Friday, July 16, 2010

The game of Lifetime! - GTA Series

The Grand Theft Auto series defines the times we are living in. Most people in their right minds would not plan to spend their weekends committing auto thefts or getting into fights with strangers. In that sense, Grand Theft Auto (GTA) redefined virtual entertainment for these same acts. Some critics and parent groups call it—quite justifiably—downright insane; some enthusiasts call it the biggest gaming revolution since Mario and Doom.

This best-selling series has become a modern-day cultural icon and is listed as a top game on most charts more dominantly than any other game today. The core reasons for this immense success are perhaps the great gameplay plots of the GTA franchise—which have been given more focus after GTA II—and the freedom provided by the genre, in which a player enjoys a non-linear flow of the plot and has choices like free-roam and non-mission activities.

In the GTA games, the protagonists who gradually rise through the echelons of the crime world are often forced, pushed back or pushed into a life of crime because of tragic events. GTA does not, as opposed to the common notion about it, glamorize crime. In fact, it lets the players see how dirty crime is. The game would be clean of controversies if only parents and some obstinate children really understood the significance of the ratings and leave GTA for grownup gamers. GTA is not mindless gore and not solely about thefts and shootouts; it is about emotions; the problems of underprivileged communities (hoods); families and friends (e.g. your ‘homies’ in GTA San Andreas); of love—lost and found; and above all, the lifestyle we are still strangers to.

In GTA, gameplay progresses with missions, side-jobs and bonus activities which are unlocked serially excusing the series the need to have a separate training module for novice players. The player and the character both grow from being a newbie to an expert in driving and shooting skills, and in newer GTA games, flying, and even wooing girlfriends!

With releases like the GTA Chinatown Wars on the Nintendo DS, PSP and the iPhone, GTA is now available on all gaming platforms. Nevertheless, I have had better experiences on the PC because only a keyboard and mouse combination justifies the rich array of controlling options provided by the games. However, the controls are intuitive on all platforms.

The first GTA releases, GTA I and II, came around in the late 90’s. Their 2D graphics were poor by the standards of other games. However, the release of GTA III marked a new era in sandbox action genre with the introduction of the interactive, alive and breathing New York-like ‘Liberty City’ with crowds, cars and buildings, and the freedom to do just anything that you wanted to. The third person view was introduced and the seamlessly-rendered environment was complete with excellent lighting and sound effects of a busy city. The next release, GTA Vice City, brought a new city based on Miami, the ‘Vice City’. The next instalment, GTA San Andreas, had a graphics engine with an unparalleled performance. This version introduced the whole state of California with cities like San Fierro (San Francisco, Los Santos (Los Angeles, Las Venturas (Las Vegas), the surrounding towns and areas of desert, water, woodlands, and the countryside of Nevada. San Andreas redefined GTA gameplay with a wealth of new features like hunger, exercises for bodybuilding, dating, and licenses for life skills like driving, boating and flying.

However, in terms of animations and physics, GTA has continued to be weaker than most games of the genre. Cars still crash like toys and damages are not always convincing. Collisions, braking, drifts and motion simulations are getting better with new releases but have still not been meticulously taken care of. Characters look funny after they get shot and act stupidly when they have to climb into your car stopped right next to them—they often seem to not spot you.

The award-winning music and the voiceovers are the best features this franchise has to offer. The GTA games have parodied many components of Western culture but, most ridiculously, they have successfully made the US look like a place where stealing others’ cars is just as easy as entering into one’s own. GTA has itself been parodied in the spoof movie Meet the Spartans.

GTA allows you to witness the crime world by immersing yourself in it. It will take some time for crime-based games like GTA, which are actually about the human inside criminals, to get acceptance among sceptics. For everyone mature enough, this is a must have.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Line Rider - Incredibly hard and addictive
I won't say it is a game or I just might say it. You take it the way you want. The point is; it's addictive. The idea is preety simple. You make a line on a blank canvas, and when you hit play, a sledge appears with a snowman riding it. The environment has full physics, so rider will slow down and speed up according to the incline of the line. Users who play this game, have come up with some interesting pieces of complex art with Line Rider. Soon they realized that they make for good YouTube content and began uploading such videos. The game can be wicked too at times as the guy on the sled can be made to have some spectacularly violent crashes. You can even decapitate his head with a strategically placed line. I tried it but could not.:P

If you have tried this game and need some influence then don't forget to watch this awesome video. LOL how he did that!!!???

View more LineRider videos at

Friday, July 2, 2010

Twitter is Over Their Capacity

The much popularity of twitter has brought me to this. Must have been due to the loss of Brazil from Netherlands. This also made me lost of what I was thinking to write. Hopefully I will post better.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction (Conviction moves away from stealth) - Review

The hallmark of Splinter Cell games has always been mission that emphasized on quite and stealthy infiltrations; some of which required players to complete an entire mission without killing a single enemy. For me, patiently lingering in the shadows, watching and eavesdropping on oblivious guards was the real kick in those games. Compared to these past releases in the series, Splinter Cell: Conviction feels more like a cover-shooter than a spy game. Stealth is still an element in the game; however, it no longer rules the design of the game like it once had.

Artistic conviction

The most significant change in the series is in the art department. All other changes in the game’s design are apparently centred on this new art direction. Starting with the game’s protagonist, Sam Fisher has ditched his trademark night-vision goggles and tactical stealth armour, in favour of urban casual wear. And while there are well-lit and dark areas in equal measure, hiding in shadows has been stylized to meet the new art-style. In Conviction, lurking in shadows bathes the world into shades of gray and Fisher can see in the dark without the need for night-vision goggles. This is because enemies are almost always placed in well-lit areas. The way forward in the missions is mostly about leaving behind a sea of dead bodies. Stealth kills now includes effortlessly taking out enemies while hanging from a ledge or a window pane.

By far, the most game-changing addition to the list is the introduction of “Execute” move. Each time players take out an enemy in hand-to-hand combat, they get an opportunity for an Execute move. This move lets players mark enemies—up to four enemies at a time— while hiding in shadows. Then with a well-timed push of a button, Fisher automatically executes successful headshots on all the marked enemies. This is easier than it sounds and it can often be used to clear an entire room in a single move.
During set-pieces where stealth is not really the best choice, the player needs to work with another new feature in the game called “last known position”. While engaged in an out and out gunfight, it helps to intentionally reveal your position to the enemies. This causes all the enemies to concentrate their fire on that single spot, and using this as misdirection, the player can move away to flank the enemies and even the playing field a bit.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction screenshot
A nice bit about this new art direction is the way in which the game’s environment has been used to communicate with the player. Mission objectives and grainy videos of flashbacks are projected on the surrounding walls to dramatic effect.


Sam Fisher is a very different player in Splinter Cell: Conviction. He is a rogue agent on a quest for retribution for his daughter’s death and in doing so he is up against his former employer. So as you can imagine, he starts off rather ill-equipped, using stolen piece of a rear-view mirror to peek under doors. However, as the game progresses, Fisher has access to enthusiastically stocked weapon crates that are curiously placed at fixed checkpoints.

Weapons include customary weapon classes of most shooter games—there are pistols, SMG, Rifles and Shotguns. Selection of weapons in each class grows as the game progresses and all of them are upgradable. Achieving fixed game-play objectives and progressing through the main storyline awards the player with points that can used to upgrade weapons.

Just like weapons, the game also has a decent collection of gadgets that are fully upgradable. However, unlike previous Splinter Cell games, you will rarely feel the need to reach into the pockets and use a gadget. Conviction is a relatively fast-paced game with little room, or even the need for much planning or strategizing.

From humble beginnings of a broken mirror, the game progresses to something really exotic like goggles that can spot the enemies through solid objects. Besides the in-game un-lockable items, there are a few other items that you can download from the Ubisoft servers. Some of this DLC is free [confirmed only for PC] while others come with a price tag. So, between the on-disc items and downloadable content, there are more weapons and gadgets than one could possibly need.

Vengeance and beyond

Splinter Cell: Conviction has a fairly decent storyline which is delivered through often engaging voice-acting. The plot of Sam Fisher’s personal quest to track his daughter’s killers is intertwined with another plot which inevitably includes saving the world. I feel that new direction with game-play would have been better justified if the main storyline would not have essentially culminated into just another mission for the country. In its current form, Splinter Cell: Conviction appears to have abandoned its roots to be just another cash-cow in the herd.

All the missions are relatively short, quick affairs and as a result the game feels a bit short at the end of it. The good news is that besides the main campaign, there is a decent amount of bonus content. In online co-op mode, players’ assume the role of Archer and Kestrel in a joint effort to recover stolen warheads. Hunter game mode is about progressively clearing the area of enemies, and Last Stand is about surviving waves of enemies, while simultaneously defending an EMP generator. Face-Off is a competitive game which pits one agent against the other along with common enemies thrown in the mix.

My online experience with the game was not one of the best. The DRM software for the PC version of the game appears to incessantly ping the Ubisoft servers even during ‘offline’ play. On a really bad day, it made the game virtually unplayable since every three or four seconds the game would lose connection with the servers and lock the game up. Now, I don’t have the quickest of connections to the Internet; however it’s not the dark-ages either. Besides this, in my experience, finding online matches was not always met with success and getting knocked back to the lobby was fairly common.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction screenshot

On the plus side, most of the additional game modes do not require another human player; so it’s not all bad. Then there is new DLC that is released regularly and so far the developers have promised new free content every week.

Splinter Cell: Conviction has its fair share of virtues and vices, and on the balance of things this is a fairly solid game from a neutral perspective. More significantly however, it is the shift of emphasis from stealth to action that is most likely to hurt the fans of series. For PC users, the new DRM that requires persistent connection with Ubi servers can be a potential deal-breaker. For those who really want to get this game, it’s a hard choice between paying more for the Xbox 360 version or getting the far cheaper PC version and risk having to endure the DRM.

Rating: 7.0/10

Genre: (Third Person) Shooter, Stealth
Studio: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
*Platforms: Xbox 360, PC (Microsoft Windows)

*Reviewed on PC