Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz Review

Overall Score: 7.5

Pros: Addictive, Fun party game, Trippy scenery

Cons: Music makes me want to kill myself, Absurd story, Addictive

 

On the back of the Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz packaging it clearly states, “WARNING: If you have epilepsy or have had seizures or other unusual reactions to flashing lights or patterns, consult a doctor before playing this game.” That gives you some idea what we are talking about. It is one of those really weird Asian games with a lot of bright colors flashing and annoying noises that will drive you crazy. You will probably hate this game if you only play shooter games or sports games. That being said, I am addicted to this game. There is something lovable about it even though it’s annoying as all hell. The “plot” is that a Robotic Pirate-Monkey with a golden claw steals a bunch of golden bananas from the innocent happy little monkeys, and it is their job to get them back. To do this, they get in a ball, like a hamster, and maneuver through impossible obstacles and fight monsters. It might make sense if you’re on heavy hallucinogenic drugs. This game might sound easy, but it’s rather hard and frustrating. There have been many times where I threw the Wii-mote at something because I couldn’t get the monkey in the @%^$ing hole. The boss levels are hard too, especially that octopus. Anyway, this game is good for the casual gamer. You can stop wherever and it automatically saves your progress, and each little level doesn’t take more than a few minutes (it can’t, they are timed). Also, it’s a good party game. Other than the main game, Banana Blitz has 50 party games on it, which mostly involves bashing your opponents. It is frustrating enough that your friends will get into it, but cute enough that it won’t start any real fights. It’s a good game to play if you’re bored or angry. Anyway, to sum it up, it’s very hard to give it a score.

Bottom line: It’s a love-it or hate-it situation. So, I think the individual has to decide for him or herself. My friends and I love it, so if you’re ever really bored, go rent it and give it a go.

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Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Review

Overall Rating: 8.5

Pros: It’s Legend of Zelda, Engaging story, Fun and interactive Controls

Cons: Hard, Long, Stupid Puzzles
The newest edition to the Legend of Zelda clan, Twilight Princess, is a must-have for Wii owners. Of course, the manual is also a must-have if you want to accomplish anything in this game (it has the ape-@*&# ridiculous logic characteristic of Zelda games). I couldn’t even figure out how to get out of the first village. You don’t have to buy a guide though. Google “Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess Guide” and it will help you get through everything irrational. In the game, a teenage village-boy named Link tries to defend his world, Hyrule, from a shadow land that is taking over. The human citizens trapped in this world are part of a never-ending nightmare that they don’t understand; none of them can see the shadow monsters terrorizing them. Link, being the chosen one, can not only see them, but can attack them as well. However, when he enters the shadow world, he is transformed into a wolf. This limits his use of tools, but it is badass. Also, Link has a devious shadow-being helper, Midna, to help him along the way. Overall the game is pretty good. Some of the puzzles are annoyingly long and difficult, even with the guide. Also, it really sucks if you don’t have a computer in the same room as your Wii, because you will have to keep running from one room to the other to figure out what to do. This game isn’t for the casual gamer. Temples alone can take hours to complete and you can’t stop in the middle of a temple or you completely loose your train of thought. By the end, I had logged 70 odd hours into it, and I did it with the guide next to me. Also, when you first meet Midna, she is really condescending, and you will want to chew her face off. But she gets better, trust me; you will like her before the game is over. On the plus side, the game certainly keeps you entertained if you’re bored. It’s fun to play and its certainly challenging. Transforming into a wolf is sweet because you can bite shit and throw it around. You can also run a lot faster, saving time. Also, with the edition of the Wii-mote, shooting arrows and slashing things is more entertaining than with previous Zelda games. Also, the ending is pretty awesome. It makes the game worth beating. Seeing as how Twilight Princess is not quite as stunning as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, I can’t give it 10 out of 10. However, I will give it an 8.5.

Bottom line: It is one of the better Zelda games out there. Definitely worth a play.

Bioshock Review

January 8, 2008

Bioshock Review

Overall Rating : 9.8/10

Pros: Fantastic story, Innovative combat style

Cons: Frame rate issues, Limited replay value

It goes without saying that Bioshock has developed a following since it’s release. People hail it as revolutionary, and they’re right. The game grabs hold of you from the moment you step into the bathysphere and never let’s go. The premise is interesting enough- a failed underwater utopia created by distinguished industrialist Andrew Ryan. You find yourself trapped in the city of Rapture, and must fight for your survival. I won’t delve to deeply into the story (it’s something that needs to be experienced first hand). That being said, there are plenty of “holy #$&*” moments to be found throughout, moments that will stick with you as you continue your journey.

Obviously, the story is fantastic. How does the game play hold up? The answer: amazingly. This is a shooter; and that means, at its core, it’s all about the guns. The weapons dazzle, from the simple pistol to the cobbled together grenade launcher. All of them are upgradeable, by the end of the game they look otherworldly, keeping with the game’s steam punk art style. But the game is more than guns. Throughout the course of the game, you will be able to modify your character using genetic treatments known as plasmids. These powers truly make the game stand out with a wide variety of death dealers at your disposal. Light on an enemy on fire with a snap of your fingers, cover them in ice and smash them pieces, send a swarm of bees ripping out of your arms to destroy your enemies, the choice is yours. Encounters play out differently each time based on what means you choose to decimate your foes.

Speaking of your foes, the twisted citizens of Rapture, known as splicers, look as if you can easily tear them a new one. Wrong. The splicers are no pushovers. They know when to fight and when to run like hell. The different types of splicers fight with their own unique style; some will lob grenades at you while. Others will attempt to beat you to death with a lamp. Of course those are just the basic enemies; the true stars of the game are the big daddies. These giant, hulking, monstrosities clad in diving suits offer some of the most exciting and challenging moments in the game.

You’ll be fighting them quite a bit. If you want to improve your character, the only way is to buy more plasmids. Plasmids can be bought using Adam, the key to genetic modification. What’s the only way to get Adam? The little sisters, the creepy little girls that are protected by, you guessed it, the big daddies. Once you finish fighting off their guardians you have a choice: harvest the girl for maximum Adam, or save the girl for half the Adam but a chance at more rewards later. The choice doesn’t have as much impact as promised, but its an interesting idea that helps further the story.

The game’s graphics are top notch; the game looks amazing and creates a beautifully twisted world you won’t want to leave. The sound inspires awe as well. This is some of the best voice acting you will ever hear in game. Splicer’s screams and big daddy moans will get you every time. The presentation is perfect, right down to the piano keys you hear at the main menu.

The game is not without flaws. It’s something of a one trick horse. There is little reason to play through a second time. There are also minor frame rate issues, though these are kept to a minimum.

Bottom line: This is a game everyone needs to experience. (Especially those who say games can’t be considered art) You’ll try, you’ll love it, and you’ll never forget it. Welcome to Rapture…

 

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Review
Overall Rating: 8.7
Pros: Great story, Awesome multi-player, Kickin’ graphics
Cons: Terrible AI, Can’t open doors???, boring linear levels, innovative idea but poorly executed
    Infinity Ward, to the joy of gamers everywhere, decided to switch up the story of their award winning title, Call of Duty. Call of Duty 4 is not only set in modern day, but it is the first of the series to get a Mature ESRB rating. CoD4 uses the familiar cinematic storyline. It follows the lives of “Soap” MacTavish from the British SAS, and Paul Jackson from the USMC. There are other instances when the story switches to other characters in order to tell the story. The racing, testosterone-packed story is backed up by intense firefights in which you kick the asses of the Arab Ultranationalists. However, there is poor execution here by the AI. They offer little support in intense firefights and constantly bark orders at you. As a result, there is little deviation and there is usually only one way to accomplish a mission. And, you are babied through it most of the time. Somehow Infinity Ward left out the ability for you to open doors by yourself. So, you must either wait by the correct door for the team to catch up with you, or try and find them. Multi player uses a weighted class system. There are five default classes with cliche abilities such as sniper, heavy gunner, and demolitions. As you gain a higher rank other classes are unlocked, and once a certain level is reached you can create your own class. A nice touch allowing you to play to your personal style of combat. XP is earned by completing objectives and killing enemies. It works like every other game. More XP, higher rank. It’s a blast to play games of Deathmatch, Free-for-all, and sabotage. Infinity Ward made up some serious points with the multi player aspect of CoD4.
Bottomline: If you are looking for a easy shooter, Call of Duty 4 is worth a rental. If you like to play online, it’s worth a buy.

Disclaimer: Game and Tech Reviews is NOT responsible for any damage that occurs to your system while performing overclocking.

Download links:

CPU-Z: http://www.cpuid.com/cpuz.php

Speedfan: http://www.almico.com/sfdownload.php

CoreTemp: http://www.download-free.programas-gratis.net/php/software.php?id_programa=13734&download-CoreTemp-0.95

Prime95: http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=103

Glossary:

Overclocking – Running a CPU at a higher frequency than it’s supposed to run at

BIOS – Basic Input Output System- This preps all of your system components and runs tests to make sure everything is functioning properly.

CPU (Central Processing Unit) or Processor – If you don’t know what this is you probably shouldn’t be over clocking in the first place. But, if you want to continue, the CPU handles all the data. Literally every shred of information is passed through this chip. Basically it just does a whole bunch of math very fast

FSB (Front Side Bus) – This relays information from the CPU and the north bridge. The faster this is the higher the performance.

Clock Multiplier– Basically this allows the CPU to run at a higher speed/frequency than the North Bridge and FSB. The CPU speed is found my multiplying the FSB with the clock multiplier. For example: 9 x 333= 2.997

Megahertz – A hertz is a standard unit of frequency. It basically refers to the cycles per second. 5 MHz means 5 cycles per second. A kilohertz is 10^3. A megahertz is 10^6. A gigahertz is 10^9

vCore – Is the amount of voltage that the CPU is receiving from the power supply.

TJunction – Refers to the thermal sensors (Digital Thermal Sensors) placed in each core.

TJunction Max– Shutdown

TCase – Refers to the thermal sensor (Case Thermal Diode) placed on the CPU die.

Ambient Temperature – Room temperature

Load – Refers to CPU under full stress, 100% usage in each core. These are the only temperatures that really matter

Idle Refers to the CPU under little to no stress. These temperatures mean little to nothing.

Throttling – A safety feature included with modern processors to save components from damage. This occurs at about 5C below TJunction Max. It is said to “throttle back.” If heating continues, the system will shut down.

Stepping – Means the revision on the processor.

 

Secrets of overclocking 😉 :

The first unwritten secret of overclocking is quite simple: buy a motherboard conducive to overclocking. It’s that simple. If you don’t have a motherboard that lets you easily access the key settings involved in overclocking, you’re in for hell of a hard time overclocking. I recommend purchasing enthusiast friendly motherboards such as EVGA, Asus, or sometimes Gigabyte. You should really research both your processor and motherboard to check to see if they are suitable for your overclocking desires.

The second secret to overclocking is picking a processor that overclocks well. Now, each processor overclocks differently, but some processors handle higher bus speeds and heat better than others. For example, the G0 revision of the Intel Q6600 overclocks much higher than the initial B3 processor. This is because it is a revision and Intel has made modification to the architecture and refined it to handle heat better. Also, the extreme series that Intel offers will overclock better because of their unlocked multipliers. But, believe me you will pay for that. The extreme series will run you an average of 500 USD more than a Core 2 Duo. To they joy of enthusiasts everywhere, Intel has recently embraced overclocking and has even showed a Qx9650 clocked somewhere over 5GHz at their annual press conference. AMD is lacking behind and has been for sometime. Long gone are the days when almost every enthusiast was sporting an AMD processor. AMD is now barely getting by as a budget processor company, and they failed to keep up with Intel with the release of their 65nm Phenom chip. So, what does this all mean? Do your research!

The third secret to overclocking is proper cooling. Bottom line stock cooling will simply NOT cut it. There is a reason that extreme overclockers use water cooling, dry ice, and liquid nitrogen when they overclock. Heat is the number one enemy of overclocking. While processors are made to run at sub-zero temperatures, they do not handle higher temperatures as well. Different processors have different points at which they will fail. Most, if not all, modern CPU’s and motherboards will shot off before permanent damage is done. I recommend investing in water cooling if you really want to push your CPU up there. Or at least investing in some nice There are some terms you must know before you begin messing with settings. There are some inherent risks with overclocking one should be aware of. First, it will reduce the life of the component. This is because it is running outside of the recommended zone. Second, if proper cooling is not used the ambient temperature in the case could rise to dangerous levels potentially damaging other components. Third, overclocking can and probably will void the warranty on your CPU.

Rules:

1. Do not exceed 1.5 volts under the vCore setting.

2. All temperatures should be taken into consider when under load.

3. Always have some sort of active cooling.

4. Crashing is normal and part of the overclocking process. If your computer crashes and it doesn’t turn on right away, don’t panic. Turn it off at the power supply, wait 10-30 seconds, and try again.

5. Under no circumstances should you exceed the TJunction or TCase maximums.

So, you’ve bought a nice, shiny new processor, and you want to overclock the hell out of it? Who can blame you? Here’s a general guide on how to overclock your processor; and, more importantly, do it as safely as possible. Must have software: CPU-Z, Speedfan or CoreTemp, and Prime95. CPU-Z is necessary for viewing what kind of processor you have, the multiplier, the FSB, operating frequency, and other crucial data. Speedfan and CoreTemp allow you to see the temperature of the processor. Prime95 is a stress test program that allows you to test the stability of your overclock.  Boot your computer and load your operating system.  Download and install the necessary programs.  Open CPU-Z and look on the left side to determine what stepping processor you have.  Newer revisions overclock better.  So, it’s better to have a newer stepping.  Open CoreTemp and take a look at your TJunction Max.  This is the temperature at which shutdown will occur, and throttling will occur at ~5C bellow the TJunction Max.  However, for 24/7 overclocks it is advised to stay at ~20C-30C below the TJunction Max. 

Note: Only trust CPU-Z for accurate clock speeds.  And only use Core Temp to monitor core temperatures if you have a quad core.  

 

 

1.  Restart your computer and enter your BIOS.  Each motherboard manufacturer has a different way of accessing the BIOS; so, take a look at the opening screen for the correct key to hit.  The most common key/key combinations are: Delete, F1, F2, F3, F5, F10, Escape, Insert, Control + Escape, Alt + Escape, Control + Alt + Escape, Control + Alt + Enter.  If none of that work, you either aren’t pressing them fast enough or your motherboard manufacturer has a different way of accessing the BIOS.  Find the manufacturer’s website and it should be listed there.

2.  Disable any type of Speedstep or power saving features your motherboard may have.  This is a power saving feature, but it can lead to system instability during higher clock speeds.  Stress test with out it enabled to find a stable overclock, and then enable it and stress test again to see if the system remains stable.  Intel uses speed step and is usually listed under EIST, C1E, and Speedstep.  AMD uses Cool’n’Quiet and PowerNow! 

3.  Raise the FSB is large increments until failure occurs.  It is normal for the computer to not boot right away.  Relax.  Just unplug it or turn it off at the PSU and wait 15-20 seconds.  It should boot up again.   Lower the FSB until you can boot again.  You can and probably will need to increase voltage to the vCore and the north bridge.  Up it in the lowest increments your motherboard will allow.  Raising this will increase heat.  Do not go over 1.5v to the core.

4.  Begin stress testing with Prime95.  Run small TFF’s for a minimum of 6 hours.  I recommend running it overnight to truly test system stability.  If a crash occurs, lower the FSB or raise the voltages until it becomes stable.  Watch temperatures using either CoreTemp or Speed Fan.  24/7 temperatures should not exceed TJunction Max – 25C.  So, if your TJunction Max is 100C, temperatures (under load) should not exceed 75C. 

5.  Enjoy the performance boost an overclocked CPU can bring to you! 

 

Feel free to leave comments and questions here.  I will answer them promptly.