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    Now mods aren't necessarily bad things, but I believe that the scene needs to change in a big way. One particular issue is the use of the Half-Life engine. I see so many mods just announced using an engine first built in , before there were 3D cards. The Half-Life engine is based on the Quake 1 engine, people, so get. Online slot machines free play demo games with no deposit and real money betting slots from best Internet casinosPlay Real Money Slots Online. here at Vegas Slots Online, we provide a full suite of free online pokies. South Africa Slots – Find a casino that accepts the Read South African casino slot guide to all the relevant.

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Initially, languages to be localised will be German, Japanese, French and Korean. The campaign aims to educate Australian parents and guardians in choosing the right product for their children. Titled "Make the Right Choice", the campaign begins this month. The campaign will feature in retail and rental outlets to target an apparent lack of regulation that allows children to view adult material.

The campaign will include information packs for staff and clear publicity information for parents, in an effort to illuminate community understanding of today's entertainment products. The video trailer outlining the classification ratings will run on the header of every rental video across the country. We are especially aware of our responsibility to our younger audience. The OFLC is the independent government body that operates the national classification scheme.

Force powers will feature prominently in the game with varied effects and environmental interaction. Battlegrounds is an RTS game featuring six races see screenshots on page 18 , pivotal battles from the feature films and units per side. Knights of the Old Republic is a traditional RPG being developed by leaders in the genre, Bioware, and will boast an in-depth story, six playable classes, three races, over skills and 50 feats.

Another title that caused a big stir was Star Wars: Galaxies, a massively multiplayer online RPG read more in our E3 feature from p Following the announcement some time ago that Obi Wan would only appear on Xbox and not on PC, much of the Star Wars action has taken place on consoles.

E3 sees a return to a PC commitment by LucasArts, a company with an enviable history in games annals.

While release of Battlegrounds is expected at Christmas , we won't see Galaxies, Knights of the Old Republic or jedi Outcast until next year at the earliest.

The game will look to replicate the fast-paced, acrobatic combat and flight sequences. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon will debut on PC and current or next generation consoles on the market. Set for release second quarter of The best part of GW is the sheer number of modes available.

We will not endeavour to describe that one. Gangsta Wars is great, fun and something different. Instead of controlling flags, you control weapons. Once you capture a weapon point, you and your team can then use that weapon. It adds an interesting twist if you're using the rocket launcher and in another part of the map the rocket launcher is taken over by the other team - suddenly you can't use it any more.

Weapons are unchanged except for when you have all the weapon points. The team that does gets to select a cool powerup, such as the wonderful akimbo mode.

In fact it's almost identical in most aspects. There are some differences, but as far as actual gameplay goes it's all been done before. The classes are almost identical except fora few different names. This is not a bad thing however, and if you're looking fora TF experience with Unreal this is it. It was a good mod but not worthy of the highest praise.

Now after a few more months of development it looks much more like what it should have. Science and Industry is Capture the Flag, but with scientists.

You start with the bogstandard weapons and scientists research new things for you. You can vote mid-game as to what the scientists should build next. Of course the more scientists you have, the faster you research, so if you can capture one of the enemy's, then you'll get better weapons before they do.

Older versions of Science and Industry just used the original Half-Life weapons, but the latest version includes a briefcase instead of the crowbar which can be upgraded to a suicide bomb , rocket pistols, tommy guns and the ever funky Gl Destabilizer, which is your opponent has just had lunch. Basically, ked at Science and Industry a while ago and thought ft was ok, now is the time for a second look.

So if you miss one because you had to attend your cat's funeral, there's one just around the corner. All cabling and networking is supplied - all you need is your PC and some headphones. As far as games go, anything is worth a shot, so if you want to play network Tetris, feel free to rope some more people in.

A good turnout means the possibility free pizza, not to mention game giveaways and extra cool stuff. If you've been playing Tribes for the last two years in anticipation of overthrowing the best in the business, this LAN is definitely for you.

Those interested in converting all the players to Counter-Strike are in the wrong place. For submissions, email spoonman next.

Silver Style [gorasul Publisher: Voted one of Australia's Top 5 most wanted games. Unique Multi-player game for up to 6 players, featuring Random Dungeons. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. It revolves around Tony Soprano, his disfunctional nuclear family, his malevolent extended family, and of course his other Family, the Mafia.

The twist is, Tony's seeing a shrink, a risky move for a mob boss. This boxed set contains 13 44 minute episodes, plus five docos and a video clip: When viewed with the Japanese soundtrack it feels like a completely different program. If you haven't seen it, the show's about four attractive young women who fight slavering robot monsters with their form-fitting powered armour and bad attitudes. Heavily influenced by Blade Runner. When the main character and two hot babes share a tiny flat, this means only one thing: We also see some unusual giant robot combat techniques employed, such as synchronised dance moves, scuba diving in molten lava, and the use of medieval cutting weapons.

Only three episodes, but still an essential purchase. Kenshin has fled the authorities in 19th Japan, and holes up in the hills with an attractive young woman.

He's got things pretty sweet, but little does he know that someone he trusts implicitly has got it in for him. Will he realise before it's too late, or will his angst finally consume him? Haunting direction, classy design, stunning animation, flawless transfer.

The premise is simple; two men who both badly want someone dead meet by accident on a train. One of them suggests they swap the murders to confuse the cops. The other thinks it's a joke, until his wife turns up dead Boiler Room presents the viewer with a grittier, seedier, far more pathetic look at the stock market. Set in a crooked Long Island trading house that combines the worst aspects of telephone market research and Amway, this is a depressing look at human weakness, and the bastards who exploit it.

This kind of behaviour is nothing new: Quadrophenia is set in The obsolete fashions the kids in this film pursue serves to amplify the moral: Dune fans take note: This is Sting's first movie, and he makes a convincing mod. Red Planet is a soporific excursion into inanity: Deleted scenes are included on the disc, if you want to drag the agony out even further.

NotVal Kilmer's best work. VOL 4 More classic moments from the greatest supermarionation series ever made. Four episodes on the disc; over three hours of rocket-age revelry, not even counting the extras. One of the best episodes in the series is included: This means one thing: Yes indeed, half the list has a gun in its hand and the casualties in its heart.

As one reader noted: Half Life 2 received big response and it has barely been announced. C'mon we're counting on you, Valve. Another title that made the top ten was Max Payne and now that E3 has been and gone, interest for this little baby is skyrocketing.

Battle for Dune just made deadline for review this month and so makes space for some young blood. Hold onto your hats for some big titles reviewed next month! This month's lucky winner is R.

Stewart of Brisbane, Old. A copy of Microsoft Train Sim is yours, good reader. Send your Top Five most wanted games to: Product or company names may be trademarks, or registered trademarks, of their respective corporations.

Inform forbids all reproduction or distribution of this material in part, or full, without prior consent. For further information contact Phil Burnham on 02 92Borvisitwww. Simply complete the coupon and take it into any Harvey Norman franchise store to claim your discount.

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Local Harvey Norman store: What do we all consider the massmarket to be? The Sims, Barbie, Pokemon The massmarket is defined by when you stop caring about what individuals think, and only care about groups and demographics. Games are massmarket now because of all the clones. Emperor is a perfect example. Okay, what does Ed Fries from Microsoft mean when he says that games should break into the mainstream?

That they should sell more. He wants a bigger market share. It seems that Ed Fries is lost in the past. Games are a multi-billion dollar industry, yet he seems to think it's not mainstream because music and film do so many units compared to games. He's saying more than that. He's saying that games aren't a part of everyone's life like TV. It's purely economic for him. Games could be exactly the same as they are now, but they're mainstream if they sell ten times as many copies.

Isn't he talking about culture? Everyone listens to music, everyone goes to movies, everyone watches TV, but not everyone plays games. It takes effort to play games. You don't have to learn how to use television. But you pick up the average flight sim and You have to learn how to do everything. You have to learn how to pull your pants on, drive a car, read, write. Generations are coming through now that know how to use a computer as a matter of course.

Children are growing up with computers, they all know about them, but I don't think they're ever going to have the ease of access of a VCR, where you just put it on and it's there. So it's just inevitable that the market will grow? There's been research done into this. Every time there's new technology, one generation can't understand it while it becomes second nature for the next. Do game developers need to do different things to appeal to our mums and dads?

Will they ever appeal to our parents? I don't think there's a market in old people games What about The Sims? I think the success of The Sims Okay, at the risk of sounding misogynist, the success of The Sims Say I said that, alright?

Whereas Emperor was a fairly cynical exercise The Sims wasn't cynical. Yeah, Maxis sat down and said let's write a game about people.

That was their motivation and that's why it was so successful. Everyone knows about people. Not everyone knows about giants worms on some planet The technology we now have allows us to portray people in a relatively realistic way. Is this going to appeal to more people? Maybe to the womenfolk At the risk of sounding misogynist!

I would like to dissociate myself from all comments forthcoming. It's not just what the technology is, but how it's used.

For instance, there are pokie machines filling up pubs. All you need is the Xbox with Pokie-Max on it plugged in to your bank account and away you go. Once that happens this mainstream argument is going to vanish. People aren't going to be moving their Sims around, they're going to be obsessively compulsively destroying their lives.

It'll be interesting when people start gambling in The Sims Well, you can set up a casino in Sims Online. Back to realistic graphics, what programmers should be doing is not trying to render a human face down to every single pore, but trying to They need to think about realistic human interaction rather than shooting people and finding keys. What will appeal to girls is a lead female character who is not a figure of male ideal beauty.

Girls like fiction about girls. They would like a strong, serious female lead. I think a game where you have manage relationships between people, maintaining friendships I think that's going to focus more on backstabbing. One of the biggest genres in the world is the soap opera. That's exactly what The Sims is. That's exactly what you described. It doesn't have to be as crap as soap opera, though.

On a more abstract level, is it about moving away from goal- oriented gameplay towards more open-ended gameplay? Some of the best games ever have been without goals. Elite, for example, there was no goal in that, you just flew around doing whatever you wanted.

It had goals, like making money. They were of your own devising. Big gun gameplay is never going to penetrate the real massmarket. Which is odd when you consider how many people own guns There's always going to be a market for that style of game. You use games to escape reality. But it's only going to reach a certain amount of people and then stop. It won't expand the market.

Are PC games too difficult? There's are new games that are targeted at people with no proficiency. And there's a whole community of gamers who would prefer things stayed more hardcore - you know, games that rely on people knowing the conventions of the past.

Can we then create a game that pleases the mainstream as well as the hardcore gamer? It just needs different marketing. Any old game will do, as long as it's marketed the right way.

Harpoon A could cross that bridge? Just put someone on the box with a cut-off t-shirt and a "Death to the whales" slogan on it Hardcore gamers define themselves as gamers who play games no one else plays. They're just too hardcore! What, like Quake 3? How can PC games break into the so-called massmarket? What sort of games does the mainstream want? Is it a worthwhile avenue for developers to pursue?

Write in and let us know. We will publish the best responses in our new Forum page to follow each Roundtable discussion. Send your articulation to: Infogrames and the Infogrames logo are registered trademarks of Infogrames Europe. Should David do a nude scene in his upcoming Write to: I, and I'm sure many others, are finding it hard to connect to a server and simply play without being called a cheat wall-hack, aimbot user, whatever! I don't know why people bother playing these games and enjoying them to their fullest when all they do is complain, accuse, and put down other players.

I guess I've been waiting forsooo long for this that I was blinded by the little incongruities of the article the DNF review - Ed. Well done for creating Max Payne! Pelejaks Clad someone got the joke Counter-Strike is a great game, and very well could be life for some people, but going as far as calling people cheats and always fighting with others I see no point to playing.

People like that ruin the great experience that Counter-Strike has to offer to gamers in the online community. To wrap it up, I think that people should just play and have fun and enjoy the game to its fullest.

Let me ask you something. What medication are you on? Does he know anything about motor racing heck, has he ever driven a car? What a load of rubbish! Did I miss it? I was intrigued to find out that FI cars have a button that the driver presses when they want to do a burn out.

I found these two technologies to be present by hitting the brakes as hard as I could and hitting the accelerator as hard as I could - nothing happened. And to cap it all off - the sound is absolute crap. The engine sound is not even close to realistic. When I look at pages A and 5 of the mag, an explanation leaps to mind - "Cash for comment We whipped out the demo again on reading your comments, and the handling is significantly different.

Rest assured though, the real thing is still a winner. Alex Stainton To be honest, we don't want to know where he's been. Id software has a spectacular track record of producing games that are highly playable, graphically stunning and a pleasure to play, but if the Doom 3 engine will require the most advanced and expensive graphics card ever made, id will have lost half its market.

Matt Hannah, Brisbane Even if you don't have a Geforce 3, you will be able to play the new Doom game. He pronounced 'id' as one word! I always thought it was read the same way you abbreviate the word 'identification' as "I. I'm sure you guys know because you have interviewed the likes of Paul Steed and Graeme Devine. Jack Banh Indeed, it is 'id' as opposed to an abbreviation. It's a reference to Freud's id and ego terminology.

The ego left to form Ion Storm. The black one said that you can make an evil monster to wreck havoc on the people; and then there is a white box which said you can make a peaceful creature to help you with your work. Are these two different versions?

But the white box does look significantly better. Haven't you heard of deed poll. Frank Slavich You do realise you're insulting thousands of hairy, flame- bearded Scots, don't you? Other games at EB i. I for one will not buy Serious Sam until it is at an appropriate price. Will others who feel the same please support me by writing in to this mag and voicing their opinion not only about SS but the general profiteering that seems to go on with others products.

George Tsalacopoulos It is a shame, particularly fora game experience as shortlived as Serious Sam. The game's Australian distributor, Jack of all Games, has been satisfied with its sales.

David Pohlenz Why, thank you. That's supply and demand for you. We would advise obtaining the Serious Sam test demo and leaving it at that. I remember playing Privateer when I was a kid and thought it was great the way you had the resource management side, the shoot the pirates side and the vast exploration of space side. Although I don't remember this game getting great reviews at the time, I thought the idea behind it was well ahead of its time. I was wondering if there are any new games that run along these same lines currently available?

Beyond the Frontier is quite good, although it's heavey on the trade and light on the combat, but very much in the style of Privateer. Perhaps your best bet, though, is to wait for Freelancer, which is still being overseen at Microsoft by Privateer co-creator Chris Roberts.!

Remember, Deus Ex was also voted Game of the Year by you, our valued readers. Now mods aren't necessarily bad things, but I believe that the scene needs to change in a big way. One particular issue is the use of the Half-Life engine. I see so many mods just announced using an engine first built in , before there were 3D cards.

The Half-Life engine is based on the Quake 1 engine, people, so get over it. Too many times I see a promising mod team shoot themselves in the foot by using this old engine which simply cannot cope with what the designers expect it to.

Chad Parkhill That s a good point, but bear in mind, the advantage of designing mods for a game such as Half-Life means that there are millions of potential players out there - everyone owns it.

A developer might create the best editing tools ever for its game, but if no one has bought it then it's simply wasted. Throne of Bhaal, Shadows ot Amn. Exclusively licensed and distributed by Interplay Entertainment Corp. All other trademarks and copyrights are property ot their respective owners. It also makes the Russians attack that vitally important strategic location, Iceland. The unique feature of typhoon is that the player chooses six pilots to play, scattered around various airfields in Iceland.

Each has different abilities and faces different challenges, each can die, but none can be replaced. Abacus Software brings you ten of the most famous U. Of course you also get a swag of new missions based on historical encounters in the Pacific Theatre around the Midway islands and the Coral Sea. Hopefully you'll also be able to bomb some Americans in 'friendly fire' incidents, just like they did to us. The IL-2 came as a shock to the Luftwaffe who didn't think the Soviets capable of advanced engineering, and an even bigger shock to the German tank crews who thought it was jolly unsporting.

They would have been even more shocked if they'd realised that a lot of the IL-2's pilots were women. Sturmovik is probably the most eagerly awaited combat flight sim of the year and it's not hard to see why.

An original setting, the Eastern Front previously un-simmed we invented that word just for this article, aren't you lucky we go to such trouble?

The venerable Flight Simulator series has been with us almost as long as smallpox and had modders working on it before the term 'modder' was even invented.

If there's a civilian plane out there without a Flight Simulator version of it on the net then it isn't worth flying. FS will be offering the usual upgraded graphics engine and hardware support, including a fab new terrain Tenderer, and some more interesting stuff as well. Radio traffic in the game will be simulated as a real environment and the pilot will have to deal with this heightened level of communication to navigate around the gameworld, taking the FS experience further than ever before.

It uses real flight dynamics and physics but places the game in a sci-fi setting, the world of Velian in fact. The game uses a rather spectacular 3D engine whose landscapes incorporate a lot of detail and will apparently offer full support for the GeForce 3 chipset.

For the first time experience the reality of advanced tachyon-based weapons on a modern battlefield! If you like the feel of flight but are bored with both contemporary and historical settings Echelon might be what you're after. Out-the-window view is projected on an 8' wide by 7' high screen. Up to twenty-five cockpits can be networked to fly missions. Instant Combat - puts you into battle without preliminaries. Dogfight - puts you head to head with other cockpits or against the computer.

Tactical Engagement - allows complex missions to be planned and flown. U nlike any pure gaming genre such as the first person shooter or real time strategy, the simulation genres by their very nature have advanced more as a direct result of increased computer power rather than developments in game design ideas. If you're a relative newcomer to games that fly, a visit to the flight sim museum at www.

Marvel at how a Texas Instruments calculator also contained the world's first commercially available civilian flight simulator or how a small jumble of green and yellow pixels was once easily recognised as a BFG by avid SWOTL Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe fans and read the recollections of old school gamers and their explanation of the types of missions written into these old titles. Those mission types will still be familiar to modem flight simmers because that's what military aircraft do, it's just the sophistication of the way they do it which has changed.

Now that the technology exists to really do what game designers have been dreaming of for years we can only hope that it will be design that begins to dominate over technology, and ideas that drive new flight sim concepts rather than pixel fill rates.

One of the biggest influences on the future development of flight sims however will surely be the slowly emerging broadband technologies. These will certainly create the right conditions for a quantum leap in the complexity of massively multiplayer flight sims, which have already been around for a while in the US but unavailable anywhere else due to the obvious lag problems.

Of course the other big influence will be, as always, the profit motive - what will gamers want to buy? On a purely theoretical level we can say that the level of interactivity, co operation and detail in on line and solo flight sims will continue to increase but do gamers really want to spend a month learning how to play a game before they can compete with other players? Perhaps it is the future of flight sims? By our calculations one would need to see one game every And of course that leaves precious little time to play anything.

As such, our objective was clear: Before arriving we had a pretty good idea of the games we desperately had to see and play! But as usual we managed to encounter a few pleasant surprises along the way.

Here, then, is a speedy tour across the highlights of E3 With it, hopefully, you'll get a glimpse into the future of games Fans of Age of Empires won't be disappointed, as Bruce Shelley was keen to emphasise Mythology's familiar gameplay mechanics. This is a traditional RTS in every way, only polished to perfection. Innovation - who needs it? Few dissenting voices could be heard amid the hordes of slavering onlookers keen to experience the Blizzard formula once again.

Like Age of Mythology, this charted little unknown territory, with the once vaunted roleplaying elements now more notable for their absence. Should sell millions, then. First impressions suggest that Tom Clancy would be proud - his name is again meier-ed to it, after all. As with Rogue Spear, the concept is centred once more on squad-based tactical action, only this time the battle is at not quite so close quarters.

Although the maps on display were not as expansive as some such as Planetside , the player will still be engaging the enemy at distances of several hundred metres. Unsurprisingly, the sniper rifle will be drawn from the squad's arsenal with great regularity. The player's roster of potential squaddies is filled with a mix of specialists and cannon fodder troops.

A maximum of nine teamed up into groups of three can be selected for any one mission, while those who survive will gain experience and improve their skills throughout the campaign.

Elements new to the Rainbow Six series include the pre- mission planning map being replaced by the ability to direct movements and change tactics on-the-fly and the rather cool ability to take cover in a prone position while picking off the enemy from distance. Red Storm's new engine is attractive and the balance of outdoor and indoor locations seems about right. The Al was lacking in the version we saw, but it's still being tweaked.

This sequel to the underachieving Armada adds a nifty 3D playfield during bouts of tactical combat. Think Homeworld, but simpler. More integrated economy and great emphasis on tactical play with intelligent units that respond to their situation with more logic than we're used to.

The Revolution is our choice as the Game of E3 Although there were a number of genuinely exciting titles on show over the three days, selecting just one Game of Show was a simple matter.

Elixir Studios' debut has reaffirmed our faith in game development that can push the envelope in terms of technology AND gameplay design.

Republic impressed in terrific style. It showcased a developer fully prepared to take enormous risks, while the progress Elixir has made since last year was ample evidence those risks are about to pay off. Twelve months ago, Republic was little more than a technology demo - and an extremely slow, unoptimised one at that. There were hints of greatness, and Demis Hassabis the game's lead designer was certainly persuasive in his enthusiasm, but it was difficult to look Republic showcased a developer fully prepared to take enormous risks beyond the painful framerate and apparent lack of anything to actually do.

This year, Hassabis was able to present to us the most daring and original PC game in development. Better yet, he was actually playing it. Republic is all about politics. If that sounds dull, just think for a moment what politics itself is all about: In Republic, the player is a leader of a political faction in a small town in the fictional state of Novistrana.

Gameplay mechanics revolve around networking with over unique characters as you wheel and deal your way to overthrowing the President. You could square that number to get a 40 digit number. Then you might take the first 20 digits, and multiply them by the last 20 digits, to give you another 40 digit number. You might repeat this times, and only then, pick the middle five digits. These five digits then determine the display on the screen that the gambler sees — and if they're a continuous bunch of sevens, the player wins.

When Mr Putin banned practically all gambling in Russia in , thousands of casinos sold their poker machines very cheaply to whoever would take them. Some of them went to a team in St Petersburg, who started trying to reverse engineer these pokies to see if they could scam them.

And in , they were doing just that. Small teams of Russians began getting unusual payouts on American poker machines. It was suspicious because the poker machines were paying out a lot more money than they took in, even though they did not award any large or major payouts.

Another odd thing was that the Russian player would always keep one hand in their pocket, or in a small satchel. After each one cent play, the gamblers would enter the pokie screen display into an app on an iPhone hidden in their pocket.

They would do this a few dozen times — and all that information would go back in real time to the criminal mothership in St Petersburg. There, the mathematical criminals would work out exactly where in its pseudo-random number sequence the poker machine was.

The gambler would keep putting in cent after cent, until they got word from St Petersburg to play big. They were careful to avoid the really large and major pay outs, hoping not to attract too much attention to themselves.

A team of four gamblers would typically win a quarter of a million dollars in a single week. Not a bad return! But it turns out that American casinos don't like to lose money. At first, the cops couldn't work out how the Russians had done it.

And because it's not a crime to win in a casino and be a Russian, the cops had to let them go. But soon they worked out that the Russians had used mathematics to win at the pokies — and started jailing them. If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC. ABC teams share the story behind the story and insights into the making of digital, TV and radio content.

Read about our editorial guiding principles and the enforceable standard our journalists follow. Space Nature Humans Technology Programs. The weak spot in every poker machine When you hit play on a pokie, the symbols start spinning and depending on the pattern that forms when they stop, you might get a payout.

Man attacked with chainsaw Play Video Don't Play. Man attacked with chainsaw A year-old man remains in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and is being treated for lacerations to his head and bruising after he was attacked with a chainsaw in Sydney's inner west. Two cars smashed in Leichhardt hit-and-run CCTV has captured the moment a semi-trailer hits two parked cars on a suburban street in Sydney's inner west.

Parliamentary inquiry slams Powerhouse move A seven-member committee has called for release of the full business case for the move of the Powerhouse Museum from Ultimo to Parramatta. Police now armed with M4 semi-automatic rifles 47 officers from the Public Order and Riot Squad have completed training and have been issued with the first Colt M4 rifles as part of the new roll-out. Get the latest news and updates emailed straight to your inbox. Info Save articles for later.

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Some events are truly random — like which particular radioactive atoms will decay, or the appearance of a quantum fluctuation in a vacuum. But these happen much too slowly for modern high-speed pokies. So in general, today's poker machines rely on pseudo-random number generators. These typically use complex mathematical formulas based on a single number, called the seed.

For example, the seed might be a number with 20 digits. You could square that number to get a 40 digit number. Then you might take the first 20 digits, and multiply them by the last 20 digits, to give you another 40 digit number.

You might repeat this times, and only then, pick the middle five digits. These five digits then determine the display on the screen that the gambler sees — and if they're a continuous bunch of sevens, the player wins.

When Mr Putin banned practically all gambling in Russia in , thousands of casinos sold their poker machines very cheaply to whoever would take them. Some of them went to a team in St Petersburg, who started trying to reverse engineer these pokies to see if they could scam them. And in , they were doing just that. Small teams of Russians began getting unusual payouts on American poker machines. It was suspicious because the poker machines were paying out a lot more money than they took in, even though they did not award any large or major payouts.

Another odd thing was that the Russian player would always keep one hand in their pocket, or in a small satchel. After each one cent play, the gamblers would enter the pokie screen display into an app on an iPhone hidden in their pocket. They would do this a few dozen times — and all that information would go back in real time to the criminal mothership in St Petersburg.

There, the mathematical criminals would work out exactly where in its pseudo-random number sequence the poker machine was. The gambler would keep putting in cent after cent, until they got word from St Petersburg to play big.

They were careful to avoid the really large and major pay outs, hoping not to attract too much attention to themselves. A team of four gamblers would typically win a quarter of a million dollars in a single week. Not a bad return! But it turns out that American casinos don't like to lose money. At first, the cops couldn't work out how the Russians had done it.

And because it's not a crime to win in a casino and be a Russian, the cops had to let them go. But soon they worked out that the Russians had used mathematics to win at the pokies — and started jailing them. Back then it was touted as a freeform, multi- layered experience - in a nutshell, the spiritual successor to Privateer and Elite. There was even talk of a persistent online world to follow after the game's release.

Things have changed since Gone is the persistent online world, and diluted is the freeform structure. Yet still it managed to strike awe into the hearts of even the hardest-bitten journos. This year, Freelancer strutted in like the most stylish sim in the universe, all metallic sheen and dreamy nebula effects. Original designer Chris Roberts wasn't there to spruik its merits, but it hardly mattered.

Freelancer was once again too impressive to overlook. Immediately evident is the incredible sense of scale. Of course it helps when you're witnessing the game on a twenty foot cinema screen in a darkened theatre, but it still managed to be breathtaking on the 21" monitors on the showfloor.

Staggeringly vast capital ships - some several miles long - engulf the screen, while dozens of dogfighting mercenary craft turn the heavens into a latticework of laser fire: It's back on track after the Digital Anvil buy-out, and it's in better shape than ever. The town Maxis was demonstrating looked busy with plenty of Sims going about their daily business, though a few pink flamingos did little to enhance the seedy neighbourhood we witnessed.

The Sims franchise appears no closer to ending. If being able to precisely knee-cap an enemy is the whole point, then Soldier of Fortune 2 is the ultimate game. The more squeamish will still find time to absorb the immersive environments and enjoy the latent stealth focus of this new-born tactical shooter.

FrontierWars, Loose Cannon has been picked up by Ubisoft after being dumped by Microsoft late last year. Development duties have been passed to Sinister Games, a team whose track record Dukes of Hazzard, anyone? The mix of driving and firstperson action looks promising on paper, but what we saw needs a radical overhaul to be roadworthy. That is, a company prepared to take risks and not necessarily rely upon revisiting the same old ground ad nauseum.

One of the most intriguing online worlds in development. Or ancient instalment, as the case may be. The hero is Connacht the Wolf, stranded amidst a chaos world of Myrkidias, Oghres and Trow, who must do battle with these opposing evil forces. The folklore of the first two games is laid bare as the stories of infamous figures such as Damas are told in Myth III.

The major changes will occur in the visual and editing tool department. Visual detail has been increased from previous instalments - zoom in to see swaying blades of grass and branches bending in the wind. The visuals promise an immediacy in game that, together with Myth style cutscenes, will communicate the epic narrative.

The Fear and Loathing editing tools have been combined into one tool set known as Vengeance. It pulls together many of the new and old editing tools, to create a complete instrument of level design and customisation.

It will either ship with the game, or be available a short time after. Fast action, puzzle oriented isometric adventure pits Zax against an alien world complete with treacherous fauna, terrible enemies and traps and pitfalls for the unwary. Featuring stunning 3D visuals and improved control and planning options. The theme was immaculate, but the sketchily detailed design meant it was too early to gauge its success.

Not really helping matters was the rough and ready nature of the graphics engine and animation. Needless to say, Sigma at E3 was an astounding surprise. The demo given us by Relic's Alex Garden proved that his bizarre animal-crossbreeding concept has legs beyond his crazed imagination - even if the front pair belong to a polar bear while the hind resembles a scorpion.

Sigma is a realtime strategy game, the like of which you're never seen before. It's a place where giraffes and hyenas mutate openly, a place where a skunkoceros is as common as Garden's bizarre crossbreeding concept has legs beyond his crazed imagination a chamelefly, a place where the player is free to explore the limits of imagination.

Garden revealed the meaning behind the game's subtitle, The Adventures of Rex Chance. The stereotypical nutcase scientist, Chance is the inventor of the Sigma Device, a machine capable of hybridising animals thanks to the simple channelling of electricity. The player must battle across an archipelago, exploiting the power of the Sigma Device to defeat Chance at his own game. Over forty creatures will feature in the final game, with a possible 30, combinations of hybrid beasts.

These creatures form the basis of the player's army. To avoid overwhelming or confusing the player, at the start of each mission or multiplayer game you will have to choose an army of just ten creatures which you will be able to produce during play.

Think of it as like selecting a deck in Magic: It also forces tactical decisions such as which creatures complement each other: Relic has also made considerable progress on the graphical front. The unit animation looks close to final, while the bump-mapped terrain is a sight to behold. If they can do all this in just two months, we can't wait to see the finished game early next year. Huge virtual town is the scene for theft, with 20 large buildings to case including a food factory and bank.

Over 60 characters to interact with - that means robbers for hire! Direct ships to battle in 3D space with stunning visuals effects. Accurately replicated ships that require real strategy to direct effectively, lovingly detailed from Paramount Archives source materials.

The Neverwinter toolset allows a Dungeon Master to take control of the action for a party of other players over LAN or internet. The singleplayer game is equally impressive though, making NWN one of the most ambitious and complete roleplaying experience for PC ever. Set in the s, Mafia features enormous historic detail, with a huge city, much like New York, as the play area. An intense story threads the missions as Tommy comes to realise who to trust Timmy is a boy of Timmy plays hockey and, thanks to the poor aim of his teammates, has extremely sore shins.

As such, Timmy is tired of hockey - he wants to stay home and play computer games. Timmy's parents, however, digress. They want their son to socialise with friends, but it's becoming increasingly obvious that if Timmy is forced to play more hockey, there's going to be unpleasantness - violent doing it socially and might even make some real life friends!

This, Jimmy concludes authoritatively, is the Saturday morning sport of the future. He may not be too far from the truth, either.

Fuelled by the ambitions of several cyber entrepreneurs, multiplayer gaming is being pushed through a conduit of social interaction into a whole new world of recreational evolution; and it can all largely with the almost unbridled success of cafe gaming in Korea - where there is approximately one cafe for every 10 feet of land - the expressly finite services offered by a number of these establishments grew to cater for more than just backpacker greenbacks.

For instance, Andrew Chen, manager of the Spaceway Internet Cafe in Sydney, explains that in the beginning, gaming was not the main focus of his a whole different bag to simply interacting with an erratically capitalised name on a screen unpleasantness. In a social context!

So not only will Timmy get to do what he likes, but also, he'll be be attributed to one thing - the cyber cafe. The Saturday morning leagues alluded to above may not exist yet, but cafe gaming is certainly on the verge of creating them - with regular competitions, tournaments and, in some cases, prize money being offered on a regular basis.

In case you're not in the know, the cyber cafe or CC is a relatively new concept that probably began its life in Australia as the now ubiquitous inner city email spot for backpacking tourists wanting to contact distant relatives while taking in a bowl of noodles or a cup of tea. However, business and was tried mainly as an experiment to bring in extra revenue.

Now, however, it is the cafe's main source of income and the trend has caught on. Indeed, as Andrew attests; "There were only two cafes in Sydney two years ago - now there are more than ten. One simply can notwander into a cybercafe and not see any gamers.

Good ol' Australia is hosting a leg of it - and it's being held right here in Sydney's iStarzone. Having written the rules for this years Counter Strike tournament, the boys at iStarzone can expect to be playing host to some of the best Counter-Strike and Starcraft gamers in this country and will be sending the winners off to Korea to play in the finals.

Think you've got what it takes? Well, come September you'll be able to prove it. Just make sure you give iStarzone a call and register first. Real life, face-to-face contact is - as anyone who's ever met a net-friend can testify - a whole different bag to simply interacting with an erratically capitalised name on a screen.

Tayon, owner and founder of netGamer yes, big 'g' little 'n' , a popular multiplayer den in the Sydney suburb of Glebe, succinctly sums up this higher level of player interaction with netGamer's impressive, if slightly bizarre, slogan: Outside of the often esoteric and elitist LAN party, a gaming cafe is the only place where gamers can go and actually hear the screams of defeated enemies or, conversely, the shouts of elated victory from a teammate.

It is this environment of real life action that promotes an utterly unique sense of cammanderie within a gaming cafe or, as Shur, AKA Sexlurker Where do you Find these guys?

Why would members of a sub culture typically stigmatised as being individualist and anti-social abandon their prized setups and cable connections to come play Quake 3 in a crowded city cafe on a muggy Saturday afternoon? Well, according to Shane Issacs and Peter Koo of iStarzone, one of Sydney's premier gaming cafes, it's fora variety of reasons: First off, there's lag - you receive much better pings at a well maintained LAN in a cafe than on the internet.

Secondly, cafe gaming eliminates the use of cheats and hacks which seem to be so popular these days. Lastly, and probably most importantly, there is also the social advantage of meeting the people you are playing against and forming a local gaming community.

A few do, however, cater for gamers almost exclusively - of these, the following are the best we found. Don't bother with the rest - these are the picks for the serious Sydney gamer: Between the 2 city stores,80 Network Speed: When asked why it is he frequents the gaming cafes instead of just getting a cable connection or going to LAN parties, his response was direct and to the point. You work together as a team, you play as a team and, here, you win or lose as a team - together.

And with LAN parties, you know, it's very inconvenient and hard to set up. Here, you can just walk in and play. The only place in town to run Deus Ex multiplayer! Pity no one was playing it Always check the name you've got before play begins. Look, it might seem a little silly, but there's nothing more embarassing than finding out the reason people are constantly saying 'she's ugly anyway' to you is because you failed notice that your screen name was 'IAmScrEwingYourSister-HA!

We know this from experience, trust us. Don't yell out abusive insults at people who've just fragged you. It may take a PC lugging, no network setup, no hassles. Well, no hassles unless you want to play Quake or Unreal Tournament. If you're thinking of cafe gaming, then don't bother perfecting yourrailgun technique, tiger - because Counter-Strike is the game of the moment. Cafes do offer a good variety of games to play, mind you, it's just that nobody wants to play them.

And why should they? The fluid team mechanics and tense atmosphere of the omnipresent mod suit the cafe environment perfectly. In fact, Counter-Strike's popularity in the cafes is one that Andrew Chen believes to be self-perpetuating. You either join up with them or be left alone". One might say, considering this, that cafe gaming is heading down a path of elitist stagnation and inevitable decline, butTayon certainly doesn't think so.

It's what they do and it'll always be around - but that doesn't mean other people can't play other stuff. Will cafe gaming evolve into jimmy's 'Saturday morning sport of the future'?

The answer to that is a very optimistic 'maybe'. Multiplayer undoubtedly represents a necessary social evolution for gaming, and the cybercafe, it is arguable, is an important step in that evolution. Where this evolution will lead is debatable, but one thing is for certain: As such, when you scream out that FrAg-eAta is nothing more than a 'worthless, camping shithead', he's probably going to hear it and, if you're particularly unlucky, might be bigger than you are.

So, unless you lay no particular value on your as-of-yet unbroken jaw, refrain from the abuse and take it like a gentleman. A black cloud hangs over Ken and Ryu's reunion. Brought together by the mysterious death of the master, the two warriors must overcome a challenge unlike any they've faced before. Excitement is the calm before the let down storm. To quote my self-help guru, "Expectation breeds disappointment". So he was beside himself when I declared, "I am excited!

Not in a private-school-woodwork- class kind of way, more in a Hills-are-alive-with-the-sound- of-music way. E3 does this to me: The Wolfensteins, the Sigmas, the Republics - lo! They have parted the clouds, thin though they might have been.

My very personal affection is well and truly waxing, waxing so that even old games have been reignited through me. News of Jedi Outcast alone was enough to reconvert this games apostle to LucasArts.

Dammit, I'm ready to be burned again. My nightly prayers include an extra decade that Kyle Katarn will return as brilliant as ever well, religion's been used for worse, hasn't it? I know it's true - 1 can feel the fire of games love in my belly. And hey, rubberneck, why be cynical? For every Outlive there's a Space Tripper.

We're more blessed than ever before. Sure, consoles loom as some sort of grey menace, Federal elections are around the corner and Insurance Companies collapse as I write but hey, look on the bright side. Your passion for fun hasn't died yet, you can read Like that old crim at the end of the Shawkshank Redemption, let us whisper softly, "I hope Battle for Dune 58 1-War 2: Edge of Chaos 62 Diablo 2: Microsoft Microsoft wants you to play Lord of Destruction the way it was meant to be played.

As such, we have been supplied with one intellimouse Optical to give away. Just answer this question for your chance to win! Write your answer on the back of an envelope, addressed to: After the extensive delays resulting the lacklustre Tiberian Sun, it's good to see the father of the modern RTS back on the rails Dune 2 introduced gamers to an expansive desert battlefield filled with a variety of different to the well worn armies of Dune 2.

Emperor is a return to Arrakis, a big- budget extravagance spanning four CDs with hours of substandard actors prancing around in sumptuous costumes in front of lavish computer-generated backdrops that have been shamelessly ripped off or perhaps officially licensed from David Lynch's film.

Emperor is not, however, a new gaming experience, but rather a tweaked reiteration of an old one. Then, a couple of years ago we were presented with Dune , an update of Dune 2 which used the Red Alert engine and dramatically increased the pace of the game, while adding a few new units engine that runs very swiftly on a decent machine Duron with Mb RAM and a GeForce2 MX but chugs somewhat on more modest PCs.

Also, load times are extreme, with waits of up to a minute when simply reloading a game. Utilising a three-race conflict model, the armies of the Harkonnen, Atreides and the non-canonical Ordos have been completely redesigned - at least cosmetically. Each House now has a much stronger sense of visual identity, although the traditional gameplay model doesn't translate this identity into different gameplay styles.

We have just folded space from lx The premise of the game is flimsy as always; after all, we're fighting fora planet-wide desert full of giant tank-eating worms and crazed nomadic natives. Rather than have his son succeed the throne, the Bene Gesserit sisterhood allows Corrino's claim to the Lion Throne to lapse, and so the other Houses in the galactic council known as the Lansraad are free to fight for the succession.

A convenient plot device sees only House Harkonnen, House Atreides and House Ordos positioned to realistically fight for domination. The second wave of RTS titles, such as Starcraft, tried to prevent tank rushes by limiting the number of units that could be selected at any one time.

Emperor is a return to the good old days. There is only one tactic in this game, and that tactic is the tank rush, it always works. Battles take place at different times of day; here, the purple sands of sunset The Spacing Guild - which is the only faction with access to intergalactic space travel - permits the three Houses to fight a limited 'war of assassins' on Arrakis, and only on Arrakis.

Invoking the terms of the mythical Great Convention, the Guild forbids use of Atomics, and forbids the war from being fought on any other worlds but Dune. However it's not long before these rules are broken. And so the stage is set. What Emperor brings to the tried and tested Dune 2 formula - beyond the 3D engine - is a diplomatic balancing act the player must engage in between five different 'minor' factions.

Each of these factions - the Imperial Sardaukar, the native Fremen, the machinist lx, the biotech Tlielaxu and the Spacing Guild itself - grant the player two special units which in theory add flavour to the tactical mix. Many machines on lx Their value is theoretical because Emperor is not a particularly deep or tactical game. Like all Westwood titles since Dune 2, the focus in Emperor is on fast, furious RTS combat with lots of flying debris and impressive explosions.

Enemy squads swarm like ants across the dunes and throw themselves Kamikaze-style at base defences. Retreat is dearly for the weak. Reinforcements are clearly somebody else's problem.

Spice may be the most valuable resource in the universe, but on Dune it's good for one thing and one thing only: To win a battle in Emperor, a simple formula needs to be followed. Establish a steady flow of spice. Build a few base defences to counter early attacks. Build twenty or thirty tanks.

Drive them to your opponent's base. Emperor offers more units per House than either Dune 2 or Dune but at least half of these units are wasted because tank rushing is so effective, any other tactics are a waste of both time and money. Also, even though each House has a markedly different array of weaponry, a little closer examination reveals that even though these units all look very different, each House still has a basic infantry unit, an advanced infantry unit, a basic tank, an advanced tank, a flying unit, a handful of special units and finally an extremely large and expensive advanced tank that can only be built using a House Palace.

One point of interest is that the cloaked scouting unit is now readily available and the cheapest of infantry units, which really opens up the playfield and puts the emphasis on extreme destruction and furious combat, rather than exploration. You must face my Gom Jabbar!

Fortunately, the effectiveness of special weapons has been limited following - we hope - feedback from fans of Red Alert 2. In Emperor, each house has exactly the same type of special weapon: Westwood has clearly spent most of Emperor's development cycle honing and re-honing the graphics engine, to maximise speed and good looks.

Unfortunately though, careless use of the zoom function can result in some less than impressive visuals, as these two screenshots show. At the tightest level of zoom, objects seem stretched and flattened, and the problem of distinguishing different unit types becomes even more difficult.

However, as mentioned above, it's rarely necessary to use this special weapon in singleplayer games, since tanks are much cheaper to build and more effective when deployed in large numbers.

Westwood has done a lot to make a desolate wasteland seem more vibrant and alive. This is a planet with a 5, year history of human colonisation after all. The Giedi Prime and Draconis IV look very effective, but Caladan in many ways resembles an enormous billiard table sands of Dune are now liberally dotted with the rusted hulks of previous battles, and the numerous rocky platforms are home to civilian villages of adobe and also Fremen encampments under canvas.

The 3D engine is quite detailed and able to render such tiny objects as discarded tyres and washing on lines as well as domestic pack animals which look suspiciously like Bantha from the Star Wars universe. And of course the sandworms are now very impressive; enormous creatures that tower above all other vehicles on the battlefield.

However, because the pace of the game is so much faster and vehicles are built so much more quickly, the worms are less of an immediate concern than they were in the original Dune 2.

In order to counter this, the worms are quite capable of swallowing entire infantry squads and several vehicles in one enormous gulp. The Bene Gesserit witch must leave Westwood has made a cursory attempt to add a tiny amount of strategic play to the pre-mission screens in the singleplayer campaigns.

The planet is split evenly between the three Houses and like in Dune 2 and Dune the player must select the next territory to attack. However, there is now an extra strategic screen that allows the player to choose which territory to attack from.

Once the choice has been made, a mission briefing appears, and displays a difficulty percentage as well as reinforcement ratings for each of the combatants. Unfortunately it was hard to see exactly what these reinforcement ratings meant. Presumably the rating reflects the frequency that the player receives reinforcing units, but whether a higher number is better ie more units or a lower number is better ie less time was hard to determine.

Also, every three missions or so, the enemy 'strikes back' and the player can chose to defend or resign a territory that is being threatened.

Since there's no overall pool of resources or units, it's difficult to see what advantage could be gained from resigning a territory. Emperor also breaks with the Dune 2 tradition by offering other tilesets for play. Giedi Prime and Draconis IV look very effective with lava pits and ice storms respectively, but Caladan is rather unimpressive, resembling in many ways an enormous billiard table.

Still, the variety is refreshing. The spice must flow! The new engine is not all immersive environments and crazy weather effects, however. The nature of the 3D graphics, especially when model detail is switched to low to speed up battles, makes it very difficult to differentiate between different buildings and even different units. Also, in the thick of very large battles between more than thirty units, it becomes extremely difficult to distinguish the enemy from friendly vehicles, making the use of number-assigned squads mandatory.

Finally, the sexy new transparent interface makes the playfield seem much bigger but does create problems of its own. Since every part of the interface is surrounded by transparency, attempting to direct units on the minimap can often have them walking to a position just beneath where the transparent map is floating.

A spectacular superweapon Inflicts bugger all damage Constant readers may recall our review of Red Alert 2, In which we generously stated that the FMV acting was a cut above the Westwood norm. Welt, the acting in Emperor is a return to traditional Westwood values.

The female Ordos mentat. The Sardaukar Generals are depicted as rugged and sci-fi by dint of having metal noses. And the Harkonnens are so over the top that any possible menace they could have conveyed is swallowed whole by an enormous ham. Just missing the build buttons can also result in units going where they shouldn't, so extra care is needed even in the midst of a mouse-clicking frenzy. Despite all of Emperor's very fine improvements and enhancements over the traditional Dune 2 formula, at its heart this is still the same game.

The resource model is the same, the build order is the same, the objectives are the same and the overall feel and atmosphere of the game is the same.

If you've missed out on either of the first two Westwood Dune games, or if too much Dune is barely enough, then Emperor is a worthy title. It's a strong, quick attractive RTS with a cheesy but well-implemented plot, and while it takes many liberties with Frank Herbert's universe, it does capture the unique feel of both the Dune novels and David Lynch's crazed film.

It's well done, but it's nothing new. What, a bunch of guys in space ships painting their faces and shouting, "they can take our life but they can't take our freedom"? Well, yes and no. The first game put you in command of about 19, tons of corvette-class spaceship, battling on the side of the establishment to fend off the 'Indies' and their nasty uprising.

The expansion flipped things around and put you in command of a stolen corvette newly plastered with rebel, hippy, markings and sticking it to da man. This title is the true sequel to the game that brought the hard science of inertia, angular momentum and rotation to spaceship fighting games and is seta hundred years after the civil war of the first game.

No longer is the central character an established Captain. This time around he's a guy out for revenge against the man who killed his father and sent him up the river at the age of When he breaks out of the big house with some of the most skilled, and somehow still noble, space scum the frontier has produced, you can just tell things are going to get interesting.

The merry, rag-tag band heads off to our hero Cal's late grandmother's house. This isn't as quaint as it sounds; Grandma was a pirate who as Jafs puts it, "preferred blast shielding to picket fences".

From this hidden base Cal and his buddies can engage in piracy, freedom fighting and getting drawn into what may be the next Independence War. Sailing the Space Ways When Cal and his friends high-tailed it from the prison station there didn't happened to be a big-old corvette hanging around for them to commandeer. Instead they took an engine with a small crew compartment and some guns, a.

Using primarily a retrofitted tug, or later, an advanced heavy interceptor, is very different to flying a big naval vessel. Moving between the different locations on the bridge is gone; instead you can pull up all of your navigation, weapon, engineering and communications options from the single pilot seat with a push of your joystick's hat or the cursor buttons.

Although the hat trick is neat - letting you issue almost every game command with just your thumb - the keyboard is best for most quick operations. It's just faster in the end. The hat would probably have been better used for switching opponents or autopilot modes, but this is more an observation than a complaint.

The complaints come when you want to set things up to suit your game peripherals and preferences. The keys are set like an old Liberal. You use what they give you. There are only two set-ups: Default assumes you have a joystick with eight buttons, a hat, and which twists. For more modest sticks there are some back-up Grandma was a pirate who as Jafs puts it, "preferred blast shielding to picket fences" 58PCPP button combinations to use, but they tend to be a bit awkward.

Forget flying with the mouse or inverting the controls; forward dips the nose and if your brain can't deal with aircraft controls, bad luck. If you can deal with the standardised controls, flying is otherwise a joy.

The physics system takes some time to get used to, as it's not just an airplane fighter game set against the stars but more of a loose space sim. When you turn your little ship around you will often find yourself continuing your previous flight path, away from where you are facing, until the thrusters overcome momentum. With flight assist on, the lateral thrusters will compensate forside-to-side motion and make your spaceship handle more like a fighter plane; with the assist turned off, thrusters will add to all the other times you have used them producing motion in whatever net direction that might turn out to be.

This is actually very handy when you zoom towards someone in a dogfight. You can switch off flight assist and flip your ship over, without changing direction and keep firing at your target as it passes, until it zips out of range. Try that in a fighter jet and you'll just rip your wings off.

Sometimes 3D space can be tricky - just ask the Yanks who had to moonlight as a valet service at Mir a couple of years ago - so there are autopilot routines that handle routine procedures, like docking, staying in formation and locking onto and heading to a waypoint - which are all really handy when used properly.

A downside to all of this 3D space, which the autopilots can't eradicate completely, is that you will spend a lot of time waiting for your ship to travel the great distances between encounter areas even with the LDS drive warp drives and jump engines which require you to go to a Lagrange point before using. Each trip between locations like between your base the only save point and anywhere, can take half a minute or more - during which you get to watch space flow by and, I guess, dream lazily of revenge.

Being able to just skip to each destination, or at least until something showed up, would be nice. Is All Freedom an Illusion? Many people felt railroaded as a Naval Captain taking orders in the first game, so this time around the good people at Particle Systems decided to loosen the reigns a little. Hence, Cal and his buddies are pirates and have at their disposal this huge base with manufacturing capabilities. At any stage you can decide that you don't want to follow the beaten path and that you'd rather terrorise the spaceways.

And to move around in space you have to move fast, really fast. This makes doing things like shooting a small ship in big space pretty tricky. This game swings from easy to hit things to needing the force depending whether you take the assistance or not. Hardcore gamers should just accept the help, as no one in their right minds would strap into a spaceship without a computer fire control.

PCPP 59 Captains to surrender their loads. Of course there is usually the matter of escorts and the law, but that just adds to the experience really. This bounty can then be boasted about and swum in Scrooge McDuck-style or, in game terms, traded or recycled.

Trade allows the player to access new hardware and software. Get your butt kicked on a mission and you can leave it a while, returning when you have boosted enough gear to upgrade a little. You can also trade for blueprints of items and then crank them out using your manufacturing facilities.

It's all pretty cool and every area of the craft has multiple upgrades available for players with great patience and a real pirate bent. All of this is just decoration on the cake, though. All of your trading options seem to come in via email shopping on the web at the base.

You don't find the game generating subplots off the beaten track or at least, I didn't. You don't travel station-to-station finding unique characters and trade goods except as a part of the game's mission structure.

There is a huge range of upgrades on the market, not to mention several ships to pilot. Imaging modules let you target specific locations on a ship with pinpoint accuracy, like a sniper scope. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Fear not, Edge of Chaos comes with optional extras. Rules are Made to be Followed The space-combat oriented puzzles are back.

They are actually kind of engaging and fairly imaginative, from having to use stealth to graffiti a high-profile flagship to having to pick up warheads in your cargo bay to destroy a station.

The downside to these puzzles is that there is only one way to complete some of them. The worst offender was a mission where you are meant to use stealth and a remote drone to pick up a crate full of mega-expensive goodies. I didn't realise you had to do it their way so I tried the direct approach. I ran the gauntlet, dodging huge amounts of fire a little skill, a lot of luck , and then managed to dock with the crate agonisingly slowly as I needed the autopilot dock routine somehow still without dying, and then finally I blasted my way out of there, and found that just as I was escaping I blew up for no good reason - except I hadn't solved the problem in the right way.

Punishing gamers for pulling something off against the odds is just wrong. The other thing that puts a crimp in this 60 PCPP Peel it is across the vast emptiness of space then you have come to the right place.

Edge oP Chaos oPPers the elements that made the 1-War games Pun but has made the ships you now have a choice a little more nimble and added a host oP options Por decking them out. The real essence oP the game is the mission-based combat, slowly mastering the controls and customising your ship with captured, traded and awarded new technology and Pantastic upgrades.

The story clicks along nicely and the voice acting and FMV sequences between acts are all atmospheric and hip sci-Pi Pare. The game, overall, features solid pacing, with tech and new challenges coming when they're needed to keep things moving. Edge oP Chaos looks good, has a spread oP missions and enough new toys and combat situations to keep the combat Presh.

It is, overall, a great space combat game. IP you can deal with the trinity oP annoying features - namely waiting 30 seconds at a time for your ship to cross the vastness of space between key events, no in-mission saves and set keys - don't hesitate stepping up to the Edge of Chaos. Best idea of freedom is that you tend to get the best stuff Prom completing the missions anyway, which is no surprise, really. Luckily, the missions are all pretty well designed once you get a Peel for which puzzle elements need to be done a certain way and which can be fudged and they keep you guessing with subtle misdirection and different combat situations.

Although you'll get the chance to head up quite large fleets, with many a wingperson to boss about, you are limited tactically by having to issue the same order across your entire command: Then again, the extra ships are just Por grand scale; this game is more about one-on-one heroics.

It is open ended, to a degree, but this isn't a trading or manufacturing game. It isn't a fleet strategy game, either. Jafs is your very own fence. You play Cal Johnson. Since being — — — — — — — institutionalised at the age of twelve, he has grown into a resourceful and charismatic leader, banding quarrelling inmates into a family fit for a breakout.

Fear not the struggle. Rejoice in the knowledge that you are not alone and that others join you in the fight against the Lord of Destruction. The time is now at hand. Blizzard's forge has once again yielded an expansion set of considerable power and persuasion. Diablo II has been on the shelves for some time and there is no doubt that its avid fans will now be itching to sink their teeth into its add-on pack, Lord of Destruction LoD. LoD is the latest addition to Blizzard's family of quality expansion sets along with the likes ofStarCraft: Brood War and WarCraft: Beyond the Dark Portal.

Like these, LoD doesn't simply add to an already well- established game - it takes Diablo II gameplay to a whole new level. The fifth Act is perhaps the biggest contribution LoD brings to the fray, which takes place after the infamous groovy movie sequence following the demise of Diablo. This time, however, your much-battered character must journey into the Barbarian Highlands to defeat Baal, the last of the Prime Evils, before he and his new minions destroys the Worldstone and breaks down the barriers between the world of Sanctuary and Hell forever Thankfully, you are not alone in the highlands.

Amidst the crags, snow and frozen rivers is Harrogath, a barbarian town held under siege by a horde of demons much tougher than those encountered previously. A few new creatures have also been added to the slaughter-list including the intelligent Overseers and a suite of siege machines. Barbarian and beast battle through the highlands but, despite their troubles, the local populace is not friendly. Your first quest will be to win the trust of their leader.

Gamers who have already finished Diablo II at least once will be pleased to know that their characters can be imported into the LoD game to continue their campaign against all that is unwholesome. Otherwise, you can begin a new game with another character, including the new assassin and the druid.

Those who feel intimidated by such a thought should think again - each character class plays the game in different ways, rendering each scenario an entirely new experience. Play poker with your friends in the biggest free online poker community. Improve your poker game with our Free Texas Holdem Poker game. South African players welcome! Our free poker games are played Have fun in freerolls and improve your poker skills playing free poker online!

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