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Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)
Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)
Price: £31.85

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncharted 4 is a beautiful game revealing genius, 2 Jun. 2016
Spoilers about locations / level types but not to do with characters (I might have the orders slightly out).

Don't you think it's odd that Nadine pops up now and again merely to knock seven bells out of the characters and then disappears again? Like some guilty secret Chloe device where the boys can have a bit of rough and tumble?

A bit of a random start to my overall impressions but it's this kind of thing that starts to hint at the unusual structure of Uncharted 4 which, Madagascar aside, partly feels like a reimagining Drake's Fortune and then building aspects of Uncharted 2, 3, Metal Gear Solid (stealth using long grass which
some will like and some won't like the 'one enemy sees means all enemies instant see' nature of. ) and The Last of Us around it and very subtly building in to putting a cap on it all. Interestingly, Uncharted 2, so rightly unanimously popular, arguably has the least
explicit mark upon Uncharted 4 unless you count the UC2's cave level which seems to inform so much of Uncharted 4 that it has lead to some regarding the sheer amount of climbing, falling, sliding in parts as a negative. Uncharted 2's other influences (apart from the much welcome return of the odd tank) seem more implicit- to do with just 2 people being together, rather than 3, for most of the game and in the brilliant, crumbly environments set piece execution. Uncharted 2 was a game in which I felt that a helicopter or tank could circle at any point. Uncharted 4, a little oddly, doesn't go for that approach. Vehicle sections, even the totally SUPERB 4x4 and motorbike chase sequence, don't deliberately try to scare you. You'll never find yourself edging across something on Uncharted 4 and then, all of a sudden, a vehicle comes up to try to destroy you. I wonder whether it was a deliberate decision. If so, perhaps it's part of the toning down of the Uncharted 3 approach where planes and boats took up notable parts of the game. Sully's plane pops up in Uncharted 4 but we don't even get a setpiece from it. Perhaps it's stuff that will be incorporated in to the Uncharted 4 episode DLC. But Uncharted 4 as it is is more about natural use of vehicles rather than a huge vessel being used as setpiece as they were in Uncharted 3.

None of what I say below is meant to imply that I think it's a retread- it's just they've borrowed from the best.

It starts off on a boat, just like Drake's Fortune did.
It then has a flashback, just like Uncharted 3 did.
You then brawl, just like you did in UC3 and The Last of Us.
You then explore forts by the sea, like Drake's Fortune.
You then have an inside plot with outside areas very reminiscent of Uncharted 3's architecture.
You then explore granitey places (new aspect) - and then caves, like Uncharted 2 did.
You then visit a deserty-like location like Uncharted 3.
You then go through a market place, just like in Uncharted 3.
You then get in a 4x4 and shoot at people, as Drake's Fortune allowed (even though you didn't steer it in DF).
You then explore some islands, which is treat as something of a holiday compared to the tense levels before it and most after it.
You find a lost city , as every Uncharted game does, but Libertalia feels most closely connected to Drake's Fortune in theme, mixed with Last of Us-like moss covered splendour.
The final few chapters are very Drake's Fortune like yet crossed with that tantalisingly all too brief river crossing section in UC2. It's like The Goonies meets Romancing the Stone. It's brilliant stuff.

Despite what I've mentioned, Uncharted 4 tonally feels a different game from Uncharted 2 and 3 (Uncharted 4 doesn't massively go in for parkour chase sequences for instance) but it has the effect of finally fulfilling what was missing from Drake's Fortune. Despite its gritty (and frankly a little too derivative) opening chapters, the game frequently, and thankfully, mellows.
Despite first appearances, this is not a game that actually relies on larger than life villains at all. The settings and 'hero' relationships do the talking in this game as it progresses.

Many of the scenes happen by coastlines and riverbeds- this is a game often true to the first game's Prince of Persia-like piratey, green and lush, kind of stylings. Regard it as a kind of very best, superb, reimagining or building upon Drake's Fortune (despite some locations that are not like that game) with absolutely gorgeous details (which can be endlessly enjoyed and played about with in Photo Mode) and you won't be disappointed because on those terms it is worth the very high marks people have given it. It's only if you start trying to compare with UC2 and UC3 as if UC4 was trying to be the same kind of thing as them that you can start to feel that UC4 had too much of some things and not enough of others.

UC2's status as a shooter and as a brilliantly paced romantic story is not changed- it remains brilliant. UC3's status as featuring some quirky characters, the largest feeling setpiece locations, and the best Sully interactions of all is unchanged. UC4 is a more complex, brilliant, thing than just trying to outdo Naughty Dog's already un-outdoable work. And yet it's also the most simple, good natured, schoolboy, fun of all. It makes you work through the first few chapters to get to the true gaming gold but it slowly turns in to pretty much Romancing the Stone meets The Goonies for goodness sake- what more can you want? Apart from more Sully and Nadine and being allowed to pilot a plane.

Does 5 star mean it's the perfect Uncharted game? No, of course not- to be perfect by Uncharted standards it would have to include some chapters that were a bit more 'urban' as well like Uncharted 2 plus it's have to have more Sully and Nadine in it plus the market scene in single player would be far more extended (multiplayer gives you far of a market place level to play with). 5 star means I love it and I will do long term. I can see that, far from being just a setpiece laden game that will lose its lustre on repeated playthroughs, this is a game that will reward lovers of graphic design (in moments of both high octane and still scenes) and of quiet character interaction.


Tricks Of The Mind
Tricks Of The Mind
by Derren Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Misunderstands probability, 5 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Tricks Of The Mind (Paperback)
Ideally i would give this 2 and a half, maybe even 3, stars but 3 stars means 'It's OK' and factual errors are not OK with me.

The factual error that I am personally referrring to is that, in his indecent haste to castigate the masses for misunderstanding probability he has, I hope due to bad proofreading although I can't rule out sincerely held bad mathematics, said in his now ironically titled chapter 'Anti-Science, Pseudo-science and BAD THINKING' that if he tosses a coin 7 times and gives me 3 choices of what happened 'but only one of them is the real outcome' that there is an equal chance that when he said he tossed HHHHHHH that it was true as there is that when he said that he tossed HTTHTHH it was true.

He gets so seduced in to his correct 'coins have no memory' argument that he fails to realise that his clause that 'one of them (one of those 3) is the real outcome' does NOT make them all equally likely. Think of the old 3 boxes case where you should swap to have a 2/3 chance of winning after being shown a losing box. Now think - what is particularly special about that second combination above? NOTHING. What is special about having all the same outcomes, no matter whether all heads or all tails? A lot more than a choice that is indistinguishable from another!

If only he hadn't said that one is the real outcome (a given that he would be tossing the coins live in front of us of course) then they genuinely would have all been just as likely.

So, I stress, if given those 3 choices BEFORE the coin toss and seeing Derren do it, they're all just as unlikely - as those 3 choices are not the sum total of all possible outcomes.

But Derren, misunderstanding , has categorically told us that one of them IS the real outcome. So they now become the sum total of all possible outcomes. And it is that that fatally flaws his example.

If you disagree, please comment why.


Red Dwarf : Complete BBC Series 8 [2003] [DVD] [1988]
Red Dwarf : Complete BBC Series 8 [2003] [DVD] [1988]
Dvd ~ Craig Charles
Offered by Fulfillment Next Day
Price: £5.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Red Dwarf: Eastenders in Space, 20 Jan. 2016
Red Dwarf 8 turns the promising premise of reuniting with the rest of the Red Dwarf crew, who were killed in the radiation leak caused by Rimmer failing to secure a drive plate properly, in to more or less Eastenders in space. Several actors have featured in Eastenders.

It is by popular opinion on average that Cassandra is the best episode of series 8. This mostly shows how great the late actress Geraldine McEwan was, who plays her role with some well judged quietly seductive, sparkly, verve in the role.

They manage to pad out much of the rest of the episodes by the convicts reprogramming Kryten in Krytie TV (which has been done by Lister before in the more enjoyable Bodyswap) and by a virility enhancement drug to make the prisoners so weighed down in the joy department that they struggle to play basketball. It's lightweight standard BBC comedy stuff by Red Dwarf standards.

Kochanski, who is so underrated by so many for her part in series 7 (mainly because people resent that Rimmer's departure half way through coincided with her arrival- Rimmer's departure was Chris Barrie's choice so that he could film sitcom A Prince Among Men)- Korchanski is unforgivably underused, demeaned, as a character by series 8. Where she was independent, fiesty, a little scared in series 7, she is more or less just a stooge in series 8 for sex jokes. Which might be OK if she was given anything else to do.

A main problem (and it continues to be a problem in Back to earth and series 10, even though they are a marked improvement in character driven jokes) is that they got rid of Monster / villain of the week. It had barely been in series 7 too but that series was enhanced by some lovely cinematography, more subtle scripting, some lovely use of music and atmospheric 'real world' episodes such as Tikka to Ride, the James Bond / Indiana Jones style spoof (heralding Ace Rimmer) of Stoke me a clipper and Duct Soup which, to me, is like a reimagining of series 3's script highlight Marooned. But series 8 needed villains to get its teeth stuck in to and only Cassandra answered the call. Series 8 is such a relatively crude turn of events for Red Dwarf that I could have given it 2 stars out of protest. But it's still got the likeable actors who we all love even if their characters seem more wafer thin than in any other series. It remains a concern for me for series 11 and 12 but series 10 was, I think, a little step back towards the right direction.


Red Dwarf : Complete BBC Series 7 [2005] [DVD]
Red Dwarf : Complete BBC Series 7 [2005] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chris Barrie
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £6.81

4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the most underrated of all, 5 Jan. 2016
A short review as there are many others- series 7 is perhaps the most underrated of all. It's easy to see the good and the bad in series 8 (good- the crew of Red Dwarf are back which is a novel idea for one series- bad - the jokes are more toilet humour than ever before).
But series 7 followed series 6 which, despite only being set in Starbug and on visited planets, is popular with many fans, perhaps because of the sharpness of the one liners writing and such novel 'characters' as Legion and the crew dressed up in a western.
But watch series 7 now and you realise that it was never a pale imitation or misstep. Series 7 is entirely its own thing. Glossy, clever, and that's just Kochanski. Remember The Rimmer Experience, JFK shooting himself, 'Bet he's a sour kraut' and the wonderful Duct Soup which is like Marooned Part 2. Chloe Annette is a fantastic actress. Series 7 is so much the richer for introducing her talents. And the other characters benefit too - Cat is finally given some proper depth as a comic force; 'A swishing, swirly thing'. If you want only blokes all the time, join a monastery. I did originally give this 5 stars but 4 is probably fairer because I'd say that the first 5 episodes are very good, good production values, and the last 3 a little less so. The VR sections 'Lister of Smeg' and Jane Austen World were not favourites of mine- they just begged the question why series 7 chose not to give new Kochanski some new and proper villains to get her teeth stuck in to. Rather than a simulant and a virus. Something like re-meeting Legion would have been good or a new villain altogether. And it's as if the series was so keen to be slick and character focussed that they slightly forgot that quirky characters like Dwayne Dibbley, the Demons and Angels bad selves, the Psirens, are part of what make Red Dwarf.


The Bends
The Bends
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £7.84

5.0 out of 5 stars The Bends, 3 Aug. 2015
This review is from: The Bends (Audio CD)
Like a disco hosted by Francis Bacon, all limbs cracked and drugged to get away from the horror, the Bends might be simplistically summed up as Nirvana's woe is me meets Queen's soaring vocals. With a touch of the oriental in My Iron Lung, including the dejected line, as if agreeing with earlier critics 'This this is our new song Just like the last one A total waste of time' and then, as if that had all been the dourest, dryest, of advertising slogans, the punchline, the product title 'My Iron Lung'. For in this early to mid 90s album, Thatcherism and Majorism's broadly anti-youth culture, banal or teasingly hopeful advertising slogans like Coca Cola's 'Just like the real thing' find their way in to the Fake Plastic Trees. This time I'll be 'Bulletproof - I wish I was' (before La Roux's different song) is a masterful song in haunted, almost voiceless, weakness in the face of overbearing odds- acceptance, respect and, most of all, genuine love. And, not said enough- to feel sexy. For Radiohead write very sexy, music. The crescendo of Just's guitars for instance. The drum accompanied climax of The Bends 'To blow me away, to blow me sky high'. It's like frustrated passion, intellect, generosity in the face of a world that just doesn't care if the music is wafting out over aisle 5 of a soulless supermarket in a soulless airport departure lounge. Like the Pulp of Oxford, 'I met her in supermarket', Radiohead have essentially the same sentiments- too clever and angry to be around most people. Too nice and clever to NOT be around people. The Bends is an extraordinary album. In fact, very many of the same facets that OK Computer had were already done are on The Bends. Black Star for instance- 'This is killing me'- the suffocation of modern life, in terms of sheer number of people, amount of information and misinformation, and physical and mental ailment. It might not have Pink Floyd's pastoral nature (more a Cambridge than an Oxford thing- Oxford is more urban, although relatively so) but it is an excellent Oxford-Cambridge counterpart for the 90s to Floyd's entire output. It is a very, very, important album.


Abbey Road
Abbey Road
Offered by MediaMerchants
Price: £8.27

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dear Beatles. PS I Love You, 18 April 2015
This review is from: Abbey Road (Audio CD)
A significant percentage of people rate Abbey Road as the finest Beatles album. It's the most even demonstration of the individual talents of every single Beatle since Revolver, where George Harrison had 3 songs. George may have 1 fewer on Abbey Road but they are classics. Earlier songs by Harrison are no less good - through Rubber Soul to Magic Mystery Tour, George made very quirky songs that had a Lennon-like surrealist or uncompromising realist bite e.g. Blue Jay Way and Think for Yourself (a song that could be argued to have invented punk). On Abbey Road, George shows more of his McCartney side, resulting in Frank Sinatra saying that Something was the best 'Lennon-McCartney' composition rather than the Harrison composition that it was.

So on to Lennon and McCartney. And firstly Lennon who downplayed his significant contributions to Abbey Road- Come Together, I Want You (She's So Heavy), Because, Sun King, Mean Mr Mustard and Polythene Pam. Lennon is more consistently funkier and bluesier than ever. The latter 2 songs have a deliberately, artfully, saucy, seedy, seaside postcard quality. There is none of the, by comparison, leaden rock of Revolver's Dr Robert. At the same time, it's a throwback to the kind of raw skiffle of a pre-Beatles era. And, for the first time in a long time, Lennon is given the opening song on a Beatles album. No need to build up to any Lennon avant gardeness.
Here he is directly funky in the kind of way that Harrison was with Taxman and McCartney was with the opening songs of Sergeant Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour.

There's even more to say about McCartney's songs, if mainly due to sheer numbers. Of the 17 tracks on the album, 8 are McCartney songs.
Although, in terms of playtime, McCartney's are only slightly longer than Lennon's contributions, thanks to the lengthiness of I Want You (She's So Heavy) which, like every song on this album, I love.

Yes, like many, I do recognise that Maxwell's Silver Hammer and Octopus's Garden, whilst catchy, are not the be all and end all of Abbey Road. But there are also quite a number that just can't handle the heavy, lustful, doom of I Want You (She's So Heavy). I will take it that these people are probably not big fans of The Doors either. Perhaps they prefer their Lennon being purely like some peace-nik, stripped of any angst. If so, they do not really respect the wonderful conflicting forces that made Lennon such a genius.

Listeners more used to McCartney's wistful Penny Lane could be forgiven for thinking that the soulfully raw Oh! Darling had been written and performed by Lennon. It is undoubtedly one of McCartney's best performances. Lennon seemed to like the song and regarded it as a throwback to a 50s style.

On side 2, after harrison's 'Here comes the sun' and after Lennon's classical piece reversed and given lyrics in cod-Spanish, Because, then 'the medley' is regarded as starting. I don't know why they don't regard Because as being part of it but anyway...

McCartney's 'You Never Give Me Your Money' is arguably the finest montage composition ever created. 'Oh that magic feeling, nowhere to go' seems so apt for The Beatles- that they had nowhere musically that they HAD to go to. They'd taken on some old styles, they's rejigged them, and they'd also laid new foundations and defined the progress (or rapidly changing uncertainties) of an entire decade.
I could talk about the remaining McCartney songs in the medley but it's all part and parcel of You Never Give Me Your Money to me. It's his A Day in the Life- and he was in the middle section of a A Day in the Life anyway.

Finally, Ringo's drumming and the overall production is beautiful on Abbey Road. Imagine the fragile beauty of Lennon's 'Dear Prudence', alternating between rocking and vocally soaring, from The White Album and that's not all that far from the overall tone of Abbey Road.

It's kind of like a concept album that doesn't seem burdened down in repeated listens by its own concept. The Beatles album that has the greatest number of well known 'iconic' Beatles classics is arguably Magical Mystery Tour. But Abbey Road is a solid finale that goes straight for the heart.


Catherine (PS3)
Catherine (PS3)
Offered by You Too
Price: £29.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Metaphorical puzzle game, 19 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Catherine (PS3) (Video Game)
First of all, you should be made aware that you can currently get Catherine for free on PS3 if you sign up to Playstation Plus which costs just over £5 for a month. Given that this game compels you to keep playing and can be finished in 12 hours in my case, that would be enough time. Still, an advantage of buying it instead if you wish is that you can always easily give it to a friend when you're finished. Plus it could easily be regarded as a collectors piece so perhaps buying it is not a bad idea.

Catherine initially seemed quite an overwhelming game to me. Going from a bar scene to a puzzle section with music provided by Holst's Planet Suite and a deliberately overacting, deliberately rather 'goon' of a guy, gives you the sense of being constantly fearful of the trials and tribulations of 'love' and (you have no choice in this) deceit.

After not long though you realise that, unless you're playing on Hard, the game is not crushingly hard. For every time that one of the few enemies on the stages could kill you, you usually have the power to easily knock them off instead. But to start with the game can seem fairly hard when you get sidetracked by the window dressing of sheep in cages and ominous music.

The game makes a point of letting you know how rich in metaphors it tries to be. It does heavy handily but it is necessary in this kind of small, intimate- and Japanese- game. e.g. 'Stray Sheep'.

To start with it almost seems like a dating sim but you only have certain options in that respect. The game doesn't give you many options to do the moral thing throughout. It's hardly moral to remember to text and reassure your girlfriend, Katherine, when you're head over heels about Catherine. Plus Katherine is so business-like in her approach, never really hinting at any sexual energy herself, you wonder what the 2 of you are doing together at all - it seems more like a mother and son.

I don't often say it about such a one off kind of game but I wish it could have a sequel but only if they don't overcomplicate the puzzle sections and please instead offer far greater choices in the relationships sections, to make it truly more of a Heavy Rain-like choose your own adventure.

The animation is lovely and it veers nicely between easy going and over the top fraught.


Bioshock (PS3)
Bioshock (PS3)
Offered by Bridge_Records
Price: £21.36

3.0 out of 5 stars Bioshock on PS3 gets a 3 star review from me ..., 27 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Bioshock (PS3) (Video Game)
Bioshock on PS3 gets a 3 star review from me only for the purpose of making it clear that this is an inferior looking version to the Xbox 360 one. The PS3 version is far too clinical looking compared to the 360 version. Early ports on PS3 were always hampered by trying to get to terms with the Cell. This is not something that Bioshock Infinite on PS3 suffers from at all.


Psychoville - Season 1
Psychoville - Season 1
Dvd
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A lot better than series 2, 17 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'll be very brief like I was with my review of series 2. The first series of Psychoville was really good. I'm surprised to see series 2 currently has a higher star rating. For me, series 1 is a lot better. Bearing in mind that it's the same characters, it's obvious that the novelty of working out the quirks of each of the characters wears off in series 2. The first series has a mysterious atmosphere that series 2 can't hope to match. I'd skip series 2 for a very rainy day and watch Inside No.9 by the same writer/s instead if you haven't yet.


Psychoville - Series 2 [DVD]
Psychoville - Series 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Steve Pemberton
Price: £7.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as series 1, 17 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Psychoville - Series 2 [DVD] (DVD)
I'll be very brief. The first series of Psychoville was really good. I'm surprised to see series 2 currently has a higher star rating. For me, series 1 is a lot better. Bearing in mind that it's the same characters, it's obvious that the novelty of working out the quirks of each of the characters has now worn off. So then the plot slowly and inevitably goes along, lacking some of the mysterious atmosphere of the first series. I'd skip series 2 for a very rainy day and watch Inside No.9 by the same writer/s instead if you haven't yet.


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