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J. Clarke "Alright Sally" (England)
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Xbox 360 Elite Console (120 GB Hard Drive)
Xbox 360 Elite Console (120 GB Hard Drive)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Xbrick, 3 July 2013
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Intro
With the next generation of video game consoles just around the corner for the end of 2013, I thought I'd put my many years of experience of the current consoles to use, detailing the highs and lows of the Xbox 360. Now that several years have passed with Microsoft's second console under the all seeing eyes of gamers, its memorable moments shall be described for all to see and its failings held accountable...

Birth
Although Microsoft beat Sony to release their console by almost a whole year, its launch was a mixed bag. 2 versions of consoles being released really messed people about, especially those who had been gifted the console. It was 'Core' or 'Premium' with a difference of £70. In hindsight, £280 for a gaming console seems quite acceptable, but when there is a seemingly just as good version of it available at £210, one might wonder what's the difference? Memory. The Core version, simply did not have anywhere near enough memory to handle all your game saves and downloads, where as the Premium had a good 20GB to fill. Regardless, because of the lack of competition from Sony, sales went through roof for the only new generation console on the market. Despite beating Sony to the punch, the 360 didn't have a whole bunch of must have games, but was rather demonstration of what was to come, with various arcade titles highlighting solid, smooth gameplay and AAA games shown in HD graphical splendor. Its bests were The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Gears of War (Both 2006) but it wasn't until Halo 3's release that the console really became worthwhile.

Life
After the fiasco of the release and its versions, a handful more were release, the Elite (Which is what I currently own) saw the white case turn black, Harddrive increase in capacity and... well thats about it. Later on, there would be another change introduced - the new sleek design, being smaller, slimmer and including a wireless adapter for the first time. Not all new editions were so popular however, the 'Kinect' camera being a take it or leave it situation (best left for younger, casual gamers with a huge area to play in. To think I almost forgot the infamous 'Red Ring of Death' that plagued so many gamers, rendering their machines totally useless. Nor can I forget, or forgive the lack of backwards compatibility for old Xbox games - 478 are playable, but quick look at the list and you'll find one of your most treasured titles missing. Speaking from experience, my console has had several minor issues that mostly just frustrate more than anything, that said, it did have its positives.

Death
While I still don't believe games are ready to be moved onto a new generation of console (graphics and gameplay still aren't improving fast enough, nor are PC games boasting truly superior capabilities) Microsoft announce the Xbox One. How dim. If ever there was a way to alienate the majority of your audience, Microsoft did it. With plans to make the console 'always online' needing to check in every 24 hours, the 'always watching you' plugged in and recording camera no longer optional, DRM eliminating the prospect of used games and or borrowing. Needless to say, gamers did not take this sitting down and took to the internet to lay down the law. Microsoft have since abandoned several of these policies (no doubt due to Sony's reluctance to join in the DRM bandwagon, the Amazon survey detailed how ludicrously low the pre-order count was for the Xbox vs the PS4 and of course the gamers outcry in general). It is still a strong £80 more expensive than a PS4, still comes with that creepy camera no one wants and Microsoft still want you to treat it as your new entertainment system for watching sports on TV and playing Call of Duty, all whilst waving to the guys on the other end of the camera, no doubt fiddling with themselves.

+ Better exclusives than PS3
+ Earlier & Cheaper than a PS3
+ Solid online connection
+ High Definition Graphics
+ Built in DVD player
+ Wireless Controllers
+ Access to video, photos and music
+ USB ports for charger and memory cards

- The controllers 'bumpers' being far to weak to withstand prolonged use
- The disc trey being frighteningly similar to a Dairy Milk Chocolate 'tray
- The trey not reading discs or not ejecting properly (mine needs a good smack;)
- With a disc in the trey it sounds like a plane taking off regardless if it is on the HD
- You can't play the arcade games YOU paid for offline
- Playing online multiplayer is £40 a year (PSN is free)
- Dashboard looks horrible as advertisements take priority over your games
- Ads dont go away even if you pay for a Gold Subscription

From late 2005 to 2013, the console and its contents have undergone several changes both on the outside and in. The dashboard for example has gotten increasingly sickening with its many, many, MANY advertisements getting huge sections of the screen whilst your 'play game' button gets the tiniest of all. Optional media updates were made available so people can watch all sorts of video and play music of their choosing. Various apps and services were introduced such as Facebook, Youtube, Netflix and the highly unnecessary Bing search bar.

"Is the console worth your time?"
Sure.

"Is it worth the money (online subscriptions included)?"
Not really.

"Would I take back any of those golden xbox live memories with my friends?"
Nah.

"Did I actually enjoy its games?"
Yes, Many.

"Would I recommend this console then, now or its future version?"
Not on your life.


Dead Island (Xbox 360)
Dead Island (Xbox 360)
Offered by STOCKTASTIC
Price: £9.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Trailer should take the Plaudits, 29 Jun. 2013
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Introduction
When a good friend of mine (a PC gamer) had a trailer that I apparently needed to watch, I had a general feeling of "this better be good". Fully expecting some first person shooter with a new standard for graphics, a real time strategy game full of nerds arguing or a pricey subscription based massive multiplayer online game. To my relief, it was easily one of the best advertisements I had ever seen. If you want to see a classy, cinematic trailer for a game, look no further than the one for Dead Island. Of course there was some scepticism to take away from this - the main issue being that it only sold the premise - a zombie outbreak on a holiday resort island. No gameplay, character insight or even in game footage. There was a reason...

Outbreak
The beginning is fairly straightforward - you witness the nights events during which the zombie outbreak begins to manifest. You don't know why or how, but its full of bravado and extremes. Instead of being the happy family resort the trailer highlighter, it was more of a sex, drugs and awful rap disco. Regardless, it sets the scene plus I really like the barron menu music :P then you get to choose your preferred player and traverse the tropical terrain of the island... Characters are a mixed bag, mostly cliche stereotypes that are irrelevant to the story and are generally annoying. They do however offer different advantages and statistics such as health, speed and stamina. There's Logan, an ex-professional (american) football player who hit rock bottom when indulging in the luxuries of the rich, (drugs, drink and fast cars) he ended the life of his passengers in a car accident as well as his career. Next is Purna, a sadistic, Aboriginal, feminist, ex-policewoman who's only plus is her ability to handle firearms. Xian, a chinese desk clerk lady with a knife who's actually a government spy... real original... and finally Sam B, the hench black rapper whose predictable strength lies in his use of blunt weaponry.

Dead Island
After the initial tutorial of busting out of a burning hotel, the player finds themselves staggering around paradise. White sand, palm trees and swimming pools litter this place. It's pretty to say the least and makes for unsettling scenery when faced with the task of finishing off countless zombs. Unfortunately, these scenes dont get much more interesting, unless of course, you venture into a darkened hotel room where there may be survivors or brutal zombies just waiting to be let loose. The graphics are quite decent (clearly better on PC) but a bit exaggerated among some gamers. You'll find various things scattered about the place, like food and drink.. and several home made weapons.

Gameplay
There are only so many times you can kill a zombie before growing bored with the whole process. This is the games biggest shortcoming. Realistically, the zombies are everywhere, but unrealistically, they re-spawn. Even worse, the way in which you dispatch said undead, is extremely drawn out and tiring. Whether this is to make it more realistic is irrelevant, because a zombie apocalypse is heavily fictional making it gore for the sake of it. Sure you can use a wide range of weapons, even modify them to make them even more devastating. But in the end, the outcome is the same and the speed in which to do so, barely changed. That's not to say the game doesn't offer some more realism - weapons break and get blunt, knives cut and baseball bats bludgeon.

Story
There isn't one. You literally wander around a blood smeared island, doing as you're told by bossy so n so's, giving water to ill people, wiping out all enemies and building safe houses. The more tasks you do, the more money and skill points you get, plus even more terrain to roam. The plot isn't what makes this game long, its the tedious tasks and non stop grinding that make it so painstakingly endless.

Apocalypse
If you are into caving in the skulls of the dead with an array of crude tools to the soundtrack of bones breaking then you'll likely enjoy this because it's pretty much all you do. If however you have the slightest of standards, you'll be very disappointed with something that could've been so much more then a generic beat em up in the haze of the idyllic sunshine.


Disarm The Descent
Disarm The Descent
Price: £4.99

4.0 out of 5 stars An Old Awakening, 28 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Disarm The Descent (Audio CD)
Nearly 10 years ago, Massachusetts' finest metal-core band, Killswitch Engage departed with vocalist Jesse Leach (due to personal reasons that still remain sketchy), replaced him with Howard Jones and found mainstream success with three albums spanning 9 years. The End of Heartache was an instant hit with fans and newcomers, Daylight Dies a technical, riff frenzy, full of classics, but 2009's second self titled release was a complete let down to many. The whole band had become stale, thanks to dreary lovelorn lyrics wearing increasingly thin, sitting atop downbeat melodies and song structures. It goes without saying that KsE owe Howard Jones a great deal for their current standing in rock culture, however, will the return of Jesse Leach, the man who laid the foundations with the bands most influential album to date (Alive or Just Breathing) save a seemingly sinking ship?

Dual brutal screams introduce 'Disarm the Discent' and its wonderfully clear that the band have a new lease of life, heavier and better than before. Leach decides to show his versatility - after the screams - debuting a jazzy, rich vocal he found with past side project 'Seemless'. Such sweet singing is snatched away with a real tongue out scream from the belly. "Protect me, from the hell that burns inside me. No one can see, this is the hell in me" provides a brilliant chorus thanks to long held epic guitar notes and some double bass drum picking up momentum. Cue a very short interlude that erupts back into the same line. Track 1 down and the second is equally intense. "Step back to see the vision - seduction of our minds." I can't help but reference every single lyric enough to emphasize how happy I am at this mans reunion with a long loved band. "Her dark embrace will suffocate - choking my senses! There is a fire within her eyes - blinding my senses! Now I am searching - Forwards beyond the flames". The guitars from Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel jump all over the shop in spectacular precise fashion.

3rd on the playlist and 3rd to be revealed is 'The New Awakening' a snarling shouty beast of a song. Super fast guitar mashing and piston like percussion give this one so much bite it stings the ears. The main message of the song being one of clarity and change with lines like "I'd would rather burn out, than fade away!" and "There is more to life than this! - We are more than just this flesh! - We are alive and our time has come, for a new awakening". Then something astonishing happens. Possibly the bands first ever chant - one that will no doubt encourage all to sing back "I-Will-Not-Live-In-Fear" as a medeval like melody gets pushed past by a cavalry charge guitar solo. Already a fan favourite. The first single to be officially released - 'In Due Time' - is a fitting tribute to the return of the reenergised frontman. "How much more can I give of myself - as these walls, close in on me?" An ode to past troubles and a delightful chorus building up the future - "All in due time. See the world through different eyes". Another top notch solo is becoming a welcome standard now.

'A Tribute to the Fallen' seems in hommage for Howard Jones.. "You cannot break this love with hate" - dispels that possibility. Its at this time one makes comparisons with Adam.D and Jesse's last outing in side project 'Times of Grace' as the two team up for a sound more suiting to 'Hymn of a Broken Man'. A long, drawn out exit sounds like a church organ dirge, appropriate for the title. 'Turning Point' is full of anger from the first note, as the ever persistant drumming creates an almighty rhythm. "Find the strength to maintain - give me a reason to believe. Search for truth that will not change" is yet more proof that Leach's lyrics are more genuine and meaningful than Jones', tenfold. It's by this time however, the melodies start to die down a bit for raw power metal and speed. 'All We Have' seems in the same vain as 'Life to Lifeless' with little in the way of positivity, only far more speedy. "Forgiveness is all we have, nothing else will give you a piece of mind" is easily the best of this one, floating over a frantic sweeping guitar.

'You Don't Bleed For Me' sounds similar to Leach's second side project 'The Empire Shall Fall's 'These Colours Bleed'. It's only a title that these share though as this albums is less busy pushy a catchy riff and instead hellbent of sending that powerful message. It's not known who or what Leach is referring to here but "It's clear to me know, you're not what you claim, you don't speak for me. There is no mistake, it's written on your face, you don't bleed for me" - could be about anything from politics to past relationships. 'The Call' doesn't throw its punches with a rhythm that won't be stopped. "Release your inhibitions and answer to the call" is the sirens call in a mess of technical accuracy perceived as utter randomness. "Leave behind this shell of flesh and bone, in the end we will answer to the call."

"The burning question remains, how much is too much to give? Do your wings have the strength to carry on? When we see redemption how long will we wait for deliverance? It takes everything to keep from falling now. Let go." If there's one thing that can introduce someone to KsE, it's the lyrics, proof that heavy metal is not just a bunch of screaming with no substance. 'No End In Sight' - the first song to be revealed (Leaked) was a pleasant reminder of what this band is capable of at full strength. It's a pulsing, righteous rant "Through the suffering we fight/Until we see the light - there's no end in sight". The sound is pure evil as are the harmonised growls. 'Always' looks and sounds like a song off of the 2009 album - slow, predictable, mourning, depression wrapped into an unsatisfying song. Truth be told, the album did need a break from the intensity and that is what 'Always' does. Also not out of place on a ToG album, it slowly trudges through verses and chorus', until Adam.D throws some sweet vocals into the ring with "I am with you always, from the darkness of night/from life until death takes me..." over a light, chugging, clean guitar... nice change.

All that peace is washed away in a second of the blistering pace of 'Time Will Not Remain'. Being the band that they are, they couldn't possibly end with a shmoltzy loved up track... at least, not anymore. "These are the days, our lives will change and time will not remain" is wondrous songwriting on a grand scale thanks to all musicians doing their part albeit for only 3 minutes. Its a good way to go out with bang, fast and hard. Proper sexual. In total honesty, this album took time to grow on me, perhaps due to unrealistic expectations, as if one man could make another AOJB version 2, which just isn't on the cards, nor should be. However, when compared to the bands last album, this is a new lease of life... or old... whatever, It's good.


TRIXES Black Micro 2 Port USB 2.1A Car Charger Splitter Adapter for iPod iPhone iPad Mobile SatNav
TRIXES Black Micro 2 Port USB 2.1A Car Charger Splitter Adapter for iPod iPhone iPad Mobile SatNav
Offered by Digiflex
Price: £4.00

1.0 out of 5 stars Dead Cheap, Dead Tech, 25 April 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I Bought one of these for my Citroen C2, believing it to be a fairly handy little device - and one of little expense (£3?!)

However, when attempting to charge my iPod Classic via this and the cigarette lighter slot in the car.... Nothing. No reaction from the adapter, iPod or car. No lights, no connection. I tested both slots, with both iPod & iPhone - along with cheaper versions of both (a small mp3 player and an old Nokia phone). It was also ineffective when plugged in with my sat nav, supposedly being helpful in that it can be used as a splitter - poppycock as neither worked.

Either my car is somehow incompatible with this, or I got sold a crummy piece of rubbish.

You might get a gooden, clearly from all the positive reviews, it does work for some and for a small price it could be worth the gambit but.. still, it looks/feels/is pretty crummy technology.

If you've got a decent car stereo, it'll likely have a USB port, so why bother?


My Shame Is True
My Shame Is True
Price: £9.35

13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh & Fun, Predictable 3 Chord Honesty, 1 April 2013
This review is from: My Shame Is True (Audio CD)
"I wanna be a Warhol, displayed on your wall. Hung up there staring back at you..."

Classic Matt Skiba... His artsy lyrics are a much anticipated (amongst cultist fans) teaser for the follow up to 2010's 'This Addiction'. Not exactly a '3 years in the making' job, Skiba went off on a possible ego-trip/meltdown in the self-titled 'Matt Skiba and the Sekrets' - a group revolving around him (and his dodgey outfit designed by Limp Bizkit's equally whacky guitarist, Wes Borland). Forgetting the words to his own songs, being off key and generally looking nervous as hell, rumors of his live shows spread and the album 'Babylon' was generally the same spiel but without the solid percussion, bass and song writing of his Alkaline Trio bandmates. Dan Andriano's solo release 'Hurricane Season' however, was much more accomplished record that displayed not only the type of lyrics all know he is capable of, but the variety on show was first class. So will Skiba's previous effort taint the album, or will all be put aside and provide a well needed pick-me-up?

The first track already sounds familiar with a name like 'She Lied to the FBI' and after the few seconds of intro you can tell its a joyous return with its undeniably catchy hook. Skiba sounds care-free in his vocals which is a fair change of pace as his past songs have featured notes he simply can't hit live (although its not all that watered down as it is strewn with a few swears). The use of 2 guitars is a much needed boost to the bands sound also, providing a smooth punk combo, not that it means another band member is debuting (Alkaline Quartet doesn't sound right). The first single from the album is a souring, simple alternative rock anthem right away. The chorus instantly memorable, singing-along encouraged, the band keep pushing that same formula of 3 chord power chords. The song has flavours of many of the bands past songs but remains a good'n none the less with an official music video starring Milla Jovovich... Worth a look if you want a taste of a frankly, past it band.

Track 3 'I'm Only Here to Disappoint' is the first offering from bassist/vocalist Andriano. Introduction loud and downbeat, the guitar goes back and fourth through many a scale while 'Danny-boy' cries out "These simple things I just can't say, remove the you from you and me, I stand and bring you to your knees, again and again and again!" - its a throwback to the mans darker side that closes with a decent guitar thrashing riff. 'Kiss You to Death' on the other hand is a smitten Skiba lullaby, with mediocre love poetry like "..and I don't care if we f**k or we talk or we cry, I just miss you, i wanna kiss you to death tonight - wo-ho-ho". The words are one thing but the wailing moans are just plain puppy-like melancholy honesty. It picks up the pace towards the end with a list of things his sultry temptress is 'in' blood and bones and whatnot but the next track offers much more. 'The Temptation of St. Anthony' may be a Bosch painting of an old man meditating but 'this' is a rock and roll/punk storm. "Not a word you can say, can erase memories of that night" sits atop a palm muted verse that second time round gets a bit more flair amongst some subtly brilliant bass. On first listen, you recall the song by its funky bass interlude and Skiba cries of "..much like this world has never known... known!"

Second song from Andriano features Rise Against vocalist/guitarist Tim McIlrath, perform a duet in a brief bit of rock that passes all too quickly. At just over 2 minutes long, the duel shouts of "Disappear, disappear, I'm not here with my mind!" are only a fond memory when Dan showcases a contender for best song on the album. 'Only Love' sees the Elvis Costello-esque co-frontman belt out a real beauty. It wouldn't be out of place on his solo record, but in stark contrast to his 2 previous songs, its an upbeat sound (after the poignent introduction) with a bit of hammond organ that tips the cap to the past eras. "How young are you gunna be when you die?" asks Andriano, followed by the inevitable "All I know is time is undefeated so far". The chorus could not fail to raise a smile, rest assured. Definitely feel good songwriting at its core. Finally, Skiba steps up his game with 'The Torture Doctor' - albeit still pushing the "Hey-Ho"s. It sounds straight off of 2003's 'Good Mourning' in most aspects from the integration of guitar and organ to the dark lyrics of "There's a devil dancing in my head, as I'm hovering above your bed". Its similar to the songs lead single but in my eyes, a step ahead thanks to the well held notes of "There's nothing left to hide, down here on the south side!"

'Midnight Blue' sounds far too much like something from 'Babylon' except with a winding lead guitar carving a sharp path after each verse/chorus. One of the weaker tracks. All is forgiven when he busts out 'One Last Dance' however as its by this time a veteran of Alkaline Trio may come to the startling conclusion of how brutally honest the album is. We hear a humble Skiba declare "There just aint words to say how sorry I am.. For acting like a schoolboy trapped in a man. There's nothing I wont do for one last chance, may I have this dance?". It's also, for me anyways, the time you recognize the percussion! Derek Grant seems to have quietened down a smidgen, or perhaps its just he does what's expected of him on every occasion, that nothing more need be said.. The final song of Andriano 'Young Lover' is in-keeping with the track before.. a bit of negativity painted with a smile. "Young Lover, lets waste no time. You're too concerned with Heaven and I see it in your eyes. Young Lover, right now you're mine. Don't think of your tomorrow's, lets live like we could die tonight" - one of the many lines that make the Trio so special.

To end, is a traditional acoustic start to 'Until Death Do Us Part' that sounds like every other Matt Skiba song you may have heard. Predictable notes as usual, but the odd ringing electric and effect laden solo make it much more bearable. Some fans have said its the albums 'Radio' and that no doubt is what they were going for but lets not be silly. The 8:4 split of songs for the vocalists is rather shameful as its been common knowledge for a while now that Andriano never disappoints (despite the track-list) however, no one knows whether thats because Skiba is at the helm or Andriano is just keeping it sweet. Despite having several bandaged up Frankenstein's monsters of songs, there is still a fantastic selection that will please the majority of fans, but as usual, nothing note-worthy enough to bag a worthwhile amount listeners or the attention they deserve... Milla Jovovich in stockings & suspenders included...


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Xbox 360)
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Xbox 360)
Offered by Gameseek
Price: £16.71

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Skyrimmed, 7 Mar. 2013
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
In the Beginning
As a big fan of The Elder Scrolls series, I was looking forward to Skyrim with much anticipation. Having severely scoured the island of Vvardenfell in the Dark Elf province of Morrowind as well as Oblivion's Imperial land of Cyrodiil (albeit to a lesser extent), the ancient home of the Nords was very much next in line. Coming across various trailers set in a snowy mountainous landscape with intense music and best of all, a gigantic dragon about to do battle, I had a good idea of what I was getting into. What I didn't know however was that Skyrim (Standard Edition) was priced at £55 on my pre-order receipt with GAME. Now I've been buying video games for over a decade and never seen such scrupulous money grabbing before, so it wasn't surprising news to see GAME go into administration 3 months later. I don't know whether this was just a cruelly shrewd business move by the distributors or a RRP price set by Bethesda, but regardless of Skyrim's content, it wasn't worth more than any other brand new game (I believe even £40 is steep for what most games offer). After I proceeded to tear up my non-obligatory inflated order and found it online for a default price of just under £40, I tore straight into the game, playing a good few hours, training up for an epic adventure across a giant winterland.

"Dovahkiin, By his honor is sworn to keep evil forever at bay" (Story)
As usual, the Elder Scrolls game sets out with a fairly swift introduction - the scene of your execution - while you realize your true potential culminating in the absorption of a dragon's soul and becoming Dovahkiin, AKA Dragonborn. Yeah, pretty intense stuff eh? Anyway, you get to grips with your powers granted to thee by being 'the one' and carve a path through the land, learning the teachings from the fabled 'Greybeards' and leaving dozens of fallen dragon corpses in your wake as you hunt down the biggest and baddest of them all - Alduin. This monster has been resurrecting his fallen brothers to scour the world, in an attempt to destroy it completely. It's your job to find him and end him... Of course, there are several other story-lines to follow such as the thieves guild, the dark brotherhood and the companions - each could be likened to the length of another games campaign. Now with various DLC available, you can expand your world even farther and take on whole new journeys, not that you'd ever get everything done...

FUS RO DAH!!! (Gameplay)
Where the combat in Oblivion felt chinsy and Morrowind diabolically terrible, Skyrim goes leaps and bounds onto better things. Duel wielding spells, swords and shields or your pathetic enchanted wood elf bow - you can fight the way you want to, although someways are evidently better than others when taking on a mammoth, giant or almighty dragon. One would think it impossible to not sound nerdy after that but since finishing blows have been added to the roster, combat gets a new lick of paint and feels more modern and stylish. The conversations are held at a realistic distance compared to Oblivions' "Let's zoom in on a terrifying face, highlighting some poor graphics and generally being a nuisance" thing. The menus however are out of place and reek too much of previous Bethesda title Fallout. The 'Shouts' are a welcome addition to get you into the games storyline but also as unique spells that could not be utilised in older games. However, the lack of enchant abilities, compared to Morrowind is sad, but expected because this game is absolutely riddled with bugs - both insect and glitch. It's difficult to recall all the great little bits and bobs of what the game offers, so here's a quick shopping list of newish inclusions:

Smithing & Enchanting- Craft armor & weapons from specific materials and enchant them.
Lockpicking & Pickpocketing - the tumblers from IV have been hidden and so have your hands... into that Imperial scum's heavy pocket.
Alchemy - pluck wild flowers and combine them with the eye of a sabre cat tooth.

"I don't have anything to say to you... SO GET OUT OF MY FACE." (Surroundings)
Not many games can come close to TES series environments and Skyrim still raises the flag higher with stunning backdrops and a vast wilderness almost limitless and always ready to explore. One downside would be that like the 2 games before it, the various tombs and dungeons all have a similar appearance and thus, get repetitive. The fact that the game is set in the northern winter land of Skyrim is a fresh choice for the series as volcanic desolation and generic woodland have grown tiresome. The people of Skyrim are quite diverse, but tend to offer little other than the odd humorous remark - soon to be common phrase amongst every single character... Basically, the number of hours required to get your money's worth means you're going to hear the same dreadful one liners over and over, from blacksmiths to jarls. You're much better off traversing the wild, edging your way closer up the intimidating mountain, plundering a glacial tomb or facing mighty foes across a permafrost spekled tundra. The soundtrack is also worth mentioning because not only is it as hardy and powerful as the natives but avid gamers with recognize older themes arise in certain situations.

In the End...
A massive achievement in gaming, considering how far it has come but most especially, the fact that a single-player only game, has managed to scoop so many industry awards and please a thousand critics and millions of gamers over such a short time. With an Online game in the pipeline, it would seem that this could be the last of the great RPG's as companies try to pursue the majority, getting their hands on monthly payments. It's possible a 6th installment could see the light, but if this game's scale is any indication of waiting for an improvement? We may be waiting a very, very long time.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 2, 2013 7:02 PM BST


Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball
Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball
Offered by multimedia-online
Price: £24.94

3.0 out of 5 stars Blurring the lines of video gaming and playing with yourself, 6 Mar. 2013
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Background
D.O.A Xtreme Beach VolleyBall is a spin off from the Dead Or Alive video game series where players assume the control of a fairly large roster of characters and take part in various forms or 1 on 1 combat (as well as tag team) offering a different fighting game as it was less about button bashing and more about counters. Even then, the ladies of D.O.A had their jubblies shaking about all over the shop thanks to an overzealous rag-doll physics engine.. but this game offers gamers the chance to dress up said jubbly and even pan out and zoom in on it like some kind of amateur virtual pervert. Of course, you don't _have_ to spend all day staring at a virtual lady, lounging on a sun-bed or straddling a palm tree, but considering some of the games other options, you might be better off... If girls can look past the bouncing breasts they may find a cute and addictive game with stylish outfits and gambling, If guys can look past the bouncing breasts, they'd trade this in.

Gameplay
After a pretty random introductory FMV about a man and his jetpack, as well as a showcase for the entirely female roster - BADA BUUM BADA BUUM the song is pretty catchy - you select your girl, get a tour around the island and do the same thing pretty much every day. The 'objective' if ever there was one (which seems unlikely as there is no main accomplishment or goals to achieve) is to find a suitable Volleyball partner (its always 2 on 2) and make friends with them by showering then with shiny trinkets, toys and tiaras. It's not all as fake as Barbie though because each character has their own preferences which revolve around colour and general interest - for example, one may be a typical girly girl wanting everything in pink with ribbons and teddybears (Kasumi) whilst another may prefer something in matte gun metal black... like a gun (Christie). The actual game of volleyball is extreme in one way only - in its simplicity. 2 buttons on and off the ball - pass & smash, dig & spike. Serving can be a bit of a gambit as you can hit the net should you go for a gooden but other than that, its mostly about watching breasts sway mercilessly around as teammates launch into the sand. Multiplayer is offered but properly weird because I struggle to imagine 2 straight blokes seriously playing this game single player let alone together.

Setting
A tropical island with a casino bang in the middle of it and a volcano - need I say more? During the day you lavish gifts on anyone you chose, playing ball, minigames in the pool, relax and go shopping. By night you can hit the casino or hit the sack.. the bed I mean.. there's no Y chromos here. Choose from blackjack, roulette, slots, poker etc in the end though, you only need money to spend on gifts to keep teammates on board, that and an eye for what they find appealing. You can play volleyball in the jungle, on the beach during the day or at sunset.. not that you'd notice much. What makes this game sort of work, is that the graphics are really top notch for an Xbox game from 2003, otherwise it just would not work for obvious trouser snake reasons.

Soundtrack
This one I found to be 50-50, which is a pleasant surprise in itself as you'd expect a japanese game about volleyball to be less than well versed in any musical genre.. So it was nice to see Bob Marley's track 'Is This Love' as well as the odd ska punk song such as Real Big Fish's 'I want your girlfriend to be my girlfriend too' & 'The kids don't like it'. However it's not all legends and obscure bands - B*witched may not be out of place, but that doesn't mean they can write a good song. Any young man playing this game may come to a startling conclusion upon hearing 'Jessie Hold On' (as well as realising you can only spend your money on swimsuits, accessories and general chick stuff) - that makes one wonder, maybe this game really _is_ for girls? Oh, and there's Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera and a reggae cover of Minnie Ripperton's 'Lovin You'... the high F must be sold separately...

In the end, it is what it is, a group of girls dawdling about on a beach in their underwear.

Never before has the product rating 'Satisfactory' been more relevant.


Dead Space (Xbox 360)
Dead Space (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £14.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star..., 5 Mar. 2013
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dead Space (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
"...How I wonder what you are..." (Intro)
Despite being late to the party, using a nursery rythme has never been used so effectively to create an atmosphere of complete and utter dread. Dead Space's introductory trailer plays this incredibly eerie tune (a lone female vocal echoing amongst a low string section) whilst panning out across the games location - a desolate spaceship floating in the orbit of a crumbling mining planet. All scenes of genuine gameplay, gradually interrupted by brain splicing, glimpses of what is to come - your grisly demise. Undoubtably one of the best intro/trailers I've witnessed for a game, up there with the likes of Dead Island and Bioshock.. sharing more similarities with the latter than first imagined.. Now I ventured into the Dead Space series way past it's prime - nearly 5 years to be precise, so it's 2nd offering was still for the taking and a 3rd on its way - this time featuring co-op - a/the reason a friend turned me onto the game in the first place.

"Up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky..." (Story)
Like the majority of Horror titles, Dead Space has a rather mediocre plot that's stretched out through 12 chapters (in my experience lasting around 30-45 minutes each). For once, the use of levels rather than open world-like saving system is used effectively and gamers can feel at ease in where to put down the controller and take a rest. The problem is not necessarily the storyline though, rather the way it is dragged out, drip-fed amongst a deluge of tech-jargon explanation and medial engineering tasks. You take control of Isaac Clarke (aptly, an engineer) who trudges through the various sections of the ghostly ship - the Ishimura - which has sent out a distress signal - believed to be the reason you are investigating. However, when you and your crew encounter monstrous creatures dubbed 'Necromorphs' right from the word go, the search & rescue mission becomes a fight for survival, unravelling the mystery behind the Ishimura's crew and their fate. Isaac (you) gets ordered around by some lady and your commanding officer, each getting severely effected by your surroundings, each slowly losing it...

"When the blazing sun is gone, when the nothing shines upon, then you show your little light, twinkle, twinkle, all the night..." (Gameplay)
Small tutorial like hints appear throughout the first chapter, without taking away from the chilling situation you and your character are now in. It's basic - d-pad for a weapon reel, triggers for primary and secondary fire, bumper sprint, melee and sci-fi abilities such as 'Stasis' which freezes/slows down objects and enemies, and kinesis to move the various objects in your path. Controlling Isaac is a cinch, although he is sluggish, with his physical attacks flailing and failing often, his pace pathetic and turning circle devoid of a quick spin. Its possible that this was intended though as it makes escaping a far more unrewarding, last ditch, often foolish move as the monsters will likely hunt you down and end you. These creatures are wonderfully created - clearly based on humanoid appearance but with giant scythe like arms, missing lower jaws and an attitude that revolves around forcing spikes inside you and/or decapitating you. Unfortunately there are only a few variants of 'alien' but that said, each one offeres something different, be it a more tactical approach or change in weapon. Should you get caught in the grasp of an enemy, a good old button bash is required, otherwise, aim for the limbs and you're golden. Even on normal difficulty, the enemies appear a bit slow (not to say that aren't daunting) and unsurprising at times as a horrid orchestral que, gives their presence away, almost every single time - lack of surprise or classy creature theme, its a tough one to call on whether it's beneficial to the game or not.

"Then the traveller in the dark, thanks you for your tiny spark. He could not see which way to go, if you did not twinkle so..." (Environment)
Ridley Scott's 'Alien' is the first thing that comes to mind for the location of the game - not the sparkling clean white rooms of cryo-stasis, but the acid dripping lower hulls beneath where the baddy lurks. Menacing hallways with steaming vents and malfunctioning doors all possible of veiling a threat. While the darkness and faulty lights often make for an unappealing prospect, the game doesn't always utilize them when possible, meaning they missed out on the chance of terrifying the gamer on numerous occasions. The chores you must accomplish throughout these levels is often as droll as plugging in a battery, riding an elevator to press a switch or use your kinesis to connect the dots. It's not that the jobs are so tedious, after all, most of the time you get ambushed by blood thirsty beasts, ready to dismember you.. its the way the crew or your 'superiors' go about it - they bang on about how the elevators lost power to the command deck where the switch to the turbo fuel deposit for the emergency escape pods re-route the engine couplings is located - then tell you to get on your bike and fix it like a good little boy. Jumping through zero G zones is a bit of a laugh at times though... as is playing basketball and visiting the shooting range. Which reminds me, the weapons are a real treat too - mines, spinning blades, machine guns and of course the classic throwback - the flamethrower.

"Though I know not what you are, twinkle, twinkle, little star..." (Conclusion)
So plowing through hordes of diabolical mutations, you can pick up a few scares, upgrade your weapons and armour (which is likened to the salvation of the ammo jukeboxes in Bioshock) and generally scour through a decent horror game. A worthy rental for certain, perhaps a better replacement for the crummy blockbuster you've seen a hundred times over with a different title. It is certainly a grim title for gamers, a solid 18 and rightly so but definitely worth a play if you're into the genre and in my limited opinion of the 2nd and 3rd games, I'd go out on a limb and say this is the finest.


Insofar
Insofar
Price: £14.33

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sun Penguin, 4 Mar. 2013
This review is from: Insofar (Audio CD)
Searching for appropriate background music to work alongside promotional company films, I stumbled across an instrumentalist band in 'Penguin Cafe Orchestra' - of which 2 members teamed up to form the likes of Sundog. Even those unfamiliar with the name will have most likely heard a brief melody from an advertisement or stirring concerto during the closing scenes of a film -'Perpetuum Mobile' being one of their most well known pieces. A brief liaison with SoundCloud proved beneficial as a handful of songs were showcased - '4LB' striking the right chords initially with its chinking piano clicks and clacks building a dramatic violin melody that soars through the song, dipping in a hopeful melancholy sway. 'Light on Stone' offered an equally enthralling but lighter, more piano tinkling focus whereas 'For you when it rains' sealed the deal enough to convince me to purchase the digital download - which' title sums up the sound perfectly as you imagine a steamed up window with raindrops cascading down beyond - this one being solely a piano piece.

Much to my surprise 'Boso I' differed greatly from the previous tracks, despite its continued theme of piano, however this time the violin would be plucked and the keys much more pronounced and heavy with chords etching out a chorus. Although a tad more frantic than the first songs, its follow up track 'Boso II' goes one further to alter the feel of the album, this time with an electrical, groggy feedback ridden remix of the track beforehand. Personally, I prefer no.2 as it seems more progressive and build up instead of organised eccentricity. As to why both were included on the album? Perhaps the artists could not part with either, but don't be duped into thinking you're getting less songs - at this point there is still 9 left to go...

'The Heart Waits' is rather incomprehensible upon first hearing. A downbeat piano and backtracking violin entwine together, desperately trying to find a stable rhythm, ending up with a mixture of melody that wouldn't be out of place in a victorian england backdrop or in that rubbish film 'The Village'. At 2:52 however, the song finally picks up some delightful meaning only to fall short compared to the rest of the album. 'Shadows in Water' picks up some much needed pace but slows down with chunky string strokes and a repetitive melody, its at this point the album starts getting old, only shining when short sequences break out from the already established sound. 'Parise (Song for Wayland)' takes a good 2 and a half minutes to conjure up any audible sound, and when it does, its hardly worth the wait because its an equally messy structureless heap as some of the tracks before it, not to mention the longest at six and a half minutes.

Its worth noting that the average length of each song is around the 5 minute mark - so listening to 'Insofar' in one sitting may prove daunting - especially if you intend on giving it your full attention, something I would discourage as it works wonders as background music or the odd inspirational pick me up. 'Machell' sees the violinist become the repetitive musician for once but as the song is a short one, the sound dies before becoming stale, something a couple of the songs here are guilty of. 'Je Crois...' finally breaks out of the recurring themes with a dripping riff that fades into a crawling piano concerto. Around 3 minutes though, the song has become a chaotic calamity of contrasting sounds and intent - not necessarily a bad thing but hardly the most pleasant thing to listen to. 'Things fall apart...' again has an interesting introduction, however a strange bass-like melody and click clacks of something or other take away any expectation as it is yet another track that can pass you by - whether you try to ignore it or just get bored and skip it.

Continuing with the odd full stoppages, 'A Simple Loss...' is another piano only track that's a bit bouncy but offers little else than the odd glimpse of madness that was present in many a Penguin Cafe Orchestra song. Its 'tinkly'. Second to last track 'Percy' raised my spirits though, thanks to a far more defined structure and pronounced melody. The pianos notes are struck with venom and the violin strings glossed over sporadically. Needless to say I used this in my latest company film. Unlike the majority of the songs on the album, this one features a definitive outro theme thanks to spiralling strings and intense playing. To cap off a fine attempt at a first album (albeit under a new name) 'Both Hands in Pockets...' seems to be the most poignent. A lonesome piano that echoes away, played disjointed and gradual, as if never to be played again. The odd heavy chord is thrown in over a wandering melody that at times, despite being one of the most quiet and haunting of the songs, is hard to grasp whether or not its a mournful goodbye or upbeat see you soon. Such is the sound of a wonderful closing track.. and what sounds like a rough accent of a content man muttering something inaudible that I at first thought was "How 'bout that Tony?" but could well be "That, roll that take." who knows...

Although a mixed bag that promises a lot in the beginning, falters midway and picks up where it left off, 'Insofar' is worth the listen, as providing the songs to several other listeners has revealed odd results, many people seems to find a variety of favourites and differing opinions as to which songs work and other fail. Even without any vocals or distinguished structure, It's safe to say that there is something for everybody... as long as they have an open mind that is...


Resident Evil 6 (Xbox 360)
Resident Evil 6 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Korte-EDV Internetmarketing & Vertrieb, Preise inkl. MwSt.
Price: £3.34

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Resident Evil...... SUX, 5 Nov. 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Introduction
2009's Resident Evil 5's premise was first seen as questionable - swapping the dark and murky streets of Raccoon city, the grim n' grey surroundings of 4, - in favour of the scorching terrain of africa. Despite the lack of horror and thrills, its action was unrivalled and was a blockbuster title - punching boulders into volcanos and all. Yet no.6 tries to go one further... or 3 further, as this time there are initially 3 campaigns to scour through, each one consisting of 5 chapters that are far longer than the average level time of 5's. The 3 campaigns also have intertwining stories to tie up loose ends and offer up different situations that probably could have been crammed into one anyway. Despite the many changes, 6 is unlikely to appease the fans of the series, be it from day one with 3 playstation releases, spin offs or the latest offerings. Although... if you're morose enough to hold the resident evil film franchise in high regard, you'll likely have your little mind blown away...

Gameplay
To start, you get to limp through a fairly eventful tutorial - based at the end of the story. This 5 minute tidbit is enough to prepare you for what's in store in jerky controls, scarce ammo and at times, inappropriate button bashing. The likes of 4 & 5 managed to pull this off well, keeping players focused during cutscenes and desperately mashing controllers to take down big bad bosses and even speed up the fights. 6 however, would rather you frantically search for a set of car keys, hopelessly put them in the ignition slot and start the engine with jittery hands as if cutting the correct wire on an explosive device. Fair enough, that was the most pointless and annoying moments of this button sequence thing but there are some satisfactory button sequences. Combat may seem a step in the right direction as now you can move whilst shooting, strafing about all over the place, firing on your back or front for unnecessary bad-assery. The games cover system though is, put simply, broken. You'll find yourself unwillingly snuggled up to a wall or pillar thats still in plain sight of enemies fire away as you frantically try to figure out 1. how to free yourself from said wall an 2. how you took 'cover' in the first place. Of course, when it comes to weaponry... '''forgeddabowdit!'''

Story
Resident Evil's haven't exactly been groundbreaking when it comes to storyline, evil company makes virus, virus breaks out, zombies ensue (Capcom can add as many backlog extras and insights to plot as they want but its still a bit of a joke). Instead of pushing another lame story, 6 is geared towards the happenings of the games main characters. Leon (from 4) prances about, brushing his hair out his eyes, accompanied by some angry lady called Helena (no not Helena - HELAYNAR..???). Chris (from 5) is drinking his troubles away in mega cliche fashion, getting shot down by barmaids, zombies and disgustingly offensive camera angles. Anything said about this new guy Jake's campaign would be a spoiler. Thanks to the differing campaigns, players can journey through burning urban concrete jungles, mirky underground subways and tombs.

What they kept, what they changed, what the hell

Co-op
Like its predecessor, 6 features cooperative gameplay for 2, utilizing teamwork slightly more efficiently and in more original and even realistic ways (such as providing support from long distance). However for every answer lies another question - why add gestures and signals? 5 let you press a button to respond to your partner - 6 lets you swagger a thumb about proclaiming "Thanks!" and several other pointless schmaltz - there is zero benefit to these actions other than general politeness - something long dead when there's a zombie apocalypse going on ya dig?

Controls
The Res series has never had a decent set of controls - ever - and this is dating back to the original. The need to hold buttons or use combinations to perform basic tasks commonplace in similar games were a chore but worth overlooking back then. Now in an age that boasts far greater capabilities, 6 is expected to be slightly better than those of its past - it aint. No pause menu, an obscuring jostled menu, 3 button basic moves and the option to use melee - something you could probably get away with using throughout instead of firing a single bullet.

Genre
By far the biggest atrocity committed by Capcom and their sixth installment in a once loved franchise is the blatant attempt at acquiring a new, larger audience, the kind of folk who're amazed by the special effects, dazzled by explosions and care little for fun and engaging gameplay. The shaky camera, abundance of firearms and cover system impart influences from Gears of War & Call of Duty. The dog tag and special abilities at the end of chapters are just forgettable and generally not worth bothering with.

Summary
I unfortunately pre-ordered this game, paying full RRP, expecting a quality gaming experience. When I got home after work, I headed straight for my mates who is equally into the RES series and played through the first chapter in Leon's campaign. It took us a good few hours each weekend to get it done, but by the end I was all by my lonesome on the final chapter as my friend had given up all hope of finding any enjoyment in the game. I wish I had called it quits also as I had to trudge through a long, drawn out uninteresting conclusion to a severely disappointing game... one that should of and could of met its lofty hype and expectations.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 21, 2013 1:04 PM BST


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