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Chris Donnelly "Chris Donelly" (Durham, UK)

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Hannibal Season 2 Box set [Blu-ray]
Hannibal Season 2 Box set [Blu-ray]
Price: 27.75

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The series (written before the DVD/Blu-ray Release), 7 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Primarily, not for the squeamish, this season increases the viscera and darkness in large amounts - while the violence remains visual but fairly discrete, the darkness of the subject matter isn't for everyone.

The first series introduced Jack, Will, Alana, Hannibal, Freddie, Abigail and more characters to the screen (most characters being available in toe works of Thomas Harris - albeit somewhat changed for TV), and played around with the universe in very dark ways.

Season 2 works to move the characters in dangerous patterns, and tie the books to the TV show (although I try to avoid spoilers) in places. The performances are excellent, and although the lack of "action" in the mid section of season 2 may deter some, the story keeps coming, and the characters bounce off each other all the same. The series comes to a shocking conclusion even before the final episode, and allows great interpretation of the books.

We're introduced to characters from other novels, (take a look at the cast listing) and see their effect on the situation. No one cast member goes overboard in portraying their character (some might agree it comes close though), and the dark, sickly carousel of violence continues to revolve around the main cast.

The final episode, in which we see the conclusion of the events of both series, is played out exquisitely, with slow-motion and macro photography (such as close-up rain drops splashing in slow-mo), and superb direction and acting. Each and every character is played out well, and the entire series features twists, turns and dark, unexplored alleyways you wouldn't expect, while still remaining loyal to original subject matter.

This has been the TV highlight of 2013/2014 for me, and I honestly give this the highest recommendation I can - this deserves to be part of your collection, if you enjoy the series (or even part thereof), you owe it to both the production company and yourself to own it.

Ryse: Son of Rome (Xbox One)
Ryse: Son of Rome (Xbox One)
Price: 37.08

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A taste of the new generation (with room for more), 15 Mar 2014
It seems the Unreal Engine has to sleep with one eye open now - Crytek's CryEngine has proven its might without even breaking a sweat. The game flows perfectly without signs of strain or cutbacks, and shows the prowess of the engine and hardware without cutting corners using smaller textures, or lowering both screen and character resolutions. The cutscenes and set pieces are excellent quality, and a large step up toward looking photorealistic, especially the facial animation.

The game has had many bad reviews for its control system - this is somewhat limited, but challenges (and rewards you) to perfect it, and it works excellently without getting too old (although a few more moves and options would have truly made the game feel a little more open). Some people have also criticised the "artistic" elements - namely, they feel the story lacks.. To me, this is unfounded, the single player campaign feels short, but there is enough story to frame each level, and the rest is up to you, and as you get into the game, you really stop caring and want to both perfect the gameplay and take in the views and scenes.

In short, yes, the game could follow more self-indulgent storytelling techniques, convoluted character designs and blatant self-regarding narcissism (like the trend seems to be moving toward), but it wants to be fun, visually stunning and entertain you - as a game should, as well as feel like an action-packed movie with a clear ending in mind. If you actually care about enjoying a game instead of trying to overcomplicate your experience, get this - it's as close as you'll get to watching a movie, and in all honesty, some of the cutscenes truly are worth savouring time and time again.

Where the Dead Go to Die [DVD] [2011] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Where the Dead Go to Die [DVD] [2011] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Artist Not Provided
Price: 6.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Daring, but mostly a cry for attention, 26 Feb 2013
Where the dead go to die - a movie from unearthed films (who also provided us with "Slaughtered Vomit Dolls" et al) - this was always going to be a tough watch, as unearthed seem to provide rather extreme tastes.

Animated single-handedly by its writer and director (while he was still learning to use the 3D software) in a deliberately crude and disjointed style, the film covers a gamut of darkness and taboo from child abuse, incest, paedophilia, bestiality, dead babies, hell, murder, prostitution, psychopathic behaviour, birth defects, castration (by a dog), abortion (by the same dog), and masturbation. While it's refreshing to see a film hold social taboos and behaviour in such disregard, the film does tend to give the feeling that it's simply out to offend in the nastiest and angriest way possible. To me, it feels like the wrath of an angry teenager, throwing as much of the social rulebook out of the window as possible in a bid for attention - which isn't always a bad thing.

The movie did a great job at making the viewer feel uncomfortable, and achieved a well-earned status in being a simple test of endurance, but it just doesn't follow that it's a great movie in itself.

For those who enjoy odd cinematic experiences (which I do), this is a good addition to your collection, but I couldn't guarantee it's something you'd watch again and again - more of a piece to pull out to test your friends, or enjoy in poor taste when inebriated.

Tetsuo: The Bullet Man [DVD] [2009] [Region 2 PAL]
Tetsuo: The Bullet Man [DVD] [2009] [Region 2 PAL]
Dvd ~ Shinya Sukamoto
Offered by e-katastima
Price: 10.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different Tetsuo: Less "Tetsuo", more plot, 2 May 2012
While most of the web met the news of the upcoming movie with joy, but reviewed it with a unanimous "meh", Tetsuo: The Bullet Man (or spiritually, "Tetsuo III") won't be giving you what you got from "Tetsuo" and "Tetsuo II", but that's not so bad, really. While the first movie gave us a powerful and raw experience focused on the transformation itself (in contrasting B&W), and the second movie gave us a higher budget translation, focusing more on what makes the transformation occur (while in bleached colour), the third movie looks more at what goal is to be achieved by these transformations, and does so in a sharp digital image with post-processing, and primarily in English language, both of which most likely result in why people feel it's such a change.

Avoiding spoliers, the film looks at a bigger picture after an unwitting "Tetsuo" experiences the traumatic loss of his child (it's in the trailer, so not exactly a spoiler), and undergoes a transformation similar to the previous movies, though featurring more projectile-based mutations (basically, he grows guns). The spiritual sequel to the "metal fetishist" is in the movie, and all the pieces fall together in explaining the new vision of the director.

Frankly, it's definitely different to previous outings, and it's not as exciting, violent, or angry, but it DOES give the series what it needs - direction. Collectors will revel in NTSC-J and NTSC-US versions, as well as European PAL versions (I have), although the difference in features will only vary slightly.

A fine disc, with no more or less extra material than any other Tetsuo DVD on PAL DVD, but when the entire disc takes less than 3GB of space, I can't help but feel there's 24 years of material or information which could compromise a few special documentaries, cut scenes or even bloopers.

Syndicate (Xbox 360)
Syndicate (Xbox 360)
Price: 9.42

0 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, executed poorly, 25 Feb 2012
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Syndicate (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
Played the Demo on XBOX Live in co-op, and after a few rounds, both my friend and I gained some real enjoyment from levelling, changing bonuses, etc. The game has a wonderful system for customising your character by augmenting their abilities (albeit in a limited way- no skill trees or custom characters are available), and this adds to the longevity of the game. The hacking ideas are fun and add a dimension to the gameplay, but not for any great amount. When played in co-op, the dynamics involved can allow for great fun, with dependance on teamwork and each other.

Unfortunately, that longevity is still too little in ways of co-op - the levels are dull (although designed to look grim) and uninvolving gauntlets which require nothing but a quick trigger finger and a character perk which stabilises aim. Some good elements, but plenty of poor geometry and terrible textures (as well as poor collision data) will soon disenchant those seeking visual thrills or smooth and/or varies gameplay.

The audio is acceptable, but the player comments after each kill become quickly boring, and the main audio in the game is simply gunfire from multiple angles.

My main gripe here is that we just can't play the game without it crashing/locking every two stages - the network connection is lost, or the game kicks one of us, or we both freeze/lock. Plenty times we're told the server is unavailable, and cannot reconnect. Being an EA released title, I'd expect FAR better quality assurance than this point, and many other small but game-crippling bugs. Furthermore, the "executive edition" content is only realised once before the game resorts back to the standard equipment skins.

Play the Demo on Live, give it a try by all means, but I'd recommend you wait until a patch/upgrade is released - this is a lacklustre and buggy product at the time of release, and requires significant work to make it the gem it almost could be.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 2, 2012 4:38 PM BST

Meet the Kinect: An Introduction to Programming Natural User Interfaces (Technology in Action)
Meet the Kinect: An Introduction to Programming Natural User Interfaces (Technology in Action)
by Sean Kean
Edition: Paperback
Price: 23.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and cheap, 18 Jan 2012
I'm sorely disappointed by this. The book is nothing more than a quick walkthrough of the SDKs available for the Kinect (both open source and official - which is at the time of writing this, in Beta 2) for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. The book breifly explains the kinect technology, and shows equivalent or ancestor devices, and covers the basics (infrared beams, cameras, if you're interested in developing using the kinect or a similar device, you should already know MUCH more than the book supplies). The book then shows you brief explanations and screenshots of existing kinect projects currently in use; nothing more than you can use a search engine to find, or a quick look through Microsoft's kinect website "channel 9" will produce.

The book briefly covers a few lines of code, but expects you to look at existing code, and offers little to no explanations of the code or functions used or even why. Examples for the official SDK are in C# - which 99% of demos are (I was hoping for C++), and use the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).

In short, nothing you couldn't find on the web, and to make it worse, you wouldn't even need to go to a second page of search results to cover everything this book ever so briefly looks at.

Level: Beginner - Honestly nothing more than a "for dummies" book, but with nothing to get you started. Sorry, I can't recommend it at all.

Gioteck TX2 Throat Mic (Xbox 360)
Gioteck TX2 Throat Mic (Xbox 360)
Offered by Eliware
Price: 10.72

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Functional, but poor, 14 Jan 2012
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
I regularly use XBOX Live with my friend (I live near Durham, he lives near Aberdeen). The idea of a throat mic lets me keep the noise down and stops any noise interference (as the earpiece is an "in-ear earbud" style), and although the device works, I've god a few issues:

1) I have a beard - every time it moves slightly it generates very loud scratching and movement noises for my friend
2) Requires EXACT placement - I have an 18-inch or above neck, it may take a try or two to place the device so it's both comfortable, and gives correct audio, and it barely fits.
3) I apparently sound to my friend like I have a cold and am speaking through a towel - the audio is muffled and unclear to my friend
4) My friend sounds very unclear - much worse than phone quality audio from the earpiece

Overall, it's a backup mic. It works, I just ask for a little more.

Video Game Optimization
Video Game Optimization
Edition: Paperback
Price: 29.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling read, 17 Nov 2011
The book covers all aspects of optimisation, from using your APIs correctly using platform APIs (and graphics APIs) to using hardware registers (such as SSE, etc), backing up each theory with proven testing.

The book also has an arching theme of logging and analysing improvements, making sure you can prove what you do.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book from start to finish, and although there are some parts that you can skim over, it's all essential, and complements any computing science background (which frankly, would be needed to best enjoy the book).

It's a great reference, and an enjoyable read, I'd almost hazard to call it essential.

Dust Bowl
Dust Bowl
Price: 6.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Near perfection in blues/rock/hip-hop fusion, 17 Nov 2011
This review is from: Dust Bowl (MP3 Download)
As with most, I heard this song on the closing credits of Australian TV show "Special Ops Rescue". I didn't realise the scope of the band, and although I wanted a physical copy of the album on disc, I downloaded it, and I don't regret it for a second; it's worth double the price.

Featuring very southern-style blues fused with electronic beats and live instruments, and topped with a deep, bassy vocal, the band really shine on every song. My favourites are "Get a little dirty", "Brown Sugar" and "Down to my grave". It's hard to believe they're from Manchester frankly, it's so influenced.

Although they may not be rocking the HMV chart wall (which I can only call a good point), these guys will have a permanent place in my collection from now on. If you're in doubt, I'll put it this way - If you like blues, but want a little more of a modern beat, get it now.

Jaxon Hats Ford Fedora - Black
Jaxon Hats Ford Fedora - Black
Offered by Hats and Caps
Price: 29.95

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's a hat. A very nice hat., 3 Mar 2010
(This is based on the Brown XL-sized hat)
The hat is a well-made high quality item, shaped excellently, and features a very presentable band. It's tough material, crushable and water resistant. It's a very dashing style, midway between 1940's gentry, and a cowboy hat. The material is medium stiffness, but can easily be folded, changed, etc. The hat has an inner headband for use to keep the external material and the user's head separate. I'm highly pleased with this, the price is excellent value, and will surely see me through the years. I'll be using this hat during light rain and for sun protection, but this will also serve excellently for higher-level dressing, and novelty-wear.

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