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Memories of Ice (Book 3 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
Memories of Ice (Book 3 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen)
by Steven Erikson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic Fantasy is dead - long live whatever this is, 7 Aug. 2015
This is not really Epic Fantasy - because Epic is far too much of an understatement. Erikson & his Book of the Fallen are definitely not for everyone. I can not recommend this series to occasional fantasy readers. It is too rich & eventful - and I mean this is the rawest sense possible, it is event-full. This is for the regular, avid fantasy reader only - the author relies on your imagination & wastes no time trying to help it. If you need detailed descriptions, or a lot of character development, forget it. If you like reasonable cast sizes, forget it entirely. But if you've read plenty of the stuff & want to try something a little different, this is it right there. What you will get is an impossibly rich & complex story, with so many characters, twists, and grandiose events, you'll begin to wonder whether this author is clinically insane. Memories of Ice embodies this best, it was the chapter that really put me in mind-blown mode. The entire series is worth a read, of course it has its up & downs, but it stands aside from all its competitors due to sheer scope.

Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1)
Half a King (Shattered Sea, Book 1)
by Joe Abercrombie
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Learn to Read with Mr Boy King, 23 Aug. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This felt rather like reading J.A.'s "Dreamers Saga" or "Eyes of the Dragon" - I suspect he decided to write this book for children. Am guessing this is darker & more thought-provoking than your average kids fantasy ( it is J.A. after all ) - but still, on the whole, there is little to chew here for the regular fantasy reader. Really had to drag myself through the first 200 pages before I began to somewhat enjoy it. Sports some of the most overused cliches / tropes you can find in the genre. A surprising step back for such a talented author.

Just Cause 2 - Platinum (PS3)
Just Cause 2 - Platinum (PS3)
Price: £14.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Just Wasted Potential 2 ( Giganormously Average ), 30 Dec. 2011
On three separate occasions, months apart, I installed this & played the first couple of hours. Each time, I gave up, bored. It took a fourth try and more perseverance to start enjoying it. The game suffers from some serious flaws : the storyline & voice acting are the very definition of rubbish, the ergonomy ranges from average to poor, and the lack of visibility during fights is an absolute pain ( firefights mostly consist of frantically trying to spot who the hell is shooting at you & from where ). Worst of all, no attempt was made to implement anything remotely resembling stealth. It's all guns blazing from beginning to end.

So why the rave reviews everywhere? Well, for all its serious flaws the game does have a lot of qualities. Mostly, it has incredible scope & variety : Panau island is absolutely huge ( and I mean HUGE ), is chock-a-block with things to do ( special items to hunt for, enemy installations to sabotage ), and you have a zillion options when it comes to navigating ( walk around, grapple up, base jump, buy a boat on the black market, hijack a helicopter, etc ). If you want to 100% this game, expect to be playing it for over 100 hours. And this is an action game we are talking about, not an RPG.

It's a shame that all of this massive content is only average to mediocre. The only thing that is truly great about the game is Panau island itself. It is absolutely gorgeous, and with all those options to explore it, it makes you want to come back.

Basically, JC2 is an giganormous meal which tastes decidedly average. It goes for quantity over quality all the way. I am hoping JC3 will be half as big, but twice as polished.

Some missing things that would have made this game a masterpiece :
- clearly visible enemies ( not camouflaged / hard to spot )
- basic stealth ( duck, lean, silent takedowns, etc )
- basic hand to hand ( punch, kick, strangle with grapple, etc )
- halfway decent story & voice acting ( seriously, please )
- better ergonomy ( R3 for aim mode is particularly painful )

Uncharted: Drakes Fortune - Platinum Edition (PS3)
Uncharted: Drakes Fortune - Platinum Edition (PS3)

5 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This might be a good game, if one could actually play it, 16 Dec. 2010
Now that I have your attention, let me explain why, if you are also a bargain bin gamer catching up with the classics of the last few years, you should stay the hell away from Uncharted.

The game in itself is decent. It has great graphics, a decent storyline, and a dose of 50/50 humor. As in 50% of the time you'll get a half-hearted laugh out of it, and the other 50% you'll just shake your head and think "please". Gameplay-wise, it's decent, the combat reminds me of Second Sight / MGS and such. Feels a bit weird to be constantly headshooting bad guys in what first appears as a "light-hearted treasure hunt", but once you get used to it, it's fairly enjoyable.

But the game sports one huge, unforgivable fault. It's missing a disclaimer on the box : "May or may not work". As that's exactly what you get when you buy this game : a product that may work, or not, depending entirely on your luck.

I can see you, raising one eyebrow & thinking "yet another guy who blames the developer for his faulty console and/or disc". However, you are utterly mistaken. This is an issue with the game itself. It does not occur for yours truly alone, far from it. It occurs for many, many players, accross various PS3 models. It has never been patched, and never will be. Just Google up the words "Uncharted Freeze", take some time to trawl through the results, and you will begin to understand what I am warning you about.

For many players, specific custscenes and/or autosave spots will cause a complete system freeze. The only way out is to reset your PS3. Trying again will result in the exact same freeze. You will be unable to progress any further in the game. You can find suggestions of various "possible fixes" online ( such as disabling hints or playing without autosave ), but for most people these "fixes" have no effect. Your only way out is to backup your save, go to a friend's house, and hope that it works on their PS3. Of course, as there are about a dozen different spots in which this freeze may occur, you may have to do this a dozen times to complete the game.

Ludicrous. This should have been patched long ago. So save yourself the frustration, and buy something else. I suggest Uncharted 2, as it does not suffer from this stability issue, and is absolutely fantastic in every way. Just skip number 1 altogether.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 8, 2011 7:02 AM BST

Optoma EX532 Mobile DLP Projector
Optoma EX532 Mobile DLP Projector

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fair projector, but here is fair warning, 18 April 2010
This is a good beamer, hwoever it is unsuitable for home theater. It's true that there are models out there more specifically designed for home theater use, but this one caught my eye with its 2800 Lumens & its 3000:1 contrast, by far the best specs available in that price range. I also specifically wanted a native XGA and not WXGA, and although it does not have any HDMI input, the manufacturer advertises ( and the included documentation proudly says ) that this can accept component video through the use of a component-to-vga adapter. All in all, this sounded just perfect. It has a somewhat high throw ratio, but I had enough room to acomodate.

Now to the verdict. On the plus side, the image is bright, the noise level is perfectly reasonable, the image is crisp, the colors are great, etc. It's really worth every penny and then some IF you intend to use it with a laptop or via composite. But be warned, this does *not* accept component video, despite what Optoma advertises. No amount of adapters or special cables will help you. At least this was the case for me, and I did quite a bunch of cross tests to make sure. Basically, my beamer had a perfectly ordinary VGA port & not the "special" port it was supposed to have. I ended up having to return it and order a different model. Playing Blue-Rays through composite just isn't good enough.

Red Dwarf - Back To Earth - Director's Cut [DVD] [2009]
Red Dwarf - Back To Earth - Director's Cut [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Chris Barrie
Price: £6.99

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un-be-smeggin-lievable!, 25 Jun. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The day has finally arrived. The long awaited final episode of Red Dwarf has landed and every one of us who watched it did so with a rather unique trepidation. What of the verdict? Many were disappointed, it didn't live up to expectations, it was not pure comical genius through-and-through, they visited Coronation Street for Chrissakes, etc...

I wish to thank all the naysayers for lowering my expectations of this tremendous episode and therefore making it such a blast when it turned out to be awesome.

Where to start? The first part, indeed, is a rather poor introduction that slowly but surely puts us back in the Red Dwarf mood, that shows how the Dwarfers got into this "visiting the real world" mess. There are no particularly memorable moments in this episode, it will make you smile a couple of times, which in itself is still worth the whie, but that's about it.

But from the second episode on, it's lighthearted-yet-oh-so-subtly-deformed cliche after another. The Dwarfers' trip to the "real world" is perfectly paced, the twists keep coming up, and the ridiculous exaggerations & kitch shots never let down. It never fails to delight.

What of the story? What of the final twist? From my perspective, it was dumb, it was bold, it was fitting, it was ambitious, and it was delightful. Indeed, as the end credits rolled, I found myself clapping. What more can you say?

Just buy it and enjoy the ride. The good-old typical Dwarf humour may be gone, but there are more than enough references to the old series, and enough new-yet-oh-so-dwarfish turns to make it more than worth your while.

A word of warning : if you have not seen or do not like Blade Runner, forget Back to Earth altogether.

The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle, Book 1): 1/3 (Demon Cycle 1)
The Painted Man (The Demon Cycle, Book 1): 1/3 (Demon Cycle 1)
by Peter V. Brett
Edition: Paperback

12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Behind the hype lies an average fantasy read, 11 May 2009
For many years fantasy novels have had their place on my shelves & on my bedside table. There's not an inexhaustible supply of worthwile authors, so the arrival of Peter V.Brett & the amount of praise I saw for his work caught my attention and induced me to buy this book.

One novel later, I'm still looking for the great, astounding writing & originality he has so been lauded for. This is basically a fantasy novel, ordinary in every way. Without question there are some original concepts, and a few unexpected ( and therefore welcome ) turns, but all in all this is drowned in a sea of your usual oh-so-predictable cliches, and the book reads like the umpteenth retelling of the same story by yet another author.

Kingdom Hearts (PS2)
Kingdom Hearts (PS2)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £12.87

1 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great game, but AVOID this version at all costs!, 7 Sept. 2008
This review is from: Kingdom Hearts (PS2) (Video Game)
This game is pretty good, considering I've never been a Disney fan even when I was a kid, it manages to pull even an adult gamer in this enchanting tale. The merger of squaresoft-style rpg, their characters, and disney heroes & villains is very well done. The gameplay, while suffering from a serious lack of ergonomy, is quite entertaining.

However AVOID this version at all costs. Square Europe ONCE AGAIN show their comtempt for European gamers by slaughtering an initially beautiful game with a Megadrive-style 50hz PAL conversion. This means that just like with FFX and FFX-2, we are "treated" to a horribly squished image, and a game that runs slower than normal!

I find it utterly disgusting that such a major company as Square does not take the trouble to offer us proper conversions. The time of the SNES is long past, our TVs are perfectly capable of handling 60 Hz games, and they already were when this game was released. Every other company had long been offering properly converted games. But not Square, oh no. Square Europe's PS2 conversion policy can be summarized by "they will buy the games anyway since it's got Square on the box, so why should we bother with proper conversions?".

This game is well worth a try, but ( as usual with Square PS2 games ), stay away from this pathetic EU version, and get the US one instead.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 1, 2012 9:11 AM BST

The Winter Warriors
The Winter Warriors
by David Gemmell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not a big Gemmell fan. But, what a book!!!, 5 Sept. 2008
This review is from: The Winter Warriors (Paperback)
Ok, I've most of Gemmell's works, and while a lot of his novels are adequate ways to pass the time, not many of them would have a place on my list of all-time fantasy classics. But if I have to pick just one, this is it.

One of the things I do enjoy about Gemmell is the way he constantly invents new faces, new worlds, instead of always rehashing the same things. And in this, he brings to life such a beautiful world and such convincing cast that you cannot help but be enthralled from beginning to end. Every character feels real, you can see them, you can feel them. This last instalment in the Drenai saga brings a great conclusion to the cycle, yet it can also be read completely independently. The events related here take place long after the rest of the saga, so much that the past is hardly relevant.

This is an epic novel, the story is very ambitious, and a times fairly moving. This is a powerful tale, and I'll not divulge any part of the plot, I just wanted to say that even if you've read other Gemmell novels and weren't all that impressed, you should not miss out on this one.

Final Fantasy X (PS2)
Final Fantasy X (PS2)
Offered by NEENUK
Price: £9.61

4 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A great game, with an utterly dreadful EU conversion, 3 Aug. 2008
This review is from: Final Fantasy X (PS2) (Video Game)
This instalment in the Final Fantays series is arguably the best in my eyes, and God knows I loved number 6 & 7. Ok, so it's slow paced for a fair while, some cutscenes drag on, and you feel like slapping the characters sometimes. Nevertheless, the world and the story are good, the music is great, the graphics superb, and most of all the gameplay is excellent. The battles are great fun. A very noticeable difference with previous instalments is just how much challenge there is for high level characters, how many optional bosses & side quests are there to give hardcore players many, many extra hours of play. You have to be a total nutter to completely clear the Monster Arena, the enemies in there are unbelievably powerful, they a dozen of the last boss for breakfast.

However, be warned that this is THE worst release of the game worldwide. Square Europe has stabbed the makers of the game in the back by releasing an utterly pitiful and ridiculous "Megadrive style" 50hz conversion. The image is squashed, and the game runs slower than normal. Stay away from this like the plague. Get your hands on the US version instead. It's missing some bosses & items compared to the EU one, but that's nothing compared to the hideousness of the latter.

Or, even better, get your hands on the "International" version. This is the only perfect one : all the extras of the EU version, but with a proper sized image, a proper running speed, a proper refresh rate.

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