. They seemed to be as great and had all the features to addict any individual who plans to earn some additional money via safe investments. You may click now and find out some great schemes to get a few Bitcoins for your wallet and enjoy it as much as you enjoy playing Far Cry.  At the time of its release, Far Cry was the best looking FPS and it’s no surprise that Crytek’s latest title, Crysis, once again raises the bar for graphical excellence.

Crysis is set in the year 2020 and you’ll play as a Special Forces operative known only as Nomad who, along with his fellow operatives, has been called in to rescue a team of scientists who have been operating on a tropical island in the Philippines Sea. The scientists have been captured by the North Koreans and the game begins with a woman named Helena radioing for help. Nomad and his fellow operatives parachute down to the island to attempt to rescue the scientists. Whilst descending down from the plane however, Nomad is hit by something which takes him far away from the landing zone. A messy landing is the least of Nomad’s problems however because he soon finds that a fellow operative, Aztec, has been killed and suspended from a tree and from looking at Aztec’s body and those of the North Korean soldiers around him it’s obvious that something probably not human has killed all of them.

Crysis is an impressive FPS. The weapons all handle well; the AI enemies are good (if a little stubborn at going down when they’ve been shot) in making good use of cover and tactical options. The level design is undoubtedly very good. All of the environments in the game offer a surprising amount of destructible objects. I’m sure most will have seen those video clips of trees being damaged so extensively that they fall and land on your enemies. There’s much more to the in-game physics than that however, and it’s probably the most impressive game since Half-Life 2 in terms of how real-world physics have been modelled in the game.

The Nanosuit and the abilities it gives you is a key feature of Crysis. There are four main abilities that the suit offers. Armour gives the suit stronger defences to provide you with added protection. Speed gives an injection of nanobots into Nomad’s bloodstream to allow him to move at up to twice the normal speed. Strength effectively doubles your strength. Cloak makes you invisible. Should you fire a weapon when cloaked the cloak will be disabled. All of these abilities can only be used for a short duration as they drain your suit’s energy. Once the energy is depleted, the ability in use will cease. The Nanosuit also has other abilities such as Aqualung which gives you a limited amount of time to breathe underwater and Night Vision which naturally allows you to see in pitch black situations.

The game also allows you to customize the weapons you have, to deal with specific situations. Take the rifle for instance. The Reflex Sight is suitable for close to mid-range targets that are on the move. A Sniper Scope is good for hitting enemies that are quite a distance from you. The Laser Pointer Module helps you to pinpoint a target although there is always the risk they will be aware of the laser. You can even add a Grenade Launcher attachment, a Silencer and a Tactical Attachment which gives you ammunition that debilitates your enemy for sixty seconds.

Those looking for a good multiplayer experience will also be pleased with what Crysis has to offer. You can choose to take part in a classic Deathmatch game (oddly there is no Team Deathmatch mode however) with up to 32 players or you can play a mode known as Power Struggle. In Power Struggle there are two teams (of up to 16 players each) and the idea is to destroy your opponent’s base. To do this you’ll need to capture a Prototype Laboratory and then take control of alien crash sites to power it and produce advanced weaponry. There are other structures that can be captured and used to your advantage too. Completing objectives earns you prestige points that can be used to purchase better weapons and equipment. In short it’s a great mode and even comes with a subtitled tutorial.

There can be no denying that Crysis looks stunning when played with the graphical settings set to the maximum. The tropical, frozen and alien landscapes all look excellent. The characters models, the in-game physics and water effects are all superb. Of course you’re going to need one hell of a PC to run the game in all of its glory. We simply couldn’t run the game in anything like its full glory and had to settle for running everything on medium settings. The game still looked good but it was nowhere near as impressive and even then there were spots when the frame rate dipped.

Thankfully, Crysis is subtitled. The subtitles aren’t enabled by default however. On starting a new game it was a little disappointing to see the opening movie, the one which shows off the capabilities of the Nanosuit, wasn’t subtitled. This was strange considering the cutscene that followed it was subtitled and from that point everything was fine. The subtitles are displayed in white text and have the name of the speaker in front of them. All tutorial messages are shown in text. Objectives are shown in text and can be recalled by holding down the Tab key. Directional pointers will show you the direction you’re being fired upon from. Your radar displays the general direction of your next objective. You also have a meter that shows you the enemy alert status which is rather useful. There is even a display that shows if you run a risk of detection with a green triangle indicating you run a low risk of being detected whilst a red, larger triangle meaning you’re running a high risk of being discovered. To summarise then, Crysis shouldn’t give deaf gamers too many problems.

Far Cry managed to take full advantage of the delays of Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 and went on to be a successful game. Crysis doesn’t arrive at such a fortuitous time with superb FPS games such as Call of Duty 4 and The Orange Box to keep it company on game store shelves. This isn’t a problem however because most FPS gamers were so impressed with Far Cry that Crysis has been eagerly anticipated. Everything about Crysis is impressive and it’s difficult to see how any FPS fan could be disappointed with the game. Graphically it’s excellent; the single-player game is impressive and even as a multiplayer game it manages to shine. In short Crysis is a must own title for any FPS enthusiast.

Overall Game Rating 9.1/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification B
(Click the letter or here for details)

 

Crysis pic 1Crysis pic 2

Crysis pic 3

© Deaf Gamers 2000 – 2008

 

Rugby 08 PlayStation 2

Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now

We are only a few weeks away from the start of the Rugby World Cup, so the timing is perfect for the release of a rugby game. Of course a rugby game that is also fully licensed for the Rugby World Cup 2007 and allows gamers to pick a nation of their choice and attempt to lift a virtual Webb Ellis Cup is especially welcome. Rugby 08 manages to both build on the previous game in the series, Rugby 06, by adding some rather useful features and also includes a fully licensed Rugby World Cup 2007 mode to get you in the mood for the real thing which begins this September.

Rugby 08 isn’t just about allowing you to play through a virtual Rugby World Cup. In addition to the Rugby World Cup 2007 mode there is also a Challenge mode, a Practice mode, a Tutorial and a Tournament mode. The Tournament mode allows you to take part in the Tri-Nations, RBS 6 Nations, Super 14, Guinness Premiership, European Trophy and World League. The Challenge mode provides a wealth of scenarios from the 1987, 1991, 1995, 1999 and 2003 Rugby World Cup competitions. In each mode the game has three difficulty settings, Club, Pro and Elite so you can make your matches (or scenarios) as relaxed or as challenging as you wish.

So how does Rugby 08 improve upon Rugby 06? The new drop goal shootout has been added to help resolve matches that are tied after extra time has been played. Essentially this is the rugby equivalent of football’s penalty shootout and five players are picked to attempt a drop goal from behind the 22-metre line with the team scoring the most drop goals winning the game. The scrum and maul controls have been enhanced and you can now drive a scrum up field at any angle, resist the drive and wheel the scrum when defending. The line-out controls have been enhanced to make line-outs feel more realistic. Perhaps the biggest plus with Rugby 08 is the improvements made in the AI behaviour. The AI seems far more competent in how it plays the game, particularly in how it defends.

There are a few disappointments with Rugby 06. Whilst the game is generally easy to pick up and play, even for those who have never played a rugby game before, there’s nothing here to explain the rules and regulations of the game to a rugby novice. Once more the developers decided not to include any online play options which is a real shame, especially as you could have really had a lot of fun playing your very own virtual online Rugby World Cup 2007.You could also argue that there are far too many high tackles from the AI which can be a little irritating. I daresay many would have also liked to have seen the inclusion of Rugby Sevens but sadly it’s been left out once again.

Graphically the game is practically the same as Rugby 06, with the exception of up to date kits. The game looks about as good as it possibly can on the PlayStation 2 and in truth there’s little to complain about with the look of the game. It could be said that the player likenesses aren’t that great but in all honesty it’s not something you’d really notice when playing a match. There are some new camera control options which allow you to view the game exactly as you want to. The player animations are all good. The frame rate holds up nicely throughout and the load times are all fairly respectable. The series is going to have to wait until it moves to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 before it can look any better than it does here.

The previous EA Sports Rugby titles we’ve seen haven’t been that great for deaf gamers. As with all sports games there are no subtitles for the match commentary. Once again the bulk of the tutorial isn’t subtitled and gamers will be completely unaware of the helpful comments that are given out. Thankfully the controls and basic instructions are shown in text so the tutorial is still of some value for deaf gamers. This has actually become a necessity today for almost every online venture, be it a play station game or investment plan like Bitcoins, to have a good base for instructions and understanding. You can check this out to see how perfectly websites for Bitcoins brief the users about the dos and don’ts when involving in the plans. From the main menu you can select the EA Sports Extras option to find information on the controls and game help, which gives you text and information to explain what the various player speciality icons used in the game means as well as information on player form and morale, out of position players and player positions and roles.

There can be little doubt that the main attraction with Rugby 08 is the ability to play through a fully licensed Rugby World Cup 2007 tournament with all the official nations, kits and stadia etc. Taking the Rugby World Cup out of the equation, it’s fair to say that this isn’t a big improvement over the Rugby 06 although, with that said, it’s definitely a game players of Rugby 06 will want to pick up. Despite there not being many differences between Rugby 06 and Rugby 08 (the Rugby World Cup aside of course), the differences do make a difference and Rugby 08 is the best in the series so far. It plays a solid game of rugby and is arguably one of the best console rugby games to date. The lack of an online mode is unfortunate, especially as the ability to play an online game such as, Rugby World Cup, would have been great, but I daresay this is something we’ll see when the series finally moves over to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. If you are currently in the market for a rugby title then Rugby 08 is definitely the game to go for.

Overall Game Rating 7.9/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification D
(Click the letter or here for details)

Rugby 08 is one of the best rugby games you can currently purchase and offers slight improvements over Rugby 06 as well as a fully licensed Rugby World Cup. The lack of an online mode and a fully subtitled tutorial is disappointing though.

 

Rugby 08Rugby 08 pic 1

© Deaf Gamers 2000 – 2007

G1 Jockey Wii Wii

Published by: Koei
Developed by: Koei
Release Date: Out Now

If you own a Nintendo Wii you’ve probably been a little frustrated of late because there just hasn’t been that many quality games released for the console. In fact, if you’re like me, you’ve probably spent more time playing games you’ve downloaded from Nintendo’s Virtual Console service. What better time then to release a game such as G1 Jockey Wii? The game has tons of depth, is completely engrossing and makes an excellent use of the console’s unique control scheme. Doesn’t it sound like Bitcoins? The investments made in this cryptocurrency are equally well-designed and keeps you engaged all the time without letting you face and uncomfort or stress. To know more on how you can be a part of this industry, check over here and get started right away for unbelievable profits. If you’re at all interested in horse racing and own a Nintendo Wii this is definitely a game you should be playing.

Before going any further we should point out that G1 Jockey Wii is essentially the same game as G1 Jockey 4 that we reviewed last year on the PlayStation 2. Given the quality of G1 Jockey 4 this is certainly no bad thing but it’s something worth knowing as you might be a little cheesed off if you were expecting a completely different game. G1 Jockey Wii offers a Story Mode, a Trial Mode (that offers both single-player and two-player split-screen races) and a Tutorial Mode. The Story Mode is where you’re going to spend virtually all of your time with the game. G1 Jockey Wii is more of a simulation than an arcade racer so your first port of call should definitely be the Tutorial Mode which will not only explain all of the controls but also the various dials and other information you’ll see on the HUD during a race.

As we’ve already mentioned, G1 Jockey Wii is more of a simulation and there are many things to consider. Each horse has a racing style. There are Front-Runners (horses who like to lead from beginning to end), Drop-In horses (who like to be close to the front and then break away near the end), Drop-Out horses have a greater spurt than Drop-In horses and therefore are able to break away from the centre or even the back of the pack and finally there are Hold-Up horses that like to shoot from the back to the front in the final stages of a race. Your potential gauge will fill quicker if you ride your horse in its preferred style and seeing as potential can be used to maintain your horses top speed after its stamina gauge has emptied, you’re going to want it to be as full as possible. You also have to consider the horse’s motivation gauge. A horse’s motivation is its desire to run. When the marker in the gauge is green the horse is running as well as it can but by riding poorly, you’ll eventually turn the marker red. Once the motivation marker has turned red your horse will simply not perform and you’ll see your opponents speed past you so it’s best to make sure the marker stays green for as long as possible. During the final stages of a race you also have to make sure you change the horse’s leading leg as well (although you don’t have this to worry about in steeplechase races but you do have to concern yourself with using the jump gauge correctly).

This all seems a heck of lot to keep an eye on and it is to begin with and when you consider you can fall if you don’t time your jumps correctly and that it’s easy to block an opponent’s horse (and earn a suspension), it may seem a little overwhelming. Thankfully though, there are several options available to you when you choose to start a career. You can choose Easy, Normal or Hard difficulty levels, whether or not to enable Stewards’ Enquiries (which can result in a suspension), you can choose whether to make falling from your horse in a steeplechase race mean you’re disqualified from a race and probably injured for a few weeks, you can choose whether to have the ability to restart a race and you have the option to save at the paddocks between races at a meeting. In effect these options allow you to play with punishing realism or play in a forgiving environment that allows you to correct mistakes, which is essential if you’re new to the series.

In the Story Mode, which is essentially a career mode, you’ll begin by creating your jockey and then heading off for four mock races before joining the stables you’ve affiliated yourself with during the jockey creation process. At the beginning of the Story Mode you’ll notice there are three characters that are to graduate with you. These characters will become your rivals (albeit in a friendly way) and during the game you’ll have feedback on how they are doing and they will comment on how your performance is going. You can upset your relationship with these rivals by requesting horses they were due to ride. You’ll notice that each jockey and trainer has a relationship icon that displays what they think of you and it is all well thought out.

The Story Mode progresses on a week by week basis. Each week you’ll be able to negotiate for any available rides. If a trainer offers you a ride you can simply accept the ride but if you want a ride that was initially being offered to another jockey, you’ll have to use some of your riding points (which are earned every week and you’ll receive bonus riding points for doing well in races) to put in a request to have that ride for yourself. You’ll lose the riding points regardless of whether your request is successful though. Other than the races you can also give three of the horses, you’ve managed to gain a ride for, a workout. This enables you to do some training in an effort to increase the horse’s form before a race. From April in your first year you’ll be able to train a new horse. You get to pick whether the horse will take part in flat or steeplechase races and then you’ll pick the horse’s parent and a new horse will be created taking on characteristics from the two parents you selected. For the first year you can’t ride your horse in any races (you can in the second year though) and you’ll just be doing various training exercises to improve the horse. The training exercises can be quite frustrating to begin with but, as with the rest of the game, if you put the effort in you’ll be rewarded by having a really good horse to ride the following year. What I really like about the Story Mode is that it never plays the same way twice. Because of the relationships you build up with the trainers and because of the horses that you help train, not to mention how the AI jockeys perform differently each time, you always have a different experience when playing a new Story Mode game.

Several games have been bought to the Wii that have featured lacklustre control systems that fail to take advantage of the console’s unique controls. Thankfully Koei have done a great job in not only making the controls work effectively but also making the controls feel more natural on the Wii than on the PlayStation 2 version of G1 Jockey 4. The game requires the use of the nunchuk attachment and offers three control schemes. Advanced allows you to use the Wii remote as a whip. You’ll wave the remote to do a normal whip, lift the remote up and down to show the whip and swing the remote in a rotating fashion to perform a windmill whip. The nunchuk is tilted to the side to turn and lifted up in order to jump. If you want some of the motion-sensing controls but don’t want to have to deal with moving the nunchuk as well as the remote you can opt for the Standard controls. Here you’ll once again wave the remote to use the whip. You’ll have to press the B button to show the whip and hold down the A button and wave the remote in order to perform the windmill whip. The analogue stick on the nunchuk to replaces all of the motion-sensing controls that the Advanced control scheme had. If you don’t want to use any form of motion-sensing controls you can opt for the Simple control scheme which essentially relies on you pressing buttons and using the analogue stick to carry out all of the action. All of the control schemes work really well although my preference is for the Standard control scheme as it strikes a comfortable balance between the energetic Advanced and traditional Simple control schemes.

On the PlayStation 2 G1 Jockey 4 simply looked OK. G1 Jockey Wii looks pretty much the same as G1 Jockey 4 and given that this is on a more powerful console it has to be said that it’s disappointing. The horses do look good but they don’t animate as well as they could have. When you turn during a steeplechase race it kind of looks as if the horses are on rails. The slopes you’ll encounter on a racecourse are far too angular and look completely unnatural. Much of the background you’ll see on a racecourse looks bland and uninteresting. I do like the artwork that has been used for the characters you’ll converse with although they are simply static 2D images. On the plus side, the frame rate is absolutely fine and the loading times are very fast, barely lasting a couple of seconds, which is very impressive.

G1 Jockey Wii is just as good for deaf gamers as G1 Jockey 4 was. All of the dialogue, from the trainers, rival jockeys, journalists etc., in the game is shown in text and you will need to press the X button in order to move the dialogue forward. During races the various gauges will show you all you need to know and the force feedback gives a nice tactile representation of the horse’s movements. Should you or another jockey commit an infringement, the word ‘enquiry’ will appear to inform you that a Steward’s Enquiry will take place after the race has been completed. The results of the enquiry are shown in text. The tutorials are all in text too meaning you’ll have no problems in learning the controls and understanding the interface. If I have one criticism it’s that the manual is rather light on information and could have been more informative.

Many games on the Nintendo Wii are aimed at casual gamers. G1 Jockey Wii is squarely aimed at those who are serious about their horse racing games. Time has to be invested in learning to ride the horse effectively. The time invested in learning how to do everything is richly rewarded however and the game will keep you busy for months on end as you play through the Story Mode. If you’ve already played G1 Jockey 4 then the game is difficult to recommend as it’s practically the same game except for the control system and some of the conversations in the Story Mode. If you haven’t played G1 Jockey 4 on the PlayStation 2 and are looking for a simulation style horse racing game then G1 Jockey Wii is simply a must.

Overall Game Rating 8.9/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification B
(Click the letter or here for details)

G1 Jockey Wii is just as enjoyable and as rewarding as G1 Jockey 4 on the PlayStation 2 and comes highly recommended to those who are looking for a quality horse racing game. However, if you’ve played G1 Jockey 4 on the PlayStation 2 you’ll pretty much feel like you’re playing the same game, albeit with a superior control system.

G1 Jockey Wii pic 1G1 Jockey Wii pic 2

G1 Jockey Wii pic 3

G1 Jockey Wii pic 4

G1 Jockey Wii pic 5

G1 Jockey Wii pic 6

© Deaf Gamers 2000 – 2007

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops PSP

Published by: Konami
Developed by: Konami
Release Date: Out Now

If you were to ask those who picked up their PSP on its launch day, it’s a fair bet that most would have wanted a Metal Gear Solid title to play on their console. Of course that did actually happen but whilst Metal Gear Acid was a great game, it wasn’t the Metal Gear Solid experience that most fans of the series wanted and was in fact more of a card-based and turn-based strategy game rather than the typical third-person stealth action game that many would have hoped for. The long wait for a ‘real’ portable Metal Gear Solid experience is finally over with the release of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops continues the storyline from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. We won’t go into too much detail in case you haven’t played MGS 3 but suffice to say that Snake is supposed to have retired from FOX. However, at the start of the game he finds himself in a Colombian prison cell and is being subjected to interrogation. To make matter worse, on escaping from the cell Snake learns that he has been blamed for causing a rebellion amongst the FOX members (who incidentally have a base in Colombia, are out to cause trouble and have nuclear weapons at their disposal) and can’t rely on any support from his own nation. There are a few who agree to help Snake but for the most part he’s going to have to recruit individuals to assist him in his task.

You might think that having to recruit your own team seems like it’s going to be a bit of a chore but in actual fact it’s the highlight of the game and it gives Portable Ops a sense of freshness that few games in the Metal Gear Solid series can claim. Same type of freshness and uniqueness was brought in by another concept related to funds and investments- it was called Bitcoins! The exchanges created for this trade are easy to use and keeps to tempted till the time you do not start enjoying benefits reaped out of your investments. You may have a peek at these to find out how these investments work. Very early in the game Snake encounters a Green Beret named Roy Campbell, who is also imprisoned and injured. Campbell agrees to help Snake but because of his injury he’s only able to act as a driver for the truck that serves as a kind of base. Having transportation allows you to travel to the various locations on your map and recruit from different regions.  As you play through the game the idea is to capture various types of enemies and coerce them into joining your side. Recruits all have their own specific role such as an Athlete, Scout, Spy or Chemist to name but a few. These recruits are very important as you can assign missions for them to help you gather information.  They can do specific tasks for you. The medic for example can be used to heal your characters. You can even play as one of the various characters you’ve enlisted and take advantage of their particular skills and abilities. You can take numerous characters into a mission with you (you can control up to four characters in a single mission) and switch between them when you want to in order to achieve your goals. As in games such as Fire Emblem, if a character is killed during a mission you’ll lose them completely which means you really have to be careful if you are to assemble a useful force.

It’s refreshing to see a PSP game that’s just so impressive. You’re not going to be subjected to long cutscenes in Portable Ops. In fact the storyline is delivered in a positively zippy fashion when compared to the PlayStation 2 Metal Gear Solid titles. As a result of this you feel more in control over the game’s events in Portable Ops. The game’s missions are all kept fairly short which is very appropriate for those who like to enjoy their games even on the shortest of journeys. There’s quite a bit of strategy involved here and it works really well and adds substance to the experience. Sure the enemy AI isn’t the sharpest on the default or easy difficulty setting (the unlockable difficulty setting is another matter however), but you still have to be careful. There are some challenging boss fights here too. Those who have played the previous Metal Gear Solid titles will come across numerous characters from previous games and this helps to give the game extra appeal to MGS aficionados. The game even makes a good job of being an engaging multiplayer title and in many ways is a similar experience to the one found in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. You can even recruit some of your opponents’ characters (as well as lose your own) during online games. You can even play against a friend who doesn’t have a copy of the game thanks to Portable Ops supporting the game sharing feature.

The Metal Gear Solid games that appeared on the PlayStation 2 looked impressive and appeared to get more out of the console than most games. For a handheld title, Portable Ops looks stunning and is easily one of the best looking games on the PSP. In fact the game looks very similar to the PlayStation 2 Metal Gear Solid titles, which is truly impressive. There have been some compromises however. You’ll see no blood in the game (which strangely enough may disappoint some gamers). There aren’t any elaborate cutscenes here. In their place you’ll find comic book sketch style sequences which carry the story forward. Whilst this may disappoint some, it has to be said that it’s very effective and works really well. In fact the presentation of the game as a whole is superb and is a glowing example of what can be achieved on the PSP. Even the frame rate holds up very nicely and the load times are bearable, surprisingly so in fact.

Portable Ops does offer subtitles and they are enabled by default. The comic book style cutscene dialogue is simply displayed with white text and there are no character names or portraits placed alongside the text. Because the cutscene text isn’t placed on a darkened overlay or in a dialogue box the clarity isn’t always as good as it could be, due to parts of the background occasionally being white or a similarly light colour. All dialogue during the missions is shown against a black background, for maximum clarity, and has the name of the speaker placed above the text. In the top right of the screen you’ll see a Surround Indicator that shows you the sounds that are being made in the surrounding area. The inner ring shows the sounds you are making whilst the outer ring shows the sounds made by others. When the outer ring turns red you have to be careful not to alert your enemies. The Surround Indicator is an excellent inclusion and allows deaf gamers to see if they are being heard. I hope this is included in future Metal Gear Solid titles. As with other games in the series an exclamation mark icon appears over the heads of your enemies who have spotted you. There are a few sounds in the game that don’t have captions such as the noise that signifies that a door is locked and there are also a few beeps that aren’t captioned. For the most part though, Portable Ops won’t give deaf gamers any real problems.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops finally gives PSP fans a true Metal Gear Solid experience and it’s fair to say the wait has been truly worth it. Not only does Portable Ops manage to capture that classic Metal Gear Solid feel, it also manages to include a fair amount of originality that makes the game feel like the next step in the Metal Gear Solid series. The graphics and general presentation of the game is superb. Support for deaf gamers can be considered good too. Even the game’s story is impressive and engaging.  In fact it would be fair to suggest that this is the finest PSP game to date. On a single-player and multiplayer level the game hits the spot and will not only delight fans of the Metal Gear Solid series (and not just because it continues the story from Metal Gear Solid 3) but fans of quality action games in general.

Overall Game Rating 9.4/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification B
(Click the letter or here for details)

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops is quite simply stunning. Definitely the finest PSP game to date. Even this early in the year it’s looking a certainty to be the finest PSP game of 2007.

 

MGS Portable Ops pic 1MGS Portable Ops pic 2

MGS Portable Ops pic 3

MGS Portable Ops pic 4

© Deaf Gamers 2000 – 2007

 

Penumbra Overture: Episode One PC

Published by: Lexicon Entertainment
Developed by: Frictional Games
Release Date: Out Now

For better or for worse it seems to be a growing trend for games to be released in episodes. Personally I’m sceptical about this because whilst the price of the individual episodes is cheaper than the price of a full retail game, when you add the price of all the episodes together you end up with a price that’s quite prohibitive. For an episodic game to appeal to me then it has to be good and certainly something different. Penumbra Overture, on the evidence of this first of three episodes at least, fits the bill on both accounts.

Penumbra Overture is best described as a first person survival-horror action adventure game. Right from the beginning there’s a sense of doom and foreboding as the character you’ll play as, Philip, talks about the death of his mother, a letter from his father (who abandoned him before he was born) and his own downfall. You’ll begin playing as Philip just as he has arrived in Greenland in the midst of a blizzard. Not long after arriving in Greenland you’ll descend underground into the darkness and from this moment on the game becomes an intimidating affair that fans of the survival-horror genre should appreciate.

Where Penumbra differs from most survival-horror games is in you need to interact with objects. This isn’t your usual, typical adventure game so you use an object by simply selecting to use one object with another. The game has an advanced physics system that requires you to literally perform the required actions with the mouse. This is the same when you deal with Bitcoins too. You have to select the bitcoin you need according to your budget or requirement and then later use it to purchase other goods and services for the sellers. Feel free to check blog written by different experts to discover how the industry of Bitcoins is flourishing. Very early in the game you find a metal hatch on the ground with one of those wheel-like locks that need to be turned in order for the hatch to be opened. In a normal adventure game you’d simply chose to use the hatch and it would be opened. In Penumbra Overture you’ll put your cursor over the wheel and it will change to a hand icon. Once the hand icon appears you’ll need to click and hold the left mouse button and then make the necessary movements with your mouse in order to open the hatch. Draws can be opened and many other objects can be interacted with in this way. To look at an object you’ll simply right click when an eye icon appears. Combat in the game is preferably a last resort but when faced with an enemy you’ll have to really swing your melee weapons in order to deliver a harmful blow. It’s important to make it clear though that the game is not really about combat and for the most part it’s not an option as the enemies are too strong to simply take an aggressive approach. For virtually the entire first episode stealth is called for and it’s the only way to progress.

One area I thought Penumbra Overture could have been much better is the storyline. Sure the game is dark and creepy (although as we’ll mention in a moment it’s not so creepy for deaf gamers) and this helps to set the mood but what is lacking is a quality storyline. Of course this is just the first third of the game and it’s a little harsh to be too disappointed with the storyline when you’ve only seen a portion of it but unless it picks up quite a lot then it’s hard to get excited about it. The fact that you don’t see your character doesn’t do the apparently weak storyline any good. Part of the charm with point ‘n click adventure games is that you get to associate with the character you see on the screen for practically the whole game. That’s not the case here though and it does feel odd. Some might be put off by the combat, which you can’t always avoid, and the fact that you can die (which isn’t unknown in an adventure game but nevertheless I’ve always found it to be irritating).

As far as adventure games go Penumbra Overture certainly looks good. It looks more like a 3D engine that you would expect to find in an FPS rather than an adventure game. Running the game at higher resolutions and with all the graphical effects turned to maximum is certainly going to need a decent PC specification. Our ever-aging system (Pentium D 805, ATi X800XT, 1GB RAM) coped reasonably well with the game running at 1280×1024 and most details set to maximum when running under Windows XP. It was very sluggish under Windows Vista though but seeing as the operating system isn’t officially supported it’s no cause for complaint, although it is worthy of a mention in case Vista is the only operating system you have on your PC.

In terms of its deaf gamer friendliness, Penumbra Overture is OK. The game is subtitled. Actually there’s not a great deal of speech in the game and most of the dialogue is text only. All of the important information is shown in text and you can recall journal information and personal notes at any time. You’re notified when a journal note has been added. What deaf gamers will miss out on though is the game’s ambience. Most of the fear aspect in the game is created through the use of eerie sounds. There are no captions in the game and without the knowledge of these eerie sounds, and the fearful ambience they help create; the game isn’t quite so intimidating. This is somewhat disappointing when you consider that a fearful ambience is one of the essential ingredients of a survival-horror game. As we mentioned earlier, it pays to be stealthy in Penumbra Overture. During the game you’ll have moments when an enemy is nearby and hearing gamers will be aware of which direction these enemies are coming from. Whilst this does make things trickier for deaf gamers, it doesn’t make things impossible. Usually Philip will say something to indicate the presence of a nearby enemy. It’s also possible to see an enemy when they are still some way off. With the dogs, for example, you’ll see their eyes shining in the dark. There are no gauges to indicate whether you’re making much of a noise, which is a little disappointing. However, if you crouch and remain still for a moment, in a location that enables you to be covered from the eyes of a enemy, you’ll have a blue tint to your vision which enables you to see a little more clearly in the dark (without the aid of your flashlight or glowing rod) until you begin to move again.

Penumbra Overture is one of those games that’s quite unlike any survival-horror or adventure game that you may have played before. Having to physically interact with objects rather than simply solving puzzles in the typical manner is something most gamers will definitely want to try. The game also does a great job of providing an intimidating atmosphere although deaf gamers won’t be fully aware of just how blood curdling the game can be thanks to the absence of captions. Judging from this first of three episodes it’s fair to say that the story needs to improve somewhat during episodes two and three because at the moment it’s less than memorable. Personally I have enjoyed this first part. Sure there is plenty of room for improvement but there’s definitely potential here.

Overall Game Rating 7.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification B
(Click the letter or here for details)

The first episode of Penumbra Overture certainly shows promise and those looking for a survival-horror or adventure game with an original twist will enjoy what’s on offer here. That said though, there is room for improvement and I’m hoping episode two will flesh out the storyline.

 

Penumbra Overture pic 1Penumbra Overture pic 2

Penumbra Overture pic 3

Penumbra Overture pic 4

© Deaf Gamers 2000 – 2007

Suikoden V PlayStation 2

Published by Konami
Developed by Konami
Release Date: 22nd September 2006
Price: £24.99

Suikoden V, an introduction.

Suikoden IV was our first taste of the much loved Suikoden series and whilst we enjoyed the game we couldn’t help but feel it hadn’t lived up to the reputation of the earlier games in the series. Suikoden Tactics, released earlier this year, made a much more favorable impression and was a game we thoroughly enjoyed. Naturally then we had high hopes for Suikoden V. After playing Suikoden V almost non-stop since it arrived, I can safely say those high hopes have been realized and at last we’ve enjoyed a top notch Suikoden RPG.

What’s the game about?

Suikoden V is set in the Queendom of Falena. In Suikoden V you’ll play as a Prince (whom you can name yourself), son of Queen Arshtat. The game begins with everything seemingly tickety-boo in Falena but trouble is brewing and it’s not long before it all hits the fan for the royal family. In Falena there are two rival noble families, the Barow and Godwin families, who both have designs on the throne. To make this situation worse there is an event known as The Sacred Games. The winner of these games will become engaged to young Princess Lymsleia who is next in line for the thrown. The Sacred Games are to be held in Stormfist, a domain of the Godwin family. Naturally a fair competition is out of the question and the whole thing is rigged. Far worse things happen after the games have taken place though when the Queen and her husband are killed and Falena is seized by the Godwin family.  Lymsleia becomes a prisoner and it’s up to the prince and his allies to take revenge.  Part of the reason for Arshtat being killed was to obtain the powerful Sun Rune so that the Godwins could use it for their own evil purposes. Arshtat had used the Sun Rune to decimate the town of Lordlake to quash an uprising.

What’s good about the game?

RPGs need a quality story to hold your interest and Suikoden V certainly has a plot that will keep you interested. The twists and turns in the story certainly help to prevent boredom from creeping in after extended play. This keeps you sticking to your chairs all the time, just how you stay glued to your computers while investing your hard earned money in Bitcoins. It’s enthralling and the results are as benefitting as that of this interesting game. You can click this to find out more about Bitcoins and how to buy them online. Along with a quality story you also need an enjoyable battle system and once again Suikoden V does not disappoint. As in previous games, numerous runes can be purchased and equipped to your characters to give them special abilities. Certain characters can carry out powerful co-op attacks.  Many other items can be found and purchased to improve the abilities of your characters. Weapons can be improved by a blacksmith too. Certain characters (such as Georg) can train other characters to improve their abilities. The game allows you to battle with six characters at a time and you can set formations for them. There are 20 different formations that you can collect throughout the game. As with other Suikoden games there’s a rather large cast with the famous 108 characters all available to enter your party at some stage of the game. Aside from the normal battles there are also large scale real time battles (on land and sea) at specific points in the game where you’ll control small armies on a battlefield or ocean. There are some duels to take part in too. Both the army battles and the duels are absolutely fine. They aren’t particularly impressive in any way but they add variation to the game play.

When the Prince (the game’s central character) talks you’ll get to choose his dialogue. Needless to say your conversation choices can affect which characters you can recruit as well as certain events in the game (although not all of the choices do). The more characters you can recruit in the game, the bigger your forces will be. Each of the many characters in the game manage to have their own personality which certainly helps to keep things interesting. Naturally there are going to be characters that you’ll dislike but there’s such a variety on offer here that it’s certain you’ll find many characters who you’ll want to recruit.  As a result of the dialogue choices you’ll make in the game, there are multiple endings for Suikoden V which means it’s a game you’re going to want to play over and over again.

What’s not so good about the game?

If I have one complaint with Suikoden V it’s that it takes a while for the story to warm up. Initially you seem to be going through the motions without anything really interesting to do. It’s possible to get a little bored with the game in the early stages, particularly as the early battles seem a little too easy, and that’s a shame because when it does get going it really is a very enjoyable RPG. With quite a few RPG games of late, random encounters have been done away with. With games such as Tales of Symphonia you can see enemies on the map and you can choose to avoid them if you wish (although you miss out on the gained experience you get from battling). Unfortunately, Suikoden V has kept to the random encounter system and at times the frequency of these encounters is annoying (although it doesn’t seem as bad as in Suikoden IV). Sometimes you’ll find yourself a little unsure of where you need to be going. Talking to Lyon (your faithful female bodyguard) will usually help to make matters clear although there are times when her comments provide no clues at all.

How does it look?

The graphics in Suikoden V are a mix of classic and modern. The default view in Suikoden V is very reminiscent of earlier console RPGs. You’ll play the game from an isometric viewpoint that’s zoomed out enough to give you a generous view of your immediate surroundings. You can choose to zoom in closer if you wish but most will prefer the default view. Although the game is in full 3D, you can’t rotate the camera. For the most part this is fine and it’s great not having to worry about manipulating the camera but there are times when treasure chests are obscured by trees and walls etc. and it would have been handy to have been able to rotate your view. The characters have a kind of cel-shaded appearance to them and they look very good. Walking around in one of the game’s towns you’ll notice that many of the buildings are rather bland and a little too angular (the exception being Haud Village which looks like a level from Katamari Damacy). Inside the buildings everything is more detailed and easier on the eyes. On the whole the game, whilst not being particularly visually impressive, is very pleasant looking and a marked improvement from the look of Suikoden IV.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

The game is subtitled and you’ll be able to follow the story without any problems. All conversations have the character’s names placed above the dialogue so you’ll know who is saying what. Important characters also have their portraits placed alongside their dialogue. In cutscenes the dialogue flows without the need to press a button but otherwise you’ll need to press the X button to progress meaning that for the most part you can read at your own pace. The game makes good use of icons to show the various status effects during battles. Tutorial messages are shown in text. In fact the only omissions are the various unsubtitled comments that your characters make during the standard battles and this doesn’t cause any problems.

Final thoughts.

Suikoden V is probably the final Suikoden game to arrive on the PlayStation 2 and the series is definitely going out in style on the console. Although there are a few months left of 2006 I think it’s safe to say it’s one of the best RPG’s we’ve seen this year and at the bargain price of just £24.99 it’s just too good to miss, whether you’re a fan of the Suikoden series or not.  There’s much we haven’t mentioned such as the ability to conduct some trading, in order to bring in some extra potch (the game’s currency), having your very own base of operations and the interesting interaction between the game’s many characters. In fact Suikoden V is just an all round impressive RPG that simply shouldn’t be missed.

Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:


(Click the letter or here for details)

Suikoden V is definitely one of the best RPG’s that we’ve seen this year and represents a return to form for the much loved series that is now 10 years old.

 

 

© Deaf Gamers 2000 – 2007