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Fighting Ships 1750-1850
Fighting Ships 1750-1850
by Sam Willis
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Informative book filled with beautiful artwork from the period, 10 Dec 2012
This book is a wonderful piece of complementary history to any study or general interest into the world of fighting sail from the period of the book's title.

First and foremost, the price is absolutely remarkable; given that the paper is of high quality, the artwork printed within is flawless and the inside sleeve reads a RRP of £50, buying this book via Amazon is an absolute bargain.

The book itself is HUGE, and having poured over its pages a few times I can see why; the fact that much of the artwork within were, in their original prints, quite large would suggest that to get the most out reading the level of detail you would need to view these in a good sized format. There is much one can learn simply from 'reading' a painting, and as there is plenty going on in a lot of the paintings and sketches, having large-sized prints makes exploring these details all the more easier. After all, much of the paintings here were not just literal pictures of ships as the subject matter, but also expressed themes felt at the time, and were hence prone to exaggeration. There are also various prints of ship plans and potraits of famous/important naval figures throughout the period, along with explanations of who they were and what they did to contribute to naval history.

The artwork is also annotated as one would expect from history books and occasionally peppered on most if not all pages are paragraphs of text discussing the history of the age of fighting sail between 1750-1850. Very informative; you can learn a good deal by reading this. This book was a delightful surprise when it arrived through the post given how big a book it is. I love this period of military naval history and this book satisfies just that but also leaves a thirst for more :)

A recommended buy, especially given the price of it here on Amazon.

Super Castlevania IV (SNES)
Super Castlevania IV (SNES)

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the strongest titles in the series, both in graphics and gameplay., 1 Sep 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
A must have in the series, Super Castlevania is a beautiful remake of the NES' original title for the SNES console.

Awesome graphics back in the day, and still impressive for a 16-bit console by today's standards, this game is satisfyingly lengthy enough to play through, and entertaining enough to keep you engrossed in its gameplay.

You play Simon Belmont (no real need to go into detail, as no doubt most of you have actively sought out this old title on amazon as you are probably already Castlevania veterans), and as already mentioned, this is a remake of the original title adapted for the next-gen console as the SNES was back then.

If you don't own or havent played this title, I recommend you do. You will be surprised how this game has aged so well as a platformer, and retains all the authentic gloominess and dark appeal that the Castlevania franchise has for gamers even today.

Go for it!

The Getaway (PS2)
The Getaway (PS2)
Offered by multimedia-online
Price: £13.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Great game, but police & pedestrians notoriously poorly coded!, 14 Aug 2012
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: The Getaway (PS2) (Video Game)
I had an urge to revisit this game after many years sans playing it, I did, and I won't bore you with the general synopsis of the game if you're looking to revisit it too and re-perchase it,

But I DO have to remind/warn previous and first-time buyers two major points, ones which forced me to quit playing countless times in frustration;

The pedestrians are so poorly scripted that they practically jump out in front of your car, even when driving at safe speeds, and they won't do it to any other car other than you're own (it's meant to represent them panicking when they see you driving toward them at reckless speed, granted, but the coding fails to dictate to them where to run, etc, so they usually just run for your car. This scripting doesnt even acknowledge the speed you're driving at; if you're driving slowly and law-abidingly in the correct lanes, they still react like you're trying to run them over, and then run into your car anyway :/). Usually there's always a policeman happening to be standing nearby, which then triggers the police after you.

Which brings me on that point; the police are triggered into chasing you for the most minor of traffic offences, but in the most extreme ways possible; the Getaway does not have a 'wanted level' system in place; anything you do wrong is considered 'you're holding the city to ransom' kind of wanted level. Before you know it, the entire might of the Met is onto you, with all guns blazing, no attempt to pull you from your car should you stop, and they just about kill/maim everything else on the road in their bid to catch you.

The squad-cars hurl themselves into you, often hitting other innocent cars in the process, the AI logic dictates that they are happy to get out of their cars at the end of the road and start shooting, regardless how far away you are and if there's any innocents in the way. There's always a squad car 4 or 5 cars down the road, on every road, making you wonder why doesn't the UK have this level of funding for enough police on the roads as the Getaway clearly thinks we have...

The AI for the police is just so, so the point of sheer frustration.. I couldn't tell you the number of times Hammond was arrested right by his objective by a copper who randomly spawns from behind who then arrests you on the spot (when they're not shooting at you like cowboys)...

The Settlers of Catan
The Settlers of Catan
Price: £23.39

5.0 out of 5 stars High quality, absorbing board game., 28 Nov 2011
= Durability:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Settlers of Catan (Toy)
Settlers of Catan is highly under-rated in the UK. This is a shame, because this game is truly a classic. Addictive, tactical, fun and yet educational, Settlers of Catan is a board game the family and friends can enjoy, although admittedly it is not quite suitable for young children (the age ratings can be found on the product description).

In Settlers of Catan players take turns building a network of settlements which they link by roads on a card-material hexagonal gaming board. You can build settlements by the coast adjacent to 'harbours' to gain benefits when trading. The idea is to earn 10 'Victory Points' to win the game and building these settlements is the chief way to achieving this, because settlements are worth 1 Victory Point. Settlements can be upgraded to 'Cities' which are worth 2 points. You will only need to read the other reviews listed for this product to learn how the game functions, as I will only be repeating many of the excellent reviews already typed.

I only need to add that I felt I had to write my own review for this product because I want to emphasise how fun and addictive this game is.

Highly recommended. It will absorb your interest!

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (Xbox 360)
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £6.68

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Multiplayer made difficult by hard-core gamers, 22 Sep 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 

(I love Warhammer and Warhammer 40K by the way, just thought I'd mention it ;) )

I have nothing more to add to what the other reviews have said about single-player; you will notice upon reading them that they all sound pretty similar!


A big problem with the multi-player aspect is that a lot of gamers are already on the higher levels of 'XP'. For the newcomers, you'll walk in, and face opponents with all the perks and more powerful weapons. It was very difficult to defeat enemies on the opposing team using weak weapons; you just have to slug through it and slowly gain XP as you go until you get better equipment, although it is tough!

You would say well thats natural; if you play the game enough you will get good at it and naturally be 'quick-on-the-draw', but the major disadvantage is that a lot of newcomers, and even the more seasoned players, will get a little tired of playing the multi-player aspect of the game when it's being played at an almost 'olympic standard' of skill. It can suck the fun out of the game, and become more of a constrained art-form than fun. Some gamers are ridiculously good.

Again, I stress this not really a bad thing, BUT the point is that the public games are already literally flooded with such players; like Halo 3, it can become VERY difficult to get into and get the most out of multi-player.

Moonfleet (Puffin Classics)
Moonfleet (Puffin Classics)
Price: £1.89

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written smugglers' tale with the 'classic' branding being well deserved!, 27 July 2011
This book was a favourite in the English classroom during secondary school and its impact on me was so great that many years down the line, when memory of this classic was jogged in my mind, I actively sought it out.

Now having obtained this stunning work of fiction narrating the adventures of two smugglers that hail from a sleepy 18th Century village in Dorset, my life is all that more complete. And now, of course, I can re-read this tale whenever I wish!

As described in the brief author's history in the beginning of the book, John Meade Faulkner wrote and published this book in 1898, but his careful research and enthusiasm for the period in which Moonfleet is set, sometime in the 18th Century, simply oozes evidently through every chapter in the book.

Moonfleet primarily concerns a young boy, a one John Trenchard, and his youth in the village of the book's title. Without revealing too much of the plot, the young lad stumbles into the world of smuggling in the village, and eventually becomes aquainted with a grim but kind-hearted smuggler, Elzevir Block, who runs the Why Not? Inn. This man had recently lost his son David, also a contrabandier, in a firefight between his band of smugglers and the authorities. The tale then concerns the two forging a strong and unbreakable father-son relationship, and the book shifts focus upon the two facing exile from Moonfleet, to treasure-hunting, to imprisonment and back again! There is also an element of romance between John and his childhood sweetheart, Grace Maskew, which is explored and developed through the story.

All in all, this is one gloriously written, good old fashioned, thoroughly enjoyable smugglers tale, and a damn good tale it is! Those that enjoy bottle-of-rum style stories where you can almost smell sea air and the wood from the boats, from those days of the now stereotyped classic pirates, then this book is an absolute must!

A thoroughly enjoyable read!

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