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Posted:
2013-01-29

wendyh

Super Gamer Dude

PC Games

Rocksmith promises to make a guitar bassist or lead soloist out of anyone prepared to take the instrument seriously.

Plug yourself in and and you are ready to go, the PC will process and amplify the sounds you make. The method it uses is pretty well standard in that it plays a series of notes, listens to your attempts and marks your efforts. Some of the basic riffs and chord shapes are easy enough but software can take you much farther.

There are exercises presented in the form of mini games to get you used to the fretboard, eventually the guitar should be an extension of you body, and moving up and down the keyboard should become instinctive. The lower reaches of the fretboard, that is the higher notes, are unfamiliar ground to many would be classical guitarists but ought to be a well known area to a would be electric lead.

No matter what the software claims to do it cannot make you a musician in the true sense of the word. That is a gift which is not its to give, but it can point you in the right direction by giving you the basic mechanics and making you feel at home with your instrument.

This package is really aimed at the complete novice for who even learning the basics is a massive step forward and also has a certain novelty value even if your musical ambitions are not serious. Really advanced playing comes with loads of dedication, discipline, practice and development of individual style, something that comes from within and not from a teacher, electronic or otherwise. Behind the stage showmanship of the great rock guitarists lies some solid instrumental know how. The only real judge of quality is the sound heard by the human ear and those guys get marked by you and not by a machine.

Musicianship needs a long apprenticeship but if you never take the first step along the road you will never get there and if you have never played before then this is well worth trying out as learning the first steps to making any sort of music is rewarding for its own sake, and once you become addicted there is no stopping.

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Posted:
2013-02-07

wendyh

Super Gamer Dude

Xbox 360

7.1

Lego Harry Potter 5-7 on the Xbox 360 takes Harry through a series of challenges and missions on a quest to stop the evil Lord Voldemort, the Dark Lord, who is back, and Harry suddenly has the realization that he is actually connected to Voldemort. Later the Ministry of Magic decides to try and take appropriate steps in order to stop the potential threat that this imposes.

As you progress through the game you are presented with Lego style characters which represent numerous personalities which are to be found in the Harry Potter movies and books. Unfortunately, if you have played the previous title which is called Lego Harry Potter 1-4, you may feel like this is a rerun of this first encounter. A lot of the mission styles and gameplay are like the original, although to the maker's credit, the storyline is well presented and this enables users to feel like they are following the books or films closely. When most levels end you are presented with a cut scene, a cinematic storyline which enables users to follow the story with relative ease as the game progresses.

You may decide to roam through Hogwarts you can learn an array of spells, which in turn enable Harry to be able to construct items as well as destroy them, via the use of the wand. These include Curses and Charms. You will also have to undergo training in order to defeat various creatures which you encounter in the game, such as the Death Eaters for example. Within the game there are 24 stories to unlock and also 16 classrooms to attend in order to unlock the full attributes that Harry possesses.

During gameplay you will come into contact with over 200 different characters as you progress, and each one is very finely detailed, and on top of this you also have the option of split screen, enabling players to switch between a jump in and jump out style of gameplay. This is mainly designed to allow more than one player to play the game, multiplayer if you will.

The graphics in Lego Harry Potter 5-7 are very sharp, sparks fly in various colors like a projectile from the wand and the shiny Lego characters really do add to the game's overall experience. I should also add that this game is based on the last 4 books created in the Harry Potter series, and the actual Hogwarts is a representation of the Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows Part 2 the film.

If you are looking to venture into the first 4 books then perhaps you should pickup the previous title Lego Harry Potter 1-4. Overall this is by far one of the best in the series of Lego games which seem to be springing up in leaps and bounds.

Lego Harry Potter 5-7 unfortunately did not differ greatly enough from the first title to be a really impressive game. You will find lots of enjoyment here but the makers should have tried harder to expand the overall style and playability so offering something different to the first. The levels are very similar to the original release, but they do follow on from the original game story with some much improved cinematic cut scenes thrown in which does improve the general appeal of the game.

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Posted:
2013-02-18

wendyh

Super Gamer Dude

Xbox 360

8.4

The Gears of War trilogy is perhaps one of the most visually recognizable third person shooters in video games today. From the chainsaw bayonet to the gravel voiced brute squad that makes up the male leads, Gears of War is a dystopian apocalypse at its finest, and despite complaints about the consistent presence of chest high walls, the game has a huge following among players. In Gears of War 3 players step back into the worn combat boots of Marcus Fenix, the gruff, grizzled hero that's out to save the world one barrage of bullets at a time.

What's The Story?

With Gears of War 3, things have spiralled completely out of control. The last human city fell a year and a half ago, and to make matters worse there's something brewing in the depths of the planet; something that can only mean more bad business for what's left of humanity. It's up to Marcus to lead what's left of his Delta Squad to key places to destroy the threats and try to rescue the chances for humanity by putting down whatever threats he and his team come across. By the end of the game though, players will have to put their trigger fingers to work to make sure that the world survives.

Gameplay

The end of the epic trilogy has taken what the previous two games did well and made them that much better. The controls are organic, and allow players to tuck, roll, run, dodge, strafe and reload all at speeds that make everything move at the pace of the player. Previous problems, such as the intelligence of the team's AI, or difficulty in aiming at what players really want to target have been mostly repaired, and overall the game flows better than either of the previous two installments, while keeping the same feeling of pedal to the metal action and teeth rattling violence that's made the series so popular for so long.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Gears of War 3, like the rest of the series, has all the things that can make a really enjoyable action game. However, there are some things that players will need to put on their blinders for in order to keep the suspension of disbelief. Players can't question the plot, or the logic of the world, for instance. While there aren't as many holes in it as there are in the enemy, there are some logic gaps. As many reviewers have said though, the game more than makes up for its shortcomings with great action and lovely scenery, along with enough twists and turns to keep players shooting and snarling as they go through wave after wave of enemies.

Gears of War 3, just as the previous games have done, has set the standard in the genre. With the conclusion of the trilogy though, players need to wring all the enjoyment they can out of the last chapter; there probably isn't going to be another one after it.

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Posted:
2013-02-21

wendyh

Super Gamer Dude

PlayStation 3

7.5

What, as a gamer, do you look for when your playing a video game? Most would say a good time. You want to have fun and have a good time while playing a video game. Saying that Saints Row the Third is fun, or a good time, would be a huge, gross understatement. This adult filled theme park of fun definitely delivers on good times. Do not dismiss this game as a Grand Theft Auto clone. It is a great game in itself and definitely deserves a play through.

In Saints Row the Third you are no longer in Stilwater, where the first to games took place, but instead in Steelport, a new huge city. Three locally run gangs currently run and operate the city, But now that Saints Row has moved in, they won't be settling for anything less than the top. And it is your job to take out and crush any competition that comes in your way. As the violent war between the gangs grow, STAG, which is an elite paramilitary police force, Headed by Commander Cyrus Temple, is sent to the city of Steelport to stop the war and put an end to the violence. After an intro mission begins your exit from Stilwater, you get the option to customize your character. Customization is really great, and almost no 2 people will ever look alike.

If you ever get bored of story missions, there are tons of fun things to do in Saints Row the Third. All these optional activities are sure to earn you both cash, and street cred on the streets of Steelport. One of the best things to do are fraud missions, a throwback to Saints 2. Basically, you run out into traffic and try to cause as much bodily harm to yourself as possible.

Actually, pretty much everything you do in Saints Row The Third is incentivized, and will get you either cash or street cred. With money you can purchased new cool clothes, awesome and powerful guns, new territory, and even upgrades. Respect however is kind of like experience points. With respect you get the ability to unlock new skills, such as no falling damage, and infinite sprint. In Saints Row the Third, everything from running through public naked, or nearly colliding with oncoming traffic will earn you respect, which is pretty awesome.

Certain story missions in Saints Row the Third give you access to frankly, bad ass vehicles. You can get an awesome pixilated retro game tank, or even a cool transforming hover jet. Another cool feature, is that you have an infinite supply of these vehicles in your homes. You can take out your game tank, or hover jet, fly it around without a care and crash it, then just go grab another. You can even have it delivered to you.

Saints Row The Third is a really well polished and extremely satisfying game to play. You should definitely give this game a play whenever you get the chance to, because you wont be disappointed.

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Posted:
2013-07-31

wendyh

Super Gamer Dude

PlayStation 3

7.1

Lego Harry Potter 5-7 for the PS3 takes Harry through a series of challenges and missions on a quest to stop the evil Lord Voldemort, the Dark Lord, who is back, and Harry suddenly has the realization that he is actually connected to Voldemort. Later the Ministry of Magic decides to try and take appropriate steps in order to stop the potential threat that this imposes.

As you progress through the game you are presented with Lego style characters which represent numerous personalities which are to be found in the Harry Potter movies and books. Unfortunately, if you have played the previous title which is called Lego Harry Potter 1-4, you may feel like this is a rerun of this first encounter. A lot of the mission styles and gameplay are like the original, although to the maker's credit, the storyline is well presented and this enables users to feel like they are following the books or films closely. When most levels end you are presented with a cut scene, a cinematic storyline which enables users to follow the story with relative ease as the game progresses.

You may decide to roam through Hogwarts you can learn an array of spells, which in turn enable Harry to be able to construct items as well as destroy them, via the use of the wand. These include Curses and Charms. You will also have to undergo training in order to defeat various creatures which you encounter in the game, such as the Death Eaters for example. Within the game there are 24 stories to unlock and also 16 classrooms to attend in order to unlock the full attributes that Harry possesses.

During gameplay you will come into contact with over 200 different characters as you progress, and each one is very finely detailed, and on top of this you also have the option of split screen, enabling players to switch between a jump in and jump out style of gameplay. This is mainly designed to allow more than one player to play the game, multiplayer if you will.

The graphics in Lego Harry Potter 5-7 are very sharp, sparks fly in various colors like a projectile from the wand and the shiny Lego characters really do add to the game's overall experience. I should also add that this game is based on the last 4 books created in the Harry Potter series, and the actual Hogwarts is a representation of the Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows Part 2 the film.

If you are looking to venture into the first 4 books then perhaps you should pickup the previous title Lego Harry Potter 1-4. Overall this is by far one of the best in the series of Lego games which seem to be springing up in leaps and bounds.

Lego Harry Potter 5-7 unfortunately did not differ greatly enough from the first title to be a really impressive game. You will find lots of enjoyment here but the makers should have tried harder to expand the overall style and playability so offering something different to the first. The levels are very similar to the original release, but they do follow on from the original game story with some much improved cinematic cut scenes thrown in which does improve the general appeal of the game.

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Posted:
2013-07-31

wendyh

Super Gamer Dude

PS Vita

7.3

Lego Harry Potter Years 5-7 for the PlayStation Vita is everything you know and have come to love about the magical world of Harry Potter and everything you have come to expect from Lego games. The game is far from ground breaking, as many might have guessed, but then it does not need to be, as it combines the winning formula of Lego and Harry Potter into an easy to play video game. It, like its predecessors, is great for younger casual gamers and Harry Potter fans of all ages.

The gameplay is far form innovative, again sticking to a trusted formula. The method for Lego games has proved solid in the past and it is what the many players of Lego titles have come to expect and love. The Lego series itself is designed to be easy going with child friendly gameplay. It takes a lot of the more serious but still to some degree lighthearted aspects of Harry Potter and puts the Lego slant on them. Typical of other Lego titles it includes puzzles and quests relying on your acquired knowledge of spells, potions, wand waving and problem solving skills to figure them out. There are many secrets to discover and all manner of locations to discover and explore, and a lot of time can be spent unlocking extra content.

The game picks up where it's previous title left off, which for players who have played the earlier title is good thing, but those new to the Harry Potter series it may be difficult to drop straight in to the story. Of course no no one could complain that it takes place in the same location, Hogwarts, which is imaginatively caricatured in Lego format, and the same applies to the characters and beasts that inhabit that world

One of the most prominent improvements for Harry Potter Years 5-7 is the duel system. It adds a new layer of fun for players as it is simple and well done. New spells and items have been added to the roster allowing for some new customization, keeping the game from getting stale and feeling too much like the previous title.

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Posted:
2013-02-15

wendyh

Super Gamer Dude

PlayStation 3

8.5

XCOM Enemy Unknown is a remake of a much older PC game series known collectively as XCOM. The game takes place on an Earth, where a multi-national military organization is attempting to push back the threat of complete annihilation at the hands of an alien enemy. Combining action, strategy and consequences, XCOM Enemy Unknown is a game that's both fun and harsh, bringing home the feeling of a war in a way that very few other games have managed successfully.

You're going to lose people in XCOM Enemy Unknown. These will be soldiers that players have come to care about, to rely on even. They're going to die in battle, often by accidents players never saw coming or from lucky shots that they could never have planned for. Veterans of a dozen missions that hold the team together can vanish in a single turn, and it's the job of the player to keep going, and to deal with that both from a story perspective and from a general's perspective. After all, the war doesn't stop just because one soldier, even a decorated one, goes down in the line of duty.

That said, XCOM Enemy Unknown also has the unique ability to combine strategy with resource management, ensuring that neither aspect ever gets boring. Players have to decide which soldiers to take, who to train up and get experience to, and even which alien technology bits to invest in to make sure that he or she has the best possible arsenal against the encroaching threat. Whether it's plasma rifles or satellite warning systems, cluster bombs or space ships, the options are all there. However, players have limited resources and will have to decide which projects get precedence and which ones get put on the back burner. Just like a real military commander.

XCOM Enemy Unknown is surprisingly harsh, which might take players a few reboots to really get used to. There's no regenerating health, or massive doomsday weapons that will win the war (except those owned by the aliens); players are the underdogs, plain and simple. The game is supposed to be hard, and it aims to bring home the feeling of a real battlefield by not coddling players when they make mistakes. On the one hand it's entirely possible to go back to the last save and start from there like a real world Prince of Persia. On the other hand, sometimes players have gotten in so deep that even going back to a previous save won't be enough to change the outcome of what's going to happen.

All in all, XCOM Enemy Unknown is a breath of fresh air in the strategy game section. Turn based combat doesn't have to be boring, and the refreshing twist on an old classic is enough to bring a new generation of gamers into one of the older titles boasted by modern PC gaming. However, it's still a good idea to keep some tissues handy for the funerals you'll have for your soldiers.

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Posted:
2013-02-19

wendyh

Super Gamer Dude

PC Games

7.1

The most recent addition to the farming simulation line of games, Farming Simulator 2013 is exactly what it says it is. The game has absolute focus on the business of running a farm. Players simply grow crops, sell them, expand the farm, rinse and repeat.

This focus is so absolute that the game seems to completely ignore other gameplay elements that one might expect. The game has no objectives and basically no way to fail. There is simply no potential for winning or losing, and there is no competition to speak of. Even multiplayer is a co-op experience where players work together managing a single farm. Games simply don't get much more laid back than Farming Simulator. That said, the game does have a lot of detail and content when I comes to actually running and expanding the farm. There are dozens of options to spend hard-earned money on. The farm can be expanded up to forty plots and require dozens of vehicles and hired workers to manage.

In terms of gameplay, Farming Simulator allows players to take a hands-on approach and actually drive their tractor across the field. They can also take a removed business approach, watching and managing various hired workers. The game doesn't have a great deal of complexity, but some mechanics can take a while to master. Players are also free to tinker with whatever economic strategies they would like. One might expect the game to throw some missions are challenges at the player, but this really doesn't happen. There are only two missions involving mowing grass and moving equipment. They are both uncreative and quickly boring.

Graphics is another area where the game is a mixed bag. Vehicles and equipment are beautifully rendered and animated, but the rest of the background, including the crops and fields one would expect to be a major focus, are lacking in texture quality and detail. Farming Simulator might be worth it if the visuals really allowed players to imagine themselves on a beautiful country farm, but the obvious lack of graphical polish will break the immersion in a hurry. A complete lack of background music or sounds beyond mooing cows and rumbling tractors is also a mood breaker. This stands out as both an oddity, since the vast majority of other games have some kind of music, and it is especially out of place in a game that doesn't have much going for it except creating a relaxing mood.

Taken together, Farming Simulator is a simple economics game that appeals to a certain kind of person who is probably not the average gamer. That said, the community that does exist is generally very helpful and generous. While there is plenty of content, a lack of objectives, or really any challenge at all, makes the game seem generally pointless. There aren't even awards, accolades or achievements to accumulate. Farming Simulator 2013 appeals to a very relaxed gaming community that simply wants to run a farm and nothing else. This is exactly what the game offers to them.

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Posted:
2013-02-26

wendyh

Super Gamer Dude

Nintendo Wii

7.0

We Sing Encore is a party-style karaoke game created in 2010 for the Nintendo Wii as a sequel to the popular karaoke game, We Sing. Following a style of game growing in popularity over the last seven to ten years: instrument and vocal style party games that allow the player to interact through a stylized controller (in this case, a microphone) to use a musical or physical talent to play and win. We Sing Encore, while not going above and beyond the similar karaoke games released across the systems, certainly has it niche in the market by offering unique songs, both old and new, and reaching a younger market through the Nintendo Wii system.

The main two problems with We Sing Encore is the variability when it comes to reading pitch and the inevitability of running out of songs to sing. Both of these problems are common to almost all of the karaoke-type games. For the first problem, it is hard to tell whether the microphone is at fault, or if the game is just finicky in general. It often does not catch subtle differences and can sometimes read the same pitch differently depending on the occasion, even though it offers singing lessons to help you practice with the game's internal pitch scale. However, this is only a problem for those who expect a 100% honest reading from a video game, those playing solo and attempting to reach a perfect score may have to work extra hard to learn the quirks of the game, and even then, luck comes into the picture. For the second issue, growing tired of the options comes with every prepackaged game with a preset song list.

Both of these issues, however, are solved when taking into consideration that this is a party game. Pitch becomes less important when you're having fun and the song list will take longer to grow tiresome with an interchanging group of friends to sing with. The main thing going for this game is the ability to play karaoke at home and be able to challenge friends to see who can sing a song better based on the games pitch scoring. And with a wide variety of older and newer songs, from the B-52's Love Shack and Elton John's Tiny Dancer to the Kaiser Chief's Ruby and Taio Cruz's Break Your Heart, there is at least a song or two to please all singers who want to join in.

In all, We Sing Encore, all depends on the crowd you are with and the type of person you are. With multiple difficulty levels per song and even a choice to sing a full or half song, any person can pick up the game and play. While not a game for perfectionists or hardcore gamers, it is definitely the game for those who enjoy belting out a few tunes with their friends. We Sing Encore can be expected to bring a few laughs and a good time to any get together as well as the avid casual singer looking to practice a few songs.

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Posted:
2013-03-05

wendyh

Super Gamer Dude

Nintendo Wii

7.5

Skylanders Giants is the follow up to the original Spyro's Adventure game for the Nintendo Wii. The Skylanders Giants Booster Pack for the Wii includes the new game disk and a giant character. The new game allows players to explore new areas of Skylands in order to stop the bad guys from taking over the world. While a platform game in one sense, Skylanders Giants also takes a few shots at being a role playing game and a strategy game, but what should really surprise gamers is that title accomplishes this lofty task with relative ease.

The controls scheme stays pretty much the same from the previous title. That is to say that the Wii controller gets paired again with the Nunchuk, and that combination controls movement, attacks, and defenses. The controls are well thought out with each button serving a different purchase, which makes the game easy to learn.

The graphics present in the world of Skylands and the several levels throughout Skylanders Giants are pretty much top notch, at least as far as the Wii is concerned. The characters come to life in vivid colors, and the sounds and soundtrack is just as impressive as the first game. However, where the sequel really excels is the number of available characters.

The Giants are basically larger and stronger than traditional Skylanders, but all those figures purchased for the original game can thankfully still be used in this follow. To further propel the collectible market, additional Series 2 Skylanders are also available for purchase. Since the Skylanders Giants Booster pack only contains one Giant, players will have to scramble to find additional characters in their favorite store.

The role playing aspect of the game is what helps drive the addictive gameplay. The characters start out at level one with a few different skill categories, like attack, speed, and defense. As characters collect treasure and defeat enemies the particular figure on the Portal of Power rises in level and also can redeem the treasure collected to purchase new and better attacks and defenses. One nice aspect of the new title is that Skylanders that were completely powered up from the first game maintain all the abilities acquired, which can be a real time saver. Of course, new characters, including all the Giants, have to start from level one.

Also present in the new game is the battle area with several different arenas, however, this time the characters can acquire experience points and treasure by competing in the arena. This makes for a nice break from the main game and really gives players a chance to truly master their favorite characters.

All things considered, the Skylanders Giants is a must have for anyone who purchased the original game, but the game is also a solid title for anyone looking to break into a new franchise. The ease of the controls and the interesting storyline make it a simple title for beginners, but all the unlockables and new characters that need to be acquired make this a great piece of software for all skill levels.


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