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Halo: Reach (Xbox 360)
Halo: Reach (Xbox 360)
Price: 13.05

4.0 out of 5 stars Thinking of Playing Halo Reach in Split-Screen Co-Op?, 21 Sep 2013
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Already plenty of very thorough reviews of the game, so I just want to talk about split-screen co-op.

Every split-screen co-op game seems to have its idiosyncrasies and Halo Reach is no exception.

If you're like me, you'll like an FPS game where you can play the main story campaign in offline split-screen co-op mode pretty much exactly like the single player equivalent.

Halo Reach doesn't allow you to do that, but it's close.

With this particular game, you can't play through the campaign all in one go in split-screen mode - you have to unlock level two by playing level one and then restart your game by manually selecting level two, as if you were playing a brand new game. It doesn't automatically select the unplayed level, which flummoxed us the first time it happened.

A big drawback is that you can't save the level mid-way. There are (I think) three starting points for each level. The first starting point is (obviously) the start of the level and the other two are presumably spread out through the level. I imagine they coincide with cut scenes or something, but you don't know when you've reached one of those points. There's nothing on screen to tell you that if you quit right now you'd be able to restart from the same place.

Another thing that differs from one offline co-op game to another is what happens when you get killed. In Halo Reach, the game is fairly kind to you. When you get killed in the game, there's no grace period where your partner can come and rescue you (as is the case with Borderlands, for example). Instead your partner has to go to a "safe" area and then you respawn right next to him (or her). This can be quite disorienting if you were in a different place when you were killed. If both of you get killed, you get sent back to the last checkpoint. That can actually be quite good sometimes, as it gives you a chance to try again and hopefully do a bit better.

It would have been nice to have the option to play through the campaign mode uninterrupted and save along the way, but this is a close second.

Here To Save Your Soul
Here To Save Your Soul
Price: 8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A collection of four singles, 18 Jan 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Here To Save Your Soul (Audio CD)
This eight-track mini album is subtitled "Singles Volume One" and contains the following:

Rock'n'Roll Psychosis b/w Big Hunk O' Love - released 17/11/08
Cement Mixer b/w Good Golly Miss Molly - released 09/03/09
Princess & the Frog b/w Freak of Nature - released 08/06/09
Burning Your House Down b/w Elemental - released 22/09/09

Put another way, if you already own the first two Jim Jones Revue albums then you are essentially adding only three tracks: Big Hunk O' Love (made famous by Elvis), Good Golly Miss Molly (made famous by Little Richard) and Freak of Nature (a Jim Jones original).

Yes, it's lo-fi. Yes, it's not spectacularly great value if you have the other albums.

Resistance 3 (PS3)
Resistance 3 (PS3)
Offered by Platinum Games
Price: 8.99

158 of 184 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Say yes to the split-screen, offline co-op mode, 9 Sep 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Resistance 3 (PS3) (Video Game)
What fantastic news that Resistance 3 has split-screen, offline co-op mode.

It was great fun to play the whole Resistance: Fall of Man campaign in split-scren mode and really disappointing to discover that its brilliant 2008 sequel Resistance 2 had only the single-player campaign mode.

If you love playing split-screen co-op shooters then make your views known by clicking the little Yes button next to this review.

Don't get me wrong - there's nothing wrong with online multiplayer modes and online co-op, but many developers are failing to include offline co-op modes these days. Those of us who love split-screen gaming need to make our voices heard or we might lose the fun of playing split-screen forever.
Comment Comments (24) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 10, 2011 10:21 PM BST

Murder Most Fab
Murder Most Fab
by Julian Clary
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Gay Tom Sharpe of the Noughties, 22 July 2010
This review is from: Murder Most Fab (Paperback)
Murder Most Fab reminded me a little of the Tom Sharpe books I lapped up 25 years ago - crammed with grotesque sex and violence but with a darkly humourous and everso slightly satirical delivery. It's a jaunty morality tale about a charming, sexy, gay man who finds himself becoming an accidental multiple murderer.

I'm rather baffled by Janet Steet-Porter's quotation on the jacket which says it's "a very funny novel". It's not. I didn't laugh out loud once. I don't think it's meant to be "very funny" at all, despite being the first novel by a well-known stand-up. There are no jokes or farsical situations, just the occasional quip making fun of a real-life celebrity and a story steeped in dark, comic irony, told at a good pace.

No Title Available

1.0 out of 5 stars Fell apart, 5 Feb 2010
Very disappointing - the design of this scooter looks great but the first one we had literally fell apart on its way out of the box and the second one didn't last much longer. It was the same problem in both cases - the back wheel just wasn't fastened on properly and the way it's made doesn't allow the wheel nut to be sufficiently tightened to hold it together. We didn't buy this scooter from Amazon; it came from a high street toy shop, which fortunately was able to exchange it. Perhaps both of ours came from a single bad batch and perhaps this design/manufactiring fault has been remedied since we got ours in October 2009, but in all good conscience I couldn't advise anyone to take that risk.

Rock Band 2 (PS3)
Rock Band 2 (PS3)

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A couple of important remarks on compatibility, 20 May 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Rock Band 2 (PS3) (Video Game)
Having bought Guitar Hero World Tour complete with drum kit, microphone and a couple of guitar controllers, I bought this a few months later to make the most of the various accessories and learned a couple of very important things along the way.

First and foremost, the Guitar Hero World Tour drum kit works with Rock Band 2 but it does not work with Rock Band. I don't know if it's the same with the Xbox 360 version, so this information is directed at PS3 owners.

Secondly, if you don't want to miss out on Rock Band completely, you can import all the songs from Rock Band into Rock Band 2. However, to do this you need to make a one-off purchase of an electronic key from Sony's Playstation Store. When I bought mine I think it was 2.49p, so it doesn't break the bank. However, it's important to note that you must have a UK version of the games. You can play a US version of Rock Band on a British Playstation, but you cannot import the songs into Rock Band 2 unless you have a UK disc because the electronic key is "region coded".
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 22, 2010 3:04 PM GMT

Unreal Tournament 3 (Xbox 360)
Unreal Tournament 3 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: 15.39

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Support offline split-screen... or lose it, 8 April 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Unreal Tournament III is a great deal of fast-fragging fun, taking most of the best elements of previous UT games and delivering them using the power of next-gen consoles. An absolute must for anyone who loves a deathmatch. But...

I'd like to use this review to grind my own personal axe. I love playing games in split-screen. That is to say offline multiplayer, with a real human being in the room, sitting beside you, as opposed to online multiplayer, with friends and/or strangers at the other end of a broadband connection. And the inclusion or otherwise of a split-screen option is particularly pertinent to this game because while the Xbox 360 version contains split-screen, the Playstation 3 version does not.

It seems that Epic/Midway didn't consider split-screen gaming important enough to include on the PS3 version. You could argue that it was Sony's fault for not allowing two users to log into the PS3 simultaneously, a design flaw that hopefully will soon be put right. But that flaw didn't stop Insomniac Games from incorporating split-screen play into Resistance and Resistance 2. The hardware is more than capable of running the game in split-screen, so why should PS3 owners be palmed off with a lesser game?

Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with online multiplayer games - it's fantastic to be able to shoot it out against 8, 16 or even 60 opponents online. But I would hate to see the demise of split-screen gaming. It would be a real shame if a day comes when you have to send your friends home because split-screen has been consigned to the dustbin and the only way you can play new games together is over the internet.

So, if you love split-screen gaming, don't keep quiet about it. Let developers and publishers know that you want it by using Amazon and other public forums. Please start by showing your approval of this review. If we don't support split-screen gaming, one day it may be gone.

Blood Fever (Young Bond S.)
Blood Fever (Young Bond S.)
by Charlie Higson
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Silverfin, 3 April 2009
I was faintly disappointed by the second in the Young Bond series. It didn't quite live up to the promise of Silverfin. It had a splendid villain and a proper "secret base" as all great Bond stories should, but other than that the story lacked focus. As an aside, in my opinion, "blood fever" wasn't sufficiently crucial to the plot to warrant an appearance on the title page. The fever refers to the effect of malaria. There's a sequence in the book where Bond is left to the mercy of a million mosquitos in a swamp, but although quite memorable it's a fairly short episode and is tangential to the main thread of the story, which is about a secret society of Italian criminals based in Sardinia and led by a ruthless, egomaniacal bandit king. It would have been better to call it something like Lair of the Millenaria (which is the name of the secret society). That vagueness is arguably evidence that the story wasn't sufficiently cohesive - even to the author and publishers - to signal a more meaningful and relevant title. Not that I won't be reading book three, because I'm sure I will give Mr Higson another chance.

The Oxford Murders [DVD]
The Oxford Murders [DVD]
Dvd ~ Elijah Wood
Offered by videosanddvds
Price: 2.89

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a mess, 3 April 2009
This review is from: The Oxford Murders [DVD] (DVD)
Oxford Murders has a decent enough plot. Unsurprisingly, it's about a series of murders in Oxford and two mathematicians (a respected don, played by John Hurt, and an American student, played by Elijah Wood) who appear to be involved. And there are all the twists, turns and red herrings you'd expect in any whodunnit. But the script is leaden and turgid - it should have been much more finely honed before shooting began. The characterisations are forced, there are too many bloated monologues, the relationships between the characters lack credibility and there is a ramshackle collection of supporting characters with odd accents, presumably as a result of a multi-national funding deal that spanned umpteen European countries (as evidenced by the peculiar melting pot of foreign names in the crew credits). It deserves one star for being considerably less competently executed than an episode of Inspector Morse but I'll give it an extra one star for striving (albeit hopelessly in vain) to be a bit cleverer than the average Colin Dexter adaptation.

A Song Of Stone
A Song Of Stone
by Iain Banks
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.18

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Let's just say this is not a good introduction to Iain Banks, 22 July 2007
This review is from: A Song Of Stone (Paperback)
I love a lot of Iain Banks books but I can't say I enjoyed this book because it's very heavy going.

I've stuck with him since I picked up The Wasp Factory in the library as a teenager - at a time when it was the only book he'd written - and I was so blown away by it that I got my girlfriend to read it right after me. And of course she loved it, too.

My girlfriend had become my wife by the time A Song of Stone was published and she read it and said she didn't think much to it, so I guess that put me off and I didn't pick it up and until eight or nine years later. I'm glad I gave it a chance, eventually.

The author clearly took the decision to write in the very verbose voice of detached, decadent aristocrat Abel using the first and second person present tense throughout and as a result sometimes it takes half a page for him to say almost nothing. I freely admit that I might just not be sufficiently literary-minded to appreciate the meticulous and expansive prose. Instead, I found myself occasionally having to re-read passages where my mind had wandered and I suddenly realised I had stopped paying attention to what I was reading and had started thinking about something else entirely.

It's more of a novella than a novel and the plot can be summed up in a sentence. The lord and lady of a castle are attempting to flee to safer environs in a time of war when they run into a band of maverick soldiers - led by a formidable young female lieutenant - who take them back to their castle and hold them prisoner there until the castle and its limited resources have exhausted their value and it is time to move on.

There are a number of things about the novel that make it unconventional and as such, to me, in my conservative little world, fairly unsatisfying. The story doesn't have a lot of closure, the history of the characters is unclear, and the wider scenario of society and politics is deliberately ill-defined. In theory that means it's a feast for the imagination, leaving so much for the reader to embellish, but in practice it just means we don't really understand the characters' motivations. We don't know if this is happening in England or, say, Algeria, if it's the present day or 200 years in the future. We don't know for sure if Abel and Morgan are a lord and lady at all - that's just guesswork. We never really learn that much about Morgan, the protagonist's lover and life partner, for instance, because he is rather too self-absorbed to waste much time on her role in the story, except where it impacts on his directly. And that goes for most of the other characters in the story - Abel is like an autistic savant, far too distant to really register what is going on in the minds of others.

On the upside, Banks turns down the purple prose for a handful of action scenes - skirmishes between the soldiers and other roving military units of unknown origin - and there's quite a lot of sex in it, or at least references to it, which helps to keep it interesting. But that's not quite enough. Lengthy novels are often recommended on the grounds that they are unputdownable and therefore there is no reason to be daunted by their bulk. The opposite is true of A Song of Stone. I don't think I've ever made such a meal of so short a novel. I started reading it on March 3rd and I had it hanging around for more than two months, during which it sort of sapped my interest in reading altogether. I plan to read his new book soon and I'm hoping it will act as a sort of antidote.

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