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the antiquary (England)
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Dragon Age Inquisition (PC DVD)
Dragon Age Inquisition (PC DVD)
Offered by Gameseek
Price: £12.35

21 of 36 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring Action Grinding... this is single player Guild Wars, 21 Nov. 2014
Summary:

2/10 Bioware RPG. 6/10 Action/MMO 'RPG'. An 18 certificated game made for 10 year olds.

(For a new traditional Bioware-style RPG, made by people who actually like role-playing games, this looks to be your best chance: Pillars of Eternity - Hero Edition (PC DVD))

I should have known better, but hey, hype and a discounted retail code drew me back in.

Writing - shockingly bad, really bland. The main story is incredibly short for a Bioware game, why it can take over 100 hours to finish is because of the overabundance of repetitive and shallow MMO questing. Very few good scripted moments, lacklustre writing overall, cringeworthy at times. The dialogue is so dull! Jokes are flat and lame. The character you are forced to play uses corporate-speak and has the personality of an accountant. 'Going forward', ugh! This. Is. Fantasy. Bioware - not your weekly self-abasement at EA's knee. Characterisation weak. Unconvincing romance, unconvincing friendships too. The main villain is barely present and overall is inadequate and incompetent - this applies to his deputy too.

Fun? For the first 30 hours it holds your attention whilst your own imagination fires-off the possibilities and you let the flaws slide, but the graphics can't hide forever how boring and flat it actually turns out to be. The makers obviously have lost the plot as to what makes an interesting or exciting game, there's even an EA achievement for picking plants.

Massive World - but not epic, underwhelming delivery... dozens representing hundreds, 'instances' rather than an interactive living world.

Pretty graphics, zombie hair, they obviously couldn't get the whole BF4 team to do all the work for them. Faces of old characters are usually worse than previous games. Very long loading times.

Levelling, armour and weapons so screwed-up.

Dragons - really are almost something special, but let down by limited actions and the combat.

Tactical Combat? - Nope, shallow action combat, doesn't know what it should be. One key attack, best as mage, 'button awesome' as warrior or knife rogue. Tactical combat and camera a mess. Party AI very restricted.

Music - great (except the main theme) and not obtrusive.

Art - quite good.

GUI - bad - made worse with bugs caused by console porting.

Full of potentially good ideas, some Origins magic in there, such a shame - it's a wasted opportunity.

__________________

Dragon Age Inquisition continues the noble Dragon Age tradition of setting the scene badly. The atmosphere having to be saved at the start by the impressive landscape graphics. Exposition is threadbare and each part of the story feels undertold. Particularly your character's history and rising status. As you are forced to play a character that never feels like your own (you get minor control of his or her mood) a lack of context and backstory is important. Build-up and suspense are therefore lacking. Narration and dialogue really needed an inspirational and competent editor. Team interaction is lacklustre (compared to previous games) sometimes it's alright, but the longer conversations are mainly Varric bitching at Cassandra.

The voice acting doesn't have any of the stand-out performances that the other games had (Cassandra's actress is probably the best, Freddie Prinze Jr. is ridiculous, but then so is the character he's paid to play) and some of the minor characters feel like they got a competition winner or their friends involved.

Having abandoned the winning Origins formula with DA2, the new Dragon Age is still not confident with itself - it's still in thrall to Mass Effect and DA is now also clearly in lurrve with Skyrim and Game of Thrones, borrowing Battlefield 4's graphical clothes for dates (except that they kept the old hairdresser and the horror of the hair will never leave you). The Dragon Age 2 gigglesquee corruption of the new hipster nerds lingers.

Quests, while they feel much more full of purpose than DA2, tend to be more MMO than ever, most are entirely disposable chores or otherwise immersion-breaking. Would we really spend weeks to cross a continent for your random aquaintances' whims then have to cross all the way back for something that looks important, but could ultimately be ignored? There's meant to be impending apocalyptic doom falling on our heads and this game still acts like you are the aimless Hawke just killing time.

Worst of all, I'm the leader of an army dammit - stop sending me to pick flowers. There's even a bit of dialogue at the beginning claiming that I won't have to find common items - they lied. I don't mind some ticklist quests (do x, y amount of times) it's reasonable when well thought out (rifts), but only in strict moderation. Make quests living things! Character! Story! Surprises! There are a few different epilogues but no alternate endings based on my choices. Consequences are DA2 style, with added but inadequate window dressing, so yes you are railroaded, there are no real choices. This could change with a sequel, but they have set themselves up for such wildly different possibilities in the future that you know they will cop-out like they have since Brent Knowles left after Origins.

There is so much crap for you to do you will develop a strong contempt for it. If the game actually had a strong and involving main story then perhaps you would want to linger around afterwards clearing up the mess, but by then most foes will be at such a lower level to you that there will be no challenge, no useful loot or XP in it for you. Nope, they don't scale to your level - it's like lots of little tutorial levels that have been left all over the place. One button kills with your one button attack.

Combat. It's an improved, less anime, version of DA2 combat, still too ADHD frenetic. The only reason to pause is to make a character drink a health potion. Knife wielding rogues are still ludicrous magic acrobats (though they do have 1 new character for whom it is acceptable, lore-wise). No weapon switching. Don't fall for the hype that combat has gone tactical again. Tactical view is a console ported mess, with a fixed zoom that is far too close. Controlling it is crippled with a mouse and keyboard, easier but still bad with a controller. The regular camera is a bit awkward, but I have got used to it. Even if the tactical camera was improved there is only the visual difference, there's no actual tactical need to go into tactical view.

AI is a simplified cop-out that has drawn many complaints, customisable options have been stript bare. DA2 had more options, including the Inquisition option to just throw it out and ignore it. Even if, like me, you like to micromanage, controlling the party is like trying to corral unruly children. Varric, who starts off as your ranged archer, always wants to get within humping distance of his enemies (briefly going to tactical and double clicking him to stay helps).

The game time is extended by respawning foes (the countdown timer is far too short), though you can reduce the respawning, you can't clear an area and relax and explore... though the marshes do have a great lore explanation for the respawning, the atmosphere is soon ruined by the 'button-awesome' combat, your party is like a bunch of over-excited hicks chasing a lone deer. Setting the game to normal should lower the repetition and game time somewhat.

And Andraste! What have they done to you Leliana? (She is back, almost immediately, not a spoiler) Botoxed-up and injected trout pout, she is physically unrecognisable, her personality so far has had the same treatment too. Mods really need to get to work on the animation of her mouth. The original voice actress makes it even more tragic. Still, she is turning full Aramis, which isn't a bad thing.

The conversation wheel is even worse than before, something I didn't think possible - as an actor in this drama, and the lead character, you'd think you would feel like you had some control over conversation - the opposite is true and often you have no idea what the paraphrase will make you actually say, the way you will say it (though it will usually default to bland and characterless), or the likely result of your interjection. Important plot-pushing conversations almost always feel prematurely cut off - and your dialogue choices still all seem to have the same outcome.

War Room - you set things in motion here and overall I like it - but it's not got a really open strategic feel. You can set missions to one of three divisions of your forces, I'm hoping there are actual game-changing consequences to choosing either soldiers, spies or diplomacy - other than the time it takes them and different lines of text, nothing yet though.

Crafting - this made sense in Skyrim - but not here where you have your own team of blacksmiths. It's also a tiresome time-sink. My character's spent most of his life in a mage circle, but now he can craft 'masterwork' armour instantly. So yes, items feel very cheap and disposable, you are never awed by a new magical weapon, they never feel earned and are soon superceded by the latest models. How any weapon could last long enough in this world to have an half-arsed legend story develop around it is a mystery.

There's no storage for items - and you need the space for some specially crafted armour and items to face a dragon (that is, if you attack one whilst still at a relatively low level or on nightmare difficulty - the game is so easy even on 'hard'). The clunky inventory system requires too much navigation, and the UI makes it worse. The DA2 junk folder now called 'valuables', but they decided to mix in useless items with important upgrade and quest items too, so it's not worth the risk to use the bulk selling option.

Marred by bad game design, bad direction, now with added humourless writing, it's an empty, disappointing and unconvincing experience. Throughout DA2 and Inquisition Bioware keep on harping about 'Change', but this change is from the role playing greats of the past to just another studio churning out same-old vague and stilted action stuff, with less flair but added political correctness and an over-fondness for right-thinking media and overblown drama akin to dire modern BBC programs like Merlin, Dr. Who, Sherlock.

The 'message' seems to be Bioware's raison d'Ítre now, the writing has fully succumbed to that; character, dialogue, plot, all have suffered terribly as a result (in their failed focus to create new strong female characters, the writers have let the men become emasculated wimps or one-dimensional, the ironic thing is that the strongest female characters, Morrigan and Flemeth, are creations from Origins, the 'ideologically improved' DA 2 & 3 fail to build on them or create even remotely comparable compelling women). Worship of change, as though it is an inherent good, like a fully paid-up sociology teacher, is self-blinding and does not make for entertainment.

Sadly this political mania doesn't seem to have a cure at this stage, we can't expect the insights of Oedipus to suddenly emerge in a sequel, especially when it is married with the lowest common denominator approach of EA; I have now fully given up on this series, that DA:Origins sustained me through two very bad sequels shows how good it was, greater than the sum of its parts. The old role players from the 70s to 00s had worse technology to work with, but they had a sense of adventure, and humour, that is sadly lacking now.

Quite a few people seem to be blinded by the pretty graphics, which although they do make the experience more enjoyable, can't hide what is an inferior game and story to Dragon Age: Origins. And even in many respects the godawful Dragon Age 2.

Strength, taste, creativity, organisation and knowledge were needed to tie this complex franchise together - Mike Laidlaw was not the man for the task, David Gaider (the lead writer) obviously needs a competent guiding hand to produce his best work.

If you have to play it wait till it's well discounted.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 22, 2014 6:13 PM GMT


RHS Botany for Gardeners: The Art and Science of Gardening Explained & Explored
RHS Botany for Gardeners: The Art and Science of Gardening Explained & Explored
by Geoff Hodge
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely and educational, 2 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Beautiful but badly structured, like a rambling but interesting garden. Note that it is for gardeners, not terribly practical for students.


Corporate Finance For Dummies
Corporate Finance For Dummies
by Steven Collings
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start here, 2 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As a numerate and literate novice willing to dig around on the internet as well, this is an excellent resource. I couldn't imagine a better, until I read Enquirer's review at any rate. You do need some interest in the subject, and not to be a dummy generally, but Stephen Collings explains concepts very well so that the only thing that tests your stamina is corporate finance itself, not the author.


The Lost Domain: Le Grand Meaulnes (Centenary Edition)
The Lost Domain: Le Grand Meaulnes (Centenary Edition)
by Alain-Fournier
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.08

2.0 out of 5 stars The way is shut. It was made by those who are Dead. And the Dead keep it., 2 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I think I have my own lost domain. I may have loved this as a teenager, but unfortunately for me this book, or translation, started flat with the utterly unconvincing attempt to show how great Meaulnes apparently was, and I couldn't build up to find the characters authentic or interesting. Maybe its high reputation and expectation did not help either. Even for sensitive people I think one has to be in a certain place or frame of mind to draw appreciation out of this novel.


Actiontec SBWD100A01 ScreenBeam Pro Wireless Display Receiver for WiDi Laptops/ Miracast Devices
Actiontec SBWD100A01 ScreenBeam Pro Wireless Display Receiver for WiDi Laptops/ Miracast Devices

3.0 out of 5 stars Fiddly but functional, 2 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If you really need a wireless feed of the picture from your laptop or Android to a larger full HD screen and don't mind cropping and a small response delay then this could be for you.

It is fiddly to set up, and many people have reported problems. Make sure that you have a compatible device, software won't save you if you don't.

Personally, it wasn't worth the hassle.


Eset Smart Security 2014 (3 PCs, 1 Year) (Eco-friendly packaging)
Eset Smart Security 2014 (3 PCs, 1 Year) (Eco-friendly packaging)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Security choose either this or Norton, 2 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Almost exactly what you want it to be. Quick, unobtrusive, doesn't hog resources, has provided excellent protection.

The only thing is I've had to turn off the setting where it weighs up your installed programs - even if you've told it to leave a program be it often makes instrusive repeated recommendations to remove it (it particularly does not seem to like programs made by direct competitors).


Weetabix Chocolate Biscuits, 12 x 5 Pack
Weetabix Chocolate Biscuits, 12 x 5 Pack
Price: £8.00

4.0 out of 5 stars It even turns the milk brown, 2 Oct. 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a great combination, it sacrifices maltiness for the chocolate so you will need to swap back and forth with regular Weetabix.


Gigabyte GM-M6800 Dual Lens Gaming Mouse
Gigabyte GM-M6800 Dual Lens Gaming Mouse
Price: £9.03

2.0 out of 5 stars Not a gaming mouse, 5 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you play any multiplayer games this mouse is not for you.

It is not a smooth experience. The weight is too light (here, judge for yourself, it's 90 grams), the materials on the bottom not good enough. The mouse wheel occasionally snags, sometimes causing a mouse3 button press by itself, and worse still the cursor movement (in programs, not physically) even 'snags' - both in Windows and in games.

You will be aiming-up a shot and the mouse can suddenly either hold you back or jump slightly. Frustrating enough when you're losing, even more so to have potentially game-changing moments ruined by your mouse. And it makes you look bad.

The cursor can even judder by itself with this mouse.

The size and shape of the mouse is perfect, I can't recall a better, mouse buttons 4 & 5 perfectly placed, but it's all wasted because of the shortcomings.

So enough messing about, I've bought a Corsair Vengeance M65 Performance FPS 8200 DPI Laser Gaming Mouse (weight 136 grams) and don't regret a single penny, unlike the money I wasted here.


Wenger 600631 LEGACY 16" Laptop Backpack , Airport friendly with case stabalising platform in Black {24 Litres}
Wenger 600631 LEGACY 16" Laptop Backpack , Airport friendly with case stabalising platform in Black {24 Litres}
Price: £49.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as it appears, 31 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
That laptop pocket looks good doesn't it? A little red puffa jacket for your computer, resting on a bluish pillow.

Think again. How anyone wants to trust their laptop to a thin sleeve with no back to it except the cardboard back of the backpack is beyond me. There's only the standard padding parallel to the straps, for your comfort, that most backpacks have unless they're dirt cheap. Why couldn't they pad the whole back? Inexplicably anything in the little top front pocket will have more padding than your laptop.

An additional protective sleeve may help, good chance it won't fit in as well though.

It does fit a 16.4" Vaio VPCF11M1E, which is 387.2mm wide, 263mm deep, 41mm high, that's almost its limit. HP monster laptops that are too big for their screen size may not fit.

The backpack is decent enough, zips are smooth, large capacity, good for files. 3 main compartments with inner pockets, plus that separate smaller padded compartment. Lots of space, but anything solid in the next section, like a lunchbox, will place unacceptable pressure on your laptop. Yeah, looking at that laptop compartment again, certainly overpriced.


The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church 3/e (Oxford Quick Reference)
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church 3/e (Oxford Quick Reference)
by E. A. Livingstone
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let the wise hear and increase in learning, 5 Dec. 2013
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This book is a kind of merging between a dictionary and encyclopaedia, but it works very well. You might think some of the entries are too short or simplified, but it is very informative for all that, often going into some detail to explain the term and put it in historical and Christian context.

The relative shortness easily brings things to your attention that you can research elsewhere, so it's a very handy reference that's not too heavy to stop a happily lazy and serendipitous time flicking through the pages.

My mother has a much greater knowledge of Christianity than me, this hasn't let her down yet, and has informed her of some things she was unaware of, and it is helpful with her Bible study classes.


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