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Goldenboy (UK)

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A Night at the Manx Museum
A Night at the Manx Museum
by Michele Mcgrath
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Memories, 2 Oct 2012
I actually did the most of the illustrations for this book way back in 2008, great memories! I havent done any illustrations for books since, i should do something about that.

Mass Effect 3: N7 Collector's Edition (Xbox 360)
Mass Effect 3: N7 Collector's Edition (Xbox 360)

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second Reflection, 16 Mar 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Everyone has a right to their own opinion, i dont agree with some of the things people are saying. I love the darker feel, the feel of deportation, even expressed on the Normandy itself through the dark lighting. The dialogue IS more fleshed out, more personal, deeper and more human than ever before. Though, not with all past squad mates i will say, people who are going round saying 'oh, its less personal, the dialogue isnt as fleshed out......etc' obviously didnt say, romance Ashley, Kaiden or Liara. Ive got to say, ive got many play throughs, one where i romanced Miranda, another where i romanced Jacob, etc. I was looking forward to seeing how all these would pan out. Especially the whole love triangle thing Bioware talked about. Sad to say, people who romanced Samara, Miranda, Jacob, Thane, Jack etc will get less out of ME3 than those who romanced Garrus, Tali, Kaiden, Ashley or Liara. For instance, on my first play through, i encountered Samara three times in the whole 30 something hours. Once on a mission, secondly just catching up on the citadel briefly, and another before the final fight, and thats it. That, is disappointing but understandable given the scope of the game. But, the point is, with particular characters, things have got WAYYYYy more personal. I was one of the 'bring back Kaiden/Ashley' protesters so to speak from the sucker punch cameo of ME2, so personally im glad to see them back and so fleshed out.

I will say this, the final minute of the game was........crushing! Not in a good way, i feel like, ive spent hundreds of hours of my life and to Biowares credit ive emotionally attached myself to the characters, the story and hence the conclusion of my Shepard's story. It was PERFECT, right up until the very end for me, the emotional intensity of the end scene with the 'catalyst' was just EPIC! You get given 3 distinct choices, on how to end. This is masterfully executed, the approach to this conclusion, that is, until what happens next. Im like shell shocked, it sounds ridiculous, but its hit home how much i love this series, how 'personal' it has become. I found myself just staring blankly at the screen upon finishing the game, in disbelief.

'This is how it ends?'

This game is no doubt for me the best in the series as the intensity is like nothing ive ever experienced in a game. No game EVER has hit me like this has, not even ME1 or ME2. Best game ever? yes, not even a remote spec of doubt in that statement for me anymore. Its greatness giving a glimpse into the future of gaming. It makes practically 99% of games, uninteresting right now. As an artist, im in awe of the concept of being immersed in such an experience as this. Im not just running round shooting, then some pre rendered scene coems up to 'tell me the story, why im fighting', that doesnt provoke much attachment to whats going on for me. This game makes you feel, whether it be the illusion of choice or actual distinct choice, you feel immersed, therefore you actually feel the decisions you make, especially as you realize the consequences.

I hate the ending, but this is because of my attachment to it. Im not going to go giving the game 1 star just because i feel ive been given a low blow at the end. Its not a 'cheap' ending. Its intense, its just not the ending i wanted. I read an article recently where Casey Hudson stated he wanted to end it in such a way that 'you remember it', well, as if i wasnt going to anyway, but this, may have actually made it more 'memorable'. Bioware love to tug the 'heart strings' as IGN says, they love to make you feel. I think they wanted to create the reaction i have to the game finale, they wanted it to be more than a game and in that they have achieved more than success.

For everything ive said though, of course, i want an ending that feels good. To go through hell and back like the characters have, especially Shepard, for it to end like that, just feels plain wrong. I would pay for an 'alternate ending dlc', and with the outrage by many fans, i wouldn't be surprised going by the greed of EA that such a thing will happen, but, regardless, i hope Bioware doing something about it, i want a better ending.

Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360)
Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Talbot Media
Price: 9.99

10 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honestly.......... (Best Game Ever) Undersells its Greatness!, 10 Mar 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Ill start by saying that you shouldnt take too much from some of the negative comments about this game floating about here on Amazon. If you loved ME1, if you loved ME2 you will love ME3, simple as! It takes some of the better elements of both games and pushes the boundaries a little further. Its missed out some elements of the previous games that i wish would have made a return but in the larger scope of things, i really cant complain as its like moaning as being handed a bar of solid gold just because it has little specs of muck on it.

Im not going to go into any details on the content of ME3,i wont spoil it as fans of the series are in for the most emotionally gripping conclusion to what is in my opinion the best game series that has ever been made. Its so good, that, every other game merges into one, its hard right now to get excited about any upcoming title this year or the next. Because how can it hit me with such impact and depth like Mass Effect can? As good as Assassins Creed 3 will be, it will be no Mass Effect, it wont tug at the emotional strings or the depth of fiction and characters.

You dont play Mass Effect for the shooting, as much as Bioware have tried to appeal to as 'wide' an audience as possible. People coming to this game just for a shooter wont get the most amazing gaming experience, this is why some people state that the series is overrated, they just dont get what makes it great, they dont see it. Yes, the shooting has been improved in ME3, it could sell as a shooter in its own right, but not one to match say..... Gears of War (whom Bioware have rather obviously taken inspiration from Gears amazing Horde multiplayer mode with the incorporation of its online play).

The characters are so rich in depth, extremely wel voice acted and you genuinely find yourself caring or at least feeling an urge to know them better through the immersive dialogue choices. Its a brave and revolutionary theme of importing choices from game to game that Bioware have applied to the series, and boy have they nailed it! The only issue with this right now is a bug in the game importation system, for instance, ive had to make my first play through from one of my Shepard imports a new 'face'. All the details of your decisions and actions, who you romanced and so on works fine, just, the facial reconstruction seems to be having issues, meaning i had to recreate the face of my Shepard. Annoying, but, so great is Mass Effect that in honest, i know they will sort this out in time for my future playthroughs so it doesnt bother me as much as it should.

The colour pallete is much darker in ME3, the animations of characters during conversations are more natural, the dialogue is even deeper and more personal than ever. The music more emotional, you feel the weight of your past decisions as they come back to haunt you, the scale so overwhelming huge that you feel up against the odds throughout. This is a game that requires you at the very least play ME2 first, though really, that you play all three games to get the complete game.

Technically, it has bugs (i walked through a door or two without it opening) but nothing that cant be fixed with a patch. Its combat, good but not up to the standards of EPICs Gears of War. Why Mass Effect is the best game series of all time for me, is not because of these things. Its the best because, it really makes you care, it hits you emotionally and i find myself feeling much the way i do through art of heavyweight film making. You actually want to know the characters, the best bits of the game are when its quite, when youre soaking ion the fiction of the universe Bioware have created, the relationships you develop with the characters, that moment before the big fight. Its the best because, this is not just a game. This is not mindless fun like COD, its an experience you will remember for some time. We talk about the best of the Sci-Fi genre, we talk Star Wars, we talk Star Trek, we talk Battlestar Galactica. But, in all honesty, and this is coming from a die hard Star Wars fan, Mass Effect beats these all hands down. It takes the best of science fiction, and makes it 'human', as i said before, basically, its greatness lies in its ability to make you care.

Its mulitplayer isnt going to win multiplayer of the year award. Its actually addictive, but, the in reality there is better around. Enough said.

Those that want a quick shoot em up on the occasional weekend will likely want to invest elsewhere, those that want a deep immersive experience that consumes you, you simply cant miss the Mass Effect series. If youve played ME1 and/or Me 2, and are thinking 'should i buy this?' the answer is simple really. You feel that urge to complete your characters story? Finally finish the fight? Then what are you waiting for? I personally didnt need greta reviews to make me want to get this game, i was sold onto ME3 from the ME1 days, but, for those that need that conformation, this is going to be a strong candidate for game of the year!.

The best has been saved for last!

Grand Slam Tennis 2 (Xbox 360)
Grand Slam Tennis 2 (Xbox 360)
Offered by 1stvideo
Price: 15.21

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Awful shot animations, nice graphics = ?, 27 Feb 2012
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Signature shot making? Pro A.I? The strokes in Grand Slam Tennis 2 are quite frankly appalling! Dont get me started on how Nadal and Djokovic run to the net all time, seriously, when do you see these guys running to the net in real life? The A.I is programmed obviously to do whats necessary to win, and, the game mechanics need a patch to sort out the in balance of net players having a big advantage in the game, full on serve and volley is near dead these days, its important still in tennis but good baseline player vs good net player in the modern game? Well, the net player will come up short. Come on, seriously EA, you even watch tennis in the last couple of decades? Guessing not, much like the the guys that made 'Wimbledon', that film with Kirsten Dunst, the director even admitted to it basically.

Who they got to do the motion capture for the shot animations i dont know, but, it cant have been someone whos actually knows how to play tennis. That aside for a second, there seems to be little to no attempt at recreating the serve and stroke animations, also, wheres the slice animation? And man, the serve ball toss, if im serving with a right hander say Djokovic, he tosses the ball WAY to low and far out to the right (each player has a different ball toss, but, always is above and never that low). Im sorry, but, the strokes in this game, try and play them on a tennis court in reality and the results will speak for themselves. I saw someone at my club playing the other week, been playing a few months, his strokes and serve was very similar, so im guessing thats the kind of player theyve got to do the animations.

That said, on a plus point, yea, the graphics are pretty awesome, the sounds are good (except for the foot step noises which is just silly), hearing Nadal grunt as he whips a forehand down the line is awesome. I feel just for second like ive seen Nadal do that on TV. ANd of course, Wimbledon! All the grand slams in fact, its nice to play on Roland Garros courts like actually look like Roland Garros, in Top Spin 4, it just looked like one big giant red bowling alley, even the colour was off.

I love tennis, so, getting it was a must because it does have its pluses, but, i seriously hope they actually get someone who can play and more specifically someone who can mimic the shots of players such as Nadal and Federer (who have distinctly different shot animations) in the next game. Top Spin 4 is the best tennis game by miles, Virtua Tennis 4 being the only other competitor but is just plain horrible to play. That said, such a horrible tennis game as Virtua tennis, it has actually some really nice stroke animations! lol, unbelievable, how an arcade tennis game gets it better than the supposed tennis simulation games, Grand Slam tennis 2 and Top Spin 4. They need to get their act together on their following titles.

Deep 10 year career mode? Hardly worth wasting time with, the lack of other tornaments to play at makes it a shallow and drawn out 10 year career mode, unlike Top Spin 4's wonderfully 'near full' feeling tour mode. Its not all about the Grand Slams, even so, the Grand Slam is the 'finals' of the year calander really, in this game youre practically in the finals straight of, you start your first year and win dont lose a match. Wheres Monte Carlo? Wheres the Sony Ericsson open? Madrid Masters? >>>> In Top Spin 4.

To sum up, yea, in terms of pixals it looks pretty, the courts are beautifully replicated, the grunts are taken straight from what you hear on TV. Something we havent seen in a tennis game really yet, so, it depends, if youre a tennis fan youll probably want to pick this up at some point. If youre not but for whatever reason like tennis games (like Virtua Tennis's fan base it seems) then, it does have an arcade feel still to it so you might enjoy it to. Just, look at videos on youtube before you buy it, see what youll be buying before you say oh man, what the hell? The smoothest player on the planet (Roger Federer) plays a sprawling semi 'retarded' forehand and wish you hadnt have wasted your money.

(or just Nadal playing the odd one handed backhand as he does................ wait, what? lol)

Its not all bad though, if it was, i wouldnt be giving it 3 out of 5 stars. It is 'fun', ill give it that.

Dark Souls - Limited Edition (PS3)
Dark Souls - Limited Edition (PS3)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: 28.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and Unique!, 5 Nov 2011
This is a game that is really not for everyone, is hard. Wait, no, let me rephrase that, its REALLY HARD and VERY UNFORGIVING. But, it grabs hold of you and sucks you in to this psychopathic world, which is so dark and so stunningly atmospheric that in that aspect alone it sold me before i ever played it. If you admire art, if you love a challenge and if you arent one to give up easily then this game is might be for you. Its art direction is genuinely disturbingly brilliant, so much variation across the open world structure within the game.You do not feel like youre on earth, this, gives the game a rather lonely feel where you feel that everything is against you. Graphically the game is beautiful, though, not groundbreaking. But the lighting, the textures, the animations, everything is smooth.

The sound in the game is mixed, in parts its brilliant, in others not so good. Some of the voice acting is not exactly oscar winning though some voices arent bad. But, the sound of the wind, the environments, the feet of enemies in your proximity, the sound truly excels here.

The gameplay is silky smooth, there is such a pool of weaponry, armor, items etc to find and use and upgrade. You find yourself fighting some truly epic battles with bosses that are genuinely intimidating and huge in scale. It is a very long game though, depending on how you progress through the open world, how good you are etc its almost a certainty that you will need to make sure you have time to play this frequently. This is not the kind of game where you can nip in and out of, it requires you to be sharp, which you can only be through playing the game a lot.

This game doesnt really have a story, no actual missions or quests as such which i know sounds off putting. But, this game is unique, it throws you into a dark fantasy world, puts all the odds against you letting you move through the world however you want on your own journey which will feel lonely, to the point where, with how the game works giving you missions or a story would actually take away from the experience. I cant believe i am saying that, as, story is very important in games to me, its just that things are different here, the same rules dont apply. The game is surrounded in mystery, you are basically in the world of the dead, not having a story adds to this in a way that you have to play to understand.

This is a game that will not win game of the year award, will not attract as much of an audience as COD and this is a game that really lives in a cult fashion, like demons souls. Its the kind of game that is not like other games, its doesnt care if you get frustrated, no, actually it likes it. This game wants to frustrate you, it wants to kill you, it wants to challenge you. This game is for those who react to challenges, as, to succeed you need to not give up when you find yourself in a seemingly impossible situation as well having a lot of patience, a LOT of patience. Going in all out attack will get you nowhere in this game, it requires thought, strategy and determination.

This is a hardcore game, its not for the casual gamers out there. Its brutally hard and it will put your ps3 at risk from finding itself on the other end of your foot if youre not careful lol. But, its one of the best games ive ever played, its unique and stimulating in such a way that it makes some other games seem trivial, i recommend this game for hardcore gamers but be warned what youre getting yourself into, completing this game is a genuine achievement as it does nothing to help you get there, youre on your own and this is what marks it separate from other games.

Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)
Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)
Offered by iAlpha Technologies
Price: 9.69

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mind Blowing Non Stop Action!, 9 Oct 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Games like this represent nothing but pure fun, its constant shooting with big epic set pieces. With the RPG beginning to slowly but surely creep its way into other genres within gaming, going down the open world route and so on this kind of run and gun down what is basically corridor after corridor in its format is a dying breed. You have no choices, you have no impact on its story at all, no upgrades to to play with as you progress and you cant decide which direction to go in or how you go about completing the game. But, the name of the game here is sheer adrenaline action and scale, with which you could imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger as Marcus and Sylvester Stallone as Dom standing side by side sending thousands of rounds out of machine guns that are way to big for them to be using at oncoming monsters some the size of houses lol. This is basically, give me a gun and show me where to shoot type gameplay, which in the 3 person genre it has no peers.

Its story is nothing special in comparison the increasingly high standards being set by such games as Mass Effect and Red Dead Redemption, the script is 80s action movie cheese ball style lines which you either love or hate but the main characters simply ooze charisma. It brings a satisfactory conclusion to the plot started from Gears 1 though has many lose ends, in particular certain facts and information that wasnt ever given (DLC likely).

Its campaign can be played through by yourself or with 3 other online players, it will last around 10 hours depending on which difficulty you set it at, how good you are or who you are playing with. But, with its arcade like structure youll want to play through this game many times and in particular through online. It has the usual game modes featured in countless multiplayer games like COD, Team Deathmatch and so on with some interesting variations. With character and weapon skin unlocks, smooth gameplay and quick access to match ups its online features will keep you going for a long time if you find yourself under its charm. For me, its best online asset is Horde mode, its brilliant! Tackling wave upon wave of increasingly hard enemies, at every 10 waves you fight bosses, spawning such things as house high Brumas firing rockets and machine guns at you, while bullet near proof man sized locusts try to force you out of cover. It has another mode called beast mode, which pits you as the locust against the gears in horde like style, which, offers variety.

At times i find myself laughing during certain moments within the game, be it while im firing hundreds of rounds with my machine gun at an enemy the size of a skyscraper or being on the bad end of a mortar strike meanwhile chainsawing enemies while my fellow cogs deal with house high rocket propellin and constant machine gun firing monsters. There are countless explosions in the game, with which if you have a good quality surround sound system youll feel like your house is falling down. Larger enemies or enemies that glow explode with great sound effects and visual flair.

Graphically, the game is beautiful. Nothing groundbreaking but clean and crisp with a silky smooth frame rate. If you like OTT action movies, typically like that of Stallone for example then youll simply love this. Its very much just more of the same though, its gears 1 and 2, but, BIGGER and BETTER in every way. This is the type of game you wanna play after a hard days work/school, its fun, its simple and doesnt tax your mind or your emotions in any way, its just fills you with adrenline charged pulsating action that never ever stops coming. Its not game of the year, but, its one of the games this year that you have to have on your game rack if you even mildly adore shooting things non stop.

Dead Island (Xbox 360)
Dead Island (Xbox 360)
Offered by 1stvideo
Price: 15.99

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Top Grade Zombie Survival!, 12 Sep 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Ill start by saying that the game has many flaws of which stop it technically from being a 5 start game. But, this is very deceptive, the game itself, the experience is nothing short of top grade fro which i give it 5/5 stars for fun. This is really Far Cry 2 with zombies, a beautiful blend of free roam survival, with, a genuine fear factor in the zombies which is something ive never experienced before in a video game.

The game fails to live up to its now infamous trailer, withe the family. The games big weakness is that of story, this is something that usually for me brings an experience right down. But, its not that simple in this game, the game is a survival game where the story is wishy washy with no real wow factor, but, as i just said, the key word in this game is SURVIVAL. This is not dead rising humor where zombies are to be honest at time, rather hilarious, this is not left 4 dead 2 which is just a bit of fun, this is a game which is about the core experience of of surviving and using whatever means necessary to to survive, ie, kill a zombie with a boat paddle. As you progress through the game you get a more destructive arsenal of weaponry, some you get to create. The weapons are truly awesome to use, most of which is based around melee combat, though, there are guns in the game. The game controls are suitably heavy, and realistic, unlike left 4 dead 2 where you felt like you were some kind of terminator. Through my experience with the game, i felt suitably under powered yet not so much so that it becomes annoying.

Graphically, the game has glitches. Overall, the game is very beautiful, and the locations are at times stunning. Figure models are good but nothing to write home about, by environments and zombie animations, weapon animations etc are truly great. The only flaw really is that after load times (which arent that many as most of the game is seamless with transitions from outdoor to indoor) the graphics take much longer to load than they should, textures taking a while to kick in making it look like an early ps2 game texture wise till it loads. Now, sound, this is one of the bi successes of the game, its brilliant. No annoying music as in overused, and the zombies always make there presence known each class with there own call. It is awesomely tense when you know what awaits round the corner. It is worth pointing out that in this game, unlike so many in its class, the zombie classes are ridiculous in nature, bigger more powerful zombies are very tough and powerful, but, you dont feel so powerful you want to slam your controller on the floor. The balance, mostly, is very good.

This is a must buy for anyone who remotely likes horror or zombie fests. I nearly missed out on this game due to reviews id seen published beforehand, i agree with many of them, but, as i said at the beginning, its really not that simple. It has glitches which just technically take it down a notch, but, the experience is simply brilliant.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2011 12:25 AM GMT

Mass Effect 2 (PS3)
Mass Effect 2 (PS3)
Offered by Game Dealz
Price: 7.42

7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best game ever, its just that good!, 21 Jan 2011
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Mass Effect 2 (PS3) (Video Game)
Firstly i want to note that i have the 360 version of Mass Effetc 2 and also have ME1. While i also have a PS3 im not going to buy a game i already have, even if the graphics have been improved a little. I am writing this review because its simply the best game ive ever played and i think every gamer should have it. It offers constant moral decisions, you get attached to the rich characters that you can choose to be friends and develope relationships if you want, the story if better than Avatar, the script is certainly better than Avatar and the gameplay itself is brilliant. It has no real weaknesses taking current technology into account,a single play through will take you 25+ hours and as if it couldnt get any better it does because it offers unparalleled replay value. It offers an emotional epic like i havent seen in a game before, you actually care about the characters like you do in film. Yet for those that just want action, its gameplay is better than most dedicated linear shooters.

There is only one down side to the ps3 version, you dont get Mass Effect 1 which really is a shame. You wont have grown attached to the characters from the first title so you wont naturally care about the renion in Mass Effect 3 which surely will happen. Ash and Kaiden from ME1 are just amazing characters which were only offered a couple of minutes in Me 2, but they will certainly be back properly in ME3.

You simply cant ignore this game if you have a 360 or ps3, after playing this Mass Effect 3 will be your number 1 anticipation in gaming 2011.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 23, 2011 11:26 PM GMT

Aftershock [DVD]
Aftershock [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jingchu Zhang
Offered by HarriBella.UK.Ltd
Price: 3.39

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic and emotional, 16 Jan 2011
This review is from: Aftershock [DVD] (DVD)
This film will leave a mark on you, its a very human and emotional story that never lets go. Apart from a few editing issues at the end its simply perfect, i recommend it to anyone that has a heart. A must see at the very least!

Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360)
Call of Duty: Black Ops (Xbox 360)
Offered by funfair games
Price: 13.25

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What you expected!, 14 Nov 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Personally every call of duty since the fourth installment has been a must buy for both longevity and quality. Its only real downfall is that it is just more of the same, combining a suped up WAW with MW2. It doesnt do anything that feels new but it still stands head and shoulders above the competition along with MW2 as the best 1st person shooter on the market. Its single player campaign is probably the best in the series but its a bit like being the toughest flight attendent, that in the greater scheme of things doesnt really matter as its not a competitor in the game industry for storylines. Having said that its still entertaining and actually clever in some ways as youll find out.

But, obviously its multiplayer that defines call of duty spending endless hours cracking headshots which hasnt yet got boring which is why this series still stands tall. The zombie mode is hilarious, with a few famous faces which just add to the disjointed but highly entertaining mode. Its bot mode is a great way to get used to the maps before making yourself target practice for those that seemingly dont have a life and play every hour of the day.

All in all its brilliant, but it just doesnt have the wow facter anymore as i feel ive basically played it before. But even taking this into account i cant bring it down a star as the competition hasnt stepped up and challenged COD. For all those saying how much better MW2 is they cant be serious, if anything black ops is perhaps a little more refined than MW2 with small touches like better facial animation and interior textures.

I dont want to give away details that will spoil the enjoyment or the few surprises so ill just end by saying if you can only buy one game before christmas then this is it, plain and simple.

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