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The Happy Space Invader

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LEGO Lord of the Rings (PS3)
LEGO Lord of the Rings (PS3)
Offered by Bargain Games UK
Price: £14.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Some bugs in 2-player but otherwise well executed, 18 April 2014
There are a few problems when playing in 2-player mode.

The split screen wanders all over the place, which is very distracting and sometimes prevents you completing certain sections where one character has to aim across the other side of the screen (the crosshair will not travel past the split screen line).

Also, there are some sections in which the single-player game prompts you to switch characters to complete a puzzle. When this happens in 2-player mode, however, Player 1 automatically switches to control Player 2's character... which is incredibly annoying for Player 2!

In either mode of play, I did feel there were too many moments where the game takes over control of the characters for a cut scene. Sometimes time happens either side of no more than 30 seconds of gameplay. Also, after every non-controllable section, the pause before you regain control is several seconds too long. It's a minor fault, but it does break up the rhythm of the gameplay.

These faults aside, this game captures scenes from the film with just the right balance of seriousness and humour. The graphics and sound are excellent, and, unusually for a Lego game, you get actual dialogue from the film. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it's a little weird. Best of all, the puzzles are varied and the characters' special abilities are all very original.


Hitman Absolution (PS3)
Hitman Absolution (PS3)
Offered by GNH100
Price: £9.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Puerile trash, but the graphics and gameplay help you forgive., 18 Mar. 2014
I like playing this game, but there's quite a lot that grates. Square Enix have clearly targeted this at "teens to early 20's" males, and the characters and dialogue are the kind of thing you'd expect if a teenager was shown a Tarantino/Scorcese move and then asked to do their own take on it. Example - a particularly nasty character's final words are "I have wood... why do I have wood?". Those over 30 won't be shocked, just embarrassed at the transparent and unconvincing efforts to get an 18 rating. Also, the fact that this was made be a Danish company with little idea of United States culture is all too apparent. We have a female character working at the FBI wearing a suit that exposes her midriff, assassins dressed as nuns and wearing high heels (is that even practical?) and, most bizarre of all, a United States Judge wearing a full-bottomed wig, the kind that English judges only wear on ceremonial occasions (e.g.the State Opening of Parliament). Throughout the game, there are some horrendous (borderline racist) American & Mexican stereotypes.

The gameplay is enjoyable to an extent; however, this is a very linear game. You are basically filling in the gaps of a story that's already written so, no matter how well you play the game as the perfect stealth assassin, there are some cut scenes that depict you as a blundering idiot. I found these scenes completely undermine the Hitman character... especially the one who was under my control in the playable sections.

However, the graphics are drop-dead gorgeous, and the sound design complements them very nicely indeed (particularly the Instinct Mode, although it is very similar to that found in Batman: Arkham Asylum). I particularly liked the large crowds that you could hide in ... something you don't very often see in video games (apart from Hitman: Blood Money, of course!). It's just a shame that the character animation in the cut scenes is so bad. They all suffer from the same problem in so many video games (like Grand Theft Auto) where motion capture isn't used. Some of the characters bounce around while standing on the spot, and waving their arms around in a completely unnatural way - looking rather like the puppets in Thunderbirds.

The music is pretty old though, and quite atmospheric without being intrusive.

The controls are absolutely spot on - I really can't fault them. They feel natural and responsive for a 3rd person game, and I like the way the camera can be completely rotated around the player without clipping through walls or getting awkward.

And as linear as the overall gameplay is, there are still some sections that allow a fair bit of freedom as to how they're completed and there's a reasonable amount of replay value in some (to get a better score and/or unlockables). I find these parts enjoyable enough that I can overlook the many negatives above, and still say that "I like it"... hence, 4 stars.


Elder Scrolls IV, Oblivion: Official Strategy Guide Revised Edition
Elder Scrolls IV, Oblivion: Official Strategy Guide Revised Edition
by Peter Olafson
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a walkthrough guide, 27 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Incredibly detailed, informative and a lovely sense of humour where appropriate. Fantastic diagrams and maps, and screenshots from the game. This book gives you an insight into this complex game that you would struggle to achieve otherwise. In fact, one of my guilty pleasures is to read it even when I have no intention of playing Oblivion the same day.


Sennheiser MM450-X Travel Wireless Bluetooth On-Ear Headphones with Kindle Compatibility
Sennheiser MM450-X Travel Wireless Bluetooth On-Ear Headphones with Kindle Compatibility
Price: £199.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but turn the volume up before listening., 1 Feb. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have just upgraded from the MM450, for the better sound quality. Initially, when I got them out and paired them up to my iPhone, I was shocked at the sound quality. They sounded far worse than the MM450's (which I still have), and sounded akin to AM radio, even with NoiseGuard on.

I was all prepared to write a stinking review, and return them to Amazon for a refund, when I realised that the MM450's were one level below the highest volume setting. I pushed the MM450-X's to the same level, discovering that they are on the lowest possible setting, out of the box.

And this made it alright again - same reasonably punchy bass that the MM450's deliver, but with much added clarity at the top end, and greater definition in the mid-range, justifying my purchase.

I've seen some negative reviews about the sound quality of these headphones on here, and can't help but feel others made the same mistake I (nearly) did.

Personally, I think these are the best travel bluetooth noise cancelling headphones on the market right now. They are light, comfortable, and fold away into a tiny case. They sound ok with noise cancelling off, and also work without Bluetooth via a cable. You can also connect via a cable and use the noise cancelling, but no Bluetooth, if you like. For the best sound, you want both Bluetooth and NoiseGuard, but it's nice that there are working alternatives if the battery goes flat.

The NoiseGuard feature is not infallible, but I found it cut out enough to be able to hear my music on the London Underground. Bear in mind that on-ear headphones cannot give the same noise cancelling results as over-the-ear headphones.

As for the battery, you get advance warning of when it's going to go flat, via an intermittent 3 beeps through the headphones themselves, and the battery can be charged with an ordinary micro USB cable, from any USB power source. And, by the way, that's how it should be with ALL headphone batteries... please take note Mr Bose!

The controls are relatively easy to operate - most of the time, you will be holding down the front button to activate/deactivate NoiseGuard and pressing it to go into the microphone pass-through mode.

As for whether they are really worth the upgrade from the basic MM450's, I'm not really sure. The upgrade in sound quality, while noticeable, did not exactly blow me away.... however, it should be noted that I am listening to AAC files from iTunes, on an iPhone 5... which is hardly the last word in audiophile technology!

But for truly portable headphones for your daily commute, I think these are hard to beat.


Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote Control
Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote Control
Offered by AV-ELECTRONIX GmbH
Price: £170.18

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So awesome, I bought two!, 29 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I loved my Harmony One, but this is a superior product in almost every way. I have only two main complaints:

1. The placement of the play, pause, fast forward, rewind and record buttons... right at the top of the controller, out of reach. In fact, it's not as bad as some people have made out, as the back of the controller is shaped such that you can slide the controller down in your hand and access those buttons easily... but it still could have ben better designed in the first place.

2. The information on the touchscreen is a bit scrappy in its layout. You have transparent menu bars at the top and bottom, with the main screen information underneath; therefore you get a messy and unreadable overlap of text most of the time. Also, you cannot interact with whatever is partially "under" the menu bar, even though you can see it clearly. You need to scroll the screen up/down until the control is in the middle to use it.

After that, it's all good. This unit is lighter and more ergonomic than the Harmony One and feels as if it's made from higher quality materials all round. The touch screen is responsive and has a decent resolution. The gesture based control is a nice addition, but I'm not sure how much I would use it in practice. It has a slight problem recognising double-taps, but everything else works as described.

I particularly like the way much of the customisation can be done on the handset itself, rather than via the Silverlight-based configuration app. I also like the way that even when you must configure changes in the app, you no longer need to connect the remote to your computer with a USB cable to sync it - the syncing now all happens over wireless. The new app is a lot easier to use in most respects than the old desktop app.

The fact that Bluetooth support is built-in is a real boon if you own a PlayStation 3 or 4, and the fact that you can even control the onscreen pointer on the Nintendo Wii's home screen was an unexpected bonus.

And then you don't even necessarily need the remote at all... you can simply use your iPhone/iPad to control all the same features!

So, given Amazon's massive discount off the retail price, I bought 2 devices - one for the kitchen TV/Radio/AppleTV/Wii and one for the living room TV and its plethora of devices.


Anker® Screen Protector for iPhone 5S / iPhone 5C / iPhone 5 [3-Pack] Highly-Transparent Anti-Glare Anti-Fingerprint (Matte) with Lifetime Warranty
Anker® Screen Protector for iPhone 5S / iPhone 5C / iPhone 5 [3-Pack] Highly-Transparent Anti-Glare Anti-Fingerprint (Matte) with Lifetime Warranty
Offered by AnkerDirect
Price: £15.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great result, but tricky to fit, 29 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Thank goodness you get 3!

There are a few reviews claiming this is easy to fit and then others claiming quite the opposite. The cynical part of my brain tells me the positive reviews are either friends of the vendor, or people who just happen to have access to professional, dust-free "clean rooms".

Or maybe they just got lucky. Unfortunately I encountered several problems with the fitting:

1. Aligning the screen at the top, does not guarantee that it will be aligned by the time you get to the bottom. The instructions tell you to do it this way, but this method is flawed. Inevitably, you will get it wrong the first couple of times, which gives rise to another problem...

2. ... no matter how clean the screen is to start with (and it's easy to get it clean), if you've had to lift and re-place the protector a couple of times, as per 1. above, then particles of dust will naturally become attracted to the screen, so that you start to get more and more bubbles. I managed to remedy this by using the dust removal sticker on both screen and protector a couple of times before finally placing it for good, but it was by no means easy.

3. Once you have the screen down, and you spot bubbles... the plastic "bubble removing" card is often useless, as the cause of the bubble is a speck of dust, and no amount of smoothing out is going to help. You must lift and re-place the screen protector.

4. When you finally have the screen protector lined up, placed on the screen and full of bubbles, you may think you're home and dry? THINK AGAIN! On both my iPhone and iPad, lifting the 2nd film caused the screen to lift, every single time. It seems that whatever force holds that second film onto the screen protector is greater than whatever adhesive holds the protector to your iDevice screen. This cause dust to get in again, bubbles... and a frustrating treck through steps 2 & 3 again. Even when I lifted the 2nd film very carefully, bending it back to keep the protector on the glass, it lifted it of the screen about halfway down, and there was a heart-stopping moment when I thought all my hard work had been undone. Fortunately, and through good luck more than anything else, the screen protector settled back down onto the glass without any bubbles.

The positive side though, is that the screen does look excellent once fitted. It's not quite as matte as I was expecting, but it cuts down a good deal of the usual glare, without noticeably compromising the high resolution retina screen, unlike other brands of screen protector I have fitted. The best effect is in daylight, or indirect light. In a dark room with a single light source behind you, you do of course get some reflection.

Overall, fiddly as heck, but worth it for the result.


Anker® Screen Protector for iPad Mini / iPad Mini 2 / iPad Mini 3 / New Apple iPad Mini Retina Display [2-Pack] - Highly-Transparent Anti-Glare Anti-Fingerprint (Matte) with Lifetime Warranty
Anker® Screen Protector for iPad Mini / iPad Mini 2 / iPad Mini 3 / New Apple iPad Mini Retina Display [2-Pack] - Highly-Transparent Anti-Glare Anti-Fingerprint (Matte) with Lifetime Warranty
Offered by AnkerDirect
Price: £9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Fiddly to install, but the best matte screen protector on the market, 29 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
So, there are some reviews claiming this is easy to fit and others claiming the opposite. The cynical part of my brain tells me the positive reviews are either friends of the vendor, or people who just happen to have access to professional, dust-free "clean rooms".

Or maybe they just got lucky. My feeling was "thank goodness you get 2 in the pack".

Unfortunately I encountered several problems with the fitting:

1. Aligning the screen at the top, does not guarantee that it will be aligned by the time you get to the bottom. The instructions tell you to do it this way, but this method is flawed. Inevitably, you will get it wrong the first couple of times, which gives rise to another problem...

2. ... no matter how clean the screen is to start with (and it's easy to get it clean), if you've had to lift and re-place the protector a couple of times, as per 1. above, then particles of dust will naturally become attracted to the screen, so that you start to get more and more bubbles. I managed to remedy this by using the dust removal sticker on both screen and protector a couple of times before finally placing it for good, but it was by no means easy.

3. Once you have the screen down, and you spot bubbles... the plastic "bubble removing" card is often useless, as the cause of the bubble is a speck of dust, and no amount of smoothing out is going to help. You must lift and re-place the screen protector.

4. When you finally have the screen protector lined up, placed on the screen and full of bubbles, you may think you're home and dry? THINK AGAIN! On both my iPhone and iPad, lifting the 2nd film caused the screen to lift, every single time. It seems that whatever force holds that second film onto the screen protector is greater than whatever adhesive holds the protector to your iDevice screen. This cause dust to get in again, bubbles... and a frustrating treck through steps 2 & 3 again. Even when I lifted the 2nd film very carefully, bending it back to keep the protector on the glass, it lifted it of the screen about halfway down, and there was a heart-stopping moment when I thought all my hard work had been undone. Fortunately, and through good luck more than anything else, the screen protector settled back down onto the glass without any bubbles.

The positive side though, is that the screen does look excellent once fitted. Most matte anti-reflective screens ruin a hi-res "retina" display, as they produce this kind of crystalline sparkly effect due to the structure in the plastic that diffuses the light. These screen protectors do not have this problem, I suspect because the diffusing "particles" inside the plastic are much finer. The iPhone screen loses none of its clarity, and the sparkle effect is only faintly noticeable on the iPad Mini Retina if you look at an all-white screen with your eyes less than 8 inches from the glass. I travel to and from work every day on the Thames Clipper river boat, which has lots of skylight windows all round, which is terrible with reflective screens... yet I have not problem reading the iPad screen with this matte protector applied.

I sympathise with those using a rubber tipped stylus, but can assure those users that the "Adonit Jot Script for Evernote" does not have any of these problems as it has a rounded metal tip. If you're using a stylus for writing, I further suggest that this is the best device for that task anyway. Having said that, I find the Wacom Stylus for the iPad works fine with this screen protector.

Overall, quite fiddly, but worth it for the result.

EDIT: One last plea to Anker... please please PLEASE... can you make a screen protector for the Macbook Air Retina and the Sony PS Vita?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 8, 2014 10:43 AM GMT


The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game
The Really Nasty Horse Racing Game
Offered by a1 Toys
Price: £16.49

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant fun, and easy to play., 16 Dec. 2013
= Durability:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Good clean fun that brings out the competitive/vindictive streak in anyone! I've played this several times with friends and it's an absolute riot. Very simple to pick up and cleverly constructed to allow players to be completely vindictive to each other in the pursuit of winning each race. The way the bets/odds and running lanes are used is ingenious, and the vindictiveness comes in the form of cards that can make bad things happen to your opponents' horses.

Best played with the maximum number of players, but works well with 4 people.


Morphy Richards Accents 44732 4 Slice Toaster - Red
Morphy Richards Accents 44732 4 Slice Toaster - Red
Offered by Kenco Spares
Price: £56.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Broke after only 9 months light use, 11 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Works ok, but is very slow as other reviewers have pointed out. Also, after only 9 months, the right hand side of the toaster stopped working (the lever will no longer lock in place).


Grand Theft Auto V (PS3)
Grand Theft Auto V (PS3)
Price: £23.99

2 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Game-breaking bug, 9 Nov. 2013
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Like many others (just check the Rockstar forums), I've got about 40% into the game and hit a bug whereby no mission markers are available... therefore cannot complete the game.

Currently, Rockstar do not have a guaranteed solution to this, besides starting the game again from scratch. They also have no idea what causes the bug to occur... so I have to wonder how many times they play-tested the game through from beginning to end.

It's a real shame, because I was enjoying the single-player game up until that point (apart from the over-sensitive steering on the cars, perhaps).


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