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Jonathon Smith (Sheffield, UK)
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Blood Bowl - Chaos Edition (PC DVD)
Blood Bowl - Chaos Edition (PC DVD)

2.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia doesn't cut it, 19 July 2014
I have two words to describe this game...BORING and FRUSTRATING. The game has two modes: Classic, which is just like the turn-based board game it is based on, and a smoother real-time version. The classic version may recreate the old board game, but that isn't enough to sell it to me. When it's a board game, you have a person to laugh and joke with. With the computer game it's just cold, predictable AI. The game is more a matter of luck than strategy as each action you take has around a 50% chance of succeeding and if you fail, your turn ends. The real time version is just plain boring. Your teams duff each other into oblivion with only the merest semblance of tactics (he's got the ball, let's gang up on him). The matches go on far, far too long (2hrs) and I cannot find an in-game save option. Players do not get stat boosts when they level up, but gain an endless list of forgettable new skills, half of which seem pointless in the real-time version.

The whole feel of the game is cheap and tacky with awkward interfaces and a lack of dynamism. A few moments made me laugh, like when my ogre decided to eat the ball, and the commentators' banter, but these moments are repeated so often they soon become annoying.

If you want a better violence-based sports game, I would steer you in the direction Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD edition, which has the delightful Blitz Ball sub-game. Here you get to recruit a myriad of different players with different skills and abilities, develop their stats, earn new and useful skills, find winning tactics, and put them to the test in short, tense, dynamic turn based matches. And what's more, you get a nice story to go along side it when you want a break.


Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
Price: 19.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Grower, 3 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I hate Lightning as a main character. She's cold, distant and her voice acting is completely flat. So I wasn't really looking forward to this final instalment of the FFXIII trilogy. However, the game has really grown on me. I've played it through 3 times now.

Square Enix has really listened to their fans. This game addresses all the problems with FFXIII - the game is open world, it's all about interacting with other characters, the combat is highly involved and Lightning is very customisable (everything the original linear turkey lacked). You can even play it with a Japanese voice option (DLC), which improves Lightning's voice acting immeasurably.

It takes a while to get used to the gameplay. Things happen at certain times and you have a limited number of in-game days to complete your missions, so time management is a skill you have to learn! Enemies get tougher each day and it is quite possible to fall behind the development curve, miss a key mission and fail the game. And I mean fail - Finito! Game over! Start from day 1 again! I failed on my first playthrough, but far from feeling devastated, I saw it as a challenge and smashed the game on my second try. The story itself isn't great, but there are enough mysteries to keep you wanting to progress and several of the side quests are quite humorous.

The gameplay is original, fun and restores my faith in Square and the Final Fantasy franchise. A fine game.


Neoprene Double Pull Lumbar Brace - Large
Neoprene Double Pull Lumbar Brace - Large
Offered by Shop@PHYSIOWORLD
Price: 6.90

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh, 3 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've suffered from lower back pain for a while and I had an excellent back support which eliminated virtually all pain whilst I was wearing it. However, my belly out grew it and I had to buy a larger support, so I thought I'd get this cheap one because it looked pretty much the same. However, you get what you pay for. This support doesn't have the stiff, padded panels in the back that you really need to stop back pain. This makes it fairly useless. It does relieve the pain slightly, but this is more than offset by the discomfort of dripping with sweat whilst it's on.


Spear & Jackson WHS Archaeology 4 inch Pointing Trowel with Short Wood Handle
Spear & Jackson WHS Archaeology 4 inch Pointing Trowel with Short Wood Handle
Price: 12.70

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for UK Archaeologists, 1 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The WHS Archaeology trowel is superb. It is the most durable on the market: it has a thickened blade that won't bend in stiff clay or prizing up masonry; its made from a single drop-forged piece of steel so there are no welds to fail; it has a long, thick shank to protect the archaeologist's knuckles and allow a shifting grip; it has a notched collar to stop the tang spinning in the handle; and finally, a comfortable grip for hours of trowling action. Personally I prefer the wooden handle over the rubber because I can personalise it with engravings and make sure I do not get it mixed up with other peoples' trowel (which happens a lot on a site where everyone uses them).

Cheaper builder's trowels have thin blades and dodgy welds which will snap in a few days, or if you are lucky, weeks. The WHS Archaeology will last years. The American rival, the Marshalltown, has a spectacularly thin blade and will break in hours. The Marshalltown is designed for precision, slow trowling in fine earth, which just doesn't happen in British archaeology. We need robust tools for rapid excavation in tough soils. There genuinely is no substitute for a WHS.


Timetop Classic Pocket Watch Style Bronzing Antique Compass for Camping Hiking Traveling Bronzing Color
Timetop Classic Pocket Watch Style Bronzing Antique Compass for Camping Hiking Traveling Bronzing Color
Offered by ULTRA TOP-Dispatched From HongKong
Price: 1.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Practicle and stylish, 1 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I ordered this compass because it was the cheapest I could find. I wasn't expecting it to be particularly good. However, it was free of air bubbles, found north very fast and kept its direction true even when I was moving. I've had problems with this covered kind of compass before - grit clogs the seal making them very hard to open - but this one is still easy to open with a fingernail after a month in my damp and gritty tool box, so it bodes well.

Not only do I now have a cheap, WORKING compass, but every time I use it, I get to secretly whisper "Arrr!" and pretend I'm pirate. But that's just between you and me.


Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle (PS3)
Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle (PS3)
Price: 9.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A big let down, 26 Dec 2013
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
The problem with making a pirate point-and-click adventure is that it bears such easy comparison with the granddaddy of point-and-clicks, Monkey Island. The whole time I was playing Captain Morgane, I was thinking to myself "the humour isn't as good as good as Monkey Island, the animation isn't as good as good as Monkey Island, the storyline isn't as good as Monkey Island, I wish I was playing Monkey Island." In fact the humour is non-existent, the artwork is positively shoddy (some in-game animations even look like they have been cut in favour of cheaper storyboard scenes). On the plus side, the puzzles are just right in terms of difficulty and the plot rolls along at a decent pace. I played the game for around 6 hours and felt very close to the end. On the basis of this I would have given the game 3 stars - nothing you're going to recommend to your friends, but interesting enough to keep you entertained for a few hours.

Then something happened which embittered me against this game for rest of my days. It crashed, and when I reloaded it I realised the game didn't have an autosave function. I'd lost everything. The save game button was tucked away under the options menu and I hadn't even seen it. So I have dropped the game a star. It feels like a critical oversight.


Shepherds and Shepherding (Shire Library)
Shepherds and Shepherding (Shire Library)
by Jonathan Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.62

4.0 out of 5 stars Factual and fast, 17 Nov 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a brief book which describes shepherding in Britain in the last 200 years. It touches on many aspects of their lives, such as how the shepherd comes to be employed, what they spend their year doing, what kind of tools they use and the many changes sheep tending underwent as technology and markets changed. Highlights for me were discovering that herding with sheep dogs is a relatively modern development (I had assumed this is how farmers had looked after their sheep since the first one was domesticated!) and that rams spend 11 months of the year idle, so need to be put through a fitness regime to physically make it through the month-long sexfest of the 'tupping' season.

Like all Shire books, it is a short work, easily read in an afternoon and with lots of pictures. It is aimed at the general reader, but is grounded in reliable research and has a bibliography of further reading should you want to investigate any of the aspects touched upon in greater depth. It is not a gripping page-turner by any stretch of the imagination, but I wanted to know about traditional sheep farming and now I do - with little time or expense used up - so it gets a big thumbs-up from me.


Pirates & the Lost Templar Fleet: The Secret Naval War Between the Knights Templar and the Vatican: The Secret Naval War Between the Knights Templars and the Vatican
Pirates & the Lost Templar Fleet: The Secret Naval War Between the Knights Templar and the Vatican: The Secret Naval War Between the Knights Templars and the Vatican
by David Hatcher Childress
Edition: Paperback
Price: 13.65

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Encyclopaedia entries and half-remembered schoolboy facts, 2 Nov 2013
I bought this book expecting some new insights into the battle of Lepanto (depicted on the cover) and the undisputed acts of piracy committed by the Holy Orders in the east Mediterranean after the fall of the Crusader States (suggested by the title). These are not even mentioned in the book.

The book is actually a mishmash of poorly written biographies (e.g. William Sinclair, Columbus, Captain Kidd, etc.). The author has strained himself and credulity to link them together using conspiracy theories borrowed from other authors. The veracity of these is hard to judge because superficial summaries means facts are extremely light. To give just one example, which forms the lynch pin of his "Templars discovered America" theory, he gives no explanation as to why he is linking William Sinclair, ancestor of the builders of Rosslyn Chapel, to the unidentified prince in the voyages of Zeno (themselves considered bogus by the majority of scholars). The author clearly displays his ignorance of seafaring and has a rather sketchy grasp of historical context.

I could forgive all this if the book was a well written page turner. After all, most conspiracy theories are a little suspect (they can't all be true!). But it just isn't well written. The whole thing smacks of an amateur cobbling a book together from encyclopaedia entries and half-remembered schoolboy facts.


City of Saints and Madmen
City of Saints and Madmen
by Jeff VanderMeer
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A web of wonder, 18 Oct 2013
I'm a very difficult man to impress, but City of Saints and Madmen impressed me A LOT. It isn't so much a collection of short stories to be read, as an interconnected web of sources which must be interrogated. It places the reader in the role of a private eye or historian, who must pick through prose stories, historical footnotes, medical transcripts, glossaries, secret codes, illustrations and a whole heap of other works for that elusive truth about the weird and dangerous city of Ambergris. No story answers all the questions it raises in itself, but if you pay close attention, you'll be rewarded with clues soon enough.

I'll admit that the characters are a little underdeveloped and the stories probably could not stand up well by themselves, but sometimes Jeff Vandermeer's turns of phrase are so unexpectedly beautiful that I can feel my heart beating faster for a second or two. I just have to stop and read the passage again once or twice. Vandermeer can be scarier than Lovecraft and other times as funny as Terry Pratchet. The whole work is underscored with post-modern jokes that take you a moment to get, then make you smile all the harder.

I don't know how to praise or describe this book any better. So just go ahead and investigate the clues to Ambergris for yourself!


Cotton Candy by Demeter
Cotton Candy by Demeter
Offered by Jewlzie
Price: 27.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Literally smells like cotton candy, 20 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Yes, it literally smells like cotton candy. I'm not sure what I was expecting. Something a bit more 'adult' I guess? It is not a bad fragrance, but not the thing to wear on a sophisticated date. It might even do as a room fragrance. Also, the bottle design is terrible, so I wouldn't make the mistake of buying it as a gift for anyone.


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