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    Oct 19th, 2009 at 20:50:43     -    Need For Speed: Shift (360)

    After spending some more time behind the wheel of NFS Shift, I have learned to work around the limited controls, and have gotten comfortable with accelerating, shifting, and breaking with either forefinger. As you progress in the game, you learn more and more strategies for racing. By tapping the brake at the right time on entering a corner, you can break traction and begin a drift, and then if you are in the correct gear you can accelerate through the apex giving you the fastest corner speeds. Also, the turbo characteristics have been made more realistic feeling and sounding, adding a very convincing blow off valve noise and a more realistic feeling acceleration, which breaks traction in corners, and pulls noticeably harder when the boost guage is indicating full boost.
    Another feature this game is pioneering is realistic nitrous oxide effects. In previous games, using the nitrous is like switching on some rocket booster which propels you to top speed as long as you can hold the car on the road. In NFS Shift, using the nitrous does not cause any noticeable difference unless you are driving, in which case you can notice the car accelerating a little faster. You are also able to use the nitrous earlier without losing control of the car, which adds to the realism because these are the times when you would like nitrous in the real world. In previous NFS games, the nitrous was a onetime use item, and then you would have to do something to replenish your nitrous before using it again. There is no way in real life you could replenish your nitrous, you have to budget the amount you use and when, which is how NFS Shift has implemented nitrous. You get one bottle per race, which lasts a total of 30 seconds, and must be metered so that you have plenty in case of a wreck or for passing on the final straight.
    The games new features have taken racing to a new level. The game has an innovative fastest path mechanism that allows you to see the fastest lines through he corners, and adjust yourself. The reward system is also innovative, rewarding you for things you might normally consider bad, and rewarding you with lots of new levels and access to super cars. One main design change I like in this game as opposed to previous NFSU games, is the fact that although you cannot initially afford a super car, you are allowed to enter races where you drive other cars than your own. It is a relief not to be stuck in a 240sx for hours on end, trying to scrape up enough money for an integra.
    The level design is menu driven, and has several types of race course. There are time trials, elimination, drifting, and autocross, and you can do these in each of two modes, career mode and quick race. The games opponents are given cars that are competitive with yours, and often times every racer has the same car. The game allows you to get sponsorships and win money very fast, which keeps me interested because I can afford to buy multiple cars, and upgrade/customize them. I like the fact that I can keep my cars in a garage, and each car can be tuned for different types of racing, or even different types of course. I have an all wheel drive car for tight courses, and a RWD Lamb for courses with good amounts of straight away, and another AWD car which is over tuned with ridiculous horsepower for drifting. In previous games I would have to sell my current car and spend all kinds of time re acquiring upgrades.

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    Oct 18th, 2009 at 18:30:37     -    Need For Speed: Shift (360)

    This is the first video game I have bought new in over 5 years, and I was initially drawn in by the in game footage of a wreck, which looks more real than a real wreck. After spending some time learning to drive, I think this may be the best Need For Speed yet. The basics are the same as most NFS games, you win races to accumulate money to buy fast cars and win more races. The graphics are the main update, with in car views that look incredibly real.
    Game play
    During the first hour or so of game play I experienced a lot of frustration getting used to the new controls, as I am a fairly avid racing gamer on some other games. I was upset to learn that the controls were not customizable, and I was forced to choose between three setups I did not like. The driving was also very different, and I was terrible at steering for most of the time. You are the only character in the game, other than the announcer who gives you information about the races. The game progression seems pretty bland, considering there does not seem to be a story whatsoever, only a progressively more difficult set of races to win. Although this seems boring at first, it lends to the idea that this game is all about racing. One frustration I have had with NFSU games in the past is their overuse of cut scenes and dialogue which interrupt game play. This game is simply choosing a race, racing the race, and choosing the next race.
    For me, the game play was very interesting, as it incorporates some new features with the traditional NFS racing experience. The biggest change is the race line indicator, which is a stripe that marks the fastest line around the tracks. The game uses your cars suspension and traction information to calculate how fast you can possibly take each corner, and then based on your speed the race line will change color. If you can accelerate safely the race line will be green, upon approaching a corner, the line turns yellow, and when breaking is required the race line will turn red. This adds a very fun dynamic to the game play, because ordinarily you do not know how fast you can take the turns without lots of trial and error, but with this immediate feedback system, you can confidently accelerate into corners that you might think are too tight, and begin breaking from high-speed to avoid overshooting corners.

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    Oct 5th, 2009 at 21:10:33     -    mario 64 (N64)

    During my second session with Mario 64, I was able to get up to 15 stars and enter the special world where you get the feather hat. The feature hat is the coolest feature of the gameplay to me in Mario. For a couple minutes while you have the hat, you are able to fly, after performing a triple jump to launch yourself. Flying in the original Mario games was always the best part, but in the new 3d Mario, flying is completely different. You can actually steer Mario, and he handles like an airplane would. Once you have the feather cap you can load yourself into a cannon and shoot yourself into the air, at which point you have a huge amount of kinetic energy to use up flying around all over the place.
    The gameplay is very transitional in that you can switch the types of challenges you are doing by switching the level. There are levels that have traditional style puzzles, where you navigate a path that is complicated and has pitfalls. There are racing elements of levels where you slide down huge slides against other opponents in the game. There are challenges that depend on lots of coordination to control fine motor features and steer Mario through a tight space, and there are levels where you just wander around and look for items to collect. There are bright levels with sun, blue skies and grass, and there are winter levels, underwater levels, levels on boats, levels in clouds, inside ghost houses, and many more, so basically there are different levels for all different moods you could be in when you sit down to play.

    One thing I feel this game is lacking is support for two players. Mario games to me are about being able to play with a friend. The earliest Mario on NES allowed you to take turns as you progress through the Mario world, essentially working together to complete all the levels. Starting with Mario 64, it is strictly single player, with the only option being to pass off the controller, which no one likes to do.
    The most interesting part of this Mario game is how the levels are physically organized. From the beginning game perspective, you start outside of a large castle, where you can play around in the courtyard, and some of the levels can actually be accessed from outside of the castle. The bulk of the game however is inside the castle. Every room has a painting that represents the level associated with it, and when you want to start a level, you jump into the painting of the level. Also, the different sets of levels are separated into the different wings of the castle. The easy levels are in the lobby, medium levels in the basement, and hard levels are upstairs. In order to progress into a new wing of the castle, you need to have a certain number of stars.

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    Oct 5th, 2009 at 21:10:01     -    mario 64 (N64)

    Mario 64 is one of my all time favorite games. It is a continuation of the Super Mario series, and is the first in the series to offer 3d graphics. The first thing you notice about the game is how easy it feels to play. It can be entertaining for a while just to explore the environments and control Mario in a 3d environment because there is a very good match between this game and the Nintendo 64 controller. In Mario 64 you are in a cartoonish pipe world where plumbers eat mushrooms and set off to collect stars and coins, with the ultimate goal of saving a princess from a mutant lizard named bowser. The main goal in Mario 64 is to take advantage of 3d environments to solve puzzles.

    When Iím playing Mario 64 I feel like a kid again, because this is one of those brightly colored happy go lucky games where you spend more time exploring different worlds than actually doing anything that requires coordination. I think the characters in the game are ridiculous, which is nothing new, I have always thought the story behind Mario is a bit questionable. I never understood how a plumber could take it upon himself to rescue a princess.
    This game is fun to play for years. The controller is perfectly matched to the actions in the game, and it is effortless to maneuver Mario. The way Mario 64 sets up the reward structure keeps you motivated to play for a long time also. On a small scale, you can challenge yourself to collect coins within individual worlds, and by collecting 100 coins you earn an extra life. On top of that, if you collect the 8 red coins in each level, you earn a star. Stars are how you measure your progress in Mario, and you need at least 70 in order to beat the game.
    The star system is complicated in that there are several different sub goals when collecting stars. You need one star to open certain doors in the castle lobby. Only the door to the castle and the door to the first level can be opened without stars. Once you have 15 stars, you are able to get the flying cap, 30 opens the second half of the game etc.

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    Entries written to date: 8
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    1mario 64 (N64)Playing
    2Need for Speed Underground 2 (DS)Playing
    3Need For Speed: Shift (360)Playing
    4Super Mario World (SNES)Playing


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