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The Happy Space Invader

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The Proposition [Blu-ray] [2006] [DVD]
The Proposition [Blu-ray] [2006] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Guy Pearce
Offered by RX dvds **worldwide delivery available**
Price: £19.97

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The darker depths of humanity, breathtakingly depicted., 16 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There's not much more I can add to the 5-star reviews already here, except to summarise: beautiful cinematography, excellent direction, believable performances from the stellar cast, incredible and portentous dialogue oozing with subtext. If you don't like strong, upsetting and realistically portrayed violence, then give this one a miss; one of the main themes of this film is the brutality of life in the British colonies of the 19th century.

Works particularly well on Blu-ray, with both Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio soundtracks to chose from in addition to the basic Dolby Digital 5.1. Picture quality is an equally stunning VC-1 transfer; not quite the showpiece of your home cinema set-up, but that's more because of the filming style.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 29, 2012 1:06 PM GMT

Practical Lock Picking
Practical Lock Picking
by Deviant Ollam
Edition: Paperback

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Only covers 2 types of locks!, 2 Jan. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Practical Lock Picking (Paperback)
This book should have been called "Practical Pin Tumbler and Wafer Picking", as these are the only two kinds of lock that are covered. The book does show, in fanatical detail, how these locks are manufactured and constructed, but you're ultimately left wanting.

A comprehensive book would have at least covered lever locks (particularly the "Chubb Detector" and "Protector" varieties), but I'd would have also liked to see other lock types mentioned, such as the "warded" lock or the famously unpickable Bramah lock.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 21, 2012 11:01 AM BST

LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (PS3)
LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (PS3)
Offered by Turbotrance
Price: £15.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lego + Star Wars = fun!, 2 Jan. 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The overriding feeling you get while playing this game is that it was created by people who love both Lego and Star Wars. If you're the same, then you'll love this game. The controls and gameplay are relatively simple, allowing you to progress through the game at a speed that avoids frustration, but still keeps you interested.

There are some shortcomings though: The first is friendly "fire". In 2-player mode, in the heat of a battle, it's all too easy for you and your player partner to end up blasting each other. This gets old fast, and there's no way to disable friendly fire, like there is in most 2-player games. The second is the lack of split screen - you and your player partner are limited to the visible screen area and, particularly if you're playing with a less experienced player, you can often end up in a screen "tug-of-war" where you're each trying to go in different directions. It seems the designers eventually relised this, as the Lego Harry Potter games have a very clever "dynamic" split screen that seems to solve the issue (although I've only played that game briefly). Also, given the forced 3D perspective, it can sometimes be difficult to judge jumping between platforms, and it's often all too easy to fall out of the game world to your doom.

Finally, given the Lego theme, it's sometimes a shame when you see some spaceships or environments *not* made of Lego that really ought to have been. Similarly, I think the designers were a bit lazy with the massive Star Destroyers, as these are only made from a handful of pieces and look nothing like the massive (and expensive) Lego model you can actually buy.

Overall though, it's a great fun blast, and I would particularly recommend it for younger players, grown-up gamers with children.

Formula 1 2010 (PS3)
Formula 1 2010 (PS3)
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £5.84

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best driving game for the G25, 30 Sept. 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Formula 1 2010 (PS3) (Video Game)
I'll keep this relatively short, as all I really have to add to the other positive reviews of this game is that it plays absolutely fantastic with the Logitech G25 (and Wheelstand Pro). You can map any of the buttons to any of the functions (I like to have the rewind and car status on the steering wheel buttons) and no matter what difficulty setting you use, you don't need to tweak the actual wheel settings at all - almost as if the default setting was tuned to this particular steering wheel (unlike most other driving games where you have to fiddle endlessly - Grid... I'm looking at you now!).

So yeah, the game has other faults if you look for them, and the graphics were not quite as mind-blowing as I was hoping for, but for the basic thrill of wrestling to keep a car under control at speeds well exceeding 100mph, you simply can't beat this game and the G25 working together.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 3, 2010 3:27 PM BST

Sennheiser MM 450 Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headset (discontinued by manufacturer)
Sennheiser MM 450 Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headset (discontinued by manufacturer)

13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good quality, marred by a few technical disappointments, 13 Sept. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Bought these to use with my iPhone and Macbook when travelling, but I've found a number of minor annoyances that detract from the value of this product.

First of all, the instruction booklet is pretty sparse and does not cover all of the features you can get from the headset buttons (such as a single press of the bluetooth button initiating the iPhone's "Voice Control".

More importantly, if you're thinking you're going to use these in a public place in Bluetooth mode, forget it. The whole time these headphones are connected via Bluetooth, the right earpiece flashes a large and very bright blue light. When on an overnight flight recently, I found this lit up the opposite side of the plane I was on, so I quickly switched the headphones off (to avoid annoying my fellow passengers) and plugged them in using the supplied lead. However, this morning, I was using them on the bus to work (in broad daylight) and the person sitting next to me complained about the flashing blue light. UPDATE: Although the instruction booklet didn't mention this, I found a PDF manual online that shows how to disable this "feature".

Another annoyance is that the noise cancelling feature only seems to work when using the headphones in Bluetooth mode (unless someone can correct me on this, but I couldn't get it to work). UPDATE: I got this wrong, if you plug the headphones in using the supplied audio lead, but also switch them on, you get to control the volume with the headset, and use the noise-cancelling, but the audio is going over the wire, not bluetooth.

The sound quality is good, but the noise-cancelling is pretty limited, compared to the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B headphones I use at home. It only really works while playing music, otherwise there's an audible (and distracting) hiss to contend with. With the ATH-ANC7B, all outside noise just disappears - there's no hiss.

Overall, I very much wanted to like these headphones, but I think they're overpriced for the sound quality and features, and if there's really no way to disable the completely unnecessary blue strobe while in Bluetooth mode, I shall be sending them back for a refund. UPDATE: I actually held on to these headphones after some feedback on my review that corrected me on a few issues (see updates above). The noise-cancellation is still weaker than I would expect given the price, and the rubber cover for the USB input fell off recently, but the sound quality is very good and they are extremely convenient as travel headphones. Bumped up to 3 stars in light of this.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 27, 2011 10:11 AM BST

2010 FIFA World Cup (PS3)
2010 FIFA World Cup (PS3)
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £3.62

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much fun for beginners., 20 Jun. 2010
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
Ok, it's a long time since I've played a football game (probably PES on the N64) and I'm not a massive fan of the sport, but I thought a World Cup tie-in might be dumbed down enough for me to at least pretend to be a football fan for the span of the competition. I also wanted to get my 4 (nearly 5) year old son into the game. So, bear in mind that I'm coming to this game fresh with no recent experience of an EA FIFA game.

First off, the laughable "2 button" mode. Why laughable? Well, because as soon as the tutorial video starts, you find out that it in fact uses about 6 buttons: 'X' and 'O' to pass and short, but then all manner of R1, L1, R2, L2 combinations to perform other moves. By the end of the tutorial, my son and I were none the wiser. The main menu is pretty confusing and badly laid out. For example, where's the settings menu? Oh, of course, it's been renamed to "My FIFA World Cup". There's a so-called tutorial mode, but it's not really a tutorial at all - a tutorial would give you tips and advice on playing the game well - this is just an empty sandpit in which the novice can simply repeat their bad mistakes without really learning anything.

The game itself is not much fun to play - when you're in possession of the ball, the game stores up all your button presses and then executes them at its own discretion. So, you try and pass and nothing happens, so you press again, only to have the game make two passes. Great. When not in possession, it's extremely difficult to take control of the player you want - the game seems to pick this for you and it's usually the wrong one, e.g. a player six yards behind your opponent who's running towards your penalty area. Mid game, I couldn't figure out how to make a simple substitution - there's just no menu item with that name and no in-game help to assist you. The instruction pamphlet is no help here, so what am I supposed to do? Go online and try to find out? Is that really what you expect when you've shelled out £40 for a game? Or is this my punishment for not having bought previous games in the series?

The graphics are pretty ropey too. All of the cut scenes (especially when the camera circles around the lined-up players) have a terrible framerate that judders along and is hard to watch. The animation of the managers, players and crowd members in other cut scenes is also appalling - did they not use motion capture? The players likenesses are comically bad - poor Wayne Rooney looks far more deformed than he does in real life!

The sound is also very weak. The recorded announcer sounds extremely tinny (and has an annoying voice) and the balance of environmental sounds is very poor.

And, in general, it doesn't really look or feel like any of the games I've watched in the World Cup - it's completely lacking in atmosphere and is, ultimately, utterly unconvincing. If I thought this was the best possible on today's game consoles, I might cut it some slack, but I've played other sports games (e.g. MLB 10, NFL 10) where it actually looks like some effort was put in. This game is clearly a lazy cash in, and I would certainly not recommend it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 27, 2011 7:46 PM BST

Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (PS3)
Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising (PS3)
Offered by b68solutions
Price: £4.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The most realistic shooter available for PS3, 19 Jun. 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
It's by no means perfect, but as a former fan of realistic military shooters like Operation Flashpoint, and Novalogic's Delta Force games, there's really nothing else like this on PS3.

It's a completely different pace of game to Call of Duty et al., as you often have to walk (or crawl) up to a mile to your first objective, cover a couple of miles carrying out your objectives, and sometimes another mile to the extraction point when you've finished. If you're going to take it seriously (and survive), you may find yourself lying prone for several minutes waiting for enemies to pass by you. If that sounds boring, then give this a miss, but I found some of the most tense moments I've ever experienced in a video game.

The graphics could perhaps be described as basic compared to other releases on the PS3 but really I think they do the job perfectly. Once you're on the main island (after the first mission).

A lot of people have reported (or complained) that the game is hard. I really don't think so, as it makes loads of quite unrealistic concessions in its default mode. Even if you take a few hits, you can apply a field dressing to stop the bleeding and then call your medic in to restore you to full health, and there doesn't seem to be a limit to this. Within each mission, if the rest of your squad is wiped out, they magically reappear as soon as you pass the next save point (and these save points are clearly marked on the map). Above all, if you treat the game as a serious simulation of warfare, you can get through the missions no problem - you have to unlearn any tactics that may have worked in Call of Duty et al. Ordering troops about is a bit fiddly, but you get used to that.

I do recommend the Official Strategy Guide from FuturePress, as this gives tons of information about the game that you may struggle to work out by yourself (such as how to order individual squad members around, bonus mission objectives, detailed info on all the weaponry and vehicles in the game).

The Road [Blu-ray]
The Road [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Viggo Mortensen
Offered by rsdvd
Price: £7.34

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally challenging., 13 Jun. 2010
This review is from: The Road [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I haven't read the book, but I have to say this film impressed me. And, when I say "impressed", I mean it felt like a hard punch to the heart that has made me question the way I bring up my own son thereafter.

The masterstroke is the way it takes all of the insecurities and paranoia most parents suffer from and amplifies them tenfold. Am I preparing my child for the harsh realities of life or am I wrapping him in cotton wool? Can I trust that he will be able to fend for himself when the time comes? Will he be able to judge the "good guys" from the "bad guys" when I'm no longer around to advise him? And so on. Throw that into a post apocalyptic nightmare in which food is scarce and almost no one can be trusted, and you have a film wrought with tension as a man tries to both protect and prepare his son to outlive him. Where the film is particularly clever are the parts where the boy comes out more mature and enlightened than his father.

If you're a parent, I challenge you not to be bawling your eyes out by the end of this film. There are a couple of parts that still move me to tears just thinking about them.

If you're not a parent, then I'm sorry to say you might just find everything in this film goes straight over your head... in which case, "The Book of Eli" was made especially for you.

Madden NFL 2010 (PS3)
Madden NFL 2010 (PS3)
Price: £5.61

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for novices, 9 Jun. 2010
= Fun:2.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Madden NFL 2010 (PS3) (Video Game)
As someone who hasn't played the Madden games for about 6 or more years (but still watches the NFL season every year), I found this game fairly incomprehensible.

I'm used to games that provide me with some guidance in-game, so it comes as a shock to discover that there's absolutely no in-game help or any kind of tutorial mode, so you'll have to resort to looking up the dozens of different moves in the instruction manual while you play. But the instruction manual doesn't give you much (it's just a flimsy pamphlet), so unless you're already familiar with these games, you don't really stand a chance.

There's a Madden Test which supposedly analyses your play and adjusts the game accordingly, but it's completely broken and very confusing as there's no message onscreen to tell you what you're supposed to be doing and the "score" you receive seems completely arbitrary - one minute it's 3/3, next it's 3/4, next it's 0/0... "what out of what?" I kept screaming at the TV!. And in the "Rush Defense [sic]" test there's a big button icon at the start of each test but no guidance on when you're supposed to press it... so I scored rock bottom on that one. "Pass Defense [sic]" was equally confusing - no idea what I was supposed to be doing, so I pressed no buttons at all and got a full "All-Pro" score at the end!

There is a practice mode, but it doesn't offer anything in the way of advice on play.

So, on to the game, and it looks ok except that the crowd members are horribly pixellated 2D bitmaps. Also, the player animations are horribly stiltedYuk. Selecting the plays is as easy as it has been since the very first Madden game on the Megadrive, and passing plays are relatively easy to pull off; however controlling your players is a bit floaty for my liking.

All in all, I found this horribly disappointing. I love American Football and desperately want a game I can play... but this title is just so off-putting, I can't get into it. So, back to the shops to trade in for something a bit more "user-friendly".

Avatar (DVD + Blu-ray)
Avatar (DVD + Blu-ray)
Dvd ~ Sam Worthington
Offered by DTF217
Price: £6.50

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Extended versions good, 3D Release bad, 25 April 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Avatar (DVD + Blu-ray) (Blu-ray)
The Film:

Okay, I was personally very impressed with the CGI effects and think that in terms of eye candy alone, this makes a pretty good Blu-ray experience.

Unfortunately, there are a few distracting problems with this film such as:

1. The truly awful dialog... witness the scene in which the backstory of the film explained to the audience under the very transparent guise of it being explained to Sigourney Weaver's character. And the hackneyed military banter we've all heard already in Aliens... and the pseudo new-age rubbish the blue people spout.

2. The non-existent character development. These are cookie cutter characters, recycled from previous James Cameron films (especially Aliens, Titanic and The Abyss).

3. The vacuous plot: Savage non-white natives invaded by a bunch of vicious white men are doomed... until one of said white men switches allegiance and saves the day. If you've seen Dances with Wolves, or Pochahontas, or The Last Samurai, or FernGully: The Last Rainforest (ok, you get the idea) then you've seen this. on that note, I recommend the South Park episode "Dances With Smurfs", which satirises this film beautifully.

4. The soundtrack, which sounds as if it's going to burst in to "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion at any moment... and then bursts rather abruptly into "I See You (Theme from Avatar)" by Leona Lewis, doing her best impression of Celine Dion (aww bless).

5. The giant mountains floating in the sky above the ground - physically impossible, but at least a movie-style attempt at an explanation would have been nice.

... and finally ...

6. Silly shots set up just to show off the 3D effects, like the golf ball putted towards the camera. Once this whole 3D fad has gone away (as it has done many times before over the last 80 years or so), shots like this are going to date the film horribly.

Having said all of that, it passed the time in an agreeable way, and those special effects really were very good. Now, as Amazon don't allow separate reviews for separate releases...

"Extended Blu-ray Collector's Edition" - four stars
This contains 3 versions of the film, and tons of extras. I didn't bother watching the middle one, but the re-release with alternate intro is a much fuller experience. Even bearing in mind how corny and derivative I found this film, I actually quite enjoy watching the longer version. And the extras are many, and very interesting for the most part.

"Limited 3D Edition" - one star
I got this only because I missed the 3D showings in the cinema. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a let-down. You only get the theatrical version in 3D, 2D and a (completely redundant) DVD copy. No extras. No extended versions. It's a shame Amazon won't let me review these separately, but this is a very poor release. The one star is for the 3D effects alone.

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