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Steven A. Wall "stevenwall2k2" (Glasgow, UK)

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Metal - A Headbanger's Journey [DVD]
Metal - A Headbanger's Journey [DVD]
Dvd ~ Metal
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: £6.75

16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good stab at a "credible" metal documentary, 4 Sept. 2006
As a heavy metal fan of 20 years I was intrigued by this supposed "high-brow" treatise of the genre. Metal has long been lampooned by the mainstream (perhaps rightly so, given some of it's more ridiculous excesses) and this promised to be an unbiased examination from a sociological point of view. For the most part it succeeds. The author was obviously a *very* big metal fan, and this comes across as a real labour of love. Long time fans can't help but get swept along with Sam Dunn's infectious enthusiasm. However, if anything, the bias tips in favour of promoting metal to the detriment of the overall impact of the piece. Many of the interviews, for example, Dio, Cooper and Dickinson are witty, informative and good humoured. However, several of the interviewees, both with fans and band members, serve only to re-enforce the idea that metal is for ill-educated, foul-mouthed social misfits obsessed with satan, death and gore. On the whole, Dunn does a fairly good job of remaining impartial and letting the viewer make their own mind up about the relative merits of the likes of Emperor and Cannibal Corpse. Still, I would've liked to have seen a more balanced view on the appeal of metal, rather than the usual, inane arguments that metal is for those smart enough that wish to exist outside of mainstream culture. Ultimately, metal is just as much a trend and a badge to be worn as any mainstream pop music. It has endured almost like no other, and has moved with the times, but it seems to me that metal is ultimately about "belonging" to a movement or a scene just as much, if not more, due to its dinstictive trappings, than any style of music.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 8, 2016 1:40 PM BST

Rock In Rio (Live)
Rock In Rio (Live)
Price: £5.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Document of the Brave New World Tour, 8 Jun. 2005
This review is from: Rock In Rio (Live) (Audio CD)
The reformed Iron Maiden effectively sealed their return to form with this often thrilling, occasionally dragging, document of their Brave New World Tour. Maiden have been rather "prolific" with their live releases over the last decade or so - Rock in Rio brings the total to 5 live albums overall (not counting remasters and those released in the Eddie's head boxed set, which contains another 4(!) CDs worth of live material). Plus there is "Death on the Road", a document of their 2003/4 world tour on the way later in 2005. Sheesh! The good news is that this is probably the second most essential purchase out of all the live releases. Nothing can top the truly amazing Live after Death from 1985, but Rock in Rio comes an admirable second. We get the best of the Brave New World album (The Wicker Man, Ghost of the Naviator, Brave New World and Blood Brothers) but also some of the worst (the extremely tedious and cliched "Dream of Mirrors"). Also included are live favourites from the 1990 - 1998 period. Surprisingly, The Clansman and Sign of The Cross, both from the much maligned Blaze Bayley years, are a couple of stand outs. Elsewhere it's pretty much business as usual with belters such as number of the beast, run to the hills, wrathchild and The Trooper to name a few. You seriously cannot go wrong with these tracks, but any Maiden fan worth their salt probably has about ten squillion live versions of these classics already. Overall, this is a great purchase for those wanting a lasting reminder of Maiden's triumphant return from the wilderness at the start of the millenium. However, it's by no means an essential purchase for the casual fan, and I would instead stear the curious towards "Live After Death", which is a thrilling document of a band truly at the height of their creative prowess.

Price: £5.99

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revenge of the Priest!, 20 May 2005
This review is from: Painkiller (Audio CD)
After the critical flops of Turbo and (especially) Ram it Down, Priest really had something to prove to metal fans. This album, originally released in 1990, also came off the back of their infamous court case. This album takes all the pent up aggression and frustration the band must have felt, and unleashes them in a sonic display of fury. This album is like a metal fist to the face, it will leave you breathless in it's sheer relentless energy. Priest ditched kiddy-fiddler Dave Holland and appointed the awesome Scott Travis to the drum stool. His amazing double bass drum work really propells the Priest sound to dizzying heights, as Tipton, Halford, and Downing fully embraced the trash/power metal influences in to their writing style. The album can really be summed up in the first 2 minutes of the title track, in which the Priest effectively deploy all their sonic WMDs to maximum effect - Scott's drumming, Glenn and KK's riffing and Rob's scream. What follows is an utterly relentless metal onslaught - look up the definition of "heavy metal" in an encycopedia and there should be a picture of Painkiller! The only respite comes in the introductions to some of the songs, and the classy, menacing "Touch of Evil", which is the only slower track on the album (but no less powerful). In fact, the only criticism I could raise for the album is that it is so uncompromising - if you prefer the light and shade of, say, British Steel or Killing Machine, this may not be what you are looking for (try Angel of Retribition instead for a modern Priest album). As an exercise in demolishing their critics and their own self doubts, this stands head and shoulders above the rest of the Priest catalogue.

Talkie Walkie
Talkie Walkie
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £3.93

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Breath of fresh "Air", 8 Feb. 2005
This review is from: Talkie Walkie (Audio CD)
The french duo returned in 2004 with more of their Bowie-meets-Jean-Michelle Jarre flavoured electronic weirdness. This album pretty much continues the formula the band employed on their previous tour-de-force albums "Moon Safari" and "10,000Hz Legend". As such, it can broadly be divided in to three, by now familiar, categories: the catchy, poppy numbers a la "Sexy Boy" or "Kelly Watch The Stars", that were largely absent on their last outing, "10,000Hz Legend" are here well represented by the excellent "Cherry Blossom Girl" and "Surfing on a Rocket". Then there's the sublime, occasionaly quirky, instrumentals - coming to a commercial near you soon - take a bow "Alone in Kyoto", "Mike Mills" and "Alpha, Beta, Gaga". The bulk of the album, though, is made of haunting, space-age, deliciously dark tracks that echo the strongest material off " 10,000Hz Legend": "Venus" and "Another Day" being the pick of the bunch. While many feel that the duo composed this album with one eye (ear?) on the commercial success of their debut album, I personally feel it is more of a continuation of all their styles. If "10,000Hz" was a bizarre, stylistic left-turn which left many of the fans confused, this should hopefully serve to draw them back and reignite deserved interest in this most unique duo of musicians.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PS2)
Offered by media-4-u
Price: £18.96

39 of 66 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The same formula, but flawed, 18 Nov. 2004
The good news for GTA fans is that fundamentally this is the same type of game as the GTA III and Vice City installments. If you enjoy the basic premise of the GTA games then you will probably like this. However, IMO Rockstar have gone overboard on the lifestyle aspects of the game, which has potentially made the game more like something it is not supposed to be. I found many aspects of the game quite tedious and a chore after a short period of time - going to the gym, looking after the girlfriend, running backwards and forwards defending gang territory, eating food, buying clothes, getting a haircut - on the face of it they all sound great, but when it comes down to it, this is supposed to be a game, not real life. We play games to escape many of these things, not relive them in a virtual world. Same with many of the tedious delivery jobs needed to acquire assets, it just became repetative and felt like a chore rather than a fun game, but it has to be done if you want to progress. And why anyone would spend a great amount of time playing the tedious arcade games or pool simulations is beyond me - again they are just superfluous to the main aspect of the game. And it is this watered down aspect which is the games greatest undoing. GTA III and Vice City were compelling and cohesive plot-driven masterpieces whereas this feels bloated and meandering in comparison. The introduction of rhythm action and stealth missions only served to underline the fact that GTA is little more than watered down mini-game versions of the latest PS2 chart toppers. I got much more out of Rockstar's previous effort, the much maligned Manhunt, as at least that felt focussed and to the point. Cosmetically, the GTA games were never pushing the boat out, but their appearence is now in danger of looking dated, as San Andreas barely improves on the looks of Vice City, which was 2 years ago. I would also echo the warning from other reviewers regarding the targeting system. Unless you approach the missions very methodically, you can soon find yourself thwarted by the shoddy lock on system that will leave you aiming at nothing, unless facing in the correct direction - difficult when dealing with swarms of gun toting enemies. I would also say that the sprawling map is just as much a blessing as a curse. Having to drive for literally 5 minutes to restart a mission soon becomes tedious. Also I didn't find the level design as memorable as Vice City, in particular the first city, Los Santos, was quite bland. The size of the game means that after many hours play I still have difficulty navigating my way round by memory and frequently have to resort to the map, which can really interrupt the flow of the game if you are mid-mission. In the future I will be digging out Vice City next time I fancy some GTA related kicks. Vice City may be smaller, but it is the most perfectly formed and fully realised exponent of Rockstar's vision: and certainly the most fun.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 12, 2015 5:29 PM GMT

Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball
Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball
Offered by Another.Mans.Treasure
Price: £27.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what you may be expecting, 16 Feb. 2004
This is a quirky title that has more in common with the very Japanese style of dating sims rather than a sports game. If you are expecting a serious sports simulation then don't bother. Also if you are looking for titilation then you might get a few hours play out of it if that. Get beneath the glossy surface, and the heart of the game is actually about trying to establish friendship's between your girl, and the other DOA girls. This is essential, as if you are going to win volleyball matches and earn money to buy more bikinis, you are going to have to treat your friends well by buying them the right presents. This is really the main part of the single player game, as a badly chosen present can result in your partner performing poorly, or even abandoning you to a search for another partner. But what abour the volleyball? The mechnanics are deceptively simple, using the analog sticks and a couple of buttons for set and spike. Different strengths of button presses (hard/soft) result in different types of shots and can be used to issue rudimentary commands to your partner, for example, to get them to set you up for a spike. This is a great design touch, which means that anyone can pick up the game and bash buttons, but with practice you can start to put together more subtle presses for combinations of moves. This is going to be one of those games that you will love or hate. My girlfriend and I have spent hours playing the single player mode, there is something bizarelly addictive about the gift buying phase of the game, waiting to see if your presents are appreciated and if you will receive any in return. There is also something hypnotic about the simple controls in the volleyball sections. The non confrontational nature of the game also means you will never find yourself "dying" and worrying about restarting the game. Add to that the fact that you can also rip your own tracks from CD for maximum listening pleasure, and you have a unique and relaxing gaming experience. Like I said though, not for everyone, so try before you buy.

Beyond Good and Evil (PS2)
Beyond Good and Evil (PS2)
Offered by RAREWAVES
Price: £9.08

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A breath of fresh air ... but too short, 16 Feb. 2004
A round of applause to Ubisoft for daring to release an original and unproven new game in the Christamas rush rather than playing it safe with an established franchise or a licensed game. Unfortunately the game barely charted in the festive period and has sank without a trace - luckily that means there are lots of discounted copies available for gamers willing to seek something a little different from the numerous updates and rehashes. BG&E scores full marks for creativity and visual impact. The graphics are superb, and the wonderful design really brings the world of Hillys and it's inhabitants to life. The designers have blended elements of 3D platform, stealth and futuristic racing genres. While this means each section is essentially a watered down version of stand alone games of the same ilk, the whole package fits together very nicely to provide a compelling experience. There is also a nice, continuous sub-quest to photograph the many and diverse life forms of Hillys. Sadly, BG&E is let down by the ease with which the game can be completed. While this means you will never be frustrated by the puzzles or battles that you encounter, it does mean you should be able to breeze through the game in under 10 hours. A shame then, because BG&E is great while it lasts. It'll just leave you wishing there was more developers taking chances like this with original products.

Manhunt (PS2)
Manhunt (PS2)
Offered by GamersCorner

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for horror fans, 3 Feb. 2004
This review is from: Manhunt (PS2) (Video Game)
If you are a fan of the horror film genre, or more grisly thrillers such as "Silence of the Lambs", "8mm" or "Seven" then this game is definately for you. I would also recommend this game as a great example of the "stealth" genre, which is very fashionable with games developers at the moment. No doubt purists of this type of game will disagree with that notion, but I would say this game offers a far more compelling, gamer friendly experience than the like of Splinter Cell. The game has a lot more in common with games such as "Metal Gear Solid" than "Vice City" so GTA fans be warned now! Manhunt will sell by the truck load regardless, due to all the hype and media frenzy that has ensued, but here goes anyway. On the positive side the presentation and atmosphere of the game is fantastic. A typical Rockstar production, everything from the instruction booklet to the in game music is within the context of the game. Expectations were high then when I began to play. The dark portrayal of the protagonists surroundings do a wonderful job in evoking the sinister feel of a deserted, abandoned urban setting. The music is also fantastic, eerie synths typical of late 70s, early 80s horror movies - the developers really did their homework and it has paid off. The voice acting, while somewhat crude, also does a great job of convincing you that you are being stalked by some inbred, machete wielding lunatic. Bundle all these together and you have a wonderfully atmospheric package; the first few levels are especially tense as you get to grips with the hunters' AI, though as you learn patterns of their behaviour the game can become a little repetative in the later levels. And that, really is the main negative aspect of the game. Most of the levels are very similar and despite some interesting sub tasks what it boils down to is killing all the hunters and making your way through the level. Having said that I was compelled to play the game from start to finish, mainly to get the whole experience. What I found to be particularly compelling about the game was that game mechanics themselves were very well implemented. When I got caught by the hunters I knew it was my own fault, rather than feeling angry or cheated by the game. Sure, there were a couple of occasions when the save points seemed a little too far apart to be fair, but I always knew that patience would pay off in the end and I would get my reward. The controls are also very responsive and well done. Face-to-face fighting with the hunters is a bit limited, but I believe this was a conscious design decision as the game actively attempts to disuade you from going toe to toe with the bad guys. Finally, be warned this game *is* tough. Personally I see that as a positive aspect, it is a pleasure to play, there was many a night I was plugging away to the small hours trying to finish a level. Others, however, might find the difficulty off putting. On the whole, highly recommended - ignore the negative press coverage (from both the tabloids and some games magazines, probably upset by rockstar's courting of controversy), ignore the hype, and what you have here is a finely crafted, unsettling game, and an important step in the industry for compelling "adult" titles.

Wrong Turn [DVD] [2003]
Wrong Turn [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Eliza Dushku
Price: £2.51

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 70s inspired horror, 30 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Wrong Turn [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
One of the better horror efforts of recent years. Whereas terrible, comedic efforts like Scream, ...Last Summer etc have taken their lead from 80s slasher flicks such as Friday the 13th and the Elm Street movies this takes its inspiration from a slew of late 70s backwoods horror movies such as "The Hills Have Eyes", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Deliverance". It does a pretty good job of mimicing these films too. The first part of the movie is excellent, tense and shocking, as the protagonists are stalked and murdered by the unseen mountain men. However, the script and the performance of the lead actors dissolve in the second half of the movie as their fear gives way to a buffy-esque "lets fight the bad guys" mentality which completely destroys any tension that was prevalent in the film. This is symptomatic of modern horror films in the post-Buffy era; the above examples of the genre that I cited as the inspiration for this film never resorted to it's assorted heros and heroins being gymnastic or kung fu experts to defeat the bad guys. There was a sense of hopelessness against the odds and desperation in the methods that were used to fight back against the villains in " ... hills ..." or "Deliverance", and that sense of a loss of power on part of the "normal" folk is what makes them scary - we can relate to it more easily. This film is still worth a look for horror fans desperate for some suspense reminiscent of the 70s classics, but I would recommend the Chainsaw Massacre remake as a better modern example of the genre.

Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Xbox)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell (Xbox)

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Emperors New Clothes, 29 Jan. 2004
I have tried so hard to like this game after having numerous recommendations from friends and the media. However, each time I have come back to it, I have played it for half an hour before being completely put off by the terrible controls and lack of game play. I think most people have been bowled over by the pretty graphics (which *are* excellent) and the "realism". If only the developers had put so much effort in to making the actual gaming side of things work so well, I might actually be able to get some enjoyment out of it once I'd finished looking at the real time shadows and the deforming cloth materials hanging from doorways. All was boding well in the training mission, but I got about halfway through the first real mission before trying repeatedly to do the same section for about an hour, before giving up completely in utter frustration at being unable to complete it. My complaints are not because I am an inexperienced gamer with no patience for difficult titles. A game can be difficult, yet allow you to use your intelligence and reactions to solve a situation. The difficulties in this game are purely to do with the implementation of the stealth mechanics and the control of the character. For a better example of the stealth genre I would recommend Rockstar's Manhunt. Sure, it might not be as pretty or realistic, but the controls, level structure and implementation of stealth sections offer far more flexibility than Splinter Cell, while still being rock solid difficult. Everytime I got caught on Manhunt I knew it was fair and square, and immediately continued for another go. With this, I just felt the game had screwed me over once again everytime I got caught hiding in the shadows.

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