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Mr. Pa Ortiz "I need to...return some video tapes" (Colchester, Essex, England)

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Saints Row 2 Classic (Xbox 360)
Saints Row 2 Classic (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: 12.48

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What GTA4 should have been!, 31 Jan 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Okay, first of all...I'm mildly annoyed that I bought this game over Games on Demand and paid double what Amazon are charging!! Guess I'll know to look here next time.

Still, the annoyance is kinda canceled out by the fact that this game is just so much fun. Where GTA4, with all its gritty brown filtered realism, looks better, SR2 looks more 'alive'. It's vibrant, at times mildly cartoonish, and takes itself way less seriously. There's just so much more actually happening in the game world, that you don't care that it's not photo realistic.

One of the best features SR2 has over GTA4 is the garage system - as in, it actually has one. You can store all the neat toys you buy/steal in your garage and access them from any crib/safe house. More than that, you can customize pretty much any vehicle, San Andreas style. In fact you can customize almost anything, from your character's appearance, to your crib itself. Some of these customizations/upgrades are really just visual and don't serve much purpose but it still helps you make the game your own.

The only bad points, are frame rate, graphic issues, and pop up. The game seems to run a bit sluggish sometimes, especially during cut-scenes (although you can turn V-Sync off for them and it helps matters, if you don't mind screen tear). It just seems weird to develop a game for a console that demands more than that platform can deliver. Weird.

There are also a few things that feel a bit rushed graphically. Rain stops falling on you when you take shelter...but it also completely stops for the rest of the world until you step outside again. Not a major thing but it sorta yanks you out of the game world when you notice things like that.

And yeah, the pop up is pretty noticeable sometimes. Not just textures but whole freakin' buildings. GTA4 at least felt a lot more fluid and continuous in the way it handled the sandbox environment.

Still, like i said, SR2 counteracts all of that with enjoyment. I've played about 5 or so hours, and I'm still finding new things to do - favorite so far being the demolition derby! There are also some nice references to Red Faction: Guerrilla (another brilliant game). Even some of the building styles in the corporate areas are exactly like the Ultor buildings in RFG!

Anyway, I know this game has been out for a while, and it has a few technical issues/weird graphics problems. But otherwise it's 95% kickass and will give you many hours of enjoyment. Go buy!!

Geometry Wars: Galaxies (Wii)
Geometry Wars: Galaxies (Wii)
Price: 7.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Great, addictive fun on the go!, 25 Sep 2009
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
I'll not go into detail about the mechanics of the game as you can find that information anywhere on this page! A few comments I will make though:

The control method is awkward at first - a word of advice, though: *don't* use the stylus! Don't even attempt to. Instead, take the strap that comes with the DS (the one with the little thumb pad) and use that instead. It's as close as you'll get to an analog stick and it makes the game infinitely more playable, and comfortable!!

Frame rate drops are present...but not a massive problem. It slows you down, but it slows the enemies down too! It does get a little scary when it picks up again, though.

Otherwise this is a great little game - the addition of a 'campaign' gives you several hours gameplay straight off the bat, but the real replayability is in obsessively trying to top your own high scores. The tweaks/changes do make a difference: the addition of a helper drone, losing your score multiplier when you die, using geoms as currency, countless new enemies and dynamic battle grids. All in all they've expanded on a very simple idea and elevated it above 'mini game' status. Definitely worth getting!

Acer Aspire One AOA150-Ac Netbook Atom (N270) 1.6GHz 1024MB 160GB 8.9 inch WSVGA TFT LAN WiFi Linpus Linux Lite (Brown)
Acer Aspire One AOA150-Ac Netbook Atom (N270) 1.6GHz 1024MB 160GB 8.9 inch WSVGA TFT LAN WiFi Linpus Linux Lite (Brown)

5.0 out of 5 stars It's official -, 17 Mar 2009
First thing's first...I got this laptop in Linux flavour, but I have to say it really flies on Windows. Specifically with regards to full screen video playback and general multimedia performance. Plus the loading time is pretty much the same. Discounting the time it takes me to enter my system password it's roughly 17 seconds, vs the 15 seconds Linux startup time. And this is with XP Pro SP3.

With that out of the way, I have to say this is an amazing little machine. It looks great, it feels solid but at the same time light. The keyboard doesn't feel that much smaller than a regular qwerty at all and so far I haven't had any of the usual problems associated with getting used to a new layout.

The display is particularly impressive - videos look more vibrant on this than on my main 20" widescreen on my main computer!

The wireless performance is also very good. I was using a PCMCIA WiFi adapter, and I'd get 45% signal strength one room away from the router. With the built in WiFi on the A150 I'm getting 100% pretty much all the time. Very impressive. The only thing I have noticed is that it doesn't deal too good with lots of streams of data at once, so if you're copying files over your WLAN then internet will suffer, and vice-versa.

General performance as I said is fantastic under XP. That might well be the case under Linux too but admittedly I didn't give it much of a chance. The aforementioned video playback issue is definitely a big one for me. Not to mention I'm running multitrack recording software with hardly any CPU usage. Yes, I know that's way more extreme than the average netbook user will be looking to do! But it shows it can be done.

Amazingly happy with this purchase, and still quite amazed that all of this fits in the palm of my hand. Not much else I can say except...go and get one!

Command & Conquer: Kane's Wrath (Xbox 360)
Command & Conquer: Kane's Wrath (Xbox 360)

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Proof that RTS on a console can work!, 19 Feb 2009
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Just got this today, and I've mainly been fiddling with the skirmishes so I won't comment too much about the campaign. What I will talk about, however, is the fact that for a console RTS...this is very, very playable and you don't really feel out of control at any point. In fact, some of the new features (build queue at any time, any place, for instance) would be welcome additions to PC titles! But there are some real innovations here that prove RTS *can* work on the 360.

My only real gripe is that it just feels like a bit of an afterthought. They figured out a way to reduce the number of clicks per action from 1,000,000, to about 5, and rather than wait for the release of RA3 just chucked this out into the stores. Considering it's a NOD-centric campaign, it's very telling that the boot-camp is GDI. So don't expect a polished, content rich outing here. It's more of a technical exercise in the new control scheme, with the added benefit of some new units.

For anyone wondering, while the campaign is exclusively NOD, you get to play around with the GDI (and its sub-factions) and the Scrin to your hearts content. There is also a generous supply of skirmish maps as well, so even offline it'll provide you with a lot of enjoyment.

One last observation - and this is primarily responsible for it only getting 3 stars - the game is sloooow sometimes. Not just in the heat of battle. Some maps just drag it right down, even when all you've got is a construction yard. I don't know if this is something experienced by everyone playing Kanes Wrath. But I was a little disappointed after playing through the silky smooth tutorial, to then enter a skirmish map and get dropped frames and laggy controls. Some maps, however, do just naturally run a lot smoother than others.

Anyway, closing thoughts - it's worth owning, if only because it's the best example of an RTS control system on the 360 yet and even with its scarce content you'll still get a lot of enjoyment out of it!

Supreme Commander UEF Faction Pack - Amazon Exclusive (PC)
Supreme Commander UEF Faction Pack - Amazon Exclusive (PC)

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, just to say..., 16 Feb 2007
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
I'm giving this a solid/unsure 3 because I don't own the game, nor can my system run it well (yet).

I just felt the need to point out to the other 'reviewers' that the camera is most definitely 3D - you hold the space bar to rotate your view. Upon releasing it the view slowly returns to normal. Having a constant sense of direction seems like a sensible thing. North is north, south is south. I've never understood the obsession with an entirely free floating camera in RTS games.

So yeah, I just had to correct that. Even though my laptop ran it like a slideshow, that was the one thing I could establish..

This game has a 3D camera.

Now, to get a graphics card up to the task of running this game!

Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 7.21

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Give this album a will grow on you!, 3 Mar 2006
This review is from: SYNCHESTRA (Audio CD)
First of all...if you're familiar with SYL, and are expecting more of the same from Synchestra, you WILL be dissapointed. The only similarity is the production, as it's very similar to Alien. But that's where the likeness stops.
When I first heard this album I was very let down, for that exact reason. It was too chirpy, too happy, to straightforward (deceptively so).
Now, for those very reasons, this album has really grown on me. From start to finish it's a thoroughly uplifting album, and there's far more to it than meets the eye. It opens with a solitary acoustic guitar being gently strummed, campfire style, and is soon accompanied by Devin's smooth pitch-perfect clean vocals. Somehow, they merge seamlessly into a blasting torrent of double kicks and euphoric riffing, and so it keeps progressing. They throw everything in there, from some utterly Vai-esque soloing on "Triumph", to the occasional banjo interlude, and even some polka-cum-circus music; "Vampolka".
Listening to it now, it's hard to convey what exactly it's about - think Fear Factory with walls (huge, thick, very tall walls) of keyboards and layered guitars, injected with large quantities of "happy". You really have to hear it for yourself I guess.
The other thing that I appreciate about this album is that it manages to be heavy without the pretense of somehow being "evil" or dark. They're just making good music, and having a good time .
If I have any criticism of the album, it's that some songs kinda drag on a little bit...but to what extent depends on the mood you're in when you listen to it. If you really let yourself become immersed in the whole thing, you want it to go on and on. If, on the other hand, you just want to listen to the odd song, it might seem a bit boring at times. So for that, I'll take off one star.
All I can say is, don't be put off the first time you put this in your CD player. Put yourself in a good mood, grab a cold beer (or a hot cup of tea, depends what you like!) relax and just take it all in. And most of all, remember...this is NOT Strapping Young Lad. Keep that in mind and you'll be fine :)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 4, 2013 6:57 PM GMT

Man On Fire [2004] [DVD]
Man On Fire [2004] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Denzel Washington
Offered by themediamerchants
Price: 2.69

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the best revenge flicks I've seen, 24 July 2005
This review is from: Man On Fire [2004] [DVD] (DVD)
Having missed this one at the local cinema, I was pretty chuffed to pick it up for as little as I did.
"Man On Fire" sees Denzel Washington take on the role of Creasy, an ex counter terrorism, military bod with great aptitude for killing...and drinking. He arrives in Mexico City to meet up with an old friend (Christopher Walken - yet again, severely lacking in lines). Out of work and with no direction in life, Creasy decides to try and bluff his way through being a body gaurd to make some cash, which as we're informed during the opening titles, is a very good business to get into in this town. Creasy and his "job", 9 year old Pita Ramos naturally strike up a heart warming, odd couple-esque relationship, and Creasy suddenly remembers what it is to live, to love, and so on. Naturally, things go wrong and Pita is abducted.
Cue roughly 100 minutes of violence and death as Washington carves a bloody trail across Mexico City to avenge Pita.
I'll cut straight to it: the acting, was great (Fanning is one to watch out for). The story line, held few surprises but was gripping nonetheless. The action was well paced, and the vengeance served up was immensley satisfying.
So why 3 stars?
Because when I want to watch a music video, I watch MTV. And that's never by the way. Scott *almost* completely ruins this movie with his try-hard approach to direction. Almost every shot makes use of tired old tricks; the jittery handycam effect made famous by NYPD Blue, the out of sequence/non-linear montage made famous by...every film for the last 5 years, freeze frames, creative use of subtitles (even over English spoken dialogue), and more strobe lighting than you can shake a stick at. Thank God I'm not epileptic, although this film may well have changed that. As a result, moments that could have been reflective, touching, and genuinely emotional are instead reduced to little more than directorial self indulgence, and even worse, the film becomes very hard to watch. Musical motifs and themes (specifically Nine Inch Nails) are used to death, at highly innapropriate times, and whoever was in charge of sound/music editing needs a good whack with a 2x4 just as much as Scott. The same two pieces of music alternate at least 3, or 4 times, in the closing 10 minutes!
Okay okay, I can't harp on too much about this. The fact is, as a revenge movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Too often, such films try and preserve the sense of morality of the lead character at the expense of the bad guy getting what he truly deserves. Man On Fire is a welcome change to this tradition. As I said, Fanning turns in a great performance, and compliments the straight faced Washington remarkably well and it's truly pleasing to watch their relationship develop. And of course you really feel connected to them when they are seperated; there's clear motivation for Creasy's revenge - something lacking in many such films.
It's just strange that for a film of 140 minutes, it's seemingly directed and edited for people with very short attention spans. More visual effects do NOT always = a more gripping/exciting/intense film. One, single, carefully planned shot of good solid dialogue can deliver the same effect as 10 consecutive shots of visual trickery.
All in all, I do reccomend this film. Just make sure you're mentally prepared for its exhausting visual style.

Far Cry (PC)
Far Cry (PC)
Price: 1.99

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars May contain traces of nut, oh and spoilers..., 28 Jan 2005
This review is from: Far Cry (PC) (Video Game)
So ages ago I got my hands on the Far Cry Demo, and needless to say I played that more than most of my full version games. I vowed to purchase it as soon as possible.
For some reason, I didn't. And so Doom 3 and Half Life 2 showed up. Technically amazing, perhaps at the expense of replayability, these two titles formed my experience of modern day FPS games; I am after all a casual gamer, I dip in and out every few months/years.
Then I came across Far Cry for a mere 15 (sadly not from Amazon). And while that 15 was supposed to go in the "food to stay alive" jar, I'm glad it didn't. Far Cry is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of this game is its graphics. Hundreds of trees and shrubs visible at any one time, swaying gently in the warm tropical breese. Crystal clear waters reflect islands and mountains in the distance. Birds flutter away and into the beautifully rendered sky. It's an experience that goes far far beyond the repetitive nature of Doom 3 (with its endless, nameless corridoors) and the confined city blocks of Half Life 2, with its false sense of freedom and non-linear gameplay (when it's the exact opposite).
These huge, lush outdoor environments are not just eye candy. The sheer scope and size of each map means that there are endless ways to approach an enemy or an objective. Swim under a dock and blow some heads off through a crack in the decking, or take the scenic route through dense undergrowth. Sometimes exploration yeilds the odd surprise - a jeep parked on the beach, which woud otherwise not be seen during your mission; it is there simply because it would be there in real life. Steal it, and suddenly your mission is alot easier.
It's this kind of non-scripted gameplay and freedom that truly lets you apply your own tactics and combat preferences to any situation. "Ghost" soldiers with your knife that are foolish enough to stray from base camp, or snipe from great distances constantly changing position. Or of course, go "Rambo" (and probably die in about 10 seconds). It's up to you. Needless to say this is not a run and gun affair. It's about stealth, planning, and taking your time...albeit not on the same scale as Splinter Cell.
Of course this would be no fun if the enemy were, well, dumb. Thankfully...they're not. Seeing how I ruined my experience of HL2 by playing it on "easy" straight off the bat, I decided to jump straight in and play on "realistic". And it's scary. The AI almost always goes for headshots. They find a seemingly limitless number of ways to get to you, flanking you, drawing you out into the open, and using the foliage for cover. On this skill setting, the level entitled "training" took a *very* long time.
Thankfully you get some handy firepower with which to dispatch the AI, and and most are satisfying to use. The pistol is far from weedy, eminating a piercing, echoing crack. The assault rifle soon takes over as "standard" weapon, and with the ability to toggle between single shot and automatic, it proves invaluable for both close up assaults and long range sniping. Later on you're treated to a semi automatic shot gun, as well as a sniper rifle - the effective use of which involves holding your breath to steady your aim! Of course there's the ever present rocket launcher with zoom sight, and a variety of useable gun mountings (that's, useable by you AND the enemy).
The vehicles on offer easily rival those found in Halo, and the vew from inside the cabin of a large truck as it bounds over hills while bullets pierce the windscreen is simply awesome, as is the physics and handling of each car/jeep/truck/boat/etc.
Of course, every game has its flaws. Some more than others. Thankfully Far Cry's flaws are few and um...far between. For one, the missions don't really vary too much beyond pick up item A and move to checkpoint B, or plant the bomb on the large red "ghost" bomb on the reactor. Basically every mission requires walking towards the flashing blue blip on the radar, and awaiting instructions on where the next one is. Which sounds bad, but fortunately the open ended nature of gameplay means the real challenge lies in finding new methods and tactics to deal with the mission at hand.
Also, the rendering of some of the enemies later in the game seems lacklustre compared to the incredible detail present in the marines in the early stages.
As has been said elsewhere here, the AI is sometimes a little too good at spotting you. In broad daylight, it's understandable (your character does sport a bright red hawiian shirt). In the caves, with no lights, they should be as blind as you - but they're not.
And one point in the game I was indirectly killed by a ladder, such is the strength of its hold on you once you dare stray within a few feet of one.
Still, given what this game has accomplished, these are minor points. The fact is, the game is ultra-replayable, especially on Realistic difficulty. It is perhaps the single best attempt at creating a truly massive and continuous outdoor environment, and it mixes these with equally convincing interior locations. As of this moment, I've still yet to complete the game. Currently, I'm nervously creeping through dense forests in the dead of night. Odd how the same foliage that provided comfort and cover now hides some horrible menace that I'm truly..truly afraid of ;)
I go now, to play. I can only reccomend that you buy this amazing game. Forget D3 with it's (admittedly) superior lighting but substandard early 90's gameplay. Forget HL2 - which it pains me to say, but hey, play it once and you've seen everything there is to see. Not good enough for 34.99.
Buy Far Cry.

Destroy Erase Improve
Destroy Erase Improve

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Industrial Jazz Metal at its finest!, 21 Mar 2004
This review is from: Destroy Erase Improve (Audio CD)
I'm not entirely sure how I heard about Meshuggah or indeed got round to buying this album. But one thing's for sure...I'm very glad I did. While many metal acts around these days can easily have their influences traced to any number of perm-laden 80's arena-rock bands, Meshuggah seem to draw from more avant-garde and abstract styles of music, specifically jazz fusion, which is demonstrated in the incredibly complex and intricate solo work.
I've heard their music described as "deceptively simple" and this is certainly true. Many of the riffs consist of single notes occassionaly mixed with powerchords and so it would be easy to dismiss the guitarists (and bassist) as untalented. But on a second listen, one begins to appreciate the level of talent required to play in such odd signiatures, with such robotic precision. Added to this that on the whole, the lead guitar work is incredible. It's not your run of the mill "up the pentatonic, down the pentatonic" business. It's more akin to some sort of heavy metal/jazz improv hybrid, but it works. The drumming is undeniably awesome, with every limb seeming to play in different time signiatures, yet keeping in perfect sync. The vocals don't let things down - with a tireless onslaught of guttural screaming sitting perfectly atop the mechanical mayhem created by the other band members. The lyrical content, (whilst familiar territory to any FF fans) is for the most part highly intelligent, dealing with the integration of the organic, and synthetic, and the subversion of the human spirit by the relentless will of "the machine". Very Terminator-esque.
Standout tracks for me, are Future Breed Machine, Beneath, Soul Burn and Transfixion, although the rest of the album is of equally high calibre, with Acrid Placidity providing a well needed rest.
This is an album which takes getting used to. I rather eagerly played it to a fellow music lover and he was severely unimpressed. I myself had initial regrets when it arrived in the mail. Of course now, it's permanently in my cars CD player. The fact that it has now been discontinued injustice to all things metal. Try as hard as you can to get a copy of this album. It will change the way you hear and understand music forever!

Reroute to Remain
Reroute to Remain

3.0 out of 5 stars Overall - pretty good!, 15 Nov 2003
This review is from: Reroute to Remain (Audio CD)
Having only recently gotten into the Swedish metal scene, I barely knew what to expect when I ordered In Flames latest offering, "Reroute To Remain". I'd heard snippets of the album round a friends some time ago and was forever humming the chorus to the title track, so I bit the bullet and bought it for myself. First of all, it's a very good album; hugely listeneable and enjoyable. The musicianship is of a pretty high level, and contrary to what some reviewers have said I found the production quite good overall. Awesome tracks like "Reroute To Remain", "Drifter" and "Trigger" really sum up the album, combining fast thrashy rythmn sections with beautiful melodies and epic memorable choruses. The addition of a keyboard section also helps to "flesh out" the arrangements and prevent things from sounding too sparse and bare (an affliction of many metal bands at the moment).
Bad points? Alot of the songs sound the same! With the CD on random shuffle, I found myself saying "hey...hasn't this song already been on?". The song structures are at times VERY predictable, following the same pattern of scream, sing, scream, sing, etc. Also the longest track on the album is 4:58. Now I'm not usually a fan of making songs long for long's sake, but I get the feeling that on some songs, they took shortcuts to reaching the next verse/chorus in order to keep to the 3-4 minute mark, and most of my favourite songs on the album were over all too soon. The clean singing (which I understand is a new thing for In Flames) is pretty bad. The guy does NOT have a good singing voice - something which is highlighted by the god-awful track "Metaphor", which features violins straight out of the Titanic soundtrack! Lastly, I was a little dissapointed with the solos. They are quite short, and usually involve going up the pentatonic scale, holding a note, putting a bit of vibrato on it and then wham - back into the chorus. Not as technically masterful as I was hoping (nor as technically masterful as I remembered it being before I owned it...wierd). Although it could be argued that each song is one long solo, with various licks and phrases peppered here and there. So I could be wrong.
Sounds like I don't like this album right? Well hey I'm just being objective. I do however, like it alot. It's alot more accessible and ear-friendly than alot of CD's I've bought in recent times. It has some truly memorable moments, and infectiously catchy songs, blurring the line between true metal and pop based approaches to song structure. I don't know if this is In Flames at their best, so I couldn't say how it compares to earlier works. But if you're simply a fan of the genre, check it out and you'll probably quite like it.

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