Geek central

Things that make you go “woohoo, I want it”. And no, that’s not a euphemism. It’s all about toys, gadgets, games and software

Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

GAME REVIEW: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune
For PlayStation 3. RRP: $119.95. Rating: R16
 

If you’re getting a PlayStation 3 for Christmas, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, would be a great game to kick off your PS3 collection. 

Game studio Naughty Dog — the company behind huge hits such as Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter — has produced another winner in this highly anticipated fast-paced action game. 

The story goes like this: Modern-day fortune-hunter Nathan Drake embarks on a search for the fabled treasure of El Dorado after a clue is found in the coffin of Sir Francis Drake. 

That search leads to a forgotten Pacific Ocean island, where Nathan ends up stranded. 

His day goes from bad to worse: Outnumbered by the mercenaries hunting him, Nathan and his companions have to fight to survive as they unravel the island’s terrible secrets. 

Right, that’s the plot. Now for the game. 

It’s a blast — the graphics are sharp, the gameplay is awesome and the sound amazing. You’ll feel like you really are there in the middle of all the action as you battle your way around the island. 

This is one of those games that will keep you entertained for a long time, with its engaging story and challenging situations.

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Halo 3 out in NZ first, after much anticipation

halo3_052Kiwi gamers were the first in the world to get their hands on the latest chapter in the most popular Xbox game.

The hugely anticipated Halo 3 was finally launched at 12.01 yesterday morning.

Harvey Norman Invercargill computer proprietor Rachel Bryce said at least 45 people turned up at midnight for the release, and the game sold ” very, very quickly”.

“We had a few people come back this morning, to pick up their orders, who looked like they’d been playing all night.”

One customer managed to complete the game in seven hours without a break, Mrs Bryce said.

Harvey Norman sales specialist Matt Murray said there was a lot of positive comment from customers about the quality of the graphics, which many said were a big improvement on previous versions.

Customers also liked that up to four players could now play at the game at the same time, which allowed people to team up with other players, Mr Murray said.

Tauranga gamers Nicole Sinclair and Ryan Marsden, both 19, were the first people in the world to receive a copy of it at the worldwide premiere launch event held in Auckland, where celebrity fans including Dave Fane, Dai Henwood, PNC, Frontline, Savage and Ben Boyce (Pulp Sport’s Bill & Ben) got hands-on with the game.

Stores across the country also opened their doors at midnight to meet demand from gamers.

The Auckland launch featured a 1-tonne block of ice with 50 discs frozen inside it.

From 6am yesterday, members of the public got to play a game dubbed the Halo 3 Ice Block Buster to try to free the discs as the ice melted, aided by water pistols.

Prizes included Samsung LCD TVs, Xbox 360 games consoles and Halo 3 games.

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Xbox xtras

 Instant messaging is coming to Xbox 360. From the week beginning May 7, Xbox 360 owners can connect with friends and family, connecting and chatting directly from their televisions using Windows Live Messenger, a network of more than 260 million active accounts.

The Xbox 360 Autumn Update will let Xbox 360 owners worldwide access Windows Live Messenger features, broadening the communication options on the Xbox LIVE social network. The full service is accessible for both Gold and Silver members, meaning all New Zealand Xbox LIVE gamers will be able to enjoy the full benefits of video, voice and text chat with their Messenger contacts.

Microsoft also plans to launch a QWERTY text-input device, an accessory that will connect directly into the Xbox 360 controller to support text and instant messaging. Xbox 360 Windows Live Messenger-users will also be able to text chat using the virtual keyboard accessible on Xbox 360, or by connecting a USB keyboard to the console.

Apart from instant messaging, the Autumn Update includes hundreds of new features and enhancements including updates to Xbox LIVE Arcade that let owners quickly see which Xbox LIVE Arcade games their friends are playing and faster access to the entire collection of free, trial-version Xbox LIVE Arcade games.

The Autumn Update is free and is available from May 7 through Xbox LIVE or on www.xbox.com.

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Xbox 360 Elite adds versatility

Xbox fans with a few spare dollars burning a hole in their pocket have a new toy to consider.

Microsoft yesterday unveiled the much anticipated Xbox 360 Elite console. It features a sleek black finish and joins the 360 and Core consoles in the Xbox lineup.

It will include a 120GB hard drive, a high-definition multimedia interface port, a high-definition cable, and a premium black finish for the console, wireless controller and Xbox LIVE headset.

It has enough space for a library of Xbox LIVE Arcade games and 1000 songs, as well as the downloadable high-definition TV shows and movies that will be available soon on Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

The new 120GB hard drive also will be sold as a stand-alone accessory to give current Xbox 360 console owners more flexibility.

Other Elite accessories, such as the black wireless controller, will also be available separately.

The console will be available in New Zealand in limited supply from winter, and Microsoft is advising potential buyers to pre-order.

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Birthday wishes

Happy birthday to the antipodean Xbox 360 — 1 year old tomorrow.

To mark the occasion, the Aussies are auctioning off a series of celebrity consoles in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish foundation so if you fancy making a bid for a customised console from the likes of Peter Jackson or Russell Crowe, head to http://www.xbox.com.au/ from tomorrow.

It’s a special day for PlayStation fans tomorrow, too. Yes, PlayStation 3 is ready to roll. Gamers: warm up your thumbs, it’s time to play.

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Good gear

Have you downloaded the new Gears Of War content?  

The Discovery Channel has sponsored the freebie map packs, which were available via Xbox Live Marketplace from Thursday last week.

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Chat, sheep and Ms Dewey

sheepDo you want to chat as you surf, anywhere online? Simply add “gabbly.com” to the start of any URL. Read all about it at the Gabbly website.

Test your reflexes by tranqillising sheep. You have to wonder how they come up with these.

If you’re looking for a change of search engine, give the chatty Ms Dewey a try. She’s got a bit of attitude and is likely to tap on your screen if you spend too much time deciding what you want to ask her about but she’s certainly interesting and is sure to appeal to the blokes.

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Xbox 360 soon to deliver TV shows, movies to gamers

The Xbox 360 is to become the first gaming console to deliver TV shows and movies to gamers via Xbox Live.

In news announced in the United States on Tuesday night (NZ time), Microsoft said it had agreements with CBS, MTV Networks, Paramount Pictures, Turner Broadcasting System, Ultimate Fighting Championship and Warner Bros to provide an initial lineup of more than 1000 hours of hit television shows and movies to Xbox 360 consoles in the US by the end of the year.

Timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the launch of Xbox 360 in the US, the plan will make it the first gaming console to provide HD TV shows and movies directly to gamers in their own living rooms.

Consumers will also be able to download-to-own TV shows including CSI and Numb3rs, remastered classic Star Trek episodes and Nascar will deliver download-to-own condensed versions of select Nascar Nextel Cup Series races from Race Rewind.

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Trade Me v Netco in widget war

Things aren’t as happy as they could be in Trade Me Land. 

Grumblings on the message board about the new fees aren’t surprising. In fact, the new fees aren’t surprising either — Fairfax stumped up a lot of cash to buy the auction icon and like any company, will be looking to pull as much of a profit as possible from its new baby. 

Besides, I still think it got the bargain of the century for what is undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s most instantly recognisable brands. 

Other changes introduced recently include options to make life easier for sellers to relist items and for both buyers and sellers to track the progress of their trades. 

However, it seems Trade Me isn’t too happy with Wellington firm Netco’s BidWatch widget, a little gadget that Trade Me users can use to keep up-to-date with auctions without actually having to visit the site. 

BidWatch is a free download but Netco is hoping to make some money from the program from the advertisements that will be displayed on it. 

However, Trade Me reckons BidWatch breaches its rules and could be a strain on the site’s servers. In the site announcements section of the message board, Trade Me says it has temporarily removed its “People Online” counter after the figures skyrocketed on Monday because of the widget. It also advises members that the use of any third party tools could result in their membership being suspended. 

Update: Netco has removed BidWatch. Click here for the timeline of this wee drama.

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Auction action

There’s another new auction site looking to attract Kiwi buyers and sellers.

Zillion already has a good range of auctions running and anyone who uses Trade Me will recognise many of the names.

Competition is a good thing, especially for the consumers, so good luck to the new site.

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MEET YOUR BLOGGER

Jillian "George" Allison-Aitken

I live in the deep south of New Zealand, where smelly dairy cows are taking over from sheep in the livestock stakes. My hometown is the small but perfectly formed city of Invercargill, which is also the hometown of the original boy racer, Burt Munro. Find out more about me here.

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