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Jacob G. North (England)

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Xbox 360 Max Shooter 2 Keyboard/Mouse Adapter
Xbox 360 Max Shooter 2 Keyboard/Mouse Adapter

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better Control., 25 April 2009
Word to the wise, for this device to work, you MUST have a wired Xbox 360 controller. Wireless will not make it work as you need the USB connection of a wired one.

What can I say? I had moved from PC gaming to console in 2003. Upon the launch of the Xbox 360 I had gotten used to the control scheme of all shooters noticing they were all practically the same. In 2007 I played Far Cry on PC and was shocked at how much better shooters are with keyboard and mouse. Wanting to use them for a console, I stupidly tried to plug a keyboard and mouse into my 360 console. No good. In the end I forgot about it and made do with console controllers. In January 2009 I played Fallout 3 on PC after having played it on Xbox 360 and couldn't believe how much better it was with a mouse.

That's where this device comes in. It plugs directly into one of the two USB ports on the front of the console. Then you connect an Xbox 360 wired controller, wait for it to register it, and then remove that and put in your keyboard and mouse. It's really that easy. And hey presto, you're playing with keyboard and mouse in your living room, playing such games not available on PC (Halo 3, Gears of War 2 etc.)

Initially, it can be frustrating to get right as, with me anyway, there is a specific sequence to putting the keyboard in without it losing connectivity. The instructions that come with this are vague, only offering a diagram of what all buttons and switches do and a quick start guide, no troubleshooting or advanced set up. But when it does work, it's amazing. Once you've done it a couple of times, it's like clockwork. Bear in mind, you do have to go through the sequence of setting it up every time you switch the console on.

You also have the option of mapping all Xbox 360 controller buttons to specific keys on your keyboard to suite you. This is as simple as putting the controller in, pressing a button on the top of the Max Shooter 2, pressing the `A' button for instance, then pressing the `E' key on your keyboard. The `A' button on the controller is now mapped to the `E' key. Also on the top of the unit are multiple switches that allow a turbo function for ANY button on the controller (or key if you prefer) that will allow you to use a pistol as a machine gun for instance. What this does is mimic you rapidly tapping the button, but you only have to hold the button down. It will make a semi-automatic gun fully automatic, for example.

Mouse control is as good as it's going to get. I won't say its perfect because it's not. The mouse moves as if it's on a loose grid making precision aiming difficult, but not impossible. Adjusting the sensitivity on the mouse (using two wheels on either side of the unit for the X and Y axis) seems to expand the grid and so makes the problem worse. I play with sensitivity down to make the grid as small as possible, but still allow me to move quickly. Getting this median is difficult but rewarding and will give you an edge when it comes to playing games. (This may or may not vary with different types of mice and mouse mats. I was using a simple Microsoft laser mouse with a standard mouse mat).

Using this in online play is not risky as Microsoft gave their approval for this device to be made, but it is frowned upon by some gamers and considered cheating, but don't let this put you off. If they had this device, they would use it too.

I have tried this device with Halo 3, Fallout 3, Gears of War 2, Left 4 Dead, Half Life 2, Timeshift and Call of Duty 4. Notice these are all shooting games and it should be used exclusively for shooters. Strategy games, such as Red Alert 3, are supported (any 360 game is) but it will not make a mouse pointer appear on screen and convert it to the PC version, it does not work like that. Likewise driving games will be significantly harder using keyboard and mouse.

Let it be known that you do not have to only use keyboard and mouse controls. Any USB gamepad (such as a Dualshock controller for Playstation 3) is supported, so if you have a 360 but prefer a PS3 controller, this is the device for you. Be warned however, this device will not work for the Playstation 3. Please look at Splitfish's FragFx V2 controller for Playstation 3 for PS3 support.

In conclusion, it's a little pricey, but if you have £60 spare and want to improve your gaming experience this is a must-have. I gave it four stars because of the initial setup complications and the grid-like mouse.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 4, 2011 5:22 PM BST

Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360)
Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360)
Offered by trguk
Price: £6.82

5.0 out of 5 stars They've done it again., 9 Nov. 2008
On November 17 2006, Epic Games released the cornerstone of third person shooters on the Xbox 360; Gears of War. Gamers were blown away by the realistic graphics, involving gameplay and riveting story that it is considered a milestone in gaming history and will be remembered in the history books as such.

Now, on November 7 2008, a little under 2 years later, Epic Games reaches the shelves once again with the hotly anticipated sequel, Gears of War 2.

Graphically, Gears 2 looks eerily photorealistic. Character animations look fluent and believable in both cut scenes and actual gameplay. There is also a significant improvement to the amount of colours used this time around. Not poking holes in the first, but Gears 1 used a lot of green. This time around there is a lot more variation and it really shows. Whether you're underground in a Locust hive or on the surface you will likely take a few seconds to stop pulling the trigger and observe how beautiful this world looks. Gun fire looks spectacular. They have included a smokey trail after the bullets from every gun and, although it's not important, it does look good. The graphics aren't perfect however. Like the first game, after a cutscene character textures take a few seconds to catch up and, in some cases, the same goes for the environment. It breaks the action and pulls you back to reality for a brief moment, but it's a small price to pay for almost no loading screens. The only appearance of the word "Loading" or any variant is when the game initially starts, before a multiplayer map or if you are going slightly too fast for the level to render.

The story is far better than the first, adding a lot more emotion and giving you something you want to fight for. You will want these character to succeed, and you will find yourself giving the Locust everything you've got to drive them back into their holes, all for the characters. From the get-go, you'll be hooked and won't want to stop playing until you see the credits roll. There's betrayal, heartbreak, disappointment, loss, tragedy and love, all in a war game set on the fictional planet to Sera. What else could make such a good story?

Gameplay is what you would expect of Gears of War. Duck and cover tactics are now more intelligent; no longer will you take a random dive out into the open in the middle of a fire-fight, nor will you latch onto the wrong side of a pillar facing the enemy. Much more cover can now be destroyed, not only crates, sofas and fences, but concrete pillars, for example, thin out as they take damage, exposing a side of your body (which I found out the hard way), which adds a tactical feel to each battle; you'll find yourself looking for secure walls, not pillars. You will also not just fight. You will have to deal with environmental hazards again, but this time they seem somewhat deeper and involving.

Enemy AI is now tuned to a point where they seem to learn. If you shoot at an enemy for a while, they move behind better cover. They will flank you on both sides if they can and sometimes I have come across what looks to be rudimentary improvised formations - something that I have not seen in a game before. Boomers in front like tanks, Drones behind them and Grenadiers bringing up the rear. It's unbelievable how much thought went into this.

Audio is as strong as ever. The sound effects have been changed for quite a few guns, especially the infamous Lancer, and new sound files added for the large array of new guns. John Di Maggio as Marcus, Carlos Ferro as Dom, Lester Speight as Cole and last, but not least, Fred Tatasciore as Baird all return for their signature parts. It's a good feeling to hear them put a little bit more emotion into their characters this time around.

Multiplayer is what everyone expected and more. It has all the classic mode and a new one; my personal favourite, Horde. This puts you and other players up against 50 waves of increasingly difficult Locust. As long as 1 player survives, you make it to the next wave. This can take hours, but you'll be amazed at how fun this mode is, it's also a pleasant break from the deathmatch mode, or any of the others. Regardless of the mode, no two matches are the same.

To sum up, you will not be disappointed. This is not a game to rent, because it will not leave your machine for a good few months. While the game is not perfect, it does a damn good job getting there. Numerous game sites have given this game around 95%. I agree.

Fallout 3 (Xbox 360)
Fallout 3 (Xbox 360)
Price: £33.08

46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bioshock meets Oblivion..., 1 Nov. 2008
This review is from: Fallout 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
Combine the forbidding dystopian atmosphere of Bioshock with the huge open-ended world of Oblivion and you have Fallout 3, one of the most satisfying games I have ever played.

Right from the beginning you will be amazed at the unique story telling aspects featuring you playing through the protagonist's childhood from baby to late-teens to stepping out of Vault 101, a place where no-one ever enters, and no-one ever leaves. Graphically, the game is stunning. Take one step outside the vault to see a vast, destroyed landscape of Washington D.C. in 2277 and you will appreciate the time and effort that went into making this game unusually beautiful for a post-apocalyptic theme. I have run into very few graphical glitches (the most serious of which was a car whose texture just would not render, no matter how many times I walked past it) which is a rare treat for modern day games. Guns and weaponry look fantastic and move fluently with each shot or swing. Baseball bats in particular look nice, showing off the grainy wooden texture impressively.

Gameplay is just unreal. You can do anything. Either follow the main quest, or don't. It's inevitably up to you whether you whether the protagonist kills a person for bottle caps (the currency of the game) or saves them for fewer caps yet possibly get help later in a quest. The world feels smaller than that of Oblivion, yet still large enough to be able give players near unlimited freedom.

The inclusion of the VATS system is very welcome, allowing you to pause the action for a bit and target an enemy's body part, shooting accurately at a Raider's head, for instance. Whether or not you hit the enemy's head is utterly dependent on your skills with the weapon you're using, your distance from the enemy, the accuracy of the weapon and your Luck rating. The overall success rate is indicated by a percent making VATS incredibly easy to use at the touch of a button. It's limited to Action Points (AP) which I find good, otherwise VATS would be too powerful and would make the game too easy.

Combat is very open ended. They have included pretty much every weapon that could come into your head. From a bog-standard 10mm pistol to a Chinese assault rifle, passing through a sawn off shotgun and ending with flamethrowers, miniguns and a mini nuke launcher, you'll find it hard to choose which one to take with you on a quest (as, like Oblivion, you're limited as to how much you can carry/loot) and that's just firearms. Melee weapons (if you're a more close quarters combatant) are varied in such a way it almost feels like Condemned. You can pick up baseball bats, lead pipes, knives, 2x4 with nails, tyre irons and the list goes on, each having its own personal statistic in terms of strength and condition (yes, your weapons wear out and break over time, including your guns).

The audio is powerful, supported by a very strong voice cast (you'll recognise a fair few voice actors from Oblivion), solid gun-shot audio and satisfying bullet-to-flesh sound. Music is also present, utilising you PIP-BOY 3000 (a device on your arm that tracks everything you need to know - and more) to pick up radio broadcasts from 2 radio stations (I personally whish the selection was larger), Enclave Radio, a never ending loop of presidential speeches with patriotic American marching band music, to a News Station hosted by Three Dog, a DJ who plays records that sound like they were from the 40's 50's, maybe earlier. Both fit incredibly well with the combat and overall theme, and so I applaud that.

Overall, this is a stunning game. I personally have been waiting for years for a game like this, and it's better than I dared imagine. 10/10, without a doubt, and VERY highly recommended.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 26, 2009 12:30 AM GMT

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder [DVD] [2008]
Starship Troopers 3: Marauder [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Casper Van Dien
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.14

29 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars They just keep getting worse..., 29 Sept. 2008
While I thoroughly enjoyed the first in this trilogy, the second was a bitter disappointment. After seeing the adverts for this while channel surfing it began to look like the writers for Starship Troopers knew they'd made an appalling film second time around and made a stab at creating a worthy sequel to the original.

Starship Troopers 3: Marauder was dreadful from start to finish. Granted, it cannot be denied the fact that they had done a respectable job with the budget they had, they really should have waited until they had the funds. It was not only the barbarically terrible acting, cheesy one-liners and cardboard animations on the bugs but the overall story did not do the Starship Troopers franchise any good.

Without giving away too much of the story for those who are brave enough to buy this and sit right through from beginning to end (as I did, confident it was going to get better) I will go through some of the things that were either annoying, unnecessary or just plain wrong.

First, the guns. In the original they were slightly larger than a standard issue assault rifle which was explained by the creators as the machine guns housing advanced computers and cooling systems, which is fair enough. In ST3, they look to be a little over 1 metre in length. They don't seem to be capable of doing anything more than shooting bullets, lobbing grenades or acting as a pathetically weak flashlight. So why are they so big?

Secondly, the action. I counted, there are only 3 scenes in the whole movie in which some characters fight a hoard of bugs. This is not acceptable. This movie focuses too much on the political side of this futuristic world, showing us several hangings (which made me deeply uncomfortable and slightly sick) that did not seem to advance the plot in any way shape or form. The final scene in which there is a barely acceptable amount of action contains the long-awaited Power Armour that was featured heavily in the original novel by Robert A. Heinlein in 1959. This scene lasts only a few minutes, so it is over before you have a chance to really get into it. To add insult to injury, the mechanical marvels they wear to fight the bugs seem severely underpowered and the awkward camera angles fail to do them any further justice.

Thirdly, the Q-Bomb. Capable of destroying an entire planet, I was eagerly anticipating what seemed to be the highlight of this god awful movie. When it is fired at the very end, the badly animated explosion is blocked by an overly-ambitious kiss by two key characters, so I was almost crushed by my own disappointment.

Fourth, religion. This almost seems like a propaganda film put out by the church of Christianity. Heavily referenced, God is said to have been the one to wipe the bugs off the planet featured this time around, not the seven heavily armed marines or the Q-Bomb. I have nothing against religion, I want to make that as clear as day, people can believe what they want and I'm fine with that, but to put it in a science fiction film is unacceptable. It seems the sole purpose of this film is not to entertain, but to convert.

Fifth, the bugs themselves. The original movie showed off animations that was ahead of its time. This film, however, incorporates what looks like the use of puppets and animatronics for the close-ups and upsettingly recycled animation for distant walk cycles. The original (comparing again) shows bugs fighting amongst themselves during an apparent migration, but this time, the animations are flat and the bugs too friendly to one and other. The new and interesting bug that was featured, named the `Scorpion' (resembling one, but in place of a stinger is a plasma cannon) is shrouded in shadow, so you don't even get a good look at it and is on camera for less than a minute.

Lastly, the characters. I didn't care about any of them and more often than not found myself hoping that several key characters died by the hands (or jaws, whatever) of a warrior bug or something, just to add some action to the bland scenes of a group of stranded, emotionless people make their way across the surface of a calm, happy looking planet with guns larger than a human leg.

This film is dreadful and it is beyond me why it received near universal applause. If ever another Starship Troopers film comes out, I will be the first to buy it, because I am absolutely positive that one day there will be one worthy to call Starship Troopers: The Official Sequel. I love this franchise, but it only goes as far as the original novel (which I urge people to purchase) and the first movie.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 23, 2010 5:05 PM GMT

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (Nintendo DS)
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (Nintendo DS)
Offered by Complexia Inc.
Price: £14.99

43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jake's Balanced Reviews - Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, 29 April 2008
This has to be one of the most addictive games I have played in a long time. You will find yourself trying to get the gold medals in all events in just 30 minutes. But, every good game has to have some negatives, right? Kind of... not...

Gameplay --> 9.6/10 The game's events are either controlled soley with the stylus, the buttons, or an intelligent mix of both. The trampoline event, for instance, will have you drawing either a straight line up, a right angled line or tapping the screen three times. Sounds simple? Not when you're on a strict time limit and there are fifteen commands to put in.

Graphics --> 9.4/10 This has to be as good as it gets for the Nintendo DS. Perfect cell-shaded characters mean a lot of fun with the visuals. There's nothing like seeing fully rendered Mario and Sonic characters racing each other in the 100m dash.

Audio --> 9.7/10 This was so close to a 10, but after playing it again to make sure I get this review balanced, i noticed that the music is a little repetitive. You really notice it when you actually focus on it, but you don't really, so it's not much of a problem.

Multiplayer --> 9.9/10 Very good, and there is the option to play with a friend who does not have the game ("DS Download Play"), so props for that.

Replay Value --> 10/10 As I said above, you will try so hard to get the gold medals that you will be playing events over and over again until you get them. There are also the challenges (5 for each character, plus a secret 6th) that do not need to be completed, but you get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing a character have a full circle of stars in his stats screen at the character selection.

Overall --> 9.8/10 (5 stars) Nothing else to say, only it's addictive and, most importantly, fun. Well worth the money.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - (Xbox 360)
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare - (Xbox 360)
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: £17.25

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jake's Balanced Reviews - Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, 27 Dec. 2007
Infinity Ward has outdone themselves yet again. Their previous instalments of the Call of Duty series have taken place during World War Two. But let's face the facts; this has been done to death now. And so, they have taken a bold step into the previously unknown territory of modern warfare, and to our relief, they were highly successful.

Let me begin with the game play. All of the fighting takes place in first-person with the standard gun on the bottom left hand side of the screen being partnered with a HUD. You take the role of a standard member of a squad in the campaign section of the game and you fight with your team-mates through a number of missions, alternating between British S.A.S. troops and American Special Forces. Infinity Ward has kept the 'looking down the sights' feature of weapons, allowing the player to easily gain a hit on a target accurately and quickly. Ammunition is plentiful, however, you have the option to pick up any weapon dropped by an enemy.

The graphics are defined as 'next-generation' by a high number of popular reviewers, such as IGN and Gamespot. I agree, the graphics are stunning and will grab you immediately. However, I firmly believe that the bullet holes are significantly better on Battlefield 2: Modern Combat. In Call of Duty 4, they are pixelated and inaccurate, although this is a very small detail that is pointless focusing on.

Multiplayer in Call of Duty 4 is the best thus far for the 360. Connecting is easy and the maps load quickly, so there is very little waiting. Also, the game allows a 40 second intermission between matches, allowing you to share your opinions about certain aspects of the game with the opposite team. The only flaw I have seen is that rarely, the server gets 'interrupted', making the screen jump around rapidly and confuses you greatly. This has only happened to me three times since I bought the game two weeks ago, however it may be a problem with my connection.

Overall, this is the most accurate and perfect shooter I have seen so far in my years of gaming. The sole reason I have given this game four stars instead of five is because the campaign is so short. It can be completed in six to eight hours, however, some missions are worth re-living.

This has placed first on my list of Favourite 10 Games, bumping Battlefield 2: Modern Combat to second (in the first-person shooter genre).

Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Turbotrance
Price: £13.64

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jake's Balanced Reviews - Halo 3, 31 Oct. 2007
This review is from: Halo 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
Halo: Combat Evolved was (in my opinion) a mediocre game, lacking suitable multiplayer and having only acceptable graphics. Halo 2 improved immensely, introducing online multiplayer, buffing the graphics to the limits of the original Xbox and making the story more engaging.

However, Halo 3 knocks both of these previous titles off the mark. It is spectacular. I'll break it down as far as I can for you:

Gameplay --> 9.4/10 Very gripping gameplay that functions just like any other 1st person shooter, only you can jump a lot higher. The controls are easy to manage, and the aiming is very smooth.

Graphics --> 9.7/10 Brilliant and beautiful. Nothing like battling in a realistic forest in the first level. Take some time and observe the trees and bushes. They are all fully 3-D rendered and look almost like you can touch them.

Audio --> 9.8/10 Guns sound as real as they can get without them deafening the player with the 'real' gun sounds. The SMG, for example, now sounds like a proper gun, not a crappy low-class excuse for an audio file.

Multiplayer --> 8.2/10 This would have scored a lot higher if you did not have to wait so long to get into a game, and when you finally get into one, it's over before you know it. While it is good and fluent, it lost those valuable points in the loading times. There is also an experience-based level up system that seems pointless. You don't get anything for levelling up, no achievements, only armour, and no-one's going to stop and admire your looks before they shoot you in the face. In my opinion, the experience system is redundant

Replay Value --> 9.1/10 You will want to play some of the story missions again, there is not doubt about that, but unlike Halo 2, there is something missing from those missions that gave a player the urge to play them again.

Overall --> 9.2/10 Definately better than the previous two installments and, even though more or less every Xbox 360 gamer has a copy, it's worth the money just for the Multiplayer.

Reign Of Fire [DVD] [2002]
Reign Of Fire [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Matthew McConaughey
Price: £2.69

4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Could have been epic but it was tacky!, 30 Jun. 2006
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Reign Of Fire [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
On the actual case of the DVD, it shows Apache Helicopters with the huge male dragon setting London ablaze. As I first saw this, i thought that it would have been a fantastic movie to watch late at night, but only to find that i had fallen asleep midway through the film. I did not see a single Apache Helicopter, and lets face it, the plot line was not exacly original. In about one hour I could have come up with all of the plot and the characters, and in an hour and a half, i could have improved it SO much!

The plot was breathtaking! it held together so well it is unbelievable, and the character were in the room with me... is what i would like to say, but no, it was the exact oposite. The whole plot was sumirised in the two paragraphs on the back of the case, and thats about it.

And a perfect British movie just HAD to be spoiled by including an American, saving the British people (had he not died). The fact that military vehicles were included in this movie was a dire attempt to fulfil the expectations on the box, a huge epic battle between man and beast. All there was was a handfull of people (in the hundreds only) attempting to fend off countless waves of dragons in a castle.

The only posotive thing about this movie is the special effects, they are state of the art, and really capture the dragon, making them seem real. But they are not used well in any action sequences. That is why it is 2 stars and not 1.

Golden Sun (GBA)
Golden Sun (GBA)

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Game, 5 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Golden Sun (GBA) (Video Game)
Golden Sun is all that an RPG in a Gameboy Advance is meant to be, but like a lot of games, there are also some minor problems.
First, the gameplay is you average overhead view, in which you have to move around the world, until you get into a fight with a monster or two (or six). The view then changes to behind the characters while you fight. The story holds together so well it is almost unbelievable. You start out as this fourteen year old kid called Isaac (unless you change the name) who witnesses a disaster to his village. Three years later, the fate os the world rests all of a sudden in his hands. I will tell you no more, as it will spoil a lot of surprises.
Along the way, you find these creepy little critters called Djinn, who have these powers you can use in a battle, for instance, they may inflict damage. You meet a number of interesting people and a total of four people in your party. You also have a power called Psynergy (sort of like magic) that can also be ised in a battle, but in some cases, they can also be used outside of a battle (like MOVE, to move a block).
The graphics in this game are also worthy of mention. They are near stunning for this handheld game console. The environments in which you are in are all beautifully detailled and the characters are also animated to perfection.
So why 4 stars and not 5? Simple. Although the gameplay, battles and graphics are all so good, there is one problem with the game. And that is the talking. Do NOT play this game where you have to expect to turn off the console after a short period of time, you will have to go through a lot of time again. What I mean by this is, at key points in the game, several characters talk for ages to explain what is going to happen, or what is going to happen. Along with this are animations to accompany the emotions (eg. if a person is surprised, then the character will shake up and down a couple of times) of the chracter, and there is not one scene without one. It does add realism to the game, but it does eat up time.
The bottom line is, this is a good game to play if you are on a long car trip, or have a lot of time to yourself, as the talking bits are annoying. Remember to save the game on a regular basis, and train up at least 4-6 levels in each new area to keep up with the monster's strength. BUY THIS GAME NOW, OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE!
Over and out,

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