Mad Mags

Sleeping Dogs
Mad Mags

The best thing I can say about Sleeping Dogs is that it is a lot of fun. It does a lot of things well but nothing brilliantly. The main story is pretty predictable but enjoyable and you do find yourself drawn into it. The characters are pretty much staples of the genre. The best aspect of the game is the unarmed combat. Its easy to use and if you visit the dojo with enough collectable idols you learn some pretty useful combos. My favourite being the one where you break an enemies leg ina satisfying crunchy way that makes all the other people you are fightinh wince. For some reason though the person whose leg you broke is still able to stand up and kick you in the face with their broken leg. Armed combat is pretty much cover based. Come out of cover for too long and you are pretty much dead. Driving in the game is smooth and getting into what looks like a lambo for the first time is a bit of a buzz as it proper shifts through the streets. Graphically the game is solid. I noted a few little glitches on the PC version but nothing that got in the way. Lighting is good and the animation is also good. Considering Hong Kong is supposed to be one of the most crowded cities in the world it's surprising how few people and cars there are out and about. There's enough to make it feel like the place is alive but I never felt that life was going on around me in the same way I did in Liberty City. Although it has to be said the amount of vehicles and people around about you as you travel about is pretty much the same as in GTA IV. Sleeping Dogs is a good 20 hour blast with a decent storyline. I felt the side missions lacked a little and that there weren't enough of them to keep my interest once I'd completed the main story and the side cases but overall I enjoyed the game and would recommend it to anyone who likes this genre. I might say to wait until you can get it at a discounted price on Steam if you are a PC gamer or perhaps just rent it if you are on a console.
Tribes: Ascend
Mad Mags

Do you remember Quake? One word for this game "Fragfest". Its just ridiculous. Fast.. you don't really know what's going on and I can see some people of the opinion its brilliant...and they'd be right. It is. But its also a step down/up for people used to more tactical shooters. Basically you skate an jet pack about like a maniac hoping to get a kill. Is it a laugh?.. yes it is.. is it frustrating... at times.. is if worth the money?.. yes.. it's F2P. Me and McNandy played it for a bit tonight. I've had it a couple of days. I am not big on shooters generally but this is enjoyable to play with mates. Its mental and it seems to perhaps have some nuance and skill elements. I have neither. But those that do will enjoy this. Cheap at twice the price.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Mad Mags

This ‘review’ may contain spoilers (and nuts).... Q: - You know what’s wrong with Skyrim these days? A: - Not a lot that you’d notice whilst running about thoroughly enjoying yourself. Overview I’m now 75 hours into my own personal adventure in Bethesda’s latest Elder Scrolls RPG Skyrim. If you have any interest in Skyrim then it’s highly likely you already own it and know what I am going to say when it comes to summing it up in one paragraph before I start rambling on about it in (a little bit) of detail.. This game is truly amazing. It’s immersive, involving, hilarious at times and provides a lot for me and McNandy to talk about over MSN when we are supposed to be working. It is a triumph and a prime example of what a game should be in today’s market dominated by safe run-of-the-mill titles just to ensure they sell well. I got the game on day of release and made myself a Breton. The resistance to magic buff making this choice inevitable (that and the dark elves look a bit ugly). Also it sounds a bit like Britain and with the Olympics coming up next year I felt I should be patriotic. In my 75 hours so far my Breton has gone from nearly being beheaded totally to death (but saved thanks to the intervention of a dragon levelling a town..phew! Short game if that hadn’t happened eh!) to now heading up the Mage’s guild (bunch of whiners) , Thieves Guild (Lazy bastards), Companions (like the Warrior’s guild but with a hairy twist) and also joining the Bard’s guild (they didn’t even give me a free lute..it was a waste of time). Oh and I joined the Dark Brotherhood and gained a healthy need to kill ridiculously insane court jester looking motherfuckers (I hate you Cicero.. you will die by my hand I swear). In between this I have learnt how to do magical shouts that are like Brian Blessed with a megaphone through Glastonbury’s PA system, twat things with my favourite glass axe (enchanted and renamed ‘Necrotwatter’), flung fireballs with my hands, open locks with some very feeble picks, played hide and seek with a ghost, killed vampires/bandits/daugr/guards/whoever got in my way, become a werewolf, got married, accidentally ‘allowed’ the death of about 7 companions (they were pussies/got in the way/were cheeky to me etc..), bought 2 houses , been to – and escaped – prison, become various Daedre’s bitch (I’m only in it for the weapons you get off them honestly – They can argue about who gets my soul when my time comes), killed 3 horses by falling off mountains whilst riding them (I walk a lot now), run away from frost trolls (until I got to the point that they started running away from me) and in general looted a lot of dead bodies and talked to a lot of people who tell me “Some people call this junk. But I call it treasure” to make a few gold pieces on the side and buy potions that I am too lazy to make myself. And there’s still a shitload to do because basically there’s always someone in Skyrim who wants something but is too bloody bone idle to go into a particular dungeon to face danger and get it or there’s a mystical reason they can’t come with you involving ghosts and possibly a restraining order. Basically there’s always an excuse why it’s you that has to go to x, kill y and bring them back z. It’s a conspiracy I’m sure but what a great one. Graphics I’m playing Skyrim on a fairly decent PC on Ultra High settings all round and it looks stunning for the most part with a few little niggles when it comes to character models. The draw distance is amazing. You can be standing on top of a mountain and see for absolutely miles. On the first day I owned it I was calling my particularly uninterested missus in from the other room to just look at the scenery (she said things like “That’s nice” but I feel she was just appeasing me and didn’t really mean it – bless her). NPCs look generally ok. Their lips move in synch with what they are saying even if the top of their face doesn’t move. They could look better but when I am swinging a glass axe into their face I can’t say I am really fussed what they look like or if they have had botox or not. The animals & main animal protagonists dragons look great if a little samey with pretty decent animations. A dragon strafing a town with fire/ice looks good a lot of the time. I’ve had a couple of graphical glitches whilst playing but nothing game breaking. One was a mammoth floating 200 feet in the air like a helium balloon that a lot of people have had and the one where trees look like they have those crystals you grew in chemistry at school instead of leaves. The mammoth one was fixed by shooting it with a lot of arrows and killing it and the leaf one required a reload to a previous save (the recommendation is to save often. I am now pressing F5 out of habit when I finish a sentence typing this... it becomes natural). Magic looks great. When I use lightning I feel like Palpatine flinging Jules from Pulp Fiction off a 30 story tower. When I fling fire at daugr I see and feel the force of them. Sound Music is just lovely in the game and fits the mood of your actions at the time really well. You get lovely background strings when walking around and thumping battle drums with further heavy orchestration and operatic staccato when things get hectic. It fits well. General ambient sound is very goof indeed. From the wind howling on a mountain path to the sound of running water and clanking ancient machinery and many other little noises. It all adds brilliantly to the general atmosphere of the game and when combined with the graphics is just what I would call unrivalled in my experience. The voice work for NPCs is good in general. You do get some repeated voices and sometimes you don’t know if you are in Scandinavia, California or just a bad Arnold Swarzenegger impressionists convention because the accents can be dodgy to say the least (A talking dog that sounds like someone out of the Sopranos who belongs to a god who sounds like a Dick Van-Dyke in Mary Poppins stands out as possibly the worst examples of this). You get some repeated phases (I promise not only to kill Cicero but also the obviously autistic guy who always says “I work for Belethor” when you walk past him in Winterun. I swear that guy is Bethesda’s personal homage to Timmy from Southpark...) but these are very much forgivable. Battle noise is good. I am not particularly up on what a glass axe sounds like smashing unto someone’s head in real life (the thought does appeal sometimes) or what it sounds like when an arrow goes into someone’s knee (again... the thought does appeal sometimes) but I am satisfied that the battle noise fits with what I would expect to hear. I spent a lot of my teens and early 20’s watching Hong Kong cinema when stoned and have got used to people slapping meat in a butchers with a wet copy of the Hong Kong Times to make the sound of a punch. So overall I am not fussy about this aspect. Gameplay This is always the most important part of any game. A game can look stunning, sound amazing and then the gameplay can be utter tripe and ruin the experience completely. Skyrim gets it almost spot on in terms of gameplay. Sure...sometimes when you are fighting you don’t necessarily feel the force of what you are doing but in general the game works extremely well I read a bit of various reviews that mentioned that the PC interface is cumbersome compared to console controllers. Maybe it’s because I am used to playing with a mouse and keyboard that I don’t find this to be an issue and am able to do what I want, when I want with no problems. The only issue I have is with the shout key being Z. I don’t play many shooters (too old, too slow) where Z would normally be the prone key so am not used to hitting this key in a natural way. I haven’t found a way to customise the key settings yet (there may be one. It’s not like I looked anywhere outside the options screen as I am too busy playing it) but this is a minor gripe. Story The best thing about Bethesda games is that they are open and everyone has their own personal journey through them. It’s true that they all follow a pattern that leads to the conclusion of the main story Bethesda are trying to tell but the route there can go in countless different directions. I haven’t finished the main quest yet. I keep getting side-tracked by the little side quest lines that pop up all over the place. All of which tell their own, sometimes amazing, stories. I’ve heard that people feel the main story is not the greatest. I can’t comment but can say that what I have done of it so far I have very much enjoyed and overall I am just loving feeling like I am part of a living breathing world. Conclusion Just buy this game if you haven’t already. It is truly stunning. 5/5