Welcome to The TPS Report, home to video game blogs, mix sets and even the odd piece o' 3D art.

Broke arse student, freelance games reviewer and rambling obsessive that I am, I currently seek work in mags and web sites throughout the world. If you're in a position to make that happen - and like what you see around here - let me know. I've published work with the likes of IGN and Gaming Steve.


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First time visiting? Be sure to flip through the archives. I've been writing for friggin' ever, and you never know what you might have missed.

Score Breakdown
Just what those wee numbers mean exactly.

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Multi-platform gaming chit chat, along with whatever interesting news and downloads I happen to stumble across amidst the interpipes.

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Future Plans For the Site
28/7/2012 22:31

Preview Time! Games to Look Out For in 2011
8/1/2011 5:54

2010's Games of Shame
6/1/2011 22:47

My Fave Games of 2010!
6/1/2011 20:12

StarCraft II Review - Dig Loveth the RTS!?
7/11/2010 12:48

10 Must-Have iPhone Games
2/6/2010 18:09

A Little Hotlink to An Article I Stuck Up On GiantBomb
21/4/2010 15:01

Aliens Vs Predator is Here! Woo! Oh, Hang On...
6/3/2010 20:58

iPhone Games!
6/3/2010 20:40

The Top 30 Games of an Obscenely Packed 2009. Shit Gets Epic
7/1/2010 20:09


If interested in discussing writing opportunities for on or offline gaming publications - either UK based or abroad - please contact me via E-Mail. Sparkling CV available on request



The Long Awaited World of Warcraft Review
Posted by Diggler - 9/4/2005 2:24

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Is WoW as good as they? Or is the good old hype machine at work again?
World of Warcraft has been out in Europe for two months now, but I held off reviewing it immediately for a reason. I wanted to make sure this wasn't a repeat of the EverQuest II phenomenon; one week of gameplay brilliance, followed by a sudden deterioration into boredom. MMORPGs take a while to fully explore after all, so I wanted to take my time with this one.

To be honest with you, WoW and EQII are startlingly similar in theory. Both feature extensive questing and centre heavily around Tolkien-esque stereotypes. The prime difference is however, WoW is pulled off with much more panache, and thankfully keeps hold of your attention so much more in the long run.

Fuck Grinding

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Quests are logged in your journal, which holds up to 20 simultaneously
It all boils down to those quests. Even though the game has the framework of traditional MMORPG concepts - levelling up and learning skills - it plays differently to all others thanks to this emphasis on questing. Ultimately, performing missions is really the only way to level up in WoW - just killing random monsters repeatedly as so many are used to in these games, simply won't do it.

For this reason, you never find yourself going on monotonous "hunts" as per the norm, now groups go off on real fucking adventures. Forget killing 500 rats to reach that next level, WoW marks the point where online games have finally progressed to using interesting, involving storylines. That my friends, is what makes it shine.

Not only are the quests great fun, but Blizzard have clearly planned their layout extraordinarily well too. In your early days, each new mission shows you that little bit more of the gameworld than the last. As a result, you continually unlock more and more of the content slowly but surely.

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Quests take you from the highest mountains down to deep, sunken ships
Even though your hand is being held for the first 10 to 15 levels - showing you where you can go and what to do when you get there - you still feel like you're uncovering something new at every turn, and it's a wonderful intro to a magical universe.

As you progress though, things become much more open-ended, quests start to form expanding mini-storylines, and that's where WoW truly kicks in.

It's a shame these NPCs don't utilise full voice acting like in EverQuest II, because unlike that game, where quests were of a much more mundane and traditional variety, the ones in WoW are much more interactive, cinematic and worthy of full emotion. There's the usual emphasis on killing, sure, but then there's also exploring, conversing, tracking, escorting, crafting and a huge amount of incredible instanced dungeons too. Some missions even have a heavy emphasis on scripting, somewhat reminiscent of a single player game.

And that's really WoW in a nutshell; an epic single player sensibility, wrapped up in a 24 hour persistent multiplayer universe.

The MMO Comes of Age

I remember back in my first week of playing I came across an evil looking demonic character who asked me to kill some creatures for him. Now this is very formulaic MMORPG stuff, but never the less I agreed. A few hours later though, I happened to come across another NPC miles away who'd heard of this slaughter, chastised me for killing god's beautiful wildlife, then sent me off on an errand to earn forgiveness. That's not only an interesting twist, but a wonderful metaphor that sums up WoW's content perfectly; shame on you for killing all those rats.

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Instanced dungeons provide a more epic, challenging group experience
The game just plays so much better than other MMORPGs thanks to this underlying switch to story-based role-playing, and kinda exposes its peers as having absolutely nothing to do in comparison. Whenever I pop onto other MMORPGs now, I realise how empty their worlds feel in comparison. These games have traditionally provided us with all the skills, races and territory that make up a virtual world, but critically forgot to give us anything to actually do within them. With WoW though, there's always something to accomplish, no matter where you are, or what your level is. You may be collecting parts to build a magical weapon, or quelling a prison riot, but whatever the job is at hand, it's just such sodding great fun to experience a world so ripe with content.

Some quests are better than others, sure, but even the most mundane of WoW's are worth doing 'cos of the fantastic payouts. Money, XP and items - the game realises how much we want and need this stuff, and doesn't make us jump through endless hoops to get 'em. It's simple; do a job, get a wonderful reward - one that's perfectly tailored to the amount of time and effort you put in to get it.


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Combat is surprisingly balanced for such a recently released MMORPG
Despite these breakthroughs in content, WoW's actually incredibly simple compared to its peers. There's no down time, no complex resource gathering, and perhaps best of all, crafting items now takes but one single click. All that excess fat from most MMORPGs is simply cut away here, leaving nothing but the very best and most fun elements of the genre. To summarise; it's the MMORPG for people who absolutely hate MMORPGs.

There's a ton of other reasons that I could give as to why this game works so well. The combat is the first stat-based RPG system that I've been truly impressed with for instance. While fighting style alters depending on your choice of class, it still remains a lively, gripping and best of all tactical system at all times.

As a hunter, constantly juggling my long-range weapon skills with the abilities of my pet sidekicks, setting my traps and my last ditch feeble hand to hand fighting abilities results in the most epic battles that are forever going either way. As far as I'm concerned, it's a first for the genre.

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On death you respawn in spirit form, with the world taking on a fab negative tint
The death system is also handled incredibly well. Death is a natural part of life, but much more importantly, it's a natural part of MMOs too. Rather than punish players for this though, WoW's death system is actually one of my favourite parts.

On death you reappear at the nearest graveyard as a ghost you see, in what is easily one of the most spectacular sights of the entire game. From here you can run back to your corpse and resurrect instantly with no punishment. If however, your corpse is in a particularly hard to reach spot, you can simply come straight back to life at the graveyard, and suffer some resurrection sickness and minor item damage in exchange. None of this is brutally annoying, and gets you straight back to gaming with no wasted time.

Rumour has it, there are even additional hidden quests you can take when in ghost form.

The Game World

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World of Warcraft is one of the most picturesque games I've ever seen
It's not only the gameplay systems which shine so brightly, the world itself is also a huge part of WoW's brilliance.

The entire universe just looks and feels so lovingly handcrafted. There's no sense of randomly generated terrain, or empty expanses of nothingness. Instead it honestly feels like the developers have meticulously gone through every single square foot and crafted the most perfectly natural, realistic environment ever seen in a game. There's always paths and roads connecting cities, houses and villages to explore, lakes and waterfalls to swim in, and huge amounts of foliage and trees right where they should be. With every new region I uncover, it never ceases to blow me away.

The graphics are amazing, if not for everyone. Models are incredibly simple and somewhat low-polygonal, but it frees up the game to run some of the most massive, epic scenes yet seen in an MMORPG. For the most part there's rarely a flicker of lag to be noticed, and when accompanied by the most luscious particle and glow effects, the game looks simply stunning. As I've said in the past, technically it may fall behind the likes of Sony's MMORPGs, but on an artistic level it absolutely creams them all. It's like a virtual, moving painting.

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As an Elf, Teldrassil is the place I call home. There's nowhere prettier
In a move ripped straight out of Lord of the Rings, each race has it's own areas and societies; the Elven island differing hugely to the human districts for example. In fact, those eagerly awaiting Middle-Earth Online need wait no more - this is practically Tolkien's universe come to life in all but name, whether it be the cold grey walls of Ironforge (Moria) or the lava filled landscapes of the Burning Steppes (Mordor).

This entire playing area is so incredibly huge that it takes you a good few weeks of exploring before it truly dawns on you just how damn epic it all is. At the same time it's so gloriously beautiful that marathon travelling sessions between differing regions never feel like a chore to me. Heck, I kinda cherish the long walks through such beautiful locations, and when in a rush there's also spectacular Gryphon flights, boat rides and flying Zeppelins to fall back on (WoW's medieval public transport).

Likewise with the sound. The score is inspiring, and forever matches your actions perfectly. It's choral and eerie when in graveyards, light and ambient when out exploring the wild, then loud and orchestral on entering big cities. Pulling off an impressive soundtrack that doesn't grate is especially tricky in an MMO, one that people often play for hours at once, yet Blizzard truly do it with aplomb here. I just wish, as stated, that voices were more prominent.

The Perfect Game? Well, No...

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Get used to playing alone, that's all you'll be doing for the first 20 levels
I could honestly gush about this game 'til well into the night, but I'll stop for now. In fact, I'll play devil's advocate for a while instead, as WoW, like its brothers and sisters, has its own share of flaws that are worth noting.

Primarily, it suffers hugely from social restrictions. If you aren't of similar level to your buddies, there's absolutely nothing you can do with them in fact. As a result, I rarely, if ever, see friends of mine who are more than five levels beyond me, and that's a huge downer for a multiplayer game.

While I don't mind flying solo, or even playing with strangers, some of the best fun I've had in MMOs in the past has been grouping up with my mates and seeing what crazy trouble we can get ourselves into today. In WoW, that factor is conspicuously missing - a shame when the world is so ripe with potential for it. This is the only negative side to the quest system really, as quests above or below your skill level are either way too easy or simply impossible to complete.

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A late-night hooker hunt through the seedier alleys of Stormwind city
Still, WoW could have made up for this in other areas, giving us at least some reason to mingle and socialise with our friends outside of questing, but oddly there is none. There are bars to hang out in, but they serve no actual use in game, and while there are trade skills, such as armoursmithing and the like, all item sales are handled through the intermediary auction house that removes any need for face to face bartering. It's these sorts of reasons that result in you rarely interacting with other players unless specifically grouped up for quests.

Perhaps it's coming off my last online game, SWG, that makes this aspect feel particularly weak. While there's no doubt in my mind that WoW is the superior RPG, Galaxies did have a good third of the game dedicated solely to socialising and player interactions. WoW on the other hand, can feel a lot like a single player game in comparison, where other players become little more than background scenery while you interact solely with NPCs for hours at a time, especially in those early levels.

Grouping becomes a lot more prominent as you reach higher levels, it just would have been nice to interact in other ways is all. One thing that drastically helps in regards to this area mind you, and a feature that WoW will forever have over the likes of EQII, is player vs. player combat. So while you won't be dancing and chatting much with your fellow players, you'll still be beating the snot out of them.


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Inter-player combat has a habit of breaking out in all but a moment's notice
As far as PvP goes, the game pulls the actual battles off pretty damn nicely. They're surprisingly tactical and last just the right amount of time. For me, there really is no other way to play this game than on PvP servers, however more toned down PvE servers are also available for the, ahem, pussies.

Higher level questing areas often overlap between the two opposing factions of the game, so PvP is often something that you stumble across randomly and suddenly. You may be out delivering a package across barren wastelands when you'll accidentally bump into an opposing player, and just like that a delivery job has turned into a duel to the death. It adds a great spontaneity to the gameplay that I love, and keeps you on your toes at all times, as you venture into the darker territories of the world.

On the downside, while these encounters are for the most part a jolly good riot, they lack any true purpose. You gain nothing from taking out opposing players besides a rush of adrenaline and the odd boner, so any victory is very short lived. Corpse camping is also a small, but annoying problem, further compounded by what feels like a startlingly large number of WoW players who are, with the exception of my buddies, major twats.

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Horde players have a darker, more grotesque look. Gimp masks are optional
My last gripe with the game, and actually something newcomers won't realise yet, is the fact that the current end game is somewhat lacking. With a maxed character at level 60, you ultimately have nothing but PvP and high level raid loot to keep you busy, and neither will last forever. The bottom line is that once you hit the level 60 cap, you've essentially finished the game, and in fact power gamers could easily pull that off in all but a few months.

It's not as bad as it sounds. The way the two factions of the game are setup, with their own territories and missions, means each one provides a completely different gameplay experience to the other. Hence, by playing as a second character on the opposing faction, you essentially get an extra 60 levels of questing to keep you busy. On top of that, Blizzard have extensive PvP enhancements lined up in the form of Battlegrounds (due in early summer) which will provide more incentive and true rewards for player vs. player combat, and thus more satisfying high end content.

For this reason, our much delayed European release of the game has been a minor blessing in disguise. While many of our American cousins are starting to quit the game already due to said lack of an end game, many of us should only just be capping our characters when these updates finally roll around.

Time For Me to Log Back in

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The sun sets on another day. Try as I might to resist, I'll be straight back on tomorrow
It's no coincidence that web site updates have slowed down hugely around here since WoW was launched. The game is so addictive and fun that it's not only damaging to your social life, but life itself. It's the first MMORPG that I genuinely think gets it right, and as a long time addict of these games I don't say that lightly.

While there's been many successful MMORPGs in the past, this is the one we'll all look back on years from now as the first truly great game of the genre. Much like we think of Doom as the seminal FPS, or Street Fighter as the great grand daddy of beat 'em ups, WoW is the MMORPG that we've all been waiting for.

It's so good in fact, that I've joined a guild with a group of mates. Come say hi.

Untitled Document

The Polynomial. Like playing a rave

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Fallout 3

Enjoying a fully modded out re-visit. Wow

The Road

Pretty much due to the above

Breaking Bad

Already shaping up to be the best season yet

Explosions in the Sky

Easing the pain of living in a post-Friday Night Lights world

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Gaming Shows

The 1up Radio Network
1up.com's collection of weekly gaming podcasts, the pick of which would have to be ListenUP, full of juicy rumors and interesting banter week in, week out

Area 5
Formerly The 1up Show, since losing their jobs the old video editing team have continued doing what they do best, in an independent internet-based TV show, covering whatever upcoming games they can get their hands on, and various other bits and pieces

Fully Ramblomatic
A hysterical gaming blogger posting what he calls "zero punctuation" video reviews that have to be seen - and heard - to be believed

A Life Well Wasted
Freelance journalist Robert Ashley's internet radio show, with a far more interesting and professional demeanor than your typical podcast. Interviews, fast-paced editing and catchy tunes abound

On the Spot
The humongous gaming site known as Gamespot broadcasts a video show each week, in which upcoming games are demoed live on air, and viewers are invited to send in questions to find out more

The Hotspot
Gamespot's audio-based companion to On the Spot, in which site editors cover the week's news while simultaneously poking fun at all that is gaming

Gaming Steve
A more mature podcast, hosted by a long-time games industry professional armed with a ton of insider info and loads of interesting opinions. The Dig's been known to post articles and stories on here from time to time

Quick-fire internet-based TV show with console reviews and comedy sketches. Funny as hell

Major Nelson
An interesting "blogcast" hosted by a Microsoft employee, featuring stacks of exclusive behind the scenes news and interviews relating to all things Xbox 360

The Kojima Productions Report
Official podcast from the team of Hideo Kojima, creator of the much-loved Metal Gear franchise. Full of news and interviews relating to all things Metal Gear, it's probably one for die-hard fans only

Pure Pwnage
Mockumentary series on the life of a pro gamer. Episode five is possibly the funniest thing on the internet

Other Sites

What you could call gaming's homepage. Constantly updated news and links on the entire industry, from minute breaking headlines, to funny arse viral vids

Game Trailers
Easy to use multimedia-rich web site offering official trailers, video demos and sneak peaks at all the upcoming releases

Game Videos
Sister site to 1up.com, focusing on game trailers, video interviews and even the odd documentary

The Gamespot front-end, and the gaming equivalent of the Internet Movie Database. Includes detailed reviews and extensive video features on pretty much all systems and games ever made

Giant Bomb
Speaking of Gamespot, the controversial "letting go" of editor Jeff Gerstmann resulted in him starting up this new venture with fellow former writers of the site. Great podcast in particular

Discounting the audio and video shows mentioned earlier, 1up's main site is also worth a visit in its own right. Not only bustling with quality gaming articles and extensive developers' blogs, it also doubles up as a massive friends network, ideal for meeting fellow gamers and joining like-minded communities

Live Marketplace Feed
The most up to date and reliable way to keep track of all the new Xbox Live Marketplace content, from new weapons and map packs, to movie trailers and game demos

Xbox Reloaded
360 backwards compatibility can be a minefield. This blog attempts to shed some light on the issue by playing original Xbox games for you and reporting back the results

The ultimate resource for walkthroughs and cheats

Disposable Media
A wonderful (and free) E-zine, full of reviews and articles on gaming, movies, music and TV. Puts most high street mags to shame

A must-have for all PC gamers, X-Fire is a buddy list and communications tool that keeps constant tabs on what games both you and all your mates are playing, on or offline

A contender to the X-Fire throne that has pretty much overtaken it straight out of the gate. Valve's Steam client contains friends lists, downloadable games, Live-style achievements and plenty more to sink your teeth into

Convert your Xbox Live gamercard into an image, for use on forums and web sites for free. That's mine further down

Ain't it Cool News
The latest news, gossip and spy reports from the world of movies, TV and (occasionally) video games

Writer, director and actor Kevin Smith - he of Clerks fame - records a monthly podcast in which he and fellow pals discuss everything from trying to felate oneself, to the time his dog got covered in ejaculate. Riveting stuff


Matt Robinson, 2011

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