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The Perry Bible Fellowship: Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories
The Perry Bible Fellowship: Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories
by Nicholas Gurewitch
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 27 Sept. 2010
This is the funniest thing I've ever read. You can get the content for free from the website, but nice to have in book form to lend to someone you think might also enjoy it. Something I'll forget about, then rediscover in years to come, and laugh all over again.

Halo: Reach (Xbox 360)
Halo: Reach (Xbox 360)
Offered by elevenfirst
Price: £25.85

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More of the same, 27 Sept. 2010
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Halo: Reach is simply more of the same. Not that I dislike Halo, but Reach is not groundbreaking in any way whatsoever. The campaign plot is totally forgettable prequel rubbish. I think this release is essentially a con - it only exists to force the multiplayer fan base to pay yet another £40 to keep up.

Somebody wake me if Bungie/Microsoft ever decide to leave the 1990's and go massive-multiplayer. 100+ per side in a threeway between Marines, Covenant and Flood is where it should be at by now.

Get into Bed with Google: Top Ranking Search Optimisation Techniques
Get into Bed with Google: Top Ranking Search Optimisation Techniques
by Jon Smith
Edition: Paperback

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An introduction for novices?, 29 July 2010
Possibly an OK introduction to SEO and Google if you know nothing about it, but I didn't like the author's style - the 'jokey' page titles, for example, and the 'Here's an idea for you' box tacked on the end of each section. For technical information regarding Google and SEO you'd be better off just reading Google's webmaster guidelines (which, to be fair, the book does mention). Much of the advice contained in the book is speculative and unquantified so it's hard to know which of the advice is likely to have much effect (if any).

One the plus side, it's quite a short book.

Final Fantasy XIII (Xbox 360)
Final Fantasy XIII (Xbox 360)
Price: £12.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Average game is average, 20 Jun. 2010
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Overall I'm surprised by just how poor this game is, given the amount of hype that surrounds it. I've not played any of the other FF titles and, based on FF13, I won't be.

The overall plot is completely stupid. Honestly. Don't even bother. It's bonkers and contrived from beginning to end. However, that's not the worst aspect of the game - the worst part of the game is the dialogue (cut-scenes). These move the story along but have been written by a carebear on acid. I vomited a little in my mouth on several occasions and at one point I'm sure my sexuality started to change.

The gameplay is centered around the battle system which is sort-of turn based. The game provides an auto-attack option which selects attacks for you; while this makes the battle system pointless it's also completely necessary as having to do it yourself would drive you insane. The characters can perform in 6 different roles, but Synergist, Saboteur and Sentinel are useless and slow the game down - just leave it on Relentless Assault, swapping occasionally to heal.

You can also equip a large variety of ineffective items. Upgrading is pointless until near the end of the game as you will keep getting better versions of items as you progress (making your previous upgrades redundant).

While the graphics are fine - even very pretty in places - the world feels thin and fake. Save points, treasure chests and quest initiators are just icons that appear in the world - no attempt made to integrate them. There's a wide variety of 'monsters' but the models are laughably rendered - about the same level as pokemon. Looking back, none of the level design stands out - it's all pretty but in a childish, let's use ALL the colours, kind of way. An endless hike along floating roads.

Good points: Quite long, no obvious bugs/crashes, easy to play.
Bad points: Plot. Dialogue. Contrived battle system. Pointless upgrade system. Hard achievements. Eidolons - lol. Pokemon monsters.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2012 10:16 AM GMT

Framework Design Guidelines: Conventions, Idioms, and Patterns for Reusable .NET Libraries
Framework Design Guidelines: Conventions, Idioms, and Patterns for Reusable .NET Libraries
by Krzysztof Cwalina
Edition: Hardcover

3.0 out of 5 stars Consistency is a good thing, 26 Aug. 2009
This book is mainly a list of guidelines about which approach to take in common .Net programming situations, however most of the guidelines are arbitrary - while some justifications are offered they often invoke the power of unreferenced 'usability studies', for example. In some places the authors directly contradict themselves (intentionally).

The book contains much redundancy and some errors. It's common for a chapter to start with a discussion and then repeat many of the points just made in a list of guidelines. In one code example involving delegates an identifier is declared twice in the same scope making the example more difficult to follow.

However, maintaining consistency in any non-trivial software project is a 'good thing' and having any set of guidelines to work to is a valuable starting point. Given that some of the guidelines are almost certainly very good advice (even if poorly justified) following these guidelines will probably help prevent you from making some decisions you might have otherwise come to regret.

Half-Life 2: The Orange Box (Xbox 360)
Half-Life 2: The Orange Box (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £34.49

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A shame that Team Fortress 2 is broken, 5 April 2008
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
The Orange Box contains Half Life 2, plus the current two plot extensions: Episodes 1 and 2. It also contains Portal and Team Fortress 2.

There's plenty of detailed reviews here for the Orange Box and I don't want to repeat what's already been said. I thought the whole package was very good. I especially liked Portal's dry humour and Team Fortress 2 (TF2) has clearly had a lot of time spent on it and is a great multiplayer game.

However I've deducted one star from the review because of TF2's network-related issues. It suffers badly from lag. A recent patch (released late March 2008 via Xbox Live) restricts the number of players to between 8 and 16 based on the host's bandwidth in an attempt to combat this, but even with Virgin Media's XL broadband package (up to 20mbps download, 768kbps upload) I'm unable to reliably host more than 10 players.

While 4v4 multiplayer gaming is pretty much the norm for Xbox I was hoping for larger online games and TF2 appeared to promise this. Unfortunately it fails to deliver.

Not The Highway Code: The Unofficial Rules Of The Road
Not The Highway Code: The Unofficial Rules Of The Road
by Ivor Baddiel
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not As Funny As The Highway Code, 2 Mar. 2008
This book borrows some of its presentation, and all of its sense of humour, from the real highway code. That is to say: it's not at all funny. Possibly the biggest pile of drivel ever assembled into book form.

Xbox Dance Mat
Xbox Dance Mat

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very inaccurate - very frustrating, 8 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Xbox Dance Mat (Video Game)
I have two of these dance mats. Neither were 100% accurate even when new and both have now degraded to the point of being infuriating to use because Dancing Stage Unleashed does not tolerate mistakes. While all the buttons work sometimes none of them work properly for very long before they start failing to register for some of the steps that are made.

Shadowbane (PC)
Shadowbane (PC)
Offered by Games Heaven
Price: £2.95

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Massive time investment required, 24 Mar. 2004
This review is from: Shadowbane (PC) (Video Game)
Shadowbane features a role-playing game (RPG) style character system where you create a character of a given class (fighter, mage, etc). You then kill non-player characters (generally called 'mobs' in Shadowbane) to earn experience that you then spend on improving your character's abilities.
You can also fight and kill (and be killed by) other players. There are safe areas for lower-level characters, but you are eventually forced to leave these areas and will need to join a guild run by other players.
Of course, most of the other players have been playing for longer than you and have higher-level characters that can kill you easily, so you need to improve your character by killing mobs.
Killing mobs to earn experience points (and collect gold and loot) is referred to as 'farming'. You will have to do a lot of this in order to improve your character.
I played Shadowbane for just over a month (only for a few hours every other day or so - I only have so much time for online gaming) and gave up because it was taking far too long to level my character up to the point where it could compete with the existing playerbase. I want to spend the time I have available actually playing the game not 'farming'. Farming is so boring that many players use a technique called 'powerlevelling' where a higher-level character does all the work while you stand near-by and earn experience just because you are in the same group despite that fact that you are probably watching TV or something else in real life.
Still, it's not all bad news. The game does not require much in the way of first-person shooter (FPS) skills as the game handles the fighting (no aiming required), which might be appealing if you lack the skill with the mouse that is required by many online FPS games.
Also, the game features player-run guilds, so there is scope for huge wars, shifting alliances, political infighting, spying, etc. If the character-levelling system wasn't so boring I might have stuck with it long enough to get to this level and might have had a different opinion of Shadowbane.

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