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M. Turner

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Far Cry 2 (PS3)
Far Cry 2 (PS3)
Offered by PROGAMES
Price: £9.15

3.0 out of 5 stars Highly competent, but lacking real freedom., 21 Feb. 2009
This review is from: Far Cry 2 (PS3) (Video Game)
Far Cry 2 is obviously the work of a technically competent, highly ambitious team. This shows through the game's stunning vistas, detailed jungles and amazing fire effects. Yet, for me, it fails to engross or enthrall as spectacularly on simple, common-sense game design principles.

For an expansive, open-ended world, Far Cry 2 demonstrates a frustrating, tiresome and often tedious lack of player freedom. Through the outset, the player is either carted along helplessly or, when you do have the chance to move around, you're given so little freedom to choose where to go, that the game may as well have played those sections for you. Any attempt to deviate from the cast-in-stone script will almost certainly result in a swift demise.

So, imagine my frustration when the game has eventually played out its droning prologue and finally presented me with the freedom to actually play for myself, it then deigns to kill my character with Malaria the instant I go somewhere other than where the script tells me to?

In playing Far Cry 2 (or rather, trying to play it) I had the constant feeling that I was being ushered like a lab rat, through a maze with only one path, while lab technicians whispered plot exposé in my ear, between those all too frequent Malaria shots. The whole experience was frustrating and unrewarding. This game tries too hard to imitate films and the game-play experience suffers for it.

Dim Wit: The Funniest, Stupidest Things Ever Said
Dim Wit: The Funniest, Stupidest Things Ever Said
by Rosemarie Jarski
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Endlessly quotable., 29 Oct. 2008
For the price, this book represents superb value for money. Perfect for light reading, in short bursts on the bus, plane or train. Drawn from every walk of life (love, the sexes, celebrity, sport, parenthood, politics and even the animal kingdom) it's endlessly quotable and you can always find something relevant. At almost 600 pages, there's something on the order of 10,000 individual citations and almost every one hits the nail right on the er, funny bone. Highly recommended!

Worms: A Space Oddity (Wii)
Worms: A Space Oddity (Wii)
Price: £13.06

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So bad that I took it back and got a refund., 3 Sept. 2008
I bought this, on a whim, from the bargain bin at a local supermarket and although I was initially very disappointed, I gave the game a solid afternoon of play, in the hope that it might grow on me.

Some hours later, when I'd borne as much as I could bare, I gave up and took it back. It would be an understatement to say that this game is missing something. It would be fair and more accurate to say that it is missing everything! The artwork, realized in every shade of brown and gray is dull, depressing and uninspired throughout. All of the environments I saw lacked the kind of vibrancy, motion and excitement that I've come to expect from the worms brand. Dredging though one barren map after the other, with the same muted palette, sapped the life out of the experience. My play through felt more like a chore than any kind of fun.

When you add a contrived control system, a lack of variety in weapons, a completely lack of innovation and confusing menu presentation into the mix, things go from bad to worse. These flaws were readily apparent early on. I knew then that the game would struggle to capture my enthusiasm.

The fact that it doesn't even work as a party game was the final nail in the coffin; It's not easy to pick up and play, there's a steep learning curve involved in using most of the weapons and most importantly there's a definite lack of excitement and atmosphere during play.

Thoroughly disappointing. This could have been a superb Wii party game.

Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (Wii)
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz (Wii)
Price: £11.50

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent. Could have been so much better!, 23 Jun. 2008
Super Monkey Ball : Banana Blitz comprises two very different modes. The single player game, much like Marble Madness and true to it's GameCube heritage, and the new multi-player party games, which attempt to capture the spirit of Wii Sports in providing quick and simple gameplay for all the family.

Despite offering around 60 unique party games, the multi-player modes left much to be desired. Between myself and a few friends, we managed to find just two games with any kind of appeal (namely the Sheep Herding and Alien Abduction). The rest seemed crude or uninspired. A few were tedious to control correctly, or seemed broken and unintelligible, like the Simon Says mini-game. The efforts between those two extremes appeared to work and were easy enough to follow, though they seemed largely void of any fun. The Frisbee Golf and Frog Hopping games were so dull that we abandoned any efforts to enjoy them, literally within seconds. For the most part, the party games were crude and difficult to enjoy, though they may hold some appeal for a much younger audience.

The single player game is enjoyable enough. The objective being to roll the Monkey of your choice (encased in a ball), around a maze toward a goal, whilst collecting as many bananas as possible before the timer runs out. It's well presented, charming in it's own innocent way and it does what it sets out to do with admirable competence. Though I can't help but wonder how much better this part of the game could have been, had the developers invested just a little more time and effort to boost replay value.

There's a significant focus on completing mazes within a certain time and plenty of scope for competition between friends in this area, but the game doesn't even try to capitalize on this. How about setting us some bench-mark times to aim for, huh? How about preset gold, silver and bronze record times we should be aiming to beat? How about bonus scores for collecting every banana on a stage? How about making these targets visible on the level select screen, to encourage replay value? How about multi-player modes where players take it in turn to compete against one another's times? How about a maintaining a proper, detailed high-score table? Hell, how about multi-player split screen, huh? Competitive and even cooperative multiplayer sets of levels?

The potential is so much greater than the developer has catered for. Especially with the multi-player focus on other parts of the game. It's such a shame that this was not carried through into the main campaign.

Alas, none of these opportunities are catered for and although I enjoy the single player game and see so much untapped potential in it, I can't help but conclude that Super Monkey Ball : Banana Blitz is simply not work the asking price.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii)
Price: £13.98

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By far the most polished game on the Wii., 22 Jun. 2008
I almost pity the Metroid Prime : Corruption developers. They've turned out what is, quite simply, the single most polished, detailed and engrossing game on the Wii. Yet their efforts were always destined to be overshadowed by more mainstream (and frankly inferior) titles like Twilight Princess and Super Mario Galaxy. Relegating their hard work to the second rate status of a mere 'sleeper hit', when in fact, Metroid Prime : Corruption is without a doubt the finest title to grace the Wii so far.

Sonically, graphically and immersively it is without equal on the platform. The team at Retro Studios have put together the first title to truly exhibit the graphical capabilities of the Wii and they've wrapped that visual polish around a game that is detailed, engrossing, intelligent and thoroughly rewarding to play through. This is an absolute must buy for any Wii owner - especially 'first person' enthusiasts.

If I had to pick at any flaws, I'd say that the gameplay was a little too focused on exploration at the expense of challenging and prolonged combat, and that the game is perhaps a little too easy. I was mildly disappointed that the extra collectibles had very little impact on the gameplay. The majority of hidden items would boost missile carrying capacity, or the stock of ship missiles. Both of which had an almost insignificant impact on the rest of the game. Ship missiles were only needed for a few mandatory objectives and regular missiles were slow, weak, difficult to use and ultimately inferior to the player's regular beam weapons. All told, this made the majority of optional hidden pick-ups unnecessary and somewhat unrewarding.

The mandatory quest parts of the game were simply sublime. Detailed, polished, varied and packed with enough tension and atmosphere to keep you spellbound in a combination of awe and intrigue that simply refuses to let you put down the controller until you've crushed the next boss, discovered the next ingenious upgrade or solved that one last taxing puzzle.

An absolute must-have game. Especially for fans of the series.

Cloverfield [DVD]
Cloverfield [DVD]
Dvd ~ Lizzy Caplan
Price: £1.40

6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute must see., 1 Jun. 2008
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Cloverfield [DVD] (DVD)
I'm utterly baffled by some of the 1-star reviews! They are completely unjustified.

Cloverfield was without a doubt the most original, engrossing and chilling movie I have seen in a long time. It dared to do things differently and it pulled everything together in fine style. The combination of handy-cam footage combined with seamless and completely believable special effects made the film that much more gripping.

Every one of the friends I watched this film with has already pre-ordered the DVD. It's THAT good.

Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles (Wii)
Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles (Wii)
Offered by games-wizard
Price: £11.95

4.0 out of 5 stars 'On rails' is very much alive., 10 Feb. 2008
Complaining that Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles suffers because it's 'on rails' is like whining that Rock music is bad because it isn't hip-hop! Honestly, the fact that it's on rails is not a limitation, nor a detriment to the game. That's the genre the developer chose and they've done a great job with it. The Wii is the perfect platform for such a genre and I, for one, am looking forward to many more games in this mold. They're intuitive and perfect for playing through in short bursts.

Broadly, Umbrella Chronicles presents you with plenty of stages set within the various RE installments and allows you to play through using different characters and weapons. Upon completing a chapter (there are more than 10) you'll be awarded stars based on your performance in categories, like the amount of time you took, the number of enemies you killed and objects you destroyed. These points can then be used to customize your weapons, making the later levels more manageable and earlier levels more rewarding on a second play through.

And you will want to replay levels. To explore alternate paths, to collect items you may have missed, to experience events with a different character and to pick up that last elusive 'S' rank. If the game grabs your fancy from the beginning, there's plenty there to keep you coming back.

The sound and music are reasonable, though graphics do fall below par for the Wii. There are colour banding artifacts in areas and the frame rate tails off noticeably in parts. Fortunately this never interferes with the gameplay. As others have also commented, there are scenes within the mansion levels with superb atmospheric lighting, but in general I feel that more could have been done to to boost visual impact throughout the game. Special effects are almost non-existent, which is a shame, because some of the bosses really need visual cues to indicate weak spots or when they are taking damage.

The Wii remote works well, with aiming being both accurate and responsive. That said, the 'crictical hit' mechanic (which will take zombies down in a single hit) is still hard (too hard) to do consistently. This makes the default weapon (which cannot be upgraded) ineffective, most of the time. Worse still during boss fights (which don't drag on half as badly as some reviewers have claimed. They can all be beaten in less than 4 minutes).

The extra weapons go some way to rejuvenate the gameplay and separate RE:UC from the crowd, but they don't go far enough. Visual feedback is minimal and this can cause most of the weapons to feel similar (the magnum, shotgun and machinegun in particular). The shotgun was enjoyable in close quarters, grenades are fantastic for demolishing scenery, obliterating mobs or serendipitously finding secret items, whereas a fully upgraded machinegun makes tough segments a breeze. There are more than 5 weapons, with the big guns being less common than the staple pistol, machinegun and shotgun. Fortunately, once you unlock the rocket launcher, magnum and grenade launcher, you can choose to equip them at the outset of any mission. The addition of a knife for close quarter combat was a welcome flourish and it works surprisingly well.

Although it doesn't start off at it's best, the game is just about worth the asking price - moreso if you're a fan of the series! It's a big hit in multiplayer!

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii)
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £17.22

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth the money., 16 Jan. 2008
Twilight Princess is a beautifully crafted masterpiece in styling and artistic direction. It doesn't push the Wii to it's limits, but with such a high standard of presentation and an eye for aesthetics, it doesn't ever need to. Exploring the massive game world (probably 16 times the size of Ocarina of Time!) is a pleasure in itself.

I wasn't overly impressed from the outset, because the game seemed to hurry me along at every turn for the sake of a plot device, or one cut-scene or another. Though once I'd gotten through the first three dungeons (which takes some time and patience) the game world abruptly opened up and exploring was instantly more appealing and less drawn out.

It looks as though Nintendo have made efforts to shoe-horn depth and strategy into the combat aspects of gameplay, but in practice this falls somewhat flat. Swishing the Wiimote nonchalantly is usually enough to win any battle short of a boss encounter and the advanced swordplay techniques the game encourages you to try are simply too fiddly to be worth using regularly. When Link takes his wolf form, combat is largely a forgone conclusion, with most monsters accepting defeat in a single swift attack. More scope for strategy and variety in combat would have made the world of difference here.

Still, exploring is fun and the dungeons are varied and full of novel puzzles. I was particularly impressed with the ingenuity and versatility of collectible items, such as the Gale Boomerang, Clawshot and Spinner, which can be employed in all manner of ingenious ways, to solve puzzles.

I was disappointed that although all of the music is good, none of it was particularly catchy or memorable.

Certainly not perfect, but epic in scale and stunning in presentation. A must see for any Wii owner.

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