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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
 
Genre: Action
Publisher and Developer: Ubisoft
Difficulty/Learning Curve: Medium/1hr
Multiplayer Support: n/a
Estimated Gameplay Time: 8hrs (+)
Sound Providers Supported: EAX, EAX 2, EAX HD and Audio Virtualization (for headphones/2/2.1 speaker setup)
Recommended Controller: Keyb/Mouse
Stability: Excellent
System Requirements: PIII 800mhz (or equivalent), 256mb RAM, DX8 compliant (DX9b compatible) videocard (GF3 or higher excluding GF4 MX series), 1.4gb HD space

Rating:                             Pros:
                                                                                            
Gameplay: 10                                                       -Excellent Gameplay
Graphics: 9                                                           -Well optimized graphics engine 
Sound: 8                                                                -Good Storyline
Storyline: 9
Coding: 9                                                               Cons:
Lifespan: 7
Animation: 9                                                          -Short lifespan
Overall: 9                                           -DX8 compliant videocard requirement


the SoT dagger makes the monsters go kapoof!

Unlike the console market, the PC gaming world doesn't have too many high quality action adventure games on offer. Last years entry of multiple adventure games from Ubisoft gave PC adventure gaming fans a huge sigh of relief, not only b'coz they were only one of the few additions on the said genre, but b'coz they are also the only few adventure games that are worth playing. Prince of Persia the Sands of Time is currently the best sequel to the PoP series. This game doesn't have too many new things to offer, but the execution of the game elements made was more than enough reason for it to be my recommended action/adventure game.
 
The main character on this title is probably the most acrobatic character you have seen on any adventure games. He can swing/climb/jump off on poles/ropes, balance on beams, run on walls, jump off on enemies and attack them from behind, attack 2 (or more) enemies at a time etc. All those moves may sound too daunting, especially when you're trying to link up two (or more) moves but thanks to its well thought of controls, those moves can be mastered in less than an hour of game play. The story of the game opens up pretty much the same as other adventure games, something goes wrong, and you have to fix it yourself. The only thing different here is how the story is opened up, it comes in full circle once you finish the game which will answer all your questions on "why" and "how" at the beginning of the game (ala Max Payne) and the story is unfolded both on in-game and the cut-scenes. You will also be accompanied on the later stages of the game by a princess that helps you to solve puzzles, kill the monsters (not really that helpful though), and open up doors and/or switch levers w/c the prince is not able to reach. The cut-scenes are kept short with a mix of humor w/c is pretty good since it doesn't make the player seat and watch multiple lengthy cut-scenes like some other games (eg. Mafia).
 
The game wasn't given the title "the sands of time" for no reason. That dagger is your ticket to get you out of things that went wrong or caused your character to die. The dagger has limited sands though, but it can be replenished by killing monsters or by dipping it on some parts of the map where a hole with sands comes out of it (forgot what it is called ahaha!). The dagger will rewind the game a couple of seconds when you execute it, enough time to get you out of trouble (well most of the time). That may sound cool to those who have a DX8 compliant videocard, but may drive DX7 card owners mad. Though DX7 videocard owners can use softwares that emulates DX8 (eg. 3D Analyzer), the performance and graphical errors/problems will heavily drag down the fun out of this game. 
 
The sound quality of the game along with its music is also excellent. The music changes to a more up beat tune when you're engaged in a fight, the down-side is when the music reverts to a calmer tone, it also automatically signals the player that the game will no longer spawn another batch of monsters. The voice volume is also most of the time too low to hear and you might miss out some of the info's/words that they're saying.
 
All in all this game is excellent. Gameplay, graphics, and sound along with all the other aspects of the game where well thought of. I could have given this game a better overall rating if the game doesn't require a DX8 compliant card and those minor sound/music issues.

 
 
 
Homeworld 2
 
Genre: Real-time Strategy
Publisher: Sierra 
Developer: Relic
Difficulty/Learning Curve: Hard/1hr
Multiplayer Support: Internet / LAN
Estimated Gameplay Time: 10hrs (+/-)
Sound Providers Supported: EAX
Recommended Controller: Keyb/Mouse
Stability: Excellent
System Requirements: PIII 833mhz (or equivalent), 256mb RAM, GeForce / Radeon 7500 (or better) OpenGL, DX9 compatible; T&L capable videocard, 1.2gb HD space

Rating:                             Pros:
                                                                                            
Gameplay: 9                                                         -Excellent Gameplay and Graphics
Graphics: 10                                                        -Pretty long lifespan 
Sound: 9                                                                -Good Storyline
Storyline: 8
Coding: 9                                                               Cons:
Lifespan: 9
Animation: n/a                                                      -Auto adjusting texture quality
Overall: 8.9                                        -Unbalanced difficulty in campaign mode


it is not the size, but what you can do with errr ... them

Just like the FPS genre, the PC gaming arena isn't short with strategy game offerings. It's actually crowded with both outstanding and sad titles. For those titles that stand-out, there are those that are left un-played by most people who thought that the only good RTS titles are Warcraft 3, CnC Generals, Rise of Nations etc. Homeworld is probably one of the best example of those kind of games. This game has combined good graphics, sound, storyline, and innovative gameplay in a single RTS game, yet the main problem why it's not as popular as the other titles out there is its high difficulty/learning curve and style of play.
 
Homeworld 2 is the sequel to Homeworld and Homeworld Cataclysm. In this game, you will be defending your homeworld and avoid its destruction. Nothin' new right? But the makers of this game knows how to add in different twists in the story to make it more interesting as you progress in the game, they are introduced/opened-up to you both in-game and via its black-n-white FMV's (don't worry, the BnW movies were made for artistic purposes and not lack of talent or to conserve disk space lol). The best aspect of this game as with most of my reviews here is its gameplay, this (correct me if I'm wrong) is the only full 3D environment strategy game available in the market to date (x, y, and z-axis). Sounds good, but that what makes the learning curve a lot higher than other games, and it will either tick a gamer off or make them stick on playing the game. The inclusion of z-axis in this game is a "love it or hate it" feature. Since the first time I played this game, I always thought it was great. It adds difficulty on the game, more strategic, planned, and surprise attacks can be done b'coz of the z-axis. That isn't the main reason the game is tough though, some of the early missions are so tough that u'll probably think you will not be able to finish the entire game. Only to find out that the mission/s after it is a lot easier (strange eh?), that is if the game lives long enough on your hard drive due to frustration.
 
This game probably have at least twice the number of units available here when compared to other RTS games. W/c again will either turn-off some gamers or make them appreciate the fact that more units means more varying tactics and options for attacks (well most of the time). There are only 2 sides on this game, each have their own strengths and weaknesses. You can also customize the color of your team to your liking. Units range from small fighter class to extra huge (and slow) capital ships w/c can be set in different behaviour and formations. Mixing up ships, compensating the weakness of "this" for the strength of "that" is key in winning and/or finishing missions in this game. Using a group filled with nothing but the most powerful (and slow) units available for the game will usually end the mission with you being defeated. Controlling your units is almost as easy as most other RTS titles, you can group them and call them up with a few keystrokes. Ordering them to move on the 3D map takes quite a while to get used to, a couple of minutes of experimenting and practicing is essential if you don't want your units to get lost in this games huge map.
 
The game is also excellent when it comes to its graphics. The lighting effects, shadows, explosion effects, and unit details are all wonderful to look at. The only problem with the game is that the engine automatically reduces the unit details when you move the camera away from them. Its probably their way of keeping the frame rate up, but they should have at least gave us an option to toggle it on/off. The background music is nice, you can't expect to hear rock or hip-hop songs here though since it obviously doesn't fit the mood of the game. What you'll have is slow paced songs (can't figure out its genre), sounds bad when you're reading it, but actually is good once you're hearing it while playing the game. The sound effects is excellent, the number of things that you hear changes depending on how close you are to a ship, you may hear nothing from a far distance, but when you zoom in you'll start to hear the ships engines, zoom in closer and you'll be able to hear its weapon systems and moving parts working/moving.
 
If Homeworld 2 have eased up a bit on the fixed high difficulty setting of the game, coupled with its excellent graphics, sound, and good storyline, then maybe it would have appealed to a wider range of audience. But some people likes the game the way it is, difficult and challenging with a wide array/variety of units, that is why folks like me keeps on buying and recommending this game everytime a new version gets released.