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Lloobee "Lloobee" (York, UK)

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Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3
Price: £4.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect ending to an awesome trilogy, 12 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Mass Effect 3 (MP3 Download)
The best thing about the ME games was the unbelievably good soundtracks. And this was the greatest of the three. From the wonderful "leaving earth", the emotionally choreographed "Aralakh Company", it's a truly awesome soundtrack. Space opera at it's best. The absolutely beautiful, meandering, melancholic piano melody of "An End, Once and For All" is an appropriate funeral dirge for commander Shepard.


Wolfpack
Wolfpack
Price: £6.71

2.0 out of 5 stars Technically detailed but extremely boringly written., 31 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Wolfpack (Kindle Edition)
For such interesting material tp be made ... almost boring ... took a certain amount of skill. The author seems to view the collection of facts as the end in tiself, and in doing so misses crucial context; for example in the first section of the book he presents at length the individual technical details of each variety of submarine that the germans built, along with how many of each were built and a few details about relative success of each class.

But divorced from the narrative of the progression of naval warfare during world war two, it's frankly meaningless; a set of disconnected and soulless description of a set of submarines, like a set of "top trumps" cards.

All in all, I think it's a bit of a missed opportunity; much work has been done in assembling the facts, and as such this makes a fine reference tome. However if you are looking for an overview of the development of German submarines in world war two, something that identifies the underlying trends in design and usage methodologies in response to the changing situation both at sea and industrially, then this book just is not it.


Evanescence
Evanescence
Price: £8.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying for "My heart is broken", 31 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Evanescence (MP3 Download)
Truly awesome album; and where to start ? Evanescence's rich combination of metal with a veneer of classical piano and Amy Lee's wonderful voice seems to be improving with age; I remember after "Fallen" a friend said "yeah they're good by the need to mature a little". They have done that, and then some.

On this album, I think my favourites, almost diametric opposites musically, are "the change", and "My heart is broken". Very nice that they follow each other, kind of like "Tourniquet" and "Imaginary". And the effect is the same, "the change" is an angry, pacy track with a really outstanding, brooding bass guitar during the verses, and Amy really giving it some welly on the lyrics "I've been screaming on the inside and I know you feel the pain - can you hear me?", "yes it's over but I need you anyway".

And as the feedback from the last electric guitar riff dies away, in comes the gentle piano intro of "My heart is broken". Anger fades to sadness. Truly an anthem for everyone who's ever been hurt. A song of raw emotion and richness of sound that I've not heard since "Lithium". The last chorus literally reduced me to tears; just the piano and some strings, the line "My heart is *broken* - release me, I can't hold on"; the simple, almost childlike delivery of emotion in that line, like the final relinquishing of hope, the bass drum discretely fades in followed by a reprise of the guitars. To steal a quote from William Gibson, "pitch perfect and clear as ethanol".


Fallen
Fallen
Price: £10.34

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 23 May 2014
This review is from: Fallen (Audio CD)
After hearing the excellent "Bring me to life", I rushed out and got this album quite a long time ago. But even now it sounds fresh. IT's an album with so many excellent tracks, and with good variety to boot.

"Going under" sounds kind of industrial, great electric guitar and drums, with Amy really giving it some welly on the vocals, with occasional hints of their signature piano.

But then you've got the absolutely wonderful piano intro of "Bring me to life", the almost subsonic bass as Amy sings the intro, it shows her voice off much more than "going under". Then the guitar kicks in and the acceleration of pace is like a cavalry charge. It's suddenly very hard edged. "Everbody's fool" is somehow a very loud by very calming piece of music, very plaintive.

Then there's a complete change of pace, "my immortal" is a classic, classical, ballad. A rich piano melody backed by orchestral strings, it doesn't match the rest of the album (except "Hello"), but at the same time it's such an excellent song with such a strong chorus, who cares ?

Skipping forward slightly, "Tourniquet" and "Imaginary", note really two songs but really part of one extended piece, The transition between the two is musically innovative, perfectly executed, and has more emotion in about a minute and a half than most albums could pack in an hour and a half. Hammering electric guitar and drums (plus Amy) cuts in an instant to a wonderful short piece of orchestral strings, with a wonderful moody double bass underlying it. As it fades, like a reprise "Imaginary" starts with fast strings and Amy singing, followed shortly by the electric guitars kicking back in like someone taking a chainsaw to an orchestra. Somehow the transition of metal/rock through purely classical, then back, works amazingly. Beyond that, the guitar-heavy chorus of "Imaginary" is itself awesome and contrasts beautifully with the piano backing the verses.

Finally, as far as highlights go, there's "taking over me". Musically it's more than "bring me to life", it wonderfully mixes the classical and metal sounds, the chorus sounds like it should be the soundtrack to an extremely violent movie scene, maybe someone blasting a horde of zombies with a flamethrower or something. But that contrasts with the wonderful piano sections, so quiet but at the same time overladen with emotion.

All I'd say is someone should make a movie of "the Reality Dysfunction" by Peter Hamilton, and use Evanscence for the soundtrack.


The Open Door
The Open Door
Price: £12.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Fallen, 23 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Open Door (Audio CD)
I bought this album on the basis of the absolutely brilliant "Fallen".

It's not that album.

At first I didn't like it, not as vibrant as Fallen. Nothing as outstanding as the transition between "Tourniquet" and "Imaginary". Or the intro to "Bring me to life".

But somehow, while Fallen had sharper flavours, "the Open Door" has deeper ones. The intro to "the Only One" is a masterfully brooding mix of bass and piano, and as Amy starts the first verse, her voice is absolutely perfect, soft as silk, but with a deep edge of supressed emotion. The song then builds up very strongly, in almost imperceptable increments, to a crescendo of angry vocals, sharp electric guitar, and a bass-line like distant artillery.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the other highlight for me was "Lithium". The piano / vocal intro to this is so rich in texture, with a slight hint of sharpness, it's like someone has managed to convert a black forest gateau into audio form and record it. Then the drums appear, loudly, but somehow unobtrusively, and the track takes this smoothly rolling form, the piano melody driving the pace, with Amy's vocals building up. And then electric guitar kicks with a vengeance in for the second chorus, and the emotional tapestry is complete. Somehow they manage to keep a perfect balance between the strength of the vocals, piano, guitar and drums.

Of course those are just the highlights. "Snow white queen", "sweet sacrifice", there's plenty more to enjoy on this album.

Overall, it's more nuanced than "Fallen". Some ways more distinctive. And if you liked Fallen. Eventually you'll love this.


Living Things
Living Things
Offered by hifi-media-store
Price: £11.41

5.0 out of 5 stars Not the band they used to be. But that's no bad thing, 31 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Living Things (Audio CD)
First time I listened to this album, I really liked "lost in the Echo", which is probably the closest to their earlier work, but the rest, didn't grab me. However, on second and subsequent listenings, I've come to love this album.

To warm you up, "Lost in the Echo" combines Mike's signature rapping with Chester's chorus - it's pure Linkin park. At it's best. Then there's "in my remains" and "Burn it Down", both wonderful rock / techno songs but with barely any rap between them. "lies greed misery" is ok (every album has to have something not for all tastes), but then there's the two really awesome tracks. "I'll be gone", a lovely techo / electric guitar intro, subtle strings backing the verses, then just hammering it with drums, the axes and chester on the chorus, just three and a half minutes of pure energy. No rap either here.

And then, my favourite track on the album. "Castle of Glass". I really didn't know what to make of this, it's just not usual linkin park. But then it is. Somehow they've got this wonderfully catchy backing, sounds like something gaelic, wouldn't be out of place in the highlands, added verses that sound almost chant-like, and created a masterpiece of a rock song. And acoustic guitars! It's kind of ultra-techno and yet primeval at the same time.

Fastforwarding a bit, "Skin to Bone" is a chilling inctment of our current way of life "will tomorrow have it's way, with the promises we trade".

"Until it breaks" brings back the rap, alternating with Chester's vocals like a head to head contest. To be honest this doesn't work that well, Mike's rap is an integral part of the LP sound, this harsh separation sounds just forced.

Finally there's "tinfoil" (which is really just an intro to) "powerless". Again no rap, instead a beautifully quiet first verse, a lot of wierd techno backing and a piano, but then the chorus swings in with robust drums and a bit more velocity on the piano.

Personally I found a lot to like on "A Thousand Suns", despite being a big fan of "Meteora", "Minutes to Midnight" and "Hybrid Theory" (and even the remix album "Reanimation"). But I found a lot more to like here. Only thing I fouynd lacking was something that more seamlessly mixed Mike and Chester's roles - thinking back to the older albums I'm thinking "In the End", "Hands held high" or "Waiting for the end", or something as breathtakingly powerful as "what I've done" or "Breaking the Habit".

But don't let that put you off. This is a brilliant album.


XCOM Enemy Unknown (PC DVD)
XCOM Enemy Unknown (PC DVD)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £5.98

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's XCOM. But a bit different, 16 Oct. 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
As many have said, the game is based on the original UFO, but somewhat simplified. The inventory systems is perhaps the worst part - like if only one of your characters is carry a stun gun, and gets shot, there is no way to recover it so you are then forced to kill all the aliens - but generally it works pretty well and yields a smooth, fluid combat experience. If you've played Incubation (all those years back - but not nearly as far as UFO) then suffice to say it handles a lot like that, but with UFO - style maps.

Graphics and sound are generally pretty good, and one thing for the PC version - as with Civ 5 the 3d implementation is nearly flawless with the nVidia 3d goggles.

One thing I did notice, some other reviewers have commented too, that the ramp up of alien activity is much faster than the original. In UFO, you had the scouts and small fighters for quite a long time, abductors (small / medium) before the bigger (medium) harvesters, before the terror ships and base-attacking motherships started appearing. This has, well I saw maybe 2 or three small UFOs, one medium, then the next ship was large. If you don't manage to capture the aliens on the very first few missions it makes it extremely hard to catch up later. Similarly, it was a while before Chrysalids showed up in UFO. Oh, and something I found funny - alien weapons seem to always disintegrate when you kill the aliens, I figured that was a fudge to get around the situation in the old UFO, where towards the end game you didn't care about funding, you could get all the cash you could spend by selling heavy plasma rifles...

I'm not quite sure why they don't let you form up a "B" team as in the original (if you could afford more skyrangers you could just buy 'em), to tackle multiple events at once, or launch multiple interceptors at a single UFO (you have to wait for one to get back to base before unleashing the next one :(.

But lets not be too negative; balancing that, they do at least have a very rich supply of things to research, lots of it triggered by capturing items / aliens in the field. The maps are generally pretty good, even though the alien bases are a bit of a marathon run. The 3d as mentioned is really good. And ... It's XCOM. The game we've been waiting for since ... Terror from the deep ? I was still a student when that came out, and Apocalypse, while not bad, didn't quite cut it.

So all in all, 5 stars for fun, only 4 overall, but pretty close. Maybe a remake of TFTD next please ?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 17, 2012 4:23 PM BST


End This Depression Now!
End This Depression Now!
by Paul Krugman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £14.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation in print, 1 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I can't reccomend this book highly enough. In the introduction Krugman sets out to "appeal to informed public opinion in an effort to get us doing the right thing instead". An what an appeal it is. The bulk of the book shows, with evidence, the shear amount of innacuracy, or downright lies, that have been told in the unfolding of this crisis. His arguments are pretty compelling, the writing style is nicely concise and very readable.

I could say a lot more of the content of the book, but instead will settle for this - if you are an educated lay-person when it comes to ecconomics, and you are trying to understand how we got into this mess, wondering why the UK's GDP has sufferred longer than it did in even the Great Depression, then really you should read this book.


Unstoppable [DVD]
Unstoppable [DVD]
Dvd ~ Denzel Washington
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best B-movie of all time, 17 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Unstoppable [DVD] (DVD)
There's not much to be said about the plot - it's a runaway train movie.

However, the execution is nothing short of flawless. The two main actors (Washington and Pine) are absolutely brilliant. The soundtrack is awesome, alternating between horror-movie synth, emotion-laden classical piano, and pure industrial drum-and-bass.

Unlike most of this sort of film, the action plays second fiddle to the characters. Washinton is *perfect*. Somehow even his bald head matches the character's attitufe. As experienced as his character in "training day", but more nuanced and human. One of his best roles. The dialog has some really good moments.

"What are the odds it'll make it to Stanton ?"
"You saw the train - what d'yo think ?"

... Leading into a moment of perfect audiovisual choreography.


Mass Effect 3 (PC DVD)
Mass Effect 3 (PC DVD)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £5.95

6 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seems fixed to me. And pretty awesome to boot. Updated 16/03/12, 12 Mar. 2012
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Mass Effect 3 (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
"Good luck"
"I don't need luck. I have ammo."

I'll start with my complaints:

1) You have to install origin, yet another download service with "social features". Tosh.

2) This game marks a progression - a negative one - in terms of map sizes and being able to walk around. For example, the original ME citadel was a huge place to wander around. In ME2 it had shrunk somewhat, but there was still a reasonably big multi-level area with all the shops in. In ME3, it has shrunk again, and now a willy wonka - style magic elevator takes you between sections so there's one section for the docking bay, one section that's a hospital (which is smaller than a real ICU ward let alone hospital) one section that's a nightclub and ... you get my drift. This is probably catering to the XBox demographic who don't want to actually explore the game they just want to teleport from one action scene to the next, but to those who enjoy actually the sense of exploration, it does take quite a bit out of the game.

Now, on to the good points. Firstly, the cutscenes are excellent, the authors have obviously had fun working with the idea of these absolutely monstrous machines trashing the entire galaxy. "Thresher Maw vs Reapers" - you'll know it when you see it - short as it is, it might actually be the best cutscene of the whole series.

Secondly, many of the characters of the earlier games are still present, though many of them have moved on, adapted since the events of episode 2. Including Shepard. Some of the stories are interesting, some are fun, many are very sad.

The graphics are very much like those of ME2, except now there don't seem to be any controls to adjust most of the settings. Shadows and stuff, plus resolution and that's about it. So I guess that's a neutral.

Combat is also pretty similar to ME2, with two exceptions. Firstly, the cover system has been uprated substantially. Secondly, many of the battles are a lot more frantic and have more moving parts than those in the first two games. Melee combat is now almost a viable option when you run out of bullets (I've found a bayonet for my shotgun). The odd "special" combat sequence too - like manning a turret or driving a heavy mech.

They've done away with mining (hooray) instead most of the new items are either bought with cash or researched after finding special items.

Which leads to the last plus - there appear to be a much wider range of weapons in ME3 than there were in ME2 (not quite the arms bazaar that ME 1 was though). Plus you can choose how many to carry - fewer weapons means your skill "powers" recharge faster. Some weapons are heavier than others. And there's a modification system that allows each weapon to be upgraded in lots of different ways.

I've seen a lot of complaints about either it not running or the importer not working. Running Windows 7 x64 on a six-core rig with SLI, I've not had any problems at all. My character imported without problems (though due to the engine being a little bit different - e.g. complexion texture changes - I did make some small adjustments).

Even origin has a silver lining. By default it backs up your saves to cloud, which is quite handy if you sometimes play on a laptop.

Haven't got to the end yet so I can't comment on that.

So all in all, it's prettier than ME1, and so far has a better plot than ME2. I generally preferred the ME2 soundtrack. Some awesome cutscenes, good characterisation, the only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is the way the game is chopped into bitesize "chunks" for the console crowd.

***Addendum***

I just finished the game. For those who have too, I took the right hand door :). Uprated the game to 5 stars (but docked one for fun).

The ending is awesome in my opinion, but bring some tissues. It is after all the end of the series and they've done it right.

A lot of people have complained about the ending, but I don't get their beef. ME was always space opera of the highest sort, and while the game ending was not what I expected, that doesn't constitute a "betrayal" in any sense; just that the authors had a different underlying story in mind. It all fits in it's wierd and wonderful way. Bioware indeed.

If I had one passing gripe, it's that after the end it returns you to the bridge so you can play DLC (like ME2 did). It should have been just fade to black and exit to menu. Job done.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 13, 2012 2:57 PM GMT


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