All posts by Steve

Webmaster, video content producer, social media lead and boss of FireHawk Gaming.

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.

sleeping-dogs-xbox-360[2]

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

PC building guide

We all know that building a PC can be a daunting task. But does it have to be? Selecting the right components can be tricky, and making sure you have the right amount of power, the right socket type, or even knowing how many 4tb hard drives you can stuff into it can be a pain to keep track of. Fear not, I am here to help…

Logo of AMD
Logo of AMD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

STEP 1: Know your budget

Most of us are experiencing a recession, that means that we don’t have as much money that we usually would have, others are out of work or low paid. Or students, because lets face it, most students are poor anyway. Some of us however, not me though, are absolutely loaded (I wish I was). So, the first major step is to either save up or spend as you can. Knowing what your limit is helps, and putting together a balanced rig is largely to do with the price of components.

Image representing NVidia as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

STEP 2: Choosing a brand

For most of us, having little money means we have to go with the cheapest option, but that does not always have to mean sacrifices. AMD does a rather impressive range of processors starting with AMD Athlon quad cores for under 80 quid, up to 8 core AMD Piledriver FX-8350 processors with a meaty 4ghz out of the box. Overclocking is easy and installation is a dream. Good for beginners and pros alike. For those who do have a lot of money to throw at pure extreme performance, and don’t mind the fiddly and sometimes annoying installation, Intel is their best call. Their line of IvyBridge and SandyBridge I7 processors are the best out there (until Haswell comes out) and are unbeatable for gaming performance. They also make the best processors for media processing PC’s too, where many AMD processors might struggle. You will want to make sure that the socket type of the motherboard is the same as the processor. Most Intel I7 processors on the market now use the socket 1155 type, whilst most of the up to date AMD processors use the socket FM3+ with their 970 chipset. When it comes to graphics however, you will want to stick with AMD if you have their processor too, after all, they were built to run best with their own tech. However, again, dependant on what you want to spend, NVidia can be the best option. If you buy an intel after reading this, chances are you have that money to spend anyway, so go for a GTX 650TI… or two of them…

As for ram I have a little chart for that. As always, make sure to use motherboards that support 2 or more DDR3 sticks in dual or quad channels.

Deutsch: Kingston KHX1600c9d3l
Deutsch: Kingston KHX1600c9d3l (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • 2.5ghz-3.1ghz – 4gb DDR3 RAM (2x2gb)
  • 3.2-3.7ghz – 8gb DDR3 RAM (4x2gb/2x4gb)
  • 3.8ghz or above – 16gb DDR3 (4x4gb) OR 32gb (4x8gb warning – this is very expensive)

STEP 3: Powering your rig

Now, you have a system where you have a powerful processor capable of running any game you throw at it no matter your budget. But that old power supply unit you had laying around just does not do the trick (300w is not enough). So, get yourself a power supply unit that matches your system. The more cores, the more power. the more processing power, the more… you get it now right? Ok, so best bet is to get a PSU in the range of 630-700w, or 750w if you bought the entire catalogue of scan… NEVER BUY CHEAP UNBRANDED PSU’S. THEY WILL DESTROY YOUR PC. Never spend less than 50 quid on one either. If you are short on cash, a 600w OCZ (Overclockers own brand) will do the trick, but you can get a lot of good PSU’s for around 50-60 quid. If you are on a high budget and have many large power demanding components, go for a gold rated PSU of 800w. Make sure to have cable ties ready, you don’t want a cable to go into a fan… oh that brings me to the next step…

STEP 4: Cooling your rig

You need fans. Not the people kind. The mechanical kind, piddly little fans you find for a fiver in a Maplins definitely wont do the trick. Nor will strapping an Argos room fan to the side. You want some nice big fans, cant recommend any brands, there is literally dozens of good reliable brands out there. Watercooling is a must if you have more than one graphics card, or if you have an overclocked processor or graphics card. In fact, you should have watercooling anyway if you are a gamer. And if you have lots of money, go for it anyway. Make sure your case supports watercooling, if not, scrap it. Also, a fan controller is a nice touch to bring user controlled fan speed outside of alt tabbing to desktop in order to increase cooling when needed.

STEP 5: Housing your rig

So you got all these nice components, or maybe you opted for a smaller system such as a micro ATX motherboard, or perhaps you went all out and got a bazzilion hard drives. There is a case for that. Thermaltake, in my opinion, makes the best cases for microATX and small form PC’s, but NZXT’s mid tower and full tower enthusiasts win it for me.  If you went all out with massive amounts of hard drives and disks and all, and need a massive hulk to store it in, the Lian-Li PC-D8000B would suit you (please let us review it if you build something like that!).

Lian Li Logo
Lian Li Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

STEP 6: Bringing it all together

So you can either build it all yourself, recommended if you know what you are doing, or you can get someone else to build it. Many smaller PC shops and PC builder companies will put it together for you, if you don’t want the risk. Or you can insure the parts so that if you cock it up, you wont loose it for good. Make sure for any build you have an at least decent screen, and a good gaming keyboard and mice to go with it. I recommend Razor mice and MSI keyboard for high end gamers, of for those on a budget, a Logitech keyboard with LED/LCD screen and a Logitech mouse would work well.

So, there we have it, your very own PC. No more HP, no more DELL. You built your own PC… or a shop did, if you were not so brave. But you still picked the parts, turned it on, installed Windows (please be windows 7 and not 8) and started to play your favourite games but with max graphics to be admired in their pristine and fast running beautifulness. Let us know how it got on via our twitter or FB page and share with other readers, or post into the comment section here. Have a fun time tinkering with your new PC, and make sure to use a decent anti virus.

Written by Steve.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (GBA)

Way back during the days of the Playstation One, there was an off-shoot of the main Final Fantasy games, called Final Fantasy Tactics, where Square decided to branch out into the realm of Strategy RPGs. That game was very well received, and a follow up on the Gameboy Advance came out…

Story

7/10

As with all its other Final Fantasy games, Square-Enix likes to put the fantasy into overdrive in its games. At the beginning of the game you are a child with a disabled brother and school problem (and very dodgy hair. This doesn’t improve)  At school is the typical outcast girl, strong willed and brave, and secondly is a teddy bear hugging boy that is liked by only a few.

Next, after some training events at school, one of your friends finds an old book at a bookstore, brings it to a gathering of the girl, you and your brother, and , of course, you open it. The text is too strange for you to understand, and you put it up.

Later in the evening after everyone is in bed, the book opens up and sucks the world up in a big flash. Everything is transformed into a wonderland of strange being and exotic locales. Everybody is transformed into creatures, except you. As you wake up in this strange new land, a Moogle greets you and offers to invite you to join his clan. Thus, the adventure begins…

 

Sound

7/10

This category can either make a game or break and in this case although it doesn’t necessarily make the game, but it does the job well enough. There are a couple of catchy tunes in this game, and I adore the Totema theme. You might find yourself getting a bit bored of the main battle music, but every now and then it does get changed for different fights, which keeps it fresh.

 

Graphics

6/10

The graphics are bright and cheerful, I will give them that much. Sadly every Human Soldier looks the same, just as every Moogle Time Mage looks the same. The only dissimilarity in this is the main character, and they are stuck with one look as well regardless of their job. Now onto a more positive note; the spell effects, especially the more powerful ones like Thundaga and Blizzaga, are a joy to watch and to hear. And the Totema summons are brilliant. There is one small complaint, the summon spells used by summoners are disappointing in my opinion, especially as I was expecting bigger and better things from these summons from other FF games. I don’t know, I find it kinda insulting what they’ve done to the likes of Ifrit and Shiva…

 

Multi Player Options

7/10

I haven’t really played around with the multiplayer on this game, apart from a few times against myself using another cartridge and Gameboy.

However, the missions you do get to play through multiplayer are quite good fun, even if it’s more directed towards co-operative play rather than competitive. I think the main issue nowadays is that you’d be hard pressed to find somebody with a copy of this game and a Gameboy Advance to link with.

 

Challenge

7/10

As far as challenge goes, the first ten hours are pretty easy, but as it serves as the introduction to the game, I’ll let that slide.

The challenge picks up a bit as laws are introduced, but I wouldn’t say it was particularly challenging for anybody who is acquainted with the tactical RPG genre.

Another aspect to the challenge would have to be deciding what you want to do. Random type battles are here so you’re not limited to how many opportunities you have to try out things. You can have a total of 23 members in your clan, and it can get overwhelming. Typically, and usually very quickly so, you’ll learn not to overextend yourself in too many directions.

However, you can challenge yourself (I dare you to do a no-ability run and see what happens when ‘Fight’ is outlawed!) which does make up for some of the lack of challenge. I’d say this is a nice game for breaking in new gamers to this genre.

Gameplay

10/10

This is the most important part of a tactical RPG, in my opinion. As far as gameplay goes, it is fairly simple to pick up and easy to control in battle.  In battle, things are fairly simple once you’ve got a grasp on them. You have access to certain attacks based upon what abilities you have mastered from weapons and what weapons you currently have equipped. Alongside what abilities you have from your main ‘job’, you can also have the abilities of a secondary job, as long as you’ve learnt them. So you want a magic casting soldier? Go ahead. You want a Dragoon with the abilities of a Templar? Do it.

As well as the standard top-down isometric grid turned-based gameplay which seems the standard for many handheld SRPGs, this game likes to change it up a bit by adding in ‘laws’ for each battle. With the law system, you get penalised for breaking the law (either sent to jail if you KO an opponent whilst breaking the law, or given a yellow card, two yellow cards and it’s do not pass go, do not collect £200, go directly to jail) and rewarded if you do the recommended action. For example, there might be a law against fire in play – you get penalised for casting fire magic, but rewarded for casting ice magic. The games starts off with only one law being in play but goes up to three during the course of the game, making battles that slightly bit more interesting.  Of course, you also get the ability to manipulate the laws as part of the story…

The main menu interface is a bit confusing to find your way around at first, but it’s easy enough once you’ve played around with it and gotten used to it. You can equip items, make units leave your clan, modify their abilities and equipment. Heck, I can spend hours in the main menu tinkering with my individual units and switching up equipment and abilities. You can also tap the R-button whilst in the menu and this will give you various bits of background information. The select button does the same in certain situations.

Overall, very well done and deserves and good 10/10.

Replay Value

8/10

I’m in two minds over replay value. I’d say a regular run through of this game will take around 50 hours to complete. For a more thorough play through, something like 100+ hours. I’ve currently got a game running which has just hit the 450 hour mark, and I’m nowhere near done yet.  As for replay value, I’d say yes, this is a game you can replay –  you can try things like solo character runs, Mage-only runs, Bangaa-only runs, runs where you deliberately try and set the laws against you, etc. You’d probably be more inclined to replay it a while after the first play though. But yeah, this game definitely has replay value.

 

**Final Score**

 

Story ——— 7/10

Sound ——- 7/10

Graphics —- 6/10

MultiPlayer – 7/10

Challenge — 6/10

Gameplay – 10/10

Replay Value – 8/10

 

Overall ——- 7/10

Written by Karen

Artifact Red-X

Artifact Red-X looks to become one of the best hybrid strategy/rpg games of all time, perhaps even beating most of the SRPG’s on the sci-fi genre market.

AR-X is set in a future where the humans are the bad guys (nice touch) and you have to go around marauding alien cities and stealing their resources… BUT…
A nice twist emerges before you can even think of wiping entire populations from a distance, acts of genocide go unpunished.

Your team is controlled in battle on a hexagonal grid, and it is turn based, you get upgrades for performing well and for atrocities you get punished. You need the resource that you loot in order to upgrade.

The game is set to be featured on PC and Ipad, one criticism is lack of support for android… despite the fact of their being several capable gaming devices, such as the xperia play, or the upcoming Nvidia shield.

Overall, this is a game that we can look forward to.

Link Tier2 game’s kickstarter page

Hurrah! Our first post!

Welcome to FHG, the new game review, blog, video and tech site that aims to entertain and educate gamers over a variety of genres. We will be setting up a YouTube channel shortly and will be producing video content starting in June along with frequent reviews.

We plan on putting out, once we launch our video side, two videos a week at least, along with as many reviews as we can type/get games for.

Our team so far: Steve – Senior editor, video producer, content will include FPS, action, sci fi, simulations and strategy.

Karen (known as BasiltheDragon on IGN, GameFAQs and YouTube) – Former contributor on IGN; RPG, SRPG and JRPG extraordinaire. Editor, grammar corrector, content producer. Content includes RPGs, handheld games, simulation games and some strategy games.

Any comments, suggestions or contributions submit them to firehawkgaming@live.co.uk