Profile for Benji > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Benji
Top Reviewer Ranking: 412,277
Helpful Votes: 32

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Benji

Show:  
Page: 1
pixel
Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360)
Borderlands 2 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Shop4World
Price: £8.20

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but not different enough., 11 Nov 2012
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Do you like shooting people in the face? How about shooting people in the face and having loot fly out of their corpses? If these things suddenly have you tingling in places you didn't know existed; congratulations! You're either psychotic, or a fan of one of the best games out there. Borderlands 2 has finally been released, and if you value any of you free time, you may want to give it a miss.

For the uninitiated, let me explain the fundamentals of Borderlands. As mentioned above, shooting people and gaining loot is the core gameplay here -- think of it as a mix between a first person shooter and Diablo. You kill people, gain experience, level up, get more powerful and rinse and repeat. It's simple, but addictive, and the side effects are many sleepless nights.
A little history is in order. The original Borderlands came out in 2009, and was quite the underdog. The game was like nothing out there. Although the game received many high reviews from critics, it was still a rather overlooked game. Time passed and word of mouth ensued - meaning that more and more people were being introduced to the world of Borderlands. The game actually started getting somewhat of a cult following, and fans began demanding that a sequel be made.

Three years later, Borderlands 2 is released, and after playing a considerable amount of the game, I'm here to give you my opinion.
Story and Characters

Look, I'm going to be honest with you here. Nobody plays Borderlands for the story. The original game was heavily criticized for having such a throw-away story that it may as well have not existed. In the sequel, they do try a little harder, but honestly, it's still not great and you'll find yourself forgetting what's happening more than a few times.
The basic premise is that on the planet of Pandora, there are vaults, and within one particular vault, is a powerful warrior, capable of destroying the world. Whoever opens the vault gains control of the warrior and ultimately becomes the most powerful being the planet has ever seen. Sound cliche enough for you yet? No? Okay, well how about this. You're one of four vault hunters, and it is your job to stop the evil guy; Handsome Jack, and save the world.

To the game's credit, it doesn't take itself too seriously and for as much effort as it puts into the story, it's still considerably better than the prequel. They really try to add a little more depth which helps fill the world with a little more character.
On the subject of characters, Borderlands 2 really knows how to vary them. You have your four main protagonists, all of which are vault-hunters. Axton is your soldier-type, who wields guns with great power and can place auto-turrets to mow down foes. Salvador is your tank-like character. He can equip two guns at once and can absorb lots of enemy fire while regaining his own health. Maya is a siren, and has magical powers that allow her to suspend enemies in mid air. Finally you have Zer0, a sniper and assassin. Zer0 is probably the biggest departure in terms of classes from the prequel. Primarily focusing on using sniper rifles, but adaptable to close quarters combat.

The characters are varied enough to compliment each other in battle and change core combat quite a bit to easily justify playing the game multiple times to give them all a try.
In addition to the main four, you'll meet with lots of quirky people, some of which return from the first game. Familiar faces include all four main characters from Borderlands 1, all of which now have long dialogues, all fully voiced. I say this because in the previous game, they rarely spoke and unless you played them, you never actually interacted with them at all.

This brings me to the first flaw of Borderlands 2. It's great that the old characters are here, but the game plays too much on the fact that you care about them. Even me, who put around 200 hours into the original game, was a little apathetic when the game made a huge deal about 'surprising' you with their existence.
The second flaw isn't too far behind, and unfortunately this flaw plays quite a substantial role in the game -- the main bad guy. Handsome Jack is an interesting character, both physically and conceptually. The problem? He talks too much, and the stuff he says is only funny for a very short period of time before you just want to say 'shut up'. He isn't so much evil as just annoying, which is a pretty big problem. A bad guy is someone you should want to kill because he's evil, not because you want him to stop talking.

You know you're in trouble relatively early on in the game when he contacts you, asking what he should name his 'diamond pony'. After throwing a few suggestions out, he decides to call it 'Butt Stallion'. Classy.
Maybe I'm just a snob, but the humour throughout the game is far more miss than hit. Having your companion -- a robot named Claptrap -- make 'your mum' jokes and run around dub-stepping his heart out isn't that funny. Many of the jokes are referential, which really shows how long the game was in development for. An example of how dated some of the jokes are involve a secret easter-egg, where Claptrap reenacts the 'double-rainbow' sensation from what, 2008? Unoffensive, yes, but this game could have done so much better and the unused potential is disappointing.

Gameplay
Enough negativity, let's talk about the core, the gameplay. The world of Pandora is rich in varied environments, which in-turn, brings a whole group of different enemies. You'll be fighting spider-ants, flying bugs, rats, robots and even Creepers. It isn't just a case of pulling the trigger and filling them with bullets, at least no completely. Many of the enemies have various weak-spots, which adds a little skill to the combat. Spider ants, for example, are heavily armored in their front, and you'll have to run behind them to shoot their abdomens to fully deal critical damage.
Upon killing an enemy, or indeed completing a quest, you gain experience. Once you gain enough experience, you guessed it, you gain a level. Gaining levels comes quickly and frequent enough to make it feel like you're making significant progress. After each level you gain a skill point which you put into one of three skill threes. Each character has their own trees and each tree substantially changes how you tackle encounters. Axton, for example, has one that deals mainly in increasing his damage output but makes him a little more exposed in terms of incoming fire -- compare this to his defensive tree which although weakens his firepower, allows him to regenerate health and lay down two turrets to protect him.

The amount of things to do in Borderlands 2 is almost unrivaled by other games. It's a free world (almost) and you really can go anywhere you want. Liken it to World of Warcraft. Although you can go anywhere you want, the enemies in certain areas will tear you a new one faster than you can say 'Cool story bro' or another quip that your character will constantly say, much to my annoyance.
Quests are plentiful, and span from killing sub-bosses and your run-of-the-mill 'collect x amount of y' pick up quests. A new type of quest makes an appearance in Borderlands 2, although I wish it didn't. Timed quests are just that, quests with a very strict timer than you can actually fail. Failing quests, to my knowledge, wasn't possibly in the original, and for good reason - they're very time consuming and frustrating. One particular quest involves you having to run to a selection of mailboxes, all within about 2 minutes. Miss the last mailbox by a second or two and guess what? You fail! Try again as often as you like, but it just feels out of place and damages the game's sense of speed and progress. in fairness, these quests are completely optional and there isn't a single timed-quest in the main story line.

Let's talk a little about the loot, shall we? Loot is the main draw in Borderlands. Every single weapon you choose is procedurally generated. Each gun has about 7 different components and this means the amount of variation is huge enough to where it's rare to find the same gun twice. It doesn't just stop at guns though; grenades and shields also come in many different flavours. You can find grenades that teleport to an enemy, others that explode into a shower of smaller grenades, shields that deal damage to attackers, and ones that absorb enemy ammo for your own use. It's truly exciting and you'll find yourself wanting to kill as many enemies as possibly for that lucky chance of finding a rare item.
Multiplayer

If you've ever played Diablo, you'll understand how things work here already. The story in Borderlands 2 can be played by upto four people at once. More people equals stronger enemies, which in turn results in better loot and experience. Having friends to play with certainly makes the game more fun than alone, and with mics makes it a great laugh. I played a substantial amount of this game with my fiance, and we were addicted -- that is until a rare item dropped and we'd argue about who deserved to pick it up (yes, she almost always won).
It would have been nice if items were unique to the player, much like in Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2. Having a rare item drop and seeing people squabble about who picks it up adds competition, but not friendly competition. Players can join games with strangers and steal all the rare loot, then immediately disconnect. There is a trade system, and a duel system which allow players to fight with honor in who deserves to get an item, but it's not significant enough to stop the griefing that can occur.

A neat new features allows you to turn your game public at any point during the campaign. Stuck on a particular boss? Simply hit select and change it so others can jump in and help you! This is an amazing feature that greatly improves the gameplay, and hopefully this gets added to many different games in the future.
Graphics and Presentation

Borderlands has always had a very different graphical style. It's a blend of cartoon and cell-shading, and it's certainly unique. Each character and environment piece has a thick outline which looks great and makes everything look substantial. In a more broader scope, the game looks beautiful. The environments are detailed and varied enough to where no two areas look remotely similar.
Some of the menus are a little clunky. The inventory management can be a real frustration, especially given that you're almost constantly picking up new equipment. It could do with a better comparison system also, or at least an easier way to view the differences in stats.

The environments, as opposed to the original game, are far more varied. This time you're not just running around deserted desert-like areas, although they are here too. You'll travel through lush lands with beautiful rivers and cliffs, futuristic cities full of robots and glass structures and even find yourself battling around a hue volcanic world. One of the biggest criticisms with Borderlands 1 was how samey everything looked, and it's great that the sequel understands that players want more.
Conclusion
'More' is right, but is it enough? Honestly, no, it isn't. The game feels far too 'safe' and far too much like the original. That's both a good and bad thing. It's good in the sense that the core mechanics and addictive gameplay is still there, but I still think they could have done so much more. This feels more like Borderlands 1.5 -- fixing many of the things that plagued the original, but not different enough to justify being a sequel. One thing that changed for the better is the multiplayer aspect, and probably the best part of the game.

Borderlands 2 is no brand-new experience that will shock players of the original, but it does just enough to keep you coming back over and over again. It's fun to play alone or with friends, and the main story will set you back around 20 hours.
If you can get past the weak story, and are just in this for some great loot-grabbing fun, you won't be disappointed.


Toppik Medium Brown - Microfibers that cover thinning hair
Toppik Medium Brown - Microfibers that cover thinning hair
Offered by Live Salon
Price: £13.70

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works. Really., 11 Nov 2012
I'm 23, and very self-conscious when it comes to my hair (or lack-thereof). I was spending almost an hour in front of the mirror depressing myself by angling other mirrors to view the back of my head and seeing thinning which I felt I shouldn't be seeing at my age. It was a really bad experience so I decided to try and find something online that might be able to help.

I came across Toppik by doing a quick Google search and, reading all the reviews, decided to give it a go. It was cheaper than alternatives so it was worth a shot. It arrived discreetly packaged and I was really skeptical - this couldn't be the fix, a little pot of coloured fibers? I went to the bathroom and liberally sprinkled it over my entire hair, run my hands through it and shook it up a little. Your hands get messy but it's pretty easy to get rid off, just wash it under a little warm water.

Now for the moment of truth. I went to the nearest mirror and once again ran my fingers through my hair -- the results were remarkable. I angled another mirror to see the back of my head and, to my surprise, the same result was apparent there. My hair looked full again. This magical stuff doesn't just fill your hair out, it does it while looking completely natural.

The important thing for most people looking at this product will be; "Will it all just fall out during rain or wind?" and the answer is no, not unless it's some hurricane or monsoon. Even if that is a concern for you, you can always spray on some hair spray to hold it in place a little firmer.

The best part for me was the comments I received both at work and home. My colleagues said "Wow, your hair looks amazing!" and my Fiancee echoed those remarks -- a huge confidence booster for me. I know this sounds like I'm employed by Toppik, but I assure you I'm not. I'm just an advocate for a product that changed my life for the better and want to convert skeptics into just giving it one chance. You really won't be sorry.

Pros:
+ Cheap compared to others.
+ Lasts a long time, a small pot can last about a month.
+ Stays in your hair until washed.

Cons:
- Messy application.
- Showers can also leave the bath a little messy as it all washes out.


Corsodyl Daily Gum & Tooth Paste 75ml
Corsodyl Daily Gum & Tooth Paste 75ml
Offered by St. Georges Healthcare
Price: £5.09

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dentist Recommended + Worth Every Penny, 18 Sep 2012
I went for a check-up with a professional dentist in London (I had to travel from Cornwall!) - and was told that I had to start using this toothpaste.
Needless to say, my gums were terrible and my oral hygiene wasn't particularly great. My gums were bleeding every single time I brushed, they were pale and I had given up on them.

I started using this, and yes, the taste is horrible, the appearance isn't too pleasant either - but I decided to stick with it in combination with the daily Corsodyl mouthwash.
After a month my gums were tighter, and my dentist even said he could notice a significant improvement.

This was about 2 years ago, and I've been using this ever since. The taste becomes normal after about 2 weeks and I cannot praise how effective this toothpaste is without sounding like some PR agent for Corsodyl.

If you have bad gums that bleed often, if you're worried about infections or bad breath; please give this a try. You'll need some willpower to get through the initial fortnight of using it, but I assure you it'll make you and your gums feel amazing.


Dragon Stones
Dragon Stones
Price: £1.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing story., 28 Mar 2011
This review is from: Dragon Stones (Kindle Edition)
First of all, I'm not an avid reader in general, in fact the last book I read was about 3 years ago. So when I found myself having to visit London several times from Cornwall (torturous 5 hours each way!) I decided to download something from the Kindle Store. On the main page I saw this book, and decided at 70-odd pence that it would no doubt be worth the risk.

The book follows T'Sian, a dragon who has lost her crystals, but more importantly, lost her young to dangerous and evil men. She sets out to get revenge and murder whoever did such a thing. Along the way she becomes entangled with a host of incredibly deep characters, each with their own little quirks.

There's some amazing detail in this book, every environment and situation being described so clearly that you'll have no problems imagining what is going on. Certain points in the story really grab you and you're just dying to know how things will unravel.

If I had to find fault, I'd say that it ended too quickly, maybe a little rushed and that some of the paragraphs (especially near the beginning) seemed a little crude and childish.

If you're debating whether it's worth your money then worry no longer, because this is one of my favourite books of all time. Plenty of humour, emotion and adventure - Dragon Stones is a diamond in the rough, and you need to read it.

To the author: Please write a sequel! The ending has me wanting more!


Page: 1