Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar

A 1985 RPG where you travel the world of Britannia on a quest to be the Ultimate Good Guy. Now available for free.

Release Date

September 1985.

Pros

There is an interesting conversation system where you have to type in keywords to progress. Quite similar to text adveture games of old like Borrowed Time and Tass Times in Tone Town. Although the vocabulary in Ultima IV is not as much as text adveture games.

It is a very big world to explore. I am not sure whether it is bigger or smaller than games like Oblivion or Might and Magic VI, but it is still very big.

Even though the game’s presentation is old and clunky, there is a very strong story in the game. Your main quest is to be the Ultimate Good Guy, but how you get there is the challenge and the story of the game.

Replaying Ultima IV after games like Fallout and Arcanum made me realise that even so long ago, Ultima IV provided immense freedom in RPGs. You can go any where as long as you can survive and you can do pretty much anything. Of course since the main quest is to be the Ultimate Good Guy, doing nasty things will not lead to completion of the game.

Cons

The graphics are very old and it shows. Most of the game is represented by low resolution icons. After playing a while, you will learn what each icon represents, but it cannot hide the fact that it is a very old game.

Like a flight simulator, you have to memorise the whole keyboard. Until you remember it all, the reference card will come in very handy.

The game is quite difficult to learn to play, with no tutorials or help on how to play. You basically need to read the manual and the reference card to learn how to play.

Make sure to take your own notes for everything. There is no journal record of any kind.

The sounds are all old PC speaker beeps. There are games that sound good even with PC speaker(Xenon 2 Megablast), but Ultima IV is not one of them.

There are lots of random monster encounters which means lots of combat. Unfortunately the combat sequences are not that interesting and gets boring and repetitive.

Other Points

Screen shots have been taken with the unmodified version of the game and with the Ultima IV Upgrade patch.

Although the game is played in turn based mode, the moon phases shift in real time. The phases of the moon determine where quick travel moon gates appear and where the destination is.

Biases

Reviewed GOG.com version of the game with and without the graphics upgrade patch.

Ultima IV was the first RPG I played. Playing it again sure brings back memories. Not all of it is good since I like a lot of the improvements that come with modern RPGs.

I really liked Fallout, SWTOR, Might and Magic VI, Torchlight, Oblivion, and Baldur’s Gate 1, 2 plus expansions.

I also liked Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, Lands of Lore 3, Might and Magic 3, 4 and 5.

I did not like Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura and Styrateg.

I have never completed Ultima IV. I have completed Ultima V and VI and played Ultima VII.

DRM

The game is available for free from GOG.com.

Minimum Requirements (as stated on GOG.com)

  • Windows XP or Windows Vista
  • 1.8 GHz Processor, 512MB RAM (1 GB recommended)
  • 3D graphics card compatible with DirectX 7 (compatible with DirectX 9 recommended)
  • 2GB HDD
  • Mouse, Keyboard
  • Notes from myself – The game runs on DOSBox so I am unsure about the absolute requirements of the 3D graphics card. The game’s installer is 28 MB and the installed game takes up 23MB, so I do not understand what the 2GB HDD requirement is all about.

Computer Played On

  • Windows 7 64 bit.
  • Intel Core i5 2.3GHz
  • 4Gb RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1Gb RAM
  • Conexant SmartAudio with egg speakers or earphones. Or Logitech G35.
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Recommended Mods

Marvel Heroes

Marvel Heroes died on the 27th of November 2017. I have not played it since 2016 and it still ranks as my second most played game on Steam (Payday 2 has the top spot). Except for cosmetic changes, my review will be here, left untouched for historical reading.

Battle through the Marvel Universe with your favourite heroes in this free to play action packed massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

Release Date

June 2013.

Pros

Marvel Heroes is free to play, get it from the official game site or Steam.

The game is very easy to pick-up and play. The prologue mission also doubles as a tutorial and is played in single-player mode only.

There are random events that you can participate in. It is pretty much an excuse to do some extra villain bashing, but is still something different.

Like all good RPGs, there is plenty of loot and also lots of different types of upgrades for the equipment. There is also a good crafting system where you can improve your stuff or make new stuff. Come to think of it the whole game feels and plays like an enhanced version of Torchlight with super heroes.

The action is great. There are plenty of low level goons to beat up and the super villains put up a great fight. If your character is high enough level, you can take on the super villains solo, but generally it is a better idea to team up with other players.

The maps are well designed and big enough to make exploration fun and yet not so big that it is tedious to get from place to place. Sometimes I replay a level/map and I still find it fun.

It is nice to see other super heroes running around, sometimes helping out and sometimes doing their own thing.

When you are defeated, you can wait for others to come and revive you. In turn you can revive others that have fallen. A nice touch to the game I reckon. It is your choice whether to accept a revival and if there is no one around you can either wait a certain amount of time or manually select to return to the last waypoint.

The player vs environment campaign is large enough with eight-plus chapters, each with multiple areas to get through. When this main campaign is completed, special group, daily and survival missions are unlocked along with player vs player functionality.

The post campaign group, daily and survival missions are a lot of fun in their own right. There is no plot as such for them and the locations are the same as the main story campaign, but all the enemies are higher level including the super villains and it is simply great fun to beat up loads of bad guys.

The different heroes are very different. Even heroes of the same class are different enough to make the game interesting. Before, I thought Dare Devil would play roughly the same as Captain America, being the agile fighter type. After playing both characters, it was clear they play very differently. This adds to the variety even when you are playing through the same story.

Gazillion Entertainment have done a great job adding new stuff and improving the game. There are periods of time where I stopped playing Marvel Heroes. Each time I return to the game, I find Gazillion have added a lot more content including a new chapter for the campaign, more challenges, new loot and also more heroes. To make things even better, bugs get fixed along side the adding of new stuff.

Player vs player is still in beta, but it is good fun. Two teams duke it out to overrun the other’s base and at the end you get rewards for your efforts. The heroes’ powers work slightly differently in PvP than in PvE, but it is still good fun.

You can trial all starter heroes to level ten. Then you can choose one to uncap the level to progress further. It looks like Gazillion Entertainment swap the starter heroes now and then so different people may get different heroes to trial. For the latest information, check out the Marvel Heroes Forum.

The ‘w’ key can be used to move. Basically it works like left clicking to move, but does not attack if your cursor is on an enemy. I like this a lot since it means I do not have to keep left clicking every where or hold down the mouse button.

Cons

Except for the introduction, the rest of the cutscenes are presented as a “motion comic”. If they were presented as still comic images, it would have been great. If they were presented as a fully animated cartoon, it would have been great also. I have never seen a motion comic before and this first experience makes me feel like they wanted to do an animation, but were too cheap to go through with it properly. It just looked wrong to me.

If you do not have Steam then you have to use the horrible BitRaider Web Client to download and play the game. I was installing Marvel Heroes on a friend’s PC and encountered two problems. First the download was abysmally slow averaging around 60Kb/s. On Steam I was getting 400Kb/s. Second problem was part way, the download just plain stopped and would not continue. I had to uninstall everything and reinstall from scratch and start the slow download again. After about thirty-six hours of downloading the play button became green and I could actually start the game even though it was only about 25% downloaded.

The BitRaider Web Client is just as slow when downloading patches which means more waiting, because patches are released regularly.

Other Points

There are only two ways to get new heroes after your first selection. One way is to collect Eternity Splinters from defeated enemies and use them to get heroes. The cheapest purchase is the Random Hero Unlock at 175 Splinters with specific hero choices costing more. On average I get three Eternity Splinters in one hour of play, but there are so many special events and bonuses that collecting Splinters is faster than expected. Of course there is the second way of getting a hero which is to fork out real money and buy one. Much quicker if you are willing to pay for it.

Heroes are not the only thing you can buy with real money though. There are also costumes, pet/follower type entities, extra stash storage and special items. Also all these items are not bought directly with real money. You have to purchase Gs and use Gs to buy the items.

Due to my slow ping of 350-700ms, some of the actions I perform gets a delayed reaction from the enemies in the game. It spoils the good action animations of the game, but at the same time I found it amusing. No point complaining since there is nothing I can do about the slow ping times.

The slow ping time also causes jumps and freezes about half the time. The other half plays quite smoothly with other players’ actions moving nicely.

The sounds sound good and the music sounds OK, but they are nothing special. There is some humorous chit-chat between heroes, but once again, nothing special.

In general the frame rate of the game has been good on my PC averaging around 35 FPS, but when there are too many super heroes on the same screen doing their stuff, the FPS drops real fast to about 12 FPS. This always happens during a super villain fight. This is with graphics set to the absolute minimum.

When you get a new hero, they always start at level one and the story progression also starts from the prologue. Each hero has their own story progression tracking, so there is no need to remember where you left off.

Apart from the usual MMO functionality of being able to chat and invite people to form a party, there is also an optional auto join party functionality when you enter certain areas.

The story is standard super hero fare. Doctor Doom has stolen a super duper item that can help him rule the world(or maybe universe) so it’s up to the super heroes to stop him. Of course they do not know what has happened yet, so they have to find out first. I did not pay that much attention to the story because I was too busy beating up the bad guys, and loving it!

Biases

Reviewed versions 1.10.1.14 to 1.30.0.92 of the game.

I have never played any of the Diablo games, but I do like Torchlight tremendously.

Playing Marvel Heroes also brought back good memories of Marvel Ultimate Alliance which I played on PS2. I chose Thing as my initial character because I enjoyed using Thing in Marvel Ultimate Allinace. He was a much better fighter back then than in Marvel Heroes though.

I downloaded and played the game through Steam. I also got to try out the BitRaider Web Client which is required to download and play the game if Steam is not installed.

The screen shots are with graphics set to absolute minimum.

Although I have not read any Marvel comics, I do enjoy watching the cartoons like X-Men and Ultimate Avengers and also most of the movies like X-Men, Iron Man and The Avengers.

I have completed the player vs environment campaign using Thing.

I have also been playing using Dare Devil and Captain America.

DRM

It is a MMORPG. An email address is required for an account and of course a constant connection to the Internet is required to play. I am not sure if this is classified as DRM since it is free to play any way.

Patches

Patches are downloaded automatically.

Patches are released regularly to add new stuff as well as fix existing bugs and balancing issues.

Minimum Requirements (as stated on official game site)

  • CPU: Core 2 DUO 2.1 GHz / AMD Athlon X2 2.1 GHZ or better
  • Graphics Card: DirectX10 Compatible Graphics Card with 512 MB VRAM or higher
  • System RAM: 2Gb or higher
  • Hard Disk Space: 10Gb or higher
  • OS: Windows XP 32 bit or higher

Computer Played On

  • Windows 7 64 bit.
  • Intel Core i5 2.3GHz
  • 4Gb RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1Gb RAM
  • Conexant SmartAudio with egg speakers or earphones. Or Logitech G35.
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Handy Tips

my Winamp causes Marvel Heroes to crash on start up. Nothing needs to be playing in Winamp, as long as it is running, Marvel Heroes just keeps crashing. I am not sure if all versions of Winamp causes this crash or just mine.

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault + Spearhead + Breakthrough

The game version of Saving Private Ryan but with a much better storyline. Medal of Honor: Allied Assault is a World War II action first-person shooter.

Release Date:

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault: January 2002.
Spearhead: November 2002.
Breakthrough: September 2003.

Pros:

The tutorial is excellent. It teaches not just the features of the game but also the basics of how to play first-person shooters. For anyone that has not played a first-person shooter before, this is an excellent game to learn with.

The speech is excellent. The acting sounds very convincing and contributes to the game feeling like a movie.

The music is also excellent. Appropriate music is played at the right times to set the mood of the game giving it an even better movie feel.

The stories for the game are also excellent and presented well through the mission introductions and in game events. This combined with the good speech and music makes MOHAA feel like you are playing a movie.

Omaha Beach.

The enemy AI is good. Some know how to hide and run around and others are stupid and come charging forward. You can also sneak up on them. The AI is pretty much on par with Red Faction.

There is a good mix of close quarters battle and open space gun fights. There are also a few stealth missions where you have to get a disguise and not alert any enemies. Much like Red Faction.

There are mods, custom maps and bots available. Check out the external links list.

You get to drive vehicles and use fixed guns.

Cons:

There is an option for surround sound but it does not work with the Logitech G35. Reading around, it looks like surround sound was not implemented properly for MOHAA. Apparently some people managed to hack around to get surround sound working, but I could not get it working.

Your team mates AI are very stupid. Sure they know how to shoot the enemy now and then, but they like to stand out in the open and get shot. Sometimes they also come and stand right in front of you while you are trying to shoot the enemy.

Other Points:

Besides the story being better than Saving Private Ryan, MOHAA also does not have the blood and guts of the movie. Some people will not like this, but I personally did not mind. There are mods to add blood to the game. Check out Filefront if you are interested.

In plain Allied Assault, you can only gun whack with the pistol even though your enemies can whack you with their rifles and sub-machine guns. Spearhead and Breakthrough fixes this so you can gun whack with other guns too.

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault has six missions with a few stages for each mission. Spearhead adds an extra three missions plus some new weapons and Breathrough adds another three missions plus some new weapons. The expansions also add a couple of new multiplayer modes and new multiplayer maps.

Surprisingly, there are still people that play MOHAA multiplayer(2011). I managed to squeeze in a few games and yes it is still fun. Not as good as Battlefield 1942, Star Wars Battlefront 2 or Call of Duty 4 but still fun enough to play. I did not get to play Spearhead and Breathrough on multiplayer though.

Biases:

Reviewed version 1.11 of plain MOHAA, version 2.15 of Spearhead and version 2.40.

I played Medal of Honor: Allied Assault back when it was first released. I do not remember much about it though. When I saw the 10th Anniversary box in the store only one thought came to mind, “Hey that’s the game with Omaha Beach.”.

Replaying MOHAA was good fun. It also reminded me of another WWII FPS – Call of Duty. I remember enjoying Call of Duty although I do not actually remember what the game was like. MOHAA stuck in my head because of Omaha Beach.

I really liked Serious Sam, all the Doom games and Quake 2.

I also really liked SWAT 4, Red Faction, Bioshock, Alien Vs Predator, Soldier of Fortune 2, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Clear Sky, Rainbow Six, Rogue Spear and Call Of Duty 4.

I also liked Red Faction 2, Painkiller Overdose and Star Wars Battlefront 2.

I also liked Battlefield 1942, Delta Force and Spec Ops 2.

DRM:

Serial numbers must be entered when installing the games.

The appropriate CD must be in the drive to play the games.

There is a DRM free version available on GOG.com

Patches:

Spearhead 2.11 patch – Updates Spearhead to version 2.11.

Spearhead 2.15 patch – Updates Spearhead from 2.11 to 2.15.

Breakthrough 2.40 patch – Updates Breakthrough to version 2.40.

Minimum Requirements (from Readme.txt of Breakthrough):

  • Windows XP, Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows 98, or Windows 95 (Windows NT is not supported)
  • 733 MHz Intel Pentium III or 700 MHz AMD Athlon processor
  • 128 MB RAM
  • 8x CD-ROM/DVD-ROM drive
  • 800 MB free hard disk space plus space for saved games (additional space required for Windows swap-file and DirectX 8.0 installation)
  • 16 MB OpenGL capable video card using an NVIDIA GeForce, ATI Radeon, NVIDIA Riva TNT2, ATI Rage 128 or PowerVR3 Kyro II chipset with OpenGL and DirectX 8.0 compatible driver
  • DirectX 8.0 compatible sound card
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse

Computer Played On:

  • Core 2 Duo 2.16GHz
  • 2Gb RAM
  • ATI Radeon X1600 256Mb RAM (laptop version)
  • Logitech G35 headset and/or Realtek HD Audio(no idea what model) with my egg speakers or Logitech ClearChat Premium PC Headset.
  • Win XP Pro
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Handy Tips:

Add +set cl_playintro 0 to the game’s shortcut properties target to bypass the introduction movies and go straight to the main menu. This works for Spearhead and Breakthrough as well.

Recommended Mods:

Mod Editor. A nice little tool to enable/disable mods(raw pk3 files). It only works with MOHAA so files must be manually enabled/disabled for Spearhead and Breakthrough.

City Nights Final. Brings modern day weaponary to MOHAA. Not just that though, it also has two single-player maps and a few multiplayer maps. The mod seems to work OK with the MOHAA campaign although there are some sounds missing. I have not played through the whole MOHAA campaign with the mod.

EagleAR bots. A nice package that adds bots to some default maps of MOHAA, Spearhead and Breakthrough.

If you are looking for something different in bots, try The Complete Mod v3.1. The mod adds an easy interface to control bots and also a working scoreboard. It also adds other stuff, but I have not tried them out. You will still need to download the jv_bot mod separately or get it as part of the EagleAR bots pacakge. Using The Complete Mod with the EagleAR bots package seems to cause some crash to desktops.

For more single-player goodness try VC Addon (v1.1). This is pretty much a mini campaign made up of a few large maps. The objectives and compass may not always be accurate so a little bit of exploration is required. A part from that it is a very well done single-player addon.

Test Drive Unlimited

Buy a house, buy a car and race around Oahu island of Hawaii. Win races, get money and buy more cars to race around.

Release Date:

March 2007.

Pros:

Ferraris! Lots and lots of Ferraris.

Has other supercars too including Lamborghini, Saleen, Lotus and Jaguar.

If you purchase the MegaPack you will also be blessed with the Ferrari 512 TR.

Apart from racing against other cars, there are other types of events like speed trap, time trials, car transportation and ferrying hitch-hikers.

The online mode seamlessly blends single player events with multiplayer events. You just free form drive around the island and enter whatever events you want. As you are driving you will also encounter other people online and you can choose to have a duel if you like.

Everything in the game looks good. The environment looks good. The cars look good. Even the interior of the cars look good.

The inbuilt speech communication works well. The only problem is, some people have their game running on speakers so loud that the sound gets to the microphone on their end and you can hear it over the speech communicator.

You can actually “test drive” cars before buying them.

The stock music is pretty standard, but the good thing is you can add your own music to played on the radio in the car when driving around.

Cons:

Everyone connects to one main online server. When the server goes down, no online game. Luckily I have only experienced this twice so far.

The police are quite stupid. They will only chase you if you hit them or other cars. They won’t chase you if you overtake them at 300km/h.

Sometimes your profile will just get corrupted and you got to start all over again. Good idea to keep backups of the profile.

There are replays but only for some events. They should have put it for all events.

Other Points:

You can play the game single player only. In this mode you can only take part in all the single player events. There are also AI cars driving around to make it feel like the online people driving around.

There are motor bikes in this game but I have not unlocked them yet.

You can damage other cars, but your car will always be in pristine condition. Not sure if this is a good or a bad thing because I stack it quite a bit.

The driving model can be tweaked between hard core mode and easy mode, where hard core mode is where you need the steering wheel and pedal kit if you want to stay on the road.

Biases:

Reviewed version 1.66A with the Megapack.

I like Ferraris. Especially the 512 TR.

I have not driven a real super car in real life.

I really liked the original Test Drive, Test Drive 3: The Passion, Need For Speed 2, Need For Speed Hot Pursuit(the old one), Need For Speed High Stakes, Need For Speed Most Wanted, Trackmania: Sunrise, Burnout 3 and Gran Turismo 1-4.

I did not like Need For Speed Underground. I haven’t tried the other Need for Speeds.

I played with keyboard on the easiest driving mode.

DRM:

  • A CD key must be entered when installing the game.
  • The disc must be in the drive to play the game.

Patches:

  • 1.66A – Fixes some stuff and also adds the Audi RS4 and Nissan Skyline R34 cars.

Minimum Requirements (as stated on box):

  • Operating System: Windows 2000/XP and above
  • Processor: Intel P4 @ 2.4GHz or AMD Athlon 2800+
  • Memory: 512MB – 1GB recommended
  • Hard Disk Space: 8 GB
  • DVD-ROM Drive: 8X minimum
  • Video: ATI Radeon 9800 256MB VRAM or Nvidia 6600 GT with 256 MB of VRAM. Video Cards with vertex/pixel shaders 2.x and above are recommended
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0 compatible Sound Card
  • DirectX: DirectX version 9.0c (included) or higher

Computer Played On:

  • Core 2 Duo 2.16GHz
  • 2Gb RAM
  • ATI Radeon X1600 256Mb RAM
  • Realtek HD Audio(no idea what model) with Altec Lansing ACS41 speakers or Logitech ClearChat Premium PC Headset.
  • Win XP Pro
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Stranglehold

A third person shooter starring Chow Yun-Fat as Inspector Tequila (Same guy from the movie Hard Boiled). Blast through hundreds of bad guys in John Woo style gun fights. Watch Tequila fly through the air with guns blazing and bullets zipping past and debris flying all over the place.

Release Date:

September 2007.

Pros:

It’s like playing in a John Woo movie.

It looks just like a John Woo movie.

Very destructible environments. All the gunfights always involve things blowing up or breaking or debris flying all over the place, just like a John Woo movie.

Plenty of John Woo slow-mo action. And it looks very good!

Very good gun fighting action and lots of it!

Cons:

Very very very short single-player campaign story mode. It is okay if you don’t mind playing through the story over and over again.

No weapon reloading except for the special move Tequila Bomb which shows a nice animation of reloading your weapon. There are times when I think that reloading the weapon at that point in time will make the game look even better. They don’t have to reload it realisticly after 8 or 13 shots or whatever a real gun holds, even reloading after 100 rounds would make the game look better.

No LAN playing mode. Got online and no LAN. For this game I think it craves a LAN session.

The Online game setup is terrible. You cannot join an existing game being played. Everyone must wait in the lobby and start a game together and that’s it. No one else can join your game. It really ruins this type of fast paced action shooter.

Not built for modding or map editing. This game craves a map editor at least. Especially since the single-play story is so very short.

No Cantonese recordings for the Hong Kong bits. It just sounds wrong when you hear Cantonese being spoken by the bad guys during the action parts and then they speak English in the cut scenes.

It looks like the online server lobby service has now been taken offline permanently.

Other Points:

Some of the action moves in this game look so good I wish there was an instant replay feature to record the moves and play it back from different camera angles.

It is repetitive, but like a good arcade game, I keep coming back for more John Woo action.

There are no save games. The game automatically saves as you complete checkpoints. The other thing is, there is only one profile, so only one person can play through the game in sequence. The easiest way to get around this problem though, is to use a different user profile on the computer to play the game.

Biases:

Reviewed version 1.1.

I have never played any Max Payne games.

I really liked the movies Hard Boiled and The Killer.

I have completed the game many times but only on normal and easy difficulties.

DRM:

The disc must be in the drive to play the game.

Patches:

1.1[EU] – I did not notice any difference with or without the patch.

1.1[US] – I have not used this patch because my game patched with the EU version.

Minimum Requirements (as stated on box):

  • Operating system: Windows XP Service Pack 2/Vista
  • Processor: Intel Core Duo processor or equivalent
  • Memory: 2Gb system memory
  • Hard Disk Space: 15 Gb of free disc space required
  • DVD-ROM Drive: 16x DVD-Rom Drive
  • SOUND: DirectX 9.0c and higher compliant sound card
  • DIRECTX: DirectX 9.0c and higher will be supplied on the DVD
  • Video: DirectX 9.0c and higher compatible, including the following: Nvidia GeForce 7800 or above/ATI x1300 or above.
  • MultiPlayer: BROADBAND Internet connection required for online play.

Computer Played On:

  • Core 2 Duo 2.16GHz
  • 2Gb RAM
  • ATI Radeon X1600 256Mb RAM
  • Win XP Pro SP2
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game

If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood. Who you gonna call? YOU of course, plus the other four guys. As the new recruit of the Ghostbusters, you get to go around catching ghosts, experiment with brand new potentially dangerous, untested equipment and go on a tour of some of the locations in the movies.

Release Date:

June 2009.

Pros:

The game is easy to learn with the start of the game being a tutorial as well. You can also access a training screen in-game which describes how to do different things.

The AI is excellent. The other Ghostbusters (Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Zeddemore) do actually catch ghosts on their own. At the same time they do not do all the work giving you a game to play. The ghosts act like ghosts, well at least slimer acts just like slimer.

The graphics are excellent. All the environments look excellent, all the people and ghosts look excellent and the proton stream and trapping effects also look excellent.

The different locations are very well fleshed out. Each location has its own look and feel and the amazing attention to detail really makes each place feel different from other places.

The sounds and music are Ghostbusters authentic and sound excellent. It sounds like the original film scores are mixed with some new music in the game.

With the original people playing as the Ghostbusters and scripting the story for the game, it is no surprise that the game’s speech and story is top notch. It is like playing through the sequel to the Ghostbusters II movie.

For the full Ghostbusters atmosphere, all the HUD indicators can be turned off. This includes the targeting reticule. Most of the important information are displayed on your proton pack anyway so you do not miss out on much. Of course, playing with out a targeting reticule is extra challenging.

It just wouldn’t be Ghostbusters if you could not destroy stuff. Good thing Ghostbusters: The Video Game has got wonderful destructible environments. From all the games I have played so far, the only game with better destructible environments is Stranglehold. Just like Stranglehold too, Ghostbusters has a tally of how much damage you have caused.

Cons:

There are no save games, only checkpoints with the option to replay completed checkpoints. I usually would not put this as a con, but there is only one profile which means only one person can play through the game in sequence without searching for which checkpoint they left off. If one computer has different user profiles, only one user can play the game, because the DRM asks for a new activation code for a different user.

I am not sure why, but during the final battle, the frame rate would sometimes drop to around 5fps for about thirty seconds, then return back to normal. This only happened during the final battle.

Other Points:

Surround sound is evident when using the Logitech G35, but position of the sounds are difficult to place most of the time.

The game is very linear, but some areas are reasonably big and it pays to explore around.

As a Ghosbuster your primary and only weapon is the proton pack. Unlike the movies though, there are four different, uhhhh, thingies attached to your proton pack and each thingy has two firing modes. So, effectively it is like saying the game has eight weapon types. It may not be a lot compared to other games, but they do work differently and does give good variety to the game rather than just trapping ghosts.

The GamersGate version of the game does not come with a manual. It is not necessary though, because there is more than enough information within the game itself. For those that still want to read the manual, it can be downloaded from replacementdocs.

The Ghostbusters song by Ray Parker Jr. does not get played in full.

The story ties in heavily to the first Ghostbusters movie, but very little to the second movie.

Biases:

Reviewed GamersGate version of the game.

I like the Ghostbusters movies and the cartoon series.

I have completed the game once on casual difficulty. I started playing at the hardest difficulty of professional, but had to decrease down to the easiest difficulty of casual because I got stuck on two battles.

DRM:

Only one user profile of the computer can play the game. Each user that tries to play the game on the same computer, the game will ask for a new activation code.

Uses Securom. Directly from the horses mouth, below is the first thing you see when you first start the game after installation.

This software must be authenticated online prior to use. For activation a valid SERIAL and an active Internet connection is required.

Minimum Requirements (as stated on GamersGate):

  • OS: Windows® XPCPU: Dual-core Intel®, AMD®
  • RAM: 2 GB
  • Video: NVIDIA® GeForce® 8400, ATI®Radeon® X1300, Pixel shader 3.0
  • VideoRAM: 512 MB
  • Sound: DirectX® 9.0c compatible
  • Hard Drive: 9 GB
  • Input: Keyboard, Mouse or Xbox 360® compatible controller
  • DirectX: DirectX® 9.0c

Computer Played On:

  • Windows 7 64 bit.
  • Intel Core i5 2.3GHz
  • 4Gb RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1Gb RAM
  • Conexant SmartAudio with egg speakers or earphones. Or Logitech G35.
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Falcon 4.0

From the golden age of flight simulation, the king of flight sims lives on in the form of FreeFalcon 5. Learn to fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon with your PC and now available for free.

Pros

Most realistic F-16 Fighting Falcon flight simulator I have ever played on the PC. There are settings to dumb it down, but it is still difficult, just not as difficult as with full realism settings. As expected, the learning curve is very steep.

FreeFalcon 5 added ramp start to the realism. Learn the proper procedures to start the engine and set things up. Note that this also involves waiting for the navigation systems to initialise and waiting for take-off clearance from air traffic control(ATC). When I timed the sequence for one instance, it took me five minutes real time to complete the navigation initialisation. Then it took another three minutes real time before the ATC gave clearance for me to take-off. I was number two in the queue. So, a total of eight minutes before getting into the air and this included using 4x time acceleration when I was waiting around doing nothing. But if you do not like all this start up stuff, you can skip straight to take-off time.

Although Falcon 4.0 was an F-16 only sim, the FreeFalcon group have added other planes into the sim, complete with cockpits. I think the different planes use the F-16 avionics though. Once I learned up one aspect of the F-16’s avionics, I found that they work the same way in other planes. It feels like Jane’s Fighters Anthology, but with less planes and higher realism.

Falcon 4.0 came with the mother of all game manuals. 500+ pages of F-16 goodness. If that was not enough, the FreeFalcon group having added more stuff to the game, also added 1000+ pages of reading material to complement the Falcon 4.0 manual. The FreeFalcon documents are in PDFs only though. And I am not about to print them out either.

Falcon 4.0 in the form of FreeFalcon 5 was available for free, but the project has been shut down. You may still be able to download it from the Free Falcon Wiki though.

Clickable cockpits! If you cannot remember some of the keys, you may be able to find the corresponding switch, knob or button on the cockpit and click it with your mouse.

The graphics in general are beautiful. All the planes look great, complete with moving control surfaces. The cockpits also look great in 2D and 3D. The landscape also looks great, but only when you are high up in the sky. When flying at low altitudes, the ground looks very flat.

The airports are realistically busy. You can see F-16s, B-2s, C-5s and other planes taking off and landing at the airports. A very good reason to listen to the ATC.

The radio chatter is the most realistic I have heard in any sim. You can hear chatter from many flight groups, not just your own. This gives a deeper atmosphere as it sounds like there are others fighting in this war too. This also means you must pay attention just in case the chatter is directed at you.

The dynamic campaign engine is definitely dynamic and gives different missions depending on what is happening and what plane you have chosen to fly. I do not know how good it is as a full blown war simulator though as I have not played enough of one campaign to see how it turns out.

Cons

The Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation(ACMI) does not work. Everytime I try to view a recorded flight, the whole thing freezes after several seconds. I have to invoke task manager to kill the process manually and restart the game.

There are random problems with the game ranging from not being able to get into flying mode, to full blown crash to desktops. These random problems seem to automatically get fixed after a game restart though. Luckily these problems do not happen too often. I have managed to fly a few missions continuosly without issues.

During flight there is no music at all. Sure this is realistic and all, but after playing T.F.X., I want good music with all my flight sims. They could have made it an option so people can turn off the music for ultra-realism. The original Falcon 4.0 had excellent music at the front menu section, but this has been replaced in FreeFalcon 5.

Although there is an option for ForceFeedback, it does not seem to do anything. Unless it is not compatible with my Wingman Force 3D.

Other Points

There were options for screen resolutions but I had to set it to the max and native res of my monitor. I found that setting it lower caused the multi-function display(MFD) text to be difficult to read. As a result the 2D cockpits all looked fat on my 1280×800 resolution.

The general sounds are standard flight sim sounds to me.There is the sidewinder growl, various radar beeps, lock and missile sirens, gun fire and missile launches and low-key explosions from either your jet or something else being hit. The only sounds that I thought was very well done are the roaring engines and the canopy opening and closing.

Here is a list of non-F-16 flyable planes I found that can be played in a campaign and have 2D and 3D cockpits: A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-4 Phantom II, B-52 Stratofortress, Mig-29 Fulcrum, AV-8B Harrier, F-14 Tomcat, Su-33 Flanker-D, F-22 Raptor, Mirage 2000, JAS-39 Gripen, AJS-37 Viggen and F-105D Thunderchief.

For those that still have the original Falcon 4.0 disc, Benchmark Sims(BMS) has a mod to improve Falcon 4.0. I have not tried it out so I do not know how good it is.

GOG.com has released a Falcon Collection which includes Falcon 4.0 v1.08 as a bonus. I have not tried it out personally, but the GOG team has confirmed that their release does work with BMS.

Biases

Reviewed version FreeFalcon 5.5.5. The original Falcon 4.0 plus the 1.08 patch just refused to work on my PC.

Since FreeFalcon 5 added lots of new stuff, I tried them out as well. As a result, this page contains information that was not featured in the original Falcon 4.0.

I really liked Gunship 2000 including Islands and Ice, Falcon 3.0, Knights of the Sky, T.F.X., Fleet Defender, F-15 Strike Eagle 3 and Jane’s Fighters Anthology.

I also liked LHX Attack Chopper and Harrier Jump Jet.

I played with a mixed bag of realism settings. As I am reading the manuals and learning the accurate avionics and flight model, I played on the easier modes just to get some action happening.

I play with the easiest enemy AI settings, as the game is already difficult enough without smart enemy AI.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon was(and still is) my favourite plane, even before I played Falcon 3.0.

I like air-to-air missions more than air-to-ground missions.

I have not completed even the first 24 hours of one campaign. I have been playing many different campaigns to try out different planes.

I have not tried out the AGMs, GBUs, rockets and mid-air refuelling.

Although it is not realistic to do so, I frequently use external and full screen views as my situational awareness is not the best.

DRM

The original Falcon 4.0 was DRM free and FreeFalcon 5 is the same.

Minimum Requirements

I cannot find the minimum requirements for FreeFalcon 5. And since it has been improved so much from Falcon 4.0, I do not think the original minimum requirements are relevant anymore.

One thing is for sure, joystick required!

Computer Played On

  • Core 2 Duo 2.16GHz
  • 2Gb RAM
  • ATI Radeon X1600 256Mb RAM (laptop version)
  • Logitech G35 headset and/or Realtek HD Audio(no idea what model) with Altec Lansing ACS41 speakers or Logitech ClearChat Premium PC Headset.
  • Win XP Pro
  • Logitech Wingman Force 3D.
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Handy Tips

If you have the original Falcon 4.0 game, you can replace the FreeFalcon 5 menu music files with the original Falcon 4.0 music files.

Dawn of War: The Complete Collection

Warhammer 40,000 brought to the PC in a very nicely packaged real-time strategy(RTS) game. Lots of WAAAGH, lots of fights and lots of races. This package incorporates Dawn Of War and all of its expansions Winter Assault, Dark Crusade and Soulstorm.

Release Date

Dawn of War: September 2004.
Winter Assault: September 2005.
Dark Crusade: October 2006.
Soulstorm: March 2008.

Pros

Very good animations of everything from building construction to gun fights and artillery fire.

Sounds great too. Everything from the gunfire to the screams of dying soldiers.

The melee special kill animations are quite entertaining to watch.

Infantry go flying when artillery shells hit or when they get whacked by a big unit.

Some units are customizable in terms of what weapons to arm them with. Unlike The Moon Project though you do not design your units before summoning them. Instead, you summon a base model of the unit and then buy add-ons for them individually.

Army painter! Put your own badges and banners and paint your own colour schemes.

It has nine different races to play and they are quite different.

Very easy to get into including very good tutorials to get you started. Each race has their own tutorial. Although most of the things are the same, it is worth going through each race’s tutorial to learn the unique characteristics of each race. The tutorials are also slightly different between the different expansions.

Plain Dawn Of War, Winter Assault and Dark Crusade does not need the CD in the drive to play.

The Orks’ dialogue is funny. I wonder if using the Orks in the table top game is just as entertaining.

Mods! Mods! Mods! Get some from Mod DB or FileFront.

Cons

This game requires a lot of micromanagement. If your guys are in a fight and you look away for too long, they can disappear real quick! There are no auto retreat or auto use abilities. I guess I got spoilt by Sins of a Solar Empire.

Soulstorm needs the CD in the drive to play. Quite disappointing since all the other ones do not need the CD.

Other Points

The camera is quite flexible but cannot zoom out far enough.

This is the bloodiest real-time strategy game I have ever played. That can be a plus or a minus depending on whether you like this kind of stuff.

The main campaigns for plain Dawn of War and Winter Assault are static story driven missions. But for Dark Crusade and Soulstorm the campaign is played on a risk style turn-based map similar to that of Rise of Nations. And when your army attacks an enemy’s territory, a standard Dawn of War battle is played. You cannot influence a battle from the campaign map as much as in Rise of Nations though.

The campaign missions for Winter Assault felt a bit unbalanced. I was going through the campaign on easy difficulty and sure enough, it was easy enough on the first three missions, but the final two missions became very difficult. This applied to every race. Each of the race’s final two missions took me several goes before I could complete them.

Biases

I did not know anything about Warhammer 40,000 until playing this game.

I have only completed the vanilla Dawn of War and Winter Assault campaigns and only on the easiest difficulty of normal. I also played skirmish games at various difficulties.

I really liked Dune 2, Command And Conquer, C&C Tiberian Sun, C&C3 Tiberium Wars, Act Of War, Sins of a Solar Empire and Rise of Nations.

I also liked Empire Earth 2, Dark Reign, Warcraft 1 and 2, Supreme Commander and Total Annihilation.

I did not like Homeworld.

I look forward to winning my first multiplayer game.

DRM

Soulstorm needs the disc to be in the drive to play. The others do not.

All the games require an activation key to be entered to play the games.

The Steam version requires Steam (oh der!).

Patches

Dark Crusade 1.11 – Patch for Dawn of War: Dark Crusade. This must be installed before the 1.20 patch.

Dark Crusade 1.11 to 1.20 – Patch for Dawn of War: Dark Crusade.

Soulstorm 1.00 to 1.10 – Patch for Dawn of War: Soulstorm. This must be installed before the 1.20 patch.

Soulstorm 1.10 to 1.20 – Patch for Dawn of War: Soulstorm.

Minimum Requirements (as stated on box)

  • Windows 2000/XP
  • 2.0 GHz Intel Pentium 4, AMD Athlon XP or equivalent processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • DirectX 9.0c(included on disc)
  • 64 MB DirectX 9.0c compatible AGP video card with Hardware Transformation and Lighting
  • DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card, 16 bit
  • 12.5 GB free hard drive space
  • 8x DVD-ROM drive
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse

Computer Played On

  • Core 2 Duo 2.16GHz
  • 2Gb RAM
  • ATI Radeon X1600 256Mb RAM (laptop version)
  • Logitech G35 headset and/or Realtek HD Audio(no idea what model) with Altec Lansing ACS41 speakers or Logitech ClearChat Premium PC Headset.
  • Win XP Pro
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

My Creations

Car brands and Mr. Bean banners and badges for the army painter. Download Dawn of War badges and banners.

Not really a creation but here is a recording of me emulating the commando from Command & Conquer, humans and orcs from WarCraft 2 and the Chaos Marines from Dawn of War.

Medal of Honor Airborne

Airborne! Jump from planes into the battlefields of World War II. Land in strategic positions, kick an unsuspecting enemy and make your way through the mission objectives.

Release Date

September 2007.

Pros

The first-person view and head movement is very nice. Although not as good as Chronicles of Riddick in general, the jumping out of an aeroplane sequence does look fantastic.

Graphics have improved since Pacific Assault and look excellent. Things I noticed most are very good soldier animations, helmets flying off on certain head shots and taking time to focus when looking through the sniper rifle scope.

The sounds and speech are great.

The music is good although I think it was a step down from Pacific Assault and MOHAA.

Unlike the previous Medal of Honor games, Airborne flows in a semi-open/semi-linear fashion. At the beginning of each mission, there are several objectives that can be completed in any order. You can land any where your chute will take you and complete the objectives in any order. Although no where near the size of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., the map is open. After completing the open section, the game then opens up the linear part of the mission which is more like MOHAA and Pacific Assault.

The AI is very well done and varied. There are green opponents that cannot aim and tend to stand out in the open and there are the veterans that are crack shots and try to ambush you. Th AI for your team mates are also well done. Just like Pacific Assault your teams mates do help, but they do not do all the work for you. I would say the AI is as good as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat and SWAT 4.

There were a few people that still play Medal of Honor Airborne online and I managed to play quite a few games. Even with my ping time of 100-120ms I could play properly. I found that the multiplayer game moves faster than good old MOHAA, but it was very good fun.

Cons

In MOHAA, you could drive tanks and fire the AAA. In Pacific Assault you can fly a plane, fire the AAA and there is some on-rails shooting. Airborne is missing all these vehicles and on-rails shooting. Although the whole first-person experience has been enhanced from the previous games, I felt that some variety has been lost with the exclusion of vehicles and on-rails shooting.

Also missing from Airborne is the high quality tutorial in the previous games. Medal of Honor veterans will not miss this, but new fps players would have a harder time learning up Airborne. There is a small tutorial teaching about jumping out of the aeroplane, but there was not much there either.

LAN multiplayer is missing! I did not realise it at first, because I have been playing online. Then I was going to test something and wanted to start a LAN game and realised there is no such option.

Other Points

The health system is not as realistic as Pacific Assault. There are four bars and if you are injured only part of a bar, it will heal back if you give it time. If a complete bar has been depleted, then the good old health pack has to be found to heal it back.

Another departure from realism is the on-the-fly weapon upgrades during the single player campaign. As you gain experience using a weapon, you get awarded weapon upgrades on the spot. These upgrades include stuff like more ammo, better accuracy and adjustable scopes, and they stay with you for the rest of your single player time. If you replay a completed mission, these upgrades will make your replay easier.

Although not as realistic as Pacific Assault, Airborne is still very difficult on the expert difficulty setting and the game is still good fun to play.

In the game you are a character with a name, but the narrative is nothing like Pacific Assault. Instead it returns to the MOHAA formula of, here’s the mission, go get them.

There are four training videos which provide tips on how to play the game. They are no substitute for a good tutorial, but it is better than nothing.

There are some bonus videos that need to be unlocked to be viewed. They are not as good as the videos in Pacific Assault, but it is better than nothing (again).

Biases

Reviewed version 1.3 of the game.

I really liked MOHAA and Medal of Honor Pacific Assault.

I also really liked The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series and SWAT 4.

I have completed the single player campaign on expert difficulty and played some online multiplayer games.

DRM

Uses SecuROM

A serial code must be entered when installing the game.

The Disc must be in the drive to play the game.

Patches

moha_Update1_2 – Updates the game from 1.0 to 1.2.

medal_of_honor_airborne_update_1.3 – Updates the game from 1.2 to 1.3. You must first have Patch 1.2 installed.

Minimum Requirements (as stated in the readme)

  • OS: Windows XP (SP2), Windows Vista (32-bit; 64-bit versions of Windows Vista are not supported)
  • CPU (Single Core): Intel P4 2.8 GHz or AMD Athlon 2800+ for Windows XP / Intel P4 3.0 GHz or AMD Athlon 3800+ for Windows Vista
  • RAM: 1 GB for Windows XP / 1 GB for Windows Vista
  • Disk Drive: 8X or faster DVD-ROM drive
  • Hard Drive: 9 GB or more of free space
  • Note: 64 bit versions of Windows are not supported
  • Video: DirectX 9.0c, NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT, ATI Radeon X1300 Pro, or better with Shader 3.0 support for Windows XP or Vista (Note: NVIDIA 6800XT, 6800LE, 7100GS, 7200GS, 7200LE, 7300GS, 7300GT cards not supported). NOTE: NVIDIA SLI and ATI Crossfire modes are not supported in Medal of Honor Airborne.
  • Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card (Note: For Creative Sound Blaster Audigy cards running under Windows Vista you should expect lower performance)
  • Multiplayer: 2 to 12 players, Internet connection required (Cable, DSL, or faster connection)

Computer Played On

  • Windows 7 64 bit.
  • Intel Core i5 2.3GHz
  • 4GB RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1GB RAM
  • Conexant SmartAudio with egg speakers or earphones.
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.

Handy Tips

Medal of Honor Airborne had some issues with my PhysX driver. After reading this Windows forum thread and the MOHAirborne Steam forum thread, I did the following to get it working.

    • I had to uninstall PhysX before trying to install MOHAirborne. The game plainly refuses to install if PhysX is found.
    • I had to use regedit to manually remove all PhysX entries from the registry. This is a risky step, but it had to be done to get MOHAirborne working.
    • Then I installed Medal of Honor Airborne. The game refused to start even though AGEIA PhysX was installed when the game was installed.
    • So, I uninstalled AGEIA PhysX.
    • I downloaded the NVIDIA PhysX Legacy System Software and installed it.
    • Medal of Honor Airborne would now start and work normally. I have not checked whether uninstalling the PhysX driver has impacted my other games, but for now I will stick to playing MOHAirborne.

To skip the EA Logo intro, go to the <MOHAirborneInstallFolder>\UnrealEngine3\MOHAGame\CookedMovies folder and rename or delete the file named MOHA_Shell_EAID.vp6. Found this out from PCGamingWiki.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

Play your part in yet another galactic war in the Star Wars Universe. Star Wars: The Old Republic(SWTOR) is a story rich Star Wars massively multiplayer online role-playing game(MMORPG). It’s all about you and yet you can call on buddies to help you fight the dark/light side.

Release Date

December 2011.

Pros

It is Star Wars.

There is plenty of variety. First of, there are two sides, four classes per side with room to further subclass at higher levels and each subclass has lots of skills to upgrade. There are plenty of quests, enemies, NPCs and the staple of any good RPG, loot.

It is a very large and open role-playing game.

Each class has its own storyline which begins with a long high quality introduction cutscene. Then the story is progressed with quests and conversations with NPCs. From the little bit I have played, I have to say the story is Star Wars excellent.

The quests system is very well done. A part from the main storyline quests, there are tons of side quests and also super difficult heroic quests that pretty much require a group to work together to complete. The storyline quests can also be completed in a group, but I do not know who’s story it progresses or whether it gives the completion status to all involved.

My Logitech G35 detected surround sound from SWTOR, but it sounded very much stereo. I did not hear any surround effects at all. Having said that, all the sounds, speech and music do sound Star Wars good.

When your character reaches level 10, you can enter player versus player(PvP) warzones. This section does not seem to be related to the main game other than you can bring your character in to fight. The warzone plays similar to first-person shooters in that you are on a map and have objectives to complete while whacking as many of the opposition as possible. What is different is that it plays very much like the main RPG part of the game. No need to aim, just click on your target and choose the appropriate action you want your character to take.

The game handles fine with my ping of around 300ms. The long ping does make the game more difficult during the warzone fights, but it is still easier than playing an FPS with 300ms ping.

SWTOR’s game engine is quite clever in that the control mechanics makes it play like an RPG, but the flow and good animations makes it look like an action game. A Star Wars action game at that!

The graphics look excellent. Everything is well detailed and well animated. The battles look very much like Star Wars battles. Maybe, it’s just me, but I do not think SWTOR graphics on this newer PC are as good as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl on my older PC. SWTOR looks better than every other game I played to date, just not S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

You can get companions that are kind of a cross between the pet in Torchlight and people that join you in Baldur’s Gate. Like the Torchlight pet, you can send your companion to sell all useless loot and you can also equip your companion with new stuff. Like Baldur’s Gate people, they will converse with you now and then, but I am not sure if it has any bearing on the main story. Your companion can also be sent on missions where they get stuff for you. I actually do not know what to do with all the stuff they bring back from missions. Probably have to play deeper into the game to find out.

Cons

The size of the download is 27GB. This download must be done with their custom game client launcher. The usual download speed I get from the web is around 700KB/s, but with their custom client launcher, half the time it would only download at 100KB/s. So it was a very long wait before I could start the game.

There is a lot of walking to be done. This is normal for such a big open world, but it gets quite boring after you have walked the same path many times. There are quick travel points and taxis to take you between places but not enough in my opinion. After playing this, I am so grateful for Oblivion’s many quick travel points, which is pretty much every where.

The music is Star Wars-ish and is there, but does not sound so impacting. They play depending on what events are happening but it just does not give the big Star Wars feel like say Empire at War.

Other Points

The online account security is quite heavy. Not only is there a password, but sometimes you must answer security questions on login as well. There is also some sort of optional physical security key thingy. I am not sure if this is the norm for MMORPGs since this is the first one I have tried.

The game’s interface needs a bit of learning, but once you know what there is and what can be done, it is actually quite easy to use. The complexity is due to the amount things that you can do in the game.

The difficulty of the quests and for getting from place to place is done not just by the level of the enemies but also by them respawning pretty quickly. So you cannot just take your time to pick them off as the old ones will come back.

I usually never mention the cost of a game because some places are cheaper than others. I will say this about SWTOR, you must buy the game then you must pay a subscription fee to keep playing past 30 days. I guess this is the same with most paid MMORPGs.

There are many choices to be made in the game. I see indicators that I am leaning towards the dark/light side. Other than changing a little bit of the story and quests, I have not witnessed any ground-breaking events. Or maybe it is because I have not played the same character and pick different choices.

There is now a free-to-play option with limitations. Having not paid to play the game, I do not know how much these limitations affect the game playing. The website does say the full class story content is available though.

Biases

Reviewed friend’s 7-day free trial version.

I briefly tried out the Smuggler class and the Jedi Knight class but focused mainly on the Imperial Agent class.

I missed out on trying the space battles and visting areas where you can attack and be attacked by random players.

I have played many RPGs before, but this is the first MMORPG I have tried.

I really liked Torchlight, Oblivion and Baldur’s Gate 1, 2 plus expansions.

I also liked Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, Lands of Lore 3, Might and Magic 3, 4 and 5.

I did not like Styrateg.

DRM

Being an MMORPG, I am guessing online validation and code entries are the very minimum for DRM checks.

Minimum Requirements (as stated on Buy Star Wars: The Old Republic)

  • Processor: AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 4000+ or better or Intel Core 2 Duo Processor 2.0GHz or better
  • Operating System: Windows XP/Vista/7
  • RAM:
    • Windows XP: 1.5GB
    • Windows Vista and Windows 7: 2GB
    • PCs using a built-in graphical chipset are receommended to have 2GB RAM
  • Graphics Card:
    • ATI X1800 or better*
    • nVidia 7800 or better*
    • Intel 4100 Integrated Graphics or better*
    • *Minimum of 256MB of on-board RAM and Shader 3.0 or better support
  • DVD-ROM: 8x or better

Computer Played On

  • Windows 7 64 bit.
  • Intel Core i5 2.3GHz
  • 4Gb RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M 1Gb RAM
  • Conexant SmartAudio with egg speakers or earphones. Or Logitech G35.
  • Graphics settings are set to whatever I feel comfortable with playing on this PC. They are usually not set to the highest settings. All screenshots are taken with my settings.