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M Sockel

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Dragons Dogma: Dark Arisen (PS3)
Dragons Dogma: Dark Arisen (PS3)
Offered by rockaway-records
Price: £7.44

2.0 out of 5 stars Am I playing this game wrong?, 3 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Whilst not a hardcore gamer, I am a long time RPG fan... and I struggle to understand the slew of amazing reviews that this game has received.

The premise (I think) is that an interdimensional dragon is tracking a soul across the multiverse that has the capacity to kill it, and enslaving it by taking the vessels heart. In a pseudo-medieval world, you are the current incarnation of that soul, and once your heart is removed you must track the dragon down.

There are some things to love about this game, but a lot the really turned me off.

GRAPHICS - the scenery is amazing. Really well detailed, and the day/night cycle was a great touch. The models of the monsters were good, and the mid level bosses (chimera, troll, cyclops) were simply outstanding. The human models did suffer, particularly the hair which looks like some kind of waxed blob. Additionally, there were problems with collision detection and frequently my cloak would drift through my shield as if it wasn't there.

CHARACTER CREATION - this is one of my major gripes about the game. Character creation started off really well, with a brilliant array of customizations to the body and facial features. Sadly that is all the good to say about it. There are no skills, and no development trees. You are unable to allocate any sort of skill points when you level up. You do get access to better spells and skills the higher you level, but few are interesting.

Further, your character is locked to only one of nine classes. Yes you can change class... but only by trekking all the way back to the capital. This is frustrating when you're half way through a quest and realise you need to be a different class to complete it.

FORGING - the system of being able to mix different potions was good, but weapon enhancement was terrible. Three upgrades per weapon, all of which are predetermined? Are you kidding me? Even "Two Worlds 2" did better than that.

PARTY CREATION - on the whole, a plus. Creating your own sidekick was great as was hiring two others. However, the AI was patchy, and I struggled to get my mage to fully heal me.

CONTROLS - worked well. There were some simple parkour elements, in the vein of Assassin's Creed, and I really enjoyed these. My only grumble is that there was no quick-slots. Constantly going back to a menu to drink a potion or cast a scroll really slowed the game down.

GAMEPLAY - a very mixed bag. This is a big open (ish) world which tries to do some sandbox stuff badly. There are a few major problems which kinda overlap a little.
1) The majority of NPC's are unengaging. You get the same conversation every time. You can't impress them, woo them offend them... it was a bit dull.
2) There are no mini games. No lock picking. No pick pocketing. No stealth/ kill from the shadows. Come on - even "Alpha Protocol" did better than that.
3) The camera gave me some big problems. One minute I'm hacking my way through a goblin horde, and the next there is a massive tree branch in the way and I can't see what is happening.
4) There is a very limited fast-travel system... which meant I spent A LOT of time trekking through areas I had already been, fighting monsters I had already fought (because of the fast respawn time). It got repetitive very quickly.
5) Finally, the plot... yes, there is a plot, but it seldom drove me on. I had no sense urgency, and was never engaged enough to care.

The summation is that, after 40hrs of gameplay, I grew bored.
This could have been an amazing game, but there is too much missing from the mechanics.

Alpha Protocol (PS3)
Alpha Protocol (PS3)
Price: £8.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Rainbow Six meets 24, 17 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Alpha Protocol (PS3) (Video Game)
There have been a lot of negative reviews about this game and, if I am honest, I'm not sure that I understand all of them.

Is this game perfect? No. In fact it's a long way from being perfect.
But, it is fun, engaging, reasonably plotted, and does have decent replay factor.

The plot is that you play Michael Thornton, on the trail of missiles stolen by muslims, only to find that it is really some Iran-Contra deal, and then your government sells you out, and you must fight to clear your name and take down the bad guys.

In terms of gameplay and theme, it feels a lot like Rainbow Six meets 24, with shades of Hitman.

So let's get the bad stuff out of the way.
- Graphics. Really not great. In particular the opening sequence, with the aeroplane is woeful. Alot of it feels like a game heldover from the end of the PS2.
- Animation. Some of the death animations are laughably bad, with characters doing massive cartwheels or jumps as they die.
- Enemy AI. Sometimes, it is questionable. The enemy sees you, runs around... and then seems to forget about you.

Ok, onto the good stuff.
- Controls. Very responsive.
- A decent array of upgradable weapons, armour, and intel.
- The skills tree is solid, and great fun to scroll through, working out the best build for my character.

On it's own, the above would score a 3/5. However, what lifts it are two things.
- Conversations. In many ways, the conversations remind me of Persona 4. LOADS of decision making in conversation to effect not only storyline development, but also how people react to you during the game, and bonuses they give you.

- Replayability. There is no single way to complete each mission. My first mission was at an airbase in Saudi Arabia, and 4hrs later I was still playing it. It's not that it was a difficult level - it could be completed in under 30 minutes -but I spent all that extra time exploring, and working out the best strategy to not get seen.

I'm sure a player could whizz through this game in 10-15hrs. However, I've been playing solidly for two weeks, and I love how much I'm getting out of it.

As I said it's not a perfect game but, if you're willing to be patient, you will get a lot of out this.


Offered by westworld-
Price: £12.56

2.0 out of 5 stars Some bands wander by mistake., 6 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Transgression (Audio CD)
Once upon a time, Fear Factory dominated my musical landscape.

However, I think that the band will admit that Transgression was a mistake.

When an album contains two covers (I will follow by U2, and Millenium by Killing Joke), there has to be questions about the level of creative output, and in this case Fear Factory were running on fumes, if not completely dry.

What original FF content there is here is only a shadow of their former selves. Nothing grabs the listener by the throat, or resonates with any ideals. The entire turgid mess labours from one track to another - and from a band who did so much to define a genre, it really blows.

Yes, this album was the was the wake up call that Burton C Bell needed to get Cazares back in the band... and it probably should be avoided for that very reason.

A limp and hollow affair that only completionists should consider buying.

Siberia [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Siberia [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Price: £12.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good... but left hanging., 5 May 2015
Riffing on the themes of X-Files and Lost, this 11 episode series seems to borrow much of it's mythology from a short story in The Beggar of Beliefs (The Spirals of Danu) (and I really recommend you read that first). So, set in Siberia, Tunguska, and in 1908 something unexplained explodes (possibly a comet, possibly an alien ship), leading to all sorts of weirdness in the present day.

The premise is that a diverse group of contestants are dropped off in Siberia and must survive the winter in order to win $500,000. They are filmed as part of a reality TV/ Big Brother show, but when the body count begins it slides quite deliciously towards "My Little Eye" territory.

If I am honest, the first three episodes are terrible. Everybody has perfect hair, and the good are very good, and the bad are very bad. However, as the series progresses, the characters become more complex. I loved the arc of Jonny on a path to redemption, Neeko was good as a flawed leader, and my favourite was Sam who discovers paternal instincts.

At 11 episodes, this is just the right length for me - I'm not a fan of 20+ eps with a mid season finale etc - but maybe one or two more episodes would have been nice to find out more about Miljan's psychosis, the voices he hears and the alien/occult symbols.

If you like tales of the weird and strange, then you will enjoy this... but be aware this is the only season, and whilst to get some answers in the final episode, the main plot is unresolved, and a load of new questions suddenly appear. Seeing that season two is unlikely, don't get too invested.

Rage: Anarchy Edition (PS3)
Rage: Anarchy Edition (PS3)
Offered by Glengoods
Price: £15.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Lacklustre, 4 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This First-Person-Shooter is a good idea that is ultimately squandered.

The premise is that an asteroid hits Earth, and you are put into stasis. Awakening some 100+ years in the future, the world is a post- apocalyptic state, and you must survive.

So the good;
- graphically, this game is amazing. It is a visual treat, and features some of the best models and textures that I have seen on the PS3. In particular, the human models - and the expressions - are just great.

- the car racing sub-games are fun, and if you like the Burnout games, you will enjoy these sections.

Sadly, that is all that I can say in its favour. So, on to the negatives.
- there doesn't appear to be any story. I had no idea why my character awoke when he did, why I was saved, or what the grand purpose was. At no stage did I feel invested in my character.

- your character in unalterable. You cannot customize the look. There is no XP to gain, no skills to level up. This list of weapons is small, and essentially your main tactic is managing your ammo supply and nothing else.

- collision detection, especially at close range, is suspect. I could fire off a whole clip from no more than a few yards away, and all but one bullet would pass through the enemy.

- enemies have a sense of perception that would rival Spiderman. Most seem to be able to hear me crouching from two or three rooms away, but if there is a physical door between those areas, then they cannot open it. The AI needs some serious tweaking.

- there is a SERIOUS bug with the subtitles. I always play with subtitles on, and if you talk to a character whilst there is an announcement in the background, or someone else talking, the subtitles get merged together on a line by line basis, making it very confusing what you are supposed to be doing.

- the "jump" button is nearly completely redundant. This is not an "openworld" and my character could not jump over sandbags or rubble that was knee high. Such is the developers desire to keep you in the designated area that, again, I found this very frustrating.

This game could have been great, but with the above flaws, and a very short playthrough time, you should wait until this is in the bargain bucket.

Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3)
Batman: Arkham Asylum (PS3)
Offered by Gameseek
Price: £20.80

3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, but limited., 27 April 2015
I picked this up in the bargain bin, and found it entertaining for a while.

You play as Batman, roaming around Arkham Asylum trying to apprehend all of the escaped criminals. There are a variety of moves, and some of the stealth "kills" are quite cool.

The graphics are good, and all of the buildings give a sense of claustrophobia. If I am honest, the levelling system does not work for me - the choices to enhance your character are limited, and it felt like the makers were trying to crowbar in an RPG element - either expand it fully, or get rid of it.

In truth, this is not an RPG, but a stealth-'em-up, and in that regard it works quite well. Think "Tenchu" or "Hitman", and add in some "Resident Evil"-esque puzzles, and you have Arkham Asylum. Whilst initially frustrating, once you have the hang of the stealth kills (my favourite was the inverted takedown), this becomes quite a fun came.

My main hang up with this game is the lack of replayability. Once I had solved the Riddler's puzzles, defeated the Joker, and tried my hand at challenge mode, there was no need to return. There is no-one to trade with, no items to collect, and you cannot search the bodies of the fallen to retrieve loot in order to break it down and make something new. Given that the Greatest Detective is also a master inventor, this seemed like an obvious oversight and could have added much to the game.

That said, this is good for a bargain price, and will soak up some 100hrs.

Two Worlds II (PS3)
Two Worlds II (PS3)

1.0 out of 5 stars An exercise in frustration, 16 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Two Worlds II (PS3) (Video Game)
Frankly... ARGH!!!!
There are many good things about this game, and there are many bad things - so I will try to keep them balanced.

Down side, the plot is nonsensical, from beginning to end.

Up side, the game is engaging, particularly the crafting and lockpicking systems.

Down side, the draw-in and pop-in rate is amongst the worst I've seen on the PS3.

Up side, it does have the most unique magic system I've ever seen, and it is fun to spend hours creating some awesome spells.

Down side, the human models are terrible (seriously, what's with the eyes?), and the first hour of gameplay is pretty turgid.

Up side, the character build is great with many different areas to focus on, although this is tempered by the fact you can ONLY play a male human character.

Down side, buggy as hell. A lot of the dungeons have bodies half in the walls, so you can't get their loot, and there are numerous other bugs which cause quests to disappear or not update in your quest log.

This is pretty balanced, and would normally earn a three-star rating. However, the last hour of the game is so bad that I can only give one star.
Firstly, having spent time on many islands, your character is teleported to the final island - The Emperor's Capital.... which you CANNOT explore. Seriously. It is the biggest island on your world map, and you can only move through two very small parts of it.

Secondly, the final boss is ridiculous. Not because it is hard, but because the game suddenly switches from an RPG into a First-Person-Shooter... and your entire character building is MEANINGLESS!

I spent 200+hrs creating an awesome character, only for it to count for nothing because ANY character build can man the ballistas to shoot the dragon out of the sky.

I feel incredibly cheated and my bitter rage knows no bounds.


Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PS3)
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (PS3)
Price: £14.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but..., 25 Mar. 2015
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is first RPG I played on my PS3, and whilst it borrows much from A Gathering of Twine (The Spirals of Danu), it is neither as immersive or engaging.

So, the first thing that struck me was the graphics. VERY pretty. Nice designs, lots of texture and detail - it kinda reminds me of a much better version of Fable.

The combat system is nice and easy. It is not 100% intuitive - sometimes my character span around 180 degrees and shot a shock-ball into nothing just as a horde was about to fall on me - but on the whole it worked.

A minor frustration is the amount of weapons and armour available - it feels very limited, compared to other games. The skill and ability trees are ok, but could do with expanding. The XP cap of Level 40 is very low, and needs to be raised.

A moderate complaint is the inventory system - there is no way to sort through the items either in your backpack or in your stash. You literally have to keep scrolling through hundreds of items to find the one you are after. It would be nice if there was a sort function.

Another moderate complaint is the design of the dungeons - they all follow the same formula: go around, and then jump off a ledge at the end to get back to where you started. It would have been nicer to pop out in a wholly new area, even if only occasionally.

My biggest complaint is the crafting system, which is a missed opportunity. Crafting is largely governed by the blacksmithing skill, and there are 5 grades of equipment - white, green, blue, purple and yellow. However, even with blacksmithing maxed out, you can NEVER breakdown, or forge, purple or yellow items. Further, when you salvage parts from equipment, the parts you get are entirely random. It doesn't matter how many points you have in blacksmithing, you can breakdown an amazing helmet or sword, and it will give you the worst components. This is incredibly frustrating.

On the whole, the game plays well and is stable. In 100+hrs of gameplay, I only got stuck in the landscape once, and there were no crashes at all.

I would have liked to have been able to turn off the yellow-circle indicators that guide me to a quest location, as this would favour greater-world exploration.

Hardcore RPG'ers may struggle with some of the aspects of Kingdoms of Amalur, but if you are new to role playing, then this is a great place to start.

Spilt Milk: A Collection of Stories
Spilt Milk: A Collection of Stories
Price: £2.53

5.0 out of 5 stars Modern gothic, 17 Mar. 2015
This a collection of modern gothic short stories, where neither good nor evil exist... but there are shades of grey. People do bad things for good reasons and vice versa, creating a heady universe of intrigue and suspicion.

A good read

The Rings of Power (Solomon's Circle Book 2)
The Rings of Power (Solomon's Circle Book 2)
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Epic fantasy, 17 Mar. 2015
This is a great epic fantasy, reminiscent of Tolkien and Donaldson.

There are demons, and personal struggles that not just threaten individuals, but the world at large.

A great read.

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