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M. Palmer (Portsmouth, UK)

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Rubik's Cube
Rubik's Cube
Price: £9.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a real Rubik's Cube but only guarenteed if you buy from Amazon, 4 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Rubik's Cube (Toy)
A lot of reviews are complaining that their cube was of poor quality and only came in a plastic bag. Be very careful, there are a lot of "alternative suppliers" listed under this product, if you want an official cube then make sure Amazon is the supplier and not one of the others as it would appear they are purchasing cheap Chinese copies that are of low quality and listing them under this entry.

My cube came in the box as pictured.

My only disappointment with the product is that the official Rubik page says that their cubes now have coloured plastic squares rather than stickers and my cube came with stickers so it looks like Amazon are still clearing out old stock.

[Non-Slip] Spigen Samsung Galaxy S4 Case Slim ***NEW*** [Ultra Fit] [Smooth Black] Rubbery Feel Non-Slip Grip Matte Hard Case for Galaxy S IV Galaxy SIV i9500 - ECO-Friendly Packaging - Smooth Black (SGP10195)
[Non-Slip] Spigen Samsung Galaxy S4 Case Slim ***NEW*** [Ultra Fit] [Smooth Black] Rubbery Feel Non-Slip Grip Matte Hard Case for Galaxy S IV Galaxy SIV i9500 - ECO-Friendly Packaging - Smooth Black (SGP10195)
Offered by Spigen UK Store
Price: £5.99

50 of 60 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Current reviews for SPIGEN SGP are all bogus, 22 April 2013
All the current (ie before my review date) "reviews" concerning the SPIGEN SGP cases for the GSIV seem to be written by people connected to the company. They are new reviewers who have just reviewed multiple SPIGEN SGP cases all on the same day claiming they have bought them all and given them all 5 star reviews.

Seeing as people are soon going to be looking for cases for the newly released phone I find such tactics to be extremely dishonest and underhanded.

If your product it worthy of praise then let it stand on its own merits, don't mislead the buyer.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 17, 2014 4:44 PM GMT

Tomb Raider (PC DVD)
Tomb Raider (PC DVD)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £6.99

68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Totally amazing and sorely dissapointing with more QTEs than tombs, 16 Mar. 2013
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Tomb Raider (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics had to do something, despite being utterly brilliant the last proper "Tomb Raider" outing for Lara Croft "Tomb Raider: Underworld" took around 7 months to reach the sales targets the companies were hoping for after a 2 month Christmas period which lead to 30 CD staff having to be laid off, so a reboot of some sort was always on the cards due to the perceived apathy towards the series. The result, Tomb Raider 2013 is both an amazing success and a disappointment and letdown.

I have LOVED Tomb Raider games from the very first one (and yes that even includes Angel of Darkness, although that was more "enjoyed" than "loved") it is no word of a lie to say they are my favourite games ever. I love the sense of discovery, exploration, secret passages, finding exciting tomb machines and puzzles and working out how to solve them and how to navigate Lara to the next tomb room... unfortunately most of that is lacking in the current Tomb Raider game.

However, let's get the good out of the way first... and there is A LOT to like about the new game. If you have a PC that can pull it off, Tomb Raider is jaw-droppingly beautiful there has never been a better looking TR game or with a few exceptions any other game for that matter. The voice acting is also exemplary across the board, and whilst the script does fall in cliché at times during the latter part of the game, Lara has never felt more real as a character. Lara is also much more fluidly animated, seamlessly moving from one action to another in a very natural way which is a joy to watch. Also improved beyond recognition is the 3rd person cover shooting. The shooting mechanic was always a "tacked on" element in previous games, now Lara will automatically crouch behind cover when it is nearby, headshots, bodyshots and legshots all cause the enemy to be injured in a different way and enemies stagger and react to weapon impacts much more believably.

But this is where we now get to the flipside of the coin and where things start to falter...

Tomb Raider used to be a puzzle-plaformer (that was its true genre) which used to get lumped under the action/adventure genre umbrella... well it's not any more. The cover shooting mechanic is now one of the main elements in the game combined with very simple plaforming to get around the island. By about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the game the shooting was becoming very tiresome, you'd be standing on a cliff about to slide down a rope and could see barrels and other environmental items laid out in a conveniently "there's going to be some shooting coming up so we're giving you cover" kind of way and as if on cue the moment you reach the ground the script kicks in and you find yourself in YET ANOTHER firefight, there was way WAY too much cover fire fights in the game.

and talking of scripts another thing there were way way WAY too many of were scripted events weather they were Quick Time Events or other scripted corridor moments in a trend to make the game more "cinematic". QTEs are a truly hideous inheritance from the console generation. I understand the appeal for developers as they are not as passive as a cut scene and to some minimal extent allow the player to still feel involved in a sequence of events that are outside the normal in-game actions for a character, or as an easy (lazy) way to transition from one area of the game to a completly different area without having to design a "linking environment", but they always leave me cold, they end up either being overtly simple (you are running over a collapsing series of bridges in a spectacular sequence, but in actual fact all you are doing if holding down the "w" key to run forward and occasionally pressing space in a HUGE window of opportunity) or amazingly frustrating (steering Lara left and right down a river constantly getting impaled on metal poles and having to start the whole sequence over from the start a dozen times so by the end of it you're actually more frustrated than exhilarated). In effect the game is playing itself and you're just there for the odd random unnecessary single button press. I despise them.

There has been a trend over the last year or two which has been acknowledged both by the gaming press and by the game designers themselves of "dumbing down" or "watering down" the gaming experience and difficulty, with games becoming more expensive to produce and a need for more people to buy the games to finance them they want to appeal to a wider audience base which now includes the "casual gamer", this is no clearer than in the lack of TOMBS in TOMB Raider a game about raiding TOMBS. There are now a total of just SEVEN tombs in the whole game, all of which are optional and can be bypassed and to call them true Tombs with a capital "T" in the "Tomb Raider" sense is laughable, they all consist of only two rooms, the first room contains a single physics based puzzle which you need to solve to get to the second room which is basically a place for a "treasure chest" which contains a map of where all the collectable diary entries and GPS cache cylinders are located. Each puzzle is woefully simple to solve and I completed each "tomb" in under 5 minutes... so that's 35 minutes max out of a 12 hour game actually in a tomb using your brain to solve a puzzle.

All of the rest of the platforming in Tomb Raider is of the non-puzzle variety, and whilst the game will have you shimmying across ledges and jumping across gaps you are always led by the nose and left in no doubt where you need to go next, 90% of the time it's always obvious how you're meant to get to a certain location and on the occasions you find that you can't it's not because you need to work out your route or solve a problem and actually use your brain for once to get there, it's because the game has deliberately locked you out from progressing because it hasn't given you the climbing axe you need, or the rope arrow you need or the shotgun that can get through blocked doors... so for much of the platforming you're just "going through the motions".

Ultimately at the end after 12 hours Tomb Raider left me feeling like I had won a hollow victory, like I had been led by the hand through the entire game, and however beautiful and cinematic the journey might have been I had not been challenged once and had done nothing that gave me in any way a sense of accomplishment. Despite all it's characterisation and beauty I still think Legend/Anniversary and Underworld are the better Crystal Dynamics Tomb Raider games.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 3, 2013 4:01 AM GMT

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 2 [Blu-ray] [1988] [Region Free]
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 2 [Blu-ray] [1988] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Patrick Stewart
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £39.76

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Despite slightly variable picture quality still an admirable release., 21 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In some ways season 2 is an easy target and you often hear more lazy reviewers revelling in criticising it. Having to contend with a The Writers Guild strike, the introduction of the less likeable Doctor Kate Polaski and containing Shades of Gray which is undeniably the worst episode of The Next Generation bar none it is unfortunately encumbered. However whilst watching season 2 you start to encounter episodes that show the writers are starting to hit their stride and are getting much better at writing tight stories and developing the characters, which becomes a more consistent hallmark of the following seasons. Episodes like Where Silence Has Lease, The Measure of a Man, Q Who and others really are excellent (admittedly mixed in with a few duffers).

As mentioned in other reviews the picture quality is more variable in this season 2 release compared with season 1, it should still be stressed however that even when the picture quality is at its worst it is still miles better than the DVD releases. The first episode The Child as well as not being a particularly strong story also has the misfortunate of being one of the worst offenders, the picture can go from heavy grain, to perfect 1080p picture quality to overtly smooth within a few moments from cut to cut, on one of the extras it is mentioned that they experimented more with different types of film stock when filming season 2 and I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but sometimes especially in The Child the sudden shift in picture quality can be jarring. I should point out that this is more the exception than the rule, but you need to be aware that it exists.

One of the many reasons I am treasuring these blu ray releases is that the extra picture clarity really lets you appreciate what amazing actors the main cast are. You can suddenly see with more clarity subtle looks and gestures which were lost on the fuzzy standard definition programmes which almost makes it feel like you're watching a new episode and can really see a cast that is acting it's socks off and giving it 110%, which is no clearer than Patrick Stewart's performance in The Measure of a Man, that man oozes talent. Nagilum looks truly terrifying in high definition, and when Data (with perfect comedy timing) rips up his wrapping paper in The Measure of a Man you can see that the actors playing Wesley and Troi are laughing for real at what has just occurred (which I'd never picked up on before in SD), and it's touches like that that really make releases like this special.

For me the positives of what this blu-ray transfer offers far outweighs the negatives, but you just need to go into this purchase aware that there are negatives there... especially if you're paying full price.

Another worthy TNG release although as mentioned in other reviews I hope CBS learn their lessons from this release to really set the standard on the hallmark season 3 which everyone will be waiting for.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 25, 2013 3:05 AM GMT

Brave [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Brave [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Kelly Macdonald
Offered by Mediacentre
Price: £13.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Utterly enchanting with the terrifying spectre of Disneyfication creaping in at the edges, 27 Nov. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I own and love each and every Pixar film they have ever released (yes even Cars 2) they have an amazing creativity and skill about telling a story through the most unlikely characters that I am in total admiration of. Their skill in animation is also beyond comparison, they put such subtly into their characters movement and expressions (unlike other animators who succumb to stock cliche) that gives each character a true depth, and they somehow manage to combine such subtlety with breathtaking huge sweeping set pieces that make your jaw drop.

In some ways never has this been better displayed than in Brave, the magnificent romanticised scenery of Scotland pouring our of every pixel of the screen is just mind-blowingly beautiful in both its scope and lushness (I've never seen a 3D animation look so alive), and the characters to a person are expertly realised.

The story at it most basic is the search for a daughter's independence, of finding her own path in the world, and the age old struggle between mother and daughter to break the bonds as a child and re-bonding as an adult.

I've given Brave 4 stars because it does this well, I have JUST finished watching the film on Blu-ray and when it's at its best it can stand proud against any of Pixar's previous films as a monumental success.

The only reason I don't give it 5 is that there were moments where you could distinctly taste the bitter cliche of Disney personnel or management walloping in with their big feet and messing with things. I sincerely hope that this isn't a prelude of further things to come. Don't get me wrong Disney films (the good ones that is) are wonderful, but they have a style and "this is the way we do things in a Disney film" about them which smack you round the face with their Disneyness which makes them quite clearly Disney, and Pixar are so amazing precisely because they are not Disney, they are their own entity. This is the first Pixar film I had to question that identity... Character design could have so easily nudged its way into "Disney's Tangled" realm (Disney have a stock character design look which whilst making them immediately recognisable as Disney characters also make them appear unimaginative and derivative). When Pixar films normally make you cry there's normally such incredible meaning and poignancy behind it (the beginning of Up still totally floors me), unfortunately Brave's "tear-inducing moment" was nothing but total emotional-manipulation and quite clumsily executed which for me totally cheapened it and killed the moment. There were other touches interspersed about which also felt like they belonged more in a Disney world but I have harped on about this too long already.

Despite my reservations about the future direction of the studio under their "new" owners, the film has a good heart and is an utter joy to watch, weather you buy or rent it you won't regret watching it.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 1 [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 1 [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Patrick Stewart
Offered by Shop Spectrum
Price: £27.94

152 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu ray is stunning, 24 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's a shame that Amazon have included the DVD reviews under the blu ray product because although the stories are the same the product is completely different. I just received the blu ray box set of season 1 today.

The Next Generation was shot of film (both live action and special effects) however both were immediately transferred to standard definition tape, and they used this tape to edit the episode together and composite the special effects into the live action, and it is this tape copy that is the source for the old DVDs and what was and is broadcast on television. Paramount have gone back to the original film negatives and scanned them in high definition and have re-composited and re-edited and cleaned up every single episode shot for shot. Some people may be complaining and wondering why the blu ray release is apparently so expensive, well this is why, it's taken A LOT of manpower and resource to make these.

I have all TNG episodes on DVD so I watched the first episode "Encounter at Farpoint" on DVD to familiarize myself with it and then on blu ray.

For anyone who says that they are happy with the DVDs seriously needs their head examining. The picture quality on the blu ray release is totally and utterly stunning, I cannot overstate how spectacular it looks. The DVDs picture is blurry, fuzzy with incorrect colour timing and terrible picture smearing.

The blu ray picture on the other hand is pin sharp with correct colour balance. Watching the Enterprise D slide into view for the first time my jaw literally dropped, instead of a fuzzy ship with blurry windows, a deflector dish consisting of a fuzzy blue ring and vague details which you got on the DVD, on the blu ray the stunning work of the model makers can be seen in crisp detail, the ship surface actually has a richness and shimmer to it I'd never seen before.

When Q first appears on the bridge his armour which just seemed dull and lifeless before you can now see highlights glinting off the detailed designs on its surface and details on it you couldn't see before. Panels glint under the studio lights, costume details stand out, the displays look crisp.

Also now that the colours have been corrected everything looks more natural and you no longer get colour bleed between surfaces and people's faces no longer look sunburnt.

The only downside to such quality is that it also meant I could spot a piece of fluff on the bridge carpet and noticed the edge of a power cable going into Data's console at the front of the bridge, details you wouldn't have seen before because the original pictures were only in NTSC resolution of 525 lines.

The sound has also been remixed from 5.1 to 7.1. I only have a 5.1 setup but the sound seems a lot more immersive and the dialogue much clearer than on the DVD releases, perhaps because on blu ray the sound is not compressed.

The episodes retain their square 4:3 picture format (ie they are not in widescreen) just like the blu ray releases of The Original Series, they have done this because this is how they were shot, the only way to make them widescreen would be to zoom the picture in but you would lose too much picture from the top and bottom, so a headshot would suddenly become eyebrow to lips shots, and you can't zoom out sideways any further because literally just out of the 4:3 frame was where the crew were standing with light reflectors and boom mics. It's dependent on the viewer but you soon forget you're watching it in 4:3 after a few moments and then it seems no different to watching a widescreen programme.

As a Star Trek TNG fan is this blu ray release worth £50 - Yes! Absolutely! It looks like it was shot yesterday. The improvements over the DVD release are truly astronomical.
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 2, 2013 10:47 PM BST


3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says but could be better, 20 Oct. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: HOT/COLD Mug
I'm a gadget nut, and so for me what could be more perfect than a gadget mug! It does what it says, when cold it's dark blue with white writing and when you put hot liquid in it quickly changes to white with red writing. The only downsides to be aware of are...whilst there is hot liquid in the mug you can still see the "cold" writing as the white of the mug isn't quite the same white as that of the cold lettering which was a dissapointment. Also as you drink because body temperature is "cold" to the mug your lip marks and finger marks end up all over the mug as it's cooling down and makes it look messy.

Having said all that, it is a great conversation piece, and after a month the novelty hasn't worn off yet!

Sid Meier's Civilization V
Sid Meier's Civilization V

21 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At long last! An accessible Civilization game! I'm finally hooked!, 20 Oct. 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you read the 1 and 2 star reviews (ignoring the ones that are just complaining about Steam) inevitably somewhere you will find a variation of the line "I've been playing Civilization games since version..." and while their reviews are perfectly valid and I am not saying they are wrong in their arguments, the Civilization series to me has always been a cliquey members only club, great if you're already on the inside and have grown up with the game as complexity has slowly been added but for those of us trying to learn the game is been a near vertical nightmare of a learning curve. I've been TRYING to play Civilization games since Civ III and I can happily say THIS game has FINALLY got me totally and utterly addicted and I finally know what the "just one more turn" thrill is all about.

Here are some example of what made previous games so frustrating for me and why I'd end up just uninstalling the games, and why I personally find Civilization 5 superior.

Previous Civ games had "Stacks of Doom" (the ability to stack multiple units on a single tile) - I cannot put into words just how much I hated these in previous games. For a strategy game I personally found these the most unstrategic element in the games and what made the game unplayable. For example, I would be concentrating on a scientific victory with stacks of a few units, and then Caesar would just bulldoze in with HUGE unit stacks and totally obliterate my empire - "my stack is bigger than your stack" is not the basis of a good strategy game. Now because you can only have a single military unit per tile (apart from aircraft) placement and specific bonus promotions and land bonuses becomes so much more tactical and with the limited space in an area of the map you really have to think which units should be on your front lines, which to use as support etc.

The move to a hex grid from squares in Civ 5 is also fantastic, because there are now only 6 exits out of a tile rather than 8 you can now annex areas of the map more efficiently, with squares you could always cut corners and bypass fortified military units with ease (which to me seemed to make the whole point of fortification pointless...well 80% of the time).

When units engage in Civ 5 you now actually see which bonuses and penalties apply to each side, in previous games you'd have a spearman killing a helicopter, and apart from screaming "C'mon!!! You gotta be kidding me!!!" at the computer screen, you had absolutely no idea why that just happened leaving you totally baffled and always felt angry that the computer was cheating, whereas now you can appreciate why a certain outcome happened because you can see the modifiers that are effecting the fight, and also pleasantly for those people who don't care about such things it presents a single line telling you in plain English how successful you are likely to be as well - genius, and about time.

Civ 5 also has the best UI of the series for someone wishing to learn the game as well, popups can be enabled (if desired) for almost everything in the game telling you exactly why things are happening the way they are, and FINALLY the Civilopedia is a joy to use, is easy to search, and actually explains things in plain English rather than indecipherable shorthand, plus it now fully cross references itself with hyperlinks which makes finding out the consequences of perusing a certain research path all the more simple.

Now I'm sure some people reading this will be thinking to my opinion of the previous Civ games "well you just didn't stick with it" or "well I didn't find that a problem, I thought that was a good thing", and to those people I would say I'm pleased for you, but those are a few of MY personal reasons why I just couldn't "stick with it" and would say that however brilliant a game is, if the game has you turning off before you get to that brilliance then it has failed to do its job.

I have read many people say that Civ 5 is "dummed down", while I agree I would instead use the words "amazingly accessible" and "removed complexity, that was there just for the sake of making the game complex"...and as I say I have been trying to get into these games since Civ III and I can remember the community shouting the same accusations at Civ 4 when it first came out and saying they were sticking to Civ 3, it's interesting to see that Civ4 now seems to be regarded as the "gold standard".

I don't begrudge those reviews who have given this game 1 or 2 stars, but in return I would say, please done begrudge us "normal people" the ability to join you in loving the Civ games which this game is allowing us to do.

For long-time players I think the developers in addition to difficulty level should have also implemented a complexity level so that in the options you could enable unit stacking, or religion for example, so that new players could play a complete game and get to grips with the basics without 10,000 different things being thrown at you all at the same time, and seasoned players could turn on all the features to their heart content. Of course this would probably mean we wouldn't have seen the game for another couple of years and I'm glad I haven't had to wait that long to find a Civilization game that I find I'm lying in bed working out what my next strategy should be when I start the game up again in the morning.

Civ 5 seems to be the most mod friendly Civ game so far so I would say it won't be long before the modding comunity adds componants to make the game more complex so I'm sure those people who currently find certain aspects of the new game not to their liking will shortly be rewarded.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 17, 2011 12:15 AM GMT

Silent Hunter 5 (PC DVD)
Silent Hunter 5 (PC DVD)
Price: £7.63

33 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Think very carefully what buying this game actually means, 6 Mar. 2010
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Silent Hunter 5 (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
I would urge anyone wishing to buy this game to think very carefully about the following.

As has been reported unless we as consumers make a stand NOW, ALL future Ubisoft games will use this new DRM which requires the player to ALWAYS have an ALWAYS ON internet connection to play, even for single player games (Ubisoft have stated this clearly as their intent on their website and in interviews). There are hundrends of thousands of people who do not have a stable internet connection or no internet connection at all, Ubisoft are showing that they don't care about these people. Maybe this current DRM solution doesn't inconvinience you, but what happens when they release a DRM solution that DOES, because judging by their lack of reaction to the many protests concerning this, they won't listen when YOU have problems.

You will pay a lot of money for this game, but can't play this game you purchased when YOU want to, you can only play it when Ubisoft will LET YOU play it. There is a BIG difference and they are clearly saying THEY are still in control and in charge of the game you purchased and own and NOT YOU. THEY will decided WHEN you are allowed to play your game and WHERE you are allowed to play your game, and you have no say in the matter.

If you internet blips or goes down, if transatlantic connections to their servers go down, if they take their servers down for maintanace, if they switch their servers off - your game becomes unplayable.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 27, 2013 11:48 PM GMT

Assassin's Creed II (PC)
Assassin's Creed II (PC)
Offered by games.empire
Price: £3.75

250 of 264 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Would be a great game except..., 5 Mar. 2010
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Ubisoft seems to now been crippling all their new games with a draconian DRM solution that means you need an always on internet connection and an Ubisoft account to play the game, even for singleplayer. If I want to play the game on a long journey I can't, if I want to play the game in a hotel on a business trip I can't, if I want to play it whilst staying at my parents who don't have the internet I can't. Even worse if your internet connection blips for any reason the game freezes which is AMAZINGLY and INDESCRIBABLY annoying until it can reach the Ubisoft server again!!! It TOTALLY ruins the gaming experience. Lastly you do no get the entire game on your disk, another reason to have a constant internet connection is that the game needs to download little sections of code for you to be able to complete the game. So what happens when they eventually turn their server off?! They say they'll patch the game...I don't believe them.

Game 8/10, DRM solution -1,000,000/10 giving a final score of -999,992. A good game totally ruined by the worst copy protection system I've ever witnessed as a PC gamer!
Comment Comments (29) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 13, 2013 5:21 PM BST

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