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M. D. Cotton "matdac" (England)

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Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360)
Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360)
Offered by 6 Hungry Weasels
Price: £13.61

10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars and another thing..., 30 Mar 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have not yet completed the game to see what I think of the (apparently lame) ending. The reason being that there is a game breaking bug due to a gamertag/server problem that prevents me from even loading my saves from the start screen (see black screen bug on youtube). There is no patch and no advice from EA on how to resolve the issue. Yet another example of poorly beta tested work from Bioware. What happened to this company? They used to be good!

If not resolved soon, I will return the game unfinished. Buyer beware.

Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity
Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity
by Mike Hulme
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.28

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well balanced but dense book, 16 July 2010
In general I thought this book was a well balanced and thoughtful take on the problem that academics sometimes call the "science-policy interface" in the field of climate change. The author is a climate scientist turned social scientist concerned with how climate change is communicated to the public, and in this respect an analysis of disagreement in the political sphere is both timely and important. Readers must be aware however that the book is published by Cambridge University Press and it is written in an in-between sort of style, neither a traditional research monograph, nor a popular science text. It would primarily be of interest to students of political science, environmental management or human geography, and I think that those without an academic or professional interest in the matter may be turned off by both writing style and depth of analysis. For those looking for a more introductory text (albeit on a slightly different topic) may consider James Garvey's "The Ethics of Climate Change: Right and Wrong in a Warming World".

Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360)
Red Dead Redemption (Xbox 360)
Offered by SelectGames
Price: £13.25

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but not a classic, 30 Jun 2010
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
In contrast to some of the reviews here, my experience of the game was not one of total awe. I agree with others that the graphics are excellent and the gameplay is fun and involving. Rather than rehash all the positives mentioned elsewhere (which I largely agree with), I'll just give my criticisms and hence a sort of wish list for the next instalment.

1). It's sort of like an RPG - but it's not. My main niggle with the game is that the main storyline runs on rails. Like other Rockstar games you have missions that must be fulfilled in a particular order. Each mission is preceded with dialogue with an NPC through a long cut scene. Each cut scene follows more or less the same order. John Marston asks someone for help, the NPC promises help after you do a 'quest' for them, John threatens to shoot them if they don't help, rinse and repeat. You then go and shoot some people, or rescue someone or something and then shoot some people. I found this rather dull after the 10th, 20th, 30th time. With no dialogue options you feel left out of the action, and no matter what you do you can't change the outcome of the storyline.

2). Action is too easy. With dead eye you can out-shoot anyone in the game, making the combat a bit tepid, even when set to 'expert' level.

3). The game area, though appearing large, is primarily composed of small towns and lots of space in between. You will spend a considerable amount of time on a horse travelling between locations, which though beautiful, are not that interesting the fourth or fifth time you travel past them. There is also little in the way of 'secret' locations, so exploring the far reaches of the map provides little reward. The exception to this rule is the treasure hunting missions which I really enjoyed.

Also the towns themselves are broadly limited in exploration terms to a saloon (with games in) and shops. So they aren't particularly interesting in and of themselves.

4). The baddies are absent for most of the game. The main baddies that you are hunting are absent until the last missions in each section. I found myself not caring about Bill Williamson and the others as you have little or no interaction with them. The same is true of the family you are trying to save as you don't even know what they look like until right near the very end.

All in all, I did enjoy the game (hence the 4 stars), it's just not, in my opinion a classic.

Dragon Age Origins: Awakening (Xbox 360)
Dragon Age Origins: Awakening (Xbox 360)
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £16.93

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short and (relatively) sweet, 9 April 2010
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Like the other reviews I found this game to be a rushed expansion designed to make money. That said, the plot was pretty good and the action is still challenging. I played through the game on the hardest setting and it does make it more tactical and enjoyable than on 'normal'. It took me around 15 hours instead of the 10 that others reported.

My biggest gripe with the DAO game is that your main character is mute. All other characters are well voiced (not to mention the Mass Effect sister game that has excellent main character voicing). This totally spoils the game as I found myself not caring one iota what happens to my avatar. Oghren was also a poor choice for a returning character (where's your buddy Alistair when you need him?) but the new characters were interesting enough. Of course when the game is this short you don't form any kind of 'bond' with them so their plot lines remain undeveloped. Like the previous reviewer said, I'd either wait until it drops in price and then take a weekend to complete it, or frankly just rent it (as there is no origin story involved, it has little or no replay value).

Dragon Age: Origins (Xbox 360)
Dragon Age: Origins (Xbox 360)
Offered by RevivalMedia
Price: £28.42

29 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun but flawed, 2 Dec 2009
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
I finished playing the game a couple of days ago. I must say it did not live up the the hype, unfortunately. My main concern was with the control system for your characters. From what I have seen of the PC version you control characters with a mouse click, then a spell or power, click on a target and then let it go. With the xbox version you must cycle through a series of radial menus and then map the spell or power to one of the face buttons on the control pad before casting it. I played a mage and after levelling up a few times the number of powers you receive increases, so I spent a lot of time shuffling 6 spells around from a larger list, making this process cumbersome to use. Also there is no option to select all of your characters to move them at once. This is ridiculous, I kept wanting to round everyone up and send them to a tactical position. Not so I'm afraid, they all obey the AI rules that you set for them through preselected 'tactics', running off to attack bad guys or just standing there to take damage. WIth some clever tweaking you can improve their behaviour, but this needs micromanaging for different types of enemy encounter which is not to every players' taste.

The voice acting is very good as others have said, and the love interests (including male/male and female/female) provide a good distraction. Unfortunately you main character remains mute however, with dialogue options chosen from a drop down list, and voice actors filling in the other side of the conversation. This severely damages the realism of it. Why on Earth they didn't use the Mass Effect model of selecting conversation styles and then allowing the voice acting to play out? That system was far superior, as were the character models used to portray speech, in this game you still get really bad lip syncing.

The actual gaming 'area' is much smaller than I expected, much like the other Bioware titles Mass effect, KOTOR and NeverWinter Nights. Don't expect free roaming like in Bethesda titles Oblivion or Fallout 3, within any area you constantly run into invisible barriers, doors that don't open, and a map loading screen with splotches of blood drawn to depict your movement across a map. This means that you get absolutely no sense that the different locations you visit are connected in any way, which is a shame given that you have to save this land they call Ferelden and yet it doesn't feel like a complete land at all.

The graphics engine is based on Neverwinter Nights, and to be honest doesn't improve on it overly much. The Xbox version has been criticised for its poor graphics, although the framerate is steady so it doesn't jerk around even with lots of effects going on on screen. So not bad, but certainly not astounding.

Overall I would recommend the game (despite my criticisms) particularly to RPG fans if not a mainstream audience. The plot is good (if a little cliched), the voice acting is entertaining and there is some good tactical stuff (if you can abide the clunky control system). I would certainly opt for the PC version if you have even a half decent graphics card as it turns out it runs on fairly modest specs. I bought the Xbox version and played halfway through until I realised the PC version would run on my ageing laptop. Ah well.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 12, 2012 8:30 AM GMT

Sacred 2: Fallen Angel (Xbox 360)
Sacred 2: Fallen Angel (Xbox 360)
Price: £23.10

7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Diablo did it better 10 years ago, 8 Jun 2009
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Sacred 2 is a poorly polished hack and slash snooze-a-thon.

On the plus side it has a huge game world, but it's tricky to navigate for two reasons. Firstly, the main map is poorly detailed. Secondly, although you get an onscreen minimap, it circles around as you change direction; so as soon as you get attacked it circles wildly around and you have to reorient yourself every time. I found myself constantly having to stop and check where the next quest is over and again. After a few times this gets irritating.

The camera - either zoomed out so there is zero model detail, or zoomed in over the shoulder, FACING DOWNWARDS, so you can't see ahead of you. Neither is a comfortable angle.

The menu system is terrible, too many individual screens that must be scrolled through to find the item/skill you want. It reminds me of the awkward mess of an inventory in oblivion.

Action is deeply repetitive. Bad guy AI is non existent - they just run at you every single time.

Storyline - what storyline?

Quests - fetch quests, protect people quests, clean out my basement of rats quests - the usual fare. Nothing original at all. No dialogue, just a written script for each quest giving the usual cliches.

Character voices are irritating American cheese. Is it just me or should American voices be banned from medieval style RPGS?

Overall, you might as well buy th original diablo (seriously) it was much more fun. I'm going to take this back.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 28, 2009 12:08 PM BST

Two Worlds (Xbox 360)
Two Worlds (Xbox 360)
Offered by Tracymuk
Price: £17.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious but terrible, 20 May 2008
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Two Worlds (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
The xbox 360 is crying out for an ambitious, engaging sequel to oblivion. This falls wide of the mark. The first thing that irritates you is that the crisp looking oblivion-esque graphics are PRACTICALLY NOTHING like the ones in the game.

Then once you begin (like other reviewers have said), you are dropped into the action and it is frustratingly difficult from the off. Unlike other rpgs that largely scale the baddies to your level (allowing a gradual learning curve), just try taking on a grizzly bear in the first 20 minutes or so and watch as your feeble fireball barely singes its fur before it rips you to shreds over and over again.

The other thing that frequently cracks me up is the script and the voice acting. Your main character sounds like the man who does the voiceovers for action movie trailers, a gravelly midwestern american accent. The script is pure american b-movie cheese but then they pepper it with words like 'verily' and 'foorsooth' for ye olde world realism... oh dear god...

Other reviewers claim you have to stick at it for fifteen hours before it gets good, once your character is sufficiently powerful that you have the flexibility to actual strategise a bit (rather than running around hacking at baddies with ONE attack mode, followed by them just running at you over and over again). That is possibly true, (i'm only a couple of hours in) but why would anyone want to bother grinding through 15 hours of tedium before the fun starts? If you are really that bored and want a dull, frustrating and frankly hilarious knock off of the oblivion format then be my guest. Everyone else with common sense (which obviously excludes me as i bought the wretched thing) go buy mass effect instead.

Mass Effect (Xbox 360)
Mass Effect (Xbox 360)
Offered by Super-bargains
Price: £19.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The whole thing feels cramped, 3 April 2008
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Having just completed the game, I thought I'd add my thoughts. Rather than rehashing what everyone else has said I'll just add some more negatives and the odd positive. Namely, this game looks a lot bigger than it actually is. The environments are small, cramped and 'closed' - no free roaming, no real exploring. The number of accessible worlds is also small and each has a bland enclosed mountain space to rove about in in the MAKO buggy thing. Not to mention the fact that each of the space stations, research labs etc. in the side quests is IDENTICAL, no variation whatsoever. Talk about lazy programming. I liked the characters and the plot was pretty good. Admittedly they steal every sci-fi cliche going from Trekkie borg to Battlestar gallactica cylons but that's forgiveable. I did enjoy the combat, especially throwing bad guys around with your 'biotic powers' but where it lacks compared to KOTOR (which is identical in many respects) is that you only control one character, the others are CPU controlled, which irritated me. Overall its ok, but generally screams 'rushed out for christmas'. Hopefully ME2 will open the game up a bit!

Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It takes a while, 13 Jun 2005
This review is from: Evolve (Audio CD)
I've owned this album for about a year and a half, and its only now that i really love it. The style moves through the usual ani acoustic guitar folk style to produce something jazz influenced and with the occassional flare of cuban brass. And after a while you realise it really works. Its definately a grower; the lyrics are still the same level of the wry wit and bitter kiss off lines that she throws away with aplomb, but it takes that bit longer to really appreciate them, becuase its not backed by the same frenetic pace as before. Its definately one to own for old ani fans looking for a new twist, and newcomers alike. Just give it a few plays and you'll see what I mean.

I Heart Huckabees [DVD]
I Heart Huckabees [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jason Schwartzman
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.62

2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warning only watch if you have a philosophy degree!, 11 Jun 2005
This review is from: I Heart Huckabees [DVD] (DVD)
My title is true, I loved this film mostly because i understood some of the philosophical, umm... well, gibberish that the main characters were talking about. If you want to see an enactment of the differences (and similarities) between nihilism and existentialism in an oddball kinda way then I would heartily recommend it. If you either don't have the understanding, or don't really want to have the understanding, then thats totally ok too - there are other 'thinking person' films which are a bit easier to digest. The film makes you work a bit too hard to figure out whats going on, which means for many the comedy gets lost in the confusion. It definately is a thinking person's comedy, but only for certain types of thinkers...
Schwarzman (sp?) does as good a job as he did in Rushmore, in holding his slightly pathetic but loveable protagonist centre stage. I was really surprised to realise that it wasn't Wes Anderson directing becuase it has all the hallmarks of his style of direction. If you liked rushmore, or the royal tenenbaums you'll feel at home, and if you didn't then go watch something less dry/wacky and more straight shooting... like Friends or something...

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