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since 05/11/2002


Rise of Nations (PC) 19/10/2003

Ageless Empires Part V, This Time We Get Nukes !!

Rise of Nations (PC) Okay, yeah I know I have been away for a while once again but that doesn’t mean that I have given up writing for Ciao! it’s just that I have been kind of busy plotting global domination. Obviously I mean this only in a “ game “ sense as I am not the evil third world dictator that some people believe me to be and I can neither confirm nor deny any widely held beliefs regarding my alleged plans for global genocide with the cunning use of hamsters. Rise of Nations has taken all the best bits from a lot of games and moulded them into one great one !! Not only is it Real Time Strategy and Resource Management but it is also non Real Time Strategy too. This will take a little explaining but that is after all why I am writing this op !! The main game of “ Conquer the World “ is played on two different levels but let’s start at the beginning. When you start you get to choose from 18 different nations most of which are pretty run of the mill like English, Chinese, German, French, Japanese and Egyptian. However there are a few nations that are unusual such as the Bantu, Mongolians, Nubians and Mayans. Each nationality has different characteristics and bonuses as well as unique units that no other nationality can produce. Also you get to decide upon what difficulty setting you wish to play on. These being … Easiest, Easy, Moderate, Tough, Tougher, and Toughest. The Strategy Screen After you have made your choice you can then proceed to the main strategy screen which ...

Age of Mythology (PC) 19/10/2003

Ageless Empires Part IV ... Taking The Myth

Age of Mythology (PC) As I start to write this op the cat for Age Of Mythology isn’t even on Ciao! yet but still I am so blown away by this game I just have to begin writing as not more than 5 minutes ago I finally completed the game and am in awe as to how extremely good this game actually is. Therefore it is my intention to sit here and write an op of mythological proportions in the hopes that at least one person out there who reads this will heed my advice and go and buy, borrow or steal this game. Okay maybe not steal but as long as you get a copy okay !! Now it is no surprise that in light of the two previous ops about Age of Empires ( Ageless Empires Part I and II ) in which I spent many hours toiling over the keyboard praising these games that I was severely looking forward to getting a copy of Age Of Mythology. I knew that the same game design company was behind AOM ( Age Of Mythology ) as were behind AOE ( Age Of Empires ) I and II. Ensemble the company we all have to thank for this game have done gaming community proud by releasing yet another quality game and seeing as I have played it all the way through I can honestly say that there isn’t a single bug in the entire single player game whatsoever !! There are a lot of software companies that should take a leaf from Ensemble’s book !! Anyway lets talking about the game. I am going to do this in several parts as I don’t want to leave any part out !! THE INSTALLATION ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ *~*~ The game comes on two discs ...

Empire Earth (PC) 19/10/2003

Ageless Empires Part III ... YAWN

Empire Earth (PC) Well no post Christmas period would be complete without leftover Turkey to throw in the trash can !! So here it is !! Before I had this game I was looking forward to it immensely. After all I had already played Age Of Empires One and Two plus both expansions so the idea that a game that was similar but in 3D was definitely something I was looking forward to. Add to that a further reaching and more expansive time range inside the game which made it all sound like a great game. Once again there are many similarities with EE ( Empire Earth ) when compared to AOE I and II ( Age OF Empires ) and seeing as I have played all three games I have to say that the similarities are too many to ignore. While it certainly does go through far more ages and there are a higher amount of units to choose from I can’t help feeling that the basic idea of the game is a complete and utter rip off of what AOE was doing. Okay lets start by talking about the RM ( Resource Management ) side of the game. To be fair virtually every RTS ( Real Time Strategy ) game has resource management as part of the game and therefore it is understandable that EE is no exception. There is however one type of resource in EE that is not in AOE that being metal but then as EE is far more expansive metal is a resource that is needed. Other than that same four resources of Food, Wood, Gold and Rock also have to be found and gathered through various means with villagers. Food comes mainly from forage bushes ...

Age of Empires II (PC) 19/10/2003

Ageless Empires Part II

Age of Empires II (PC) After taking the time out last night to write about AOE ( Age Of Empires the original game ) I have decided to carry on and also write about AOE II Age Of Kings. However as I sit here at my PC at the beginning of this op I do have a feeling that this will not be an easy op to write. As this game is so similar to its predecessor I have to try to write this without excessive repetition of my last op. Well you know me I like a challenge !! So coffee at hand and a freshly rolled smoke hanging from the corner of my mouth I shall continue !! Age Of Empires II Age Of Kings is a RTS ( Real Time Strategy ) game but is also, and more importantly is a RM ( Resource Management ) game. Now I know I explained the specifics of the game play in my last op as these two game elements were both covered. However I want to stress that as opposed to AOE the original game, the careful management of resources is even more important in this, the second game. The same basic four resources are still the same. Gold Wood Food Stone For anyone who had played the first AOE game you will find this easy to pick up as not only do most buildings have the same costs as they did in its predecessor but the resources look very much alike if not exactly the same so you wont spend ages wondering where you are going to get your stock piles of gold from. The other resources while they have added new creatures from which to obtain food from and there are new and improved tiles for the trees the ...

Age of Empires (PC) 19/10/2003

Ageless Empires Part I

Age of Empires (PC) I have decided to stick with PC games for the moment ( sorry to anyone getting choccy withdrawal symptoms … they coming later !! ) and as such I have decided to write an op about a much loved and once, a highly played game here in my place either as a single player game or which was more often, a multi player game. The game in question was actually my second RTS ( Real Time Strategy ) game after Total Annihilation and is none other than Age OF Empires, AOE as I shall refer to it from now on. Once again we are delving back in time into an age long past. No !! Not the Medieval Age, I’m talking about when games came on one CD-ROM and didn’t take up your entire hard drive when you installed them. This was the time of polygon and pseudo 3D graphics long before the days when every game required 3D graphics cards and you could get away with onboard graphics and still get good results. Alas these days are long since past but that doesn’t mean that all the games from this golden era of gaming history were pants. Some games deserve more than being thrown on the scrap heap to spend countless millennia as they slowly decompose alongside all the other non-biodegradable junk we throw away. AOE deserves at least one more outing which will make a nice change from FPS ( First Person Shooter ) games we always seem to play when we LAN ( Local Area Network = tech name for hooking up PC’s with my 8 port switch !! ) at my place next. Last time we dragged TA ( Total Annihilation ) from ...

Freelancer (PC) 27/07/2003

Blowing Stuff Up In A Galaxy Far Far Away

Freelancer (PC) Freelancer Okay yeah, I know I have been gone a long time but you know how life gets sometimes but even though I have been busy as hell I still found the time for death, mayhem, chaos and blowing s**t up. The odd thing though is that of my two favourite games from this year this one is probably the last thing I would have expected myself to get hooked on. When I requested that Ciao! add this game to their listings, other than being surprised that it wasn’t already there, although as this is still kind of a new game we can let them off with that, I was unsure of where exactly to try to place this game for its genre isn’t all that clear cut. Yes it is a Space Flight game as you are indeed flying through space for the majority of the game. On the other hand it is also an Adventure based game and I guess you could also call it a Shoot Em Up as well as in a lesser degree a Sim game. Are you confused yet ?? Good !! I guess what I am trying to point out is that due to Freelancer’s almost indefinable genre classification the game will appeal to a wider and broader audience. After all, if I as gamer, who usually sticks clear of flight type games ( because if I am honest I generally suck at them !! ) considers Freelancer to rank in his best two games of the year so far then there really is something to be said for it’s wider appeal. As people on Ciao! have commented on in the past, I am a man who knows a fair amount about PC games. So to do this game justice in all ...

Total Annihilation Core Contingency (PC) 23/07/2003

Blowing Stuff Up In A Galaxy Far Far Away Part II

Total Annihilation Core Contingency (PC) Whilst scanning through the ops that I have written already and a rather large list of potential ops that I have yet to write I discovered that I had not written about TACC (Total Annihilation Core Contingency ) even though I had requested that the game be included in the listings. There is however a perfectly good explanation for this and that explanation is that prior to my lengthy departure from Ciao! I was still waiting for a friend of mine to bring me the disc over. Well, I knew he had it and I wasn’t about to go buy something that I could quite easily borrow for free. However this friend isn’t the most reliable person on the face of the earth so this took some time, hence the reason I had not written this op until now. Okay first things first, I guess a good place to start is to write some about TA ( Total Annihilation ) so if you don’t know the game or did not read my op regarding this game you will have a far greater understanding of what the game is about. Also I am writing this because I know that some people are still kind of stuck with some pretty old machines and cannot run most of the new games I have a tendency to write about. So this is for all you Stone Age type PC users out there who have PC’s that belong in museums but still want all the thrills of blowing s**t up without having to resort to international terrorism. TA is a RTS ( Real Time Strategy ) and RM ( Resource Management ) game that was first released by the makers, Cavedog way back in ...

Nestle Coffee-mate Original 29/06/2003

Coffee Accident Causes Death Of Mouse

Nestle Coffee-mate Original Now you all know me ( well most of you do ) and you all know that I am a self confessed coffee addict. I will praise good coffee and slag bad coffee off so badly I could probably be sued for libel, or slander ( which ever is the written one !! ). Thus far I have written ops on other Nestlé coffee products namely Nescafe, Nescafe Cappuccino and Nescafe Coffee in a Can to name a few. While the Cappuccino sachets and the cr*p in a can got rather bad reviews from me I did give the thumbs up to normal Nescafe so I though why not even the score and write about not just another Nestlé product but a Nestlé coffee related product. Thankfully Ciao! placed the Cat in the listings for me quickly enough, enabling me to write this op. So a quick thanks to Ciao! for not moving at a snails pace for a change !! Now I don’t know about you, but the first thing I want when I wake up, regardless of what time of the day or night it happens to be is a steaming hot coffee. I want to open that jar and breathe in that rich, powerful, bitter sweet aroma. I tip the jar in the general direction of my excessively large mug allowing a rather random amount of coffee to flow into it. As long as there is a general heap that covers the bottom completely I am happy enough. Then I grab the sugar bag and kind of haphazardly pour that in too. ( Note to readers: Gabe is rarely awake enough to concern himself with needless things like teaspoon measurements until at least his third litre of coffee !! ) ...

Half-Life Natural Selection (PC) 28/01/2003

Move Over Darwin ... It's Killin' Time

Half-Life Natural Selection (PC) As it was me that requested that Half-Life Natural Selection was added to the lists and even though Dan ( IOU10P ) wrote his op before me there was good reason why this happened. You see Dan is a good friend of mine who lives just around the corner. We often play online games together as well as playing multiplayer games here at my home when he brings his PC over. While I may know a fair amount of about PC Games I have to hand the crown for FPS ( First Person Shooters ) to Dan as more often than not he will quite easily kick my butt because he plays a hell of a lot more than me and has been playing a lot longer too. Now even though it was me that requested HL-NS (Half-Life Natural Selection ) be added to the ciao listings it was infact Dan that brought this game to my attention and for that matter showed me how to play it. However over the last couple of weeks I have spent a fair amount of time playing and learning the game to the point where now I feel as though I can write this op and do justice to what I suspect will become a massively played game online and at LAN’s ( Local Area Network’s ). Now to start with yes this is another modification to the Half-Life game engine but the old saying of … “ If it ain’t broke don’t fix it !! “ rings true in this case. Even though the Half-Life game is now 5 years old it has smashed it’s way to the top and refuses to leave the limelight even though many have tried to take the top spot. Many have tried and many have failed. The ... 25/01/2003

100 Or So Ops Later Well 100 + ops down the line and I’m still here and enjoying Ciao! and while I may not have been here for all that long compared to some I do now feel somewhat qualified to write about Ciao! or rather about my time here and my experiences while writing ops for this site. So here I am with my ( almost ) centennial opinion listing the things I like, dislike or just plainly don’t give a toss about regarding Ciao! Oh yeah if you looked at my profile page and noticed that Ciao! says that this is my 107 th op that is not actually entirely true as this is actually my 108 th op but one of my ops got pulled as the web site it concerned was my own and when I wrote it I didn’t know that this would be an issue but I hold no grudges … besides it was funny changing colours then losing the points and moving back down one colour then having all the people who congratulated me on changing colour looking bewildered as to what happened. But this tale starts at the beginning as all good tales do so lets go back to my first day at Ciao! Like so many people who start here I made the same mistake that is all to often made and didn’t really explore the site to find out how it all worked. However as I’m the kind of guy that buys new electrical equipment and throws away the manual without looking at it this comes as no surprise really. Hence the reason that in probably less than an hour I had written I think 5 ops all of which were only barely scraping the 120 word minimum. You see the ...

Soldier of Fortune 2: Double Helix (PC) 25/01/2003

The Game With A Higher Life Expectancy Than You

Soldier of Fortune 2: Double Helix (PC) Okay generally I have been less than impressed with FPS ( First Person Shooter ) games not of the Half-Life Family with the sole exception of Unreal Tournament which totally kicked ass so I was somewhat sceptical when I was offered a copy of Soldier OF Fortune II. Even more so as a couple of years back I had played SOF the original game and found it somewhat lacking even if it was amusing blowing off some sucker leg and watching them hop around then die in a pool of their own blood !! What can I say … I get the giggles from stuff like that !! So with trepidation I accepted the game and installed it onto my PC knowing that the system I have now ( as opposed to when I played the original SOF game ) would be more than capable of running the game with all the details up to the max at a high resolution !! I figured that I would test this sucker and see what it was and was not capable of, assure in the knowledge that I would be sitting here slagging it off as just another wannabe that would gain limited notoriety and an even more limited shelf life !! I don’t mind admitting I was wrong !! Yup you heard right people … I was wrong !! Not “ entirely “ wrong, but wrong nonetheless !! Now I am an odd PC game player in that when I get a game I generally play on easy mode for a while just to get the feel of the game, learn what buttons do what and so on. If I consider after a few levels that the game requires better attention and not just deleted from my hard drive I will ...

Gulp Flavoured Milk Drinks 23/01/2003

Gulp It Down

Gulp Flavoured Milk Drinks After having written about eleven different choccy bars in a row I thought that it was time that I have a break and have a drink and what better to wash down all that Cadbury’s goodness than with a Chocolate Milk drink from Gulp !! Now I added this cat to the listings as I had already written about Frijj but that was not my favourite of the flavoured milk drinks so I figured that I would be remiss if I didn’t include other brands. Well we don’t want Frijj to gain a monopoly do we. So in went Gulp into the listings and as soon as I can be bothered I will suggest Yazoo too. Gulp however is far removed from the aforementioned Frijj in many ways and while they too produce other flavours such as banana and strawberry I don’t care much for them so I will be just referring to the chocolate variety. The bottle this stuff comes in is plastic as most milk drinks are however unlike Frijj this plastic is opaque but is still wrapped in a plastic label which carries all the printing. The bottle is unusually shaped too as rather than a straight design they have opted for an hour-glass figure to the plastic bottle. Why this is so is any ones guess other than there may have been some idea that this was more aesthetically pleasing even though I suspect the answer lies more in the idea that because the bottle is of a different shape the product will not be so easily confused with other milk drink products. The main wrapper colours are a deep chocolatey brown and an off-white cream ...

Cadbury Nuts About Caramel 22/01/2003

I'm Nuts ... Like You Didn't Know That Already

Cadbury Nuts About Caramel Continuing with my onslaught against New Year Resolutions regarding dieting as there must be a few people that have not succumbed to temptation yet. Now is time for me to write all about Nuts about Caramel. I know I’m being evil here but someone has to do the dark work of the devil and that someone is me. Besides if I get enough souls I get an extra bonus at the end of the month !! So lets get you all salivating and sinning when you reach for your wallet/purse when you next pop into your local shops on your way back from work !! Now these I had not tried until recently although I have no real reason why this is so. I just never got around to buying one but then I never bought this one either as it was amongst the other bars in my Giant Selection Box that I got for Christmas. Is it just me or does choccy taste better when it’s free ?? Anyway the wrapper for these things is kind of nice in an odd way. Not especially bright for the most part ( I know a few people like that !! ) as the main colour here is a deep “ communist “ ( you’ll understand later !! ) red but then there is the whole normal Caramel colours in there too which is the gold of varying hues and the synonymous purple that finds its way onto a high quantity of Cadbury’s chocolate wrappers. Also, like which is pretty standard now, the wrapper is that metallic foil plastic type stuff which I like for a couple of reasons. First off I feel safer eating choccy in these wrappers. They take more of a beating ...

Cadbury Bournville 21/01/2003

Dark Desires

Cadbury Bournville Well it just wouldn’t be fair to write so many ops about chocolate and not mention plain chocolate as I have written about and will continue to write about milk chocolate and besides it looks as though this op will keep Newfloridian happy as he keeps mentioning that he prefers plain chocolate instead of milk chocolate in his comments to my ops … not that he was hinting of course !! Also I may be able to convert a few more dieters with this op !! =[ Insert evil laughter !! ]= Luckily enough I actually had this bar in my Selection Box amongst all the other bars and while not a huge fan of plain choccy it is okay from time to time. The odd thing here is that I prefer plain choccy when it has something in it as opposed to milk choccy, which I prefer on it’s own. However there are very few plain choccy bars that have anything else in them, the only one I can think of off he top of my head is a Bounty but there are a fair few mint ones too which is a drag as I’m not a huge mint fan either. Bournville is however is a pure chocolate bar with nothing added to the mix so right off the bat it is easy to assume that this isn’t going to be something I would normally buy but don’t take that as a statement that I don’t like this stuff. The wrapper is easily spotted, a deep and rich metallic red with a whole lot of gold as well with the word “ Bournville “ written in a dark chocolate brown. Basically what they are trying to show here is that Bournville is a quality bar. I ...

Cadbury Fuse 20/01/2003

Don't Blow A Fuse ... Eat One

Cadbury Fuse Don't blame me for the title blame Deano it was all his idea !! Look I have to say this !! I cannot, in any good consciousness continue with writing this op without saying … C**P ADVERTS !!!!!!!!! There I said it !! Well someone had to didn’t they and it may as well be me after all I am not exactly known for beating around the bush in these matters. For a while after these were released by Cadbury’s I refused to have anything to do with these things and it was all because of the c**p advertising which I can only imagine was designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator with it’s purile attempt at humour that was no more funny than a “ knock knock “ joke !! Thankfully this op is about the bar and not the advertising but suffice to say that Cadbury’s incredibly bad choice of advertising amost made me never even attempt to ever try these. As it happened the only reason I did eventually try them was due to finding them on sale so I figured if they were as c**p as the adverts then I wouldn’t have wasted so much money. Fortunately I got lucky as I thought they were quite nice and over the last few years they have kind of grown on me to the point where they would just about make it into the top 10 of my choccy buying shopping list. In this case Cadbury’s seem to have developed poor taste not only in advertising concepts but also in packaging as there isn’t the slightest hint of the normal high quality foil type stuff they use with all their other bars. ...
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