Saturday, September 13, 2008 9:36:50 PM
Firstly apologies, everyone at Gamestyle has been hampered with other plans and we've had a lack of new material. This has let us focus on restoring the long lost retro content which includes Phantasy Star Online.
Now that was a game which really brings back memories. Certainly one that opened up the whole world to online playing. The experience of playing with Japanese users and communicating is still one of those magical video game moments for me. Especially as I was clearly a novice and yet they consistently helped me out and made sure I reached the end in one piece.
Somehow it seems longer than 2002, but here's our original PSO review restored:Click here for the Phantasy Star Online Review
As my wrist and thirst have healed, expect some new content next week and hopefully much more besides!
Saturday, August 2, 2008 11:46:07 AM
Been a while but the site ticks over with plenty of recent retro content. So how bad is Alone in the Dark? According to Adam its pretty shameful...Click here to read the review
Thursday, July 24, 2008 8:39:19 PM
This is the first of two Burst Limit reviews we'll be doing, with the PS3 version being covered next week. That review is already in, but I haven't read it yet, still always fascinating to see how to pieces turn out with what are fairly similar titles. Very few differences between format releases unless you're looking at the Wii.
We've also put up a NES review as we continue to rebuild the retro offering. So checkout an overlooked classic in Cobra Triangle!Click here for the Dragon Ball Z Burst Limit Review
Tuesday, July 22, 2008 7:39:47 PM
It is very difficult to stand out in the crowded FPS genre, or even the near current or historical sub divisions. Very few games seem to meet the mark, or push it a little further and it seems Battlefield is another shot gone astray.Click here for the Battlefield Bad Company review
Monday, July 21, 2008 9:37:34 PM
A real mess of a game that brought back memories of another poor effort, which by chance happened to be published by Midway as well. An unfortunate pattern perhaps, I've enjoyed some releases from that publisher but all on the last generation. Clearly they've yet to come to terms with the new formats on the market.
With reviews such as this, when you are confronted by what is a poor game, it is difficult to keep your perspective. It would be all too easy to rant and rave about what a complete pile of pooh the final product is, and how it would be better as a drinks coaster. Again, all too easy to fall into this trap and not informative to readers about WHY it is so BAD and if there are any saving graces.
In the end I traded in BlackSite for next to nothing towards Lost Odyssey Xbox 360
, which is a JRPG which I've been meaning to check out for ages, but wanted to wait until the guaranteed price drop arrived. Thank goodness this game arrived in Europe, I'm impressed so far by what I've seen. Also not having to review the game means I can take it at my own pace! That means very slow for a change!Click here for the PS3 BlackSite review
Sunday, July 20, 2008 4:46:44 PM
Andy who wrote the FFVI review also wanted to say the following about it..."Incredibly, it was in November 2005 that I sat down and wrote this review. Sadly, it got lost along the way and sat in our submissions folder for too long. This wasn't anyone's fault - Gamestyle kept evolving and the tremendous amounts of work that everyone put in to make the site look as good as it does today meant that this particular review fell by the wayside.
For me, this makes my Final Fantasy VI review a very interesting piece, my lost review if you will. Before asking if the review could finally go up, I wondered whether it was worth re-visiting and re-writing. But I didn’t do this. What you can read is exactly what I wrote in 2005. Final Fantasy VI is one of my favourite games on any format and the review was one of the first dozen or so that I wrote. I’d like to think that I’ve improved as a writer over the last few years, even if only by a miniscule amount. But this review doesn’t make me cringe. Yes, there are places where I can see that I might have said things more clearly, or more importantly concisely, especially given my penchant for rambling. But I’m proud of the review and I think it holds up well even now. I hope you do too and I hope my review inspires you to share the experience of one of my most treasured games.
Gimmie some sugar baby!"
Retro is back on the agenda, so expect more returns and debuts from our retro banks and vaults from now onwards. Hopefully we'll also hear more from the GS team on this blog as well!
Sunday, July 20, 2008 8:27:42 AM
A classic and for many their first introduction to the Final Fantasy universe. Its also one of those few 10 scores you'll see from a GS writer.
FFVII is still strong in my memory, yet after that the games (for me) failed to deliver and I tired of the epic nature. However if I do see a second hand copy of a FF release going cheap, I'll probably have to check it out!Click here for the Final Fantasy VI review
Tuesday, July 15, 2008 6:57:58 PM
I must have had my head in the sand, as the first I knew about this release was at the weekend when I was out shopping. Even before this title the Guitar Hero series was already receiving criticism for releasing a stream of downloads, all available to the punter at a cost.
Now we have this Aerosmith package which can only be called a glorified expansion package. Releasing it at a full retail price seems very shortsighted and may just push more towards Rockband. I'm sure eventually given the pending recession and ongoing 'credit crunch' we're not going to have the money for releases such as this, or downloadable extras. The marketing and sales model will have to change.
In saying all that, do check out what Adam had to say with our Xbox 360 review of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith
Monday, July 14, 2008 8:04:19 PM
This week we should be discussing E3 and all the exciting or boring things that will happen at the 2008 event. I believe its worthwhile to hold off until all is said and done, when we can reflect on events.
With the current version of GS going without any news on the front page, we can sit back and discuss in the forums rather than dashing after the latest updates. We've had some great times at these shows in the past, with various staffers attending the Tokyo Game Show, E3, ECTS or the PlayStation shows at one time or another. Having been to a few its not something I miss and is very tiring, plus trying to grasp a game within the space of a few minutes is impossible.
Meantime we have the latest game from Nippon Ichi reviewed in the form of Soul Nomad & The World Eaters
, yet another silver bullet from the PS2 that you can play and enjoy on your PS3. I love the backwards compatibility of the PlayStation 3, although its not really contributing currently with its own games for this generation.
Overlord Raising Hell is a very rare example, but even that's a PC come Xbox 360 port with loads of extras. A bit of a tongue twister!
Saturday, July 12, 2008 12:09:15 PM
The last version of Gamestyle (probably number seven? I've lost count!) had a popular retro section which up until now was not included in the latest release. This was a flaw and oversight, at first it was anticipated that we could include a totally seperate and unique visual experience to the clean-cut all white environment that is used for current consoles.
This however never did materialise so instead the retro content is going online in batches over the coming months. While I could spend the next few weeks doing it in bulk, its far too time consuming and would evaporate the main page under a constant stream of retro. Sparking 'where are is your coverage of PS3, 360, Wii etc' comments.
Last night was the ZX Spectrum classic Football Manager
which was a taste of things to come with the mighty Championship Manager series. Fond childhood memories anyway!
Today we have Sega AM2's classic Dreamcast title Shenmue
a real AAA release back in 2000. I actually had the game much earlier than the European December release. Having imported a Japanese Dreamcast on release (at some cost), I already had a glimpse of what was planned via the Virtua Fighter 2 Project Berkley bonus disk. Even so, nothing prepared you for the world of Shenmue, full of lavish detail and touches that set a standard that many releases today fail to meet.
I may have missed some strands of the game by playing through the Japanese version, but even with a text translation you could feel the quality, tension and storyline slowly taking hold. Today Shenmue reamins a classic, one that I've no doubt plays extremely well and a return is long overdue.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008 9:24:13 PM
After the video nasties and the onslaught of VHS over Betamx,and before the arrival of DVD, there was a brief period for the laserdisc format.
Memories of this were bought back to me recently when bringing some Blu Ray discs back into the UK. This wasn't something I had done since the days of laserdiscs. You can read about the format and its issues elsewhere, but for fans of film quite often it was the true source for the best available version. Throw in that the discs were not encrypted as such, and you could easily enjoy a vibrant picture on a tape.
The market for LD's ended pretty soon after the arrival of DVD. Shortly after that, like many others, I sold my collection and cumbersome player (which was elephant sized) to invest in the new market. LD's had an affinity with LP's and vinyl in terms of physical stature and their attraction. Nothing beats a laser disc in full movie sleeve, many were gatefold editions with extra discs and material not found elsewhere. Even today, some 'cult' (jeez I hate that phrase) films have not made the transition to DVD, making the LD a vital source.
The reason why I reflect on this is I've finally obtained a version of The Keep, directed by Michael Mann and it seems lost forever after VHS & the LD editions. I'll reflect on the film itself in a videonasty piece later, but its funny how things come around full circle. The staff at GS are looking forward to seeing this film I've gone on about for years, tomorrow evening in our matinee season.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008 7:36:07 PM
So, a game to trade in and time to pick an overlooked dark horse from the shelf, or something dirt cheap in the sales!
So my latest acquisition is BlackSite which already has gathered a reputation, but not one that Midway would have wanted. Already labelled by many as a bug ridden mess and blasted by the lead designer (who soon after left the team), he also criticised the development schedule and publisher - I just had to check it out!
I believe there is something good in almost every title, however there is often a first time for everything. First Person Shooters are ruled by the giants such as Halo and co., and this often has a negative effect. Everything has to include identical systems, epic battles and weaponry, rendering the genre stagnant.
Now with BlackSite I've only cleared the Iraq section and I'll keep my thoughts for the review next week, or thereabouts. Yet there is a guilty pleasure playing something flawed and perhaps overlooked by many. At £45 BlackSite was certainly overpriced, just short of £20 and its a different kettle of fish. Just shooting things after a day at work is very welcome.
Can it make up for the wonky frame rate? Crashing? How the characters stand out against backdrops? Is this just an early version they released? Man, its Tomb Raider Angel of Darkness all over again!
Monday, July 7, 2008 7:56:20 PM
Been a hectic few days online, so rather than post each review individually I thought it more practical to list each here. So the lowdown...Spider-Man: The Movie (Xbox)
A bit of history this one, written by Darran Jones (who is now the editor of the Retro Gamer publication) back in 2002. For some unknown reason it was lost during versions of Gamestyle, so its now back!WALL-E (Wii)
Too often film licenses fail to deliver and this is one. While I'm really looking forward to the movie, this game just leaves a sour taste. Handily I did review the last Pixar title Ratatouille and developed by the same studio, it just feels very samey in places. Lazy and WALL-E deserves better! Banner snapshot by yours truly.Football Manager 2008 (Xbox 360)
Adam struggled with this review as its just an interactive spreadsheet. So it is shorter than usual, my own advice is to try and weave some story into such a situation. Quite often I'll take up managing Raith Rovers FC and describe the fun that brings...NASCAR 09 (Xbox 360)
Ok in parts but a tough job delivering a game based on a difficult and niche sport.
It's been a hectic few days as you can tell from this activity. I still have the rest of this week for The Nomad Soul which is ample time plus perhaps another purchase tomorrow - will see what's on offer and what we haven't reviewed as yet. Hopefully a lull will mean more indepth Blog posts right here.
Sunday, July 6, 2008 12:43:06 PM
Had a look during the F1 (who says men cannot multi-task) and my first ever Gamestyle review. I still remember Smuggler's Run today, the freedom and potential offered by an open landscape and just being able to drive without rules. All of this hinted at what was coming the PlayStation 2 and DVD format.
The game itself was one of these strange ones that was on the shelves before the machine was released - perhaps up to a week beforehand. I do recall a similar situation with a few Dreamcast titles, although the name escapes me of it (3rd person, roaming around an abandoned base with lots of Christmas jingles in a supermarket). The publishers probably thought temptation to own a game would get the better of us, and for me it worked at the time.
Yes, the actual review itself is awful. Sometimes I am tempted just to delete it and be done with the shambolic write-up. Good or bad, reviews remain in place at Gamestyle. Another post I'll reveal the shortest ever GS review, which was a ten score and from someone who went on to write for The Guardian and other pro publications.
Smuggler's Run itself was in the old format style, with smaller pictures and no banner. So I've taken the opportunity to tidy it up with the newlook site in mind for amusement...Click here for the Smuggler's Run review.
Friday, July 4, 2008 12:02:01 PM
Earlier this week I sorta suggested that I would perhaps delve into writing reviews about videogames. So just now I have a spare 15 minutes in my lunch break to go over those initial steps which work for me. First it is worth pointing out that everyone I have worked with at GS or other gaming sites had their own way of doing a review. Over the years you cannot help but build up habits, traits and ultimately your own style.
This writing gaming lark has been a major component of my leisure time for almost nine years, maybe slightly more. Before video games it was music fanzines and concert reviews. I can still recall my first ever GS review, which was a PS2 launch title (I may link it later for a laugh) and I cringe at that memory. When I see the standard of new writers who approach us, I cannot help but be very impressed with their examples. The standard has risen dramatically over the past few years!
Now this week's review on my agenda has been NASCAR 09, and I've spent the past few evenings going around those ovals in pursuit of material for the Gamestyle review. Generally even before a game arrives I will check out the official site and read press releases (Gamepress is a vital resource) to highlight the main selling points, or what publisher claims will make this game unique from the crowd. Any press release needs to be taken with a pinch of salt and dose of reality, but I find such steps help lay the initial foundations or highlight what punters might be looking for an opinion on.
If the game is based on a film then I may check that out in addition, or luckily for NASCAR I have a good grounding of motorsports in general. In the end when the game disk goes into the console, you've already acquired some vital information that may help when you actually come to start writing.
Next time I'll go into playing games and what works for me. How do you deal with games of a sizeable length or a variety of options and modes.