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Extra XBOX Reviews
The New XBOX 360 Segment!
So the new XBOX 360 has been out for a few years now, and because of the decent price back at the end of 2007, I got one to play Virtua Fighter 5. Who wouldnít?! This thing has more processors than the Saturn, probably, and is even bigger and heavier than the 1st XBOX, now that it has a separate power supply! Oh, you donít need an additional remote control to play DVDs this time either. So thatís good.
The main menu / BIOS section is absolutely jam packed with Microsoft c**p this time, which is to be expected. Thereís a stupid new profile feature which is ľ a good idea, plus that sodding achievements thing also, which luckily can be disabled from showing its ugly head. (See the picture below on that.) That made me want to puke, as do the integrated menus in the games that remind me of Windows and the upgrading dashboard that online players have to suffer with. I never intend to get XBOX Live, so that doesnít really apply to me. The console is a real upgrade in the hardware department, but the in-built software slid down the toilet from the 1st XBOX. Once again M$ cheaped out on a backup battery for the clock, so you have to set it every time you switch it on like the 1st one. Come on, these things are like a couple of $ at electronic stores; what kinda overall price difference would it have made?!
By pressing the Guide button, (if you still have it,) you can access this semi-hidden menu in the ďdashboardĒ which lets you disable those annoying messages that Microsoft somehow thought were a good idea to have pop up right in the middle of playing your game. Note the stupid part about how theyíre going to ignore what you want anyhow. (Click on the picture to make it bigger.)
This is the main screen that comes up when you turn the console on with no game in the drive. That XBOX Live advertising is everywhere! Microsoft are desperate to get you to try it out, even if you have absolutely no intention of ever doing so. By using the L & R shift buttons at the top of the controller, you can change tabs from left to right. Apart from the System tab, every other one mentions XBOX Live.
If youíre too lazy to get up to open the drive tray, you can do it from the controller. But you still have to get up to put a disc in there.
All that achievements cr*p at the top means sod all to me.
The system menu lets you choose stuff such as whether you want the display in 50 or 60 Hz, what type of TV you have, options for a camera you donít have and even stuff to do with a connection to a computer. You might have to go to extra lengths if youíre using a Mac though.
The hardware has a triple core PowerPC CPU, (which I think is a spin-off of the G5 used in Appleís Power Macs,) 512 MB of RAM and an ATI video processor I think. I never really bothered to look anything up on this one. You can also get an optional hard drive, which is a little less optional if you want to play the add-ons for The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. I believe they need to install stuff.
The control pads are comfy but the button layout is dreadful. The Controller S was so much better. That big X button in the middle ó the guide button ó is getting ripped out of my controllers I swear. (It has been removed since I wrote this.) Itís become way too much like the shoddy PS controller, and not enough like the genius Saturn design. So more hardware hacking up for me to do when I get one 2nd hand. Anyway, apart from all the gripes, V.F. 5 is great, and you may also consider the bug ridden Oblivion & Skyrim if you donít have a beefy enough PC to run them. Other than that, there seem to be more games I want on the Wii.
Sega Rally Revo (XBOX 360):
Sega Rally was an amazing arcade racing game, and the Saturn conversion was arguably the best Saturn racing game available. But does Sega Rally Revo stick to its roots or try to become something else?
Firstly, there are no more races where you progress across a series of tracks in order to place 1st at the end, like the original 2 arcade games. Instead there are simple Quick Races on your choice of one of 15 tracks set in 5 locations. Safari, Alpine, Tropical, Arctic and Canyon. This is pretty sweet, but unfortunately you seem to get nothing for them. No name entry and time listing or anything. :-( In the Time Attack mode however, you do get top times, and your best performance is saved as a ghost car.
The main emphasis is placed on the Championship mode, much like Sega Rally 2ís 10 Year Championship on the
Dreamcast and PC. Here you need to earn points to progress further into more advanced categories, all of which have certain names. Strangely, even though when you place 1st on a track in the Championship mode, you still need to start from 6th place again at the next location, and work your way back to the start again, even though the other rival cars are in the correct order of their point score. Baaap. Minus points for that, I think.
The cars are divided into 3 categories, which are premier, modified and masters, and these also apply separately to the 3 main sections of the Championship mode. Unlike the 1st 2 Sega Rally games, there are now only 6 cars in a race, instead of the old 15 or so that there used to be, and they race a lot closer together. Personally this is one of the things I didnít really like. Something like 20 wouldíve been better.
One thing of special note, are the tyre tracks. As you and opponents drive, your car tyres leave actual dents in the more softer road surfaces, like mud, dirt and snow. This then affects your driving the next time you pass over them, with a lot more rougher feel. Of course in areas that have been worn away more than others, you can
benefit from improved grip on the more solid ground below. The amount of polygons used for this is incedible, and you can see them in the credits. A really neat feature.
I really would have liked to have seen a LOT more tweaking options, like in Sega Rally 2, besides just off road and on road tyres, and the 2 transmission types.
Graphically, itís pretty damn amazing, which is what you should expect if youíve forked out for a XBOX 360. Although itís been done before, the dirt, snow, and mud that affects your carís surface looks brilliant. Got it covered in dust, and then hit some water? Youíll see splash spots in the dust, where the water has cleaned it off! Wow. Plus mud really flies up too.
Thereís a lot of malarkey about XBOX Live included, but you can play a good old split screen mode, if you have 2 controllers, or a steering wheel. Although the screen only splits vertically, which is absolutely terrible! You can barely see a thing on either side of you. The game makes use of the Achievments feature, but really I feel thatís just a load of very annoying B.S., and I was glad to have turned it off when I got V.F. 5. Go to the options and you can see what youíve done, with the ghastly out of place XBOX 360 style menu though.
All in all, itís not too bad, but I think it couldíve been SO much more than it is. A teensy bit disappointing, but still a good game though.
The back up memory requirements seem to be a quite a bit higher than what it says on the box too. It says 592 KB, but itís more like several MB.
Graphics: Absolutely incredible. I would have liked to have seen better road reflections though, of the cars and so forth, just like in Project Gotham Racing 2. I was a bit disappointed by that, considering the power of the XBOX 360, but you do see the background reflected in the wet roads and on the vehicles. There are some excellent shadow effects, aswell as the mud, snow, dust and water that flies up on your car. The car details are pretty superb, and texture quality is top notch. The density of grass and trees and other plants is really impressive. 94%
Animation: Fairly smooth, but looking back 10 years or so after writing this review, it ainít exactly a full 50 or 60 f.p.s. More like half that at times. In some instances, a smoother frame rate would have benefitted this game more so.
Youíll spot cheering fans, rotating windmills, moving chair lifts, flapping flags, geysers going off, waterfalls and so forth. Lovely. 75%
Sound: Great effects from car engines and tyres. Clobbering wire fences especially seems very realistic, as do other objects. Youíll also notice changes in sounds over different road surfaces too. The musicís not too bad, and the menu stuff is kinda catchy to an extent. Occasionally the sound drops out all together for an instant. 88%
Playability: Pretty good actually. Better than I initially expected. It takes some practise, but youíll pick it up in a couple of sittings. Different to the orginal Sega Rally, but better than the 2nd. 73%
Lastability: The Championship mode gives you lots to do, so that should take some time to complete. Thereís supposed to be a hidden track revealed when you complete it. 60%
Overall: If youíre not a fan of the originals, youíll probably over look this, especially since it doesnít really even feel like Sega Rally. Some of it feels a little bit rushed here and there, where there could have been more options and more features. It looks good and it plays good, but it just seems a bit shallow at times. Without the Championship mode it wouldnít even be as good as the original game. 70%
Virtua Fighter 5 (XBOX 360):
According to an old article I read back in 1996 in one of my Mean Machines Sega magazines, Yu Suzuki had planned to make the V.F. series go on to number 5 some time just before the release of V.F. 3, and maybe he was thinking of that even earlier. The game introduces yet again 2 new characters to the series, Chinese chickie, Eileen and Mexican dude, El Blaze. Itíd been almost 8 years since I last got a V.F. game, (17th of January 2000,) but it was worth the wait. Having played as new characters Vanessa & Lei-Fei from V.F. 4, plus Brad Burns and Goh Hinogami from V.F. 4: Evolution on the NAOMI 2 board arcade game, itís great to see them return in number 5 also.
The graphical improvements are amazing. Gone is Aoiís plastic looking chunk of hair, that looked as if it was borrowed off Ray Martin, and in comes a fresh new look that makes her more of a decent looking gal. Sarah looks better than ever also, and greatly improved from V.F. 4. (She looked a little bit too young in that for her age.) Youíll be drooling over your controller / joystick in no time. Although poor old Lau seems to be getting on a bit now, and Jacky looks as though he could benefit from a trip to the dentist.
Youíll see all new highlights to playersí skin, full screen glows, absolutely droolific reflections, some amazing hair detail, and texture quality that will blow you away!
With the addition of a
Quest mode, you can get into some really fun tournaments, and play as though you were taking on other people in arcades. This also rewards you with new outfits divided into 4 categories, so you can customise your character to look as sexy as possible. Mmm. Well, maybe not for Shun Di. He looks like heís smoking pot in addition to drinking from his gourds.
The arcade mode probably plays just like the original Lindbergh board game, although Iíve never actually seen the arcade version as yet. (I have since I originally wrote this.) Thereís also a training section, so you can get to grips with new moves and new characters, plus the mandatory 2 player mode, and also with XBOX Live you can go head to head with other people.
Sexy Sarah vs Kobun Heat in the Quest Mode.
Lei-Fei vs Vanessa.
Eileen kicking Brad one.
Jacky likes sticking his foot in it.
Youíll see a lot more stages now that are fenced or walled off, like Fighting Vipers, but there are still various open shaped areas too. I was a bit disappointed that the brilliant, oddly shaped and more out-in-the-open-random-location kinda stages that were introduced in V.F. 3 have gone by the board. It would have been even better still to have seen stages the likes of Dead Or Alive 2 and 3, where you can drop down to other areas, mixed in with locations where you can still get a ring out.
The girls are now quite, uh, jiggly, which is good, and if you donít notice that while youíre fighting, you can get it happening in the costume editing section to your heartís content, by rotating the view from side to side. Heh, heh.
The menus and other display features are all very neat, and have a kind of retro feel to them, especially the nixie tube style numbers that seem reminiscent of the lifts in Shenmue 2.
By the way, you can turn off the commentary during the watch mode, if you find it distracting. Itís in the sound options. You can just crank it down to 0. I didnít realise this for a while, but then found where to do it.
Graphics: Oh baby it looks awesome. Everything you could want is in there. Lens flares, bump mapping, reflections, enormous textures, highly detailed characters, water ripples, lush detail, full screen glows & so on. Most jaggy free as well. 98%
Animation: Smooth as Sarah. (Oh, and Pai and Eileen if you like them too.) Thereís also other great bits of animation
going on in the backgrounds, such as people walking by, leaves falling, fires burning, lightning, traffic, rain and so on. This game only supports the 60 Hz mode, so youíll need a fairly recent TV to play it. (Unless you go for the HDMI to composite converter I have.) 96%
Sound: Some of the music is catchy, and the other sound effects are top notch too. Character speech is clear, plus ambient effects and clobbering noises are all pretty neat. One of the stages has a bit of an iffy sound for hitting the floor on though. Plus the good old little chime thing is still there when you press Start. 91%
Playability: Nowhere near as good with the XBOX 360 controller as the tried and tested Saturn pad, but alas, thatís not an option. You can get a Hori brand 6 button joystick though, and the Mad Catz Street Fighter 4 pad works okay, but the d-padís a bit iffy. All the old moves are there, but some have changed slightly on how you execute them, such as Sarahís big forward leap. 90%
Lastability: The Quest mode really extends this, and itís presented well, with obviously some thought and time put into it. If you have XBOX Live, then fighting against other people from around the world is probably pretty sweet also. Fine tuning your skills is the key here, and getting as many points as you can in the Arcade mode. 95%
Overall: Well, it made me by a XBOX 360, and it paid off. As youíd expect from AM 2, itís a real masterpiece. The finest 3D fighting game series continues. 97%
The Original XBOX Game Reviews!!!
Dead Or Alive 3:
In this version, youíll meet up with 3 completely new characters, Christie, Hitomi and Brad Wong, as well as all the regulars from the 1st 2 games: Kasumi, Hayabusa, Zack, Gen Fu, Tina, Bass, Leon, Bayman, Jann Lee, Lei-Fang, Helena, Ein / Hayate* and Ayane.
Naturally thereís all new multi-tiered stages, which have some of the most awesome looking scenery ever. Character movement is now more freely and easily performed, and new moves add to your already deadly arsenal.
You now also get to play as Hayate, but you can unlock Ein* aswell. If I remember right you need to enter your name in the Survival Mode as Ein after playing as Hayate.
Finishing the game allows you to view cool character ending videos at any time from the theatre section. These are high quality videos with very cool action. My faves are Helena on holiday, Zack at the casino, and Jann Lee going off.
Thereís nothing like some drunken fighting on the beach with the potential for falling coconuts.
A ďcut sceneĒ for Brad with some sexah reflected fire.
Tina goes to get back up again. This highly polished wooden floor is another example of the eye candy included.
And hereís some more! Who could object to Helena looking luscious as she goes to swim with the dolphins? Mmm, yummo!
Graphics: Smooth, exceptionally high detailed characters, jaw-dropping backgrounds, and awesome special effects. Rainbows, lightning, stunning rippley water reflections, lens flares, shimmery water dealies, the BEST fire Iíve ever seen, light rays etc. Some shadows are a bit iffy looking here and there, but texture variety and quality is outstanding, the videos are excellent and the image quality is top stuff. Very XBOX. 98%
Animation: Exquisitely smooth character movement, and great addtional background movement. Waterfalls, trees swaying, coconuts falling, birds flying, lightning zapping, crowds cheering, and so forth. 92%
Sound: Cool music from Aerosmith, clear speech, great sound effects and what not. 90%
Playability: Sweeeeet. Easy to pick up and get into, but lots of moves to learn. Easy to execute counters plus combos. Not quite as well defined as V.F. or Soul Calibur, but very good, anyhow. 90%
Lastability: Seriously good. This offers some very addictive game play. Good playing with ya mates also. 84%
Overall: A worthy game for your XBOX fighting collection. Great new moves and characters, top looking graphics a sensational sound track and definitely fun to play. 91%
Dead Or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball:
Top Tippilating Tips:
The sexy babes from Dead Or Alive all get to take a bit of a break from fighting when theyíre tricked by Zack to come to his new island. His winnings from a very successful bit of roulette (in his ending of DOA 3) paid off, and he was able to buy the whole island. Now the girls can take a free 2 week holiday, and get to win some of their own dosh by playing volleyball, jumping on the blocks in the pool and gambling at Zackís casino. All the chickies from Dead Or Alive 3 are present in the game, and also new character Lisa, to even things up.
Basic volleyball play is accomplished by using the A button to serve, and to spike, and the B button to receive and pass. Using the d-pad, you can choose where you want the ball to actually go to, and to move your selected character around the beach. Using the right hand side d-pad, you can position your opponent to the front or to the back. The white and black buttons will repeat the music or skip to the next track. There are 4 main areas to play, Niki Beach, Private Beach, the Jungle and Bass Island, which is occassionally under water. Thereís also an accessory shop, a sports shop to buy those yummy bikinis, the radio station, where you can choose what music you want at night and during the day and Zack Of All Trades, that has other odds & sods that you can buy as pressies to keep your partner happy, or to try and get a partner in the 1st
place. Speaking of partners, if you donít perform well, your partner wonít bother giving you nice points, and may just not decide to turn up one morning. You can also break the relationship yourself if you want to team up with someone else, but youíll need to win their affections 1st. Itís no use buying them pressies that they wonít like, because theyíll just chuck them into the trash can.
Now, of course playing with the girls is only half the fun, well ¾ of the fun anyway! You can also choose what you want them to wear, from hats and shoes, to sun lotions, nail polish, hair clips and some incredible skimpy bikinis, and letís face it, some outfits that donít really resemble much of a bikini at all. Lisa has an amazing dealie worth 1 000 000 Zack dollars, which is almost non-existant and Lei-Fang has one called Oriole, which is like a pair of shorts with nothing else but some braces! WOW! It costs about 600 000 Zack dollar things. Generally the more see through or skimpy the outfit, the more expensive it is. Each day the shops change their stock, so if youíre saving up for something youíve seen, you may have to wait a couple of days for it to re-appear. When your girl goes to bed each night, youíll receive a present from Zack, which maybe something completely useless,or something really cool, like a video you can watch or a new outfit that you can wear. You can also send a present to any of the other girls from your room, should you have already bought one. From there you can then go to the casino and play either roulette, blackjack, poker, (not strip poker unfortunately,) or the slot machines.
Choosing a location that has no one to
play with will go to a gravure real time sequence, where you can simply watch your chosen girlie doing stuff, from practising moves and dancing, to swimming, riding bikes or simply enjoying themselves.
During the winning poses you can use the right thumb stick thing to rotate the view around the girl in view, the left one to tilt up and down and side to side, and the right analogue shift trigger / button thing to zoom on in, which is a great idea considering the excellent default zoom position. You can also check out your character at the pool in various angles after the hopping game, when theyíre on the chair or relaxing. Using the left analogue dealie will change the camera angle usually behind / in front. The opposite of where it is anyway.
Graphics: Itís as equally as good as Dead Or Alive 3, and has some excellent looking backgrounds. Youíll spot water ripples that reflect light onto the rocks, some amazing looking reflections and refractions at the pool, and all the characters look sensationally smooth. Check out the whole island on the title screen - amazing! 92%
Animation: Smooth as the babesí sensual bottoms. Everythingís pretty nice all round really. (& everything round is nice too!) 96%
Sound: Firstly, the music is great. Thereís some really catchy tunes in here, and you can even add your own from the hard drive, which I did for the 1st time ever. Other sounds are cool too like the waves splashing, the ball hitting the sand, the various sounds in the casino and even for the specialised items, like when you eat some salad or cake, play a guitar or have drink. 98%
Playability: Probably not quite as good as Beach Spikers, but not too bad either once you get the hang of it. 72%
Lastability: The gameís really about as shallow as a puddle of drool, so you probably wonít be bothered to play this much after youíve tried all the characters. 56%
Overall: All up the game is certainly a bit of a perv fest, but there is a little bit of decent gameplay in there. Hard to find now 1st hand, but worth grabbing if youíre a fan of the DOA series and donít have your own girlfriend to squizz at. 82%
Set your age to 99 as usual to get jiggly with it.
OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast:
This is based around Segaís OutRun 2 SP arcade game that runs on the Chihiro board. Despite that it was doubtful that anything less than the XBOX 360 could possibly run this game properly, it somehow inconceivably ended up being converted to the PS2, despite that it only has the same amount of video memory as the N64, and 16 × less RAM than the arcade version, aswell as 208 less audio channels than the XBOX. (Oh, thereís a PSP version, too, but itís apparently very cut back.) How much it still resembles the original is anyoneís guess, but the XBOX version thankfully does look pretty spot on, although some of the textures arenít as good in the original OutRun 2 tracks now as they were in the 1st conversion of regular OutRun 2. Unless you have both versions you probably wonít notice that much anyway. Thereís a PC version also, which no doubt would look the best, especially at high resolutions with FSAA, but you need to have Windows XP or Windows 2000 to run it, and fairly new hardware aswell.
The game plays silky smooth all the way through, which is great, because a game like this needs to be very fluid, especially with the scenery wizzing passed so quickly. The controls feel a little bit more sensitive to OutRun 2, but they can be adjusted. The physics is different too, with crashes that arenít so violent, and driving thatís more forgiving. The scoring has also been adjusted, with a lot lower scores for standard OutRun driving, and the Heart Attack mode now gets you a lot more hearts. Regarding the Heart Attack mode, there are now completely new tasks to try out, such as dribbling beach balls down the road, hitting ghosts, collecting coins, avoiding UFOs and meteors, running under flaming arches and collecting stars too. Passing vehicles now has added sound effects depending on
what you pass, and the score you get for zipping by a vehicle is displayed at the top right near the score. Thereís also new bits of speech, and added music from older OutRun games, like Turbo OutRun.
In the Coast 2 Coast mode you take on various challenges, by either racing for position with the flag man, or doing heart attack type races pleasing Clarissa. You rack up miles as a credits system that you can use to buy extra cars, routes, music, car colours, and so on.
Thereís no name entry screen like that of the arcade version either, because you create a profile when you 1st start the game, called a licence. There was also a shortcut feature of the arcade game, where youíd hold in the brake pedal, view change and shifting up, and it would allow you to keep the same conditions as a previous race - the car model, transmission type, race mode, and the music, but I donít know if itís included in the home version.
You can link up to 6 XBOXs, and even have custom soundtracks this time around too. As far as I know, the game wonít work in a LAN with the PC version.
Graphics: Pretty yummy looking really - another drool bucket job by those pros at Sega I reckon, especially if you havenít already been slightly jaded by the original OutRun 2 tracks. The full screen glows / high dynamic range doesnít seem as strong as in OutRun 2, and the reflections on the cars seem a bit greater also. The texturing is generally quite good, apart from the few bits I mentioned earlier that have changed. There are
some great looking glows, car reflections and lens flares as usual. The Casino Town stage is particulary loaded with eye candy, with a wet road, coloured search lights, and some pretty multi coloured scenery, as is the Lost City stage, which looks amazing. The intro video is pretty crusty, especially compared to that of OutRun 2, but youíll probably be playing the game more often that watching that anyway. 96%
Animation: You canít complain here, because itís exquisitely smooth - maybe even missing those slight areas of slowdown that were in OutRun 2! Outstanding. The girlies do various arm movements as you drive along, and thereís other nice background animation also, like flowing water, shooting stars, and even new flying stuff in the transition areas between stages, like birds, flying horses, planes, balloons, a dragon, and possibly more stuff I havenít yet seen. 98%
Sound: All the great choons from OutRun 2 are included, plus other old songs, and 2 new ones I think. Occassionally thereís a chunk up at the end of certain races or in the menus, but itís withstand-able. Lots more doppler effects when you pass vehicles also. 92%
Playability: If youíve played OutRun 2, then you can easily get into OutRun 2006. The same great powersliding and excellent handling are both present, if not slightly improved. 95%
Lastability: The Coast 2 Coast feature will have you going the most, even if having OutRun 2 SP isnít enough of an appeal! XBOX Live and link up abilities add on further replay time. 88%
Overall: If youíve been gagging to play OutRun 2 SP at home, then itís finally here in XBOX style. 30 stages, added cars, added music
itís a top notch package. After being ripped off since PlayTime in Sydney closed, itís awesome to experience the game again. Plus even if you havenít tried the arcade version, you should find this most enjoyable too. 94%