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All reviews - Movies (3) - Games (4)

Splinter Cell Essentials review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 23 August 2012 02:40 (A review of Splinter Cell Essentials)

It's no easy task squeezing a complex game into a portable package. Developers struggle against a bunch of stuff, not the least of which is strict hardware limitations. So when it comes to a game as sophisticated as Splinter Cell, things become even more complicated. These complications ultimately keep Splinter Cell Essentials from achieving greatness. And yes, it could have been great. Even with handheld engineering conundrums, the recent crop of PSP offerings prove that developers can make astounding products for the PSP given sufficient time and resources.

That's just not the case with Essentials. It feels rushed, even slightly broken during certain parts. Beyond this, the game plays as though it doesn't belong on the PSP. It yearns for a second analog stick and an extra pair of buttons, for instance. Not only that, it suffers quite a bit in the performance department - you'll rarely see the game running smoothly. Making matters worse is that Essentials doesn't look all that spectacular. This from a series that always pushes the boundaries of current technology.

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NCAA Football 10 review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 23 August 2012 02:37 (A review of NCAA Football 10)

As we enter into the month of August the college football season is just around the corner. As they do every year, EA Sports has inundated just about every system – less the Wii – with a new version of NCAA Football. Such is the case on the PSP where handheld fanatics will find the new Road to Glory mode, the super-sim ability that console fans have enjoyed for years, and a new progression system designed specifically to move your fledging star through the ranks.

But does all of that amount to a game worth its sticker price or is the gameplay still stuck in the rut set by last year's effort? Read on for the answer.

It's no surprise that TeamBuilder and Season Showdown didn't make it into this version of NCAA Football 10. The infrastructure required to support those features simply doesn't make sense on the PSP. What you will find is a slightly trimmed down version of Road to Glory, the mode where you craft an incoming freshman, run through a series of specialized drills, and then build him up into the campus legend that we all wish we were in our college days.

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Madden NFL 07 review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 23 August 2012 02:35 (A review of Madden NFL 07)

After a false start on the PSP that forced a full recall, Madden 06 was a contender. Had it not been for the franchise-killing glitch that caused the PSP to lock up post-game, the handheld version of EA Sports sales juggernaut was fantastic. Madden 07 is the game 06 wanted to be, and it's on par with any version of the game currently available.

It's easy enough to pass this off as Madden 07 light. Features are missing, including the Superstar mode. It's replaced by an odd "End to End" in which players turn the PSP vertical and dodge incoming tacklers on their way to the endzone. It's definitely enjoyable and a unique way to use otherwise basic hardware. Mini-games included here are actually higher in number with eight widely varied modes to choose from. There are also two incredible NFL Channel video features, one of Madden and another on Madden's reign during the Raiders run with him on the sidelines.

Familiar features, including the ability to play your PS2 franchise on your PSP when you're on the go, don't jump out immediately. These are expected inclusions, in addition to easy-to-jump-into online play on EA's lag-free servers. The franchise mode offers the basics without becoming too complex. The PSP does struggle when simulating non-user games, taking an exuberant amount of time to complete the task.

Where this edition excels is the game play. The controls, while slightly crammed into the PSP's lacking button configuration, include the wide array of offensive and defensive maneuvers. The Hit Stick makes an appearance, activated in conjunction with the triangle button. This can make defending difficult since the jump button is also set to triangle, leading to an unintentional hit as the ball draws near. Be prepared for a few cheap pass interference calls until you can adjust.

Jukes are handled in classic form, while the ability to pull off power moves specific to your running back are handled like the hit stick. This makes it impossible to use the speed burst with the default controls, and you'll need to change the turbo button to a trigger.

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Tom and Huck (1995) review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 23 August 2012 02:32 (A review of Tom and Huck (1995))

While Mark Twain's original book (1876) is a romp of a ride, rich with unforgettable characters, this Disney adaptation of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" keeps the outline but loses some of the heart of the original. Both Thomas and Renfro do a good job of portraying boys who are learning to make grown-up decisions while embarking on a dangerous adventure.

While everything works out in the end, there are plenty of references to serious issues and several scenes full of peril. This movie earns its PG rating with scary fights, knife deaths (not explicit but very menacing), and kids endangered. Tom acts with conscience and stands up to his friend, Huck, as well as to his fear of Injun Joe, in a brave and forthright manner

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Soul Food review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 23 August 2012 02:30 (A review of Soul Food)

"Soul Food" is a warm, funny, touching African American family drama, the kind of bittersweet melodrama that critics tend to relegate as crowd-pleasing corn. We could use more when it's this well done.
Engagingly drawn, the delectable ensemble piece that opens today mixes, matches and mismatches the affections, rivalries, hopes and dashed dreams of a half-dozen wonderful characters.
That is a large table-setting of people, but relatively unknown writer-director George Tillman Jr. ("Scenes for the Soul"), drawing from his own experiences, keeps every character within reach. The result is a lovely wash of humanity, served with affection. Each character grows and changes in the course of a Chicago-set story anchored by traditional Sunday family dinners concocted by matriarch Mother Joe, poignantly played by Irma P. Hall. Mother Joe's been the force behind the weekly feasts of chicken, chitlins, peas and piles of other goodies for 40 years. When Mother Joe gets sick, the family is thrown into a period of emotional loose ends. Suddenly the kin are at each other's throats over who will carry the torch and what might be done with the real estate if Mother Joe checks out.
Mother Joe's daughters are the main focus.

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God of War: Ghost of Sparta review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 23 August 2012 02:24 (A review of God of War: Ghost of Sparta)

God of War: Ghost of Sparta is perhaps the most graphically impressive game yet to be released for Sony’s handheld console. Its characters are highly detailed and capable of expressing emotion through subtle facial animations, and the environments and boss battles have an epic scope similar to that of their console-based cousins.

The action, meanwhile, is tight and entertaining. Kratos’ over-the-top blade attacks and imaginative kill moves are perhaps becoming a little well-worn, but they remain highly satisfying. Plus, the developers have added a few elements, including new weapons in the form of the Arms of Sparta and the ability to add flames to Kratos’ blades, a necessary tactic to breach certain enemies’ armor and some barriers. It’s one of the best handheld games of the year for adults.

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Shark Tale review

Posted : 5 years, 11 months ago on 23 August 2012 02:20 (A review of Shark Tale)

This hip-hop/mob action comedy set undersea is fast, fresh, fun, and finny ... er, funny. Okay, you watch the movie and see if you don't come out making silly jokes like that. This isn't a classic like Finding Nemo or Shrek, but it throws so much at you so fast you will be too busy enjoying yourself to notice.

The plot is nothing special, but the visuals are, with eye-popping color and wonderfully expressive fish faces, hilariously funny and surprisingly touching. The voice talent is top-notch and the animators have managed to bring the essence of the actors to the characters. Don Lido has De Niro's birthmark on his cheek and Oscar has Smith's eyes and mouth. There are dozens of gags and pop-cultural references and some bright musical numbers that keep things moving briskly, with a remake of the Rose Royce "Car Wash" song by Missy Elliot and Christina Aguilera a highlight.

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