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Rob "Review 82" (UK)

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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 (N-Gage)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2004 (N-Gage)
Offered by konsolenkost
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Can't see the Woods for the Trees!, 27 Sept. 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I purchased an N-Gage QD to add to my collection of retro consoles. Along with the phone itself I purchased a variety of games. Generally each game was disappointing in some area, the controls awkward, the screen size limiting the gameplay, that was until I played Tiger Woods PGA Tour.

The game is instantly playable, as you complete tournaments you earn credits which can be spent improving your skills, whether it be your driving ability or control on the greens you can quickly improve a climb leaderboards on. The backdrops of the courses (real courses at that)is not anywhere near on a par with versions on the handheld consoles of today, but is as good you could imagine it to be on an N-Gage which is a phone afterall.

However, the gameplay is brilliant and is comparible with newer versions of this title on newer consoles. You use the d-pad to begin backswing and frontswing and the timing/rhythme of this action greatly effects your shot. Don't move the d-pad up or down exactly straight and you'll see your shot sliced out of bounds for a start, this movement also generates your power.

The movement can be intuatively learnt over time playing the game, but this is just the start, soon your having to master clubs selection, consider the weather, windspeed and the undulations of the course. Putting is the easiest element to master, but even here your experience counts as you learn new skills all the time.

The game modes offer a variety of championships at a range of skill levels, there are set challenges too and once you start you will constantly be playing trying to lower your scores. This game is a pick-up-and-play delight that makes owning an N-Gage a delight that would otherwise be a curse. A hidden gem of a game and something of a gaming must-have!

Charlie and Lola Poseable Talking Dolls
Charlie and Lola Poseable Talking Dolls

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have these dolls of Charlie & Lola, they're small and very funny!, 27 Sept. 2009
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:2.0 out of 5 stars 
These little dolls have travelled far and wide since I bought them for my oldest daughter. They have been dragged behind her wherever we have been and are wearing very well with nothing to show the signs of their mistreatment (even though they have joined us at the dinner table a few times).

Initially I would have said the dolls were cute, but not incredible. They are very well detailed and are dressed in typical outfits. They say one phrase each when you squeeze the chest, with Charlie saying his stock phrase of "I have this little sister..." with Lola giving an answer in reply, this is a little quiet but they did enough to justify the reasonable Amazon price tag. Although being poseable as described they are soft and a good size to be held in the hand of a small child.

In truth, the lack of speech from the dolls has not limited their appeal to either of my girls as little imaginations seem to take them off on a different adventure every day. If you children like Charlie & Lola like mine do I'm sure they'll be the same.

So rather than the functions it is the joy these dolls give my children that has seen them earn their stars. My eldest and youngest daughter have all enjoyed them equally despite a few years age difference and I can say they bring a wide smile every time. When chewed by the youngest and dragged by the oldest they have lost no appeal.

They are soft and cute, and with the range of Charlie & Lola toys not being huge, these are a lovely set for anyone trying to find a good long lasting toy.

The Cider House Rules [DVD] [2000]
The Cider House Rules [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Tobey Maguire
Offered by 247dvd
Price: £4.07

5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of the Modern Age, 16 Aug. 2009
The Cider House Rules is a classic of modern cinema, in many years of watching movies only this and a handful of other titles capture the romanace and drama of a story so well as this, it is a perfect film.

It is set two main backdrops, both are vastly contrasting, but contrast is obvious in some form for much of the story as we are constantly engaged into making moral judgements of characters, settings and situations.

We begin in an Orphanage in Maine with our lead Homer (Tobey Maguire), a young man bought up in the Orphanage, he has grown to be a decent and well educated man and he is now aiding Dr. Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine)in a loving and caring environment for all the young children who live there. We see in early scenes two differing sides to the Orphanage as we are introduced to the illegal practice Dr. Larch offers to carry out abortions, helped by Homer despite his clear views against it. The first of our moral questions is raised again and again. It remaining unanswered is unusual as the story appears to carry a upstanding moral and sense of justice in the conclusion of the many layers of narrative.

We have already been introduced to the horrors of the operating theatre, and then a young couple arrive in a fancy car. The young couple we are intruduced to are Wally, a young army officer (Paul Rudd) and his girlfriend Candy (Charlize Theron) who are there for the service. After the operation they offer a way out into the greater world for Homer as he decides to leave with them. A caring but restrictive setting is exchanged for the enormous outside world, and we see the wonder and share how Homer feels on seeing the sea for the first time as he journeys with them, he is carefree and excepts a job at an orchard picking apples owned by Wally's family.

When Wally returns to the war effort Homer stays in the Cider House with a group of migrant workers. Homer's nature is so caring that he fits well into this abrasive setting and soon this collective feels close to the warmth of the Orphanage. He works with Candy and their relationship grows closer until we are flung into a love story that is mixed with passion, secrecy and guilt.

The Cider House on the orchard is managed by the wise Mr. Rose who we begin to see as the second fatherly influence on Homer, a proud and decent man who leads this group of a handful of men and his daughter - Rose. The comfortable viewing we have enjoyed for nearly a hour has now set every characters story in motion, and a rollercoaster of emotion begins as these tales reach a conclusion.

First is the revelation Rose is pregnant, by her father Mr. Rose. It is then Homer who struggles with conscience knowing he has the skills to perform an abortion in these dire circumstances. The operation is a success but on Mr. Rose's next advance on his daughter, he is stabbed by the fleeing Rose and dies in the Cider House. The life and death is introduced in another form, and of all through the film the viewer is offered the chance to make a moral decision but it is the narrative we see bringing the world back to balance, enforcing its justice on the characters within it.

The slow and textured piece has now gathered pace as suddenly Homer's affair is threatened when Wally returns from the War paralysed. Candy feels plagued by moral obligation to care for her beau in his condition and heartbreak is felt by all. Finally it is time for Homer and Dr. Larch's story to be concluded and they are also bought to justice in a sense for their actions through the piece.

Without wishing to spoil the film's climax the scene showing Homer's return is the most powerful of the piece, despite all the horrors the film displays.

Within minutes the credits roll, if you see them through the tears and you imagine the futures they will all lead from the end. You leave a world that has challenged you so much you feel you have almost lived in it. All the oscars in the world could not sum up how much of a triumph the film is.

No Title Available

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blu(HOO)ray, 7 Aug. 2009
Years ago a dvd player was a dvd player, they all did just about the same thing in just about the same way. Then the dvd market saw the rise of hd and bluray formats many of us sat tight waiting to see which would win the battle for dominance. The recent demise of hd dvd had left me ready to enter the market for a bluray player and initially it was simply confusion.

You will suddenly be asked to decide between players with real differences, their profiles, upscaling, whether you can connect to the internet and update them..........hum.

The good news is that after the painstaking research (admittedly from someone who is not at all technically minded) I decided to buy what is considered an entry level model despite having a larger budget, and it's great.

The Sony s350 is a gem, it has a range of great features including upscaling that means rather than your current collection of dvd's becoming defunct, they actually play on this player at full 1080p brilliance, the quality is great and we are not even talking about the bluray discs yet. The quality of picture and sound is fantastic and really does look noticably better on your hd tv to using a standard dvd player.

The profile of this machine is 1.1 (most are 1.0, 1.1 or 2.0)and despite the top of the range players are now at version 2.0 I feel reassured that my player has plenty of life left in it.

If you wish to watch a film with a quality of picture and sound to be 5 times better than dvd, you're fine for many years yet.

For film lovers like me the profiles have only impacted on what special features I can have running at the same time and little else. Please be advised that your experience of special features back in the old days might have been a directors commentary, things have moved on a lot since then. 'Making of's' can be watched alongside the film, interviews etc too in some cases, features do vary by film of course.

To explain to the untechnical like myself I suppose I would say imagine the dvd player more as a computer, the bigger and better yours is, the more exciting things can be done, and more of them at once. From all I have been told we are a good way off from this player being in any danger of being 'outdated'. All new releases I am aware of will play on my machine and no future releases are any different, this player can supposidly be updated and I am of the belief that when the need to update occurs products will be far more readily available to do this than at present.

It will play the bluray film, brilliantly....honestly it's incredible, add the fact it's a Sony with some great features this seem to make it by far the best buy in this price bracket. In blue/black colouring it really has a look of a far more expensive machine, it looks ultra modern (very similar to the Sony player more than double the price). The machines features are very easy to follow, set up is all done for you meaning you can literally open the box, plug in and play. I can't imagine anyone being disappointed with this machine, maybe it will not be enough for those who live for cutting edge technology but it ticked all the boxes for me and I hope you too.

Happy watching.

SWAT: Target Liberty (PSP)
SWAT: Target Liberty (PSP)

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SWAT is going on!, 1 Aug. 2009
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
SWAT for psp is not a dreadful game by any means, but is sadly a story of missed opportunity which would have made this a stand out title.

The game sees you take on the role of Wolf, a squad leader of the SWAT team, with a variety of other team members to choose from all with their own area of specialism the game is set ready to become a classic psp title.

So, to put you out of your misery it doesn't live up to these high expectations.

The control system is not intuative, operating your character as well as the accompanying team was never going to be straight forward on a psp with its cursed button config, but even with this taken into account controls are still awkward.

Each time you wish to command your squad, making even a simple order the action is very slow and does not require any speed of thought while you scroll through sub menu's of options to find the action you desire. It is the slow passing of time (something you don't associatte with SWAT really?!) that makes what should feel like your controlling an elite group of strike counter terrorist operatives occasionally feel like you charged with the cast from 'Last of the Summer Wine'.

As you 'the player' get more aware of the combinations the gameplay gets a little faster, but I can't help but feel if the game were in real time this would force quicker action from the player and make a slicker and more reactive game.

The other poor areas include dialogue, you interogate suspects and interact with civilians only for text to be displayed at the bottom of the screen, the only worded dialogue you hear are the repetitive stock phrases time after time 'fall in' or 'in position' etc. For a new title the amount of dialogue makes the game feel dated, Rainbow 6 on psone had far more than this, and that game is now approaching 10 years old and was on an outdated and supposidly inferior console.

The graphics are okay, you view your squad from a raised viewpoint which is sometimes advantageous when in battle, other time it is frustrating when however you manipulate characters you find it impossible to get the view you desire.

The game is a functional squad based shooter of sorts and will appeal to fans of this type of game who are left with few other options on psp. There are a variety of weapons and tactics which can greatly effect the success of the mission, it at least demands an amount of thought on how to tackle the enermy tactically. Other positives include the fact the autosave saves at checkpoints rather than only on completion of a level which can see you coming back to within a minute or two's play from your furthest point within the game. The game difficulty settings are such that this really can be enjoyed by the new gamer ot the more experienced player.

The story element is OTT and played out in a very American style with cut scenes showing heavily accented newsreaders reporting on the heroes within your SWAT team, I wouldn't say this is a bad way to present the game but just be warned, this game is not subtle.

The game offers something different to the psp's catalogue of games, fact. But for those wanting a squad based combat game this isn't quite as good as the Socom Tactical (although that isn't perfect either) and for those wanting a stealth combat style game thankfully the Syphon Filter titles on psp are stunning and in a different league to anything else on this console. Pity this game couldn't find the holy grail of combining the two.

It is more suitable to all ages than those mentioned above as the violent subject of the game isn't as graphic and you're spared the choice language that is occasionally used in the Syphon Filter series named above.

'Not bad' is probably a harsh way of summing up a game that really does try to set itself appart from the competition, but sadly that's about the best way to describe it. With the flaws above ironed out there is still the chance of a great sequel, I really hope it happens.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 15, 2011 9:15 PM BST

Unreal Tournament 3 (Xbox 360)
Unreal Tournament 3 (Xbox 360)
Offered by MDS Entertainment
Price: £17.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Unreally good!!!, 1 Aug. 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I initially bought this game to fill the gap between Gears of War and the then unreleased Gears of War 2. What I discovered was far more than a stop-gap and is an absolute riot of a game.

Unreal Tournament 3 basically pitches you with a team of other heavily amoured fighting types against an evenly numbered and outrageously muscle bound opposition. There are numerous challenge types through the game but they are often based around a 'catch the flag' or 'deathmatch' type experience you may have come across on other games.

The gameplay is brilliant fun and as you or the opposition get closer and closer to the aim your heart rate gets going into overdrive.

The gameplay is shadowed by a rather lax story element but this doesn't detract from this game's absolutely addictive gameplay. For fans of FPS all you crave is here, lots of weapons, lots of action and the occasional heavily loaded vehicle help this game race along. Evenings just fly past in the company of this game. As the difficulty of 'missions' increase this game becomes more and more playable. More weapons, more to do and much more fun!

I am new to the series as a whole so would not know how this compares to previous versions on the original Xbox but I can say nothing I have played is quite as entertaining. I requires all of your fps skills but gives you a totally different type of gaming experience.

I now find my gaming tastes changed thanks to this game, and am now playing Gears of War 2 as a stop-gap waiting for another UT title to come along.

MTV Unplugged
MTV Unplugged
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.97

5.0 out of 5 stars The "Everything I do, I do it Review", 1 Aug. 2009
This review is from: MTV Unplugged (Audio CD)
In reality albums I often refer to as 'favourites' of mine tend to not entirely be all they seem. With even the best of cd's I'm always flicking through them to my favourite tracks, even the very best of these have the odd dud track on them which see me reaching for the remote to skip ahead, and then there's this album.

I am not a huge Bryan Adams fan, I have always hated live albums, yet this is a gem of a record that I listen to from start to finish tapping my feet and singing along.

At first glance I looked at the tracks list and was more surprised by what was not included on the album rather than what tracks were. A large number of the more famed tracks didn't make the show and most of the listing were songs I did not recognise at all. I also had no recolection of the Unplugged being aired despite having enjoyed many others in the past.

As you have already guessed from my rating above I really need not have worried, I purchased the cd based on its reasonable price and have since loved this record like no other. The tracks are clearly carefully selected, each so very different but they all blend together and give you a different type of Bryan Adams experience. With a folk style Adams leads you through some of his best known starting with 'Summer of '69' and 'Cuts Like a Knife' but it is the other tracks which impress most on this album.

'When You Love Someone' and 'I'm Ready' are delicate and led perfectly by Adam's gravelled vocal, the pace is lifted by 'I Think About You' and after 45 or so minutes you arrive at the final two tracks, a version of 'Heaven' Adams performs alone for the first 2+ minutes with a rousing finale, and 'I'll Always be Right There' which are both simply brilliant.

The performance is note perfect and you loose all sense that this is a live recording until the crowd cheer between tracks. It is a cd now so familiar it is like a comforable armchair and is great company on long journeys or to relax with at the end of a long day.

1 Summer of 69
2 Back to You
3 I'm Ready
4 Fits ya Good
5 When you Love Someone
6 18 'til I Die
7 I Think About You
8 If you Wanna be Bad
9 The Only thing that Looks Good on Me
10 Heaven
11 I'll Always be Right There

MotoGP - Platinum Edition (PSP)
MotoGP - Platinum Edition (PSP)
Offered by RevivalMedia
Price: £13.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beat Rossi at his own Game!, 1 Aug. 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Moto GP on the psp is a very good racing game for all of those petrol heads who enjoy 2 or 4 wheels.

On this game you can ride on bikes from the 2005 or 2006 Moto GP Championship. Despite this being a little dated now, most of your favourite riders are there, Rossi, Hayden, Edwards and Stoner appear as do the teams from these years including favourites, Team Yamaha, Repsol Honda, Ducati etc. The 'Championship' consists of an shortened 8 race series with most European circuits captured very realistically. The bikes are very well animated and are well detailed with all sponsors logos you'd expect, and are better graphically than the most recent Moto GP games on PS2 or Xbox.

You can race as one of the Moto GP superstars or create yourself and pit yourself against Rossi and co on whichever bike you chose. Bikes all handle with noticable differences and riding for a lesser team immiediatelly increaeses the level of challenge the game has to offer as you are often slower and will find brakes and handling tough. You can even notice the difference between Repsol Honda/ Team Yamaha/Ducati 05 when compared to the 06 bikes, which I was impressed by.

Gameplay is good and intuative, being able to follow a racing line is often the key and being careful not to go sliding out of a corner as this can really lose you momentum. Many characterisitics of Moto GP are captured well such as constant overtaking amongst the whole field. Many races will go down to the final few corners, particularly at the tight and twisting last few bends at Donington Park.

Not a definative game for racers, but certainly as good as the PSP has to offer for motorsport fans. It never really loses its appeal, I still have a quick blast even now, and I've owned the game for a year or two. The most exciting racing series has often delivered less than exciting games on all formats, and who'd of thought it would be on the psp that they finally got it right.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 22, 2009 9:03 AM BST

SEGA Rally (PSP)
SEGA Rally (PSP)

4.0 out of 5 stars Power sliding onto a psp near you!, 29 July 2009
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: SEGA Rally (PSP) (Video Game)
As any psp owner will tell you the catalogue of psp games is full of titles that are poor relations to the console versions that often share the same name. GTA titles, FPS, RPG and so on are often short and little more than a boredom buster on the go.

Although the above rule applies to Sega Rally in part, the some what diluted version is still about as good as anything else the system can offer. The tracks are limited, the cars are very limited even with those you unlock as you progress, but the 'spirit' of the Sega Rally game is still here.

You rarely brake often sliding about and a badly taken corner can see you lose places in an instant. It is an arcade racer at heart, (even when playing in the Championship mode) and it is a good one at that. The pick-up-and-play appeal doesn't disappear once the game is completed and you find it will have a lot of life left.

The graphics are smooth and colours are vibrant, it is neat and tidy with limited but easy to follow menu's. In fact most of this game feels familiar in some sense or another, but Sega Rally's success was always down to gameplay rather than its realistic handling, set up and all that other blah blah blah.

If you buy Sega Rally wanting a good racing game - you will be happy, it may not be perfect and offers no surprises but it doesn't disappoint either and for those gamers old enough to remember the original version it's all here even down to the 3,2,1...Go!

Born Survivor Bear Grylls - Season One [DVD] [2006]
Born Survivor Bear Grylls - Season One [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Bear Grylls

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...not that long ago, on a mountain far far away., 26 July 2009
Bear hit our screens some years ago now with these remarkable episodes. Leaping from 'Discovery' to 'Channel 4' he quickly became the alternative choice to mainstream TV on a Saturday night. In years from now I can already see myself remanising about the 'good old days'of Bear battling the elements, whether you are interest in nature, the great outdoors, extreme sports or the more curious and exciting - I guess this is for you. Trying to compare this to other shows is near impossible, there is as of yet nothing I've found to be as engrossing and addictive to watch.

Through all series the premise Bear faces is the same, to show us 'the viewer' how to escape some of the most brutal landscapes on earth - alive, and no surprises this isn't easy. These shows are based primarliy in the 'Lakes and Swamps' and 'Mountains', and prior to this set the episodes from this series were released on DVD's under this name, Scotland and Iceland complete the 13 x 1 hour(ish) episodes.

These episodes test all of the skills Bear has since demonstrated time and time again, we see his immense ability to climb anything in any conditions, eat anything (really, anything), and make a fire from any wood he can find. This series includes regular advice, my favourites are often about eating rare delights Bear finds, traps, hunts, 'Bite the head off first, then the rest is pretty much edible' seems to be the rule for the most part.

The art of survival is broken down into small lessons, on how to make shelter, fire, find food and the positive attitude needed to see yourself through. In some of the world's most remote (not to mention dangerous places) Bear reads the surroundings with the experience of someone many years older, a true specialist. His honest and frank approach to all of these challenges makes this extrodiarry presenter very likeable and you'll find yourself rooting for him every time.

Unless you own these episodes on previously released sets then at this price this series is simply unbeatable.

Happy viewing.

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