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Alan J. Cartwright (liverpool)

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Complete Albums Collection
Complete Albums Collection
Price: £44.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars neat boxed set was too good to miss, 30 Nov. 2014
The opportunity to buy all Paul Simon's solo albums in one, neat boxed set was too good to miss, and I have not been disappointed by this excellent package. The early albums are every bit as good as I remember them from my forty year old LPs, and as a bonus each contains very good alternate / demo / unreleased versions of several tracks. Fascinating to hear how different the familiar tunes might have ended up. The sound quality is excellent. To my aging ears all are beautifully clear with excellent balance, better by far than their erstwhile vinyl copies. It is interesting to hear just how talented and innovative Paul Simon has always been, and how eclectic his musical style is from the very beginning. The later albums from the CD era, whilst more familiar to me recently, are quite excellent in these discs.
The packaging is very good, with neat, slim card sleeves that closely replicate the original album covers (albeit the print is small - to me at least!) whilst they fit neatly into a comparatively small box.
For anyone who appreciates good music, this should be in their collection. Throughout his career Paul Simon has written, sung and recorded brilliant songs - some of the best ever. To have well recorded versions of all his albums (to date - 2014) in one set at under £35 is a steal.
I agree with the compleatists below who wanted to have included the studio version of the excellent Slip Slidin Away from Greatest Hits etc., but that doesn't deminish the quality of this offering. My advice is buy it without hesitation.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (Playstation Vita)
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (Playstation Vita)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £29.02

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding adventure, 17 Feb. 2014
Writing this after just clearing the third (of six) chapter in the game and having spent ~ 11 hours with it so far. So while I'm still a ways off seeing the back end of the game, I'm writing this now out of pure joy from what time I've spent with Dangan Ronpa so far.

The game is an adventure title set in a high school named Hope Peak's Academy. You play as Makoto; a seemingly normal student among a group of the world's elite, named with titles such as "Ultimate baseball star" and "Ultimate bike gang leader".

Finding yourself trapped in the school, a mysterious bear named Monokuma tells you that your only means of escape is to kill another student and get away with it. Should you remain undiscovered after a class trial, you will "graduate" and be allowed back into the world. If you are accused by your other classmates, then you face a grizzly execution.

What makes Dangan Ronpa so remarkable so far, at least for me, is the interaction and bonding with the characters. Each one is thrown into this bizzare situation with you and seeing how they react to and handle their newfound 'prison' makes for some brilliant character development. You'll spend time in game interacting with the other characters and you can really grow to like some of them, which makes it all the more painful when they turn up dead or worse - turn out to be the one to kill another classmate.

Aside from forming social links (in a similar manner to Persona), you'll also spend time advancing the story, which inevitably involves a student turning up dead. Once this happens, you're given time to search for clues. This involves merely interacting with objects in the environment and heading to new areas to look for new stuff. Once you've collected all the clues you can, you head to a "class trial".

These trials involve all the surviving students presenting evidence to deduce who the real killer is. You'll contradict incorrect statements by presenting your own evidence (by shooting "word bullets" at them) and play various minigames to unravel what really happened. These class trials form one of the most interesting parts of the gameplay as you're always forced to engage your brain to pick apart what's occurring.

I'd just like to note one other thing about the gameplay - the title is first person and you can usually explore the school at your leisure, and it isn't grid based like a DRPG so there's a pretty decent flow to moving around the school. Also, there is a lot of text in the game and it's important to pay attention to most of it as it'll likely come up in a later class trial so if you're averse to reading a lot, this may not be the title for you.

All in all, though, Dangan Ronpa has been a thrilling ride for the 11 hours I've spent with it so far. The bond you form with your classmates makes it so much more emotional when they start turning up dead and the "killers" are often not portrayed as stereotypical bad guys, merely making bad choices in this messed up situation. The soundtrack is fitting; the gameplay is tight and everything just comes together in a remarkable package. Highly recommended.

Twisted Metal X (PS3)
Twisted Metal X (PS3)
Offered by bnhlmt
Price: £24.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Single player is fun but short, online multi-player is plagued with issues., 21 April 2012
This review is from: Twisted Metal X (PS3) (Video Game)
Let me start my review by saying - this is classic Twisted Metal updated for the current generation graphically, perhaps not so much in physics, but that by no means makes this a bad game. The problems with it come from its severely short single-player length and multitude of multi-player issues.

The last TM game I played was Black for the PS2. The European version was cut so severely that it simply served as a number of death-matches stuck together with absolutely no story. Thankfully, that issue isn't present here, but we are left with a 3 limited stories following Sweet Tooth, Mr Grimm & Dollface. All of the tales are interesting enough and I really enjoyed watching the live-action cutscenes, but they were very short and easy to progress through (and there were only about 3-4 cutscenes per character anyway). The meat of the story mode is in the matches themselves - traditional TM vehicular carnage in death-matches, electric cage matches, that sort of thing. There's varying levels of difficulty - up to "Twisted" which is horrifically hard, but generally playing on normal you'll have a good time. There's also a 'challenge' mode, where you can choose the map, game mode and settings you want to play against bots, which adds some slight longevity to the single player. Finally, you can play offline splitscreen or LAN matches, which is a very nice addition to keep the series close to its roots.

The actual game itself is a lot of fun - like I mentioned earlier, it's classic Twisted Metal. The environments seem very destructible and the weapons are a lot of fun. The controls can take a bit of getting used to, but thankfully you can change the control scheme to either original Twisted Metal or the dual-stick mode from Twisted Metal Black, which I chose to use. One thing you will notice is the physics are often way off - cars go flying all over the place sometimes, but I count this as more of a nostalgic nod to the older games and as such don't really have a problem with it.

So despite all this praise, how come I ended up giving the game 3 stars out of 5? The answer is quite simple - the online multi-player is completely broken at the moment. At the time of writing (21/04/12), I cannot connect to the online servers at all - I have to log out of my PSN just to play the single player. Hopefully this issue will be solved with another patch (I'm led to believe that the recent 1.05 patch is what caused this problem in the first place), but for the time being I'm completely unable to play online which is a massive problem. Even when I was able to connect before the patch, there were many server issues and disconnects which made the experience a hassle.

It's a real shame, because the actual game itself is huge amounts of fun, the kind of carnage which you can only seem to find with Twisted Metal games. It feels like a product which needed 3-6 more months in development to iron out the problems with online play and beef up the single player campaign.

Just a small final note: The game requires an pass to play online if you weren't already aware (if the online servers ever get up and running again!) Buying the game new, I also got two redeemable vouchers - one for a free downloadable version of Twisted Metal Black (which is still a lot of fun), and one for a Sweet Tooth skin for the upcoming game 'Starhawk'.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 14, 2013 8:17 AM BST

Summoner 2
Summoner 2

5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly enjoyable 'hidden gem' PS2 RPG, 2 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Summoner 2 (Video Game)
I found this game in a sale at the same time I bought "Wild Arms 3" about 5 years ago. While, initially, I preferred that game for being a more traditional RPG, I'd actually say that Summoner 2 has stood the test of time better at being an outstanding game.

Sure, there are a few cons here and there. I found it very short for an RPG (20-25 hours), the combat could get a little repetitive at times, and the story wasn't quite there for me. Disregarding these elements, though, and there's a great game to be played here.

You are the Goddess Lahara reborn - Maia - who rules over her kingdom until it is inevitably threatened and you go on a journey to become the summoner you were born to be. There's a very interesting set of characters on show here - all incredibly different, and I'd actually cite that as one of the strongest points of the game. The characterisation can be very good, and there's no obvious annoying characters like you sometimes encounter in an RPG.

The bulk of the game is a hack and slash RPG which takes place in your party of 3. Again, all the characters handle different and you can take control of any one of them - meaning that although Maia is the main character of the game, you can play through 70%+ of it as Sangaril the assassin or any other character, if you wish, which is a neat touch. You can be a caster, a healer, or a melee - whichever takes your fancy, and spend talent points developing these characters however you wish.

Aside from the combat, there's various other things to do. As leader of your people, there is a mini-game which progresses throughout the main game where you answer various problems your people face, and depending on your actions, there will be different outcomes (and rewards!) as the game reaches the later stages, which was a nice touch. There are various towns to explore, areas to train up in and revisit, puzzles to be solved, etc, all of which broaden the enjoyment of the game.

One of the things I would also commend the game for is it's visual representation - while some places can be a little drab and colourless, the majority of locations (especially in the latter stages of the game) are beautiful and vibrant, and the enemies varied and interesting. The art direction team for this game really did a beautiful job, and you'll find yourself playing through again just to visit the incredible Twilight realm, etc.

I didn't much enjoy the original summoner game, but played it through after having completed this game. Things are changed - in my opinion - much for the better in Summoner 2, and I really do believe it's one of the hidden gems on the PS2. Give it a try!

Project Minerva (PS2)
Project Minerva (PS2)
Offered by total-gamer
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting - if heavily flawed - action game, 2 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Project Minerva (PS2) (Video Game)
Seeing as how no-one had reviewed Project Minerva yet, I thought it was about time this was written!

Project Minerva is a primitive - but enjoyable - team based combat game. The premise is normally quite simple - you command a team of 4 people (included your character, Alicia) in open-field style combat against invading robots. Objectives vary from your average 'Clear the area' to protecting certain objectives (such as a truck) or holding a line for X minutes. You can deliver basic commands to your team - attack, stay close, scout etc, and each team member has a special 'ability' - a group heal, rocket launcher, group shield, laser sword etc.

The actual combat in the game varies from really quite fun to bloody frustrating. Don't get me wrong - the combat is heavily flawed. For your team members to be able to attack a target, it needs to be 'marked' on the map (seen through binoculars) which means that often you'll be doing most of the fighting on your own. And since you can't move and shoot at the same time, it can be incredibly annoying. Later in the game, some of the missions you'll undertake are absolutely brutally hard - which can be fun, but it'll mean a lot of 'turtling' trying to protect your idiot team-mates from dying.

Despite all this, the game is rather fun to play. I enjoyed the different locales which the game pits you in (there's a particularly fun and excruciatingly hard mission later on in the game in a desert 'fort') and if you're having trouble with a particular mission, there are plenty of others to choose from. This is by no means a genre-defining classic, and it has its share of annoyances, but if you're willing to take it for what it is there's plenty of fun to be had.

Family Guy - It's a Trap (DVD + Digital Copy)
Family Guy - It's a Trap (DVD + Digital Copy)
Dvd ~ Seth MacFarlane
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.21

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Actually disagree with the negative reviews, 19 Mar. 2011
It's all personal preference with Family Guy, and episodes are very hit and miss, and the Star Wars specials are no exception. I found "Blue Harvest" hilarious from start to finish while I found "Something something dark side" to be rather boring in comparison. And for me, the third part, "It's a trap" was a vast step up from both of them, and easily the best film in the trilogy.

The feeling of the film was, for me at least, that they had just tried to pack as many jokes in as possible at every turn - and of course some of them fell flat, but generally I was in stitches for the full thing. Yes, it's silly absurdist humor, but that it what Family Guy does best and I really feel that "It's a trap" hit the mark. Give it a try.

30 Rock Season 4 [DVD]
30 Rock Season 4 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alec Baldwin
Offered by Helgy
Price: £7.18

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I laughed a lot, 18 Mar. 2011
This review is from: 30 Rock Season 4 [DVD] (DVD)
If you're up to buying S4 of 30 Rock, you probably know the deal by now - Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), head writer for The Girlie Show with Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) has to juggle her work life with demanding stars Tracy and Jenna (Jane Krakowski) with trying to have a personal life, not helped by her corporate boss Jack (Alec Baldwin), well-meaning page Kenneth (Jack Macbrayer), plus we get new cast member Danny (Cheyenne Jackson). And there's Pete (Scott Adsit), possibly the most underused cast member on the show.

Season 4 is a season of highs and lows for me. There are some very, very funny episodes in here - James Franco makes a particularly hilarious cameo as a man in love with a Japanese throw pillow, Michael Sheen plays Liz's "destined" partner Wesley (he gets significantly better as the season goes on), Elizabeth Banks and Julianne Moore (with a truly horrific, but funny, Boston accent) play love interests to Alec Baldwin's character. And my own personal favourite moment of the Season, Jenna's constant need for approval from randomer Jerem, leading to "Jerem, look how drunk I am, and how full of cheese my mouth is!" to which he replys "That's not that much cheese!". I guess you have to see it.

There were also a few dud episodes for me - "Stone Mountain" and "Verna" aren't particularly special, for example.

Season 4 is, however, a vast improvement over Season 3 in my opinion, which was patchy at best and featured some dreadful story arcs, and on the whole this season manages to stay strong pretty much throughout. It remains one of the best US comedies that's (still) on TV at the moment, and it's definetly worth a watch.

The Office: An American Workplace Season 1-3 [DVD]
The Office: An American Workplace Season 1-3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Steve Carell

5.0 out of 5 stars The best 3 seasons in one set, 18 Mar. 2011
When I first discovered "The Office: An American Workplace" on a plane to NYC, I was incredibly suprised at how funny it was. The awkward, zany humor of these co-workers had me in stitches for literally the whole plane journey. When I arrived back in the UK I immediately went out and bought the dvd.

The first 3 seasons are undoubtedly the best - particularly the second. You learn to love Michael Scott, because he always just wants the best for his workers even when it doesn't come across that way (And you'll learn to hate stupid Toby Flenderson too). You'll see Pam and Jim's relationship grow and even though they can be particularly infruiating at times (particularly Jim), they just add another dynamic to the show. You'll watch as Dwight obediently follows Michael's orders and gets pranked by Jim (Rainn Wilson is an emmy-regular for his performance on this show) Particularly good are some of the lesser characters - my favourite is Angela "I like to have fun - I sing, I like to dangle things in front of my cats", up-tight Christian broad who engages in an office romance with Dwight.

The show is undeniably in its element during these first seasons - the first takes a little long to get started, but the second is pure comedic genius and the third not far behind. Give it a try, it's a very very good show.

p.s. It's my own personal opinion that the show completely "jumps the shark" (I realise this term is overused) from S4 onwards, so this is probably the best DVD investment you can make since these are by far some of the best episodes.

Less Than Perfect: Season 1 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Less Than Perfect: Season 1 [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will always have a place in my heart, 18 Mar. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Cheerful, peppy, upbeat Claude Casey (Sara Rue) lands the killer job as assistant to news anchor Will Butler (Eric Roberts), leaving behind her friends on the third floor - Sassy Ramona (Sherri Shepard) and oddball Owen (Andy Dick) to take up her new position on 22. It's here that she meets office rivals Lydia (Andrea Parker) and Kipp (Zachary Levi) who try to make her job hell, but ultimately end up respecting the temp to made it big.

First off, I'd like to explain that my love for this show is due to the fact that it was on when I was going through a bit of a rough patch a few years ago, and it was really just nice to escape to this cheerful, colourful news world every day on ABC1.

Perhaps, because of this, I'm overly complimentary of the show. It's formulaic at best - a lot of the characters fill stereotypes seen with this type of show (Ramona is sassy and forward, Lydia is the office *beep*), but the show is almost endearing because of that. It's familiar, the characters are likable and there are some great performances in here (Zachary Levi of "Chuck" fame and Andrea Parker from "The Pretender" are particularly good in their roles).

There's a good number of funny episodes in this Season - "Meet the Folks", "Telephone" and "A little love for Lydia" are some of the highlights for me.

Note that this is a NTSC version of the DVD (imported from America) and thus won't play on European dvd players - you'd have to buy an American one or change the settings on a PC dvd player to watch it. But if you're a fan of this show, it's definetly worth it - the first season is a very solid set.

p.s. It's unlikely we'll see another dvd release of this any time in the future, so make the most of it !

Arrested Development - Season 2 [DVD]
Arrested Development - Season 2 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Will Arnett
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.38

5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Comedy, 18 Mar. 2011
Having just been through my first marathon sitting of "Arrested Development" (all 3 series in about 4 days) I have to say that, while I was impressed with the program as a whole, Season 2 is what struck me as being pure comedy genius. Genuinely, I could not name one dud moment in the whole season.

From reading through some of the other reviews, they've covered many of the highlights of the season - Martin Mull as "Gene Parmesan", poor private detective but expert of disguise. Oscar "It's your father's birthday... which coincidentally... is my birthday" Bluth comes into his own this series, played to perfection by Jeffrey Tambor (absolutely my favourite performer on this show). Legions of innuendo from Tobias ("I just blue myself") alongside more zany antics from Gob ("Look at us Michael, crying like a couple of girls on the last day of camp") and some great performances by Michael Cera whilst describing his girlfriend ("She calls it a Mayonegg... are you alright?").

Sorry, I just couldn't stop from having a quote fest there. The comedy has been ramped up to unbelievable levels from Season 1, and I often found myself in tears (of laughter) during some of the episodes. Like the previous Season, the show is smart & self-referential, with varying degrees of foreshadowing ("I never thought I'd miss a hand {chair} so much") and continuity that just sets it apart from every single other show I've watched.

If there's one show I recommend you watch in this lifetime, make it Arrested Development, because if you "get" it, you'll feel like it has changed your life completely.

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