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loe_n_zanussi "l_m_stableford"

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Comics
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very much does the job, 21 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Comics (App)
Not being able to read comics on my Kindle has made me sad since I bought it. The Comics app solves that problem and bolts on to the comix web store. The storefront is functional for browsers, and may be great if you specifically want to find something but as a pick and chooser of comics I find it doesn't really give me much control or information about things I am browsing without a lot of clicking, hence one star off.

For example, the app has virtual "racks" for featured content, popular content, everything and just free stuff. This is fine and all, but what if I want to look at weird comics, something Lovecraftian? Or a homage to old EC Horror stuff? Or something "like" Doctor Strange? well, if it's not featured, or popular, or free I just have to go through the alphabet and look for something that might fit. Also I might think I have a couple of quid to blow on some comic books but be happy to rifle through the bargain bin for them. Obviously I've got the free comics that caught my eye but why no "sort by price"?

Like I say, I can probably find things if I have time to browse for a while, but the sort and search are not fantastic for narrowing down the stock pile. Also, being that type of guy, I hate just looking through lists of "popular" things. Sure, they're great, everyone loves them. I always think people are stupid though, and that if something is unpopular, or ignored, it could have some inherent worth because stupid people AKA people just missed it. Or it could be rubbish. Anyway, I think "least popular" lists are far more interesting, plus, as a store owner, it helps get eyeballs on that stock that just won't shift so, maybe, it will.


Trello - Organize Anything
Trello - Organize Anything
Price: £0.00

1.0 out of 5 stars crashes on start, 20 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Trello - Organize Anything (App)
Use this on my phone no issues. This kindle app just crashes. Doesn't load, no error message, just big old fail. Disappointing.


aLLreli CP0038 Digital Voice Recorder - Rechargeable Dictaphone SPY Audio Recorder MP3 Player Perfect for Recording Interviews and Meetings Students Learning [8GB Black]
aLLreli CP0038 Digital Voice Recorder - Rechargeable Dictaphone SPY Audio Recorder MP3 Player Perfect for Recording Interviews and Meetings Students Learning [8GB Black]

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Awesome" is not a word I ever thought I'd use to describe a dictaphone but..., 17 Nov. 2014
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Okay, so how good can a voice recorder be, right? Well, I totally underestimated how good this one was going to be because I just needed it to record secondary audio when videoing a friend's talk at a conference. The experience of owning this thing has been one joy after another, some of these things may seem unimportant, and that's probably because they are but I liked them so I'm going to tell you about them:

1. The packaging: This thing comes packaged in this sweet looking box that gives off the air that the item is some kind of super-expensive designer stuff when, as you can see from the price, it is not. There *is* a cheap plastic insert keeping the goods safe in transit within, but I threw it away and now have a beautiful case to tote the thing about with that slips easily into my camera bag. Result!

2. You get all the wires, and when I say *all* the wires I mean all of them. Headphones, sure, whatever but... tie-mic and clip awesome (watch out for the clip it has "lose me" on it in teeny tiny misplaceable letters), USB cable and all the wires you need and an adapter to record land line telephone calls. The last is frickin' amazing even though the only use I can think of for it is attaching the doohickey if I ever get plagued by spam calls again, then I will script responses to the goons on the other end, hope that hilarity ensues and post the results to the interwebs. So if you're tele-spammer be warned!

3. The audio quality is very very good. At least for my purposes. At the highest reolution WAV recording quality you get 11 hours of audio goodness, more than I'll ever need. You would probably be able to compress a good deal before recording voice was noticeably bad.

4. I managed to work out most of what the thing can do without looking at the instructions. I know this is a man thing but we just love trying to work electronics without looking at the manual, that whole Apollo 13 thing was probably down to a bunch of dudes throwing their instruction books aside and just being all like: "Hey, what do I need that for, this big red button is obviously the thing I need to press." Anyway, in this case you can pretty much work out everything from having a bit of a fiddle and then fill in the details afterwards.

So it's good looking, comes with all the bits, gives good results and is easy to use. How can you argue with that. Also, I get to walk away with a solid recommendation to anyone who asks me what they should buy to fulfill their voice recorder needs.


Devil's Hand (Drawing Thin Book 1)
Devil's Hand (Drawing Thin Book 1)
Price: £0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Urban Supernatural Thriller, 5 Feb. 2013
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There was a point at which I stopped going into bookshops to look for books. The reason why was that no publisher was putting out stuff like Devil's Hand. I don't know if things have changed. I guess they haven't, people keep drawing comparisons in the places I've looked between this and the Dresden Files. If you're going to say that if you liked Dresden then you'll probably like this people would be right. If you want to say the two things have much in common, then you'd be far less right.

Devil's Hand starts out doing things right by not being in the first person. I understand that there's a sort of gumshoe vibe in Dresden but that guy does sometimes come off as a whiner because that's what first person perspective tends to do in long form unless you're clever. Trent Hawkins, the hero of Devil's Hand, is described in the third person and all the better for it. I found it a hell of a lot easier to get on with Trent.

The other two great features of Devil's Hand show a pretty solid understanding of what this series is and what it's about also. One is that it starts a series and has that "television show pilot" vibe about it, but the story contained within its pages is ultimately satisfying in its own right. The other is that its metaphysical set up is laid out for the reader in a pretty clear fashion, giving this urban fantasy thriller a weight that propels it forward and keeps it involving.

As for the plot, the blurb tells you most of what you want to know. The one thing a blurb cannot help to make clear is just how well acquainted Mr Patterson has made him with the apocryphal (as in actually from the apocrypha, not in the metaphorical sense) source of his mythos. I have found that when it comes to contemporary fantasy aimed at adults authors do have a tendency to think that they can half-bake something and let it loose. I have often left these works feeling, somehow, poorer than I came in. Devil's Hand displays the author's research and knowledge in a plot appropriate manner, hence, it enriches even as it thrills and excites.

Not that this is a perfect score card. There is a little flab that could have used some revision. There's too much fighting between the main protagonist and the main antagonist in the first half. There's a character who at first appears a bit thin, then appears to be a cheap motivational device and later proves to be a set up for something down the line; the whole matter is clumsily handled.

These minor problems, however, do not detract from the fact that the overall impact, once the story is done, is a resounding success. I think that some people would say it's an unqualified good that you can get to the end, turn back and see how deftly the players have been introduced and the set up going forward will give room for surprises and drama. I would say that this kind of dramatic coyness, meaning that you can only really see where you were going when you've got to your destination, risks losing a small number of less patient readers along the way.

None of the problems are fatal. I really enjoyed the book and, crucially, am really intrigued to read the follow up and further volumes in the series. Next time I have a gap in my leisure reading schedule (holiday or such) M.E. Patterson's oeuvre will be one of the places I'm going to go looking for another encounter with the fascinating cast of angelic hosts and demonic hordes.


Empire (Redemption Trilogy, Book 1) (In Her Name: Redemption series)
Empire (Redemption Trilogy, Book 1) (In Her Name: Redemption series)
Price: £0.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Great fun!, 12 Jan. 2013
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When I finished Empire I found myself having to ask my wife: If someone gave you a book that claimed to be a space opera what would you expect to happen in the story? She replied that she would have expected space ships, laser battles and aliens. By which count Empire scores 1 out of 3, it does contain aliens. In most other respects, however, this is not a space opera, rather it is a swords and sandals fantasy, in the vein of Conan the Barbarian, with space opera-y trappings.

What's even weirder is that the space opera sections are, by far, the weakest parts of the book. So I'm going to pitch it to you straight, this is a really really good blood and thunder melodramatic gladiatorial fantasy with action, adventure, lizard women and a really fascinating romance at its core. The slices of space opera bread in which this is the meaty, spicy, satisfying filling are dry, cardboardy and a little mouldy, don't let that put you off.

The story of Reza Gard, enslaved by the Kreelan Empire as part of a grand spiritual experiment is earnest, surprising and exciting by turns. After a couple of chapters of the fifteen year old Reza being obnoxiously wonderful in an orphan's colony the sudden switch to an environment where he is weak, frightened and not loved or respected by anyone is a welcome change. When Mr Hicks begins to dish out punishment to the precocious little snot I began to relax. Later on, when he begins to develop fuzzy feelings towards blue-skinned, taloned, sadistic lizard women who surround him it definitely gave me pause for thought.

That's the hard nugget of mental engagement squirrelled away in amongst the torrid tale of survival, combat and forbidden love on an alien world as deadly as it is beautiful. This is heady stuff indeed, the two lovers in the centre of the tale are given depth by the situation in which they find themselves. Reza is more than just a two dimensional Buck McHeropants because he was a normal all-American human kid who got a taste for bondage and domination at the hands of blue lizards. His lizard companion Esah-Zurah because Hicks commits fully to the idea that this woman is like Red Sonja only blue and not as cuddly or loveable.

So often in fantasy tales female warriors are just vehicles for the expression of dodgy submissive fantasy and misogyny on the part of the author. Empire has the cheek to subvert that notion by extrapolating it to its ultimate end. Hicks is careful to communicate that the Kreelan warrior women are anything but desirable to humans. For a start any human that meets a Kreelan is way too busy watching their intestines uncoil to wonder about alien nookie. To take this unforgiving template and spin an interspecies romance is chutzpah beyond that which I possess. To take all the reasons why such a twist is insane, laugh in their face and then add fairly sophisticated alien political and spiritual complications into the already unlikely mix propels the narrative into a whole new sphere of crazy.

Maybe I am just a bit of a fuddy duddy when it comes to this sort of stuff but the most gripping aspect of this story was the feeling of buying into everything even as you wondered whether you were being an idiot for doing so. The story of Reza Gard is what keeps me interested here, and the adventures in the Kreelan Empire are an amazing ride. I must admit to misgivings about reading other books in the series as I am uncertain that I will enjoy them as much, but I will be giving them a chance when I have some room in my reading schedule (so some time in 2017 then?) simply out of respect for this gloriously lunatic alien fantasy love story.


Dark City Blue: A Tom Bishop Rampage
Dark City Blue: A Tom Bishop Rampage
Price: £4.27

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hard Boiled Oz Noir = Awesome!, 22 Dec. 2012
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Originally published at [...]
I'd never really considered the possibility of there being a sub-genre called "hard boiled oz noir" before cracking open Dark City Blue. The first thing to note about this is that the Australian patois definitely delivers a unique wrinkle to a powerful, bloody, violent thriller.

Let's be clear about this, there is something joyously adolescent about the violence, the swearing, the cranked up adrenaline-soaked machismo of Dark City Blue. I think the jazzy mood title does little to convey the swaggering minimalist confidence of this assured slice of sardonic action.

The story revolves around your classic hard man super cop Tom Bishop hunting, and being hunted by, a network of corrupt cops in Victoria. The novel wastes no time kicking off with a gun battle, proceeding through an armed robbery, into a balls to the wall action chase where Preston takes every opportunity to beat the crap out of Bishop in a most satisfying manner.

The language is terse and revels in its punchy economy. There's exactly enough story to keep the whole thing barrelling forward, not so much you ever find yourself confused. Dark City Blue is an assured exercise in literary economy. It's the closest thing to a great tits and explosions action movie I've ever read in novel form. The whole thing's a gestalt, no individual element is unusually strong but the whole thing pulls together to make a terrific debut novel and I wait with eager anticipation to read the next Tom Bishop novel.


APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book
APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book
Price: £8.05

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff!, 12 Dec. 2012
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I bought Kawasaki and Welch's "How To" guide because I needed some advice about how to upgrade my woeful marketing skills. The book has definitely helped me and, for no extra cost, has shown me everything a "How To" guide ought to be.

After labouring over being an author and a publisher with novels and role-playing games I have evolved my own approach to the titular A (Author) and P (Publisher). So being given tips on "How To" by the authors lead me into situations where I felt vindicated and situations where I point blank disagreed with the advice given.

The book is formatted to within an inch of its life with a swish font, nice use of drop caps, stylish bullet lists. This book has had time and attention lavished upon it in terms of making it a product.

The prescription for doing this is that it will drive people nuts if you don't. This is because the display will go wappy on certain devices and you will know nothing about it as you only previewed it on your e-reader and the e-reader of a close personal friend. People will view your completed tome on all manner of inappropriate devices and you need to make sure that you have as much control as possible over the way it will display.

I permitted myself a smirk as I read this advice off the screen of my Galaxy Ace, which rendered all the wise words of quoted sources in thin columns about five characters wide. The fact is that fancy formatting is always going to break something somewhere, so I have always adopted a formatting lite approach to my books. I commit the sin (according to APE) of marking dialogue with "dumb" quotes because in some places "smart" quotes render as little diamonds with query marks embedded in them or hollow rectangles of character doom.

My approach to the smoothest possible read is to make the typography as unfussy as possible while still rendering it readable. Indented paragraphs, font sizes, italics, and ASCII characters only need apply. This is possibly because I write fiction and to me the words are the medium in which the story is contained. If people are reading Chicago Shadows thinking: Hey, I like the way he's starting each section with a weighty drop cap! then, dear reader, I have invoked the wrath of the fail whale.

If I was writing a text book maybe I would need some advanced typographical-fu. I know that in the case of the RPGs I wrestled long and hard with LibreOffice and its PDF exporter. So, the advice to publishers is largely dictated by the needs of the text being published. In other words: sometimes it's different strokes for different folks.

In addition the overview of being an author runs you through the process of deciding whether you should even write a book that did cause my eyebrows to raise. After all, if you didn't even know that you definitely should write a book then why would you pick up a guide telling you how to publish one? Circular, indeed.

I have to confess that I didn't read the Author section in any great depth. It is too late for me. Maybe this volume will help to save a few but I have my corner of Hell pre-booked and warming nicely.

Where APE came into its own for me was in the 'E' section, which stands for Entrepreneur. Essentially I have spent a long time learning to write a book and a long time learning to publish a book but I have, to date, spent no time learning how to market a book.

I am 100% positive that a marketing expert would tell me I didn't necessarily "need" to follow all of Kawasaki and Welch's advice in the Entrepreneur section, much as I would advise authors and publishers that they didn't need some of the advice in the other sections. But the point is I don't have a handy marketing expert to advise me and having a concrete list of things to do is already a great comfort.

Don't get me wrong, the authors have managed to break the bad news to me that the release of Chicago Shadows 1-3 has been handled "wrong". I have missed out several things I "should" have done prior to release. What is comforting is the fact that I now know this stuff even if I didn't before I released my heart-pounding gritty cop thriller trilogy. Following up on the tips that I can in APE means I am one step closer to being able to tell people about my books properly in future.

So, if you know all this stuff and are reading APE to feel vindicated you may find that you're not always in agreement with Kawasaki and Welch. If, on the other hand, you are clueless about any of it then APE will give you a good solid wedge of practical advice that will support you through the production of your own self-published marvel. That is all anyone can really ask of a solid "How To" guide.


Undersea
Undersea

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Originally Published On leostableford.com, 20 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: Undersea (Kindle Edition)
I finished reading Undersea nearly a week ago now and the more and more I turn it over in my head the more I can trace the book's issues come back to just one decision.

More on that later, because issues there are, but it would be grossly unfair to say that there was nothing to love in Undersea. As the blurb informs us the subject matter of Undersea concerns itself with a particular furrow of SF that doesn't get ploughed all that often. It's a watery space opera, no stars in the sky but plenty of decompression chambers beneath the waves.

This was a smart move in many ways. Undersea cannot suffer by comparison as nobody's yet produced the definitive oceanic colony novel (AFAIK). By the same token this is most certainly not the definitive oceanic colony novel, although it has many of the right ingedients. This is a slice of action thriller with some technological stuff and a moist post-apocalyptic scenario.

As such the piece is not 'idea driven' so much as 'based on an idea'. The drive has to come from the characters. The main pair, Ralla Gattley and Thom Vargas are personable enough, although I wouldn't go quite so far as to say rich, deep or well-rounded. We get to know Ralla quite well during the book, meeting both her parents and her fiance. We also get to see her wield the weapons of war and resist the efforts of their enemies to break her will.

Thom Vargas we see less of. We meet some friends of his, we learn he likes a drink, we learn that when he's not soused he can rouse himself to lead a team of sub-oceanic ninja fishermen on rescue missions.

Before we go any further I would like to make it quite plain that I enjoyed Undersea. The point of discussion here is 'is it worth £1.53 if you are intrigued by the premise'? The answer to that question is undoubtably yes. It delivers enough action, enough character and enough techno stuff to keep you going until the end.

Would I recommend it even to people who are not that bothered? That's where my endorsement ends.

I think it might be time to mention that key issue, and go from there. At one point during my read a character's name was spelled 'Mrakas'. I assumed that it was a slip of the finger and that next time the character would be correctly rendered 'Markas'. The character then continued to be called Mrakas every time he was invoked all the way to the end of the book.

Point one, the book has been somewhat shoddily proofed to the point where meeting a man called Mrakas I thought it had to be a typographical goof. The volume is rife with many of the more pernicious typos where a homonym substitutes for its more appropriate sibling, something I just can't bare (joke). There are also many places where a good editor would have spotted uses of the wrong word, nothing as bad as playing it fast and lose or loosing all patience but certainly more creative uses of that particular boob. I didn't mind, I just re-edited for sense in my own image as I went along. Less arrogant more pedantic readers will definitely find this a chore.

Point two, no doubt the character was called Mrakas because the author felt it added a little something. It did: unpronounceability. When faced with the choice of rounding out a character or giving him a silly name the journeyman author should learn to engage with a solid work ethic.

The character is not a child, giving them a silly name will not force them to make themselves more interesting to make up for their nomenclature. Until the book is out there mean kids like me cannot whale on him for having a silly name. Now that I am giving him a going over I bet there are many things Mrakas wishes he could do to make himself more interesting and rise above this unfortunate shortfall in the process of his creation, but he can't. The story is told and he is left only regrets and a tortured alphabet salad to enter into the forename box on his insurance claims.

This kind of laziness infects all the characters. If the author could be thought entirely incompetent then I might be more forgiving but Morrison demonstrates some raw talent. The setting is important, only someone with potential as a storyteller could really latch on to the hook presented by the danger and oppression of a human life forcibly pushed into less than ideal circumstances into undersea habitats.

The poetry of two communities, the heroes on board the citysub Universalis, the opposition on board the citysub Population, living in hastily assembled gigantic submarines manages to outstrip the question of how they haven't managed any R&D on their living spaces in the three or four generations that they've been tooling about under the sea. (This latter problem is even poked hard enough to make it a sore point when you are told that they had the time to develop deep sea mining colony domes, research stations and whizzy shards of body armour but no new development in the mobile capital city of humanity.)

In addition there is a heartwarming thread of utopian philosophy embodied in the political stance of Ralla Gattley. Morrison has a way of communicating how people act in mobs comes to life in a way I've not seen before. The politics of the masses and the manipulation of leadership communication are used to make plot points in a way that seems believable and contrasts with how such devices are usually overplayed. At one moment an attempt at undermining a character's leadership credentials backfires (which such moves don't tend to) and the description of the fallout from this ham-fisted attempt really gives the drama some muscle.

Gattley is idealistic enough to be endearing but realistic in her outlook enough not to be naive, a hard balancing act, to be sure. A key part of this balance can be attributed to the villain, the opposing citysub's lead politician: Governor Oppai, who is a splendidly weird creation.

I'm not entirely sure whether Oppai's distinctive character is a design or an accident. It is certainly possible that Morrison made the whole plot and supplied notes for "Villain 1 acts this way" before writing. When he came to write the novel he tried to fit Oppai's personality to the actions he was required to take.

Regardless, Oppai's characterisation does work, it shouldn't, but it does. Oppai is, simultaneously, a charismatic statesman and a paranoid lunatic. This sounds like something it would be fairly easy to pull off but his brand of charisma is very much of the contemporary age. Oppai makes statements about being "in it together" with the people on board the citysub Population whilst, at the same time, enticing them into his dangerous fantasy through a web of deceit; an exemplar of fascism through lies, appealing to the worst in human nature.

Oppai is brilliantly manipulative and eminently despisable. Making him Ralla Gattley's main adversary boosts the protagonist's character. Oppai is pretty much as two dimensional as all the other main characters but in a pantomime villain this is excusable.

To be fair I didn't have high standards for the main protagonists. 2.5 dimensions will usually do a great job in a plot-driven action thriller and 3 whole dimensions can often make the meat too rich and too strange.

Given that the novel is supposed to be complete in itself the fact that all you know about the protagonists is that they are pacifists with guns who may or may not be in lurve is a shortcoming. It is one that could have been mitigated in two ways.

The first is that Undersea could have gone from one off to saga, over a longer period the gradual accumulation of character is easier to forgive and almost inevitable for the storyteller. The second would be to have more characters front and centre making the piece into an ensemble.

Following both of these suggestions to their natural conclusion it would appear that Undersea is not just a fine idea for an SF adventure but also a solid basis for a television series.

I couldn't shake the feeling that things would have turned out a little better if Undersea had been given some of the discipline applied to a television series. Among the likely improvements such a treatment would have furnished are: the major beats would have been slower, the enemy could have amounted to more than a single character, the ensemble would have helped build a richer world.

The end result may have come out like Waterworld meets (new) Battlestar Galactica but in genre terms that's got potential to be a winner.

As it is the product before us at once goes too fast and doesn't deliver quite enough story to raise it further than a solid "just above average". The good news is that there are free volumes out there with more editorial polish and less compelling action. The bad news is that there are free volumes out there with identical (or better) editorial standards that are more gripping. As these are the facts I cannot grip you firmly by the shoulders and direct you to read Undersea now, but neither am I going to warn you away. If you're looking for a cheap and cheerful slice of action adventure with a twist Undersea will certainly scratch that itch.


Shadow Hearts: Covenant (PS2)
Shadow Hearts: Covenant (PS2)

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those who like an RPG a little... different, 20 Mar. 2005
I'll be honest, all that turgid, earnest, heartfelt Final Fantasy rubbish leaves me cold. If I'm going to role play I like something a little bit... nastier. The original Shadow Hearts was like a collision of all the stuff I like best in an RPG and threw in some extra oddities to surprise and delight aside.
The judgement ring, for example, which mediates the power of your attack by giving you a little quick on the X button rhythm action when it comes your turn to damage deal is an excellent innovation, that makes you feel more in control during a battle. The additions to this excellent feature in Shadow Hearts: Covenant are made with an assured finesse and are, importantly, entirely optional for the traditionalists in the audience. The judgement ring has always been my favourite battle mediator. Seeing it spin to attention and await my itchy thumb was like welcoming an old friend.
Also returning is the early 20th century Europe roaming scenario backed up with a kind of Lovecraftian mythology, weird monsters and pretty magic making. In addition we get plenty more bizarre carry on style banter which is kinda weird in the overall context of the game. Again as a feature of Shadow Hearts its inclusion in this game is like welcoming back an odd but well loved companion.
So what of the plot? Well, after a little bit of combat tutorialing at the beginning your opening gang is soon sorted out and in the lead is a young man original fans will remember called Yuri "I'm a Harmonixer so don't mess" Hyuga. Off you go on a quest to Wales (don't ask) to try to work out why an evil cult has decided that Yuri must die.
Don't know what happens after that but I've been tramping around abandoned Paris Metro tunnels unlocking fusion souls (which Yuri loses before he becomes a playable character) and getting to grips with the new refinements to the combat system. I would recommend having a pad ready because someone at Shadow Hearts central still thinks it is cool to map. The combat is sparky and the classes of magic (Fire, Earth, Air, Water, Light and Dark) are all pretty much as we remember them from before.
Basically, the central mechanic of the game has been honed and the story telling remains as compelling as before. I will be looking forward to 40 hours worth of Covenant. RPG wise, things couldn't be better for me right now.
Roll on Shadow Hearts 3!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 16, 2013 9:35 PM BST


The Ultimate Matrix Collection (10 Disc Box Set) [2003] [DVD]
The Ultimate Matrix Collection (10 Disc Box Set) [2003] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Keanu Reeves
Offered by ajdiscs
Price: £24.99

38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Something Deeper..., 8 Dec. 2004
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In short: This edition is food for thought. If you want a bunch of classic action movies go buy Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and True Lies but if you want to think about a movie like you've never thought about one before this is essential.
The detail: Time for honesty. I didn't like Reloaded. I despised Revolutions. Not for the reason that they were sprawling and overcomplicated but more for the fact that because they were sprawling and overcomplicated they lost so much of the solid audience base they'd built up with the original Matrix.
By the time I'd taken in all three movies, the Animatrix, Enter The Matrix and The Matrix Revisited I felt I'd pretty much got a feel for the series, its spirit and its intentions. Then I saw the roll call of features on this edition and, well, realised I might have some more work to do to get my head around what The Matrix experience was all about.
Finally someone has produced a DVD not with the director telling stories about how lovely it was to work with everybody and how the whole thing was neat-o but with two philosophers discussing the 'Manichean overtones' of the original Matrix. To then couple this with a commentary of movie critics ripping the film to pieces is a brave move and the most public admission that a film might not be everyone's cup of tea a film's director(s) are ever likely to make.
The fact is this is a risky box set. It does not massage its own ego and where the hyperbole threatens to be vomit inducing the Wachowskis have been very careful to deflate their own egos by giving voice to the many people who were unhappy with the conclusion of the trilogy.
As such for an interested party such as myself it has forced a re-evaluation of my previous opinion. Not merely because a bunch of intellectual heavyweights are saying that there is more to the Matrix than meets the eye but because upon listening to their discourse it is possible to see that the Matrix rather than being disjointed and ultimately incoherent is, in fact, an incredibly complex piece of work with a deep message. How successful the Wachowski's were at putting extremely subtle philosophical and spritual arguments into a Keanu Reeves vehicle is another matter. But I find myself now in the position of being unable to write the latter parts of the trilogy off as I previously had.


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