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Kuma (London)

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Vandal Hearts (PS)
Vandal Hearts (PS)

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best tactics game ever!, 6 Jan 2007
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Vandal Hearts (PS) (Video Game)
Shining force was the first real game to experiment with the RPG tactics format but it is this game that made it a success...

welcome to Vandal Hearts, the PSone's tactical RPG that combines a great plot with a fun and interesting gameplay system. The story is a mixture of concepts; the central story is of Ash Lambert a "policeman" who as the son of a traitor has to overcome his personal demons to become a hero, this is against a backdrop of civil war as rival factions in the government fight for control, as well as a secondary plot by other villains to destroy the world. It's a cliche, but the plot is steeped in intrigue, romance and betrayal...this is all handled really well, the game treats its players with respect and tackles themes such as betrayal and social injustice with real maturity (there are also some in jokes for adult players- the head jailer in the prison level is called Dumas, after Alexander Dumas, the author of "the man in the Iron Mask" and "the count of Monte Cristo"). The Characters are well thought out and are not as 2D as the graphics portray them, you even feel real sympathy for some of the bad guys...

The game play again is compelling, with specific objectives for each level in the game and well planned battlefields; the boat levels, the prison, an uncoupling train and raised labyrinth over a river are real highlights. The battles hinge on the use of attacks, magic and items in what is now a fairly standard set of tools to the tactical rpg gamer. Another neat touch to the game play is the ability to customise your characters by converting them into new classes every ten levels to suit your own tactical preferences, whilst there are also 6 secret levels (found by obtaining orbs from secret locations on levels-or by trading items with certain npcs) which can change the hero's class and provide a different ending to the game...

The graphics are a little dated now, and suffer like many early PSone games from the limits of 3D animation, indeed 10 years on the magic looks less spectacular and the storyline screens have been surpassed by later games (though not ironically by Vandal Hearts 2) but for a gem like this game you should put any aesthetic concerns aside and enjoy the game...

I hope I've helped all thats left for me to say is...buy the game now...


Street Fighter Volume 1: World Warriors v. 1 (Street Fighter (Capcom))
Street Fighter Volume 1: World Warriors v. 1 (Street Fighter (Capcom))
by Shinkiro
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Round 3....FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, 9 Dec 2006
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The third volume of UDON's Street fighter series, continues to raise the bar of computer game adaptations. The artwork is sublime and meets the expectations laid down by the previous two volumes.

However, although the volume is worth getting it does fall short of the standards set in the previous volumes. Significantly the story line starts to focus increasingly on Cammy. This is a dangerous pitfall for the franchise, for whilst Cammy is ever popular (and has her own Viz book) she also brings out the worst in UDON, who use her as a vehicle for anime style fan service, and drift the story away from the core streetfighter universe, with references to fringe characters and characters not previously in the Street fighter universe. Maybe I'm too traditional wanting the story to focus on core characters from the original street fighter 2, but I think there was enough scope within the original charcater histories to have avoided this whole Cammy digression...

in conclusion, you'll buy this because you love streetfighter, and in many respects the artwork is enough, but be prepared for a rather sorry story arc...


Street Fighter Volume 2: v. 2
Street Fighter Volume 2: v. 2
by Arnold Tsang
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars UDON continue to deliver on this classic franchise..., 9 Dec 2006
I reviewed volume one and felt duty bound to review volume two. The first thing this volume represents is a triumph for sustaining the Street fighter franchise, most adaptations don't last beyond 6 issues so credit for UDON in both continuing the saga and also providing fresh story lines.

Volume 2 is strong both in story line, exploring the plots of Bison, Balrog and Vega and the actions of Ken, Ryu and Chun-Li. It also starts to involve Guile in the action, with Guile's role being well thought out (given that he is a very adult character, dealing with the issue of a breakdown in adult relationships). The artwork continues to impress both in its quality and consistency. Volume two also concludes the story lines begun in volume 1, and does so in a positive non-cheesy way, so if you enjoyed volume 1 then buy this to finish off the intial story arc...


Two And A Half Men - Season 1 [DVD] [2005]
Two And A Half Men - Season 1 [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Charlie Sheen
Price: £7.02

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a triumph of entertainment...., 20 Nov 2006
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"Two and a Half Men", is a real breath of fresh air in the world of sitcoms. It has what a lot of sitcoms have lost, a sense of fun and a balanced use of lead characters, meaning that the show is the real winner...this is no mean acheivement given that Charlie Sheen is by far and away the big name star, which should make the show a vehicle for his comedy, but instead Sheen acts as the perfect foil to the neurotic intensity that John Cryer brings to playing Charlie's brother Alan.

The show also makes great strides in the area of family comedy, most series such as Frasier or Friends side step the issue of divorce or use it as a back drop to other activity. Two and a half men is brave enough to take the topic on and do so in a non-condescending way, which gives fresh life to the staple characters of family comedy, the child, the mother-in-law and the wife...

The first series is an excellent introduction to the world of Two and a Half Men and still stands up to re-watching even after the successive series are watched. The only reason I gave it four stars was because I prefer the second series which is a lot more daring and unconventional, but if you love comedy you'll buy them both...


Street Fighter Volume 1: v. 1
Street Fighter Volume 1: v. 1
by Shinkiro
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Round One....FIGHT!!!!!!!, 19 Nov 2006
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Often fans of a computer game series are left disappointed when their cherished icons of gaming are transferred from the computer screen to the comic book...Fans of Street fighter owe Udon comics a great debt for the fantastic effort they have produced in making the current run of street fighter comics.

The artwork is first rate, based very much on the "alpha" games style, but with a firm recognition of the character designs from Street fighter II. The colouration is bright and perhaps more in tune with the games than some of the recent anime offerings.

The storyline is another strength of this title, collecting issues 1-6 of Udon's comic series, the plot is based upon the core characters of the streetfighter universe; Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, Guile (Cammy and Sakura) whilst the use of bosses (Akuma/M.Bison/Vega/Sagat/Balrog) and support characters (mainly from the Alpha universe) is well handled and feels appropriate to the storyline and not just fan service (always a danger with computer game adaptations).

All in all, a fantastic acheivement, as a street fighter fan of two decades, I was concerned that that this may have been another anniversary cash-in on the franchise, but I have been impressed by what is a fantastically produced product and an essential part of any street fighter fans collection...


Munster: Our Road to Glory
Munster: Our Road to Glory
by Alan English
Edition: Hardcover

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Munster have finally acheived their destiny!, 19 Nov 2006
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It's been a long and at times heart breaking journey for Munster in pursuit of European rugby glory, but when Foley lifted the trophy in May 2006, there are few who would say that the heart break wasn't worth it in the end...this book is an attempt to chart Munster rugby from their first forays into Europe up until their victory in Cardiff in 2006. It is not a straight narrative account, but instead uses a selection of brief anecdotes from the players and coaching staff to move the story on, the result is a saga of an intensely personal quality with emotion and individual insight the main results. However this book is really for the pure fan as knowledge of the games and incidents over the years are very much assumed, but I doubt any other narrative account could match this book in giving the reader an idea of the emotional value winning the heinekken cup had...


Looking for Jake and Other Stories
Looking for Jake and Other Stories
by China Mieville
Edition: Paperback

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good selection of short stories., 18 Nov 2006
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This is in some sense a rebuttal of the reviews for the hardback version of this collection. I found the selection very entertaining, combining well thought out concepts and excellent narrative structure. The stories are written in such a way as to keep the reader at arms length, often written from a first person perspective and exploitng this in using the unreliable narrator to add depth to the story. I don't really want to go into too much detail as many of the stories hinge on a few but highly important details. On a more general note of content, there is a good short story from the Bas-Lag universe which adds to the scattered canon of work on Mieville's "robin hood" figure of Jack-Half-a-Prayer, as well as a copy of "the Tain" Mieville's hard to find novella. There has been some negativity around the collection and there are two disappointments. The first is the story in graphic format "on the way to the front" which doesn't read terribly well or clearly and probably needed a short written introduction. The other is the "looking for jake" story which is a good read, but largely hinges on the composition of a letter, which is lacks for originality given that Mieville uses the composing of a letter as an integral narrative device in "the scar". In conclusion I would like to recommend this collection to other readers, but ask them to be realistic the stories are considerably shorter than his other works and so should not be judged against them as other reviewers have attempted to do...


Two And A Half Men - Season 2 [DVD] [2006]
Two And A Half Men - Season 2 [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Two And A Half Men
Price: £12.30

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than season 1, 22 Sep 2006
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I'm a big fan of the "Two and a half men" series, and I think that season two is even better than the first season. First of all it takes more risks than the previous series and pushes boundaries with its humour, secondly it is a much more rounded comic production; the humour is much less dependant on Jake (a weakness of the first series), which allows for some more adult themes, the character development is much stronger (Charlie Sheen is less all knowing and lucky) which seems to bring out the best in the other characters, especially Alan, Judith and Evelyn (Charlie and Alan's mother). The set definitely has re-watchability, making it a must for your collection. On an end note I will warn you that the first couple of episodes are a bit disappointing, perhaps because they try a little too hard to be funny, but after that you have some real comedy gems...


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