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Ultrasun SPF 30 Family Super Sensitive 500ml
Ultrasun SPF 30 Family Super Sensitive 500ml

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solved my prickly heat problem!, 30 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
For my past few holidays abroad, I've suffered with horrible prickly heat across my chest, which has really put a damper on each holiday. I heard about this product online and decided to try it out of desperation, despite it being pricier than other suncare items. I can safely say I came, saw and conquered Costa Dorada this year without a hint of prickly heat.

For the complete story, I also used the Ultrasun aftersun (including for a week before the holiday on my chest to 'prime' it for sun exposure, although the warm weather in the UK this summer has made that less of an issue). While on holiday in Spain for 10 days in 30 degree humid conditions, I applied the suncream daily in the morning before going out in the sun, once and only once per day, and took almost daily antihistamines (Benadryl instant allergy relief, to be specific). It's possible that it was the combination of products that worked for me, but the Ultrasun cream definitely left my skin feeling much healthier than other suncreams have, and once a day was more than enough to avoid burning, even with pool and sea swims. With factor 30, I tanned gradually and safely each day and was left with a great tan by the end of the 10 days. If you want to tan more quickly, it might be worth grabbing some of the factor 20 sports Ultrasun to switch to after the first few days.

The aftersun is pretty much spent after 3 weeks of daily generous use, but the 500ml super sensitive doesn't even seem dented after 10 days of solo daily use. Well worth it for an itch and rash free summer holiday!


Guild Wars: Sea of Sorrows
Guild Wars: Sea of Sorrows

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best Guild Wars 2 novel so far, 30 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It speaks volumes that the best novel of the three released for the Guild Wars 2 world so far is written by somebody so close to the heart of its lore and atmosphere. Ree Soesbee brings all of the heart and charm from the Guild Wars universe to the written page.

The core premise of the novel is the cataclysmic rise of the Elder Dragon, Zhaitan, in the world of Tyria, which is the cause of the drastic changes in the world between the first and second games and details the background conflict against which the recent sequel is set. The writer weaves this neatly into a character-driven plot, and unlike the previous novels, the book never feels bogged or slowed down by clunky lore explanations delivered by awkwardly unrealistic conversations. Granted, I'm a Guild Wars veteran, but I found some of 'Ghosts of Ascalon' and 'Edge of Destiny' difficult to chew through for this reason nonetheless. Ree is perhaps somewhat freed from the restrictions of the poorest Guild Wars novel, 'Edge of Destiny', through a cast of original characters who exist only between the two games except by textual reference in-game, and this gives her free reign to really give them fleshed out, interesting personalities and behaviours instead of being tied to unchangeable in-game voice actors and cut scenes. Much of the cast, while engaging and likeable, are morally ambiguous and really explore and capture the grey-shaded but free-spirited community of Lion's Arch as it came to be. Villains become heroes become villains again constantly throughout the story in a manner that keeps things interesting.

It's a page turner, which is unusual (in my humble opinion) for a novel based on a video game. Their quality tends to be average at best, but there's a lot of convincing heart to this particular one, and some really exciting battle and action sequences. If you only pick up one Guild Wars novel, make sure it's this one - knowledge of the other two is not required. It makes me wonder how much better 'Ghosts of Ascalon' and 'Edge of Destiny' might have been with Guild Wars 2's own talented writers at the helm, but at least they've corrected this mistake with 'Sea of Sorrows'.


Folklore (PS3)
Folklore (PS3)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun at heart, but hampered by a lack of polish, 19 Jun. 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Folklore (PS3) (Video Game)
Irish/Celtic folklore are uncommon territory for RPGs, both western and eastern, that have a tendency to prefer Tolkien-esque world and creature concepts. For that purpose alone, Folklore is a breath of fresh air - you won't find any Legolas clones here!

When Ellen receives a letter from her deceased mother inviting her to Doolin, a village where you can 'meet the dead', she sets off to find her and stumbles into a web of real world murder and ancient faery myth. Accompanying her is Keats, writer for a struggling occult magazine, who brings a less emotional cynic's-eye-view to the table. Technically an RPG, the game is set in a beautifully isolated Irish village, and during the day you spend time as each character investigating the series of murders shaking the tiny community; at night, on the other hand, you venture into the mysterious Netherworld to battle through hordes of malicious faeries using the 'folk' you collect and train, and get answers from the murder victims themselves.

Plenty of positives make the game worth a play. There is an addictive quality to the Pokemon-esque folk collecting and training, and an intriguing element of strategy in changing up your 'deck' of four folk to best meet the weaknesses of the foes you meet. The combat itself is action-oriented, requiring you to move and dodge as you unleash your various folk attacks via the intuitive control scheme, and the lack of over-extensive menu systems and stat tweaking are a welcome simplification. Presentation-wise, the graphics have highs and lows, but there are some very memorable vistas in the Netherworld environments that I'll be taking fondly away with me - the flower field in the Faery Realm being one in particular. The soundtrack feels very thematic and the plot deals with some interesting notions of death, the afterlife and all the places in between. This is also one of the few games I've played where the inclusion of Sixaxis motion controls felt well integrated into the game - there are various minigames that involve you moving the controller differently to extract the id, or soul, of a folk you're trying to catch.

There are, unfortunately, a host of flaws holding the game back from being more than okay. The primary stickler that almost made me drop the game early on is that although two characters, Ellen and Keats, are available to play, it isn't until later chapters that the two actually complement each other in gameplay terms. If you play the Prologue as Ellen, and then play the Prologue as Keats, you'll find you're subjected to a very, very similar experience over exactly the same map in exactly the same order, with only the perspective on the plot and layout and composition of monsters being any different. This structure held fast until at least Chapter 3 or 4 and beyond, where you finally get to choose different paths for each character, and later on when you can switch characters within the same chapter. Why this much more flattering and interesting structure wasn't implemented from the very beginning, I have no idea. The end result is a game that, in the first half at least, seems to force you to repeat content, even down to viewing the same cutscenes where the two playable characters are together, and that isn't often fun. Both characters are also required to progress for full completion of the game, so don't think you can get away with picking your favourite and sticking with her/him, either. The Netherworld environments are quite restrictive and linear, but given the repetition inherent in the game design, perhaps this isn't such a bad thing. It keeps the chapters short and tight, although you can make them longer if you want to spend time training the folk you've collected in a particular realm. The game, overall, is fairly short as RPGs go, so if you play in expectation of another 100-hour epic, prepare to be disappointed!

Game mechanics and design aside, the plot is presented in a combination of talking head cutscenes, the occasional cinematic, and - most frequently of all - a very strange, unvoiced, animated comic-book format that is awkward and not at all compelling. Many areas of the plot are also left vague and fluffy even at completion of the game, and although I had a wry appreciation for one admittedly clever twist at the very end, overall I felt I was expected to suspend my disbelief a little too much on the multiple murders and the motivations for them. At one point a long-running NPC decides to fight you because . . . well, just because. No reason is given. Perhaps this is Japanese implicit/interpretative storytelling at work, but it frequently just feels like lazy writing - an impression only compounded by the glaring spelling mistakes you occasionally stumble across.

With a little more thought, polish, and perhaps a bigger budget, Folklore could have been amazing. As it stands, it's still a fun, mildly-addictive romp while it lasts.


The Secret of Kells [Blu-ray]
The Secret of Kells [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Tomm Moore
Price: £7.10

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling, beautiful masterpiece, 3 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Sheltered Brendan, a young monk at the Irish Abbey of Kells, is constantly taken to task by his stern Uncle for his vivid imagination and greater interest in stories and books than helping the man build a wall around the Abbey to protect it from the Viking invasion. When an important refugee carrying an equally significant, incomplete book arrives at the Abbey, Brendan finds himself swept up in trying to finish it before the Viking threat materialises - with the help of enigmatic forest spirit Aisling.

This fascinating, beautifully animated film captivates you from beginning to end. The art style is directly inspired by work from the Book of Kells which inspired the plot, intermingled with Irish pagan mythology. Coverage of this vivid moment of culture and history is rare enough as it is, but the presentation is fresh and unique and accompanied by wonderfully haunting music.

In spite of the blurb on the back of the case declaring this a "kids' movie", parents should be aware that there are some very dark, frightening visuals and scenes of implied violence, particularly toward the end of the movie where the overall tone takes a dark turn. But it's beautiful and powerful, never patronising, and the perfect remedy to the shallow, safe, uninspiring cartoons plaguing the "for kids'" genre of today. This is a Dark Crystal of a kids' movie, and should be hailed as no less of a masterpiece.


Dead Silence [DVD] [2007]
Dead Silence [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Ryan Kwanten
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Could have been a creepy classic, but something is missing . . ., 17 Mar. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dead Silence [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I really wanted to like Dead Silence, and in the case of horror movies, 'liking' for me means being genuinely creeped out.

All of the elements for a good horror movie are there. The creepy setting of old-fashioned Ravens Fair, the doll theme, a really impressive and haunting musical score, some amazing derelict environments like the abandoned theatre. Mary Shaw, the ghost who seems to plague protagonist Jamie and his hometown, also has a visual design that ought to linger in the back of your mind as a horror classic (although some of her CG additions in the later half of the film were unnecessary, like that ridiculous tongue). I can't fault the visual direction at all.

For some reason, though, these elements just didn't glue together very well. The acting is average, the cast is forgettable, the script is uninspired, and the plot is delivered in such a hamfisted way that the word on my lips at several points during the film was 'silly'. The connection to the creators of Saw is touted on the DVD cover, but I'm not sure in this case that the very obvious Saw-inspired elements helped the film along. Several times during the movie, I got the feeling that there was confusion around whether they were telling a ghost story or the story of a physical horror killer, and it muddied the waters. The twist was also delivered in ways so stylistically similar to Saw that it would have jolted me out of my immersion, if I'd been immersed - the only reason I didn't guess it earlier was because I put some of the clues down to sheer bad acting/script dialogue.

It's worth a watch once, if only to appreciate the visual design and setpieces of the movie, and the twist itself is appealing in a gruesome kind of way, but if you go in expecting to be scared or compelled by a well-told ghost story as suggested on the DVD blurb, you may wind up disappointed.


Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (PS3)
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (PS3)
Offered by GAMES CONSOLES BARGAIN
Price: £11.75

3.0 out of 5 stars Compelling story, unpolished and restrictive gameplay, 15 Oct. 2011
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Enslaved: Odyssey to the West is one of those strange types of game that are becoming increasingly common as developers strive for strong storylines and cinematic production values - it's a movie trapped in the body of a game. That may seem harsh, so let me explain.

Enslaved sees you take on the character of Monkey, a wild, rough and tough-talking warrior who finds himself forcibly beholden to the weak but technologically-gifted Trip, a nervy and awkward young lady. Both of them are cast into a beautiful but dangerous world and story that is a fresh, post-apocalyptic interpretation of the traditional Chinese story, Journey to the West. A Hollywood expert was drafted in to advise on cutscenes, and it shows; the production values are high from the outset with fantastic voice acting, cinematic cutscenes and a very, very tight script. The big thing I love is that you rarely find the characters awkwardly explaining things they already ought to know purely for the benefit of the audience, something that is a big pet peeve of mine in games with poorer storytelling. The characters are endearing and memorable, the soundtrack is solid and haunting in places, and the artistic direction is definitely eye-catching.

Unfortunately, not as much love was lavished on the gameplay.

Enslaved is a third-person adventure game, not unlike hits such as Uncharted, in which the key goal is to navigate environment puzzles whilst taking out enemies along the way. It should have been amazing, but there are numerous things holding it back. The biggest thing, for me, is that the user experience is too tightly designed and controlled. The environment, whilst beautiful, is so brutally pathed that your freedom is exceptionally limited. You can't touch a good 80% of the world you see. Monkey can't hop over or interact with anything that has not specifically been labelled as being a thing you can interact with. Whilst this is often the case with games of this nature, games like Uncharted do it much more subtly and consistently - you may see the same object twice in the same area in Enslaved, but only one of them might be something to jump on to complete a puzzle. You can leap up on top of a fallen lorry, but you can't hop over some foot-high debris in the road. The result is lots of rolling into things that look like they might be interaction-worthy, but aren't. Irritating. Things you can climb on are always unnaturally shiny and require little in the way of skill to navigate, as the game seems to move you in the right direction for you. You can only steal gun turrets from certain types of enemies when it has been deemed appropriate - other times you encounter the exact same enemies, you don't get the option. Poor choices of environment design unfairly cut you off from optional areas by preventing you from going back once you realise you chose the wrong way to go, or the game even forces you out of an area before you've had chance to explore it with a convenient cutscene. All of these things add up to a break of immersion, because you are so aware of the game design (I can only do this, I can only go here, that's puzzle-related, that's not, etc.) that it snaps you out of the game world.

It also makes it blindingly obvious that the game is only a vehicle for the creator's story. You will play it their way, in a way that progresses their story EXACTLY as they want it, or you will not play it at all. This is where the 'movie trapped in a game's body' element comes in. Enslaved feels like little more than an interactive movie.

More generally speaking, the gameplay is simply rough around the edges. It feels as though the console is struggling with the beautifully-rendered environments, particularly on the frequent camera pans across post-apocalyptic ruins. Monkey's animations have a lot of character, but he is incredibly twitchy to control and the drunken, erratic camera doesn't help in combat, which is essentially a shallow button-bashing affair. The game does develop its combat a little later on, with more strategic decisions needing to be made about enemy shield disabling and the like, and you can upgrade your powers and equipment with the help of Trip and the tech orbs you'll find scattered about the environments (a rather old-fashioned mechanic to include, if you ask me) but it still comes down to whether your hand can endure the controller mashing long enough to win.

Don't get me wrong; Enslaved is good fun and the compelling storyline alone makes you want to progress through each area, but it's just not the best game that it could have been. With a few months more polish and less handholding for the player, I think it could have been a real winner. A great story and production values are never something unwanted in a game, but they shouldn't be put before the actual gameplay. Enslaved is just one of those games that I feel would have worked better as a movie, especially in an industry that is utterly lacking in fantasy/sci-fi ingenuity right now.


Mogworld
Mogworld
by Yahtzee Croshaw
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun blast of caustic, Pratchett-esque writing, for gamers!, 7 Sept. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mogworld (Mass Market Paperback)
I was really curious to see how Yahtzee's machine-gun chatter of sarcasm and wit in his gaming reviews translated to a fantasy novel. The result? I ended up blasting through Mogworld in little more than a day, and giggling at its jokes on a number of occasions.

When Jim, a lowly mage-in-training, finds himself frustratingly resurrected from the dead, he finds that his generic fantasy world has changed for the worse. People aren't dying properly anymore, adventurers are becoming afflicted with bizarre behavioural patterns, and things are disappearing from the face of the planet in the blink of an eye. Thus begins his quest not to save the world, but to continue the permanent death he was so rudely awakened from.

The novel is written in 1st-person-perspective, which gives the writer a great excuse to transplant his humour directly into the thoughts and words of the protagonist. Yahtzee is like a more caustic, contemporary Terry Pratchett drawing from video games instead of classic literature, and the whole vibe of humour in the writing really tickled my fancy. Poor old Jim is an irritable, unheroic hero with unheroic and very human thoughts, clashing cleverly with the generic fantasy setting that underpins Mogworld. The plot, and the consequences of his actions, rarely go in the direction expected of a fantasy novel, and the eventual interleaving of the greater, game-related plot is very cleverly done.

Knocked off a star for an opening that I didn't feel was as strong as it could have been, but once Jim is resurrected, the fun really starts. If you've ever played an MMO, every joke should amuse you, unless you've come down with the Syndrome . . .


Megamind [DVD]
Megamind [DVD]
Dvd ~ Will Ferrell
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £8.82

5.0 out of 5 stars Megalaughs!, 21 July 2011
This review is from: Megamind [DVD] (DVD)
For me, this movie is proof that movie trailers need to up their game or they can, in fact, do a disservice to a good film! When I first saw the trailer for Megamind I was thoroughly unimpressed; it looked like yet another cheesy animated comedy with lame jokes jumping on the funny superhero/villain bandwagon, and I'm certainly not the only person I've spoken to who felt this way. Cut to last week, when my friend loaned me the movie to watch with a promise that it was "so much better than the trailer!", and I finally saw it for the first time. To my surprise, it was fantastic!

As a child, Megamind crash lands on Earth, along with his lifelong rival-to-be, Metroman, and their superhero/supervillain feud kicks off early. From the get-go, Megamind is a sympathetic figure, being the weird-looking nerdy child, raised in a prison due to bad luck in his landing strip, every attempt to be as good as his fellow alien backfiring on him superbly. Although Megamind quickly comes to embrace what he misguidedly recognises as villainy, as well as his eternal losing streak, this sympathy for him as a character is expertly built on as the plot progresses, and when he inadvertently succeeds at defeating his rival, the supervillain struggles to find his way. Will Ferrell, an actor I can barely stand under normal circumstances, is somehow utterly perfect as the campy, extravagant, eccentric but strangely vulnerable Megamind. The characterisation is completed by highly polished animation that gives Megamind an astonishingly expressive face and gestures, with attention to detail in the character acting that, for me, puts Dreamworks easily on par with Pixar in this movie, if not better (watch for Megamind's subtle, heartbroken gulp in the rain scene - it gets me every time!).

Megamind is punctuated with successful humour, but although marketed as a comedy, it has great action, a clever plot, and characters you will be emotionally invested in as well. A great, underrated movie package that I plan to watch a multitude of times!


Fallout: New Vegas (Xbox 360)
Fallout: New Vegas (Xbox 360)
Price: £9.02

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent game, but riddled with glitches, 13 July 2011
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Fallout 3 was by far one of the most amazing games I've had the pleasure to play on this generation of consoles. The vast world, lovingly-crafted post-apocalyptic and fully interactive environment, sandbox gameplay and solid production values made it an absolute blast. Fallout: New Vegas delivers essentially much of the same gameplay experience, with a few tweaks to the mechanics that are, on the whole, quite positive.

This is by no means a bad thing. The Mojave Wasteland is just as big as the world from Fallout 3, with all the scavenging opportunities, mutant fighting, exploring and flexible moral compassing carried over. This time, you play the Courier and begin the game left for dead by would-be-killers you can't remember over a conflict that equally escapes your grasp. When you recover, the overarching goal is to chase down these folk who tried to leave you pushing up daisies, figure out what happened and maybe get a little revenge along the way, but as with Fallout 3, the extent to which you adhere to this primary storyline is entirely up to you.

There have been numerous good changes to the gameplay, such as companions no longer dying permanently on normal mode, an increased level cap meaning that for the thorough explorer you're not mowing easily through the enemies before you've even nosed around a quarter of the world, and a hard mode requiring more stringent adherence to daily meals and sleep and generally improving the roleplaying experience as much as the challenge.

Unfortunately, all of this hard work is spoiled by the fact that New Vegas was blatantly pushed out the door as quickly as possible to grab customer cash, leaving the game half-finished and poorly tested. It is absolutely RIDDLED with glitches and bugs, from the visually annoying and immersion-breaking (for example, one where your character keeps twitchily lifting his/her arms if you're holding a rifle) to the utterly game-breaking (frequent save corruptions, areas you have to avoid because they are guaranteed to glitch and will break your game, quests and dialogue frequently screwing up and preventing you from completing them, constant crashing and freezing etc.). The glitches are so frequent and so annoying that they genuinely spoil the game experience, when they're not completely preventing your progress.

I think it's utterly appalling that games can be released in this state as 'finished products'; even worse that, instead of fixing these problems with patches, we instead get an endless stream of equally broken DLC to steal more money from consumers. Any regular retailer pushing out hardware that broke as frequently as Fallout: New Vegas does would have their business name smeared and legal action probably taken against them. But games developers? They're safe, if New Vegas is anything to go by.

Come on, developers and publishers. I realise the pressure is on to pump out game after game and sequel after sequel these days, but you have a responsibility to deliver ethical business practices, too. STOP RELEASING BROKEN/RUSHED GAMES, invest in QA testing, and give a damn about your customers.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 10, 2012 1:52 PM BST


Alan Wake (Xbox 360)
Alan Wake (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £15.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fresh, gripping addition to the suspense/horror genre, 28 April 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Alan Wake (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
After being fed up with watching misguided new developers destroying my favourite horror series, Silent Hill, I welcomed picking up something new in Alan Wake, and I absolutely was not disappointed.

The game feels fresh and different right from the get-go with its episodic quirks that rapidly become familiar, the distinct narrative style of the protagonist, the kooky backwater twilight zone-esque feel of Bright Falls, the bold and daring use of light and dark to carve a path through the sprawling environments. Although not strictly a horror game, Alan Wake certainly had chills running up my spine with its clever use of the dark and creepy sound effects, and its shadowy villains frequently materialising out of nowhere to give you a good jump. Making a game pitch-black and letting the gamer fumble around in the dark is easy but stupid; I'm pleased to say that Alan Wake is much more intelligent, ramping up its perpetual threatening atmosphere.

The gameplay is, when you strip it down to its core, fairly simple, and despite the occasional branching path to go pick up a secret crate of supplies or something similar, your path through each episode is also linear. Where Alan Wake excels, however, is in not making it FEEL linear. The environments seem huge, and feel like living, breathing mountainside forestry. When you're running panicked from a mob of enemies through a thicket of trees, it's easy to feel like you're lost and disoriented. Linearity is not necessarily a problem in a game - most games are linear when it comes down to it - so long as the gamer never feels like they are on rails. Alan Wake's six episodes are meaty and feel full of exploration, poking through eerie abandoned buildings and dilapidated town houses in beautifully rendered environments. The combat rapidly becomes intuitive, although I was a little disappointed by the lack of challenge in it as the game is very generous with ammunition.

I'm knocking off a star for an anticlimactic, vague ending and run-up to the ending, and the overuse of 'I've lost all my weapons . . . again' scenarios. Which may seem harsh, but the story was great and original, and the lack of a satisfying ending was a big disappointment for me! Maybe the extra notes in Nightmare Mode and the DLC shed light on stuff, I don't know. Shouldn't NEED it to make sense of the complete game that I have bought though.

Either way, these niggles are minor, and Alan Wake is a fantastic game that demands your attention. And it's going so cheap now it can't be anything but a bargain!


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