Saturday, November 21, 2009

Catch Up: Contentment...

I've been totally absent from the computer for some time , which is happily a reflection of my increasing good health and independence since my operation. I've also been in a happy period of gaming contentment in a variety of ways.

Firstly I completed the epic Shenmue on the Dreamcast. I'd played it partly because I wanted to give my Dreamcast some love, as I'd neglected it for some time. It's quite a gently paced game with a kick ass ending. I wondered whether it would stand the test of time, and it does. It looks and sounds brilliant, it's immersive and engaging, epic and wonderful. It was a nice, soothingly paced game to play as I was recovering.

As soon as I finished Shenmue, I allowed myself the luxury of downloading The Ballad Of Gay Tony, the latest download for GTA IV on the 360. It's an absolute blast to have the opportunity to explore another aspect of life in Liberty City. I couldn't be happier than when I'm playing through a GTA IV game and opening up the life of a character - Niko Bellic, Johnny Klebbitz or new guy Luis Lopez- but there is a problem...

I don't know if it's my download only, but the game is constantly crashing during missions, sometimes seconds before the conclusion of a lengthy mission and has seriously hampered my progress in and enjoyment of the game. So much so that I've found distraction elsewhere.

Stranglehold is a game which I'd dipped into in short bursts, but not really played properly. The John Woo directed 'sequel' to the epic movie Hardboiled, the game follows the investigations of the legendary Inspector "Tequila" Yuen, played by Chow Yun Fat. I've now played a good chunk of the game and it's an explosive third person shooter with elements of the "bullet time" shooting mechanic of games like Max Payne and Matrix Path Of Neo. It's graphically lovely too.

I've also just put in a bit of time on both the DS and the PSP. I decided to give GTA: Liberty City Stories on the PSP another shot, after failing to make much progress on my first attempt. I've completed a good few missions which has of course lead to me liking it again... until the next time I get stuck!
I've also been playing Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare... (no not the COD:MW 2 that has just been released)... instead I've been playing the DS adaptation of the game that was a poor consolation for Nintendo fans until now... The DS version is actually very good, with a lot of game squeezed into a tiny cartridge! Epic musical score, good use of sampled voice commands, nice 3D visuals and a good few missions that make great use of the DS stylus. I've completed it now and I'd thoroughly recommend it to any DS owners out there! I'm seriously considering getting COD: World At War on the DS on the back of my enjoyment of this title...

On my beloved PS2, I've been playing GTA: San Andreas and GTA: Vice City Stories (a PS2 port of a PSP game that I'd started previously, and then abandoned.) It's much easier on the PS2!

I've also been getting into a lot of films, watching the Star Wars series from episodes one through six and loving it so much that I actually started getting into the Clone Wars animated series too!

So anyway, just to let you know that I'm alive and well, getting better and loving my gaming!

Oh and I'm going to get the Darkside Chronicles tomorrow, so time to blow the dust off my Wii-mote and give the Wii some love!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Fifa 10 DS

My interest in football (soccer for my friends across the pond) games has been sporadic at best. The first football game I played with any regularity was Sega World Wide Soccer '97 on the Saturn. Fast forward to 2004 and I had a big stint playing Sega World Wide Soccer 2000 (Euro Edition) on the Dreamcast. But the playing of the two most popular franchises, Pro-Evolution Soccer or Fifa, (usually against my sons) would result in huge 'hissy fits', controller-throwing and general all round bad sportsmanship on my part.

In 2007, however, I found my footballing nirvana in the unlikely form of Fifa 07 for the DS. No longer did I have to play my sons, no longer did I have to face the humiliation of being out-skilled, out-played and generally shown up as inferior. Now my only opposition was the CPU players, and they soon turned out to be little opposition at all.

I played that particular title to death. I played it as my beloved Manchester City, (a club who in 'real life' have not won a domestic or European title for over thirty years) and took them to unprecedented heights of glory. For five seasons I won everything, the premiership, the FA Cup, the European cup and the Community Shield. The game could also be played in it's entirety without using the stylus or touch screen, which was great because my first generation DS was very poorly at the time!

However, time moves on, and a new DS demanded a new Fifa. Besides, Manchester City have gone through such a major squad shake up since their financial revolution, that there was only Stephen Ireland and Micah Richards from the '07 line up still in the squad in 2009. The kits had changed and... well... damn it! I just wanted an update! Now I did have Fifa 09 for the PSP (it came bundled with my PSP which also had a stick-on Fifa 09 'skin') but I never got into it, preferring instead to stick with my beloved DS '07 game. So buying the new Fifa 10 at full price was a big deal for me.

I was full of anticipation when I put the cartridge into my DS. Sure enough, apart from the inclusion of Richard Dunne, the squad was all present and correct. The new stylish black away kit was there and all looked good! I eagerly looked for the 'career mode' with which I had had such success on Fifa 07, but alas it wasn't there! Instead it had been replaced by a mode called "Be A Pro". Rather than guiding your team to glory, the emphasis was now on the career of one player, who has to succeed at a series of challenges in order to progress through the ranks of the home team and be selected by coaches for international duty.

Unfortunately, this was SO different from the game play of the '07 edition, that I found it almost impossible to play, let alone find any success. I was massively disappointed and about to vent my spleen over here at Gnome's Gaming On The Go. That was before I switched game modes. 'Kick Off' Mode' allows you to play a one off match against any rival of your choice. It also gives you the choice of playing in the "Be A Pro" mode, or "Classic" mode. And it was in "Classic" mode, that I found my salvation.

Although not exactly the same as Fifa '07, it was similar enough for me to play with some degree of success. The 'game settings' allows you to set the game's difficulty level, according to your own skill level. I set the CPU skill at 'amateur' and got rid of the 'offside' rule to allow the game greater flow. The ability to play a variety of tournaments in "Classic" mode means I've already taken Manchester City to the final of the English FA Cup (which I won on penalties). However, this incarnation of the game does not give one the option of taking a mid-table club into Europe... You can only play as one one of the the English Premiership's top four teams - Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea, which is a bit of a bummer!

One of the biggest changes so far is the use of the stylus. During penalty shoot outs, the stylus is employed as a means of shooting (by swiping the stylus towards the goal) and saving (a large pair of gloves appear in the goal which you move with the stylus to save the opposition's shot.) I love this feature! It helped me win the FA cup ha ha!

Now I realise that this is a very subjective review (mine always are...) so I'll provide links to more informative sites... Would I recommend it as a full price purchase? Well, no. You can pick up Fifa 07, 08 and 09 for buttons in second hand gaming emporiums. If it's 'game play' you're after then these titles will more than adequately suffice. If you are anal about having current players and kits then go ahead and splurge your hard earned pennies on Fifa 10. But it's because of people like me that EA are able to squeeze cash from a gullible audience every time they bring out a new football or golf game.

However, if you see Fifa 10 cheap or even with a few quid/euros/dollars knocked off, it's a great game for the handheld gamer, which can be played in short little bursts, as a handheld titles should be.

Father K Rating: 7.5/10!