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Daz (UK)

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Circulon Bakeware Square Cake Tin - 9 Inch
Circulon Bakeware Square Cake Tin - 9 Inch
Price: £10.34

1.0 out of 5 stars Utter rubbish, 10 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I had high hopes for this product. When I unwrapped it, it felt well made, substantial and the handles on the sides are sized well, so that the tin is grippable when you have oven gloves on.

The first time I used it, food popped straight out of the tin, and I was well impressed. I followed Circulon's directions for cleaning and maintaining the tin, but after only two uses it lost it's non-stick properties and food was welded to the tin. After returning the tin to Circulon and receiving a replacement, the same happened again.

This has also happened to a Circulon roaster and another baking tray, so I think it's a design fault. In conclusion, I wouldn't recommend this product (or any other Circulon baking/roasting tray). In my experience they're all junk and I'll not be buying any more from them.

Toshiba HDR5010KB 500GB Freeview+ HD Digital TV Recorder
Toshiba HDR5010KB 500GB Freeview+ HD Digital TV Recorder

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good Freeview recorder let down by a few annoying niggles, 17 Oct. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have owned this recorder for about 6 weeks and thought I would hold off reviewing it until I'd used it enough to (hopefully!) give a decent, fair review. Upon receiving the Toshiba HDR5010, I found the set-up process to be incredibly easy and straightforward. As I have come to expect from this kind of product, it was a simple case of connecting up, switching on and following the automated setup process. I went from boxed and sealed to watching Come Dine With Me in around 5 minutes.

After setup was complete, the first thing that struck was the quality of the standard, non-HD picture and sound. Both are excellent and the picture appears to be much less grainy than the picture from my previous Digihome Freeview Recorder. Since buying the HDR5010, Freeview HD began broadcasting in my area and although the quality is still very high, it doesn't appear to mirror the `jump' in quality from DVD to Blu-Ray. Maybe this is because the standard picture is of such good quality, or maybe my aerial isn't very good. Still, whatever, no complaints.

Other features and notable qualities of the Toshiba HDR5010 are: it's ease of use, being able to record two channels at the same time, picture-in-picture, huge harddisc space, and being able to set the recorder to record an entire series of a particular show, being able to `resolve conflicts'. This means, if you try to set a third recording timer at the same time as two others, the Toshiba will tell you you can't record all three shows at the same time, and then try to find an alternative time to record one of the shows.

As the title of the review says, there are a few annoyances that stop the Toshiba from being the great product it should be. As many other reviews note, it seems to take an age for it to boot up. Paraphrasing another review: it's not so good when you have an impatient 18 month child who wants to watch Octonaughts! The unit itself is nice sleek and black. When it is switched on, there is a reasonably unobtrusive blue light to mark that it is operating. However, when it is switched off this light shines red. Very brightly. I'd rather my living room wasn't bathed in `brake light red' light. Another annoyance is that the remote control seems to have to be pointed direct at the box in order for it to work, and occasionally can be unresponsive. The remote control itself looks reasonable, but I find the layout absolutely awful. It is quite long and all the buttons that I commonly use are towards the base of the control (such as play, stop, fast forward, the button to access recorded shows etc). I find when I press these buttons, I quite often end up accidentally tipping the remote upwards away from the receiver because it isn't very well balanced, thus my button presses do nothing. Pressing the fast forward/rewind button repeatedly increases the fast forward/rewind speed, but the increments aren't very well spaced. One or two presses don't increase the speed that much, but the third press is way too quick.

The outcome is that the Toshiba HDR5010 shows great potential and is money well spent, but a few minor niggles detract slightly from this otherwise great product.

Singularity (Xbox 360)
Singularity (Xbox 360)
Offered by zoverstocks
Price: £9.18

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Competent, but seen it all before, 8 April 2011
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Singularity is a first-person shooter, which takes place on a fictional island called Katorga-12, where Russian experiments took place during the height of the Cold War. In 1955, a catastrophe involving experiments attempting to form a "Singularity" occurred on the island, causing the island's existence to be covered up by the Russian government. In 2010, an electromagnetic surge from Katorga-12 damages an American spy satellite. A military reconnaissance team is sent to investigate the uninhabited island. You control Captain Renko, a member of the reconnaissance team, and you are tasked with exploring the abandoned island, to uncover the secrets around the Singularity.

The game starts promisingly. The graphics are pretty, the premise is intriguing, the controls are fluid and it is slightly reminiscent of Bioshock whereby you explore an old abandoned environment. The similarity to Bioshock strengthens when you're given possession of the Time Manipulation Device (TMD), which you wear on your arm and can manipulate time. Similarities to other games don't end there as there are also echoes of Half Life, and the rather unfortunate Blacksite.

Unfortunately what becomes apparent very quickly is that this game doesn't really have any original ideas of it's own. There isn't anything really wrong with Singularity - I played it through to the end and quite enjoyed it - it's just that it feels a little lazy and has a `seen it all before' feel to it. The TMD could have been the game's trump card, and it is admittedly good fun using it to age soldiers to dust particles, but you are never really called to use it in any inventive ways. Instead you're tasked with the usual `find another way round this obstacle' type exercises, which then involve you having to use your TMD to age or renew crates. It's not bad, but it's just so......ordinary and feels lazy. There are also `perks' you can acquire and upgrades you can invest in, which are also slightly reminiscent of Bioshock. They're all quite standard upgrades (extra health, the ability to carry extra healthpacks etc) and feel like they've been added for the sake of it, and you never really feel like you've upgraded or developed your character, or improved his abilities.

The game isn't all bad. The combat is great fun, the selection of weapons is fairly standard, but they all pack a nice punch, and there are some nice settings - traversing an old sunken ship being the highlight. A single playthrough on the normal difficulty level took around 10-12 hours, so it is of a reasonable length and the storyline is sufficiently intriguing to hold my attention for the game's duration. In conclusion, if you can buy Singularity for around £10, then it's worth a look. It is a competent, good looking, solid shooter, but don't expect anything that you haven't seen in countless other games.

Dante's Inferno (Xbox 360)
Dante's Inferno (Xbox 360)
Price: £10.70

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, solid, but not earth-shattering, 6 April 2011
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Dante's Inferno is primarily an action-adventure fighting game played from a third-person view - similar to Devil May Cry or Bayonetta - with platforming and environment-based puzzles thrown in to break up some of the levels. You control Dante, armed with Death's scythe a Holy Cross that fires a volley of energy as a projectile attack, and magic based attacks, you must journey through the nine circles of Hell to reclaim the soul of your beloved Beatrice from the hands of Lucifer.

I approached this game with a relatively open mind. I've never played the God Of War games (which I hear Dante's Inferno has `borrowed' heavily from), but I'd enjoyed other fighting games such as Devil May Cry, Bayonetta and Castlevania. I liked the look of the art style, the demo was good fun, so I picked it up.

The first thing that struck me was the presentation, the good voice acting and the fluid combat. It didn't seem too challenging to be able to clear hordes of enemies with a few simple button presses. As a fan of horror, I found the presentation of the environments even more impressive Dante descended into hell..... but then things started to unravel a little....

The art style that started off so impressively, and remained so, did become quite samey as the story progressed. A later level set in a forest helped to break up the presentation, but many of the other levels are simply a series of similar-looking corridors that lead into open rooms to allow for an inevitable onslaught of baddies. The environmental puzzles were fun to start with, but boil down to turning levers, switiching switches, or moving blocks, and seem thrown in just to give you something else to do other than kill things. These sections are also hampered by frequently bad camera angles which often lead to unfair trial-by-error deaths. I found the combat in the earlier levels was frustrating, but it took a little perseverance and practice. Ultimately I found the combat to be one of the most rewarding and fair systems I've encountered in this genre, and the skill-tree that you can use to upgrade Dante's abilities was well thought out - do you upgrade your evil powers which improve your scythe attacks, or do you upgrade your good powers which improve your long-range cross attacks? Sure, it is no match for Bayonetta's outrageousness, but the fighting engine is solid and fair, and it is one of the few systems which really made me want to push myself to improve my skills and beat the opponents, rather than slam the joypad down in anger when I was defeated.

I played through Dante's Inferno on the default difficultly so my views are based on a complete 10-12 hour playthrough. Overall I recommend Dante's Inferno, but there are some minor points that detracted from my enjoyment. If you're a fan of fighting games and have a penchant for the grotesque, this is well worth a look.

Crackdown 2 (Xbox 360)
Crackdown 2 (Xbox 360)
Offered by games-wizard
Price: £9.98

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Virtually A Remake Of Part 1, But Still Immense Fun!, 21 Mar. 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Crackdown 2 is a third-person shooter featuring open-world, sandbox style game play. You control a genetically engineered agent assisting the Agency in the battle for Pacific City against a terrorist organization known as the Cell, and you're also tasked with keeping the run-down city clear of mutated freaks.

After a brief tutorial to give you an introduction to the controls and gameplay, then a couple of missions to introduce you to the main elements of the game, you're then left on your own to roam Pacific City and play the game as you wish. In order to complete the game you are tasked with activating beacons which destroy the freaks. You can also attempt (optional) Freak Breach and Tactical Location missions, which net you additional weapons and experience which go to improve your characters strength, agility, weapons skills, explosive skills and driving skills.

The beauty and curse of Crackdown 2 is that you're left to your own devices for most of the time. The beauty is that you can do the missions in any order you wish, or you can ignore the missions and do any of the optional activities in Pacific City, such as stunt jumps, running races across buildings, driving challenges etc etc. The curse is that there is virtually no storyline, and what little snippets you do get are from collecting the many audio tapes left lying around the city. A player could miss all the audio tapes and really have no idea of what is going on in the game, apart from the information given right at the start and right at the end of the game.

Much has been said about the similarities between Crackdown 2 and Crackdown 1. They are virtually the same game - the graphics in Crackdown 2 have received a slight polish (although it's still never going to be winning any beauty contests), the game is set in the same city and everything `feels' the same. Although it's quite interesting to go back to Pacific City and see it in a state of disrepair, it does smack of laziness on the part of the developers. In contrast, Saints Row and Saints Row 2 were both set in Stillwater, but SR2 never felt like it was a rehash of the prequel. There are some differences, some for the good and some for the bad. The good additions include wingsuits, the ability to pilot helicopters, 4 player online co-op, and being able to `ping' orbs, whereas the bad include non-morphing cars and the lack of any storyline or `enemy' that you have to bring down. The first game had you targeting gang members to bring down a crime ring, whereas in Crackdown 2, there is no real `enemy' apart from the hordes of freaks, and not much sense of achievement when you beat the game.

In the end, I really did enjoy Crackdown 2. It had me completely hooked for a very enjoyable fortnight, and I played it when I had any spare time. The game is great fun, blowing stuff up just never gets boring and hunting for the different kinds of orbs is both addictive and rewarding. The game really lights up if you can get a group of players together for some online co-op action, but it's equally fun running around the streets of Pacific City with a homing rocket launcher being told off by The Agency Voice for blowing up peacekeepers!

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (Xbox 360)
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (Xbox 360)
Offered by 101Trading
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Barely gets warmed up, 4 Mar. 2011
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Starkiller, Darth Vader's secret apprentice is told by Vader he is a clone of the original Starkiller from the first game. Clone Starkiller escapes from captivity on Kamino. and embarks on a quest to understand his identity, find his love interest from the first game, stage a rebellion and confront Lord Vader......

Playing through the first level, things were looking quite promising. Production values were high, the graphics were wonderful, music was suitably stirring, and the developers seemed to have gone some way to fixing the targeting system that hampered the good-but-flawed prequel. It had Vader being all.... Dark Lordy, it had double lightsabers, it had a character who was already powerful in the ways of the Force, and escaping from Vader in the free-falling section was cool. Things were looking good. Then it went on a bit.... things got samey.... then just as it was getting interesting it ended and the storyline hadn't really gone anywhere.

The cutscenes and the in-game graphics were beautiful. Having said that, some of the levels felt like the same grey anonymous corridors were just cut-and-pasted over and over to make the game longer. There are around 6 levels, but within that, you only actually visit four locations (and one of those locations is basically an extended cut-scene). I would have preferred shorter levels, but more of them and in different locations. Speaking of length, the game was ridiculously short. Maybe 5 or 6 hours tops to finish a game which already feels like it's been falsely extended with the cut-and-paste corridors really is a joke. The story was barely okay, but there wasn't much of one, and it all feels like it's been put together to set the franchise up for another sequel. The game also suffered from Devil May Cry 4-syndrome where you have to fight the same enemies over and over and over again until tedium sets in. Tedium setting in on a game that is 6 hours long is not a good sign.

On the plus side, as with the first game, lightsabers and force powers are great fun, and it tossing stormtroopers around or mind-tricking them into committing suicide never gets boring. The targetting system was improved but still wasn't perfect, and actually selecting the correct target was still very hit-and-miss. Another plus point compared to the prequel was that there were fewer instances of getting knocked over and not being able to get up without getting set-upon by every enemy in the vicinity.

If you're inclined there is some replay value - to fully upgrade your Jedi powers, search for the Holocrons and find all the lightsaber collectibles, but herein lies the crux that seems to sum up the whole of The Force Unleashed 2: it all seems rather pointless. In the first game you upgraded your Force powers as you progressed through the story. As a result, you really saw the difference in them as you upgraded, and it helped to give you the feeling you were becoming a Jedi Master. In TFU2, you're already powerful, and although upgrading powers allows you to electrify more enemies or Force Grip more people for example, it just doesn't give you that sense of achievement or progression that was in the prequel. Lightsaber crystals are intended to give more depth to the gameplay - some allow you the chance to set enemies on fire, some allow you to regain more health when you down enemies etc. Because you have two lightsabers you can assign a different crystal to each saber. I experimented with various different loadouts but never really felt much benefit from any of them. In the end, I searched out the collectibles for the hell of it, but never bothered to change the crystals I had assigned.

In conclusion, there were some good points to this game. The highlights were fighting the Gorog, some of the free fall sections, and the beautifully rendered Kamino levels, but they weren't enough to outweigh the lack of variety in the levels, the tedious finale or the feeling that they could have done so much more with The Force Unleashed 2.

Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days - Limited Edition  (Xbox 360)
Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days - Limited Edition (Xbox 360)
Offered by rockaway-records
Price: £4.79

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There is very little to recommend, 4 Mar. 2011
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
In Dog Days, Lynch has started a new life in Shanghai with a girlfriend. After Lynch hears about a gun smuggling operation, he calls Kane for aid in return for a split in the deal. If they can pull the deal off, it would pay for their retirement and also help Kane's relationship with his estranged daughter. It is not long before things go wrong and Kane and Lynch are running and gunning for their lives...

I'd heard that the gameplay and graphics were much improved over the original, so I took a punt thinking that at the very least it could prove fun for some split-screen co-op with a friend. Even though I picked this up for a rock-bottom price, the game did a very good job of leaving me incredibly disappointed, and I couldn't help wondering how bad the original game was if Kane & Lynch 2 was supposed to be an improvement.

The story kicks off with you and your buddy running through the streets of Shanghai. The first thing that struck me was the incredibly loose, imprecise 'floaty' feel to the controls. Never mind, I thought, I'll probably get used to it. I never did. The cover shooting mechanic is pretty much ripped off of Gears of War, and it is pretty solid, but targetting and general movement never really felt right, and I lost count of the frustrating deaths I'd endure from trying to shoot right at someone and not being able to hit them.

We progressed (very rapidly) through the levels until I realised we'd got to the ninth level in around 3 hours. We had three levels left and we hadn't even been trying to speed through it. God this game is short. At this point, we were a good way through the game and even though we'd not been playing long, tedium was setting in fast. Each level is the same - run through grey, drab locations take cover behind the same objects, shoot the same people who generally stay where they are and helpfully pop their heads up and let you shoot them, walk forwards and repeat till you get to the next unnecessarily sweary cut-scene. Speaking of shooting, as I mentioned before, the targetting was way off, some of the enemies seemed to have the ability to absorb gunfire that would make the adversaries in Far Cry 2 green with envy, and none of the weapons really felt any different or seemed to offer any benefits.

Much has been said of the Michael Mann-inspired graphical style. It was okay. It was different, but it also felt forced, unnecessary and really didn't make the game any more frenetic or realistic, which I assume is what the developers were going for. All it really seemed to do was throw up lots of graphical effects - blood splashes on the screen, camera shake, pixellation, lighting flares, that succeeded in making it very hard to see actually what was going on. Probably not a bad thing, seeing as the scenery was generally dull brown/grey and boring.

I'm not usually bothered about the running times in games. Sometimes I prefer shorter games because they don't seem so drawn out and outstay their welcome, and invite repeated play-throughs. Not this game; it was so short it was a joke and all you are left with is an unsatisfying ending and a couple of very unlikeable main characters.

There really is very little to recommend about this game. The graphics, with a few exceptions, are pretty ugly and boring, the controls and aiming are off, and even though the game is woefully short it still manages to feel repetitive and boring. If you're looking for a decent co-op shooter, go for Gears of War, Army of Two or even Resident Evil 5, but leave this dross on the shelves.

Alan Wake (Xbox 360)
Alan Wake (Xbox 360)
Offered by EVERGAME
Price: £13.72

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but it feels like a missed opportunity, 1 Jun. 2010
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Alan Wake (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
The game starts with Alan Wake arriving in the town of Bright Falls. He has taken a short break with is wife from the pressure of writing a new novel. Things start off much in the style of Twin Peaks, and as other reviewers have noted there are also nods to Stephen King, The Twilight Zone and Hitchcock. After only a short time in Bright Falls, Alan's wife disappears, darkness falls and Alan has to find her while trying to keep hold of his sanity....

After playing through Alan Wake and finishing it over the weekend, overall, I really enjoyed it. The in-game graphics were great, the storyline was intriguing and the combat mechanic was excellent. Others have mentioned the shortness of the game. It is quite short, but given the repetitive nature of the game, frankly by the time I'd got to the end I'd pretty much had enough. Another level or two would have been too much. Overally I really enjoyed Alan Wake but what with initial news saying it was going to be an open-world game where you could wander round Bright Falls and immerse yourself in it's local history, this feels a little bit like a missed opportunity. The overriding feeling I got from playing through it was 'what the hell have Remedy been doing for the past 5 years?!'

I would recommend this game to anyone who likes games where you can wander around in the dark with only a barely functional torch and shotgun for protection. It's not a particularly jumpy or scary game (if you're looking for that, try Dead Space) but it can be incredibly thrilling when you're surrounded by Taken and aren't sure if you'll make it through the fight. Yes, the game can be a bit repetitive, yes the early forest levels do feel like they are lacking in variety, but the combat mechanic works very well and the scenery in the last half of the game changes just enough that all is forgiven for the early, forest-bound levels. Thankfully, the tense combat and intriguing storyline are enough to keep you playing to the conclusion. Overall 3.5/5

Condemned 2 (Xbox 360)
Condemned 2 (Xbox 360)
Offered by gamesgadget007
Price: £14.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it, 8 May 2009
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Condemned 2: Bloodshot takes place eleven months after the events of the first Condemned. The mysterious phenomena causing insane violence and mass psychosis amongst Metro City's homeless population has worsened, with riots breaking out across the city.

Ethan Thomas, having resigned from the FBI's Serial Crime Unit after the events of the Serial Killer X investigation in the first Condemned game, has been caught in a downward spiral and now finds himself homeless, violent, and alcoholic.

The start of Condemned 2 sees Ethan recruited back into the SCU to investigate the murder of his one-time mentor Malcolm Vanhorn. He is aided by his old partner Rosa and commanded by the hostile and antagonistic Agent Dorland, SCU's tactical commander. Which imbroils him in a cunningly weaved plot of intrigue, power play and darkness.

When first playing this game I have to say it took some getting used to. Initially I found the hand-to-hand combat clunky, the level of difficulty quite tough (even on the 'Normal' difficulty setting) and I found it difficult to see where to go due to the nature of the dark and decayed surroundings that you find yourself in. In fact, I found the game so unforgiving I got as far as the second level and gave up on it, thinking there was no way I could plough through another 10 levels of it. However, I decided to give Condemned 2 one last go and returned to it. I have to say I am glad I did; after getting past the second level Condemned 2 seemed to blossom. The hand to hand combat got easier, the locations became more interesting and it turned out to be one of the most engrossing, atmospheric and delisciously dark games I have played in a long time.

Negative points: In some of the levels, the way forwards isn't entirely intuitive. Hand to hand combat can be uneven: some opponents fall relatively easily, whereas some seem to take Tyson-like punishment before they're defeated. The first few levels are pretty tough to get into.

Positive points: Crime scene investigations are great fun and very engrossing. The level design is very inventive and varied after you get past the second level. Intriguing storyline. Great sound and graphics. Finishing moves are varied and entertaining.

Overall, this isn't a perfect game. It is unforgiving to start with, and I can understand how it might put players off. However, it is well worth sticking with, the difficulty level eases off after the second level and what you end up with is a brutal, entertaining, dark story that that tries to do things a little different. Recommended.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead
The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead
by Max Brooks
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Excellent first half. Disappointing second half, 11 Feb. 2008
The first half of the book is concerned with preparing for a zombie attack, fortifying your hideout, choosing weapons and fighting the undead. It is played completely straight, is highly informative and absolutely hilarious.

The second half of the book is a collection of 'documented' zombie attacks, and isn't nearly as good as the first half. It all seems a bit random, isn't all that engaging, and crucially isn't particularly amusing.

Overall the book is okay. It's a short read at about 240 pages but it's badly let down by a second half that just feels like padding.

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