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Sick Mouthy (Exeter, Devon)
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Pro Evolution Soccer 5 (Xbox)
Pro Evolution Soccer 5 (Xbox)

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pro Evolution Soccer 5 – Zen Football, 24 Nov. 2005
Every time a new PES is released it takes a period of adjustment, even for hardened veterans, to get used to the subtle modifications from the previous version. Each time it feels harder to control the ball, more difficult to pick a pass, and more frustrating trying to dribble, shoot, cross etcetera when you fail almost every time. But there is always a sense of a learning curve, of getting a little bit more in touch with how the mechanics have altered.
With PES5 the adjustment period (for me at least) was longer and harder than with any other version. Even now, after several weeks, I am often frustrated by my inability to pull off things I did without thinking in previous versions. For a long time I was convinced that Pro Evo had jumped the shark, had become too hard, too realistic, had become a simulator rather than a game and in doing so had lost the point of why people played it in the first place – because it’s fun.
Patience is needed with this version more than any other. PES5 requires a state of Zen football, something beyond concentration and effort. It takes a long time to adjust to the point where the game becomes instinctive, but once it does- oh wow.
The pace of the game is slower, more thoughtful. Passing and possession are key, a sensible approach to tempo is important, slow build-ups and approaches, probing the opposition for weaknesses. Passing is harder, dribbling is harder, tackling is harder – the game will not play accurate passes for you, will not automatically nick the ball off your opponent if you just tap the tackle button randomly in their vicinity. Everything needs to be timed, anticipated. You will lose possession and not get it back easily. You will give away countless free-kicks and receive yellow cards for challenges you thought were fine. You will not create scoring opportunities often. This will frustrate you to the point where your controller is in danger of being hurled at the wall.
But hang on. Set it to ** difficulty and play with Arsenal, Barcelona or AC Milan to get your confidence back. Learn the game again. View it not as a video game but as a football game. Think how players actually move, how the dynamics of a game actually flow. Adjust your approach. Give it time, feel that lack of satisfaction when you win, reset to *** difficulty and start again with a clearer head.
PES5 is the best PES ever. On first glance it looks the same, but there are more player details than ever before – different dribbling styles, the option to have players with untucked shirts, to give them friendship bands. The animation is smoother and more realistic – players strike the ball with greater fluidity, their hips more, their shoulders drop. The ball spins and swings in the air more, free-kicks dip better, the ball moves faster through the air… OK so the Bernebeu appears to be empty for almost every game, the commentary is still shocking and the background music needs to be turned off every time you load it, but… Give PES5 time. I nearly didn’t but I’m glad I have now. The feeling when Samuel Eto’o scores a tap-in after a good move between Ronadinho and Van Bommel down the left side eclipses the triumphs of earlier versions. It takes a long time and a great deal of patience and commitment, but for those people who, like me, don’t really play any other video games but have loved PES for years and play it almost every day, it is most assuredly worth it in the end.


Casshern - Limited Metal DVD Box Edition
Casshern - Limited Metal DVD Box Edition
Dvd ~ Yesuke Iseya
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £6.15

34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the maddest films I have ever seen., 28 April 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm not an expert on Asian cinema by any means, but I have probably seen more than the average man on the street (although I work in a film department of a library, so the streets round here are actually full of film buffs), so I'm not coming at this film with no background knowledge or understanding of the culture it arises from, as it were.
Anyway... From Battle Royale to Spirited Away via Akira, Tetsuo, Audition, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Happiness Of The Katakuris, Zatoichi and dozens of others, the examples of Asian cinema that manage to filter over to a western audience (praise be to independent cinemas and the "miracle" of DVD) seem to suggest that the people who produce (and, by association, make up the audience for) these films are completely and utterly insane. Or, at the least, have a very different cultural approach to violence, fantasy and society than we do. Casshern does absolutely nothing to counter this borderline xenophobic view.
In fact Casshern takes the biscuit. Casshern is about the most mental and crazed thing I have ever seen (bar Tetsuo, but that's another story).
It's like... a Japanese version of Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow except informed by 80s adult comics rather than 30s kids comics - try and imagine what that means; Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, nastiness, death, conspiracy, war, religion, resurrection - not nice Jewish kids creating clean-living aspirational heroes. It's literally like Sky Captain (and the forthcoming Sin City) in that it's an almost entirely digital production bar the actors, who were shot on blue-screen with backgrounds painted in later on a computer. It's also literally like Sky Captain in that there are giant robots and flying buildings and crazy scientists. Only in Casshern there are also quasi-religious messiahs and pollution diseases and Freudian family romance and star-crossed lovers and mutant androids and swords and guns and a train so wide it needs five sets of rails.
It's like all three Matrix films rolled into one and then augmented by a bit of Apocalypse Now (the, um, "point" of the film is that war is nasty because humans are nasty and we should all love one another, such as the point matters). Don't expect to be abe to follow the plot (it's mental), don't expect anything to make sense, don't expect to empathise for the characters, don't expect those enormous unexplained happenings to ever be resolved (why is the lightening bolt that is a catalyst to the film's main event an ACTUAL SOLID OBJECT? for example), don't expect the slow boring bits to be profound in any understandable sense. In fact don't expect anything other than a bonkers trip into an alternate world that veers between joyously symbolic fakery and unsettling realism, where a superhero zombie who can fly and do cool karate chops that split giant robots in half saves the world only doesn't, really, and instead, possibly, flies off to a new planet with his girlfriend to start again. Or something.
In short, good fun, but absolutely ridiculous.


Silent Alarm [CD + DVD]
Silent Alarm [CD + DVD]
Price: £9.00

18 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding debut album., 4 Jan. 2005
This review is from: Silent Alarm [CD + DVD] (Audio CD)
Bloc Party are one of those rare things - a hyped band about which the hype is true. Lumped in with NME's beloved and generally rubbish art-rock / nu-rock revolution bands like The Libertines and The Strokes, Bloc Party have some of that clique's spiky guitar energy, certainly, but what they also have is a sense of adventure, romance, belief and intelligence which combine to make them eclipse any of their peers.
They have the yearning chord-change down pat, but they're not yearning for a fix or for a quick shag up a back alley - they're yearnming for some kind of truth and progress. They make my eyes feel too big for my head
I love this record. Let's name names for a few moments - I'm getting Damon Albarn if he was actually from London and not an idiot. I'm getting Long Fin Killie gone razorsharp. I'm getting early Disco Inferno with less accent on the defeatism. I'm getting New Order. I'm getting Wire, I'm getting Radiohead if they weren't miserable. In the twin guitar solo of Plans I'm getting Television and Love. In the opaque and nearing horizons of Blue Light I'm getting 3 of the most beautiful minutes of music I've heard in a long time.
Bloc Party are lyrically intriguing, mysterious and emotive, sonically detailed and explosive in equal measure, rhythmically taut, ideologically sound and probably contain no harmful CFC gases either. Silent Alarm is an amazing debut album and I love it.


LCD Soundsystem
LCD Soundsystem
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £24.79

13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh. My. God., 20 Dec. 2004
This review is from: LCD Soundsystem (Audio CD)
People in the know have been waiting for this album for two years or so now, and in January 2005 it finally drops. The DFA, alongside Xenomania , Timbaland and The Neptunes, have soundtracked the 00s like no one else, but LCD Soundsystem's debut album if the first time they've really pulled it together for a long player. Sod The Rapture, sod !!!, sod Radio 4, sod every other two-bit chancer - this is the sound of funky, dirty, underground hipper-than-hipsters-know rockfunkdancepunkdisco, and it is glorious. Discopunk is dead; long live disco, punk!


Codename: Dustsucker
Codename: Dustsucker

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I hate giving five stars, but..., 3 Aug. 2004
This review is from: Codename: Dustsucker (Audio CD)
Codename: Dustsucker deserves every last star. Put together over 5 years by Graham Sutton and a school of musicians and friends as they passed through his studio in London, C:DS demonstrates meticulous attention to sonic detail and a passion for overwhelming surges of noise. It's clearly constructed by the same person responsible for driving the band who made Hex, but ten years (and a drum n bass career as Boymerang) have passed since that landmark album, and where Hex was often stark and empty, C:DS is lush and warm (but still somehow stark and empty). Obviously less the work of a coherant 'band' than the previous material by Bark Psychosis, it is both a continuation and an alteration of what the band were doing between 1988 and 1994. As for what it sounds like... Well, imagine Talk Talk's Spirit Of Eden filtered through the last decade of dance music and avant-guitar noise and then transposed onto the crepuscular metropolis that is night-time London and you'll be getting there. One of the most remarkable albums, not just of this year, but of any year.


Up In Flames
Up In Flames
Price: £9.42

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars futurepsychenoisebeatpop!, 1 April 2003
This review is from: Up In Flames (Audio CD)
This is an extraordinary album!
I bought Manitoba's debut on the strength of Amazon recommending it to me after I rated Four Tet's 'Pause' highly, and to be honest I was underwhelmed. Sure, it was nice enough electronica, but it didn't have a great deal of spark, and it certainly didn't prepare me for this!
Canadian Dan Snaith has taken the best bits of everything that's ever been good ever and stuck them all together! I've not had such an overwhelming first-hearing reaction to a record as this since I was 17 and heard Orbital for the first time. I was squirming and jerking and smiling and laughing and dancing round the room within minutes.
Imagine, if you will (if you can), The Chemical Brothers mining the legacy of My Bloody Valentine, and downbeat electronica surrendering to Brian Wilson's brand of gorgeous woozy pop music, all rolled together into one cohesive and inspirational 40-minute package!
Big happy clattering drums rub up with multi-coloured guitars, spacey organs, glockenspiels (or xylophones, who knows?), occasional dreamy vocals, sliding clarinets, droning saxophones, all manner of gorgeous found-sound weirdness, beatific electronic passages and even the occasional frog.
I can't implore you enough to go out and buy this record - if you love music, and I mean REALLY LOVE MUSIC, then you ought to love this.


Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.00

9 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe the hype., 5 Aug. 2002
I saw The Flaming Lips in London last month and it was the best gig I've ever been to. The Soft Bulletin is one of my favourite records ever. I have Zaireeka, I have Satellite Heart, I have Clouds Taste Metallic and all of these albums are first rate. But Yoshimi is a let down to my ears.
While it's far from being a bad album, it's also a logn way from being the instant modern classic that everybody seems to be saying it is. It's too clean, to organised, too thought-out and too polished. Lyrically Coyne seems to be retreading areas he went over more effectively on The Soft Bulletin, retreading those same childlike emotional platitudes that were so meaningful and shockingly effecting on TSB, but now they just come across as clichéd and meaningless. The Flips were always typified by bonkers lyrics in the past, and this descent into pseudo-meaningful, naive philosophy is not for the better.
Do You Realise? could be an awesome tune, but all there is to it is an acoustic guitar and Wayne's cracked voice plus a hole load of overdubbed fx and drums, while the lyrics are too blank and uninspired to really captivate like, say, The Spark That Bled or Buggin' off TSB.
Take Fight Test, a damn-near great tune, that unfortunately pinches half of it's melody from father & Son by Cat Stevens. Lyrically abpout the best track on the album, it's musically very good too, if, again, perhaps too clean. But that half-inched melody puts me in mind of Boyzone's cover of the Cat Stevens tune, and soils my enjoyment. The whole robots & karate concept is wearing too, an unnecessary conceit from a band capable of much more.
I wanted Yoshimi to be a great album, and I think a lot of journalists and reviewers did too, which is why they were so quick to praise it to high heaven. I'm afraid I have to say that Yoshimi is a case of Emperor's New Clothes. Which is a great shame when his old clothes were so bloomin' great.


Between The Senses
Between The Senses
Offered by hifi-media-store
Price: £2.70

15 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Please someone save us from this..., 5 Feb. 2002
This review is from: Between The Senses (Audio CD)
Yet ANOTHER band plod their way off the whimsical-acoustic-indie-rock production line, touting their mid-paced ballads and heartfelt lyrics like lachrymose drug dealers, only rather than haunting school playgrounds they're hanging out at Ford dealerships and pouncing on unwitting Mondeo-purchasers.
Yes, they sound a little like Travis, Coldplay, Embrace, Starsailor, etcetera etcetera. Yes, they're very accomplished, yes he can sing, yes this record is produced by Johnny Marr, yes they keep talking about The Stone Roses... But by God Haven are stultifyingly BORING and pedestrian. And sickeningly lacking in charm, just like most bands of their ilk. If they had one percent of the genuis and charm and magic that pulsed through The Stone Roses, or the humour and character of The Smiths, then Haven would be OK. But they don't. They have almost no personality at all.
Introspection is the name of the game, lots of lyrics about trying harder and fixing things and loving people and being a bit upset, and what it all boils down to is a sad man saying "please love me, I'm very nice," over and over again in a very boring an unimaginative way. When Morissey sang I Know It's Over it sounded like the most important thing in the world. When Haven sing something that they think equates with that it just sounds like they need to cheer up a bit, and ultimately that's the most depressing thing about this record.
If you like jangly guitars and weak hooks, slightly sad lyrics and predictable melodies, sensitive men with bad hair in black coats, then you'll probably love this.


Memento [2000] [DVD]
Memento [2000] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Guy Pearce
Offered by Jasuli
Price: £3.95

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful film, wonderful package., 19 Jan. 2002
This review is from: Memento [2000] [DVD] (DVD)
There are plenty of other reviews of Memento singing the praises of the film itself, so I shan't go into too much detail except to say that it is indeed one of the finest movies of the last 5 / 10 / 15 years / ever (delete as appropriate), that the plot is astounding, rivetting and bewildering, the acting is first-rate and the camera-work and direction are sublime and beautiful.
But what most other reviewers have neglected to point out is that the entire DVD package is just as well thought-out as the film itself. The menus are excellent and the special features much more interesting than most (the short story by Christopher Nolan's brother, whcih inspired the film, is particularly excellent). Plus, hidden away in the menu is "The Beninning of the End" - a special re-edited version of the film that runs chronologically.
Spectacular. You NEED to own this DVD.


A.I. Artificial Intelligence [2001] - 2 disc set [DVD]
A.I. Artificial Intelligence [2001] - 2 disc set [DVD]
Dvd ~ Haley Joel Osment
Price: £5.74

10 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Over-long Spielberg Schmaltz., 19 Jan. 2002
As a 25-minute short film, AI would be wonderful. However, the 2-hour long exercise in cringe-inducing schmaltz and ickiness that follows the initially promising opening of the film somewhat spoils the film, certainly for me. Had Kubrick lived to carry out this project I am sure it would've benefitted from his cold intelligence, but as it is AI is drowned in what Spielberg is fast making his trademark - sickly sweet platitudes and unsatisfying "happily ever after" conclusions. Sure enough it looks beautiful and the effects are wonderfully technically proficient, but the film itself is as bereft of character and bite and life as the principal character. Osment basically retreads his Sixth Sense role, and Jude Law offers some vague sense of comic relief, but about the most disturbing moment of the film (and for a film about artificiality and the structure of what makes us 'human' this is pretty tragic, because it should surely all be disturbing?) is the oddly haunting shot of the WTC half swallowed-up by water.
In short, avoid.


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