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UFC 113: Machida vs Shogun 2 [DVD]
UFC 113: Machida vs Shogun 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mauricio Rua
Price: 8.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crowning of an Undisputed Champion, 29 July 2010
**Please note that there are no spoilers for UFC 113 in this review**
***************************************************************

UFC 113 saw the UFC make its 2nd return to Canada, and unlike its predecessor (UFC 97) it did not disapoint. For many, this event may have little meaning. However for those of us that watched UFC 104, during which the 2005 PRIDE Grand Prix Champion, Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua, took a shot a dethroning the seemingly unbeatable 205lb kingpin and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida, this card would end the arguments over who really won the original contest. For the record, I believed then - and still do to this day - that Shogun returned to form back in November 2009, and that he should have been crowned the champion after that fight. Nonetheless a controversial decision (for many, anyway) saw Machida retain the gold after a 5 round technical classic. Now, on the card:

ALAN BELCHER VS. PATRICK CÓTE
This was Cóte's return bout after an 18 month+ layoff due to a severe injury he suffered during his title bout with Anderson Silva. Alan Belcher had shown a new dedication to the sport after the somewhat controversial decision loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama. In his homecountry of Canada, 'The Predator' was always going to be the favourite going into this bout. The question was could he return to form or would Alan 'The Talent' Belcher showcase his new skillset in upsetting the Canadian? This was a good bout between two of the middleweight division's hardest hitters, made better by a very exciting finish.
4/5

KIMBO SLICE VS. MATT MITRIONE
Youtube sensation Kimbo Slice made his Octagon debut at the TUF 10 Finale, defeating Houston Alexander in a 3 round decision. Matt Mitrione also won his bout at the Finale, and now the two were set to face off. This was a decent bout, however there is nothing particular to note about it other than the loser of the bout has since been released from his UFC contract. The first round was very good. Does it go beyond the first? You'll have to watch and see.
3/5

SAM STOUT VS. JEREMY STEPHENS
The first memory I have of Jeremy Stephens is his brutal uppercut knockout victory at UFC 91 over Rafael dos Anjos. Sam Stout, AKA 'Hands of Stone', was ready to propell his career to new limits after a victory over TUF 5 alumni Joe Louzon at UFC 108. The two met at UFC 113 in a very entertaining battle, and one that is definetely worth a watch.
5/5

JOSH KOSCHECK VS. PAUL DALEY
Koscheck and Daley, two of MMA's most hated fighters - alongside former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz - collided at UFC 113 for not only a chance to face the 170lb champion, Georges St-Pierre, but also an opportunity to coach against GSP on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. Koscheck, who dropped a decision to the new and improved St-Pierre 3 years ago in 2007, had progressed a lot from a wrestler with limited striking abillities to a much more well rounded fighter. Paul Daley was known as 'Semtex' for one reason: his knockout power. After putting Martin Kampmann and Dustin Hazelett to sleep in his first two UFC appearances, Daley was also hungry for a shot at the title. Unfortunately, the promise of fireworks failed to deliver, as the co-main event was uninteresting to say the least. The most interesting part of the bout actually occured after it had finished, but whilst entertaining to some fans the aftermath was really insulting and one fighter was quickly released after the event had come to a conclusion. For the record, I don't see the victory of this fight standing a chance against GSP, but opponents must be found one way or another.
3/5

UFC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: LYOTO MACHIDA (c) VS. MAURICIO 'SHOGUN' RUA
This was it. The moment millions of UFC fans around the world had been waiting for. Shogun gets a second crack at 'The Dragon'. After what many felt was an unfair decision at UFC 104: Machida vs. Shogun, the immidiate rematch was quickly set up. Machida underwent surgery to his hand, whlist Shogun waited for the day to come. Whilst the first fight was a techical chess match, the rematch was anything but. The promise of hard hits, a furious pace and a desire to end the fight this time round was delivered on all levels. Could Machida prove he deserved the nod in the original fight, or would Shogun capitalise on his second chance? Regardless of who won, it was an excellent fight and the debates have finally been settled, with one man now the Undisputed UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
5/5

***************************************************************
In the end, it all comes down to the main event, and unlike UFC 112: Invincible, this event was excellent. It may not have the same impact if you know the results, or if you didn't watch the original Machida/ Shogun war, but regardless it is one of the best events of the year, alongside my personal favourite UFC 110. Definetely recommended, and a main event that will be remember for a long time to come.


Bioshock/Elder Scrolls: Oblivion - Double Pack (Xbox 360)
Bioshock/Elder Scrolls: Oblivion - Double Pack (Xbox 360)

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Classics, 16 Sep 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
**BIOSHOCK**

Until about a week or so ago I'd heard very little of Bioshock. I rarely follow the release dates of games, and prefer to experience a game than read about it online or in mags. However, I noticed it when browsing Amazon and decided I'd buy it as the Big Daddy grabbed my attention.
Now, it's my most played game on the 360.

I'm not going to talk about how much hype this game got as I was honestly not aware of it and don't know the limits. But what I will say is that Bioshock is amazing. And not just amazing - as most games are described - this is THE game for 360 owners.

If you're reading about this game then you know already what the basic plot of the game is, and I won't say anything more in order to preserve the great twists that you'll find within the game. However, it's important to know that the story to Bioshock is a roller-coaster of a ride that will leave you wanting to know more each and every time you lay down the controller.

Gameplay wise, Bioshock is a step above most FPS games on any console. The Darkness was a great game with it's unique abilities, Halo was (and hopefully will remain) a fast action shooter, but this game takes the gameplay from all of the best shooters and mixes it all up, before throwing in a handful of fantastic new features to leave you in awe.

The game claims that no player will be the same, and it's probably true. There are plenty of ways to kill an enemy within the game, from indenting their skull with a handy wrench to pumping them full of lead, but how about creating a bit of chaos and forcing each enemy to attack another - whilst you dodge around them taking them out one by one. Or if that's not your thing, and you find groups of enemies a handful, you could hypnotise a Big Daddy and go into battle with a huge diving-suited, drill-armed warrior at your side.

The weapons that are found in Bioshock are also fully upgradeable, with each weapon being given the option of two upgrades that enhances their abilities. Depending on your favourite weapon you can upgrade each weapon once at a 'Power To The People' machine - but beware, as the machine closes after a single use (there are multiple machines however in each area).

Another great attraction are the PLASMIDS. Inject them into your arm and you can possess the elements, swarms of wasps, and mini-tornados that are each useful for wiping out groups of enemies in a few seconds.
However, and this is a great catch, in order to upgrade your PLASMIDS and buy more slots to place your new found should-be-lethal injected friends, you have to find and 'release' the Little Sisters within the game. The great thing about this is that you can't just 'get' to them; you must first take out their hulking protector: the Big Daddy!
Aside from being the most iconic character within the game, the Big Daddy has the unusual characteristics of an innocent enemy. That is, to say, they will not attack you unless you attempt to harm them or their Little Sisters. It's your choice entirely whether you fight the Big Daddies or not, but you essentially have to unless you plan on facing the tougher enemies, later on in the game, with weapons alone.
Then, if you can power your way through the increasingly-strong Big Daddies, you must make the choice of sacrificing the Little Sister in order to gain a large amount of power (which is needed to buy more PLASMIDS and more slots for your abilities) or save the child from the possession and gain a smaller amount of power. It's all psychological; do you feel guilt for killing a small girl when they consist only within a game, or will you feel better for saving them and letting them flee?
This is the effect that Bioshock has; it absorbs you into the action and forces you to make choices that you wouldn't expect to have to make.

Bioshock is also the owner of some of the most beautiful graphics in any game. The locations within Rapture are a combination of natural beauty - looking out into the ocean around you - and sheer destruction. There are a good number of character designs, and whilst you will find yourself facing an enemy that you are sure you killed an hour before in a totally different area, it's not as annoying as you may expect.
The water itself is possibly the most realistic in any game I've ever played - the first few minutes of playing leave you wondering just what is to come.

The game is also quite lengthy, and has great replay value as there is always other ways to complete the game. Lasting between 10-20 hours (depending on your ability), and with several modes of difficulty to present easier or more difficult challenges to those who require them, you'll find yourself restarting the game just minutes after you've finished it the first time around.

Bioshock is a game that introduces you to the idea of 'survival of the fittest', and leaves you longing for more as you become submerged in the ocean depths that is Rapture. With fantastic voice work, you feel as though you have become the newest citizen of the fallen city. Are you a man or a puppet? Would you kindly buy it now?

**ELDER SCROLLS IV: OBLIVION**

Before Oblivion, FPS RPGs were slowly fading into obscurity. Oblivion can't actually be described as a true FPS (you don't use any firearms, and propelled weapons are limited to crossbows, longbows etc.) however it brought the genre back to the spotlight. Introducing players to the world of Tamriel, you choose who and what you are: from a range of different species - from humans and dark elves to orcs and norms - you customise everything about your character, including your skills, appearance, star sign, amongst others.

The story is simple yet engaging: the Emperor is ambushed and murdered as you escape confinement in the Imperial prison for a crime which you don't know about; as this happens, all over Tamriel the dark gates that lead to the planes of Oblivion have been opened, resulting in a Daedra invasion that threatens to extinguish all of life. You must search for the Emperor's remaining son and help him to defeat the Daedric forces before all is lost.

Whilst the main quest is entertaining, it isn't where you will spend most of your hours. The main story lasts around 10 hours, however there are hundreds of side quests that boost your play time into the 100+ hour zone. Become a member of the Mage's Guild and learn alchemy, join the ranks of the Fighter's Guild, become an assassin for the murderous Dark Brotherhood, or fight for your life in the Imperial Arena as a medieval gladiator. There are so many different quests that it isn't possible to write them all down into a single review.

The voice acting is decent, although not on par with the more modern Fallout 3, however the music is beautiful and fits perfectly with the strange world around you. And it is a strange world: there are over a hundred different towns, cities, shrines, forrests and other areas for you to discover, with many quests to be found in each. From lush green forrests to a dark and fiery plane in Oblivion, from a snow-capped mountain to a bizzare world inside a painting, there are many areas that you will begin to love as you explore this rich world.

The leveling system is much more brutal than in Fallout. Even the early levels can take a while to achieve, and once you reach level 30 or 40 you are looking at 10+ hours just to reach the next (think World of Warcraft's leveling system). With each level you can add to your existing skills and attributes, which affect things such as how much you can carry and how well you can cast magic. You really do feel like you've earned it when you get to that level you've been aiming for for so long!

Overall it is a truly excellent game, and opens you up to a world you won't ever want to leave.

---------

Having both Oblivion and Bioshock in a single gamepack makes no sense whatsoever to me, as they are no similarities between them. Bioshock is an epic tale of a modern day Atlantis gone to hell, whilst Oblivion is more of a traditional sword-and-stone medieval fantasy. However as both games are classics, they are without doubt worth buying, and if you haven't already purchased one or the other, then this pack is excellent value.


Resident Evil 5 (PS3)
Resident Evil 5 (PS3)
Offered by passionFlix UK
Price: 8.03

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All Great Things Must Come To An End..., 25 Mar 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Resident Evil 5 (PS3) (Video Game)
After 13 years and 7 main entries in the series, Resident Evil finally draws to a close. The question that needs to be asked is does it end with a whimper, or a grand finale?

Taking place in 2009, several years after Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine stormed the last Umbrella stronghold in southern Russia, Chris returns to the scene as he hunts down known terrorist Ricardo Irving alongside his new partner, Sheva Alomar. I won't reveal too much, as a lot has already been said by other reviewers, however what I will say is that the ending to the saga is something that you won't want anyone to spoil for you, especially if you've been waiting for this installment since the end of RE4.

Gameplay is always a debated topic amongst games. The new edition is co-op play in the main story, both on and offline. Many will find the feature of a second character strange, especially since Resident Evil was always about finding yourself alone in impossible situations with very little to defend yourself with. The good news is that Sheva allows a nice amount of variety in how you must play. Whether it's sniping from afar as she takes out enemies up close, or assisting you in moving a particularly large wooden crate, she rarely becomes a pain and if you're playing with a friend then you will more than likely see co-op as a welcome addition.

With the control scheme in this game, it's a case of if you still enjoy the original versions of Resident Evil 4 then you will love this. For those that don't like the idea of standing still to aim and shoot, I urge you to at least give it a few hours before making a final decision. The problem is that RE5 doesn't do anything ground-breaking in terms of how it plays; it retains the interactive cutscenes from it's Spanish-located predecessor, and leans towards frantic action over horror, but it doesn't give anything new to the genre. However, the action is fast and as a result - for me at least - it never bothered me having to stop to fight. I've played RE since the beginning and it really is more like a little tribute to the original game than a cheap shot at modern day gaming.

The amount of weapons in games are constantly expanding, and RE5 is rolling with the times in this area. Multiple variations of handguns, SMGs and shotguns are the basic artillery that you will find yourself handling in the opening chapters of the game, with more firearms coming to your disposal as you continue your journey.

Graphically it's hard to think of anything that can surpass the visual delight that is RE5. The sun beaming down onto the small wooden huts of an African village, the glow of a flame bouncing around an other-wise dark cave, the locations look incredible. The artistic design is something that truly should be praised. The appearance of everything in the game shows that the past 4 years have been a time for dedication from those working at the Capcom studios. In an era where graphics are constantly improving to push the abilities of HD to its full potential, it's very satisfying to know that this truly may be the best available for both PS3 and 360.

The poorly acted dialogue that has existed throughout the Resident Evil series remains in the last installment, though less recognisable than before. Cliches can still be found left, right and center, but again it's something that adds a little bit of character and personality, and has helped make RE what it is all these years. The sound effects are incredible, particularly when it comes to screams and shouts from the rapidly approaching enemies, and what music does exist in the game has been carefully chosen to suit the location around you.

The standard Majinis you will face share a lot in common with their Ganado counterparts, but whilst they may be the majority of enemies you face they vary in size, strength and weaponry. In addition to the other new enemies that ambush you along the way, a few favourites from past games make an appearance, but much like the plot, should be left to experience. Needless to say they keep the action varied and pacy.

RE5 is seen as a big departure from the series in two main areas: the first being that a lot is set during the day, with the sun bearing down upon you. The second being that it isn't generally terrifying. However, before you jump to any negative conclusions, the daytime aspects are actually used to particular effect. There are still dark caves and sewers, typical locations from past games, but the use of day allows for good contrast so that you can truly appreciate each new locale. With regards to the fear factor, I honestly never found RE4 to be particularly frightening, so to me it's not a huge departure from the game I loved 4 years ago. Several moments will have you jumping out of your skin as you try to run for your life from...well to say what would be spoiling a particularly excellent moment in the game. I'll just say that RE5 still has some spine-tingling moments, and the fact it isn't as scary as the original RE simply shows how the series has evolved from a survival horror to an action horror genre.

Whilst a large handful of people will play the demo and decide against playing the finished version, I recommend at least experiencing the game for a few hours. Resident Evil 5 is more than willing to reward long time fans of a much beloved videogame series. After the 12-20+ hour story (depending on your difficulty), a wealth of extras - that won't be disclosed here to prevent spoiling anything - open up for you to play. If you have enjoyed the series as long as I have, it's my belief you will find peace when you finally bring the decade-long plot to a conclusion.

In answer to my original question, Resident Evil 5 goes out with a loud, defiant, and very grand finale, and will be remembered for a long time to come.


Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360)
Resident Evil 5 (Xbox 360)
Offered by passionFlix UK
Price: 8.17

5.0 out of 5 stars All Great Things Must Come To An End..., 25 Mar 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
After 13 years and 7 main entries in the series, Resident Evil finally draws to a close. The question that needs to be asked is does it end with a whimper, or a grand finale?

Taking place in 2009, several years after Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine stormed the last Umbrella stronghold in southern Russia, Chris returns to the scene as he hunts down known terrorist Ricardo Irving alongside his new partner, Sheva Alomar. I won't reveal too much, as a lot has already been said by other reviewers, however what I will say is that the ending to the saga is something that you won't want anyone to spoil for you, especially if you've been waiting for this installment since the end of RE4.

Gameplay is always a debated topic amongst games. The new edition is co-op play in the main story, both on and offline. Many will find the feature of a second character strange, especially since Resident Evil was always about finding yourself alone in impossible situations with very little to defend yourself with. The good news is that Sheva allows a nice amount of variety in how you must play. Whether it's sniping from afar as she takes out enemies up close, or assisting you in moving a particularly large wooden crate, she rarely becomes a pain and if you're playing with a friend then you will more than likely see co-op as a welcome addition.

With the control scheme in this game, it's a case of if you still enjoy the original versions of Resident Evil 4 then you will love this. For those that don't like the idea of standing still to aim and shoot, I urge you to at least give it a few hours before making a final decision. The problem is that RE5 doesn't do anything ground-breaking in terms of how it plays; it retains the interactive cutscenes from it's Spanish-located predecessor, and leans towards frantic action over horror, but it doesn't give anything new to the genre. However, the action is fast and as a result - for me at least - it never bothered me having to stop to fight. I've played RE since the beginning and it really is more like a little tribute to the original game than a cheap shot at modern day gaming.

The amount of weapons in games are constantly expanding, and RE5 is rolling with the times in this area. Multiple variations of handguns, SMGs and shotguns are the basic artillery that you will find yourself handling in the opening chapters of the game, with more firearms coming to your disposal as you continue your journey.

Graphically it's hard to think of anything that can surpass the visual delight that is RE5. The sun beaming down onto the small wooden huts of an African village, the glow of a flame bouncing around an other-wise dark cave, the locations look incredible. The artistic design is something that truly should be praised. The appearance of everything in the game shows that the past 4 years have been a time for dedication from those working at the Capcom studios. In an era where graphics are constantly improving to push the abilities of HD to its full potential, it's very satisfying to know that this truly may be the best available for both PS3 and 360.

The poorly acted dialogue that has existed throughout the Resident Evil series remains in the last installment, though less recognisable than before. Cliches can still be found left, right and center, but again it's something that adds a little bit of character and personality, and has helped make RE what it is all these years. The sound effects are incredible, particularly when it comes to screams and shouts from the rapidly approaching enemies, and what music does exist in the game has been carefully chosen to suit the location around you.

The standard Majinis you will face share a lot in common with their Ganado counterparts, but whilst they may be the majority of enemies you face they vary in size, strength and weaponry. In addition to the other new enemies that ambush you along the way, a few favourites from past games make an appearance, but much like the plot, should be left to experience. Needless to say they keep the action varied and pacy.

RE5 is seen as a big departure from the series in two main areas: the first being that a lot is set during the day, with the sun bearing down upon you. The second being that it isn't generally terrifying. However, before you jump to any negative conclusions, the daytime aspects are actually used to particular effect. There are still dark caves and sewers, typical locations from past games, but the use of day allows for good contrast so that you can truly appreciate each new locale. With regards to the fear factor, I honestly never found RE4 to be particularly frightening, so to me it's not a huge departure from the game I loved 4 years ago. Several moments will have you jumping out of your skin as you try to run for your life from...well to say what would be spoiling a particularly excellent moment in the game. I'll just say that RE5 still has some spine-tingling moments, and the fact it isn't as scary as the original RE simply shows how the series has evolved from a survival horror to an action horror genre.

Whilst a large handful of people will play the demo and decide against playing the finished version, I recommend at least experiencing the game for a few hours. Resident Evil 5 is more than willing to reward long time fans of a much beloved videogame series. After the 12-20+ hour story (depending on your difficulty), a wealth of extras - that won't be disclosed here to prevent spoiling anything - open up for you to play. If you have enjoyed the series as long as I have, it's my belief you will find peace when you finally bring the decade-long plot to a conclusion.

In answer to my original question, Resident Evil 5 goes out with a loud, defiant, and very grand finale, and will be remembered for a long time to come.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 1, 2009 7:02 PM BST


Silent Hill Homecoming (PS3)
Silent Hill Homecoming (PS3)

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Back To Silent Hill..., 8 Mar 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I don't go in for games based on the reviews of gaming sites or on hype alone, so this review is from a non-biased perspective. Having played only SH2 and SH4: The Room before, I'll compare my experiences with Homecoming to my experiences with these previous installments. However I am not a huge Silent Hill fan, so I'll try to make this review as non-biased as possible.

The first thing that must be said about Homecoming is that, no matter what the gaming websites have said, it is creepy. Not to the extent of SH2, I'll admit - but as those who've played it will know, that is a cult classic in regards to its ability to play with your mind. Homecoming maintains SH2's creepy piano-based music and sound effects; one of the truly excellent features of the series as it is one of the main reasons for its fear factor. I say it's not as creepy as SH2 because Double Helix has opted for a higher amount of enemies rather than taunting you with the possibility of attack for prolonged periods of time.

Many of the old SH2 enemies return (including a cameo appearance by an old fan favourite), however the 'ghosts' from The Room have thankfully returned to their grave for the latest journey into the foggy streets of Silent Hill. But this time around, Double Helix has opted to try out a few new variants that will attempt to cut your exploration short; and all of them are just as screwed up and twisted as their older friends.

The atmosphere is Homecoming is difficult to describe, but I'll try and sum it up in one word: intense. The constantly expanding fog, the streets that never seem to end, the crackle of your radio as a nurse twitches violently from behind you are partly what makes Silent Hill so popular.
The slime-ridden sewers, the old-fashioned furniture of the Shepherd House, the rusty gears that turn far beneath you as you descend into Hell itself...the contrast is vast and it allows an excellent change in scenery as you progress through the game.
At times you will find yourself exploring the rapidly decaying Lakeview Hotel from SH2, and at others you will be working your way around a huge boiler room. There are plenty of references to SH2, and a few from The Room (I'm unaware of the locations from the original or SH3), which alone should give fans of the series a reason to try this game.

Much like The Room, Homecoming takes place in two locations: Shepherds Glen and, of course, Silent Hill. The two areas are interchanged nicely, although they have a lot in common (fog, twisted creatures etc).

The improved graphics increase the intensity of the atmosphere, and seeing the walls peel away to reveal the Otherworld was impressive (it seems the film has actually inspired a future installment of the franchise). Whilst not up to par with Bioshock, Gears of War or the upcoming Resident Evil 5, they were still nice to look at and made the experience a little more unsettling.

Combat isn't hugely different from previous Silent Hill games, but it has evolved to fit with the next-gen fighting formula. Since Alex is a competent soldier, he is more capable at taking down creatures by avoiding their attacks and slamming a pipe into their head when the opportunity arives. Some may find the ability to counter-attack and aim with weapons features that result in an easier gaming experience, but I suggest that rather than trusting other people's views on this you decide for yourself.

Like the second game, Homecoming makes good use of puzzles that range from very easy to the insanely difficult. It wouldn't be Silent Hill without them, and makes a change from the exploration and combat segments in the game.

The plot - for which the game has been given a lot of criticism - isn't as bad as it has been made out to be. It's not massively original, but it has a nice twist that I personally didn't expect. I won't say much in order to prevent spoilers, but what I will say is that things aren't quite what they seem when you first fire up the game and begin your search for your brother, Josh.

My main problems with the game weren't really that big a deal. At one instance a became sealed off in a room, apparently having walked into a glitch where there was no escape, and I had to reload from my last save point. The second is to do with difficulty; half-way through the game I was doing everything I could to survive, having run out of medi-kits and ammunition, but by the end of the game I was loaded with health bottles and overly powerful weapons. It didn't create much of a problem in turns of how much fun I had, but it did present less of a challenge as the game came to a close.

My advice would be to buy Homecoming, or rent it if you are still a little unsure. The game retains the multiple endings from the other installments, and the alterations between the 'normal' world and the Otherworld makes it feel like 2 games in one. Sure, it's not as intense as Silent Hill 2, but that may be because I'm not 15 anymore.

It's an intensely fun (if you can call it that) experience that lasts a decent amount of time - roughly 12-15 hours for your first run-through - and one that is guaranteed to make you ask the question: just who the hell thinks up these twisted creatures standing in front of me?!


Silent Hill Homecoming (Xbox 360)
Silent Hill Homecoming (Xbox 360)
Offered by GameGrab
Price: 22.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Back To Silent Hill..., 8 Mar 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I don't go in for games based on the reviews of gaming sites or on hype alone, so this review is from a non-biased perspective. Having played only SH2 and SH4: The Room before, I'll compare my experiences with Homecoming to my experiences with these previous installments. However I am not a huge Silent Hill fan, so I'll try to make this review as non-biased as possible.

The first thing that must be said about Homecoming is that, no matter what the gaming websites have said, it is creepy. Not to the extent of SH2, I'll admit - but as those who've played it will know, that is a cult classic in regards to its ability to play with your mind. Homecoming maintains SH2's creepy piano-based music and sound effects; one of the truly excellent features of the series as it is one of the main reasons for its fear factor. I say it's not as creepy as SH2 because Double Helix has opted for a higher amount of enemies rather than taunting you with the possibility of attack for prolonged periods of time.

Many of the old SH2 enemies return (including a cameo appearance by an old fan favourite), however the 'ghosts' from The Room have thankfully returned to their grave for the latest journey into the foggy streets of Silent Hill. But this time around, Double Helix has opted to try out a few new variants that will attempt to cut your exploration short; and all of them are just as screwed up and twisted as their older friends.

The atmosphere is Homecoming is difficult to describe, but I'll try and sum it up in one word: intense. The constantly expanding fog, the streets that never seem to end, the crackle of your radio as a nurse twitches violently from behind you are partly what makes Silent Hill so popular.
The slime-ridden sewers, the old-fashioned furniture of the Shepherd House, the rusty gears that turn far beneath you as you descend into Hell itself...the contrast is vast and it allows an excellent change in scenery as you progress through the game.
At times you will find yourself exploring the rapidly decaying Lakeview Hotel from SH2, and at others you will be working your way around a huge boiler room. There are plenty of references to SH2, and a few from The Room (I'm unaware of the locations from the original or SH3), which alone should give fans of the series a reason to try this game.

Much like The Room, Homecoming takes place in two locations: Shepherds Glen and, of course, Silent Hill. The two areas are interchanged nicely, although they have a lot in common (fog, twisted creatures etc).

The improved graphics increase the intensity of the atmosphere, and seeing the walls peel away to reveal the Otherworld was impressive (it seems the film has actually inspired a future installment of the franchise). Whilst not up to par with Bioshock, Gears of War or the upcoming Resident Evil 5, they were still nice to look at and made the experience a little more unsettling.

Combat isn't hugely different from previous Silent Hill games, but it has evolved to fit with the next-gen fighting formula. Since Alex is a competent soldier, he is more capable at taking down creatures by avoiding their attacks and slamming a pipe into their head when the opportunity arives. Some may find the ability to counter-attack and aim with weapons features that result in an easier gaming experience, but I suggest that rather than trusting other people's views on this you decide for yourself.

Like the second game, Homecoming makes good use of puzzles that range from very easy to the insanely difficult. It wouldn't be Silent Hill without them, and makes a change from the exploration and combat segments in the game.

The plot - for which the game has been given a lot of criticism - isn't as bad as it has been made out to be. It's not massively original, but it has a nice twist that I personally didn't expect. I won't say much in order to prevent spoilers, but what I will say is that things aren't quite what they seem when you first fire up the game and begin your search for your brother, Josh.

My main problems with the game weren't really that big a deal. At one instance a became sealed off in a room, apparently having walked into a glitch where there was no escape, and I had to reload from my last save point. The second is to do with difficulty; half-way through the game I was doing everything I could to survive, having run out of medi-kits and ammunition, but by the end of the game I was loaded with health bottles and overly powerful weapons. It didn't create much of a problem in turns of how much fun I had, but it did present less of a challenge as the game came to a close.

My advice would be to buy Homecoming, or rent it if you are still a little unsure. The game retains the multiple endings from the other installments, and the alterations between the 'normal' world and the Otherworld makes it feel like 2 games in one. Sure, it's not as intense as Silent Hill 2, but that may be because I'm not 15 anymore.

It's an intensely fun (if you can call it that) experience that lasts a decent amount of time - roughly 12-15 hours for your first run-through - and one that is guaranteed to make you ask the question: just who the hell thinks up these twisted creatures standing in front of me?!


Dexter: The Second Season [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dexter: The Second Season [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Michael C. Hall
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: 9.14

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dangerously Delightful Dexter, 4 Sep 2008
The original season of 'Dexter' became a landmark in Showtime programming, and really put their name on the proverbial map. The dark, witty and - at the same time - vicious serial killer became a character to both cheer for and love. Despite initial statements declaring there would be no second series, the requests of the fans were eventually heard and Dexter's back in all his glory for 12 more darkly delightful episodes!

As in Season 1, 'Six Feet Under' star Michael C. Hall wonderfully plays Dexter Morgan, a Miami PD blood analyst who also happens to be a serial killer of serial killers. Trained by his adopted father, Harry Morgan, he was moulded from a young age into a perfect killer, and one that finds it against his moral code to kill those other than his fellow killers. However this time around he seems to have slightly adjusted his character to make our favourite serial killer/ MPD blood analyst even more interesting than before - Dexter has begun to feel some emotions, and is entangled in a difficult love situation (it's not as bad as it sounds) that can actually result in you resenting him for moments. However it is not only Hall who makes the show worth watching, as an amazing cast of other characters allows for multiple plots to exist whilst actually keeping you interested. Angel, Deb, Doakes and Maria have all returned for the second outing, and each has their own story to tell, however there are multiple additions that add a little more to the already superb show.

Whilst the first season dealt with Dexter's conflict regarding his admiration for the Ice Truck Killer and his desire to stop his opponent's work short, season 2 affects Mr. Morgan much more personally as his own 'night time hobby' begins to surface...in the Miami bay. As was the case in the first season, season 2 also keeps you guessing and wanting to watch more and more; it's multiple twists and turns are what truly make 'Dexter' what it is. You can't actually guess what will happen, but you will try nonetheless.

'Dexter' remains one of the most darkly humorous shows on TV, and season 2 easily matches the original. With a complex plot that will make you want to find out more each time an episode ends, and a list of characters that you will care about - no matter what their relationship and/ or view on Dexter is - it is a show that needs to be watched by everyone.

A highly recommended DVD of one of the best TV crime dramas I've seen in a long time, although to truly enjoy it I would advise first watching season 1.

PLEASE NOTE: This is only available on Region 1 at the moment, and therefore can only be played on a Multi Regional DVD player.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 14, 2009 6:29 PM BST


Dexter: Complete Season 1 [DVD]
Dexter: Complete Season 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael C. Hall
Price: 19.05

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Serial Killer With A Heart...Be Grateful It's Not Yours!, 22 May 2008
Upon first appearance, 'Dexter' may seem like nothing more than an imitation of a more well-known crime drama such as CSI. However, Showtime's slick, thriller-esque drama is much, much more than what may first meet the eye.

Based on Jeff Lindsay's book 'Darkly Dreaming Dexter', the basic plot is simple, yet intriguing: Dexter Morgan is a blood analysist working for the Miami PD. For the majority of his life he is the quiet, but charming, ladies man, but inside he has a 'dark secret' that continuously tries to escape: a desparate desire to kill. However, due to careful training from his understanding foster father, Dexter has learned to tame the beast that lurks within, unleashing it only on those who society has failed to punish for their crimes. But when Dexter's carefully planned life is interupted by the arrival of a new, untrackable serial killer, the Miami blood analysist must decide whether he wants to come out to play.

Michael C. Hall's amazing performance has earned him multiple awards, and he has truly moulded the character of Dexter to fit his own interpretation. The image of a man struggling to identify himself as human, failing to feel emotions, and yet forcing himself to fit into the society around him is perfected by Hall, who takes Lindsay's character to new levels with his fantastic ability to both entertain and yet sicken the viewing audience. Dexter accepts his own demons, and yet he has morals and standards that could never be broken: never harm an innocent, and never harm a child. As his relationship with other characters develop, the good-hearted nature of Dexter - aside from his outburst of violent brutality against the condemned - makes him appear to be the hero of the story. Sure, he's a killer, but he does it for all the right reasons.

Like many, I watched the TV series prior to reading the book, and this is truly one of those rare instances where the show is better than the written original. The characters of Dexter's foster sister, Deb, his Cuban superior officer, Lt. Migdia Laguerta, and the suspicious Sgt. Doakes are all developed much more extensively than they are in Lindsay's original, and give a new perspective to the world of 'Dexter' by allowing new plotlines and details to be added that truly enhance your viewing experience. Characters who are also featured only briefly in the book, such as Dexter's girlfriend Rita, who is "almost as broken as I am", are focused on more intensively, giving them new life and energy within the show. As the show progresses, the history of each character is revealed, along with the past memories of Dexter with his foster father, Harry, that just give the story a little more depth, something that really does make a difference in a crime drama such as this.

The voice-over narration of Dexter explains to the audience things that the other characters in the show have no idea about, such as his desire to kill and his struggle to fit in with the rest of the Miami society. It gives the impression the audience is truly involved in the plot, as they are almost like Dexter's best friend, learning all his secrets and problems. The way hall presents his story is both comical and twisted, something that is rarely achieved with sucess and yet is one of the reasons 'Dexter' is such a huge hit in the U.S.

Filled with more twists and turns than any other show in the last few years, 'Dexter' isn't for the weak of heart, exploring the mind of a serial killer in explicit detail, whilst also presenting him as the hero of the story, removing the problems that exist in society. He is a representation of the darkest secrets that exist in all of us, but whilst the show is generally dark, it is filled with enough humour to make you truly relax and feel comfortable with what is happening, thus become incredibly shocked when a twist occurs.

'Dexter' is a special show that rarely comes around in modern television. If you were unable to watch the show during the initial broadcast on FX, or the repeat on ITV, then this is definetely something to be recommended. Dexter is a serial killer with a heart...be grateful it's not yours!


Condemned (Xbox 360)
Condemned (Xbox 360)

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where the darkness reaches, the Condemned are waiting..., 3 April 2008
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Condemned (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
It has been several years now since I first played Condemned: Criminal Origins, and from the moment I first slammed the game into my 360 drive and turned off the lights I found myself in for a hell of a ride.

I won't go into the story, as the plot is what makes the game so dark and twisted. What I will say is that Condemned is essentially a police detectives' hunt for a serial killer, where there is no element of comedy or cheap jokes, and all the action remains depressing, violent and gritty.

Graphically the game seems to follow along the lines of FEAR; a similar game engine is used. Upon its release Condemned was the first game to really show the power of the 360, with the character models looking unbelievably good at the time, and still looking pretty awesome today, even with games like Gears of War around. Lighting is spectacular, with shadows flickering and causing you to spin around at the slightest movement in aprehension for an attack from the enemy. However, the most notable problem with the graphical design of the game is the degree to which many of the rooms seem to be, at least partly, identical. Whilst it doesn't particularly damage the game, seeing the same style of room multiple times can become a little dull.

The gameplay is pretty intense. Whilst it isn't as fast playing as most FPS, the AI is so realistic that it couldn't possibly be: whilst the ability to sprint exists, you can only do so for about 15 seconds before you stop to catch your breath, giving the criminals around you a chance to batter you to the ground. Because of this you are forced to slowly check the rooms/ halls, move forward and pray that there isn't a criminal lurking in the shadows around you. The actual combat is incredibly different from most FPS; whilst there are firearms in the game, the ammunition and variation is limited. The majority of the combat is spent with various melee weapons, ranging from locker doors to steel pipes, sledgehammers to paper-cutters. Which weapon you have does make a difference, and it will take some time to work out which weapon is best matched for your style of play. The enemies you encounter are also smart enough to realise if you remove their weapons, they have to try and tackle you to the ground. Failing this they will retrieve any weapons around them, in the same way that you can. It's slower gameplay than most, but it also has a more realistic and intense feel to it.

Whilst combat makes up the majority of Condemned, the second slice of the gameplay revolves around the CSI-style investigations you carry out. Within the story there are times when you must investigate an area for blood-trails, identify finger prints etc. and forward them - via a modified cell phone - to your lab contact. Hints appear on-screen to assist the player in knowing when it is neccessary to use tools, however the problem is that tools are automatically chosen for you. Therefore there is little room for acting like a real agent; you can't cycle through your tools and work out which one you need, adding to the length of such investigations. Once your part of the investigation is complete, a report is forwarded back to you by your lab contact. It's an interesting experience that generally pays off, and it gives a bit of variation to constant brutality.

Condemned also features some incredible sound and music. Whilst there is nothing that will make you break out in emotional tears, the atmosphere is generally conveyed through the scraping sounds, eerie screeches and quiet melodic effects that keep you on edge. Enemies yell at you when they see you, and will scream if you sneak up on them. Weapons sound quite sickening, especially when you bring - say - a sledgehammer to the side of somebody's skull.

The game is quite length, roughly around 10-15 hours depending on the difficulty you play it. Unfortunately it isn't the type of game that will neccessarily scare you as much as it did when you first played it, as on the second time around there is nothing that has changed - enemies will still exist in the same areas etc.

Whilst a little outdated, Condemned: Criminal Origins is still a game I would have to recommend. If you enjoy sick, twisted horrors then this game is for you. If not, you probably won't enjoy it. It gives you enough chills and thrills to keep you playing until the end, and a fantastic plot that makes you want to find out more and more. And with Condemend 2 being released on the 4th April, it's a neccessity to play this if you are planning on getting it's sequel.


Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - (Xbox 360)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - (Xbox 360)
Offered by GAMES CONSOLES BARGAIN
Price: 17.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 50,000 People Used To Live Here, Now It's A Ghost Town, 24 Jan 2008
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
From the moment you insert Call Of Duty 4 into your 360, you are guaranteed a hell of a ride. I never played any of the other Call Of Duty games, getting this simply due to the ranging hype surrounding it and the fact the graphics looked fantastic.

Firstly, whilst many people say the game is short I urge you to complete the game on the most intense difficulty (Veteran) and then say that. If you like blasting through a game then you can finish Modern Warfare in about 5 hours on Regular. But crank the difficulty up to Hardened or Veteran and you must prepare for a tactical warzone which will take you between 10 and 15 hours to complete, depending on your skill - the very final level, and I won't spoil it for anyone, was for me the most insanely difficult level to complete (when playing on Veteran).

Next, the graphics. One word: phenonemal. They are sheer beauty, gripping you with their look and making you become absorbed in the world of modern conflict. Admittedly, as in all games, there are areas that could do with a little polishing up, but overall the weapons look realistic, the characters life-like, and the explosions and bullets do the damage you would expect them to do, i.e. massive fireballs thats send smoke waves into the air.

Gameplay wise I can't compare it to any other CoD games. But it is truly amazing, easily ranking up their with Bioshock, Halo and Gears of War. Its hard to explain how much it makes you feel as though you are actually in a war, but everybody acts in their own way and you don't feel as though you are alone in the war as you do with Medal of Honor. Squad mates shout 'Cover me, I'm reloading!', and if you don't they're dead. That being said they know how to shoot a rifle, and are a huge asset in clearing areas full of the enemy.

The plot is reasonably simplistic, and whilst some have compared it to the series 24, I've never seen that and so won't comment. It's your typical war scenario, but I won't go into details for those of you who prefer not hear anything about the plot before they play it. Needless to say, however, that there are going to be a lot of people dying...

Multiplayer is, honestly, awesome. With new ranks, unlockable weapons, customisable classes, and perks (i.e. drop a grenade when you die, perform your Last Stand and square off again the man who is about to kill you or reload twice as fast) you have more incentive to continue playing than you do with, say, Halo (an amazing game in its own right). Modes are constantly being updated to remain fresh, and hopefully more multiplayer maps will become available through Live Marketplace as time goes by.

Overall, I seriously recommend buying this. If you have doubts about paying for a potentially 5 hour single-player experience, just jack the difficulty up to Veteran and it will keep you 'amused' for much longer. It is a truly rich experience, and one not to be missed on your 360.


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