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"phil_kendall"

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (GameCube)
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (GameCube)

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Played it, loved it, finished it, played it again., 2 April 2004
A short and sweet review:
Great game. Looks great, sound effects and music (surprisingly rock-influenced at times) are perfect for the game, and it plays like a dream.
Yes, it's a little bit easy at times; as others have pointed out, in some newly-encountered areas, the camera pans about in a path that shows you pretty much the route through the area. But, this game is a lot of fun regardless, and one that I couldn't put down. The ability to freeze and rewind time (which is limited by the way- the game isn't THAT forgiving) is a novel idea, and it's refreshing to play a game that feels so well put together and that the developers actually cared about what they were making.
Highly recommended.


Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (Vintage Classics)
Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises (Vintage Classics)
by Ernest Hemingway
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Odd but good, 24 Jan 2004
This is the first of Hemingway's novels that I've read, and it's one of the most curious I've seen. Without trying to give away plot details, it seems as if very little actually happens in the novel, and Hemingway's method of narration seems, at times, more apt to reporting rather than novel writing. But it works. I finished the book, put it down, and wondered what it was all about. But at the same time I felt like I'd enjoyed it.
Hemingway's narrative approach may seem a little bit curious on your first reading of the novel- for example, his introduction of Robert Cohn at the beginning of the novel, only for the reader to find, later, that Cohn is far from the protagonist- but there is little denying that he creates haunting characters that produce various emotional responses, be they admiration, pity, or simple curiosity. This text is particularly rich with meaning when you stratch below the surface, and what can appear to be basic reporting narration is in fact particularly skillful.
Hemingway; I don't really know WHY I liked this, but I did.


Behind The Scenes At The Museum
Behind The Scenes At The Museum
by Kate Atkinson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 5.59

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll try to keep this short..., 24 Jan 2004
I spotted another review here for this book that said how it was the only book that ever made that reviewer cry. Same here. I wouldn't say that this is the sort of book that should be read short bursts- this book really comes into its own when you sit and read for hours at a time- but I thought it was great.
This is the first of Kate Atkinson's work that I've read, and I had absolutely no prior expectations when I did (this was a set text on a university course). But, as I said earlier, 'Behind the Scenes at the Museum' is the only book I've ever read that's drawn a tear from me- and I can be a cold-hearted sod sometimes.
A great balance of humour and sad bits, and an all-round engrossing read. Highly recommended.


Metroid Prime (GameCube)
Metroid Prime (GameCube)

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like 'Halo', and it's not pretending to be., 21 Jan 2004
I felt I had to write a review jst to state something other than how much I like this game; a LOT of people, including one or two reviewers here, have made comments saying that they were disappointed with 'Metroid Prime' because it's not like games like 'Halo' or 'Quake'; but the point is that it really isn't trying to be.
'Metroid Prime' is NOT a normal first-person shooter; 'Metroid' games have been around since the 1980s, and have never been about just shooting and surviving, there's a lot more to it. Power-ups, new abilities, upgrades and such are vital to success in this game, and it requires much more thought than the everyday shooter. This isn't to say that 'Metriod Prime' doesn't deliver when it comes to the shooting action; to put it bluntly, it's cool, and the action gets pretty frantic. What annoys me is when people go on about how this game isn't like other shoot 'em ups; surely it's nice to have games being produced that do something DIFFERENT to every other shoot 'em up? I highly recommend this game; it delivers in every conceivable way a game should, and, with it being a 'Player's Choice' title now, you're picking up a great game for a good price.


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Picador thirty)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Picador thirty)
by Ken Kesey
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put simply; a great book., 21 Jan 2004
There's no need for me to go on too long about this book, because my point is quite simple; this is a great book.
What most people find surprising, having seen the film version of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest', is that the book's narrator is Chief Bromden, the big American Indian fella. From such a narrative perspective, at times it's uncertain how much of what we are told we can genuinely believe, but this itself adds to the experience and depiction of the institute and Bromden's state of mind. Bromden's experience of the institute is one of 'machines' and 'fog', which is both scary and intruiging.
The author, Ken Kesey, has created a series of strong, believable characters, particularly Nurse Ratched, McMurphy, and Billy Bibbet, all of which are difficult to forget, and trigger different emotional responses. This is one of the few books that I have read that I closed and thought 'bloody hell, that was good.'
For old and young readers alike, I can't recommend this book enough.


Star Wars: Rogue Leader - Rogue Squadron II (GameCube)
Star Wars: Rogue Leader - Rogue Squadron II (GameCube)

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Buy it cheap and it'll please, 21 Jan 2004
I'll try to keep this review short. 'Rogue Leader' looks good, sounds great, plays quite well. The game really will take you back to the scenes from the original Star Wars films; your first level (although it sounds a bit extreme) is the Deathstar and trench run; the get to pull down the big walkers on snowy Hoth (remember 'The Empire Strikes Back'?); you visit cloud city; you get to man the gun turret of the Millennium Falcon, and it's fun. Where the game most lets you down is with the 'filler' levels, most of which are grey, slow and uneventful.
The game also has the capacity to annoy; the enemy ships will literally fly into you and cost you a life. Yes, it's their job to attack you, but that just struck me as stupid. Cut-scenes, the first time you see them, look good, but until you complete a level and return to it, if you die during a level, the game forces you to watch the cut scenes again, and again, and again, without letting you skip them. Why game testers didn't raise a hand and say 'you know, that's really quite irritating the fifth time around,' I don't know.
However, there have been a lot of Star Wars games produced opver the years, most of them pretty poor, and Rogue Leader is one of the better ones. If you're a Star Wars fan you'll probably love it, but if you just like playing good games, you'll enjoy it about 70% of the time, but might not feel all that compelled to return to it once you've finished the last mission.
Like I said at the top; get hold of a copy cheap and you probably won't complain.


Resident Evil Zero (GameCube)
Resident Evil Zero (GameCube)

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars To be completely honest about Resident Evil Zero..., 17 Jan 2004
... I'm disappointed. Having played pretty much every other 'Resident Evil' game available, and most of them through to the end, I finished RE-Zero and felt that something was missing. The graphics looked great, the soundtrack, effects and what-have-you were solid and atmopheric throughout, and the control system is exactly like every other RE game (this means clunky, but you get used to it), so what's missing? RE-Zero just feels a little bit shallow. Some parts, in terms of plot, actually undermine the other RE games, and many of the puzzles and nasty oh-'eck-here's-a-monster 'shock' moments feel like they've been used before.
Having just completed the game, I feel like the makers, Capcom, are getting tired of their own franchise, and this lack of enthusiasm results in a solid, but not groundbreaking game. The new additions, such as character-swapping, the ability to put items down rather than having to find an item chest, and so on, are all welcome and offer much-needed variety, but this sort of experimentation would have been better applied to the creation of a more claustrophobic survival environment than the one RE-Zero offers.
Resident Evil 2, while graphically inferior, is without a doubt (in my opinion) the best of the bunch, and RE-Zero should have taken a leaf out of its book. What RE-Zero feels like is what I'd imagine a film made by Alfred Hitchcock when he's recovering from a cold would feel; good, but you know he could do better.


The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube)
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GameCube)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but a little bit rushed, 26 May 2003
The Legend of Zelda: The Windwaker; it's a great game. The cell-shaded graphics are frankly amazing, the animation is disney quality, and the amount of detail in Link's (the little fella in the green outfit) expressions and character is incredible. This game plays just as well as The Ocarina of Time, one of the game's many predecessors, and is well worthy of a place in the Zelda series (anyone thinking that the cartoon-style graphics are a bad thing really must play this game before they dismiss it, and remember that the Zelda games have never been about realism, and that their very roots are 'cartoony').
So why have I only given it four stars when most, if not all, of the other customer reviews gave it five? Simple; this game feels rushed. The vast majority of the game is engrossing; the levels, or rather islands, are vast, the dungeons are innovative, the characters are original; the game just feels good to play. But once you reach a certain point, around the build up to the confrontation at the end of the game that every Zelda fan looks forward to, and the game sees you collecting shards of the triforce of courage, it's obvious that Nintendo have tried to pad the game out with lots of sailing about the seas, finding maps which lead to maps which lead to triforce shards... and it gets dull.
I don't want to spoil the end of the game for you, and I won't, but I felt a little bit cheated with the last sections of the game. Nintendo clearly ran out of time and threw the last bits together, which, while still pretty and play perfectly well, are just a little bit shallow.
That said, the vast majority of The Windwaker is literally a joy to play, and it'd be a great shame to miss out on it.
Genius. Just a shame genius doesn't always work well under a time limit.


Pikmin (Players' Choice  GameCube)
Pikmin (Players' Choice GameCube)

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A shame to miss out..., 12 April 2003
'Pikmin' is one of those games that only comes along every so often that you can really point at and identify as an original game (should you feel the need). Games like this go sorely unplayed by so many, purely because they look too quirky (quirky's good!) or childish because of the cute graphics. There's only one problem with this game; it's far too short. Other than the length of the game, this is one of the most engrossing, original and addictive games I've played.
'Pikmin' won't suit everyone's tastes; while it's great fun to send your army of red, blue and yellow pikmin with no consideration for their own safety into battle against a giant bird, resulting in something of a massacre, the only way to succeed is to think first. Different pikmin have different abilities which you have to exploit (even if this means purposely and sadistically sending your red pikmin into the lake because you know they can't swim... ); solving the game's clever puzzles and exploring the landscape of each level really does give you a sense of satisfaction, especially when on first meeting a mind-bending puzzle you find yourself throwing the controller at the wall with shouts of 'that's impossible!'. To get an idea of what 'Pikmin' is like to play with much more character, and an army of little fellas who'll obey your every command and fight like demons even when they're the last one standing.
Aside from this game being too short (give it a week and you will have found everything the game has to offer), 'Pikmin' is a refreshing change from most games, and one that, even if you trade it in when you've finished it, everyone should play at least once.


Super Smash Bros Melee - Players' Choice (GameCube)
Super Smash Bros Melee - Players' Choice (GameCube)

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy it if you've got some mates, 12 April 2003
Anyone who played 'Super Smash Bros' on the N64 will probably tell you that it was great. Players weren't treated to the best visuals in the world, but the point (which surely holds true for almost any game?)was that the game was fun.
'Super Smash Bros Melee' is pretty much the same game as the N64 incarnation, but with all the bells and shistles the developers might have wanted to have the first time round. The graphics this time are really, really nice (no, really), with the level of detail being particularly impressive, considering the amount that goes on on-screen at once. The are something like 22 characters to choose from (you have to unlock about 10 of them, but that you find yourself doing that without realising it most of the time), loads of stages to fight on, an extra 'adventure' mode for single players, trophy-collecting, Event matches, Stadium competitions; this game's pretty packed with things to do.
While the game is of the 'beat 'em up' genre, 'Super Smash Bros Melee' is a world away from your Tekkens and Street Fighter 2s. To begin with, the controls are simplistic, but at the same time a vast array of moves can be performed; basic attacks with one button, varied depending on the position of the control stick, special attacks with another button, throws, blocks, rolls, side-stepping, double-jumps, item-throwing, ledge-hanging, kicking off walls; so much, and yet you'll find yourself pulling them off within ten minutes' play. The gameplay is fast and furious, and you'll find yourself using weapon items ranging from bombs to magic wands and speed and jump-increasing bunny hoods.
Where the game excels is in multiplayer mode. At first, there's so much going on on-screen screen you might feel overwhelmed, even a little like you're not in complete control of your character, but given a little time, you'll be performing diving attacks and smacking your mates about the face with the best of them (not literally, of course...).
The single-player mode, while greatly improved upon since the N64 original, becomes tiresome after a few plays through. You'll want to finish the game with the different characters (mainly due to unlocking levels, characters, extra fighting modes etc), but after a while you'll long to fight against a human player and not the dumb or so-hard-it's-almost-cheating CPU.
'Super Smash Bros Melee' is a brilliant game, with the emphasis resting heavily on fun. This is a great game to play with 2-3(even 4 if you've got that many friends) people, and the hours really do fly by when you're playing. Don't be fooled by the game's cutesy appearance- Mario can and will take a baseball bat to your character's head without a second thought.
If you're feeling sociable, 'Super Smash Bros Melee' is a must-by.


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