Friday, September 19, 2008

Byte: A veritable hive of activity

Well, I'm a busy little bee at the moment. Not only is work its usual charming self, but after a wait of what seems like years, the review copies are finally starting to flow again. My S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky review went up yesterday, but there's no rest for the wicked, since that simply prompted the arrival of my "your eyes only" press copy of The Witcher Enhanced Edition, which has to be the loveliest, shiniest games package I've ever seen. As if that wasn't enough to keep me busy, I also picked up GTR Evolution from Steam, which I want to review, because it's easily one of the best racing simulators in years, and it has the added bonus of an immaculate recreation of the Nurburgring Nordschleife.

The 'ring has been my favourite race track since I first played Project Gotham Racing 2, and this version of the Nordschleife is incredible: running at 70+ frames a second, the corners flow towards you with almost supernatural speed, giving you the full sense of its thrilling, horrifying majesty - driving it you can understand why Sir Jackie Stewart dubbed it The Green Hell. Though for me, being able to drive it at speed in safe simulation, it's more like asphalt heaven.

Also arriving today was The Force Unleashed, on Wii, though that's not a review copy - I got this purely because I'm a Star Wars fanboy, and even though the reviews for the Wii version haven't been terrific, it's still worth a punt, if only for the control system. Basically, I'm not interested in playing a Jedi/Sith game these days unless you can thrash your arms about like an epileptic octopus when you're fighting with a lightsaber. I'll be playing that a little later tonight after I put a little time into The Witchier. The Enhanced Edition certainly appears to be enhanced across the board. Even the intro movie (which was already spectacular) has been revamped and extended, but it's the reduced level loading times and the improved inventory that have caught my eye so far. I've only played through the prologue and a little of chapter one so far in my replay thus far, but already the script shows some dramatic signs of improvement, and some of the voiceover work is much better as well: Leo, the sacrificial lamb of the prologue, sounds much more like a fledgling warrior and less of a whiny little kid this time around. The Witcher was one of my favourite games from last year, so it will be nice to see how it stands up now, the best part of a year later. Expect to see a review going up in the next week or so.
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