GTA: Liberty City


If you've already played through 2008's Grand Theft IV, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect in the formerly Xbox-360-exclusive Episodes from Liberty City. Also unchanged on the PC, sadly, are the frame rate issues that--like those in the PC release of GTAIV--are apparent even on rigs that exceed the recommended system specifications. Regardless, if you enjoyed GTAIV you're sure to enjoy these additional episodes as well, and even if you passed on original protagonist Niko Bellic's adventure completely, there's no reason you can't have a great time with new boys Johnny Klebitz and Luis Lopez. You definitely get more from these episodes if you play GTAIV beforehand though, because nods and winks to that game are scattered liberally throughout.

For the same reason, you'd do well to hold off on playing The Ballad of Gay Tony until after you've beaten or at least spent a good amount of time with The Lost and Damned. The two episodes have been released simultaneously on the PC, but on the Xbox 360, The Lost and Damned was available as a download some eight months earlier. In that episode, you assume the role of Johnny Klebitz--a high-ranking member of the Lost biker gang who regularly disagrees with its trigger-happy leader, Billy Grey. Klebitz, who isn't a particularly likable protagonist, sees no need for the gang to go to war with rivals The Angels of Death, but anytime the two gangs clash, you end up doing most of the killing anyway. New weapons added to the existing GTAIV arsenal in The Lost and Damned include a grenade launcher, pipe bombs, and shotguns, which come in both sawed-off and assault flavors. These weapons are very much in keeping with both the episode's subject matter and its gameplay. And because Klebitz spends so much time riding motorcycles, you can use some of them while in the saddle--which wasn't possible in GTAIV.

Another neat feature introduced in The Lost and Damned, which also made it into The Ballad of Gay Tony, is a mission checkpoint system. Some of the missions take a long time to beat, and a good number of them involve riding or driving to locations that might be a good distance away before the action really gets under way. In GTAIV it could be frustrating to fail these missions, because doing so meant restarting them from the beginning, but the checkpoint system addresses that problem by giving you the option to restart from the last checkpoint that you made it through successfully. Unlike the more inventive and varied missions in The Ballad of Gay Tony, the missions in The Lost and Damned rarely deviate from the original GTAIV formula. You get to ride alongside your gang brothers occasionally, and you can call for backup from them during certain missions, but playing as Klebitz feels a lot like playing as Bellic for the most part.

If you've played through a good portion of GTAIV, it should come as no surprise that Klebitz's and Bellic's paths cross occasionally. Sometimes it's as subtle as the pair simply having a mutual acquaintance, but in one mission the two characters briefly work alongside each other, and if you remember said mission from the original game, it's great to see the events unfold from a second perspective. The Ballad of Gay Tony does an even better job of referencing characters and content from previous Liberty City outings and actually kicks off with a cutscene set during one of Bellic's most memorable missions. Lopez has a very different group of friends and acquaintances than the other two protagonists, but he's a killer-for-hire and he dabbles in drug-dealing, so he inevitably ends up moving in some of the same circles--or at least looking at them down the barrel of a gun. Again, you get to see a handful of missions play out from a second or even third perspective, and given Lopez's penchant for parachutes and the prominence of helicopters in his episode, his view is often very different.

Parachutes are perhaps the most obvious new feature introduced in The Ballad of Gay Tony, and while there aren't many missions that use them, those that do are definitely some of the episode's best. You can use parachutes outside of story missions as well, and the controls while falling are easy enough to grasp that you'll be hitting the centers of targets, gliding through rings in the air, and landing on moving vehicles in base-jump challenges in no time. Other activities that you're introduced to during Lopez's never-a-dull-moment story include dancing and drinking minigames, hitting golf balls at a driving range, and competing in and betting on cage-fighting tournaments. You're not likely to spend a whole lot of time with any of these optional activities, but they're fun to check out once or twice, and they compare favorably to the arm wrestling, air hockey, and hi-lo-card games introduced in The Lost and Damned.

When you're not trying to progress through one of the episodes' stories or killing time with optional activities, you might like to put your skills to the test online in games that support up to 32 players (up from 16 in the console games). Each episode comes with its own multiplayer modes. The Lost and Damned has seven, and in addition to the requisite Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Race options, there are some really inventive ones. They include Chopper vs. Chopper, in which a player on a bike has to race through checkpoints while a player in a helicopter gunship tries to stop him, and Witness Protection, which casts one player as a bus driver that a team of police must protect from a team of bikers. Club Business is a lot of fun as well, since it lets you and up to seven other players play as a biker gang and complete missions cooperatively.

The Ballad of Gay Tony, on the other hand, has only four multiplayer modes, and they're all enhanced versions of modes from GTAIV. The Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch modes benefit from the inclusion of new weapons like sticky bombs, an advanced sniper rifle, and an automatic shotgun with explosive rounds. Meanwhile, Race and GTA Race modes feature new street courses and now give every driver access to a nitrous tank that gradually refills after every boost. This multiplayer content can be a lot of fun if you get in with a good group of people. However, it can be tough to find people playing some of the modes, and it's unfortunate that to move from one episode's modes to the other's you have to go back out to the main menu, load up the other episode, and access the multiplayer options from the in-game cell phone again. A single multiplayer lobby that combines content from GTAIV and both episodes would be much more convenient.

Another caveat with Episodes from Liberty City, other than the fact that The Lost and Damned, while great, is clearly inferior to The Ballad of Gay Tony, is that getting these episodes to run at acceptable frame rates means making some compromises on the visuals. On multiple rigs that exceeded the recommended specs and defaulted to a mixture of high and very high graphics settings, we had to knock everything down to medium to keep the frames per second around 30 in The Ballad of Gay Tony and to prevent dips below 20 in The Lost and Damned--irrespective of whether the latter's visual noise filter was turned on. The episodes still look very good on medium settings, but while the inconsistent frame rates don't hamper the gameplay significantly, they're noticeable enough to be jarring.

Even if you choose to ignore the multiplayer and most of the optional activities and side missions, there's a good 20-plus hours of fun to be had with these episodes. The stories are compelling, the memorable characters are too numerous to mention, and the gameplay is still top-notch. It's unfortunate that PC owners have had to wait so long to get their hands on this content, and even more unfortunate that the episodes don't perform any better on the PC than GTAIV did, but that's certainly no reason for you not to enjoy them.

In additional information, the game can run good with system requirement Intel Dual Core cpu E5400 @2.7 Ghz or higher, 1 Gb of RAM, graphic card such as Nvidia Geforce 8600GT or higher or Ati Radeon 9800Pro, Windows XP SP2 or higher or Vista ultimate edition or Windows 7, DirectX version 9.0c or higher like dirextX 10 compatible, No more time! go and buy the DVD game install it and play it.....

Prison Break: The Conspiracy


Prison life is difficult to emulate within the realm of video games. Because you always have the choice to turn off a torturous game and move on to something more fulfilling, the feeling of being locked away in a suffocating cell with no hope for freedom is hard to accurately convey through digital media. However, Prison Break: The Conspiracy does an admirable job of making every moment within its world mimic the utter hopelessness one must feel when trapped behind bars. This claustrophobic reenactment of the now-defunct television series never even reaches the level of tolerable. There's no reprieve from the boring fist fights and tedious stealth missions that constantly assault you throughout these eight-hours of grueling monotony. The story may appeal to fans of the series who long to interact with virtual representations of their favorite characters, but even the most ardent Prison Break fanatic should stay far away from The Conspiracy.

The Conspiracy cannot even give fans of the show the pleasure of controlling one of their favorite characters from the television series. Instead, you assume the role of Tom Paxton, a character created just for this game. Although he appears to be an ordinary prisoner--one convicted of first-degree murder--he is really a covert agent working for The Company. Your job is to do some sleuthing around the big house to figure out why Michael Scofield is really behind bars and ensure that his brother, Lincoln Borrows, goes through with his electric-chair execution. The various alliances and under-the-table dealings you must engage in may pique the interest of those who are intrigued by the shady lives of convicts, but the abrasive voice acting and stilted animations make it difficult for the uninitiated to be pulled into the layers of underhanded partnerships.

At the beginning of the story, a surly prisoner snaps “I’m not here to make friends,” but you run odd errands for everyone who asks in a desperate attempt to get on people's good side. Most of your time in The Conspiracy is spent on mind-numbing, stealth-based fetch quests, shuttling you from one dreary section of jail to another as you scrounge around for whatever random tool your mission requires. You do have a modicum of freedom within the prison walls, but there is little reason to venture off the well-worn path. Weight-lifting and bag-punching exercises encompass the worst aspects of minigames. Not only are these incredibly easy, requiring neither skill nor concentration to complete, but they also offer minimal reward; thus, your efforts are not worth the drudgery. There are also underground fights to be put to sleep by and a tattoo parlor to class up your convict, but since there's no fun to be had in any of these endeavors, it's best to march obediently to your next objective without stopping to explore.

But it's not as if the story missions are any more interesting than the dull side quests. The majority of The Conspiracy comprises a series of stealth-based missions, but reality has been stripped completely away and replaced by situations that are so contrived they are almost laughable. The AI is as artificial as it gets. There are guards and delivery men scattered everywhere, but it is impossible to predict how they'll react to your presence. Sometimes, they can spot you from across the room, even in low light with pillars and walls blocking their view. Other times, you can walk right in front of them in broad daylight, yet they look right through you. Their patterns are also inane and illogical. A delivery man will ask where he should drop off a package; when told where to go, he will begin to walk aimlessly around the room, turning robotically at odd intervals and generally acting like a man without a brain.

Dealing with incomprehensible AI is bad enough, but it's so much worse when you can't even see your enemies. The camera in The Conspiracy is way too tight, giving you a stunning view of Paxton's back but little ability to see the environment. This is inexcusable in a stealth game. If you're seen by man or camera, your game ends and you must restart from a checkpoint. But because it's so difficult to get a good look at everyone who poses a threat, you'll fail missions until you memorize where everything is situated. But even after you have everything committed to memory, you'll still fail because the AI so frequently breaks its own logic. This is a terribly frustrating game, and even when you finally overcome a situation that has been aggravating you, there is still no satisfaction to be had because luck and enemy incompetence are the keys to success.

If you think lousy AI and a see-nothing camera are bad, just wait until you try to control Paxton. He moves as if he's trudging through a lake of molasses with a 20-ton squid on his back. There is no sense of urgency, so you can only scream for him to shimmy up that pipe faster because there is no way to make him move like a normal person. You can run while on the ground if you want to move faster at the risk of being loud, but the awful AI ruins any strategy this option could have presented. Guards may end up hearing you when you're creeping or play deaf when you start sprinting, so you just have to guess and hope for the best. Furthermore, button presses don't even register half the time. The difference between success and failure is frequently less than a second, but it can take four or more button presses before you finally get into cover or drop off a ledge from which you're hanging. On top of that nonsense, Paxton drifts like a Tokyo racecar. If you remove your hand from the analog stick, you'll watch in horror as he slinks slowly out of cover and into view.

If those mechanical problems weren't enough to steer you far away from this anger-inducing game, there are loads of immersion-breaking touches everywhere you look. The reaction of the guards when you're caught is stunning in its ineptitude. The camera will zoom to their expressionless faces, but they won't shout or even try to capture you. Instead, your game just ends, with the camera still stuck on their stoic faces. Surveillance cameras line the walls, but you can just tap them from below, tilting their lens skyward, if you want to walk right by them. Don't worry; no one will notice that they're filming the ceiling. To get around the prison, you enter man-sized air ducts that no one bothers to guard, which is certainly stupid, but the toilet that doubles as a secret trap door is even more implausible. And because you're a covert agent, you need to update your employers frequently. You do this by either dialing out from one of the many payphones that line the yard or you just speak into your finger-sized recorder mere feet away from the people you're trying to fool.

The stealth elements are painfully tedious and frustrating, but at least they elicit some emotion. You get to punch dudes in the face when you aren't matching wits with the bumbling guards, but these fist fights can only conjure a hearty yawn. You need only slam on the punch buttons (one weak and fast, the other slow and powerful), block occasionally, and watch your hapless opponent crumple to the ground. It's exceedingly simple, but there are even problems present here. The controls are once again awful, barely registering as you mash madly on the button. Once you knock your opponent to the ground, your weak punch turns into a kick, but you will frequently punch air instead of nailing your downed opponent in the stomach. When you drain an opponent's life away, you have to perform a finishing move to end it. The animations on these takedowns look less believable than professional wrestling. During one, you toss your opponent on his back and leap on his chest, but the haymaker you throw that's supposed to knock him out doesn't even make contact.

The one mildly interesting element in the entire game occurs when you have to pick locks. It's not the most novel mechanic in the world--align the pins in the right spot--but because you're frequently rushed to do this while a guard ambles slowly toward you, it is the only time in The Conspiracy when you actually feel tension. Of course, these instances happen infrequently and last only 10 seconds at a time, but they are the standout moments within the game. Quick-time events appear with the same sort of regularity, but whereas picking locks added a brief reprieve from the suffering, these only add to it. The most common action is to rapidly tap a specific button, which seems harmless enough, but this is almost always followed by a solitary tap for a different button. There is no pause between these two commands, though, so you will often mess up because you were still slamming on that first button.

There is also an offline-only Versus mode in The Conspiracy, pitting you against a friend in first-to-three fights, but this is every bit as lackluster as the single-player combat. The controls are stiff and unresponsive, and the iffy collision detection further hampers any chance of enjoyment. It's extremely difficult to line up a punch correctly, making this novelty good for no more than one attempt. It's even more difficult to try to find a way to enjoy this game. With unsatisfying stealth, puzzling logic, and simple-minded combat, there is almost nothing in Prison Break that is actually fun. That the lock-picking minigame is the highlight just shows how lousy the other aspects truly are in this game. People who have never watched the show should stay far away, but fans should stay even further away. Playing the Conspiracy can only tarnish your memories of the source material.

Additional information, this game can run good with system requirement Intel Pentium dual core cpu E5400 @2.7 Ghz or higher, 2 Gb of RAM, graphic card such as Nvidia Geforce 8600GT or higher or Ati Radeon 9800Pro, Windows XP SP2 or higher or Vista ultimate edition or Windows 7, DirectX version 9.0c or higher like dirextX 10 compatible, No more time! go and buy the DVD game install it and play it.....

Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West

If the phrase "Wild West" conjures images of rootin'-tootin' cowboys and no-good varmints shooting each other full of holes at the O.K. Corral, then Lead and Gold might be the game for you. This multiplayer-only shooter pits two gangs of up to five players against each other in familiar game types like Team Deathmatch, Territory Control, and Capture the Flag (or sack of gold, as the case may be). There are no weapon unlocks or persistent ranks to earn here; each game is a stand-alone affair. The crisp action is fast and well-tuned, and the levels provide plenty of ways to flank your enemies, gain high ground, or go for a direct assault. The only significant twist is that you play as one of four character classes, each with its own unique gun and special ability. This creates some interesting tactical variation that can lead to exciting and satisfying matches. Unfortunately, the player population is quite low a week after the game's launch, and it can be tough to find a full game. There are also occasional lag issues to contend with, and the lack of dedicated server support leaves players powerless to provide their own remedies. Finding a solid match may require patience, but once the bullets start flying, Lead and Gold proves its mettle.

While the actual Wild West was home to a veritable smorgasbord of bandits, desperadoes, lawmen, pistoleros, brigands, and stickup kids, Lead and Gold features only four distinct varieties. Every class sports a unique weapon, a sidearm revolver, and a special ability with a cooldown period. The gruff, tin-helmeted Blaster carries a double-barreled shotgun and slings dynamite, while the coonskin-capped Trapper has a high-powered scoped rifle and can lay bear traps to ensnare her foes. The masked Gunslinger packs a heavy revolver and has the ability to fire rapidly while sacrificing some accuracy, and the dapper Deputy wields a repeater rifle while boasting the ability to tag an opponent, placing a skull mark over him that the Deputy's entire team can see no matter where the tagged enemy goes.

All characters have unlimited ammunition, so your only concerns when firing on a foe are your gun's effective range and how long it takes you to reload. When you hit an opponent, there's a satisfying thwack, and a number pops up registering the damage you did. If you land enough shots, your target falls down and pulls out his sidearm in a desperate last stand. Nearby teammates can pick up their downed comrade if you don't finish him off, and if you're close enough, the fallen cowboy might even get lucky and take you out. But if you do enough damage the first time through, he won't even get a second chance.

Killing enemies and accomplishing objectives earns you experience points, which in turn gain you ranks. Ranks are tracked only within matches and are reset once a new match begins, but while they last they earn you a slight boost to your synergy effect (in addition to bragging rights). Each character radiates a synergy effect to nearby teammates that gives them buffs to damage, armor, accuracy, or critical hits. These effects register with a pleasing "ding!" and reward teams that stick together as well as teams with diverse character choices (three Gunslingers does not mean three times the accuracy buff). You can switch your character every time you spawn, though there is no way to know what your teammates' initial spawn choices are, which can hamper your starting strategy. Lead and Gold does not support voice chat, so communicating with your cowboys-in-arms is a bit of a hassle. You have to use the in-game text chat window if you want to taunt your opponents or whisper some strategy to your team.

The game modes are fairly standard, though the maps offer a good amount of variety. There are variations on standard Team Deathmatch, Territory Control, Capture the Flag, and Destroy the Objective. The latter two require you to carry bulky sacks of gold and kegs of gunpowder respectively, slowing you down and making you vulnerable. Keg-heavy matches feature yellow-colored destructible objects, including bridges and doors that can be destroyed to help your team or hinder the enemy, and sheds that, once blown open, create a new source of the powerful explosives. These strategic wrinkles add some welcome variety to your gameplay objectives, which are otherwise very straightforward. The different map locations include a mine, a homestead, and a wagon camp (to name a few), and they are generally complex enough to support a few different strategies. The bright colors and realistically styled environments make attractive locations for shoot-outs, and the sharp character models animate smoothly and look great.

When the action begins to heat up, Lead and Gold can be pretty darn exciting. Deputies cover alleys and streets, giving gunslingers a chance to advance while trappers pick out perches with long sightlines. The six-shooters light up at the first encounter, and the defenders hold their line until a flanking blaster scatters their ranks with some well-thrown dynamite. Having blown open the forward keg spawn, the attackers harry the defenders with explosives until finally the safe is cracked. The first prospective gold stealers are rudely met with bear traps and quickly dispatched, but the trapper gives long-range cover as the team begins the slow, gruesome trek back to their base with their illicit gains. All the while teams are targeting the one individual who carries their enemies' mobile spawn point, hoping to kill him and send it back to their base, temporarily staunching the flow of enemies. Bullets fly and blood spills in these hectic struggles, and to the victor goes the glory.

Unfortunately, it can be tough to find games that play out satisfactorily. There are rarely more than a handful of servers to join because the player population is low. Perhaps because the tutorial is listed as "practice," many players seem to lack a good understanding of how the game works, so expect to have some teammates cruise right by you instead of reviving you, or to find yourself alone in pursuing the actual objective. Lopsided conflicts seem to be more frequent than they should be, and many players experience intermittent lag that is deadly in a fast-paced game like Lead and Gold. A recent patch removed the problematic quick match feature, and support for dedicated servers is on the list of promised fixes, but these issues can make your gameplay experience rougher than it should be.

For the most part, however, Lead and Gold provides enjoyable, straightforward, fast-paced shooter action. Exploring the different classes is fun, and finding your groove with one during a heated match is immensely satisfying. There are issues to contend with, and you may need to exercise some patience before you can scratch your itchy trigger finger. Yet at $14.99, Lead and Gold is a reasonably priced way to romp around an attractively styled Wild West.

Hot information, this game can run good with system requirement Intel Pentium dual core cpu E5300 2.6 Ghz or higher, 1 Gb of RAM, graphic card such as Nvidia Geforce 8600GT or higher or Ati Radeon 9800Pro, Windows XP SP2 or higher or Vista ultimate edition or Windows 7, DirectX version 9.0c or higher like dirextX 10 compatible, No more time! go and buy the DVD game install it and play it.....

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat


Like its predecessors, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat is all about stretches of chilling stillness and thick dread, punctuated by the tense thrills of menacing mutants and the rush of discovery. If you've played either of the first two games of the series, you know that The Zone is a harsh mistress, and exploring it requires patience, thoughtful planning, and plenty of ammo. But it's also erupting with rewards as long as you know where to look. This shooter/role-playing hybrid oozes ambience by the bucketful, whether you're traversing marshes or skulking through dark crevasses, and the dread that accumulates makes encounters with all sorts of grotesque freaks feel all the more suspenseful. These compelling moments don't inspire every aspect of the game, however. The story does little to draw you in until the final hours, and the visuals are showing their age despite some welcome improvements to the graphics engine. But Call of Pripyat is an excellent return to form after the uncomfortably buggy, awkwardly paced Clear Sky. Prepare, once again, to face impossible odds as you trudge your way across one of the planet's most dangerous expanses.

In the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series' third installment, you play as Ukrainian security agent Alexander Degtyarev. A number of military helicopters have crashed in the region devastated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster--known as The Zone--and you're sent to investigate. Call of Pripyat tries a bit harder than its predecessors in the storytelling department; the camera pans around your character in cutscenes, the writing is more straightforward, and the climax ties back to Shadow of Chernobyl, the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game. The plot gets a bit interesting in the final few hours as you find out more about what's going on in Pripyat, the abandoned city closest to the nuclear plant. Unfortunately, there's little to get you invested before that, and the awkward scripted scenes don't communicate a sense of drama as much as they highlight the aging visuals. A few characters, such as an alcoholic technician who will upgrade your weapons only after you give him enough vodka, are interesting or entertaining enough to make you care about their fates. But for the most part, you'll care only about surviving--and thriving--in such bleak, lawless environs.

And what environs they are. Shacks dot the grassy landscapes, cracks open in the earth's crust, and the famed Pripyat Ferris wheel looms beyond a barbed-wire fence. Storms rage across the skies, and frightening radioactive emissions spread across The Zone, threatening the small pockets of human life that populate it. You encounter groups of bandits fending off mutant attacks or huddled around a fire, camped near a radioactive anomaly. This is a tense, unpredictable, and sometimes scary place where the next step could invite danger or bring respite. You get some forewarning of some attacks, such as the frenzied barking of mutated dogs before a pack of them descend upon you. But other times, the darkness hides a shocking surprise, like a new enemy to the series called the burer. These misshapen dwarves are like mutant poltergeists, flinging objects at you and even telekinetically yanking your weapon out of your hands. A sinister encounter with one of these creatures in the center of Pripyat near the end of the game is one of several nail-biting highlights.

Another highlight is a nighttime ambush of another newly introduced beast called the chimera. Night is wholly black in Call of Pripyat, not the dim facsimile that so many other games provide. Not knowing when this terrible beast might bear down upon you in this blackness makes this just one of many petrifying sequences, though even most mundane encounters will have you sweating bullets. Call of Pripyat is not an easy game, so you need to aim well, know your weapons' strengths and weaknesses, and conserve ammo. Human opponents put up a tough fight, so running in guns blazing is a quick ticket to the afterlife. There are times when the AI's ultraproficiency seems a little too obvious. Human enemies facing away from you have the uncanny ability to notice when you peek out a window behind them and are remarkably good shots in the dead of night, even without night vision scopes equipped. But despite a bit of cheating, Call of Pripyat rarely feels unfair. It features none of Clear Sky's lame choke points and mission design issues, and the economy and weapon upgrade systems have been tweaked in sensible ways. So while you'll still make use of the quicksave and quickload keys, you never feel like the game devolves into frustrating save-game attrition.

These aren't the only improvements Call of Pripyat makes over its precursors. This is by far the most stable S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game out of the box; we didn't experience a single crash or corrupted save file, and the graphics engine performs better than ever (if not quite perfectly), even when you turn on the new DirectX 11-specific options. This update doesn't thrust the game into the forefront of cutting-edge visuals, but while low-resolution textures and clumsy animations may betray the engine's age, carefully crafted environments and all sorts of atmospheric touches make this a case in which art trumps technology. Other welcome improvements include flexible hotkeys,along with important gameplay additions, from preventative medications to the ability to roam The Zone freely once you've finished the story.

Outside of the main story, there are plenty of side quests to pursue. You'll eliminate bloodsucker nests, search for a fabled corner of paradise, and, as before, hunt for incredibly valuable artifacts hidden in the midst of various anomalies. Gathering artifacts is as tense and exciting as it ever was, requiring you to venture into a deadly anomaly that may pick you up into the air and throw you around, burn your skin to a crisp, or zap you with jolts of electricity. All the while, you must follow your detector's signal to pinpoint the artifact's location. The search is frantic, and the risk is high, which makes success oh-so-sweet. All these tasks are wrapped into a free-form package, allowing you to explore The Zone under your own terms. In fact, the vague instructions you receive from some mission providers require you to thoroughly explore every nook and cranny, from abandoned schoolhouses to derelict fuel stations. Don't expect a specific mission waypoint with every job you undertake. This is frustrating if you let it be, but it's an authentic part of Call of Pripyat's bleakness. The Zone does not allow you to tame it without a struggle.

The game isn't always so open ended, and some story missions funnel you through a few extended, linear sequences, though Call of Pripyat falters slightly here. The game spends a lot of time setting up Pripyat as home to unspeakable dangers, and a protracted journey through a long, dark series of tunnels is so nerve-racking that the reward for the effort--the city of Pripyat--is a bit of a letdown. There are fewer opportunities for boundless exploration here, fewer surprises to discover--and no typical vendors, which might lead to some unavoidable travel back to the game's two other major regions. Thankfully, this is when the story missions start to get more interesting, moving from mundane to there’s-something-freaky-going-on-here territory.

Call of Pripyat's multiplayer options, just like those of its predecessors, are routine and slightly clumsy, because the game's shooting mechanics don't work so beautifully when isolated from the context that makes them successful. But it's the chilly ambience and lifelike ecology that should lure you to the newest S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game, not the ordinary online play. Well-constructed environments and superb sound design make The Zone as cheerless and ominous as ever. But it's also rich with resources, begging you to cultivate its secrets and withstand the hostilities. Series fans and newcomers alike should don their protective gear and journey forth.

For Information, this game can run good with system requirement Intel Pentium dual core cpu E2180 2.2 Ghz or higher, 1 Gb of RAM, graphic card such as Nvidia Geforce 7600GT or higher or Ati Radeon 9800Pro, Windows XP SP2 or higher or Vista ultimate edition or Windows 7, DirectX version 9.0c or higher like dirextX 10 compatible, No more time! go and buy the DVD game install it and play it.....

Dawn of Discovery: Venise

Last year's Dawn Of Discovery was a complex but tremendously absorbing game of exploration, city-building, and resource management. Now, a new expansion called Venice seeks to entice you to return to the high seas of the early 1400s. Before you set sail with visions of canals and gondolas filling your head, you should know that this isn't quite the full-featured Venetian experience you might be hoping for. Still, while most of the additions are relatively minor, Dawn of Discovery fans will appreciate the ways in which Venice fleshes out the game's competitive aspect and will enjoy the opportunity, finally, to test their skills against human opponents.

The title for this expansion is a bit misleading. You won't be building any Venetian cities yourself, and with the exception of a few entirely new building types, the appearance of the cities you create is unchanged from the core game. Venetian trading ports are now present, but they're always maintained by the AI character of Giacomo Garibaldi, and although the architecture that makes up these ports is beautiful, the changes are purely cosmetic and aren't even onscreen that often. The new ship types available from Garibaldi are useful, but the Venetian element is just a bit of seasoning in the overall mix of the game, not the prominent element you might go in expecting.

Instead, the most significant features in this package are the competitive and cooperative multiplayer options that were conspicuously absent from the original game. Multiplayer games support up to eight players and are as deeply customizable as their single-player counterparts, allowing you to establish victory conditions that include population size, completing quests for AI characters, or being the only surviving player. Dawn of Discovery doesn't lend itself to quick and convenient action, but multiplayer competition can be richly rewarding if you're willing to put some time into it. Depending on how you set them up, multiplayer sessions of Dawn of Discovery can last up to ten hours or more, so it's just as well there's an option to save games in progress. If you know others with the game and can coordinate times to play, you're more likely to have a good experience than if you're hopping into the lobby and hoping to play with strangers. And the cooperative option is different from typical team-based play. Rather than team members each controlling their own ships, cities, and resources, each member of a team has full control of all the team's assets. This requires excellent communication and coordination to ensure that everyone is working toward the same goals. If you enjoy that kind of close collaboration, it can be great fun.

Along with the implementation of multiplayer, Venice enhances the competitive element of Dawn of Discovery by introducing sabotage and city politics. A new building type called the base of operations lets you send spies to hide among the populace of a competitor's city. Once your spies are there, you can direct them to commit acts that disrupt the economy of your rival, such as arson or sending out false prophets who compel people to stop paying taxes. And the introduction of city councils gives you a chance to take over a rival's town by buying off the majority of council seats and purchasing the key to the city. The original Dawn of Discovery didn't offer you many ways to try to make life difficult for your opponents short of launching a military assault, so the opportunity to covertly muck up the works for your rivals or buy your way to power is most welcome. And if for any reason you want to play without city councils or the threat of a rival sending a belly dancer to your city's marketplace, these elements can be turned off.

There's no new single-player campaign in Venice, but there are 15 new scenarios that run the gamut from breezy ship-racing competitions to society-building challenges under the most grueling conditions. These scenarios are diverse, and most of them are quite good, capturing an intoxicating spirit of high seas adventure. But while they serve to introduce the expansion's new gameplay elements, they don't do a good job of familiarizing you with them. For instance, when you're told in an early scenario to use spies to commit specific acts of sabotage, it's not clear which enemy houses you need to infiltrate to make specific acts of sabotage available to you, nor is it stated in the flimsy manual for this expansion. You're often left to just fumble around with things to determine how they work, and given how tremendously complex and daunting this game can be even when you're deeply familiar with it, the fact that it doesn't take steps to clearly explain how these new elements work is frustrating. Of course, a steep learning curve is nothing new to Dawn of Discovery, but it's disappointing that this unnecessary and unpleasant challenge hasn't been refined a bit.

With the exception of those moments you spend trading in a Venetian port (or just admiring the architecture in one), Venice is visually indistinguishable from the core game. Dawn of Discovery is still breathtaking in its evocation of an idealized historical setting, and the Venetian elements feel right at home in this gorgeous, bustling world. Similarly, the new music introduced here is a perfect addition to the score, as rousing and sweeping in scope as the compositions included in the original game.

Venice is more a modest collection of enhancements than a full-featured expansion. But while the emphasis on Venice in the title and marketing for this package may be disingenuous, the world of Dawn of Discovery is as captivating as ever. Those who have sunk countless hours into the core game and who relish the thought of spending many more facing off against human opponents will certainly find their $20 well spent.

Hot info, this game can run good with system requirement Intel Pentium dual core cpu E2180 2.2 Ghz or higher, 1 Gb of RAM, graphic card such as Nvidia Geforce 7600GT or higher or Ati Radeon 9800Pro, Windows XP SP2 or higher or Vista ultimate edition or Windows 7, DirectX version 9.0c or higher like dirextX 10 compatible, No more time! go and buy the DVD game install it and play it.....

Silent Hunter 5

Have a lot of spare time on your hands? If so, Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic might be the game for you. The latest addition to Ubisoft's venerable submarine simulation franchise is so confusing and unfinished that it would be less of a hassle to join the Navy and get firsthand experience underwater than to figure out what's going on here. While the game has strong points and shows potential if you want to wait for developers and modders to (hopefully) fix the current problems, at present you have to do everything the hard way. The opening tutorial mission teaches you nothing about how to captain a sub. Key functions have been stripped from the interface in favor of clumsy commands and giving orders to the crew in person. The new morale system for crewmen is broken. And let's not forget the generous assortment of design quirks and bugs, which are joined by an obnoxious copy-protection scheme that requires you to be online at all times. There are a few glimmers of hope, but much of the time this is one of the most grueling experiences below the waves this side of Das Boot.


Like its predecessors, Silent Hunter 5 is a thorough World War II simulation of life spent hiding under the waves in a German U-boat. Just about everything can be configured, so you can go for total realism or take advantage of crutches that make it easier to spot enemies, shoot torpedoes, and so forth. And it's a good thing that you can dumb everything down, because Ubisoft has made it tough on rookies. The early hours are frustrating, largely because the tutorial mission is a waste of time and the 35-page on-disc PDF manual covers virtually none of the core concepts you need to understand. It's absurd how little you're told. The tutorial sees you do nothing but sink sitting-duck cargo ships and use the map screen to plot a course, while the manual spends more space on cheesy bios of your crew ("Emil is usually very quiet and somewhat nerdy") than it does on the nuts and bolts of the sub operations necessary to get everybody home to Hitler. Even worse, the manual has been scanned at a low resolution, so you can't zoom in on maps and illustrations without them turning into blurry messes. First impressions don't get much worse than this.

If you can get over this steep learning curve, you'll find a full-featured game awaiting you on the other side. You assume the role of a U-boat captain in the lengthy single-player campaign, as well as in the handful of one-off historical missions where you do things like protect the Bismarck and sail down the St. Lawrence River to attack the Canucks. Most of these historical missions are brief and flavorless, wrapping up fairly quickly after you fulfill basic objectives, such as sinking a specific enemy vessel or sending a set amount of cargo tonnage to the bottom of the sea. Multiplayer (LAN or online) offers a more intriguing hook with co-op teams of up to eight U-boats working together to hunt ships in the eight included scenarios. Objectives range from simple quick strikes against small convoy groups to large-scale assaults on task forces that include dozens of merchant ships along with battleships and even a carrier. Modders are already making missions for the multiplayer, which should give it a long life span. Unfortunately, the online game suffers a lack of players, partly because this is a niche sim and partly because of connection problems that force some users to manually open a handful of ports on routers. At least you can try multiplayer missions solo, so you can get a taste of how they play even if you can't connect with anybody else.

Campaign missions start as the war begins. Your first assignment is to play the first officer aboard a sub patrolling the Polish coast during the German invasion in September 1939. From there, you are promoted to captain and given your own boat to guide through a branching series of assignments that take you into 1943. Oddly, the campaign can be sort of a snore. Patrol objectives seem arbitrary and dry. Your directives are sensible and usually involve taking down a couple hundred thousand tons of merchant shipping in the North Atlantic or sinking specific Allied ships by set deadlines, but the way they're presented leaves a lot to be desired. Aside from short briefings on maps at the start of scenarios, the rationale for missions is never explained. It's a little too much like you're clocking numbers, hoping to win the war if your sunk-ship totals wind up higher than the other guy's. At least these goals are situated in a way that makes you feel like you're part of the war. You pitch in to help with the greater German war effort every step of the way, fighting the British blockade during the phony war, aiding in the invasion of Norway, hammering UK shipping after the surrender of France opens up rather convenient new sub harbors, helping Il Duce in the Mediterranean, and going toe-to-toe with the Royal Navy when the tide begins to turn against Germany in 1943.

Regardless of these lukewarm patrol assignments, combat is challenging and the mood is dark and ponderous. Playing an underwater assassin stealing across the ocean on starry nights is addictive. It's incredibly satisfying to stalk enemy vessels, whether you're zeroing in on a convoy of wimpy cargo ships or creeping into a task force of destroyers and launching a salvo of torpedoes before slinking off into the deep. It's like you're playing a nautical chess game. You have to think a couple of moves ahead, assessing the risks involved in revealing yourself long enough to fire torpedoes or even taking your boat to the surface and finish off wounded prey with the deck gun. You're always tempted to try something outrageous, like sliding into the middle of a task force and sinking a battleship. So situations can get very crazy, very fast. One moment you're admiring a kill, and the next you're running from a pack of destroyers that are trying to crack your hull open with depth charges. And as the war moves along, the Allies get smarter, throwing more warships, more escorted convoys, and better sub-hunting tactics at you even as your Mark VII line of U-boats improves through a couple of new model iterations.

Still, as much as you want to get immersed in the reality of life as a U-boat boss, it's easier said than done. There are loads of problems. The biggest is with the overhauled interface. So much has been streamlined that key features have been removed entirely, in particular most of the gauges that gave the earlier Silent Hunter games a WWII-era atmosphere. Now when you're on a periscope screen, all you see is a black background dotted with the Tactical Action Interface minimap--which looks a lot like a GPS--and some modern-looking icons. This is definitely more realistic in some ways (look through a real periscope and you don't see gauges all over the place), and the black makes it easier to spot enemies at night, but this screen remains awfully blah. At a glance, you wouldn't know if the game was set during WWII or today. Many functions have been ditched, such as the compass that allowed minute course alterations. Now you have to plot all course changes on either the main map screen or the minimap, which isn't fun in tight moments when you're engaged with a convoy or fleeing from warships. There isn't even a way to check your depth under keel. Fan mods are already starting to address some of these deficiencies, but still, it's incredible that Ubisoft removed such vital parts of the interface.

Silent Hunter 5 has moved to fully 3D sub innards and a first-person point of view where you see your boat through the eyes of its captain. Now, instead of commanding in a Fuhrer-like fashion, you run to different parts of your boat and give orders via dialogue trees. At first, giving face-to-face commands adds to the realism and makes you feel like you're the captain of a real sub. Telling the XO to go to silent running sure gives you a rush. It's also amazingly intense in the corridors of your boat while under attack, watching as the Atlantic sprays in from bursting seams, causing water droplets to run down the screen. But then tedium sets in. Having to race around giving commands is annoying. It's impossible to do it effectively during combat, because by the time you get back to the engine room to tell your engineer to overcharge the diesel, you're on the bottom of the ocean. Doing so much in person is a bit nonsensical, too, given how real U-boats featured onboard voice tubes that let officers boss around the great unwashed (literally--U-boats didn't have showers) from a distance.

Crew members now come with personalities and skills. The former is represented by morale and the latter by abilities that can be boosted to provide passive bonuses to operations, such as greater speed and deeper diving, as well as active abilities you have to select, such as revealing hidden enemies and preheating torpedoes. All seem over the top. Having to look after crew morale is just a bother. You won't care about how Dieter's wife and kids are doing back home or how Wolfi's brother is handling life on board the Bismarck, but you'll ask, because otherwise the lads feel neglected and their morale plummets. Skills make more sense and can be useful in battle, if you can get to the crewman in question and give the order before it's glub-glub time. Still, it's one thing to try to get more efficient tracking abilities out of the sound guy, but it's another having to goose morale by ordering the cook to prepare a special meal. Also, the whole system doesn't work right now. Individual morale sometimes goes down even after you engage in small talk, and the entire crew's morale frequently plummets to zero for no reason. When morale flatlines, a crewman stops accepting orders, making it impossible to give face-to-face commands. Boosting some skills messes up gameplay. If you improve the talents of your torpedo man, you get longer-running, faster torpedoes that aren't correctly tracked by the targeting system, causing shots to miss. Unfortunately, right now you're stuck with all of this, because there's no way to shut crew abilities off.

And there are many other glitches. Enemy vessel intelligence is all over the place. At times, Royal Navy patrols seek you out. Enemy planes pass overhead when you surface or get spotted by a merchant vessel, and whammo, here come the destroyers. Warships can track and sink you like rabid killers. On other occasions, you can stalk and destroy Allied vessels, and they won't get perturbed about it. An effective hunt can result in your sinking an entire task force. You can nail a couple of enemy ships instantly at periscope depth and then pick off their buddies when they come looking for you. Even when you are targeted and seem destined for a watery demise, you can often crash-dive and hang out at 40 meters for a few minutes until the coast is clear. The Royal Navy leaves ports undefended. You can occasionally cruise up to docks and unload torpedoes on merchant ships at anchor. Both allied and enemy ships along coastlines appear to be helmed by utter morons. Cargo ships ram into docks until they catch on fire. Ships of all sorts move back and forth like prison guards across the narrow straits opening into harbors. As a result, friendly ports can be the most hazardous locations in the game. Heading into Wilhelmshaven is like running a gauntlet, with other German ships constantly darting in front of you. Nothing says "epic fail" quite like getting sunk by your own navy on the way home from a patrol where you took out an enemy task force single-handedly.

The digital rights management copy protection now featured on Ubisoft PC titles is incredibly intrusive. It requires that you be connected to the Internet at all times while playing, which causes outages if you have problems with your ISP or if the main Ubisoft servers go down, which has already happened on a couple of occasions since the game's release. Even your saves have to be synchronized from the servers every time you start a game, which is an issue that can cause delays of a few minutes or more. The wait gets longer as you move through the campaign and accumulate more save files. Sometimes saves don't sync up properly. You can save with torpedoes in the water, watch them hit an enemy vessel, then load the save and see them miss by a mile. Or you can save a game during a calm, starry night and load it up to find waves swamping the bow of your boat. Loading a save at the start of play typically takes around two or three minutes, too, although it's impossible to tell if this is because of DRM or because the game is just slow.

Visual and audio problems are common. While Silent Hunter 5 looks great--if jarringly modern instead of authentically WWII-ish in its menus and maps--performance leaves you wanting. Even though there is an incredible amount of detail both inside your sub and across the rolling ocean through the periscope and when you're up on deck, with exploding enemy ships sure to bring a smile to your eyes (especially when they crack in two), you pay a high price for the prettiness. Frame rates can plunge to the single digits or teens, especially with time compression on during long trips. This sluggishness, plus the annoying hitches where the game freezes momentarily when you move suddenly, can make it difficult to navigate both inside the sub and on map screens. Other times the graphics don't work right at all. Icons turn into white blocks, making it impossible to tell what's what. The docks and sub pen at Wilhelmshaven routinely vanish from the maps, leaving you to navigate in and out of port from the conning tower. If you look closely at enemy vessels that you have just torpedoed, you can see crewmen casually wandering around the flaming, exploding deck. Audio causes more trouble. You'll wish you could turn off the stuttering course change announcements and the "Would you like to plot a new course, captain? Perhaps a search pattern?" lines that come up just about every time you reach the end of a series of waypoints.

It's going to take a lot of patches and user-made mods to get Silent Hunter 5 into a playable, satisfying state. Ubisoft's track record with this series and the incredible dedication of the game's fan base mean that this is likely going to happen, sooner or later, but for the time being, you would be well advised to get your submarining fix from Silent Hunter 3 or 4, two extremely impressive games that have been well seasoned with patches and mods. Right now, despite the undeniable promise and more than a few moments where excitement and tension make you forget about the many bugs and design flaws, the fifth edition in this series just isn't ready to be released from the drydock.

Additional info, this game can run good with system requirement Intel Pentium dual core cpu E5300 2.6 Ghz or higher, 1 Gb of RAM, graphic card such as Nvidia Geforce 9600GT or higher or Ati Radeon 9800Pro, Windows XP SP2 or higher or Vista ultimate edition or Windows 7, DirectX version 9.0c or higher like dirextX 10 compatible, No more time! go and buy the DVD game install it and play it.....

Art of Murder : Card of Destiny

It seems that The Joker, the famed Batman villain who loved to kill with a smile, was ahead of his time. In the latest edition to the Art of Murder series, Federal Agent Nicole Bonnet must track down a serial killer who, like The Joker, appreciates a good tease. He plants clues, selectively and cleverly, that’ll bring the feds – particularly Ms. Bonnet – to the scene just before the crime unfolds. If she looks closely enough, she’ll find one obvious connection every time: a playing card.

These mysterious murders are the catalyst for Art of Murder: Cards of Destiny, a game that happily follows the point-and-click playbook. Players will be expected to click on just about everything; doors, windows, pictures, maps, pens, notepads, evidence bags, cameras, keys, keyholes, tables, counters, and so on. The list is virtually never-ending.

Cards of Destiny does not discriminate against objects that are completely useless – in fact, it uses numerous objects, clickable parts of buildings and other worthless elements to distract the player from the most important parts of the environment. This forces you to investigate (and often re-investigate after leaving the area, talking to someone, and then going back to where you started) absolutely everything.

While this certainly adds a degree of real-world drama to Cards of Destiny – let’s not forget that there are endless possibilities for what a real FBI agent may encounter at a crime scene – it is also the beginning of the game’s biggest problems.

In Circles

Unlike a real crime scene, where anyone can touch anything and take whatever they want at any time, Cards of Destiny forces you to do everything in a specific order. If you come across a camera and some evidence bags, it should be obvious that they’ll come in handy at some point. Realistically, Nicole should be perfectly in synch with the assumption the player is currently having – after all, this isn’t her first murder investigation. But in this scenario (and many more than I can count), Nicole tells you that she doesn’t need the items, that she isn’t going to take them right now, or responds in some other way that’ll make you want to pound your mouse until it breaks.To obtain (unlock) the items, you’ll need to run around, talk to various characters and examine several areas. Then, once the necessary items are in your possession, you’ll have to go through the motions once more, and re-examine many (sometimes all) of the same areas you just took a look at.

Let’s Go Crazy

Cards of Destiny is overflowing with items that need to be combined in order to do something important. Ex: using a spray bottle (item one) and paper towels (item two) to clean off a dusty projector window. That makes sense. Likewise, it was easy to see that a glass (item one) full of Alka-Seltzer (item two) could be used to clean a rusty bolt (item three), which must be cleaned in order to read the inscription on it.

Most players will also realize that a bucket (item one) full of heavy bricks (item two) can act as a weight to hold down a crank that wants to spin out of control. As the combinations get more expansive – who knew that a copper tube, a brick, and the top of a manhole could be used to make a door-opening device? – fans of point-and-click adventures will appreciate the developers’ creativity. Even simple combinations (like using a fork and some old gum to pull a key out of a metal rod) could fool you.

There is one catch, however: in most every case, the items must be combined in a specific order. Remember the spray bottle/paper towel example? My first attempt failed because I tried to combine the paper towels with the spray bottle. Instead, I must first select the spray bottle and then select the paper towel.

Law and Order? No. Trial and Error? Yes.

While this might sound like a minor grievance, it becomes a serious issue when you start to second-guess the solution to a particular puzzle. You’ll examine the same group of areas – or click all over the screen until something works – with the hope that the current dilemma will come to an end. However, as soon as it does, another one presents itself, creating a game of never-ending barriers that the player must overcome.Furthermore, many of the puzzle hints and solutions are hidden within the story. That might sound like a great idea, but Nicole’s dialogue is atrocious; with weak reactions and bad catch-phrases (her most common: “Nothing doing”), she can turn the most suspenseful scenario – like a murder she just witnessed – into something awkward and annoying.The other characters (who she must interact with frequently) are even worse. I wanted something to compare them to and wondered if Wikipedia had an entry for a “wet paint” sign. Sure enough it does, and reading that page was somehow more fun than listening to these characters speak.

This game can run excellent with system requirement Intel Pentium dual core cpu E5300 or higher, 1 Gb of RAM, graphic card such as Nvidia Geforce 7600GT or higher or Ati Radeon 9800Pro, Windows XP SP2 or higher or Vista ultimate edition or Windows 7, DirectX version 9.0c or higher like dirextX 10 compatible, Nothing more to waste your time! go and buy the DVD game install it and enjoy it.....



The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom

The little workers that follow your orders in The Settlers 7 are a tireless lot. They mine for coal, shear sheep, chop wood, and smelt iron yet ask for so little in return. In fact, if you don't have anything for them to do, they might cry out for a little work to ease the burden of their own laziness. And when you play this economy-heavy strategy game, you'll be just as busy--and content--as these tiny computer people. The latest in the long-running Settlers franchise is as charming and enjoyable as past installments, though it's hard to escape on-again, off-again online troubles that have plagued the game since release. Even if you are only interested in The Settlers 7 for its single-player features, you have to be connected to the Internet and signed into Ubisoft's online portal to play. Unfortunately, server problems occasionally make the game inaccessible for hours at a time, which is an issue that does not appear to be improving as the weeks pass.

If you're the patient type, however, you'll probably want to put up with the ongoing connectivity issues simply because The Settlers 7 is fun to play. It isn't as complex or as varied as similar offerings--Dawn of Discovery, for example, or even previous Settlers games--but it has a mesmerizing flow that has a way of pulling you in. The game is all about setting up supply lines by building appropriate structures and abodes in the appropriate places, and then balancing the stream of resources that your settlers then automatically collect. Then you expand your realm across the map by taking over connected settlements, whether they be neutral or already taken by an opponent. The campaign starts you off slow, introducing you to concepts one by one, but in time, you discover just how complex the economic web can be. For instance, you need wood to make planks, which are in turn used as a basic building material for standard structures. Your armies require fancy food, which means you need to build lodges near forests teeming with wildlife or build piggery extensions onto your farms. Then, you need to make sure to attach a butcher annex onto a noble house--which itself requires regular food to operate.

This sounds complicated, but it's easy to get the hang of, and the game does a good job of pointing out gaps in your economic chain. If your mints aren't pumping enough gold into your coffers because you are low on the coal they need, a little icon will appear over the building in need to let you know. Matches can be challenging nonetheless, and resource imbalances may require you to approach things a little differently every time. For instance, you might need to gather wood on barren land. In that case, you need to add a forester annex to a lodge, and because main structures can only have three additions attached to them, space restrictions can become a concern. If you find there aren't many gold mines to empty, you can make beer to sell at your tavern, though then you are redirecting a resource used to attract clerics to your realm. You're constantly forced to make adjustments throughout the course of a single match, and failing to pay attention can have disastrous consequences.

There are times when you'll wish the game made it easier to keep track of things. In a typical match, you'll start expanding your kingdom quickly, and space restrictions might require you to place important structures in settlements other than your primary one. In time, it can become a burden to keep track of a stronghold (for creating troops), a church (for producing men of the cloth), and an export office (for hiring traders). Hotkeys or icons that let you quickly jump to these crucial buildings, along with your all-important tavern, would have been incredibly helpful. As it is, you need to remember where you placed such structures, and when you scroll to that settlement, you must be able to visually identify the structure in question so you can click on it. Other interface improvements would also have been welcome (being able to click on the icons in the build queue to jump directly to that structure, for example), but some flaws aside, it's easy to get around the map by scrolling or clicking on various nodes on the skeletal minimap. If you scroll all the way out, you'll switch to a helpful bird's-eye view that shows you where resources are located, the status of the opposition's expansion, and other helpful tidbits.

Armies provide the most straightforward way of expanding, and you'll easily crush the neutral armies that protect most unconquered settlements. There's nothing complex about combat; you just click on an army, click on a sector to attack, and off they go. Battles are an automated affair that comes down to sending enough of the right types of troops. Once you've gotten your economy going, you might have multiple armies moving about, each led by a different general, but military might doesn't mean easy triumph. You can win by vanquishing your enemies' primary hubs, but most of the time, you'll overcome your foes by earning a set number of victory points. You might earn a victory point by having more gold than your adversaries, earning more prestige (accumulated by placing prestige structures like statues), or capturing specially designated villages, for example. This system provides flexibility and a bit of unpredictability, and the resulting tug of war is tense and enjoyable.

You'll want to start with the campaign, which helps you get up to speed on all the economic intricacies. The straightforward story is buoyed by Princess Zoe--and her excruciating French accent--who must yank the land of Tandria from the clutches of some flamboyantly histrionic enemies. Missions begin with lovely pop-up storybook updates, occasionally punctuated by impressive and colorful cutscenes. These highlights help make up for the not-so-subtle plot development you'll see coming from the beginning, though the campaign is really just an extended tutorial for the more substantial multiplayer and skirmish modes. In skirmishes, the AI provides a decent challenge and does a good job of adapting, and while there aren't a whole lot of maps, you can edit them in various ways (change victory conditions, for instance), which keeps things somewhat fresh. If you want even more adaptive competition, you can head online, where both ladder (ranked) and unranked matches await. Online play is smooth and matches are of a goodly length (often over an hour), but you might have trouble finding games online.

Vibrant colors and a somewhat goofball art design make The Settlers 7's lush forests and ghost-ridden swamps leap right off the screen, and the animations make the game as fun to watch as it is to play. The exaggerated movements of your miners as they hop into a mining car are delightful; even constructors exude endless charm as they bound toward their destination. There is a distracting blur effect used on more distant objects, though it seems more noticeable at certain resolutions and can be hard to get used to. The wonderful soundtrack provides a nice complement to the sun-drenched visuals, featuring light orchestral fare, a bit of harp strumming, and even some Celtic-inspired vocal warbles.

Some of The Settlers 7's more interesting features are the peripheral ones. You can customize your castle with different ornaments, windows, flags and such. An integrated achievements system lets you post your accomplishments to your Facebook profile if you so wish, while you can call on another player for assistance with the click of a button. The flipside of this social friendliness, of course, is the inherent unfriendliness of an unstable online-only copy-protection scheme. That drawback and others aside, The Settlers 7 offers something for everyone, whether you're an experienced armchair economist or just like watching little virtual people run up and down the roadways carrying pails of water.

This game can run excellent with system requirement Intel Pentium dual core cpu E2180 or higher, 1 Gb of RAM, graphic card such as Nvidia Geforce 7300GT or higher or Ati Radeon 9800Pro, Windows XP SP2 or higher or Vista ultimate edition or Windows 7, DirectX version 9.0c or higher like dirextX 10 compatible, Nothing more to waste your time! go and buy the DVD game install it and enjoy it.....

Major League Baseball 2K10

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Somebody must have scribbled that cheesy old catchphrase on the wall at Visual Concepts sometime in the past year, because the developer has made Major League Baseball 2K10 look and feel a lot like recent entries in the Sony-only MLB: The Show series. Ripping off the competition seems to have been a great idea, too. The result of this copycat-itis is the most fully featured and realistic entry in the decade-long history of 2K Sports' baseball franchise. Gameplay isn't as clean as it could be, especially in the new My Player career option that lets you guide a rookie from the minors to the majors and with some wide-ranging glitches that make the PC port a much more troublesome game than its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 cousins. Still, this remains a passable re-creation of the national pastime that--bugs aside--stands head, shoulders, and batting helmet above its predecessors.

Where MLB 2K10 most resembles its crosstown rival The Show is in the addition of My Player mode, an option that lets you create a rookie and take him to the bright lights and big cities of the Major Leagues. You create a rookie phenom, pick a fave franchise to be drafted into, and then set off to try to become an MLB legend. Skill points are awarded just about every time you slip into your spikes. Hit a single, and you get points for hitting. Make a putout or record an assist, and you get points for fielding. Cross home plate with a run, and you get points for baserunning. Strike out the side, and you get points for pitching. And so on. Special objectives and clutch situations provide additional points. You might be called upon to record an out in under five pitches, for example, or work a hit-and-run when standing on first. You take part only in the plays that your player is involved in, which allows you to zip through entire seasons while manually playing nearly every game on the schedule.

How much action you see depends on the position you choose, of course. If you play a pitcher, you're right in there with every toss from the mound, and you can even get called up to the majors after making a measly five starts in AA. If you assume the role of a third baseman, you just take your at-bats and step into the field every now and then to snag liners or catch pop-ups at the hot corner. So it can be a little dull playing a position player, unless you're totally committed. Still, the role-playing aspect is superb, and you'll find yourself feeling a real team vibe, cheering for your buddies when they're at the plate while you're on base, and being satisfied however you contribute to a win. You know you're in a special baseball place when you get a thrill just laying down a bunt to move a runner into scoring position.

Addictive doesn't even begin to describe how compelling My Player can be. Getting hooked is unavoidable if you're any sort of a baseball fan. Games unfold as though you're recording turns in an RPG or a strategy game, so you find yourself stuck playing just one more over and over again as the time flies by. Trying to get your Cooperstown wannabe buffed with the skill points and striving for his success at the plate, in the field, or on the rubber becomes a total compulsion. You can see yourself getting better with every game, improving both manually as you become more adept with the controls and automatically as your skills improve.

Intermission... Just information this game can run smooth with system requirement Intel Pentium dual core cpu E5300 2.6 Ghz or higher, 2 Gb of RAM, graphic card such as Nvidia Geforce 9600GT or higher or Ati Radeon 9800Pro, Windows XP SP2 or higher or Vista ultimate edition or Windows 7, DirectX version 9.0c or higher like dirextX 10 compatible, No more time! go and buy the DVD game install it and play it.....

That said, My Player is a grind at first for non-pitchers. This is a freshman effort that needs some tweaking. Player progression for anybody who doesn't spend half of a game playing with a rosin bag is tedious. Criteria for being called up to the big leagues is set in stone, so you need to hit targets for things like average, slugging percentage, and games started, as well as reach plateaus in skill ratings such as contact hitting and speed on the basepaths. This presents a problem, because these standards don't account for what sort of player you're trying to build. There is a serious issue with how skill points are awarded to position players for baserunning. For example, to get that phone call from your favorite GM, you need to clock a speed rating of 65, which is all fine and dandy, because Major Leaguers need to move better than the average couch potato. But what if you want to create a lumbering power hitter who might swipe a dozen bases in his career? It's also tough to earn running points no matter what kind of player you're trying to build. Skill points for running are handed out only for things like successfully taking second on hit-and-run plays called by the computer or crossing home plate, all of which is random. It can take a couple of minor league seasons to get up to speed with your running skills, even if you're trying to develop a lead-off Rickey Henderson type.

Another potential issue with My Player is the starting ratings for hitters when it comes to contact and power. Getting good wood on the ball and muscling it into the outfield is not easy during the first two or three years of your career. Rookies are woeful, even for AA ball, with very little pop. You need to time a swing just about perfectly to hit the ball with some authority, and even then your efforts are typically wimpy dribblers that barely make it to an outfielder before dying. If anything, you feel like you're overmatched in the minors, not some future phenom everybody is talking about. Skilled twitch gamers might not have a gripe here. But players who aren't as talented will find themselves either dropping down to rookie difficulty or tweaking the slider settings that determine things like hit power and contact on the default pro difficulty to allow for more oomph at the plate. Neither is a great option, however. Rookie jacks up offense to near-stupid levels (if you don't hit .750 here, check your pulse), and dialing down pro shuts off the ability to unlock player cards in games. It would be great to see this issue addressed with a patch that adjusts the initial hitting contact and power ratings in pro. Even a slight boost to power would make things a lot better.

Global Agenda


In a future where resources are scant and an oppressive worldwide government endeavors to extend its controlling grip around the whole planet, there are those who resist. Banding together in disparate factions, elite soldiers use their diverse talents and quick reflexes to carve out their place in a world where the land you fight and die for is the only land you control. Powerful alliances emerge and leverage their gains to create weapons of war, elevating the scale of conflict and heightening the drama of battle. Or so Global Agenda would have you believe. Though there is hectic, satisfying combat to be found in this large-scale third-person shooter, the game is rarely as exciting as the premise purports. You must grind though hours and hours of dull, repetitive missions to level up to the point where you can be competitive in player-versus-player action. PVP skirmishes can be exciting and well matched, though they are just as often lopsided and frustrating. Joining an agency and fighting for hexes on the persistent world map will make you more invested in the action, but even the best matches struggle to justify the hours of grinding needed to find them. Global Agenda satisfies the minimum requirements for a solid class-based shooter, but it takes a long time to fully reveal itself and, even then, the results aren't particularly impressive.

You begin by choosing one of the four classes. Assault players wield chainguns and rocket launchers, making them powerful tanks when supported by medics. Recon specialists sneak about and snipe foes with long-range rifles, while robotics players can deploy turrets, drones, and stations to aid their allies or defeat foes. Gaining levels unlocks new weapons, gadgets, special abilities, and points that can be allocated toward three different skill trees. These trees allow you to specialize within your class so, for example, medics can develop more effective ways to poison enemies or just focus on healing allies that much better. Because there is no cost to reallocate your skill points, you are free to spec your character on a game-by-game basis if you so choose, selecting the skills that will suit your play style. There's some intriguing diversity among the classes that creates the possibility for some dynamic interplay, both cooperative and competitive. Developing different strategies to support your allies and more efficiently destroy enemies is neat, and seeing other players in action is likely to pique your interest in playing as other classes.

Unfortunately, it takes so long to fully level one character that your interest in trying other classes may shrink at the prospect of repeating that grind. There are two main types of combat: player versus environment and player versus player. The latter does not separate players based on rank, so jumping in as a low-level soldier is a great way to get steamrolled by players who have better characters and more knowledge of the game. Getting the hang of the basics in Global Agenda is easy, but it takes a while to master your role. Each player has a melee weapon, a jetpack, and a special ability that can be used to give his or her teammates a temporary boost. You also sport two primary devices (for example, weapons, healing gun, repair tool); each with an alternate fire mode (for example, aiming down the sights, improved healing). These devices, along with the jetpack, are fueled by your regenerating power pool. Finally, each player can equip three off-hand devices (for example, temporary buffs, turrets, mines) that operate on a cooldown period. During combat, you must keep an eye on your health and power pool while using your devices effectively. While the run-and-gun action is pretty straightforward, there is strategic subtlety to be found in which devices you choose and how you use them.

In order to access this strategic element, you need to level up. (The level cap is 50, though you unlock every device and skill point by level 30.) PVP is generally dominated by higher level players and getting roundly defeated doesn't offer much in the way of experience rewards, so your best choice for effective leveling is to run PVE missions with a team of three other people. These missions take place inside enemy facilities that range from mines to labs and back to mines again. Despite the fact that there are four tiers of PVE difficulty, there isn't a lot of environmental variety. It doesn't take long before you've seen all the maps and every corridor, warehouse, and rooftop looks familiar. The bland art design doesn't help matters much. Though there are a few nice flourishes (pools of molten rock and soldiers in breeding tanks), the austere futuristic setting is largely uninteresting, serving as little more than geometry for you to traverse and use as cover.

Submission... Just for rememmber this game can run good with system requirement Intel Pentium dual core cpu E5300 2.6 Ghz or higher, 2 Gb of RAM, graphic card such as Nvidia Geforce 9600GT or higher or Ati Radeon 9800Pro, Windows XP SP2 or higher or Vista ultimate edition or Windows 7, DirectX version 9.0c or higher like dirextX 10 compatible, No more time! go and buy the DVD game install it and play it.....

Though they may be dull, the environments themselves aren't your enemies. That role falls to the robots. Laser-wielding androids are the foot soldiers of Global Agenda; they are generally content to soak up your gunfire while shooting you unenthusiastically and occasionally fleeing. They are accompanied by deadlier rocket- and grenade-launching automatons, as well as elite soldiers that mimic the assault, recon, and medic classes. Each PVE mission is capped with a miniboss fight, though as you move up the difficulty tiers, minibosses start showing up in corridors, leaving the end-of-level fights to bigger, badder bosses. Even with these tougher foes, the enemy population is almost as repetitive as the level design. While they don't offer much in the way of excitement, these missions can be reasonably challenging, depending largely on how well your teammates fulfill their combat roles and support each other. Players are generally smart enough about what they should be doing, and the game supports voice and text chat should you feel the need to offer helpful suggestions.

Victory brings the inherent satisfaction of a job well done, but even this is dulled by the repetitive nature of these missions. On top of that, you don't gain much in the way of concrete rewards. You earn experience points, credits (Global Agenda's currency), and raw materials that can be sold or used in crafting. Neither comes in much quantity, however, forcing you to grind for hours on end to make any significant progress. Crafting requires the aforementioned materials, as well as blueprints, which can be purchased from a store in the hub city (or, rarely, earned in PVE missions). This allows you to construct personal upgrades for your soldier, but the improvements they offer (for example, +1% ranged damage) feel laughably small. Though you can stack a few of these to get a somewhat less-meager bonus, learning to make the good stuff requires that you craft hundreds of items yourself. You may be able to find someone to sell you premium items, but you can bet they are going to come with a premium price tag. Accumulating worthwhile crafting skills and upgrades is tough in Global Agenda's economy, where both credits and materials require you to slog through hours of repetition.

If you do manage to amass some material wealth, there are plenty of places to spend it in one of the Dome City hub worlds. Body armor and a helmet are purely aesthetic improvements, but these suits are definitely the visual highlight of Global Agenda. The cool futuristic designs range from sleek to outlandish and can be customized with a wide variety of dyes to create some striking looks. There's also an auction house (buy and sell things at subpar prices), a mail center (send or receive messages and items C.O.D.), a virtual combat arena (hone your battle strategies), and locations you must visit if you want to craft items or assign skill points. Navigation is straightforward, thanks to the abundant kiosks offering directions. In addition to visiting the various stores and workshops, Dome City is a good place to seek out party members, join an agency, or just admire armor sets.

Though PVE combat is a good way to prepare for PVP, you'll still have to deal with a significant learning curve. PVP combat is hectic and fast paced, demanding dexterity, battlefield awareness, and preparedness. The fraction of a second it takes you to activate one of your off-hand devices can mean the difference between life and death, and attacking or defending without the support of your teammates is a difficult proposition. Each of the five PVP modes pits two teams against each other. In Scramble, Breach, and Control modes, teams struggle to control specific areas of the map for a certain amount of time or until they gain a certain number of points. Payload is similar in its focus, but the area in question is actually a large object that moves along rails as one team tries to guide it across the map. Finally, Demolition charges each team with the task of escorting a mech carrying explosives into the enemy's base to blow it up. It's also worth noting that one PVE match type has some PVP sprinkled in it. Double Agent mode adds two human players to the AI team, making it tougher for the team of four players to complete its objective. While this mode offers a novel twist on PVE, it lacks the dynamism of PVP.

With so many abilities in play, PVP contests can get very busy, very quickly. Two robotics set up turret nests in the corners of a building to defend a point as their recon allies fly to the top of the structure to snipe incoming enemies. Assaults spin up their chainguns, triggering shields that draw enemy turret fire away from the medics that are keeping them alive. Grenades, lasers, and rockets fill the air and, in less than a minute of carnage, the enemy advance is scattered. If only the enemy recons had sabotaged the turrets, things might have been different. Just a microsecond more and that big chaingunner would have lost his medic, yielding the central position. And what might have changed if that robotic had a drone equipped, instead of a force field? Matches can hinge on such details, and when the two teams are in an even struggle for dominance, PVP can be exciting and tense. The thrill of a timely deployment, the satisfaction of saving your teammates from the brink of death, the joy of explosive slaughter…these are the rewards offered by PVP combat in Global Agenda.

Unfortunately, like in other areas, Global Agenda is stingy. You are far more likely to end up in a lopsided match than in an enjoyable contest. Ill-matched teams make for hollow victories and merciless defeats, neither of which is particularly enjoyable. Joining an agency is a good way to associate yourself with a regular group of players, and having a consistent team can help mitigate the number of bad matches you encounter. Agencies can join alliances in Conquest mode, giving them access to alliance-versus-alliance fights for control of resource-producing hexes in a number of persistent world maps. Resources gained here can be sold or used to craft weapons of war like mechs, dropships, and squads of androids to help your alliance in its quest for dominance. AVA combat is essentially PVP with higher stakes and high-cost battlefield machinery. These matches are more consistently well matched, though AVA is certainly not without lopsided debacles. Gaining access to this level of combat requires hours of grinding, PVP practice, and an invite to a competitive agency. But once you're there, the matches are some of the best the game has to offer, and because your territories are only open for battle during specific windows of time, you don't have to worry about all your progress being snatched away while you sleep.

Whether or not it is worth the grinding time to access this level of play depends on how many hours you have to spare. Whether it is worth the price is another matter. The $39.99 purchase price currently gets you everything that Global Agenda has to offer. However, Conquest mode, the auction house, crafting, player mail, other advanced features, and leveling past 30 are all designated as subscriber-only elements. This subscription (listed as $12.99 per month) was set to kick in at the end of March, but the developers have pushed that deadline back to the end of April. With no subscription fee in place, Global Agenda is reasonably priced. Only time will tell whether that remains true in a month.

Even with a reasonable price, Global Agenda is not easy to recommend. It demands tens of hours of dull, low-level play to access and enjoy the more exciting content. And even that content is not consistently enjoyable. While Global Agenda does offer a distinct breed of action in the world of massively multiplayer online games, its hectic combat is hidden beneath layers and layers of drudgery that only sincerely dedicated players are likely to enjoy.