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M Sockel

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Endless Legend (PC DVD)
Endless Legend (PC DVD)
Offered by PNA247
Price: £14.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Exciting opening, but quickly fizzles to a bit of a damp squib, 26 July 2016
This review is from: Endless Legend (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
Lord of The Rings for 4x players?
This is what you've been waiting for.

There is no getting away from it, this is a beautiful game. Graphically, it is a treat, and fantasy fans will love it.

Unfortunately, after that, things become somewhat middling. The premise is exactly the same as every other 4x game. Expand your empire, upgrade your cities, engage in battles, diplomacy and trade in order to take over the world. It's basically Civilization with a fantasy front end.

Personally, I was disappointed with the tech trees. Here they are wheels, but there is little originality - upgrade production and unlock buffs for both city and armies. Even the weapons boosts only offer stat upgrades - the in-battle effect is just some extra damage with no visual effect. This game really could have done with a whole magic tree/wheel with in-battle super fx, with fireballs like comets and the like.

There is good flexibility within the game; start as one of 8 pre defined races, or make one of your own. Each race has a really unique opening video, and for all of 30 seconds we're lead to believe that there might actually be a story to go with the gameplay... but no. Additionally, I was upset that there is no ending video either. You reach your goal and get message followed by a graph. And that's it.

I will say that the use of heroes to govern cities and lead armies was a nice touch, and the way they level up does lead to the choosing of some cool buffs. So big tick there.

Perhaps the greatest source of frustration is the battle system, and for two reasons;
1) In 4x games like Sid Meier's Starships, you can move your unit and then specify your target. Not so here. Either you select your target first and then your unit moves the worse possible position (ie, in a pincer between two enemies), or you move first and hope that your unit then hits the enemy you want them to (hint; they don't)

2) Because of the map layout, it is easy for units to get trapped at the start, particularly in long corridors, or blockaded entrances. The makes it very difficult to get all the units on to the field of battle and engaged.

The use of in-game quests is great. However, there are bugs which mean you can subdue and recruit a local tribe, only for a later quest to require their death. But because they are recruited you can't fight them, which means you can't complete the quest.

On the whole, this game has a very exciting opening, but quickly fizzles to a bit of a damp squib


Sid Meier's Starships  [Online Game Code]
Sid Meier's Starships [Online Game Code]
Price: £10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A quick fix, 7 July 2016
It has taken me a long time to grow to like this game, mainly because it has Sid Meier's name on it.

SM is synonymous with 4X games and layered strategic development and expansion... and this game does not have those layers. There are no tech trees (just a simple menu of options that don't lead anywhere), no different combat troops etc - instead, you start the game with a couple of spaceships (all the same design that can be all upgraded in the same way), a homeworld (and all worlds can be upgraded in the same way), and you must explore the galaxy by completing turn based battles (and an occasional puzzle) on other worlds in order to gain influence and ultimately secure them into your federation.

Along the way you meet other spacefaring civilizations. The diplomacy screen is limited, and so you start out friendly before grabbing chunks of their space before they get yours. There are various ways to win, all of which are standard CiV/4X fare.

There are no storylines or arcs. There are a few side-quests, but no journal so it is easy to forget them, and it is difficult to track other civilizations who seem to just win out of the blue.

The graphics are crisp but repetitive, and both soundtrack and fx are above average.

Gameplay is VERY quick. On easy mode you can complete this in a hour or two. On impossible, it takes about a day.

So far so average, right? However, an extra star is awarded, because this is an addictive game. The first couple of times I played, I was disappointed, but it did start to grow on me. There are some incredibly fine nuances to the battle strategy in terms of ship upgrades (make sure you stay at 7 movement speed, get the double turn, and immediate fighter movement wonders), and it is probably only more mature players who will appreciate the intricacies of this.

This is not a smash and grab affair. These battles take finesse and planning. I've defeated an armada of 8 ships with only two cruisers, and equally seen an entire fleet wiped out because of a misplaced torpedo.

There is a lot that could be done to make this game better and more immersive (different ship designs, branching tech trees, a journal for side quests), but if you find the likes of Stellaris too long winded and are looking for quick fix gameplay then this is for you.


Mixcraft Pro Studio 7
Mixcraft Pro Studio 7

5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing DAW, 6 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Mixcraft Pro Studio 7 (DVD-ROM)
Bluntly, I have a new favourite DAW.

I'm not a pro, but rather an enthusiastic hobbyist, and for years have played with the various iterations of Magix and Band In A Box. A while back I tried Pro Tools, but didn't get on with it.

However, Mixcraft 7 absolutely nails it. More channels than you can shake a stick at, and each one with a full customizable set of chain-fx. Whilst I use my own VST's, the ones that come preloaded are very impressive.

The envelope automation is wonderful, and the workflow management is intuitive.

If I wanted to exercise my OCD, there is a notation function within the midi view which is strongly reminiscent of Guitar Pro and Sibelius... but it doesn't go nearly as far. Obviously I'm not a programmer, but when GP is lambasted by its users for not enabling pick-scrape or the like, to miss out on triplet-feels seems like a rookie error. Either don't have the function, or do it properly.

That aside, this really is everything that I need in a DAW. I'm running on 16gb of RAM, and the programme is barely touching 25% of that.
Some nice export options, and a slimline video function make this the top of my DAW recommendations.


Stellaris (PC DVD)
Stellaris (PC DVD)
Price: £27.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well conceived, but average delivery., 6 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Stellaris (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
I am long term lover of the Civilization-esque turn based strategy games. I don't say that I'm very good, just that I enjoy them.

Stellaris is an interesting game as much for its flaws as its good points.

The aim of the game is to take your fledgling galactic empire to great, via any number of paths. In that regard there is not only massive longevity to the game, but also great replay value.

The music is great - very immersive - and the voice acting is reasonable. Some of the fx, particularly explosions, sound a little 8-bit.

The resource collecting is limited, with only two main types of res (red jewels and yellow energy), and four secondary (influence, and the three tech types) and some tertiary ones that are limited to planet side.

The tech trees are interesting, with up to three branches being researched at any one time, and plethora of offensive, defensive, and society buffs are up for grabs.

Whilst this would put the game at four-stars, there are some frustrations. First of all is the lack of a manual. There is short tutorial walk through at the beginning, but this is not in any way in depth, and I was getting constant warnings on my planets that "pop" issues prevented my buildings from working... but I had no idea how resolve those.

Secondly, we need to talk about the graphics. Most of these range from passable to pretty good, but I do have to mention the fleets. As with any expansion sim, you can build your armada of offensive, scout and science ships... but these are barely a couple of pixels on the screen. That is not an exaggeration, they are just a few dots.

Thirdly, the game mechanic suffers with a secondary res type, "influence". There is an interesting feature whereby you can recruit admirals and scientists. In some instances, they just give buffs, and in others, you actually need them to command the fleet else you're going nowhere. What is interesting is that these characters age and die, and new ones need to be recruited. The problem is that the "influence" res cannot be harvested in the traditional sense and is a by-product of something to do with the planet activity. Again, a manual would be helpful here.

The problem was that, even with loads of buffs in place, I never got above +2 influence per round, and it takes 50 to recruit another and 200 to expand your empire via another outpost. I spent large chunks of the game without governors or scientists because I could not afford them.

The sum total is this - Stellaris, whilst well conceived, is an average game that strongly reminded me of the Galactic Civilization only with greater longevity, and worse graphics.

My advice would be to wait for it to come down in price before investing.


The Atomic Sea: Volume One of An Epic Steampunk / Dystopian Science Fiction Adventure Series
The Atomic Sea: Volume One of An Epic Steampunk / Dystopian Science Fiction Adventure Series
Price: £0.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Why all the rave reviews?, 22 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Sorry, but nope.
A formulaic plot, two dimensional stereotypcial characters and a writing style that I just didn't get on with meant that this was a yawnfest from start to finish.

Nothing in this book grabbed me. It felt like an alternate perspective of Pirates of The Caribbean, set in a steampunk world.

The fact that it describes itself as "epic steampunk and fantasy / science fiction" really tells you of the pastiche that it is.
The central problem, is that it doesn't have the room to do any of these things well, instead cramming too much in.

You have been warned.


Extreme Joint Locking and Breaking: Restraint and Submission Techniques for the Street
Extreme Joint Locking and Breaking: Restraint and Submission Techniques for the Street
by Loren W. Christensen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.91

2.0 out of 5 stars Very poor, 8 May 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What starts off a vaguely interesting, albeit poorly described, descends into farce about mid way through this book.

Early on there are statements [relating a elbow wrist lock], such "and now take him to the ground"... but with no explanation how. An element (perhaps 2-3 yrs) of martial understanding is required, preferably in a grappling art, because a novice will in now get what is meant.

By this point, ideas have been exhausted, and there us strong element of compliance by the person having the technique done on them. Coupled with a high element of "using strength versus technique", this is not a book to recommend to grappler or anyone in MMA, let alone for street self defence.

Avoid.


Mass Effect Trilogy (PS3)
Mass Effect Trilogy (PS3)

3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing but flawed., 21 April 2016
This is arguably one of the greatest games on the PS3... but has so many technical flaws that I have pulled what is left of my hair out.

***Warning: this review does contain spoilers***

This is a squad based cover shooter, which mixes in tactical weapons and powers in a wonderful way.
The plot is that, as Commander Shepard, you must gather forces from across the galaxy to defeat the Saren/Collector/Reaper (they are all interconnected). Every decision has a knock on effect, and there are hundreds of hours in replay to follow various storlines.

Honestly, the story telling is some of the best I've seen. You really by into the characters and their story arcs. I'm not ashamed to say that, in the final part of the trilogy when key crew mates make great sacrifices, I blubbed like a baby!

Although some of the game mechanics change slightly throughout, the graphics are continuously of a high standard, with excellent controller response and collision detection.

The music is good, and in particular the score for the final chapters in both ME2 and ME3 are outstanding, giving me goosebumps all over!

So this sounds like a great game... and it is. But there are some serious glitches.

Firstly, this is billed as being "every-decision has a consequence" series, and for the most part that is true. In particular the choices from ME1 have a very satisfying consequence in ME2. However, not all of the decisions in ME1 make it into ME3, and this leads to some serious continuity issues. For instance, on my first play through, I chose Anderson to ascend to the Council in ME1... and this was born out in ME2. However, in ME3, suddenly Udina in on the council, and Anderson is a soldier again... with no explanation. It jarred.

Secondly, the final chapter of ME3 - where ALL the decisions SHOULD come together - fails to deliver. There are three generic endings, seemingly lifted from Deus Ex. There is no final boss and no satisfactory resolution of the lore. Indeed, several statements contradict themselves, and the use of a "force-ghost" type child was just awful.
Seriously, the ending is an absolute let down.

However, by far and away the biggest issue, is the stability of the game. ME1 is great. I played through with no crashes.
ME2 is dreadful. I regularly crashed, for no reason, and at one point my 50hr campaign became corrupted and I had to start again. Worse, EA have been aware of this issue for years, but have still not patched properly.
ME3 is slightly better than ME2, but again, I was crashing at least once an hour.

Finally, ME3 keeps asking me purchase an online pass even though EA discontinued it in 2014. If I download it from the PS store, it will not patch to my ME3.

These problems are a shame because the graphics are great, the gameplay and story are engrossing, and the music is fantastic.
But think before you buy.


Hell's Gate and The Terror At Bobby Mackey's Music World
Hell's Gate and The Terror At Bobby Mackey's Music World
Price: £1.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Save your money., 16 April 2016
Just awful writing. Terrible sentence structure, and poor grammar constantly jarred me out of the story.


Dark Souls II (PS3)
Dark Souls II (PS3)
Offered by Woodlark Trading Ltd
Price: £11.98

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating., 28 Feb. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Dark Souls II (PS3) (Video Game)
This should be a great game... but the central mechanics give rise to such frustration that after 40hrs of gameplay I've had a massive rage quit.

There are things about this game that are great.
- Graphically, it is beautiful.
- The sounds, although limited, are very atmospheric.
- The controller and wield system are great.
- The RPG/character creation elements are right up there with Elder Scrolls.

Ok, so what is not to love?
The main problem is that, from the start, I had no idea what was going on, where I was supposed to be going, or what I was supposed to be doing.
- There is no map.
- There is no journal or quest log.
- There is no guide of any sort to give an indication where to I should go.

The opening scenes are of my character falling into a vortex (perhaps as some sort of self-sacrifice), and awakening in a ravaged world where I must collect souls to level up. In many respects it reminds me of the first Soul Reaver game, with some aspects of survival horror of the early Resident Evil releases. The aspect of "soul collection" is reminiscent of Onimusha, and those who have played that franchise will recognise the equipment upgrade function.

Generally speaking, the enemies are off the hook hard - perhaps 4-5 levels higher than you. On it's own, that is not a bad thing. Quite the opposite - it becomes a game of tactics rather than a hack n slash.

But the problem is motivation. I had no idea why I was wandering around, other than to "seek the king" (but never told why I must seek him). I don't know why the enemies attacked me, or why I should I attack them. Everything seems so pointless and arbitrary. Maybe that is the point.

There are no books of lore, nor can you open multiple chat options - the NPC's talk to you, and that is that.

Other than being an RPG, I cannot tell you what this game is about. I have no idea what the story is, or indeed point of the central quest.

Ultimately, a novel idea became boring quickly, and frustrating even faster.
Basically, this game is no fun to play.


Guitar Pro 6 (PC/Mac)
Guitar Pro 6 (PC/Mac)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nearly perfect., 3 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Guitar Pro 6 (PC/Mac) (DVD-ROM)
This is damn near the best mid range product on the market. Don't get me wrong, it's not perfect, but for the money this is an exception buy.

So who is this for? Primarily if you are into stringed instruments (guitar, bass, violin, viola, cello etc), then you will a lot of this.
If you are looking to produce electronica, then maybe consider something like FL Studio 11 instead.

Secondly, if you have outgrown entry level products like Band in a Box, and Magix, but are not yet ready to make the jump to the likes of Cubase or Kontakt, then you need this in your life.

So, we'll start with the cons, and there really are only a few.
- the soundbanks that come with the product are great, but there is no capability to load in VST/i's. Considering how midi adaptable this programme is, that is a bit of a miss. Also be aware that there is only one standard drumkit, as couple of other ethnic types. They are not great, and in particular the taiko set is incredibly limited. If you want straight pop/indie/alt/rock/ metal, then it will be ok. If you're looking for something more atmospheric then you will have to export to a VST handling DAW.

- the primary interface is a notation style front end and it is beautiful. However there is no ability to switch to a traditional DAW view, nor is there an ability to fade in and out at certain points other than the notation. If you want a long fade in, then you will have to export to another DAW.

- There is no master mixing desk view, and all dials must be manually turned. There is no ability to input a number, and when you're creating a finally balanced piece of work, this can get a little frustrating.

- There is no "riff generator", like in Band in a Box or FL Studio 11. It's not the end of the world, but if you're looking to generate ideas then there is no auto function.

To be honest, that's all the cons. The pros are numerous
- The front end is notation based and has just about everything you need, including hammer on/pull off, legato slide, wah open/close arpeggio up/down. To be honest with you, I've learned more about music theory in the last few months experimenting with this than I ever did in my years at school. However, be aware that it is not for beginners.

- The soundbanks that come with this are amazing. Given that this is primarily for stringed instruments, even the few synthesizers are good, and with a bit of playing can generate some great sounds. Piano sounds are crisp, and the number of guitars is excellent.

- Amps, pedals and cabinet effects. Frankly, these are a knob twiddler's dream. 10 guitar amps, 3 bass amps, 42 pedals, and 9 master cabinets. And there are hundreds of presets. If you're not drooling right now, then you're probably dead on the inside.

- The import/export is solid. Not only can you open all previous version of GP in this edition, but you can also import midi, powertab, ASCII, musicxml. Export is in PDF (of the notation), midi (although you will lose some the finery, like "let ring") and wav. There is no MP3 option, and if you're looking to get onto Amazon to sell your latest composition you will have to convert to Uncompressed AIFF (44.1 KHz, 16- bit)... which again means have to go via another DAW such as the higher end Magix products.

- The regularly updated website is full of free demos and tutorials that can be downloaded, and caters for a range of genres. A lot can be learned here.

- There is a chord finder/generator. Can't find that particular note? No problem. This is an excellent addition, particularly for the more inexperienced players.

In summary, if you've outgrown the beginner programmes and are looking to make the next step, then Guitar Pro 6is absolutely for you.


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