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D. Curran "Tuppence" (Maidenhead, UK)

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Evil Dead Trilogy [Blu-ray]
Evil Dead Trilogy [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Bruce Campbell
Price: £15.10

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent box set, but lacks some of the previous bonuses, 12 Aug. 2013
Firstly, it doesn't say this on the box or the description here, but the Army of Darkness Blu Ray includes both versions of the films - the Theatrical in 1080p and the entire Director's Cut in standard def (actually more like VHS quality) - the presence of both versions is a very nice unexpected bonus.

The only problem I have with this box is that I'm a bit of a completist and there's a fair amount of previously released stuff that isn't included - there's no behind the scenes material for Army of Darkness, and some of the Evil Dead features are missing (this is a one disc version of the previous two disc set - at least they've merged as much as they can onto the one disc instead of omitting the features entirely). Evil Dead 2 feels like the one that's got the best treatment.

There's not much to say about the films themselves that hasn't been said - the quality of the picture is above the DVD but these are not films that were really made with 1080p digital presentation in mind, so it's hardly going to win technical awards.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2014 8:32 PM BST

Street Fighter IV - Collectors Edition (Xbox 360)
Street Fighter IV - Collectors Edition (Xbox 360)

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best special edition ever, but not as bad as the other reviews say..., 20 May 2009
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
It's best to ignore the disappointed reviews below as they're from the perspective of people who paid £70 for this edition. Now the price has dropped to £30, this is a great package.

As a sucker for collectors editions, I feel the need to point out that as well as getting all the extras listed, you get the game in a different sleeve to the regular version, with a much nicer looking blue cover instead of the normal white one. Unlike the reviews below, I didnt get my anime disc in a plastic sleeve, it was in the same case as the game.

True, the figurines are a little bit tacky, and they cant be removed from the packaging without cutting it open. But the presentation is second only to Fallout 3's great lunchbox package to me.

The game itself is Street Fighter. Theres not much else to say, it's been the same game since 1992, only now it looks a bit different and you can do more moves etc and stuff blah blah blah. If you didnt like Street Fighter 2 or 3, don't buy this, it's the same game.

Fallout 3 (Xbox 360)
Fallout 3 (Xbox 360)
Offered by MDS Entertainment
Price: £14.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not perfect, but close enough., 20 May 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Fallout 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
Fallout 3 ate my life for 2 months.

It nearly didn't, as I had a red ring of death on my 360 early on in my experience. Having just wandered into the first town, Megaton, I observed the tradition of going straight to the nearest bar and attempting to pay for the services of a prostitute. Just as I got to the all important question of "how much to spend a night with you?", my Xbox made a loud whine and red ringed itself to death, the fair lady mid-sentence and my character's lust put into involuntary stasis. I was left on a knife edge, unable to find out exactly how much this night of unbridled passion would cost my avatar.

I posted the Xbox off to Germany and waited 2 weeks, observing the annual tradition of penance that all Xbox 360 owners who had the sheer nerve to support Microsoft in the early days of the console are eternally bound to perform. The repaired box eventually arrived, and I eagerly attached all the cables, loaded my autosave up, and continued the conversation. "How much to spend the night with you?" I asked again. She answered, I agreed, and up the stairs we went. I was so excited the control pad nearly slipped from my sweaty palms. As the door closed I thought "This is it. This is the culmination of 2 weeks anticipation, I am going to make beautiful music with this digital temptress."

Then the prostitute in question laid on the bed and went to sleep. I pressed the action button and was asked "How long do you want to sleep?" I didn't want to sleep. I wanted to make wild and passionate love. I tried pressing action again. Still I was only offered a choice of sleep durations. I stared at the screen briefly. I cried.

This largely sums up the problem with Fallout 3, and all RPGs really, which is that no matter how open-world they are, or how much of a fulfilment of boyhood fantasies they serve as, there will always be a barrier to the possibilities offered to the player.

Fortunately, there's way more than enough positives to outweigh the vague but persistent feeling of restraint that continues throughout the game. Fallout is basically Oblivion re-located to a retro-futuristic Washington DC. Retro 1950s settings are not my cup of tea, but Fallout has such a unique take on it that I was able to learn to love the at first irritating Happy Days cast of characters. This is made more appealing by the (at times) utterly stunning graphics.

The combat system, both real time and quasi-turn-based (using the limited-use VATS targeting - basically the ability to pause and aim), is satisfying once you've spent enough time developing your character's skills. Although shots initially feel weak and ineffectual with a level one character, they become gruesomely joyous once you're half way up the skill ladder and able to blast off specific body parts in glorious slow motion (this is particularly hilarious when performed on innocent bystanders).

The main plot is quite dull, but the side quests make up for this with some great moral crossroads, although again this is stunted by Fallout's restrictions - most notably the inability to shotgun a child's head off, which becomes of particular nuisance in the immeasurably irritating Little Lamplight level. It also has a great selection of downloadable content which add a lot of extra questing and characters, and decent achievements (which encourage you to play the game as both good and evil, and require the completion of all the sub quests).

Fallout 3 is better than Oblivion and is therefore probably the best game on the Xbox 360. Regardless of the hype or the pervasive feeling of not quite being as free as you want to be, this game is beautiful and life-consuming - I recommend it to everyone, but with the warning that it does require at least 60 hours of your life.

SEGA Mega Drive: Ultimate Collection (Xbox 360)
SEGA Mega Drive: Ultimate Collection (Xbox 360)
Offered by findprice
Price: £12.68

4.0 out of 5 stars Not "Ultimate", but still great., 18 Mar. 2009
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
I'll get my complaints out of the way first - there's no "lock-on" Sonic games included, so you can't play though Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Also, where's Revenge of Shinobi? As it calls itself "Ultimate", that's a bit of an oversight. Also, there's absolutely no online features. I appreciate that it would be difficult, but the same company has already released online versions of Sonic, Sonic 2 and Streets of Rage 2, so why leave those out of this collection..?

With that said, I love this collection. The Mega Drive has always lived up to my rose tinted nostalgic memories - and I finally have a copy of Streets of Rage 3 thanks to this disc. Over 40 games for £25 is more generous than most retro collections, and it includes the arcade version of Altered Beast which is a nice bonus.

The most enjoyable entries in the collection are Streets of Rage 2/3 and the Sonic games. An obvious statement, but the Mega Drive's library never did live up to those beacons of 16 bit glory. Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine is also excellent (similar to Puzzle Fighter), and Shinobi 3 is great. Comix Zone is a very unique beat em up that's good, but makes life too hard to really enjoy it.

I can't imagine anyone younger than 18 really caring about the games though - nostalgia's a large part of what makes them good. With the exception of Mean Bean Machine and Sonic, most of the game mechanics are showing their age - Vectorman and Comix Zone are guilty of having no continue system and being too restrictive with lives, and whilst Kid Chameleon is still a good platformer, it's clearly dated.

Silent Hill Homecoming (Xbox 360)
Silent Hill Homecoming (Xbox 360)

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I wasn't expecting much, but it still managed to disappoint me., 18 Mar. 2009
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
It's important not to think of this as a "proper" Silent Hill game. The team that made the first four instalments left the series behind in 2004, and it's now a franchise. I think Konami have made a huge mistake in giving the series to Double Helix, as the result is a hollow, half-decent cover version of Silent Hill that's superficially similar, but completely loses the feeling of the other games.

It's impossible to shake that feeling (or lack of) off. I constantly felt through this game that I was playing a budget imitation of the old games. It feels like fan fiction turned into a very polished game, but one that's drastically lacking in substance. It's like eating Sainsbury's Basic Tortilla Chips instead of Doritos. It's never going to be as good, for all it's individual merits, it's not the real thing.

Specifically, the game lacks subtlety. Where the Japanese games were slow, and relied on a constant looming feeling of menace and made you weak, this game puts you in control of a soldier and puts you in a relatively comfortable, fear-less world that's more inconvenient than it is frightening. The incredibly lifeless, irritating and out-of-context combat system (tap light, light, hard, dodge, repeat, repeat, repeat, die, reload, repeat, etc, forever) is so horrifically riddled with collision detection issues and utterly moronic design flaws that it nearly single handedly kills the game for me. Every single enemy encounter is a chore, and there are far too many of them.

I didn't care about the story much, either. A limp love sub plot and wildly out of context buddy-cop sidekick add more annoyance to a plot that's predictable and feels pretentious in it's attempt to pull the wool over your eyes. It's also stylistically closer to Christophe Gans' terrible movie adaptation of the games than it is to the games themselves. It's like the game of the movie of the game - a washed-out photocopy of a photocopy that's lost all the meaning of the original. Silent Hills 1 - 4 succeeded by being sufficiently different to each other that they felt relevant to the series' progression (each one had a unique feel, especially 2 and The Room). In a way, by trying too hard to imitate bits of those games, Homecoming misses the point and makes itself irrelevant.

If you're a Silent Hill fan like me, you'll buy this and it'll almost certainly make you sad. It's unfortunate - if it hadn't used the Silent Hill name, it would have been a half-decent game. It's the fact that it sets such high expectations with the name, then dramatically falls short of them with the content.

I'm not saying it's a terrible game, it has it's good moments - hence the 3 stars - but it's a terrible sequel to Silent Hill. There are cutscenes and ideas in the game that are entertaining, and some of the voice work is actually quite good. There's nothing fun though. The broken combat system makes sure of that.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 30, 2010 3:15 PM BST

The Magnificent Duke
The Magnificent Duke

4.0 out of 5 stars Strange but occasionally great, 18 Mar. 2009
This review is from: The Magnificent Duke (Audio CD)
Some of it is nonsense, and it won't be everyone's cup of tea, but this album has awesome moments, and I think I love it even more for its adventurous, hit-and-miss stumbling. It doesn't sound like early Biffy Clyro but it does feel, to me, more like the direction I wanted them to go in - more dark, twisted and surreal but with a few 'normal' songs along the way. I also think it manages to get away with being intentionally obtuse, but not pretentious - as if all the strangeness that was missing from Biffy's over-polished Puzzle was siphoned into this CD.

The album's cut into three shuffled sections - The Implodes (acoustic) and Explodes (heavier) sections are the best, Corrodes (odd, heavy, synthy ambience with no vocals) can be a bit monotonous and I tend to skip them. The really stand-out tracks for me are A Conspiracy and a Devil and The Red & The Number, but I always find that listening back through the album, the other tracks surprise me... it's hard to match names to tracks though.

They're amazing live, much better than on CD, though be prepared for a maniacal Simon Neil in a gimp mask running through the crowd, and the rest of the band dressed in feather-crested skin tight ladies clothes while a silent figure in sparkly trousers and a plastic mask makes encouraging gestures towards the crowd. Both singers are excellent - though the songs where J.P. Reid gets more lines tend to be my favourites.

Their upcoming album Duke Pandemonium sounds like it'll be a lot more accessible - I highly recommend listening to this one first though. The fact that it's initially so hard to swallow only makes it better when you do find the bits you love. It does require you to want to like it though - I'm sure cynical listeners will find it as easy to hate as I find it to love.

Silent Hill 4: The Room (Xbox)
Silent Hill 4: The Room (Xbox)
Offered by sicodaddy
Price: £39.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Too complex for it's own good, but not the worst of the series..., 23 Feb. 2009
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
It's easy to not like Silent Hill 4 because it was the weakest of the series on release - but in retrospect, especially having played Origins, it's a much better game than I gave it credit for.

It's not the first time a Silent Hill game has started outside Silent Hill, but it's the first time it's stayed out. Apart from a couple of vaguely related locations (a forest and a prison supposedly on Silent Hill's outskirts and in a lake respectively), Silent Hill stays out of the story.

The atmosphere in The Room is it's strongest selling point - it manages to create an awkward, claustrophobic feel that isn't scary as such, more unsettling - it feels a lot like the Japanese films it mimics, The Grudge, Ring, Dark Water... It's possibly the most overtly cinematic Silent Hill - directly ripping off Ring and The Cell in particular.

I'm not entirely sure how intentional it is, but the characters all have a weird dozey, sleepwalky feel to them that adds a lot to the surreal story. It's a new feel for the series, and it's jarring at first, but it does settle in once Henry's neighbours start dying in gruesome ways.

The game's biggest problem is it's lack of direction - it feels like a patchwork of ideas from films and other Silent Hill games, and even ends up repeating every single level for the game's protracted last act - the last 6 "levels" feeling so drawn out that you end up begging for it to finish, which is a shame because the setup is great. The story is beyond convoluted, and all four endings leave loose ends untied and offer little closure to the story.

It's visually and audibly one of the best of the series - the music is second only to Silent Hill 2 - and if you can forgive the clunky gameplay and repetitive environments it's actually got some of the series' high points in it (peaking when Henry meets the former inhabitant of his room, and it's hard to not feel sorry for poor Eileen).

Well worth getting cheap, and it's backwards compatible with the Xbox 360 (despite a few severe graphical glitches).

Undead [2003] [DVD]
Undead [2003] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Felicity Mason
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: £3.99

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A slightly harsh review:, 25 July 2007
This review is from: Undead [2003] [DVD] (DVD)
Undead has a decent sci-fi twist to it's carnage, but that also makes it a confusing beast and in the end it just feels limp, superficial and empty to me.

The absolute worst thing about this film - and I could (and probably will) write about this forever - is its godawful comedy score, which sounds like it's been pryed from an old silent movie and lovelessly, haphazardly splattered over the film's soundtrack, plundering the film of any technical merit it might have had.

Fair enough, zombies aren't the most serious of subject matter, but some tension in the music or editing would have helped me stay interested. Imagine watching Braindead (which is excellent, buy that instead), cut together by college students, with the Benny Hill theme looped over the dialogue for the whole 90 minutes and you're somewhere near the experience of Undead. Only with far less interesting deaths, no good dialogue and human characters that are less developed than the zombies. Followed up by a pretentious twist that only serves to make the entire film a bit more pointless.

On the good side, the gore is suitably over the top, and there are some decent moments of improvised weaponry, but it's all very superficial and I came out of the film feeling like I needed to watch some proper zombie films to cleanse myself.

1 star seems harsh, but I really just did not enjoy this film, and I can't recommend it - it is a waste of time as far as I'm concerned. Instead, I'd say save your money and buy the excellent Braindead, Shaun of the Dead and Versus. All three are similar in various ways but infinitely better.

Big Nothing [DVD]
Big Nothing [DVD]
Dvd ~ Simon Pegg
Offered by streetsahead
Price: £3.99

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good, 17 April 2007
This review is from: Big Nothing [DVD] (DVD)
I agree with the other reviews so far - this film disappeared from the cinemas so fast I assumed it was rubbish.

It's actually a very funny, chaotic comedy/thriller with an oddly dark tone - as likeable as the characters are, their actions are pretty questionable... It sort of reminded me of a light hearted equivalent to Way of the Gun.

Simon Pegg's American accent is dodgy at best, but he's still very entertaining - it's jarring to hear him at first, but once I got settled with the idea, he seemed a lot more like his usual self, his facial expressions especially. David Schwimmer is likeable (I hated him as Ross...) and kind of the straight man to Simon Pegg's loon. Alice Eve does a much more convincing accent, and holds her own well against two fairly big name comedy actors...

The extras on the DVD are very good - they're short, but mostly filmed on camcorders by the director and three main cast members so they seem quite personal... Pegg's contributions are the best - berating a seagull, cheating on ps2 games and calling Schwimmer "Dr. Schwimmington".

Definitely worth renting if you're not sure - I'm sure theres a lot of people who'd be put off by the dark humour, but it certainly deserves more of an audience than it apparently had at the cinema...

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (Xbox 360)
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (Xbox 360)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reminded me of 24. Not sure why., 17 April 2007
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This isn't so much a sequel as a remake. Not in terms of level content/story, but it's all based on the same engine, with very much the same objectives, only this time done a lot better. Sort of like Evil Dead into Evil Dead 2.

The game picks up just hours after Graw, but Scott Mitchell has managed to transform entirely into Jack Bauer with even less personality. The loose story of this game revolves around some faceless non-descript group of rebels doing something with missiles or whatever. This is mostly irrelevant, as IT IS ALL DROWNED OUT BY SHOUTING.

Which is sort of a good thing. The slow pace of Graw is abandoned for a game that reaches its highlight for me when Scott is blown up and has to fend against two helicopters without the "cross-com" device that the whole game is based around, with his team reduced to one man who doesnt follow orders... It's a faster, more set-piece oriented game than its predecessor, and it also returns the old 2-team structure of the original Ghost Recons for a few levels.

The co-op levels are equally improved, and the game feels much more geared towards co-op than single player compared to the previous game. Adverserial modes are exactly the same as Graw however, with new levels.

New gadgets (including the mule, an automated unarmed tank thingy that follows you about allowing you to re-stock on ammo) and the ability to look through your UAV/team's camera seem like small modifications but actually make the game much more enjoyable - following your team's camera as they make a charge on a room full of terrorists/rebels/mercs/whatever is fantastic.

This is the best of its kind for me. The graphics are utterly superb in HD, its got a fantastic balance between solo, co-op and versus play, and it's great fun to play with varied tactics. The only reason it's not a 5 is because the solo mode is so short, and not even especially hard in the hardest mode. It could also do with less awful dialogue.

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