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Destiny (PS4)
Destiny (PS4)
Price: 42.00

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun with friends, dire alone., 15 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Destiny (PS4) (Video Game)
Destiny is developer Bungie's first attempt at a new IP since it created Halo all those years ago. Having broken away from Microsoft's ownership and partnering with Activision, hype for this project has been huge and while it succeeds in many ways, it fails pretty dismally in others.

This is a hard game to describe, it's a science fiction first person shooter where you play the role of a gaurdian whoose job it is to protect hummanity on earth and in the stars from the darkness that is moving in to finish them off. Your gaurdian is customisable with one of three races, human, exo (robot looking cyborgs) or awoken (pink blue humans that live on the very edge of the light and the dark), they are entirely cosmetic. Each race then gets a one of three classes, Titan, Hunter and Warlock. Which mainly have different super attacks and grenades but are largely similar.

From then on Destiny is a mixture of Halo, Mass Effect and Borderlands. You have a hub city which is in third person where you can meet up with people and buy armour and weapons based on your experience level, and other levels which seem needlessly complicated. After you hook up with other players, you can go out on story missions which are always the same, go to a location, defend it from being attacked while your pet robot known as a Ghost hacks it. They are uninspired to say the least.

Other modes are a lot more fun, Strikes take you as a group through levels to take on large bosses where you have to work together to survive. Patrol is sort of a free roam you can do on each planet to loot gear, complete bounties or just explore. The Crucible is where I spent a lot of time, it's essentially the standard multiplayer mode with Deathmatch, King of the Hill control etc only you get your jetpacks, class powers.

Even these have isdues though, Destiny is a game designed for multiplayer, the levels are large, people constantly cross paths, help each other do events, interact in the hub (mainly by dancing) or take place in the deathmatch modes in the crucible. It's a social game, but it's a social game that assumes you have friends that play the same game. There is no matchmaking mode to find strangers to play with and the default setting for players is "friends only" for joining teams which on the occasions none of the people I know were online left me feeling awfully lonely.

The problem is that the story mode is only tolerable with friends, it lacks the set pieces, storytelling and charm of the Halo series because the maps are designed to be so multipurpose to include strikes, patrols and raids for various player amounts. There is no way to create clans in game, it can only be donefrom Bungie's website and it's clunky to do. It's only fun socially, then does it's best to hamper you playing with other people.

On the technical side it's nice. The game looks great for a cross gen title, especially the skylines. The music is really good and it has run flawlessly for me with no server issues or anything which is a feat considering the amount of people that bought it day one.

My final thoughts are that if you have a couple of friends on the same system to play with than despite it's dull narrative Destiny is a really fun game with really good shooting mechanics. If you're going in solo though unless you manage to invite people to join your fireteam you may get a completely different experience. So not a bad game then, just hasn't reached the hype it was generating. I hear Bungie is going to support Destiny for a long time, so perhaps updates and downloadable content will iron out it's issues.

+ Strike and Crucible modes are great.
+ Gameplay is good, shooting mechanics and powers feel great.
+ Looks beautiful in places, lovely music.
+ Customisation is fairly decent.

- Story levels are uninspired, dull to play.
- Makes it hard to play with strangers or set up clans and is tedious alone.
- Needlessly complicated level system in the hub, most places unaccessible for gear even at level 20.

Robot Visions (The Robot Series)
Robot Visions (The Robot Series)
Price: 6.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Classics that helped shape science fiction., 11 Sep 2014
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Robot Visions is a large collection of Issac Asimov's short stories about robots, most of which appeared in various sci-fi magazines from 1940 up to the release of this collection in 1990, that's a 50 year span. These aren't all his robot stories, just some of his favorite's and the choices are explained in the foreword by Asimov himself.

There are 18 short stories and 16 short essays musing on robots in society. Many of the stories use recurring characters such as Susan Calvin (who was given a part in the Asimov inspired Will Smith film I, Robot in 2004, not related to the short story of the same name) and aren't so much about robots who all fundamentally work based on Asimov's famous three laws of robotics, but about peoples reactions to them, confusion, fear, even affection.

The stories are consistantly good and often kept me interested in seeing how the problems are resolved. My favorite story of them all though is Bicentennial Man (turned into a reasonably faithful film in 1999 staring the late Robin Williams). Not only is it one of the longer tales in this collection but also is one of the deeper and I found emotional in some ways though whether it was intended that way by Asimov I do wonder.

All in all a good collection of varied ideas about robots, if you're a fan of any of his other works, especially his four main novels from the robot series this is worth checking out.

The stories are:

- Robot Visions (1990) (specifically written for this collection)
-Too Bad (1989)
- Robbie (1940)
- Reason (1941)
- Liar (1941)
- Runaround (1942)
- Evidence (1946)
- Little Lost Robot (1947)
- The Evitable Conflict (1950)
- Feminine Intuition (1969)
- The Bicentennial Man (1976)
- Someday (1956)
- Think (1977)
- Segregationist (1967)
- Mirror Image (1972)
- Lenny (1958)
- Galley Slave (1957)
- Christmas without Rodney (1988)

The Naked Sun (The Robot Series)
The Naked Sun (The Robot Series)
Price: 2.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A look into humanity and culture., 26 Aug 2014
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Having recently decided to invest in reading classic sci-fi, Asimov was pretty high on my list of authors to look into. This is both the second book in the robot series as well as the second of his titles I have so far read and I must admit while I enjoyed the first book (Caves of Steel) a lot, The Naked Sun takes the core of what made it good and expands on it making it not only a great sequel, but an all round great book.

The story once again focuses on Elijah Baley a detective on Earth who has been charged with investigating a murder, this murder is on another planet ruled by colonists called spacers, no earthman has ever set foot there before and it's an uncomfortable experience for both sides.

What I loved about Caves of Steel is in abundance here, this isn't a book about police, murder, or even robots though all three aspects are present, it's about the differences in culture between earth and the spacers, how they live so differently based on their environments and upbringing with the earthmen living in super cities almost like hives, eating and showering communally, every inch of space earned through career for small extra luxuries compared with one planet of the spacers where they have so much space and robots to tend their every need that even being in sight of each other physically makes them feel sick. The, I suppose psychology would be the word, of it all and experience Baley goes through trying to understand it all rather hooked me so I read The Naked Sun happily in one day (It is fairly short regardless).

Rather a shame that books three and four in the series (Robots of Dawn & Robots and Empire) to reasons unknown to me aren't available on the kindle at time of writing this. Still I have purchased the physical books as I will not miss the next in the series. If you're looking for a sci-fi series with more to it than space ships and lasers then this is a good bet.

Caves of Steel (The Robot Series)
Caves of Steel (The Robot Series)
Price: 2.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Deeper than I expected., 25 Aug 2014
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This book has been my first foray into the world of Issac Asimov and I must admit I finished it quite impressed with it.

The plot focuses on earth in the far flung future where humanity's numbers have swelled to immense proportions causing the creation of "cities", giant enclosed superstructures capable of housing millions of people where food and space are planned and regulated accordingly. Hummanity has also spread out to the stars and colonized other planets without the overpopulation or resource limitations causing a rather large rift between them and earth, they are know as "spacers".

One of these spacers has been murdered on earth potentially causing diplomatic problems between the two already struggling cultures. In steps detective Baley, an earthman who doesn't like robots to investigate. The spacers are willing to hold off consequences on the condition that one of them investigate with him, problem is Daneel is a robot.

For a book about the police and robots there is surprisingly little action, instead it focuses on the possibility of humanities future, it's struggling differences, and it's use of advancing technology and the divide that causes. I enjoyed the book all the more for that and found it not only interesting material but also rather clever in it's examination of culture and survival.

All in all a good book if a little short, next up the sequel The Naked Sun, I can see myself becoming an Asimov fan.

The War of the Worlds (Penguin English Library)
The War of the Worlds (Penguin English Library)
Price: 3.38

4.0 out of 5 stars Ahead of it's time then, still is now in many ways., 24 Aug 2014
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Having heard Jeff Wayne's musical adaption growing up and being a large sci-fi fan it's a surprise it has taken me this long to read this utter classic. Not only am I glad to have read it but i'm also incredibly impressed at how far ahead of it's time this novel was considering it was published in 1898, making it 116 years old at this time.

The book is written in the first person perspective focusing on a civilian's experiences during a martian invasion from their initial launch to their eventual defeat. The book is slow in places due to HG Wells's description of the martians and their equipment including advanced weaponry such as lasers had never been written about before so he goes into rather a lot of detail, which isn't a bad thing by any means as it still fits perfectly from the point of view of the protagonist and the era it's set in.

Despite the title of the book this isn't like modern titles that are full of heros and explosions though there are plenty in the latter. This is a story about a man's survival, fascination with the unknown as well as his mental state and inner thoughts regarding the events. It's really rather clever and even now everything about it stands out.

Anyone into science fiction should really read this, not just to see the history of the genre but because this victorian book is still a brilliant read.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Captain America: The Winter Soldier [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Chris Evans
Price: 14.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On your left., 22 Aug 2014
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I saw the first Captain America film The first Avenger and was pleasantly surprised at how they had taken the source material and turned it into a fun film. I saw Captain America The Winter Soldier and was just blown away by it's spy thriller take on the superhero genre.

The film starts with a bang as Steve Rogers (Captain America) and a SHIELD strike team launch a mission to rescue a ship taken over by french merceneries. The action here is fast, brilliantly choreographed and often brutal with how Steve and Natasha (The black Widow) deal with threats really setting the new tone for how the film is going to be. From here on there are gun fights, car chases and even aerial dog fights but each scene is more than a tick box, it's exciting and often flat out awesome.

The action aside, this film has some great moments of Steve trying to find his place in modern times, some surprise twists, as well as nice tie in's with previous Marvel films as well as the Marvel agents of SHIELD tv series for those who watch it. The acting is superb and the cast bounce very well off each other adding some genuinely funny moments at the right places.

The blu-ray extras are a little thin on the ground compared with some. It has a director commentary (I didn't listen), some making of featurettes which I really enjoyed, especially on the combat scenes, as well as a short gag reel and extended deleted scene sequence. All worth a look through, 30 mins tops though without rewatching the film with commentary.

To sum up this isn't just a great superhero film, not a great Marvel studios film, it's just an excellent film full stop. It builds on the strengths of Marvels previous entries and improves in other areas. Highly recommended.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 1 (Limited Edition Digipack) [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 1 (Limited Edition Digipack) [Blu-ray] [Region Free]
Price: 28.50

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars His first name is Agent., 19 Aug 2014
Takes a while to find it's feet but the later half of this superhero spin off series is really rather good thanks to it's excellent plot tie in with events from Marvel's movie universe. It has some good humour, some nice action scenes, cameos and a fair few twists and turns. I can see how it's not for everyone that are fans of the films but I urge people to give the whole season a try, it may surprise you.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1
Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1
Price: 5.00

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great retro soundtrack blended into a modern sci-fi film. Awesome indeed., 11 Aug 2014
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The first thing I did when I got home from seeing Guardians of the Galaxy was purchase awesome mix volume one. These are well known songs which I would never have listened to normally but linking them with Guardians reminds me of great moments the film had and has made me greatly respect the music itself, I can't get Come and get you love or Hooked on a Feeling out of my head. Great music by established artists used cleverly in a fantastic film. After watching it i'd be surprised by anyone who doesn't want it. Looking forward to volume two of both the film and Awesome Mix that must come with it.

The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World: The Stainless Steel Rat: Book Three
The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World: The Stainless Steel Rat: Book Three
Price: 1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Dr.Who meets the ultimate cat burgler., 8 Jun 2014
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James Bolivar Di Griz is one of the best criminal minds in the universe, only he isn't a criminal anymore and someone using time travel is erasing everyone from his agency and life, including his equally corrupt wife Angela. In a last ditch attempt to stop this from happening Jim leaps back in time following the trail of the villain responsible.

The third book in the series still sees Jim using his ingenious mind to try and out wit his enemies but with limited gadgets and traveling through different periods in time it makes for a nice change of pace compared with the previous books in the series. Another fun, easy reading, B-movie sci-fi romp. If you enjoyed the first two books, this will be no different.

The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge: The Stainless Steel Rat Book 2
The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge: The Stainless Steel Rat Book 2
Price: 2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Slippery Jim strikes again., 8 Jun 2014
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The second book in this series carries on in a similar vein as the first book following Slippery Jim aka The Stainless Steel Rat. This time Jim is actually working for the side of the law using his futuristic diguises, tricks and devious mind as the universes best con man to find out how a planet is successfully launching interstellar warfare by infiltrating their extremely paranoid military.
The book is full of explosions, gadgets and occasional one liners. It's pretty easy reading for almost any age and is reasonably short. It's essentially just more of the same as the first book in the series but that's not always a bad thing, just don't go in expecting an in depth space opera or anything.

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