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Ben Kelly

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FIFA 10 (Xbox 360)
FIFA 10 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Gameseek
Price: £3.25

2.0 out of 5 stars Just lacking the pace and fluidity I crave, 25 Oct. 2009
This review is from: FIFA 10 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
The presentation in FIFA is fantastic and the game has unrivalled authenticity. Unfortunately the game play is the let down. It feels sluggish and clunky, I end up scoring goals in formulaic ways as is always the way with FIFA. The series has improved over the years but still hasn't got ridiculously satisfying game play of Pro Evo 2010.

Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 (Xbox 360)
Pro Evolution Soccer 2010 (Xbox 360)
Offered by trguk
Price: £4.99

21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Massive Improvement, 25 Oct. 2009
Pro Evo 2010 is a huge improvement on the previous two disappointing editions. Pro Evo 2009 was a very frustrating game, too many bugs and bad AI meant I could't enjoy playing it single player. Comparatively Pro Ev0 2010 plays like a dream, furthermore this is the first Pro Evo in a three years that actually has a new learning curve. It is difficult at first which shows that it has been tweaked and improved and now requires new skills.
The first most obvious improvement are the graphics which are the best in any football game there has ever been, the players' faces often look uncannily like their real life counterparts. Zoom in on Wayne Rooney after a goal and you will see how fantastic the graphics really are. The players move like their real life counterparts too and it adds a great feeling of authenticity. The stadiums look fantastic and there are plenty to choose from including, thankfully, Old Trafford which is finally back in the game.
Another noticeable improvement is that the game has been slowed down somewhat, taking way the excessively arcadey 'running on rails' pace of the previous two games. Passing has been tweaked slightly and the ball is now more difficult to control, so you may lose the ball or let it run off the pitch a few times while you get used to it. You can use the defenders physicality to your advantage more, which is more realistic and makes the game more challenging. It is not longer so easy to run through a whole team like a bull as Wayne Rooney, or dribble your way through an entire defence as Messi or Ronaldo. It can be done of course, but not at an unrealistic rate, the game now demands more of you, more skill and concentration.
Teamvision 2.0 brings a far better artificial intelligence to the game, the players improved movement now means you can rely on your AI team-mates to make good runs allowing for some sublime attacking play; likewise defending is no longer so frustrating. The computer doesn't force you to hack an opponent down from behind any more, your defender don't wander inexplicably half as much as in 2009. I now enjoy playing single player again and it can be challenging and immensely satisfying. I love the new 'gameplan' system which allows you customise your players approach to the game meticulously with a series of sliders, you really see this take effect on the pitch. The players' 'natural abilities' are now governed by a card system which is another excellent feature which allows for a more tactical approach.
The Master league has had a much needed overhaul and is the deepest for many years. You now have a youth team to nurture, sponsors to appease, customisable training and coaches and real currency to spend. They have gone all out with the Champions League presentation this year and it feels very authentic, this game mode is very involving and its great that it's now available in Master League.
Of course there are still faults in any game and I should mention these. The commentary is absolutely abysmal, laughable infact, it is completely unacceptable and there is no excuse. Hear the commentary in FIFA or FIGHT NIGHT ROUND 4 and you'll know that good commentary is possible. The voice acting is awful, the script a joke and it is about time it was improved. As ever it would be nice if they could get more team licences in the game, there are simply not enough, even just the big four in the premier league would be nice.
Overall though I'm very pleased with pro Evo 2010, the gameplay is so fluid, fun and satisfying and this edition is a huge improvement on the poor efforts of recent years. A step in the right direction!

Inglourious Basterds [DVD] (2009)
Inglourious Basterds [DVD] (2009)
Dvd ~ Brad Pitt
Offered by streetsahead
Price: £3.50

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny, intentionally overblown, extremely entertaining!, 18 Sept. 2009
I found this film so tongue in cheek, so full of gross absurdities, historical inaccuracies and intentionally overblown sequences that I couldn't help but laugh throughout! It seems some miss the point and don't realise when something is intentionally very over the top and often just plain silly! This film isn't meant to be taken seriously, hod a handful of salt when you watch it and you'll find it to be a very fun film. The script is fantastic and as long as you don't have a poor attention span like apparently many people do you will find the dialogue intriguing and tension building. Fortunately the actor's performances are good enough to pull off the long scenes of dialogue and the script is so well written that I don't believe it ever feels too long. The highlight of the film is, as everyone agrees, Christopher Waltz's sublime performance as the "Jew hunter" the Nazi who will literally make your skin crawl, a truly gripping feat of acting. Parts of the film are so violent and gruesome that I couldn't help laugh, and was still laughing as events took some unexpected turns for the ridiculous! I loved the film and recommend that you don't take it seriously and just enjoy the fantastical nature of Tarantino's story telling.

Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360)
Batman: Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360)
Offered by Ace Goods Co. Ltd
Price: £18.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastically well made game, 18 Sept. 2009
I have been surprised by how much I like this game, it is extremely well made and obviously the developers really cared. Great fun gameplay, fantastic atmosphere, excellent story and script with some truly brilliant voice acting. One of the best games made for 360!

Fight Night Round 4 (Xbox 360)
Fight Night Round 4 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £8.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A giant leap forward, 27 Jun. 2009
The overall quality of this game has gone beyond my expectations, it has improved on all fronts and after the disappointing round 3 (poor graphics, small roster, poor career mode) this is real evolution. I am playing it in HD and was surprised by the graphical detail. In round 3 the crowd looked appalling, now they are presented in 3D, you see the judges at their table writing on clipboards and typing into their laptops. The press are ringside constantly flashing away, and people jump from their seats in excitement during the fight. You can see the crowd moving all the way to the back of the arena and the detail is fantastic. The boxers look fantastic, flexing muscles dripping sweat and rippling skin as you belt your opponent in the face. The ring entrances look so genuine, the presentation is truly a joy to behold! I could gush for a long time about the graphics but I have to stop myself, overall though I was very impressed (high definition).

Game play wise it is an intense and involving experience, what it has over most other fighting games is the need for tactics and strategy. The total punch has been adjusted slightly and it is an improvement. Gone are the very unrealistic parries which dominated the last game, now its all about blocking, weaving, ducking and counter punching. The hay makers are more difficult to do, now having to hold down RB and swing with the right analogue stick- meaning you have to be more precise and, realistically, you only pull out those big punches when the time is right. The corner game has changed thankfully, the new one is far more tactical. You gain points to spend during a round based on your performance. You can then spend these on three different categories: damage, health and stamina. You can, however, save these points for another round. The great thing is that when you are playing a friend you both do the corner game at the same time, realistically you do not have time to concentrate on the other guy when your boxer is being treated and given a pep talk. As soon as your are both done with the game it goes straight back to the action, this is excellent as its snappier and the whole match flows so much better than before. The plays so realistically, the inside fighting looks fantastic and gives the fight an authentic feel as your boxers lean on each other slugging it out. The new push feature is brilliant (watch a Youtube clip of Foreman bullying Frazier to see how this is utilised in real boxing) the clinching, again, far more realistic and gone are the daft taunts that were rather unnecessary.

An excellent roster in this edition, Mike Tyson is a great addition (looks, feels and fights like the real deal) but I was very pleased to see George Foreman finally in it and the return of Lennox Lewis. It's blatantly obvious that the roster will improve with the inevitable DLC, and the create a boxer feature allows for further expansion. the new legacy mode is an improvement on round 2's drab and uninspired career mode. A welcome return for the rankings system gives you a real drive to reach the top!

I shall reiterate that this game has gone beyond my already high expectations, I find it all very impressive and it has improved massively on the lazy round three. This is the most realistic and authentic feeling computer game representation of a sport ever, bar none. Fight like the real fighter would fight, use strategy, tactics as well as skill, finesse and pure brutality and you can't fail to see how true that statement is. A truly great game that has raised the bar in my opinion.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 9, 2009 1:55 PM BST

That Mitchell and Webb Look - Series 1 [DVD]
That Mitchell and Webb Look - Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Robert Webb
Price: £3.00

2 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointng, 14 Jun. 2009
I found this series very disappointing and I don't think Mitchell and Webb can carry their own show to be honest. There are a few sketches now and then that raise a smile like "are we the baddies?" but they certainly do not stand up to repeat viewing. I also saw their live show and was severely disappointed, it wasn't funny and they used the same tired sketches. I am becoming a bit bored of Mitchell and Webb these days.

Notes from the Underground (Dover Thrift Editions)
Notes from the Underground (Dover Thrift Editions)
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ramblings of the embittered, 11 Jun. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The notes from the severely embittered underground man are a very dark and deeply affecting ode to isolation. I can at times identify and relate to the underground man but certainly never found myself able to like him; he is an extremely petty, spiteful and piteous human being with real masochistic tendencies.

In the short novel the underground man's line of though rebels against the idea that everything happens for a purpose as he believes human beings to be irrational, uncontrollable, and uncooperative. This is an early and some claim it be the first real existential novel that has been a major influence on future works. The underground man has become a common character type both in film and works of literature.

I would not recommend this as your first read of Dostoevsky but I would most definitely recommend you read it at some point in your life.

The Outsider (Penguin Modern Classics)
The Outsider (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Albert Camus
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime, 11 Jun. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is one of the best books I have read in years, it is simply written and and easy to read. It's a real gem, I hadn't even heard of it but the synopsis caught my eye and to my surprise it is one of my favourite books.

Philosophically, it is an existential novel- The title character is Meursault, an alienated French man. Notified of his mother's death, Meursault attends her funeral, yet expresses none of the typical emotions expected in such circumstances. When he is later on trial for a spontaneous act of violence his apparent lack of remorse and emotion renders him guilty in the eyes of others. As an existentialist, he has no reason to regret what he does because it is done-- regret is redundant. Yet society cannot understand a man like this or his methods of thought.

I cannot recommend this excellent work of literature highly enough- read it and cherish it.

The Idiot (Wordsworth Classics)
The Idiot (Wordsworth Classics)
by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvellous epic, 10 Jun. 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It is fantastic that a sublime work of art such as this can be purchased for such a low price, this is an epic tale about a social misfit. Prince Lyov Nikolayevich Myshkin returns to Russia after a long absence. Myshkin suffers from epilepsy - just like Fyodor Dostoevsky himself - and is prone to periods of blackouts.

The central idea of The Idiot as Dostoevsky wrote is "to depict a completely beautiful human being". Myshkin is simple and pure, his biggest hindrance to fitting into society is his honesty, naivety and the fact that he is a good man. He lacks any deviousness and has nothing but good intentions in all of his actions.

On the train to Saint Petersburg, Myshkin meets and befriends the dark character Rogozhin. Although Myshkin and Rogozhin are opposites in everyway, they share a mutual attraction to one another. Myshkin's attire and stories both suggest that despite his ancient Russian family line, he is like a lost foreigner in his own country. This is because Myshkin has spent the last four years in a mental institution in Switzerland. Without any reserve, however, Myshkin shares this fact with Rogozhin. He takes no offence at the sarcastic tone of his new friend and he even laughs with him. As Rogozhin states, Myshkin has the character of a holy-fool. In his own words, he tells Myshkin:

"You're an out-and-out holy fool, and God loves the likes of you."

The latter tells the prince about his passion for Nastasya Filippovna, a beautiful woman with a bad reputation. The prince feels an intense desire to meet her after hearing about her and even more so when he views a picture of her. This leads to conflict as the friends become love rivals with very different intentions.

The stage then moves to the house of the Yepanchins, a family of emerging Russian bourgeoisie. Myshkin has come here to meet his distant cousin, Madame Yepanchina, General Yepanchin's wife. So begins Myshkin's introduction into a society that can never understand him and are bound to take advantage of him.

By making Myshkin a symbol of kindness and humility, Dostoyevsky illustrates what can happen when such a man is confronted by society. Myshkin frequently confronts society's norms with his "idiocy", which is merely his naive and innocent approach to life. He is not naive about what others say to and about him; he merely assumes they're true because he does not believe that human beings have any need for falsehood or deviousness; Myshkin has no façade.

I believe the The Idiot is a masterpiece - it is indeed flawed and occasionally tedious like many masterpieces. There are long passages of dialogue and this is not always an easy read. I wouldn't not recommend this to be the first of Dostoyevsky's books anyone reads, I would instead recommend the simpler Crime and Punishment for that. If you have the patience and can invest the time this book is moving and deeply involving, one of his best.

Futurama - Season 1-4 [DVD]
Futurama - Season 1-4 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Peter Avanzino
Offered by SBSUK
Price: £25.63

20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated geeky sci-fi cartoon comedy series, 10 Jun. 2009
This review is from: Futurama - Season 1-4 [DVD] (DVD)
I never really cared for Futurama, I was a huge Simpsons fan (not of the newer series) and always saw Futurama as the inferior ugly sister. I saw the odd episode here and there and just didn't find it funny and I had no connection with the characters. I did however one day have enough curiosity to finally watch the series from episode one in chronological order- this is when I really 'discovered' it.

Now I have a deep affection for the series and in a spectacular turn around it is one of my favourite TV shows of all time. It is rather geeky and daft,the sci-fi element brings ridiculous plots that never even pretend to make any sense what so ever. The writing is very often tongue in cheek and with a twinkle in its eye the genre allows the series to go to surreal and twisted places with the plot.

It has hidden depth Futurama, it is a long ongoing love story and in time you develop a rapport with the characters, root for them and care about them. Unlike many cartoon series there is, to a certain extent, a continuing story and as the characters grow we see real progression. I once assumed that the absurdity of the story and the characters may prevent it from having those touching, emotional moments that you so often see in The Simpsons, the moments that make it so much more than a cartoon. I was again wrong however, Futurama may very well have more of these tender moments.

We follow the hapless moronic outcast Fry. He is a guy who never fit in, a geek and a loser who couldn't find a place in life and was stuck in a dead end job as a delivery boy. When a New Years Eve prank goes wrong he accidentally falls into a cryogenic freezer and isn't defrosted until the year 3000. After the initial shock and an unwillingness to be assigned his delivery boy 'career chip' he falls into place with a bunch of misfits; these misfits become the Planet Express intergalactic delivery crew-
"What's my job?"
"Delivery boy."
"Yay! I'm a delivery boy!"
He may only be a delivery boy but he has the friends and sense of adventure he has always craved! He befriends Bender an alcoholic thieving robot who is attempting suicide when they meet, Leela the one eyed orphan who puts up a tough, cold front for protection after a life time of bullying, Doctor Zoidberg a giant lobster klutz who nobody really likes, Amy the shallow rich girl airhead, Hermies the Rastafarian Bureaucrat and Professsor Farnsworth the amoral crackpot who is Fry's great, great, great, great (could go on a long time) nephew. We follow Fry's story as he tries to come to terms with the sudden change and attempts to fit into a bizarre future and find what has been always missing in his life. Fry develops deep feelings for Leela and a continuing story is his inability to articulate his feeling and make her see they belong together. Fry is the central character but there is a fantastic supporting cast of bizarre characters. Topping that list is Captain Zapp Brannigan the famous space captain and great 'hero', a mickey take of Shatner, often popping up offering his smarmy buffoonery for our amusement. Brannigan is brilliant character who adds a lot to the episodes he appears in, he is a mythic hero and it isn't long before we see through him and his questionable tactics and philosophising:

"If we hit that bullseye, the rest of the dominoes should fall like a house of cards. Checkmate."

There is some fantastic voice acting from Billy West who takes on many of the characters in the series (including Fry, Farnsworth, Zoidberg and Zapp). The best way to watch Futurama is from the very beginning rather than randomly watching the odd episode, this way you connect with the story. It is a sublime series, greatly underrated and too often dismissed ignorantly, it has a great cult following and a special place in my heart.

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