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Mr. J. R. Boulton (UK)

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Eclipse Phase
Eclipse Phase
by Catalyst Games
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 35.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Stuff!, 31 Aug 2012
This review is from: Eclipse Phase (Hardcover)
As a collector of RPG's I'd heard about this on the net so when I saw it available (at a local store, sorry Amazon!) I thought I'd take a punt. First impressions were good, it's hefty (400+pages), beautifully laid out, great art, top quality paper and printing, two inbound page markers (a nice touch) and the vibe felt really good. The layout as well is great, everything is well referenced and nicely summarised at the start of each chapter and at convenient points.

I'll also admit my first impression and one that lingers was that this has been heavily influenced by Shadowrun. Let me qualify this by saying the base system is very different (more on the mechanics below) but the layout especially is very Shadowrun-esque (read the character creation section followed by sample characters between the two books or the chapter on the mesh (the wired world) and am sure most people would agree!!). I'd also say the setting is a little less space opera and slightly more 'Shadowrun set slightly in the further future' than I thought it would be. Now, if you're groaning and tuning out at this stage please don't, personally whilst I own a lot of Shadowrun stuff am not a massive fan and this is far less cartoon-punk, massively tones down the magic (psi talents replace and seem much less prevelant) and opens up the setting beyond compare so do please give it a chance.

The best difference by far is in splitting the character (ie the mind, the brain, the soul if you like, called the Ego) from the body (the shell, called the Morph). This is genius and have never seen it handled better, characters can be pulled from body shell to body shell to body shell therefore if the body dies it's not the end. Characters can exist without body's, they can be purely in cyber space, the range of potential shells is huge (normal humans, enhanced humans, genetically grown pods, robots, nano-swarms, enhanced animals etc). the concept is brilliantly done and opens a huge range of ideas and hooks - great stuff!!

The mechanic is fairly straightforward d100 with some nice twists and is well thought through. It's fairly crunchy, combat seems a nice balance of being fairly gritty and deadly but your characters won't get wiped out too easily and social interactions and networking (whilst initially I was sceptical) works really well and is far better developed than in most games. Games could be action-orientated but it will also handle social or investigative games a lot better than I thought it might. I must admit though (and am speaking as a v. experienced gamer) on my first run through I found the rules a little difficult to fathom and follow - everything has an alternative, unique name (it's like they've tried too hard to make this game unique) so it took a while for it to click with me that "oh right, Somatics is Strength, Savvy is Charisma, Durability are Hit Points" - I found myself mentally mapping back to RPG traditions and it was all a little confusing at first.

The setting is great and a lot deeper than in most games - this book has had a lot of time and effort invested in it by the authors and that hard work shines through. It feels very now, very modern, very recent - it screams every great sci-fi idea/game you've ever thought of/wanted to play - Bladerunner style game *TICK*, Ghost In The Shell style game *TICK*, Prometheus style game *TICK*, Event Horizon style game *Tick*, Aliens style game *TICK*, Predators style game *TICK* - it wouldn't be too much of a stretch for Star Wars or Matrix style games either - whatever you fancy really. And it feels so right, so believable - it's a future that amazes but feels within reach, there are colonies in space and space travel but it's largely in our own solar system (although could be extended out effortlessly), aliens are hinted at but remain elusive. And they've really thought about the practicalities with skills around moving in zero-gravity etc. Plus gear, cyberware, robots, vehicles, walkers (cough *Aliens* cough) etc all feel right - futuristic, interesting but believable.

Overall would thoroughly recommend, really impressed - every rpg enthusiast should have this on their shelves and probably the highest recommendation I can give it is that I bought it for a bit of a read but am now running and planning games with this instantly becoming one of my favourite RPG's!!

Ancient Aliens Season 1 [3 DVD]
Ancient Aliens Season 1 [3 DVD]
Offered by Discs4all
Price: 8.75

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary, 29 Oct 2011
A very extraordinary box set in every way. I bought this as I was intrigued by the subject matter but must admit I was quite skeptical, and this boxset does a great job of laying out very well thought out, intelligent arguments in a very professional, well presented manner. It's easy with this material to be too bombastic or fantastical and - whilst the series does present some truly astounding theories - each one is well evidenced and presented as a question, rather than as fact. This is very much the Von Daniken way and is a nice dovetail to his works. Some of the 'experts' are a little too myopic in their views, however it doesn't detract as the strength here is in the evidence presented - it doesn't try to sway you with faux-scientific opinion, it just serves up a series of facts and asks you the question "what do you think?". And that's it's great strength.
Would heartily recommend, not just for UFO/Alien enthusiasts, but for anyone with even the slightest interest in history, astronomy, evolution or civilisation.
Very good material, very well presented, excellent stuff History channel.
(Small point of note, I have seen this on the History channel where it has an English accented narrator, this box set has an American narrator - as I presume this is the original recording - however, personally I think the American narrator does a better job).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2014 4:50 PM GMT

Scream 4 [DVD]
Scream 4 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Neve Campbell
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: 3.96

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Great (it is fourth in the series after all!) But Not Bad Either!, 28 Aug 2011
This review is from: Scream 4 [DVD] (DVD)
Okay, context is that I love all first three Scream films and love the way the series evolved. I really hotly anticipated this one and was majorly annoyed when I missed the cinema release - but anyway, the film:

To me this is a very solid three star film - not great but still very watchable, if you're a fan of the series would definitely recommend. The action is slightly by the numbers compared to the previous three, and there is very, very little character development so, in turn, it loses a lot of it's intelligent little touches and lighter moments that made the first three rise above the rest of the horror genre.

All the returning characters are back - yayyy!! Or rather, no - they're all there but they don't quite click like before. Sid is played a little too heroically and so loses some of her charm in the process, Gail isn't as bitchy as before (and on a personal note am glad Courtney Cox has moved away from that hideous fringe in 3 but has had wayyyyyy too much surgery so is largely expressionless and bland throughout this movie) and Duey is now way too macho and lost that geeky charm he had previously. Whilst I'm at it what the hell is going on with Courtney and David's voices?!?!? Why the hell are they talking in weird deep accents and why do they sound completely different to the first three? What is supposed to have gone on in the intervening years that's affected both of their abilities to speak?!?!? I know that sounds like a minor (and probably personal) thing, however for me I found it very distracting that established characters are suddenly acting/talking differently than before.

All three performances were really just going thru the motions as well and the acting really isn't committed or as cheesily enthusiastic than before. Considering all three stars have definitely declined and that the Scream franchise is the highlight of all of their cv's you'd think they'd really have siezed this chance (I mean come on, Neve Campbell/Courtney Cox/David Arquette - I can't imagine Hollywood casting directors call them all that often!!)

I liked some of the modern touches (although the start of the film is frankly baffling), and a lot of the newly introduced actors/characters do well. It still has twists but I found this one the easiest to guess who the killers were.

So, overall, I'm a fan and thought it is okay, but just 'okay' and nothing more. Personally I hope they do go for a fifth but that Wes cranks it up a notch, returns all the (surviving!) characters to normal and levers an enthusiastic performance from the senior cast. Hope this helps...

DC Adventures RPG Heros Handbook: Super-Hero Roleplaying in the DC Universe
DC Adventures RPG Heros Handbook: Super-Hero Roleplaying in the DC Universe
by Steve Kenson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 29.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good system, a great universe, a beautiful book, 24 July 2011
First thing that strikes you (or certainly struck me!) with this is that it is beautifully made, with tons of fabulous art and a nice feel to it all. The second thing that struck me was it wasn't quite as thick as I was hoping for, but more on this later - firstly the plus points:
- A nice, well thought out game system. I've never used the m&m system before (but have lots of experience of rpgs) and found that this is a nice twist on the d20 genre that works well. There are obvious problems when creating a superhero rpg - primarily around the sheer vastness of different effects that superheroes use and how to balance them but GreenRonin have done an excellent job. Every power you could possibly think of is here and it doesn't hugely unbalance itself either. By there very nature an indestructible all powerful being should be every rpg designers worst nightmare but this book handles it admirably.
- The rules are elegant and handle the wide range of possibilities very well, without going down the route of trying to stat and rule every possible situation. It's nice and simple, and the measurement matrix system works wonderfully.
- Enough background material and a nice array of starting characters to get going with, plus as I've said, it's all nicely packaged up.
And the bad (Well... not bad, these are relatively minor critiques and don't outweight the good above):
- Whilst impressive the rules are slightly confusing in their lay out and could do with lengthier explanations and better cross referencing.
- As per above this book should be 20+ pages longer at least. I completely understand the profit margins GreenRonin as a small publisher must be working to but I do think a little more pagination to help bulk out some of the explanations would have helped.
- Following on from that would be that these rules would really benefit fom lots (and lots!) of examples and sample plays. So many of the rules and powers would be much easier to follow and understand if they gave some real life examples using our favourite heroes (and villains!). Also, a sample adventure at the end to guide you thru a small piece of play would have worked well too.
- Probably personal preference here but would have much preferred a piece on how to start as a low level kid and slowly evolve yourself into being a finished superhero. There are options and rules to advance a character but, for what is a fairly fundamental concept of rpgs gets minimal coverage (1 page!). Don't be deterred however, as the rules are so elegant you can easily adapt your own advancement rules. Also, it limits you to just being a superhero - when being a supervillain would be a lot of fun too! (I suspect these two concepts are probably fleshed out more in the sister-book Mutants & Masterminds - if not these would make excellent supplement books)
- Whilst the overall system is elegant some core rules and concepts are a little confusing and aren't as logical (to me) as they could be. As experienced rpg'ers we've chosen to switch some DC tests for opposed tests and vice versa in our games to let games flow slightly better - nothing mind blowing, but would lead me to add the caution that this system may be slightly better suited to more experienced gamers rather than first-timers.

As per my comments above please, please do not be put off by the above suggestions, they don't detract from what is a lovely piece, a great game and something that appears to be a real labour of love from the producers. It all works and hangs together a lot better than I thought it would, the above points just stop it getting that last fifth star. Would thoroughly recommend.

Big Tits Zombie [DVD]
Big Tits Zombie [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sora Aoi
Price: 8.68

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Does What It Says On The Tin... Kindof, 1 July 2011
This review is from: Big Tits Zombie [DVD] (DVD)
Firstly, with a film title like this you kind of know what the films going to be like and what you're expectation should be - Citizen Kane this isn't!!
Having said that it's actually much more enjoyable (and much less exploitative) than you may think. Yes, it's incredibly cheap and the effects are laughable but this clearly isn't a film that's meant to be taken seriously. Go in with the right attitude and you'll find it's a much more enjoyable film than you might expect and may make you laugh in places.
It's also worth noting that there's much less 'skin' in this flick than you may expect (and it never quite lives up to the 'Big' in the title!) so unlike some films this isn't just a poor mans excuse for softcore. This is a genuine fun film that is worth a watch. Personally I think the title is a result of poor translation and cultural differences.
The 3D effects are incrdibly cheap but quite fun, they don't really add anything to the film though so don't expect Avater!!!

Lupin the Third: The Secret of Mamo [DVD]
Lupin the Third: The Secret of Mamo [DVD]
Dvd ~ Yasuo Otsuka
Offered by The Happy Zombie
Price: 7.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Lupin, 1 July 2011
Inevitably this film is always compared to the more well known (and most would say superior) Castle of Cast. which isn't really fair as this is a cracking film in it's own right. It's a pretty typical Lupin adventure (I find in this one each character is a bit more rounded than CoC) so you'll get fun plenty of fun action sequences and lots of our host characters cheeky charm. Lupin sometimes gets criticised in this one for being a bit less 'heroic' and a little more arrogant/selfish but personally I find him just as endearing as always.
It loses a star as it falls apart a little towards the end but as a fun adventure would thoroughly recommend.

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust [DVD]
Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust [DVD]
Dvd ~ Marco D'Ambrosio
Price: 12.20

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute Anime must have, 1 July 2011
A real anime masterpiece, and a film I'd thoroughly recommend to any fan of anime/horror/vampire films. The pacing is excellent, the characters are interesting and nicely designed, the animation and artwork itself is great and the story works very well with the splits between fighting action and actual story balancing well. Too often these films dazzle with over the top fighting action then kill the pace completely when the writers feel they need to introduce depth - not here, it's balanced and paced excellently.
There's more to this (and each character) than there first seems and it really does hold up to repeated viewings, would thoroughly recommend to any action anime fans.

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl [DVD] [2009]
Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Yukie Kawamura
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: 6.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Really Enjoyable, 1 July 2011
A really enjoyable little film with some grat touches. For a film of this genre the effects are pretty good and quite inventive in places (the vampire seeing people as walking circulatory systems works very well, the first attack in the park surprised me in a good way too plus loved the vampire blood in the test tube!) plus the obligatory lashings and lashings of fake blood. It's a shame it loses it's way and cheapens itself slightly in places with some cheap effects and prosthetics (the Frankenstein girl helicoptor and some of the nurse effects)but overall for this genre it's very well made and enjoyable.
It's also not afraid to be slightly controversial and shocking - these range from the close ups of the bodies that had fallen from the car park roof (a bit gorier than I'd expected, but in a good way) to some things (as mentioned in other reviews) that are cultural differences that probably need a little warning. All aspects of this film are clearly meant to send up certain youth groups and attitudes but some will probably be a little shocking to western audiences. I found the national wrist cutting championship quite a nice send up but it's not the sort of thing you'd normally find in western entertainment. The handling of the Ganguro group was clearly not meant to offend but is certainly something you would ever, EVER see in western film - I think it's for each person to interpret as you will, personally I hadn't read any reviews beforehand so was surprised by it but can see it's not meant to offend.
So, hopefully forewarned you'll take this film the way it's intended and enjoy a teenage vampire romance film that's very different, and much more enjoyable than most in this genre.

Tokyo Zombie [DVD]
Tokyo Zombie [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tadanobu Asano
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 5.15

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good in parts... not so good in others..., 1 July 2011
This review is from: Tokyo Zombie [DVD] (DVD)
Firstly just to say am a huge fan of Japanese cinema and would set the expectation level that if you've never seen a Jpn cult film before then please don't expect a Hollywood blockbuster. This film is incredibly cheap (although to be fair the effects are pretty reasonable mostly and the animated sections are excellent) and there are some cultural differences and uses of language that you may not be comfortable with.
So, the good - the two lead characters are genuinely funny, their sections are amusing and if the film just focused on them and their adventure it would have been a 4 star movie (more on this below). Some of the other little touches (the hand squeezing electric company, the master teasing the student about his 'experiences' at school) are funny too, and the twist right at the end is genuinely inventive and, again, very amusing.
And, the bad - the introduction of the female character and (spoilers) the switch to the zombie fighting arena completely ruin the film and the film should have avoided them completely. The female character is awful, terribly written, completely unlikeable and as soon as she enters the films pace falls thru the floor. If you skip thru this section (I have to be completely honest, I found the middle 40 minutes so awful I have fast forwarded and not watched it properly) then you've got a 4 star beginning and ending (the return of the other main character, the twist and the zombie ringmaster), just take my advice and skip thru as soon as the girl enters.
A shame as it could have been so much more, but if you're a fan of Jpn cinema then I would recommend it as it is a nice take on the genre and genuinely different to most Jpnese cult films, plus will have some laugh out loud moments (plus some dull, tedious sections you'll want to avoid).

Sake set peach blossom white with four cups
Sake set peach blossom white with four cups

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Quality, 9 Mar 2011
This set is really very pretty and makes a lovely ornamental set.

As with all items I've purchased from Gifts Of The Orient it comes nicely presented in a presentation box that was gift wrapped at no extra fee plus, as always, it was very well packaged to ensure it arrived in perfect condition, very promptly. This is reassuring as the china is really quite delicate but arrived looking perfect.

Overall would highly recommend Gifts Of The Orient as they provide asian items of remarkably high quality for a very reasonable price and are a very reliable company.

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