Category Archives: Sandbox game

Sleeping Dogs (Xbox360)

Sleeping Dogs is one of those titles that you either love or hate, it is the successor in all but name to the True Crime series. You play as Detective Wei Shen, an undercover operative with the Hong Kong Police Department, who has been in the states most of his life. You must infiltrate the Sun on Yee, a notorious Triad gang, based upon the real gang Sun Yee On, and take down its command structure. As you progress throughout the game, you end up with torn loyalty, as an enthralling story captivates you into playing more and more.

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The game play is a mixture of fighting hand to hand with an innovative fighting system based on MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), driving (of which former NFS Underground era developers worked on) and gun play situations. The cover system is decent and ties in to both gun play and the fighting mode, and bullet time can be unlocked and used to full advantage, to rack up multiple headshots with relative ease.

The controls are rather good, fighting is almost flawless, with just a few issues revolving around the counter attacks. Shooting however seems to attract cops when in the middle of a drug bust. They wont respond to the criminals firing, but if you fire a shot they will come running. Always a bit of a pain but let the two sides fight most of it, when the criminals are all dead, you loose the wanted level.

The gameplay is immersive and entertaining, with realistic citizens and atmosphere, market traders will shout at you to buy stuff as you walk past, many of whom you can interact to buy clothing, boosts, top up your health or even deck out your safehouses. There is plenty of side missions once the main storyline is over with that will keep you going for hours.

The music is a mixture of Techno-Asian and real music from a variety of genres. The sounds of the city make it feel alive, vehicles all have their own distinctive sound, the sports cars sound like sports cars. Gun sounds are good (especially the pistols) and makes them feel much more powerful.

Whilst there has never been an option for multiplayer in the True Crime series, it would have been nice to have included at least some modes, as in Max Payne 3 and the gang based multiplayer, or cops vs triads, or at least some sort of free roam with player created characters.

Overall, this game is highly recommended for anyone who likes a real gritty single player shoot ‘em up and beat ‘em up.

Story: 9/10

Sound: 8/10

Graphics: 8/10

Multiplayer: N/A

Challenge: 7/10

Gameplay: 9.5/10

Replay Value: 6/10

 

Overall: 7/10

Developer: United Front Games

Publisher: Square Enix (Namco Bandai Games in Australia)

Written by Steve

The Urbz: Sims in the City (DS)

In all niceness, I’m sure anyone who hasn’t heard of the Sims series must have spent the last twenty years or so hiding under a rock. The Urbz games are a mission based take on the PC Sims games, and allows you to venture outside of your home to complete various tasks, something which wasn’t really seen on the PC games at the time. The handheld games also introduce an almost RPG like element to the game, which is new. Kinda how “Bustin’ Out” was for the Gameboy Advance, which this game can also be seen as a sequel too, depending on how you interpret various hints from the game.

Story

5/10

On the whole, the game has a fairly simple plot. You start off as a window cleaner for a large office building, you lose your job due to an egotistical old man called Daddy Bigbucks, and through events in the beginning you discover he has plans to take the town over. The rest of the game really charts your efforts to rally the residents of the town against him and then enters a free form mode of sorts after the main story is resolved.  I wouldn’t call it a fantastic story, and there are no real twists or turns in the plot to think of. And you will hate Daddy Bigbucks, so at least the game does well at setting him up as the villain.

However, props to EA for at least trying to stick a story in a Sims game, even if the results are less than stellar. I did like all the little throw backs to “Bustin’ Out” on the GBA that this game made, at least.

Sound

7/10

The main BGM for this game is okay. It’s decent, not amazingly memorable, but you will find yourself humming along to the tracks at certain points. Where this game does stand out, for me is when you’re in conversation with other Urbs or passing them, and you hear them call out in Simlish. There are also the groans and complaints your Urb makes when certain motives get low.

Graphics

5/10

The graphics aren’t brilliant in this game. You can tell they’ve been ported directly from the GBA version of this game, which is a shame, as the DS can do a lot better than this. However, the character portraits for when you’re in conversation are nicely detailed, and there are a few well done animations for the important cut scenes. I still think they could’ve done better, however.

Multiplayer Options

2/10

Outside of swapping items, I cannot recall there being any use of multiplayer for this game. Then again, the thought of a multiplayer Sims game makes me shudder anyway…

Challenge

4/10

Outside of keeping your motives up which can drop suddenly, especially during conversations and jobs, there isn’t really much of a challenge to this game. I mean sure, you might struggle a bit during the Bayou and Paradise Island sections of this game due to a lack of objects available for use at those times, but there isn’t really a challenge here. Although a lack of money at the start of the game might cause problems, which again, is something that is easily averted.

Gameplay

9/10

As far as gameplay itself goes, it plays a bit like a typical RPG game, where you move your character around with the D-Pad and interact with objects using the ‘A’ button. Although there a few times where you need to be quite close to an object in order to interact and get the direction right for it, these are minor niggles. This game also departs from a traditional Sims game in that rather than interacting with an object by clicking on it to get your Sim to do stuff; you hit the ‘A’ buttong when a yellow arrow pops up above the item you want to use. Bit annoying at start, but you do quickly get used to it. I personally quite like it as well, but I’m probably too used to that sort of thing from other games.

This game does include all eight motives from the PC and console Sims games, and they do drop at a fairly steady rate. However, keeping them up isn’t much of an issue, as there’s always somewhere to sit down or eat or go to the loo in the town, if you find yourself caught short outside your home. You also have access to things called ‘Xizzles’ which are basically little power-up things which decrease the rate at which your motives decline, which also help.

The social aspect of this game is huge, with around 60 characters you have to befriend. The social part of this game is fairly well done, with each character having their own individual likes and dislikes. You can also have fun playing ‘spot the pop culture reference’ during conversation.

As far as jobs go, similar to how “Bustin’ Out” and the console versions go, you get to play the jobs as minigames. These make for a fairly nice diversion. And I swear it’s impossible to not get addicted to the ‘Comic Explosion’ minigame, which has you running back and forth to avoid rotten tomatoes being thrown at you.

There are other little side distractions such as decorating your home, creating your own pets and cooking, all of which are good for entertainment value, and it is difficult to get bored with this game.

Replay Value

8/10

I don’t know what it is about this game, but I personally find myself constantly playing it over and over again, seeing what I can do differently, what happens if I change this one little thing, and yeah. Suppose it’s like a proper PC Sims game in that sense…

Overall

Story: 5

Sound: 7

Graphics: 5

Multiplayer: 2

Challenge: 4

Gameplay: 9

Replay Value: 8

 

Overall:  6/10

Overall, I’d say this was a brilliant game, let down by its graphics and multiplayer. Buy it and love it, if you’re a Sims fan.

Written by Karen