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C. Gordon "Doctor Death"

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Tomb Raider Underworld (Xbox 360)
Tomb Raider Underworld (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: 10.40

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Returning to the solitude..., 9 Aug 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Firstly, let me nail my colours firmly to the mast- I've been a huge fan of the Tombraider series ever since I first bought a secondhand PS1 that came with a demo of TR1 from the cover of a magazine - I played the demo half to death, then zipped out and bought the full game. I've played every incarnation since, not necessarily finishing the later ones. After the pretty sub standard Angel of Darkness, I took a downer on the whole thing, yet I still tried both Legend and Anniversary on the PS2, though in truth I found them a bit ...meh.

Tombraider's strength has always been it's exploration and sense of isolation, and whilst I'm sure many will disagree, the combat could disappear from the games completely as far as I'm concerned.

I've not had my 360 long, and with Underworld at a bargain price, I decided to give it a go, and I'm very glad I did!

Despite what some people have said, the graphics are beautiful, each environment is nicely atmospheric, and by and large, massive. When you are making jumps above some of the long drops, it can give a real sense of vertigo- the fact that Lara lands in a nauseatingly unpleasant, twisted heap makes the long drops even more concerning. The mechanical hammer room is a good example of this, as is the huge rotating column that you have to climb - I'll mention no details of these, save to say it gets nerve wracking when you know that if you mis-time a jump, you'll fall to a grisly end.

I do have a few gripes, the first of which is the combat. Not that the controls are horrendous, or that there is HUGE amounts of it, more that I just don't enjoy it - as I've already said, for me the joy is in the exploration, the puzzle solving and the story (even if it is fairly basic, it's interesting enough), not shooting things. There are two levels based on boats with the enemies being soldiers/mercenaries, and I found these a chore, though in truth they are mercifully short, so no real problem there. Although some people like bosses, I was glad not to come across any in all honesty.

A second gripe are the motorcycle riding levels - I just fail to see the point, and the bike levels could have been easily done away with altogether, not to mention that it's the most peculiar looking bike I've ever seen - it seems to have a square-section off road car tyre on the rear, and the bike itself seems to have been designed by someone who has been TOLD what a motorcycle looked like, but has never actually seen so much as a picture of one.

A number of reviewers seem to have had problems with the camera and whilst I did have the odd moment of frustration when it got stuck, these were few and far between, and adjusting the camera angle manually usually sorted it out.

One thing I've completely failed to mention so far is the controls - on the block/cube based levels of the earliest games, the old control system was to my mind, near perfect (I appreciate not everyone will agree, but it really worked for me). As the level designs have become looser and less geometric, the control system has had to evolve to cope, and on occasion in recent outings it has failed miserably, but once you get to grips with it, the controls on Underworld are pretty nice, and slowly you'll gain confidence in making those leaps and jumps (huge drops and crumpled death thoughts notwithstanding). Combat is a little awkward, but nothing horrendous, as has been stated earlier.

Overall it's very much a fun game, and challenging enough to while away a good few hours - another reviewer claims to have completed it in two hours, and if that's true he must be a damn good gamer is all I can say. I have no idea how long it took me, but 12 hours or more would be my guess.

For fun, I've given it five out of five - this is Tombraider, and few fans of the original games will find too much to complain about here. Overall I've given it four stars - I've taken a star off purely because for me there's too much combat in it- some people would doubtless like to see more action, not less, but remove more (or even better, all) of the fighting in the next episode and I'll be a truly happy bunny.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 14, 2010 3:46 PM GMT

Smartcafe Cafetiere Hot Mug, Red
Smartcafe Cafetiere Hot Mug, Red
Offered by home_essentials
Price: 13.85

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent bit of kit for Java lovers!, 23 July 2009
I've had my SmartCafe Mug for almost two years now, and it's still giving good service. My only gripe (as many other people have said), is that it's a touch small, but I can't bring myself to knock a star off because of it. If one cup isn't enough, it's easy enough to make another after all (surely people haven't got so lazy that the though of making a second cup is just TOO much...?).

The fact it's insulated does help to keep the coffee hot for longer, despite the lack of a lid, and the plastic construction doesn't bother me in the slightest- it's the coffee that's important here, not the cup I'm drinking it from!

Yes, if you fill it past the 'MAX' line, you will get grounds slipping past the filter, but that's your fault, not the mug's - just don't overfill it! Occasionally the odd few specks of grounds do find their way past regardless of where you fill it to, but come on, a few grounds never hurt anyone - what are you, a sissy?

It's hard wearing and won't smash into a million bits if you drop it, as a result it means it can go anywhere you can - whether you work in an office, on a building site or in a garage. You can even take it camping, thus negating the need to drink instant whilst you're 'roughing' it!

In short, it's great. (And now I'm off to the kitchen to make use of mine for the second time today!)

Jason And The Argonauts [DVD]
Jason And The Argonauts [DVD]
Dvd ~ Todd Armstrong
Offered by FLASH
Price: 4.88

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest movie scene- EVER!, 28 Oct 2007
I've loved this film since I was a kid, and the crowning glory is Harryhausen's stop-motion animation.

As a family adventure film, I'm convinced there is nothing finer. People of all ages can enjoy this film, and if they don't, they're either utterly cynical about everything and anything, or there is something wrong with them.

The title of this review naturally refers to the skeleton fight scene. If this film comes on and I'm busy, I will drop everything to watch this scene, even if I haven't had the time to see the rest of the movie. The moment the skeletons come out of the ground is unforgettable, and the animation is blended beautifully with the live action to create a scene that is as near to cinematic heaven as you can get. I've seen it re-done twice, once in Hercules (the dodgy TV series), and again in the Jason and the Argonauts mini-series. Both times CGI effects were used, and both times, despite the animators' best efforts, neither came close to the original masterpiece.

This whole film, and the skeleton scene in particular, highlights the fact that despite some of the wonders being done with CGI (and I'm not anti-CGI in the least), sometimes there's just no substitute for proper stop motion animation. (Just ask Wallace and Gromit!)

It's cheap- buy it and enjoy it!

Training With Cables For Strength
Training With Cables For Strength
by John Brookfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good, but..., 21 Oct 2006
Let's face it, when most people think of training with cables, they are thinking of machine work, such as pull downs, etc. This book deals with the 'other' type of cables, namely the 'chest expander' type sets. This type of exercise is also known as strandpulling.

Cable training has dropped out of favour over the years, and in all honesty, information on the subject is hard to find. Now John Brookfield, author of 'Mastery of hand strength' and 'The grip master's manual', has finally written a book that details a positive cornucopia of exercises for cable pullers of all levels, whether beginner or veteran. There are exercises for every conceivable bodypart, and there is even a section for armwrestlers. The book is heavily illustrated thoughout with black and white photos for clarity, and gives advice on reusing snapped cables, and how to work with shortened cables.

Where this book falls down is that there are no routines detailed here, so the beginner may find themself at a loss as to how much work he or she should be doing. For those who weight train regularly, this shouldn't be a problem.

That little niggle aside, this is a pretty good book for anyone intersted in cable training, and I'm giving it a well deserved four stars.

Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend (PS2)
Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend (PS2)
Offered by clickforgamesltd
Price: 16.58

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but far too short, 3 Sep 2006
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When this was game was released, I held back from buying it. After the disappointment of 'Angel of darkness', I really wasn't expecting too much. The last game was okay, but had none of the atmosphere of the original (TR 1&2) games. The control system was none too great either.

However, the urge to buy it finally overcame me, and after getting it at a bargain price, I unwrapped it and eagerly placed in in the PS2.

I really wish I'd bought it on its release. It's great. The controls take a while to get used to, but once you get to grips with them are very, very good. The levels are large, and give a flavour of the original games' splendour, without the use of the cubes and blocks that made up those enviroments. The tomb/temple levels are as ever, far more fun than the city/military base levels, though that's more a personal thing than a criticism- I like the feeling of exploration a whole lot more when I'm avoiding spike traps and leaping over fire pits. For me, running around in buildings is a whole lot less fun...

The set pieces are fantastic, though the need to press buttons at the right time in a seemingly ordinary cut scene can catch you out if your attention isn't 100% (it did me, anyway...).

However, as so many people have said: The game is far too short. FAR too short. I completed the main story of the game in two days- a lost weekend if you will, and I'm no gameplaying genius. Of course, the fact that I spent two days doing little except play the game (stopping only for two trips to the pub on Saturday and Sunday evening)speaks volumes for its playability. Twice as many levels would have been nice. Once completed, the ability to revisit the levels in any order and collect the rewards you missed the first time adds some longevity, as does the time trial mode.

Hopefully, in the next TR game, the developers will listen to players comments and this will be addressed. In the meantime, if the game stays in the hands of the current deloping team, I think it's in safe hands. This is the best release since about the third installment in my opinion, and has gone back towards its roots.

Overall, a five star game that lost a star for being far too short.

Peep Show - Series 1 [DVD] [2003]
Peep Show - Series 1 [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ David Mitchell
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 4.03

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cringemaking, compelling comedy!, 15 May 2005
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Seen through the eyes of the characters, Peep Show's real genius is in the fact that you can share Mark and Jez's thoughts as they go about their everyday lives. It sounds fairly mundane, but believe me, you will CRINGE as they have problems with their love lives careers and their friendship.

From Mark urinating in his boss's drawers at work, his problems with the local kids, his obsession with his workmate, Sophie, Jez's conviction that he's a musical superstar, the pepperspraying incident, and possibly the shocker to end all shockers - Jez's recollection of the 'bad thing' *shudder* - you will be constantly muttering at the screen, 'You can't do that', 'you sick little monkey, etc etc etc.

This series is by far the best British comedy to come out since 'Spaced'. After years of crap comedy, Britain has something that is truly new and innovative. It is at times subtle, and at other times completely in your face. The reality of the whole thing, thanks to the character's interior monologues, is a joy, and easy to relate to your own life (and I suspect this is why it is so cringemaking - the 'I've been there, done that' feeling).

I want series 2 on DVD!


Shaun of the Dead [DVD] [2004]
Shaun of the Dead [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Simon Pegg
Offered by TwoRedSevens
Price: 4.75

18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last! An unpretentious British Film!, 17 Sep 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I waited a long time to see this film. I missed it when it was in the cinemas, and have been eagerly awaiting its release on DVD. Thankfully I haven't been disappointed.
Those who remember 'Spaced' on channel 4 will have a good idea of what to expect in this film humourwise, but for the Zombie content, it's George A.Romero that's been the inspiration here. The funny bits are genuinely amusing, and the zombies are at times genuinely unsettling. The first half-hour sets the scene, the final hour really gets moving, and rarely slows until the end.
There are in-jokes for the Zombiephiles out there, including a dig at '28 days later' and a nod to 'Night of the living dead' amongst others, there's a host of famous faces in there (famous to us in the UK anyway...), absurdity, slapstick, pathos, full-on drama, in your face blood and goo, nob gags, fart gags, angst, and just about everything else you can think of at one point or another. Plus a shedload of interesting and amusing extras on the Disc!
In short:
If you like 'Spaced', you'll like this.
If you like George A. Romero's zombie films, you'll like this.
If you like both of the above, you'll love it.
In fact, if you enjoy comedy and/or horror in any way, you'll enjoy this.
Buy it, and enjoy it.

Conan (PS2)
Conan (PS2)
Offered by Plug N Play Entertainment
Price: 22.95

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun 'hack and slash' adventure., 16 Jun 2004
This review is from: Conan (PS2) (Video Game)
Okay, so this game was never going to set the gaming world alight with it's innovative plot, or revolutionary fighting system, but as long as you realise what you're buying into before you shell out your hard-earned, you shouldn't be too disappointed.
You play Conan, Robert E. Howard's barbaric hero of 'Weird tales' fame (and later turned into a movie, in which our hero was played by Arnold Schwarzenegger), in a basic 'hack and Slash' adventure with a fairly simplistic plot. Controls are equally simple, with various sword and axe fighting combos available from multiple button presses. Personally, I find them difficult to execute and just hack my way through the variety of enemies(it's fun...). A more 'Tomb Raider'-esgue control system would have been welcome in my opinion.
For fans, the levels are nicely atmospheric, and Conan himself looks fairy much as he should, though he has lost some of his 'elemental'-ness in the translation to polygon 3D. (And no, he doesn't look like Arnold- then again neither did Robert E. Howard's vision of Conan, I'd imagine...)
In short- if you want a game that's fun to play for a few hours, then buy it (I got it from the Amazon marketplace very cheaply, that's why I gave it four stars- great at the price!). If you want something that's in-depth and revolutionary, don't.
Great fun, nice to look at, but ultimately a little too lacking in depth for the most discerning gameplayer.

Tt - On Bike Experience: 2 [DVD]
Tt - On Bike Experience: 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ On-Bike Tt Experience
Offered by DrivenandRidden
Price: 4.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Woooah!, 1 Jun 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Let's be honest, few of us will ever get to ride the IOM TT course in anger. Even fewer will ever be able to ride it like these guys.
This DVD features four complete laps of the circuit, and demonstrates beautifully how much bottle the racers have. I love it!
TT fan? Buy this.

Nobody True
Nobody True
by James Herbert
Edition: Paperback

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He wasn't there when he died..., 1 Jun 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Nobody True (Paperback)
...that's what he tells us anyway.
He was away from his own body when somebody murdered him. Who? I'm not going to tell you, that would be against the point.
James Herbert's latest book is like many of his more recent works- less focus on 'splat' horror, more focus on a thrilling and psychological journey into the bizarre. It starts a little too slowly for my liking, but once it gets itself going, it's fairly relentless, the peaks always higher that the troughs, always leaving you wanting more.
It's not as 'horror' as The Rats or The Fog, but I enjoyed it. It's written with JH's usual flowing prose, enough detail put in to give the flavour, enough left out to let your imagination fill in the gaps (something many authors seem unable to do of late, with every blade of grass and crack in the pavement described in the finest detail...).
If you like good stories, good horror stories, or good (if offbeat) thrillers, you'll like this. If you like James Herbert, you'll probably love it. I did.

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