Grand Theft Auto 4 Review

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Since Rockstar announced plans to develop its next title in the Grand Theft Auto series on next generation games consoles, the fourth game in the series has been every gamers radar.

The anticipation for this title is as much that it is tipped to shift six million copies in the first week smashing sales records. The opening week sales figure is currently set at £201m by Halo 3.

Game Review

The game that focuses around the character Niko, takes a trip to Liberty City in the latest title (the same setting as the third title for those who don’t follow the series) to take on the criminal underworld once again.

The character Niko is a former soldier from a Western European country spurred on to come to America by his cousin’s tales of money and women. As he arrives he realised however that all does not match up to the tales of his cousin and sets about making the most of his situation, settling some old scores and enjoying a bit of high living during his stay in the city at the same time.

The game is about 40 hours in length and is composed of animation, story scenes and voice overs. Amongst the improvements in scalability, meaning there are ever more places to run and hide and new ways to climb and explore buildings, there are significant improvements in the gunplay making it as good as a committed third person shooter title.

The driving experience is also enhanced thanks to a new game engine which allows for more variations in vehicles and unique driving styles. The vehicles also react a lot better to outside influence making escaping from police a much harder prospect.

The major advantage of this title however and something The Shelf looks forward to testing is the online offerings. Allowing up to 16 players at once players can race, fight or destroy, as well as much more with unique game play options.

Available on both the Xbox and the PS3, both consoles provide a more than adequate home for the title, but with community play dubbed to be the highlight; The Shelf will be backing the PS3’s online playing capabilities.

iPhone 2.0 to Utilise iControl

Mobile, Technology No Comments »

A report today claimed that the software being developed for the iPhone 2.0 may introduce remote control and iTunes collection streaming.

The software that will be utilised by the second generation iPhone has been tipped by TUAW to allow the playback of various media from local iTunes sources. The technology could also be implemented in the iPod touch.

The reports also make mention to dialogue boxes that would allow users to choose their source library or media type.

The Apple TV-like feature would theoretically enable playback of the content within any iTunes collection over a local network, much the same way as Apple TV allows users to stream content from multiple libraries.

This streaming service could also take the form of a remote control that would then enable each device to control playback on an iTunes library collection, in essence using the handheld iPhone or iTouch as a fancy remote control.

At the current time the credibility of the reports is in question, and TUAW itself conceded that it is much founded on speculation. However it does ask some interesting question on what to expect from the software that is due for release in June.

Skype Offers Unlimited Monthly Call Packages

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The internet based instant messaging service Skype has launched a series of unlimited calling plans that will allow users to call landline numbers throughout the UK for as little as £2.25 a month.

Under the plans released today customers of the Skype service will able to make unlimited calls to a predetermined country of their choice for the fee of £2.25. The package can also be expanded to include calls to 20 European countries for £3.99 a month, or to 24 countries worldwide which will include US mobiles for £7.99 a month.

These call packages are also free from lengthy contracts, although customers who do decide to sign up for an annual subscription could say another third on the aforementioned prices.

As has been highlighted with broadband providers recently in the news, unlimited rarely means unlimited, and the deals are subject to a fair usage policy implemented by Skype which restricts the user to 10,000 minutes a month. Those 10,000 minutes however calculate to around 5 and a half hours each day!

In the calling plans that are being offered by Skype, all UK based landlines that start in 01 or 02 are included in the deal and places Skype as a direct competitor to BT as well as other established mobile networks that offer bundles of free calls for a monthly subscription fee.

“This move is a natural step for Skype. Skype was founded on the principle of making free voice and video calls available to people all around the world. And now we’re making it even easier for the Skype community to call their friends and family who are not yet on Skype.” – Skype’s vice president and general manager of telecoms Stefan Oberg.

Some analysts have seen the move as a clear indication of the companies eagerness to derive more regular income through monthly subscriptions after Ebay admitted to paying too much for the company in 2005 when it shelled out $4.3billion to buy Skype.

Amazon Takes Pre-orders of Sony’s PlayTV

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After a lomg wait more news has eventually come about the eagerly awaited PlayTV.

Originally intended to be released in the first quarter of 2008 PlayTV should rightly be out by now, but news of the add on for the PS3 has suddenly gone quiet and aside from a BBC preview nothing has been seen of Sony’s PVR-enabler. According to Amazon however the release date may have been pushed back to as far as 31st July.

Sony has declined to comment on the release date of its PlayTV device so whether the release date being touted by Amazon is reliable or not remains to be seen. Either way Amazon is currently offering pre-orders for the device for £59.99 (with a £10 saving) and guaranteeing the cheapest pre-release price.

“We have yet to announce a release date and price for PlayTV, and do not comment on rumour or speculation,” a spokesperson for Sony told Eurogamer.

As yet the only official comment confirms that PlayTV will be out this year.

Amazon is not the only retailer to pre-empt Sony’s official PlayTV release. In February HMV blamed a rival retailer for a webpage that claimed the DVR add-on, which HMV was offering for £100 (€120/$200), would be available from 28 March.

The Shelf was a big fan of the PlayTV device when it was first touted last year, and the functionality that the device will give to the PS3 will be well worth the investment. The high definition ready duel digital tuners will allow users to watch one free view channel whilst recording another, much in the same way sky plus has been functioning for its paying customers.

PlayTV customers will also be able to use remote play to browse the EPG, start and stop recordings and even watch live TV on a PSP.

EU Vote On Three Strike Policy

The Interwebs No Comments »

Politicians in the Europe have voted against measures that would see illegal file sharers thrown off of the internet.

Ideas that were outlined on The Shelf earlier in April in the post titled Virgin Media to Pilot Three Strike Policy? were including in a report on creative industries written for European parliament.

In the vote MEP’s backed an amendment that said the proposed termination of users contracts conflicted with “civil liberties and human rights”. The ruling went against the numerous European governments who are trying to implement tough action against pirates on the internet.

“The vote shows that MEPs want to strike a balance between the interests of rights holders and those of consumers, and that big measures like cutting off internet access shouldn’t be used,” said a spokeswoman for the European Parliament after the vote.

However the amendment called on nations to “avoid adopting measures conflicting with civil liberties and human rights and with the principles of proportionality, effectiveness and dissuasiveness, such as the interruption of internet access.”

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) who represents Europe’s music industry accused the amendment of being badly drafted and stated that

“We (The IFPI) look forward to a full discussion in the European Parliament in the coming months on how best to address copyright theft online,” said the IFPI.

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