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Jonathon Smith (UK)

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Warriors: Legends of Troy (PS3)
Warriors: Legends of Troy (PS3)
Offered by Click For Games UK
Price: £21.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A much needed refresh of the Warriors franchise, 5 Feb. 2013
Warriors: Legends of Troy takes all the fast paced action, massive numbers of enemies and diverse cast of playable characters that Koei fans have come to love from the Dynasty Warriors and Samurai Warriors franchise and boots it into touch with modern gaming. The main fix is that the mechanics of combat have been enhanced to provide variety and tactics. The previous games suffered from button bashing fatigue, where the best tactic was just to mash the square button, cutting an airy path through enemy soldiers and officers alike. In Legends of Troy, that tactic might work on novice level soldiers, but the majority will just block your attacks. You need to use a combination of bash attacks to put them off-guard, quick slash attacks to reduce their health and focused attacks to finish them off. Each enemy officer has a different attack pattern and needs different tactics to defeat. For the first time, attacks actually graphically connect with an enemy and have different outcomes based on the situation. It all provides for much more variety and satisfaction.

Other tweaks include the addition of monstrous bosses, regular health replenishment based on the numbers (and method) of enemies killed, and a levelling up system which works across all characters simultaneously. The addition of blood and graphic death scenes may be unwelcome to some Dynasty Warrior fans, but are very much in keeping with Homer's account of the war. In fact the game does a good job of sticking to the myth of Troy, and as an archaeologist, it is one of the few games where I haven't been dismayed by their rendering of history (unlike Bladestorm, which made me vomit).

To sum up, a fun hack and slash game, with a decent narrative thread. If you are a fan of Dynasty Warriors, you'll be impressed. If you've never played Dynasty Warriors, you're in for a treat.


Teachings Of Zoroaster & Philosophy Of The Parsi Religion
Teachings Of Zoroaster & Philosophy Of The Parsi Religion
Price: £2.23

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fustrating, but enlightning, 19 Jan. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is split into two parts. The first part is a rather pompous, self-congratulatory and stylistically old-fashioned history of the Zoroastrian religion, its morals and its view of the cosmos. I struggled with some of names, places and concepts mentioned, which are not well explained. However, having said that, it remains a better explanation of the Zoroaster religion than I found on wikipeida, so I must give it credit for that.

The second half of the book is important quotes from the sacred texts. These are easy to understand and written in simple English. The whole book is relatively short, and I managed to skim read it in a few hours. I now feel armed with enough knowledge to try a reading of the Avesta, the sacred Zoroaster texts. I suppose that means the book has done its job.

If you are looking for a reason to read this book, other than simple curiosity, then I suggest you read it whilst contemplating the second half of the Old Testament. Key Zoroastrian concepts such as resurrection, final judgement and a malevolent spirit tempting you to sin (Satan) only appear in the Jewish religion after the Babylonian exile, when the two religions had ample opportunity to mix. I think the possible blending of the two monotheistic religions is an important and largely unacknowledged phenomenon...but make your own mind up on that :)


Genkaku Picasso, Vol. 3
Genkaku Picasso, Vol. 3
by Usamaru Furuya
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A little (but only a little) dissapointing, 19 Jan. 2013
For this review I'm going to assume that you have already read the first two volumes of this manga series, and know roughly what it is about. I thought the first volume was an intelligent, beautiful, fast-paced work and I absolutely loved it. The second volume was a bit of a let down, due to being unnecessarily padded out. This final volume is back on form and sees Picasso confronting different kinds of issues, in the drawn and living world.

However, the finale left me a little disappointed. It did not feel like much of a climax. Yes, there was a twist, but I saw it coming a mile off. I think the problem might be that because Picasso is such a light-hearted read, you don't really start feeling emotionally attached to any of the characters - they are likeable, but not loveable. Not enough strands of plot come together and not enough hurdles are overcome for this to feel like a satisfying end. Still, I enjoyed the read and I am likely to hunt down more mangas by Usamaru Furuya.


Genkaku Picasso, Vol. 2
Genkaku Picasso, Vol. 2
by Usamaru Furuya
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but doesn't live up to the first volume, 17 Jan. 2013
Volume 2 of the Picasso trilogy is a little weak. The humour which I loved in the first book is spread thinner and the punchy, short stories feel padded out. That's not to say I disliked the book, it just didn't live up to my expectations. The artwork is still fabulous and it is still intelligently written with endearing characters. I am definitely going to finish the trilogy off and go on to read volume 3.

I feel like the author used this volume as a chance to express his gay side - there is quite a lot of implied yaoi and actual cross-dressing. However, there is nothing explicit or unsuitable for teenagers and I wouldn't agree with the previous reviewer who recommends it only for 16s and up.


Genkaku Picasso, Vol. 1
Genkaku Picasso, Vol. 1
by Usamaru Furuya
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An almost perfect little story, 16 Jan. 2013
Above all the Picasso story will make you smile. Every page has those little moments of humour that make mangas shine. The stories follow a misanthrope hero who has the ability to draw the subconscious of people around him, only he rather wouldn't. But in order to save himself he is reluctantly forced to save those around him, picking up a cohort of friends along the way.

I loved the art in this book, especially the full page images of people's subconscious. Every picture is puzzle to unravel, which will keep you reading through to the end. It is intelligently written, pulling in references from the world of art and Freudian psychology. My only complaint is sometimes the mind-pictures and the problem revealed are a little tenuously linked, but I can't say more without revealing the plot! The volume is easy to breeze through, I managed it in a lunchtime. I will definitely be reading the next two volumes and I can see myself re-reading the first in the near future.

Edit: After finishing the series, I can say that vol.1 is definitely the best of the three. The next two volumes are really just more of the same, but less funny. There is no real story progression and the climax in vol.3 is a little disappointing. Still an entertaining read though, give it a try.


Wooden Funny Sign Wall Plaque. Mum I'm As lucky As I Can be Because The Worlds best Mum Belongs to me.
Wooden Funny Sign Wall Plaque. Mum I'm As lucky As I Can be Because The Worlds best Mum Belongs to me.
Offered by GIGGLEWICK GIFTS
Price: £4.50

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant, but a little tacky, 27 Nov. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I think in my head when I ordered this 'wooden' item I was thinking of something classy, with ink etched on pine, or some kind of pyrography. What it actually is, is a piece of thin MDF (hardly 'wood' in my opinion) with a printed label stuck on the front. The corners fray just like cardboard. I'm not overly upset, given the low price and the fact my mum will probably focus more on the message than the medium, but I probably would not have bought it had I seen it in the flesh first. It is probably better to regard this product as sign made of thick card.


The Jak and Daxter Trilogy (PS3)
The Jak and Daxter Trilogy (PS3)
Offered by Bonisell
Price: £39.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great games, a little fustrating, 27 Nov. 2012
I never played the original games, so this HD collection is entirely new to me. I love it! It is one step above most of the platformers I have played. The graphics are beautiful, game play is varied and it is packed with wit. The open world style definitely suits people who like to explore (it is so satisfying to finally collect all the objects in a level!). My only problem with the games is they tend to be a little difficult in the latter levels...but perhaps I've just been pampered by the current generation of stroll-through, regenerating health, infinite respawn games. However, they don't even approach the impossibility of some of the old school platformers like Crash Bandicoot. All it takes is a little perseverance, for which I'm grateful (and many of the most difficult tasks can be skipped if you're not interested in that 100% completion).

Give Jak and Daxter a try!


Bladestorm: The Hundred Years War (PS3)
Bladestorm: The Hundred Years War (PS3)
Offered by DVDGAMING DIRECT
Price: £24.85

2.0 out of 5 stars A paper-thin game with no longevity, 21 Nov. 2012
I love medieval stuff, I love Koei games and I love unit tactics, so this game should have been my ideal match. I shake my head in disappointment.

The basic gameplay premise is to lead a single unit of soldiers across a massive, sprawling battlefield to capture certain castles within a time limit. There is only one button to attack, which you generally keep held down, and each different sort of unit has a few 1-button-to-execute special attacks you can learn. However, after just a few battles you will discover the only unit worth leading is the heavy cavalry that can get you from one side of the battlefield to the other in less than half an hour and generally stomps on every other unit which gets in the way (even the pikemen, who are easy to catch off-guard). Being a true English patriot, I tried to win battles with the longbow, but this got tedious just sitting still and pressing 'shoot' every 15 seconds at an unresponsive enemy with negligible AI. There is no way to use 'real world' strategies or to combine tactics with an ally (the combat is definitely closer to Dynasty Warriors than Total War, in case you were wondering).

It is fun for an hour or two, but the battles are repetitive, objectives unvarying and storyline negligible. At least with Dynasty Warriors or Legends of Troy you were able to directly control your character's attack combos, but in Bladestorm there is no button bashing to make you feel involved. The greatest challenge is just lining your character up so his attacks actually hit home (seriously, this can be very frustrating). The other niggley thing that irritates me is that despite allegedly setting the game in the Hundred Years War, they have only made the slightest nod towards the historical period....Really Koei? Vikings and camels at Agincourt?

To sum up, play the demo on the PSN network. The full game does not have any more gameplay to offer than that.


The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead
The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead
by Raymond O. Faulkner
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great insight into Egyptain religion, 7 Oct. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The 'Book' of the Dead is a series of prayers entombed with the dead to guide them through the afterlife. Faulkner's book contains one of the most comprehensive compilations of these prayers and (although I'm no scholar of Egyptology) from what I'm told, it is the most authoritative translation. Faulkner's book is a great insight into Egyptian religion with many unexpected nuances. It is well put together with plenty of illustrations from the original scrolls showing the scenes described in the prayers and has a brief introduction to the subject describing the Book of the Dead, its development and place in Egyptian religion.

Despite being a 'popular' version, the text does not shy away from literal accuracy, leaving it a complicated, but rewarding read. Because of the broad audience, the book does not have any scholarly discussions about why certain passages have been translated the way they have, but that's not something that bothers me. In all honesty, I'd even recommend the book for perspective and entry level students, since the fully academic version with the rendering notes left in can cost over £100.

The book of the dead is not a comprehensive or easily understood guide to ancient Egypt, but if you want to read about ancient Egyptian religion through the eyes of the ancient Egyptians, then this book is ESSENTIAL.


The Holy Quran (English-Yusuf-Ali)
The Holy Quran (English-Yusuf-Ali)
Price: £0.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the best translation around, 11 Aug. 2012
I found this particular translation of the Qu'ran to be quite difficult to read, which probably stems from the translator's attempt to to keep some of the poetry of the Arabic version. From personal experience a better and more readable translation is Koran. English, but this suffers from a bad rendering on to the kindle; the Suras are not indexed and the footnotes intrude on the text.

I'm yet to find a GOOD translation which is also WELL FORMATTED for the kindle, which is a shame :-(


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