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Mr. E. G. J. Smith (Somerset, UK)

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Dragon's Dogma (Xbox 360)
Dragon's Dogma (Xbox 360)
Offered by findprice
Price: 9.71

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy epic that tries to be different and succeeds, 30 May 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I have to admit that I was looking forward to the release of Dragon's Dogma as it approached. The game has had one of Capcom's largest groups working on it, and you can see the influences of the various teams that have come together within the company to create this huge videogame; the zombies and dark grittiness of Resident Evil, the huge enemies and enemy juggling of Devil May Cry etc.

You play as a villager who has their heart torn out by a dragon - but you survive! You are the Arisen, a special type of hero who is linked to destiny, and shortly after rising from death, a Pawn arrives on the scene, following you around the fictional land of Gransys.

The Pawns are one of the main attractions of the game: after meeting the first one, and you eventually discover the Rift, you are able to create your own Pawn, who is an AI character who levels up alongside you and also might be borrowed by other players to help them out on quests. While you have your own custom Pawn, you can hire two others to bolster your monster-slaying party with their various skills and such combining with yours. It is important to create a well-balanced party of melee fighters and long-rangers (as well as a healer) as when you venture out of the safety of towns and encampments you will be met by LOTS of things that want to kill you. Not only do they help in battle, but Pawns can take some of your loot to help lighten your load, and will offer you handy tips on current quests and various enemies.

The gameplay starts off fairly difficult to begin with, and I found myself venturing off exploring only to end up being smushed into the ground by some gigantic creature that I was unable to deal with. However, by continuing on, and listening to the Pawns in my party, I was able to start levelling up and learning how to deal with various enemies, as well as which paths to avoid at a lower level. As for those huge enemies, they're a mix of the usual wolves and bandits along with mythological mainstays (the lion-goat-snake Chimera is always a bit of a sight) and the first time you see a Griffin flying overhead is a bit of a breathtaker.

As I progressed through the story, I was impressed with its mix of apocalyptic-world-saver meets political-overthrowing feel, and some of the dialogue and story writing is top notch. While the game doesn't look as good as some of the other titles out today, they aren't so poor as to seem last-generation and some of the magic effects are spectacular.

Bottom-line: Need another fantasy game? I did. I wasn't disappointed with the gameplay, still finding it fun after 30 hours play, and haven't even scratched the surface of the storyline. It's not Skyrim, but it's not meant to be.

1408 - Director's Cut Edition [2007] [DVD]
1408 - Director's Cut Edition [2007] [DVD]
Dvd ~ John Cusack
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: 4.91

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half-decent, but a worse cut, 13 April 2012
I remember watching 1408 in the cinema, and found it to be a genuinely scary film. Admittedly, many of those scares came from jumpy moments, but then the horror would continue, unrelenting. I'm a bit of a fan of films based on Stephen King's work, as the characters tend to be carefully built and have real problems in their lives, and John Cusack's writer is no exception to this. This film is a testament to his acting ability that he can hold his own throughout the film while often being the only actor on screen.

However, this cut of the film isn't as tense. Some of the scenes are dragged out and lose their intensity. And the ending is different - about as different from the original theatrical version as is possible. It means that overall the film feels less scary and ends with less of a bang. In my mind, it doesn't feel like a Stephen King ending, though I don't know how the original story ended.

Bottom-line: It's an interesting horror film with some scary moments, and John Cusack is excellent in this. However, 1408's Director's Cut isn't as tense and ends on a bit of a poor note. Not a good horror film, but not a bad one either.

Xbox 360 250GB Console
Xbox 360 250GB Console
Offered by Staraxe Ltd
Price: 215.00

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the original 360 by far, 12 April 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this as a replacement to my old Xbox 360. This new version runs quieter, looks better in my room, and is a more all-together package. Finally Microsoft have created a console that is an equal to the PS3: the hard-drive and wireless adaptor are now internal and come as standard.

The hard-drive itself is more than enough for any games and add-ons you might want to download from Xbox Live. It's Xbox Live that is one of the main reasons to get a 360 - simply by owning the console you can use it as a silver member, but you need to pay a subscription to get the gold member access, which allows you to play games with other players online and use various other programs. Microsoft recently improved the service meaning that there are now a number of Apps you can download onto your console including Channel 5's and 4's On Demand TV service, BBC iPlayer, Zune film and music, and more.

Many of the various videogames you can buy nowadays have cross-console avalability, but there are some franchises that are Xbox exclusive: these include Gears Of War, Halo, & Forza Motorsport.

The only issue I found was that the console did not come with a video-cable that allowed for High Definition gameplay, but you can pick HDMI cables up for fairly cheap now so it's not a major issue.

Bottom-line: A quieter, smaller console with the various attachments now included internally. There's loads of great games and with a good internet connection you can take advantage of the excellent Apps. If you're afraid of your children accessing anything inappropriate for them there are various family settings you can set up, making this suitable for the whole family.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (Xbox 360)
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (Xbox 360)
Price: 4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3rd person shooter that's just above average, 12 April 2012
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
For those of you who already know the Games Workshop created Warhammer 40K universe the setting of this game will be familiar territory. For those who don't, it is the 41st century and the universe is in constant war. Mankind faces enemies in the form of twisted aliens as well as the forces of Chaos - demons who twist and taint the hearts of man. One of humanity's main defenses are the Spacemarines, genetically engineered supersoldiers clad in thick mechanical armour. You play Captain Titus of the Ultramarine chapter.

Over recent years, games such as Gears of War have been classified as Spacemarine shooters, and it shows the impact of the Games Workshop's iconic warriors that they are the stereotype that other armoured warmongers ae labelled as.

The studio have done well to make you feel like you are a heavily-armoured powerhouse. Every step seems like it weighs a ton, as it would do, but your character isn't sluggish; instead, your Spacemarine's super-muscular body and the mechanically-aided armour they wear mean that you can sprint across the battlefield and then twirl and spin in close-combat. The melee is bloody and the weaponry feels like it causes the damage you'd expect - the chainsword, part chainsaw part sword, grinds through the green-skinned orks with messy ease. The other-half of the combat, the shooting, also feels as you'd expect. The blocky bolter rifles thump into your Spacemarine's shoulder with each shot, and the explosive shells they fire burst into your enemies.

The game isn't perfect. It's linear, and the combat can feel a little repetitive at times. However, the levels are suitably epic, and being a fan of the Warhammer boardgames and models, I felt like I'd stepped into the worlds as I'd imagined them. The multiplayer is pretty fun, and the customisation that is available helps add a little more interest.

Bottom-line: A fairly decent 3rd person shooter with good melee thrown in. While it's not the most original, the universe it's set in IS the original. If you are a fan of Warhammer 40,000 then this game is an excellent item to add to your collection.

Fitness Mad Power Grip Hand Exercisers
Fitness Mad Power Grip Hand Exercisers
Offered by Herbert Sports
Price: 8.43

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good grips, a little tough for some, 10 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These hand exercisers are a great little exercising tool. I use them when watching TV or films and they are the exact right level of spring for my needs. The foam cover on them is reasonable - you can sometimes feel the solid underlay. I don't have big hands, and these fit me fine. The only thing I can say that is an issue with these is that they have too much spring-load for some people; other people in my home can't use them, but they work for me.

Bottom line: Got a decent amount of strength in your arms already? These are an excellent addition to your strength-building tools. Otherwise you'll need a weaker set.

Donnie Darko [2001] [DVD]
Donnie Darko [2001] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jake Gyllenhaal
Offered by CP UK And Global LTD
Price: 2.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, troubled teen movie, 10 April 2012
This review is from: Donnie Darko [2001] [DVD] (DVD)
I remember seeing this film when I was sixteen. Back then it was mind-blowing to me. I've grown since then, and it's less intense and insane as I remembered it. Still, Donnie Darko is a film that I'd be willing to put forward as one that you must see in your lifetime.

Donnie Darko is a young man who has mental problems - he's spent time out of school due to his problems. One night he wakes to the sound of a twisted, grim voice beckoning him out of the house. I can't say more - anything else is a spoiler.

The cast is excellent. A younger Jake Gyllenhal was cast as Donnie himself, and it's a memorable performance. The whole family connect like a real one, their various relationships feeling real and as if they matter. This is probably helped by Donnie's sister being played by Jake's own one Maggie Gyllenhal.

The story can feel confusing the first time you watch it through, and not everything is answered, and it's hard to say which parts are the ones you'll keep asking yourself about without spoiling it in any way, but it's a clever plot that links back to itself, and the characters feel real and you actually care about their stories. The music score reflects the popular music of the time (the 80s) and that helps set the mood of the film.

Bottom line: Watch it. Buy it. It might confuse you, it might frustrate you, but really open your mind when you watch this and I think you'll be taken in to a dark, psychological drama that will haunt you for weeks.

Halo 2 Multiplayer Maps (Expansion Pack) (Xbox)
Halo 2 Multiplayer Maps (Expansion Pack) (Xbox)
Offered by RCDiscs.
Price: 9.50

3.0 out of 5 stars A decent add-on, a little out-of-date now, 10 April 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
The Xbox live servers for original Xbox games have been shut down now, so if you're wanting to expand your Halo 2 online experience then be disappointed. However, if you play Halo 2 with friends on split screen or system link, and can get this expansion pack for cheap, then the extra maps contained on this disc are a worthy addition.

It's hard to say how fun this expansion is as it does depend on who you're playing with and what you like in a multiplayer map.

Bottom line: Want all the Halo games and all the maps available for them? Then if you can get this for a few quid, do so. Otherwise you won't get much from this.

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Xbox 360)
LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Xbox 360)
Offered by passionFlix UK
Price: 11.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Easy-going, lazy fun, 10 April 2012
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Having tried a few of the Lego video games, Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga wasn't bought on a whim - I knew what I was getting into. I grew up with Lego bricks and video games being separate entities, but when these games were released I wasn't overly optimistic. I thought "it's just another way for the companies involved to earn a bit more easy cash". However, having played this game, I found it to be carefully crafted with its target audience in mind. That audience, I suspect, is made of both children who haven't played many games and adults who want to play games with them.

From an adult point of view, I found nostalgia from seeing the worlds and the characters populating them made out of the recognisable Lego bricks. There's also humour thrown into the cutscenes, which lighten the mood of the Star Wars stories.

The gameplay is simple, but is reminiscent of old 3D platformers as you run about, jump across gaps and push round blocks to solve puzzles. You also get to use Lego lightsabers and blasters to take out little Lego enemies, who explode into their various components when taken out. Adding to that are the various incentives to exploration and Lego stud collection, including various characters and mini-kits you can use in Free Play. Also you can play with another, which is great for couples, friends, or kids & parents.

Bottom line: It's simple fun, which both children and adults should enjoy (unless forementioned adults don't like Star Wars). With this game also spanning all of the Star Wars films, there's more game for your cash. If you want a serious game that adds more to your gaming or Star Wars collection, look elsewhere.

Halo 3 ODST - Classics Edition (Xbox 360)
Halo 3 ODST - Classics Edition (Xbox 360)
Price: 12.40

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Halo, but different, 10 April 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
If you enjoyed the Halo series so far, then you should love this game. Halo 3: ODST is set in the Halo timeframe about halfway through Halo 2's story. How does this work out? You aren't the 7 foot tall cyborg Master Chief but instead play as a member of a crack Orbital Drop Shock Trooper team. It's the team itself that is the star of the game - if you ever watched Firefly or Serenity you'll recognise some of the voices - as they all have back-stories that will pull you in, and their interplay is comedy gold.

The gameplay is nothing different from other Halo games, but if you haven't played them before then it's your standard first-person-shooter but well-polished. The addition is the visor your trooper wears, highlighting enemies and points of interest in the dark. Also, with not being a metal-man, you will find small encounters with the Covenant aliens a harder firefight which will require a more tactical approach.

I won't go into it much more. My bottom line: this is the best Halo game I have played, and one of the best shooters. It adds more to the Halo universe, and takes you out of the silent boots of Master Chief and places you in those of an ODST, one that you'll care more about. You want to find out what happened to your team, you want to help them finish their mission, and you won't be the superhero; you are a trooper who is part well-trained and part lucky as hell. It's Halo for the person who wants a more realistic experience. If you only buy one Halo game, get this one.

Mass Effect - 2 Disk Special - Classics Edition (Xbox 360)
Mass Effect - 2 Disk Special - Classics Edition (Xbox 360)
Price: 11.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic space opera that's well worth the price tag, 10 April 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This is the first game of a now finished trilogy - if you've never played a Mass Effect game before, then here's where the story begins. You are Commander Shepard, a human war veteran who is called upon by the Alliance military to step forward as their candidate for the Spectres, an elite group of intergalactic speical forces who answer to the Council. I'll stop there with the story, because there's a huge amount of back-story and lore that I can't include here.

What I can say is that it's a sci-fi that has some of the feel of Star Wars and Star Trek without feeling like it borrows from either - it stands alone, and feels unique enough to be a new experience without being too mind-blowing. Although the whole story-arc isn't anything too surprising (hero saves the universe), the journey is what matters here, with the planets you visit and the alien species you encounter.

As a game, it's a tactical 3rd person shooter. It's not Gears of War, though its similar in its shooting style, but you have a variety of powers to use based on the class you pick at the beginning of the game. It's not as overtly violent but there's no shortage of combat. When you reach a new planet that you can explore you land in your tank-like vehicle and get to roam an alien world. These are generally barren worlds, with few landmarks, but it's worth exploring to find resources and long-lost artifacts. While these discoveries don't generally add anything new to your game, though they do give you experience and credits which in turn allow you to level-up and buy new equipment.

The few set pieces of the story often force you along linear paths, but its the parts of the game outside of those that I enjoy most - following various side-quests and exploring the sci-fi universe. Added to this was the realisation that the choices you make in the first Mass Effect continue on into its sequels - when this was revealed I suddenly had to create new characters and try different paths from the previous playthroughs.

Bottom line: This game was worth the pricetag at its original release, but now with the sequels out and the classic price it's even better value. A must-buy for the Xbox and if you do enjoy it, the story doesn't end here!

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