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Gaggia Cubika 74511 Espresso Coffee Maker
Gaggia Cubika 74511 Espresso Coffee Maker

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great coffee, but have a screwdriver handy, 16 Feb. 2009
I can see why a lot of people have suffered reliability problems: despite the quality name, this is Gaggia's cheapest espresso machine, and the low cost shows in the construction and materials.

But there is no question that, when you figure out how, the machine is capable of making top class coffee. I say figure it out because it took me a good 6 months of trying various combinations to get the thing right, but it's well worth the persistence.

I've now had mine about 3 years and, fortunately, nothing serious has gone wrong. But I have had to strip it down a couple of times, and proper cleaning and maintenance does involve some light screwdriver use.

But overall, it's nothing to worry about. The cheap construction makes it very easy to do minor repairs, even for someone like me who isn't in the habit of stripping down kitchen appliances. And the coffee it eventually produces is well worth the effort.

1. Top brand at a low price
2. Excellent coffee
3. Simple construction makes for easy maintenance

1. Low quality materials and construction
2. Best coffee requires skill and practice
3. Regular care and light maintenance is needed

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (Xbox 360)
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (Xbox 360)
Offered by passionFlix UK
Price: £6.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too hot for xbox?, 12 Dec. 2007
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Good game (in the words of Bruce Forsyth), which delivers all the fun you'll be expecting if you enjoyed previous and current Ubisoft productions.

But other reviewers are quite right in that you will polish if off (on the hardest setting) in just a few hours. This is because GRAW2 is both short and, with all the weapons at your disposal of a futuristic US military, pretty easy.

It is also disappointing that the game is linear and doesn't give you the opportunity to take a particularly different route through levels, or try different ways to tackle the enemy.

But you will have lots of fun on this, and it is, on balance, well worth the investment.

Just one word of warning through: GRAW2 crashed my previously healthy xbox360, overheating the power cable and bringing on the flashing red ring of death. It may be a coincidence, but other people have reported a similar problem on the web, and attributed it to GRAW2's intense use of the processor. I don't think it should put you off, but you might want to stick to playing in the winter... with the window open... and the heating off.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 26, 2008 12:00 PM GMT

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Xbox 360)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent (Xbox 360)
Offered by Base
Price: £9.14

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All a bit YAWN, 10 Dec. 2007
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
I am really surprised at the good reviews here, so I guess I'm pretty much going to be on my own with this one, but there is no getting away from the fact that this game is very dull.

Before you say it, I'm a big fan of stealth games and was not expecting this to be a COD-style shooting-fest. But please, there really is so little to do here that you will start to wonder why you bother to get Sam Fisher out of bed on a morning.

Here's what will annoy you most:

1. In order to do the simplest task (opening a door, picking up information), you must complete a ludicrously easy piece of gameplay: breaking a keypad code, or cracking a safe, for example. Fun at first, but too easy, frequent and repetitive to have any meaning, and a serious irritation when you have to do it for the 40th time in a level.

2. Sam can only stroll around much of the JBA base, and is restricted from running, hiding crouching or jumping. As he strolls to the next mission (and bearing in mind these are timed), you really want to go give him a good kicking.

3. But don't worry about the aimless strolling because you won't be able to see it. Sam spends around 80% of his time at JBA wondering around in the pitch black. At the end, he gets some night vision glasses, and I realised just how much of the base I had been missing.

4. Although you are given a percentage score for your stealth abilities at the end of each mission, it makes no difference to the game or your ability to progress. Apart from getting a little number at the end of the level (which is about as rewarding as a score on a pre-school spelling test), there is no incentive to be more stealthy - which is surely the whole point of the game.

5. Although it is probably more like real life to tackle every enemy with nothing more than a fist and a silenced handgun, Sam is so short of weapons that you start to wonder if he's been the victim of some particularly mean budget cuts. Gone is the fun of collecting and playing with an arsenal of weapons, and (worse still) this must be the only game going where you can't pick up guns from your incapacitated foes.

6. The loading screens (which take you right back to the mid 90s with their frequency and length) will drive you mad. You will be similarly irritated by story-telling scenes (which you can't skip) and a "reload last save" system that redefines counter-intuitive and conflicts with the game's own saving mechanisms.

7. There is no sliding scale of mistakes, meaning that you either continue regardless or it's game-over with nothing in between. For getting caught in a restricted area, you just get told politely to go away; for doing anything else whatsoever (picking a lock, looking at someone the wrong way) you lose all your trust and it's game over right away.

Really do yourself a favour here and get Hitman: Blood Money for some proper stealth lessons, or another Ubisoft title (GRAW, Rainbow Six) for some engrossing gaming. If you must get Double Agent, make sure you've got something more interesting to do at the same time - a crossword or some drying paint perhaps?
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2010 9:13 PM GMT

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - (Xbox 360)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - (Xbox 360)
Price: £16.49

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Relentless, 10 Dec. 2007
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Now don't get me wrong: COD4 is massive gaming achievement, and probably the most realistic, spectacular and engrossing game out there. There are just two problems (although, admittedly, neither should get in the way of buying it):

1) The single player is very short, so short that you could probably complete it in one sitting. I know this makes the game very intense, and I understand that the makers have crammed a lot in, but it does mean that you could be done with the game in just a few weeks, and that's not very long for your £40 investment.

2) As the game is so realistic (at least, having never been a soldier, I imagine it is), it can get pretty wearing. I suspect that real wars aren't much fun, and being immersed in that environment for several hours in a game isn't that much fun either. It's intense, is exciting and you'll want to play and play, but it's more about the achivement of winning than fun - and after all, surely that's what playing a game is all about?

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