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The Nightcrawler (Bristol, England)

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RIME (PS4)
RIME (PS4)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £27.56

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Enchanting & Essential!, 29 Jun. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: RIME (PS4) (Video Game)
I hardly ever write a review (especially for games), but Rime is one of those rare gaming experiences I think everyone should play. (Of course not everyone, if first person shooters are your forte why would you play this?) If *only* everyone would play a game like Rime.

It is incredibly refreshing to play something which has no on screen tutorials or button prompts and no speech. From the very start - when your nameless character wakes up on the shore of a mysterious island - you're free to explore and figure things out for yourself. The art style is absolutely beautiful and full of colour and visual flair; the day/night cycle wowed me and I genuinely lost track of time whilst playing it. There are subtle visual cues which guide you in a particular direction and gradually introduce new gameplay mechanics, but you'll hardly notice them.

Visually Rime creates a very special immersive experience and I found myself in awe of it.

Sound equally plays an important part in creating Rime's immersion; whether it's the sound of the waves and gulls, the chirpy barks your fox companion makes, the secret 'lullaby' horns which can be found, or the boy's own (slightly subdued) voice. There's some excellent sound design complemented by intermittent music, in particular a piano track which I thought was hauntingly beautiful. It's also worth noting that you can sometimes find where the fox has scampered off to by following the noise of its barks. Music triggers in relation to events within the game and is succinct in doing so.

Since other reviewers have raised the frame rate as an issue, I'd like to state that I've only had one or two occasions of frame rate drop. They were barely noticeable and didn't detract from my enjoyment of the game as a whole in any way.

As a puzzle/adventure game, Rime does what it does almost to perfection. The environmental puzzles aren't exceptionally taxing, but they do require some lateral thinking to solve. The solutions are creative and clever and wholly rewarding to figure out. Rime doesn't just ask you to take an object from area A and move it to area B. Puzzles often involve light, shadow, time, perspective and even positioning. You feel a huge sense of achievement passing from one area to another; something I've perhaps not experienced since PS2 classic Shadow of the Colossus. Rime makes you actually think...

In closing, I haven't fully figured out the story, although I feel like I'm on the verge of discovering a great tragedy (perhaps I already have). Rime is hopeful too and showcases the resilience of the human spirit, not unlike Journey before it. If you're still having doubts, please support the developer - this is a game which is worth every penny in my eyes and it's a bargain at £20 or less. I don't know what game IGN have been playing to give it 6.5 out of 10, but Edge magazine gave it a score of 9/10. Tequila Works really have crafted something which will stay with me long after I've completed it.

Rime is an absolute joy.


No Man's Sky (PS4)
No Man's Sky (PS4)
Offered by EVERGAME
Price: £14.74

14 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every Man's Sky - Pathfinder Update!!, 19 Aug. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: No Man's Sky (PS4) (Video Game)
A while before the Pathfinder Update released, I was starting to think the hater's (and their verbose criticism) were right. The No Man's Sky grind and repetitive nature of its gameplay was getting to me. However, I could still see the potential in what Hello Games have set out to achieve, so I put my doubts aside, downloaded the update, wiped my progress and decided to begin afresh.

The first planet I woke up on was a lush, temperate world full of bright vegetation and varied fauna. Resources were plentiful and repairing my ship didn't feel at all like a chore. It was the perfect casual start to exploration, element gathering and earning units for discoveries. Since taking off to widen my horizons I've been to a cold moon, a heated planet, a resource rich (but barren) moon, a populated world full of vast oceans and my current planet which has a poison rain weather system complemented by strange creatures.

Everything I've witnessed so far has been within the first two systems. The planets (and their respective conditions) have been balanced enough not only to maintain my interest, but to produce some genuine 'this looks beautiful' moments. Aesthetically, No Man's Sky has been much improved; there is now full day/night cycles, better weather effects, sunrises (and sunsets), improved lighting effects, less noticeable generation and other planets/moons appear in the sky of the world you're exploring.

The update isn't all about aesthetics and improved balancing though. Hello Games have now included new base parts (for base building), planetary vehicles, weapon classes, ship classes, new multi-tool and ship weaponry, nanite clusters which can be traded for blueprints, online base sharing, new trophies and a perma-death mode for those who want the challenge. They've also improved the UI with a simple quick menu option and the ability to add waypoints to the Galaxy Map.

For some people, none of this is going to be enough and I understand why. It's a leisurely game requiring patience and imagination. The core gameplay still lacks depth - which means Hello Games have more work to do. I only feel that if it was being released now, people's opinions of it (as a game) would be somewhat different. The writing itself - one aspect Hello Games could have chosen to ignore - has also benefited from careful proof reading and improvement. It might not seem like much, but it definitely adds to what they've said is a labour of love for them. Let's also not forget, that technically, this is still a phenomenal achievement for a small, indie studio. I can't wait to see where the journey will take us next!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 21, 2016 11:48 PM BST


Alien: Isolation - Nostromo Edition (Xbox 360)
Alien: Isolation - Nostromo Edition (Xbox 360)
Offered by Trigger Happy Games LTD
Price: £9.54

14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Tense, Foreboding & Essential!!!, 18 Oct. 2014
Like some other reviewers have said, don't pay heed to the reviews written by IGN or Gamespot. Games TM (magazine) gave Alien Isolation 9 out of 10 and for good reason. It's the most well realised Alien game to ever come about. You play the daughter of Ellen Ripley, Amanda, an engineer who's on the hunt for what happened to her mother. Very early on in the game you find a cassette player which plays a brief audio transcript of Alice in Wonderland. It tells how Alice plunges down the Rabbit Hole whilst giving no thought to how she'll escape again.

Sevestopol station is Amanda's rabbit hole . . .

Even on the aging 360, the game looks absolutely incredible. It's a true design masterpiece of forward thinking game play. The station's in the process of being decommissioned. That means it creaks, it clangs, it hisses, lights go out out, cables spark and you're never certain what's up ahead; or round the next corner, or in the next room. Even after gaining a flashlight I didn't feel safe. There's a bit at the end of section one, where you have to call a transit, wait for it to arrive and then get on board. I'd been searching the room for random bits of scrap.

I boarded the transit and was expecting to leave this area, when I heard it. That familiar Alien part hiss, part scream, which immediately lets you know it's close by and it's coming for you. I stood there helpless - with only a flare for protection - did a one eighty heel turn, then saw the Alien come charging towards me much to Amanda's horror. I wasn't stealthy, I didn't hide in the dark, I didn't run for my life onto the transit (when it arrived) and I got found out. It was also my first - in game - encounter with the monster that's eating everybody.

Here's the kicker though. You're encouraged to explore every room and every hidden nook and cranny. Amanda needs to collect salvage before she can construct a single medikit. Logic follows that the more you find, the longer you'll survive. The people stranded on Sevastopol are as much a threat as the Alien. Some are trying to find a way off, whilst others are stockpiling supplies and firearms. Two poor chaps I found stuck in contained rooms were already dead. It's well worth checking every terminal for station logs - as well as playing the audio ones.

The background to what's already happened on Sevastopol is never forced upon the player. You'll feel intrigued to find out though, if only because the whole station's gone to hell. It's creaky moans are complemented by brilliant light and shadow effects. When it's dark, it's very dark. When you have a flare lit it bathes your surroundings in red light. Until it goes out. Restoring power gets the lights back on in some areas, but you'll feel slightly queasy leaving them behind you. At least before you've found the next telephone save point (brilliant use of a save function).

In my opinion, there's only one way to get the full Alien Isolation experience . . . And that's in the dark yourself. Turn any lights off, man - or woman - up, play alone and prepare to have your nerves severely tested. I don't mind if the Alien gets me; I'm sure it will get me plenty of times throughout my play-through. At least it will be a welcome interruption from making progress with an almost inherent trepidation. One which would rather have me backtracking to safety than press forwards into the next unknown. Amanda's fear is always present, yet she doesn't panic.

If you can manage to play in the same way, you'll likely do better than other players.

I wouldn't say the game scares me, so much as it unnerves me. So far, however, I've only managed to complete the first section. Section two beckons tonight and, depending on its surprises, my opinion and/or experience may well drastically change. The feeling you'll have whilst playing is what survivor horror's all about. Alien Isolation is an experience unlike any other. Tense, dark, foreboding, drastic, urgent, draining, compulsive and ultimately, an essential purchase. Well, for anyone who thinks they'd enjoy exploring a Russian space station with an Alien onboard.

REVIEW UPDATE:

I'm now onto section three of the game, following the extremely nerve wracking events of section two. It has terrific pacing; I can now access some locked down areas, I've found blueprints to allow the crafting of new items, I've picked up the motion tracker and I've engaged in my first 'hacking' mini-games. (These are simplistic, but fun and very satisfying). Every new area presents its own challenges, so whilst you will die, I wouldn't say it's unfair (I'm playing on medium difficulty).

That said, it's much easier to run from any 'Working Joes' - Sevastopol's extremely creepy Androids - than try killing one. Their faces are entirely devoid of emotion and they'll relentlessly pursue you if you're caught somewhere off limits. You might give one a wrench to the face, but they'll quickly block any persistent melee attacks. I only managed to kill one by emptying an entire revolver clip at point blank range until its head started smoking. Android brains are not a pretty sight...

I also experienced my first two genuine 'jump-scare' moments. One came when I'd been hiding inside a cabinet, thought it was safe to leave, burst out and had a Working Joe appear right in front of me. The other... Well, you'll just have to experience it for yourself... But needless to say, you won't see it coming. I've yet to use a flashbang, so perhaps they'll aid my escape later tonight. AI's perfect irony is that your continued survival is only ensured by those who meet an untimely end.

Play it at their peril!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 18, 2014 2:18 PM GMT


WWE: United We Slam - The Best Of Great American Bash [DVD]
WWE: United We Slam - The Best Of Great American Bash [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hulk Hogan
Price: £7.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!!!, 19 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As a long time, HUGE, WCW fan (especially in my early teens) I was really looking forward to this 3 disc set from Fremantle Media. The subtitle - The Best Of Great American Bash - leads you to expect a DVD compilation that will at least do the event justice. And unfortunately, this set doesn't quite live up to that standard. The Great American Bash was a long standing WCW pay-per-view tradition, much like Starrcade, Halloween Havoc or SuperBrawl. There are no WWE matches featured on any of the discs, so be warned if you're expecting some action from the other side of the fence.

Dusty Rhodes is on hand to talk a bit about the Bash, provide links between *some* of the matches and for *alternate* commentary. Unlike Booker T and DDP, however, he does a poor job of hosting. The man can barely string a coherent sentence together, often doesn't finish his sentences; and speaks in southern Texan drawl that can be highly difficult to understand. The alternate commentary on disc 1 should have been made optional, but isn't. Instead of professional commentary from Jim Ross, we get Dusty and Larry Zbysko not even calling the matches.

It seems to me they'd rather make a mockery of mid 80's cameramen, fashion sense and workers like Nikita Koloff, Road Warrior Hawk and Lex Luger. I'd also add that they add very little to each match. Nothing they say is particularly interesting, entertaining or worth listening to.

Disc 1 kicks off with Flair Vs. Koloff for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in July of 1985. I always liked Nikita as a performer and this is a pretty solid outdoor match. Being '85 it has a slower pace - as you'd expect - but you've got Nikita's raw power and strength versus Flair's ring savvy and technical expertise. There is one crazy moment when a fan hits the ring, very quickly followed by two or more police officers. It doesn't have the feel of a Flair/Ricky Steamboat wrestling classic, but is nevertheless an entertaining match to start things off.

We then have an NWA tag team match featuring the always underrated Rock N' Roll Express Vs. Arn & Ole Anderson. I would've enjoyed this match a lot more if it wasn't for the inane *special* commentary. Rhodes and Zbysko are needlessly distracting throughout a classic see saw battle with a hot crowd. Arn Anderson adopts his usual ground and pound style approach, whilst Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson rely on speed and agility. I will say that everything the Rock N' Roll did in terms of performance was always well timed and expertly executed.

The July '86 Steel Cage Match between Rhodes and Flair is pretty standard. It doesn't have anywhere near the intensity of Flair Vs. Garvin from Starrcade '87. In fact, despite his success, I've never really rated Dusty Rhodes as one of the *all time* greats. He arrogantly describes it as a classic match, but in my estimation it's far from classic. Flair does most of the work, whilst Rhodes throws some punches and drops a couple of elbows. Granted he wins the World Title for a third time in front of an elated crowd, but this bout really didn't do much for me.

We're then treated to War Games '87. A brutal two cage, double ring match between Dusty Rhodes, The Road Warriors, Nikita Koloff and Paul Ellering Vs. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Lex Luger and JJ Dillon. The image quality (from certain camera angles) isn't quite up to par, but that can easily be forgiven. I did find the commentary to be too quiet and some of it is fairly indistinguishable from crowd noise. This was a violent fight with plenty of action, but perhaps best remembered for the sick bump JJ Dillon takes on his shoulder from Hawk and Animal.

The final match on the first disc is Sting & Lex Luger Vs. The Road Warriors aka. Hawk and Animal. If you've never seen them go at it (this bout is from 1988's Bash), I'd recommend watching this match. Again though, the exclusive commentary is pretty annoying. I'd much rather they'd stuck with the original commentators; whether that be Jim Ross, Tony Shiavone or Jesse Ventura. This is more of a power match between four men who were arguably in their absolute prime. It's also been well documented that The Road Warriors were perhaps the most intimidating team in wrestling history.

I'd just like to add it also p***** me off that Jesse 'The Body' Ventura's commentary has been unnecessarily removed from all the matches he commentated on. Likely because as a 'heel' announcer he occasionally made disparaging remarks towards the competition. It really is pathetic that WWE in general can't accept the fact that not all wrestling fans are/were WWE fans. I'm also annoyed that you won't find a single Ron Simmons match - a major WCW superstar - from this time period. A bit more variety in these releases really wouldn't go amiss.

The double header on disc 2 - between Sting Vs. The Great Muta and Ric Flair Vs. Terry Funk - almost restores my faith in this being a quality set to own. Both matches are exceptional without outstaying their welcome. Muta shows exactly why he was named The Pearl of The Orient and proves a perfect match for Sting. Likewise Funk takes Flair to another level with his particular brand of iron-branding crazy. There's also an excellent post match two on two brawl outside of the ring; where all four men just continue beating down on each other.

The July '90 NWA World Heavyweight Championship match seems like a pointless showcase. It's Sting's first NWA World Title win (not a spoiler as this is common knowledge) and has been featured on multiple releases. Once you've seen it half a dozen times the match may begin to grate. It's by no means a bad contest, but the angle is obviously Sting's post injured knee, so it gets a bit old with Flair's usual figure four routine. Nevertheless it's another stellar hot crowd and there's plenty of will-he-won't-he back and forth action; plus Flair really puts Sting over.

On the same card we're given a tag team match between The Steiner Brothers Vs. The Fabulous Freebirds. This is during the Freebirds' camp/makeup phase and to be honest I'm not sure why this match is on here. Both teams had far better matches throughout their careers. It's almost like a squash match and Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin either seem quite lazy or just out of their depth. Scott Steiner was, of course, an absolute power house who could suplex anybody out of their boots. I've edited this review to say it's better than I first thought; although this is really Rick and Scott's match. Check out the power moves on offer though, as well as Scott Steiner's unbelievable standing Frankensteiner.

We're then treated to a match from the 1992 event featuring the great pairing of Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham Vs. Stunning Steve Austin and Rick Rude. This is a genuinely classic tag team confrontation with Austin and Rude constantly cutting Windham off from making a hot tag. Rude uses his - legal - piledriver (arguably the best piledriver in wrestling history), whilst Austin proves that once upon a time he actually knew how to wrestle. Dustin proves his worth as a WCW fan favourite long before he ever allowed himself to become a dismally costumed freak.

If you've never seen Sting Vs. Big Van Vader definitely check out their Heavyweight Title match from the same year. This was a big match given Sting's - legitimate - previous injuries at the hands of Vader. What this bout won't show you is how long their feud went on for or the level some of their battles took it to. Whilst this is still a great match to watch I find myself longing for their more brutal four corners Leather Strap series of bouts. Sting suplexes Vader like he's a featherweight, whilst Vader's powerbomb still makes me want to cringe from its impact.

Disc 3 gets going with yet *another* Flair match against Randy Savage. To be honest I've seen enough Ric Flair matches to last me a lifetime. I didn't bother watching this one so can't comment on the action or quality. Flair rarely changed things up in the ring, so whilst he *could* put on good matches, I wouldn't expect this to be any different. It just seems like a Wrestlemania rehash, which probably didn't need to happen. The following contest is a repeat bout (from WCW's Greatest Pay Per View Matches) between the always reliable DDP and the late, great 'Macho Man' Randy Savage.

The Cruiserweights then take things up a gear. Ultimo Dragon Vs. Psicosis is one of the best cruiserweight contests I've ever seen. I only wish WWE/Fremantle would release a set on WCW's awesome Cruiserweights; or give us more of these kind of spectacular matches. I'd especially like to see more Ultimo Dragon/Psicosis bouts on future sets. It's simply outstanding, even more so than Chavo Guerrero Vs. Eddie or Chris Jericho Vs. Dean Malenko. (Both are great matches in their own right, although I'd take Chavo Vs. Eddie for being more entertaining).

What can I say about Piper and Macho Man Vs. Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart? It's just an appalling match from start to finish. Hogan can't wrestle, Piper's clearly past it, Macho Man doesn't have an opponent to wrestle and Bret's lost all his motivation. For a Best Of DVD this match probably shouldn't have been included. It's nothing more than a complete waste of time.

If you're still watching, to round things off there's an okay Ambulance Match between DDP and Mike Awesome. Awesome could at least wrestle and was a solid worker. The ending's kind of annoying and the match could have perhaps gone longer, but it's still worth a watch. The final match - Jarrett Vs. Kevin Nash - was another contest I didn't bother with. I've never cared for Nash - who post WWE couldn't wrestle a decent match if he tried - and Jarrett was never as good as he thought he was. I've read - from other sources - that this match is overbooked and pretty awful.

And there we have it. If you're asking yourself whether this is a set worth owning... I'd say get Volume 1 of WCW's Greatest Pay Per View Matches instead (hosted by Booker T). This was a great nostalgia trip, but The Great American Bash is let down by some poor hosting, poor alternate commentaries, below average presentation and a few questionable match choices. There's also no documentary portion so you can't really get a feel for what the event meant or why it came about. Overall though, despite enjoying *most* of what's on here, I'd suggest that you look up a couple of youtube videos first. The Sting/Muta match and Psicosis Dragon bout are the two that really swung it for me.


Nothing But The Beat
Nothing But The Beat
Offered by SEDIVA UK
Price: £2.39

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dance Music Doesn't Get Better!, 4 Sept. 2011
This review is from: Nothing But The Beat (Audio CD)
I'd like to begin this review by stating that as a long time fan of Mr. Guetta - can you believe Just A Little More Love came out in 2002 - I first got hooked by the catchy title single (and second single Love Don't Let Me Go featuring an always reliable Chris Willis) throughout its heavy airplay on radio.

Just A Little More Love was surely one of the top radio anthems of that year, but it didn't enjoy widespread success until Guetta teamed up with The Egg (great name) for an inevitable remix. Having bought his first album it was a bewildering mix of odd experimentation and feel good dance floor hits (particularly end track You Are The Music).

Second album Blaster (I never got the glaringly obvious title reference) was more consistent overall, despite being a departure from Guetta's original output. It was largely an all male vocal album geared towards collaborations with the likes of J.D. Davis and Stereo MCs. However, a couple of tracks did grate my eardrums - particularly Last Train and Movement Girl.

Fast forward nearly seven years and the world's most popular dance producer has a tough act to follow (himself). It could have all gone so wrong when you consider that One Love was easily my most played album of 2009. Anyone who's bought, owned or listend to it as much as I have will undoubtedly understand why.

I disagree with the reviewer who states that lead single Where Them Girls At (featuring Flo Rida & Nicki Minaj) is a 'disappointingly shameless rehash of Sexy Chick'. Not the case, even more so because Akon's nowhere to be heard. I love the vocal play on this track, Nicki Minaj sounds fresh and arresting (she so easily could have been a major irritation). Her crazy raps add to what's already become a sure fire club bouncer - it's catchy, singalong and will stick in your head for days. She's perfectly matched with Flo Rida who just sounds like a dude at the very top of his A game - vocal harmony perfection, autotuned or not.

Second single Little Bad Girl is equally catchy with it's pounding beat, heavy chords and Akon beating vocal (sorry Akon) by Taio Cruz. He simply owns this track (until Ludacris turns up halfway through) and sounds abosolutely incredible. As for that Ludacris rap, it's one of the most memorable guest raps I've heard in a long time.

Nicki Minaj returns for the excellent dance anthem Turn Me On, heavy beats are the order of the day with a chorus the likes of Cascada couldn't produce for trying. This is a fairly short track, but it will make you want to get up and dance or just go crazy for the hell of it. Nicki's bizarre rap is thankfully kept minimistically short.

Third single Sweat (featuring a mature sounding Snoop Dogg) is one of my favourite tracks and definitely a surprise hit. Snoop's casual vocal plays out against a pounding deep bass beat and trance style anthem. If anyone wants some work out motivation stick this on and you'll be wet in no time. 'Can you get me up like I'm late for my first class?'

Without You features Usher and is the albums first attempt at a ballad. It's a heartfelt, emotional song which showcases both Usher's range and vocal ability. Whoever wrote the words for this track deserves a lot of credit for, well, making it credible. Cliched, generic, forgettable or dull do not apply. This is stunning dance/pop at it's absolute best. If only R. Kelly would come out with a song like this.

It's fair to say that Will.I.Am has inevitably been toned down a bit for his colloboration. As much as I loved One Love's I Wanna Go Crazy and On The Dancefloor, Nothing Really Matters is another feel good number which deserves to match (or at least be on par with) the Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling in the popularity stakes. This is an album highlight with it's string/guitar intro, soft vocal and that crazy pre chorus groove.

It might be wrong to admit, but I Can Only Imagine (featuring Chris Brown & Lil Wayne) is arguably my favourite track. Chris has taken a lot of stick in the press (for obvious reasons) and I think he's right to concentrate on making music. I Can Only Imagine ought to do what When Love Takes Over did for Kelly Rowland. Yes, all the tracks utilise the same formula, but when they sound this good it's not a negative. Compare this to say, Firework by Katy Perry and she's left holding nothing more than a sparkler. If dance music could rock out, it's right here.

Crank It Up (featuring Akon) doesn't fair quite so well. It's still a great track, but anyone expecting another Sexy Chick will be disappointed. It has a bit of a reggae type feel and you can almost expect Sean Paul to turn up unexpectedly (he doesn't). If Guetta could pull off a David Guetta and friends world tour I'd want this played in a jam packed stadium through massive speakers.

I Just Wanna F is (unfortunately) a borderline mess and doesn't really warrant mention on an otherwise fantastic album. Whilst the insinuation is an obvious one, it's not in any way required or maginally appealing.

What's not to love about Jennifer Hudson's power-house (no pun intended) voice and soaring vocal ability. For anyone who recalls Gloria Gaynor's disco classic I Will Survive, Hudson ignites Night Of Your Life for a new generation. Whereas Jessie J almost sounds drowned out on Repeat, Hudson matches Guetta's hard house rhythm with effortless style and power. Without question it's the best track here. If only because Jennifer sounds so fresh and rejuvenated.

Repeat is an intelligent lost love/revenge song which wouldn't sound out of place on a Rhianna album. It's essentially a Firebomb equivalent, but is Jessie J up to task? At worst she sounds flat, at best she sounds drowned out. Someone like Mutya (Buena) would have been a far better choice.

Final track Titanium has probably been the most mentioned for Sia's soaring vocal and anthemic quality. It's a hardcore trance/house classic, the likes of which rarely comes along and (even more rarely) gets listened to by a mass audience. I'll save any further comment for you to make your own decision.

And that's it, except it isn't, since David thought to include an entire second disc of pure house/electronica without any vocals or guest appearances. He really goes to town here bringing in elements of breakbeat and synth samples, which also place him head and shoulders above French counterparts (Daft Punk, Justice etc).

All I can say is go get it.


Ms. Kelly Deluxe Version
Ms. Kelly Deluxe Version
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £1.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Beyonce!!, 22 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's interesting to note that whilst Beyonce's continued sleazy/over sexualised cover art has propelled her to number 1 with new album 4, Kelly Rowland's excellent Ms. Kelly album went largely unnoticed here.

I bought and listened to Kelly's debut (Simply Deep) shortly after her Nelly duet 'Dilemma' and 'Stole' both stormed to the top of the U.K charts. And it seems as though Kelly's been playing catch-up to match her early solo success ever since.

For whatever reason (perhaps due to changing music trends), after repeated listens (and taking my sister to see her perform live), Simply Deep began to wane on me with its predicatable mainstream pop and overall lack of risk-taking.

I began to lose interest in Ms. Rowland until French DJ/dance producer David Guetta came along to help revive her career out of the doldrums. Allegedly, Kelly heard Mr. Guetta playing an instrumental version of When Love Takes Over and approached him about writing her own lyrics for the song. We all know it became a worldwide number 1 smash, propelling Kelly (unexpectedly) onto the house/club/dance scene.

Hence Ms. Kelly is a slightly mixed bag, but certainly more interesting than anything released by Beyonce in the last ten years. If only because Kelly has more class, more talent, and more style. Beyonce comparisons aside, this is really the album Mariah Carey's 'Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel' should have been. It's largely downtempo (most of the tracks are about heartbreak) with some fantastic surprise inclusions.

The Freemasons remix of Work will stick in your head for days with its funky bass groove and middle eastern influence. Kelly's smooth lyrical prowess really excels on this track, before the catchy chorus kicks in with its feel good vibe. 'I wanna see you work' she sings and it works as an infectious opening track.

Second single Daylight, is a party song for almost any occasion, one which deserves to be blasted out of any stereo at full volume, until the neighbours call round to complain. Daylight features a fitting intro/rap by Gym Class Heroe's Travis McCoy. It's the perfect summer barbeque track for friends, drinks and/or house parties.

Like This featuring hip-hop's best female rapper (Eve) is a bouncing ladies anthem about living independently and shaking off man stress. Eve's rap, as usual, is a perfect fit for the snapping drums and minimal chords. Definitely not the kind of track I was expecting, but once again, Kelly's versatility shines.

Track 4 Love is an ode to lost love, it's not a bad track by any means, but it strikes a shaky balance between being a piano ballad/funky r and b get back song. I'm not keen on the snare drum or deep bass in this track and think maybe there could have been a different arrangement. Reminds me too much of Simply Deep.

This Is Love fares much better with its beautiful guitar melody and minimalist backing. Kelly's vocal interpretation is really on form here and she sings with such feeling it elevates the whole song. Every time I listen to this track it will remind me of my 88 year-old-nan. 'If I could change one thing about you, there would be no place to start'.

Broken has a soft piano vibe, whilst Kelly sings about pining for an ex-boyfriend. It's lyrically thoughtful and will touch anyone who's ever felt rejection from someone they had strong feelings towards. It talks about trying to carry on when nothing feels the empty void. One of my favourite tracks. 'I never understood what you did to me on that day'.

Better Without You is my least favourite track, so I'll skip over it for a better one. Every Thought Is You is another downtempo track with a catchy chorus, soft keyboard backing and heavy beat. Kelly's voice owns this track with plenty of spot on ad-libbing. Definitely a track for when you can't stop thinking about that certain someone.

Unity is another surprise track, it's the kind of song you'd expect from Leona Lewis. A big pop/soft rock ballad with inspiring lyrics and big all encompassing chorus which really hits the message home. This track is mesmerising and surely puts Kelly into the Kelly Clarkson/Jennifer Hudson bracket. An absolute showcase.

Joey Negro's Club Mix of Daylight is not only the best remix I've heard since Tony Moran re-worked Michael Jackson's History into a storming eight minute club track. It's also fitting for Kelly's new direction as proven by the equally stunning upcoming single Commander (check it out on Youtube). Incidentally, Commander is probably the track Nicole Scherzinger wishes Poison could have been. Turn this up and play Daylight's Club Mix at full blast. One of the best dance mixes ever.

Last, but not least, the Karmatronic Remix of Comeback follows suit. Both these tracks are made to get the clubs jumping and have to be played as loud as possible. Kelly's surely found her niche in dance music and should be a worthy challenger to Lady Gaga's throne. She does it better and with far more panache than Paparazzi.

Essential.


Michael
Michael
Offered by Springwood Media
Price: £2.85

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fitting Continuation of Michael's Legacy, 13 Dec. 2010
This review is from: Michael (Audio CD)
There's a good deal of hypocrisy surrounding the Jackson family claim that Michael doesn't sing on three of the Michael album's tracks. If this is indeed the case, then I'm left wondering why they signed a multi-million pound deal with Sony to release new material. However, if you can look past the controversy and expected media panning Michael's bound to receive, what we actually end up with are ten ably produced songs, which not only encapsulate Michael Jackson's entire career, but also show the modern music industry how pop music should be made. And on that note, here comes a statement you might not be ready for, this is arguably the best Michael Jackson album since the release of Dangerous in 1991.

Sure people will detract and cry and say it isn't polished enough or it's only half finished. Then they'll say it doesn't do Michael justice, but my question to all those critics is - what would? Much like the fantastic Streetwalker or For All Time, which were both left off the original Bad and Thriller albums respectively, here we are given a brief, rousing glimpse into what might have been. And I for one, certainly wish to be taken along for the ride. Michael's unique ingenuity and creativity shine through on almost every track, despite slightly excessive and/or heavy handed production. Again, it's hard to blame excessive production on the fact that he's no longer with us. I credit every producer on this album for their dedication

The opening track (Hold My Hand with Akon) has a catchy hip-hop beat, piano melody, sing along lyrics and uplifting message. Yes, it is Akon heavy, but I don't see how that makes it a bad song. Akon's voice complements Michael's perfectly and adds a vocal strength to the entire song that lifts it above average/standard pop fare. The rousing chorus speaks of unity and hope and is joined by a full gospel choir at the end.

The intro for Hollywood Tonight reminds me of Who Is It from Dangerous and the song itself has a similar beat. I love the bass/beat boxing to this song, which also features Michael's trademark string arrangements and background vocals. The mid-way voiceover is superb and fits this track without sounding out of place. Although, the chorus could be described as repetitive, it's no more so than say Jam or other similar tracks.

Keep Your Head Up is by far one of my favourite songs on this album. It has a beautiful guitar intro with background chimes and Michael's voice is truly on form here. It's a slower paced song with positive/uplifting lyrics and vocals reminiscent of Human Nature. 'Everybody say that time is borrowed, and hanging down your head just ain't no good. And if you dare to rise above tomorrow, just give yourself a chance, fight the circumstance.' This is a full on gospel track and it works perfectly, especially with the harmonies in the second part of the song. It's not Man In The Mirror classic (a song which wasn't written by Michael anyway), but it comes close to re-capturing that kind of musical magic.

(I Like) The Way You Love Me starts with Michael beat-boxing over a speaker phone, before picking up with a piano chord melody and Michael's sweet vocals. This track despite having a different theme is reminiscent of Break of Dawn (from the Invincible album) or even Liberian Girl. It doesn't hit the creative heights of Liberian Girl, but it's a sweet song and certainly not filler material. Not my personal favourite (the mid section's filled with too much oohing) but still highly listenable. This is perhaps, one of those songs best suited to couples cuddled up on the sofa with a glass or two of wine.

Now we get to this album's Thriller with the brilliantly titled (and quite brilliant in itself) Monster featuring 50 Cent. Michael went on record as saying he was a huge fan of 50 Cent, so this must have been a collaboration come true for him. It starts off with a wind blown/organ intro before exploding into a funky string/electro/hip-hop style arrangement. This is quite possibly Michael's best anti-press sentiment since Bad's bonus Leave Me Alone. Vocally, he sounds fierce, full on, defiant and ready to challenge anyone who tries to spread false rumours. Half way through 50 Cent joins for a scathing, on point rap, the likes of which we haven't heard on a Michael Jackson record since Notorious B.I.G lent his credentials to Dangerous.

Best of Joy is a stripped down ballad sung over an acoustic guitar with a snappy drumpad beat. The production has been lessened on this track in order to showcase Michael's vocals, however the background string/flute arrangement matches the song vocally (as Michael sings 'I am forever, we are forever' on the chorus) and musically. It's a shorter track in length, but one that never outstays its welcome. A typical ballad.

Breaking News was the first track to preview and has an intro almost identical to HIStory's Tabloid Junkie. For another anti-press song (albeit one that's similar to Is It Scary), it's a bit too obvious and therefore fails to sound convincing. However, that's a small gripe considering it's had the most exposure. This is solid pop/r&b fare on which Michael sings 'Why is it strange that I would fall in love? Who is that boogie man you're thinking of?' It just lacks a certain something I can't quite place.

(I Can't Make It) Another Day features Lenny Kravitz and is another album highlight. This is classic Michael Jackson in the vein of Give In To Me with a heavy chorus beat, subtle verses, effective guitars, fantastic solo and Michael's powerful vocal over the top of it all. Definitely reminds me of his excellent Slash collaborations, I only wish the mid way solo was longer. This is the kind of old school pop/rock track that doesn't get made anymore. Much like Monster, the louder you play it the better it is.

Behind The Mask has a combined crowd/saxophone intro and the effect is almost chilling. Totally unexpected, before a stacatto beat kicks in, with electronic overlays and Michael's punchy vocals. I can imagine teenagers singing this in their bedrooms all over the world. This is the Dirty Diana of Michael's Michael and it's absolutely stunning. The bassline pounds along with excellent digitised backing vocals and a great sax solo. Usher, Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown, name who you like, but they couldn't release a song with this kind of kick if they tried. I'd even urge people to buy the album for this song alone.

I'm not going to comment on the final track (Much Too Soon), but if you've ever been a Michael Jackson fan, do yourself a favour and pick up this album right away. Don't listen to what the media say, because they always get it wrong. Critics will always criticise because that's their job. It's my job to tell you that this album is a fitting continuation of Michael Jackson's enduring legacy.


The Lady Killer
The Lady Killer
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £4.40

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soulful, Masterful, Contemporary & Utterly Brilliant, 1 Dec. 2010
This review is from: The Lady Killer (Audio CD)
Oops, I'm gushing already and that was only trying to think of an adequate title to describe Cee Lo Green's latest solo effort The Lady Killer. I have to admit that I was somewhat dubious when I first saw this album in the shops about a week ago. We all know Cee Lo as a fantastic singer, but would it be like his early rap/hip-hop albums, his first Gnarls Barkley release (with Danger Mouse on production) which yielded the number one single Crazy (and turned into the sound of the summer). Or would it be akin to Gnarls Barkley's second album, which despite containing some good tracks, pretty much disappeared without a trace.

I'm happy to say it's like none of the above and after listening to all 14 track previews on Amazon, I was more than convinced that this is an album worth investing under a tenner to buy. Lead single Forget You immediately grabbed my attention, as did the fantastic Bright Lights Bigger City (check out the official video on youtube) and catchy, uptempo, sing along Satisfied (quite possibly my favourite track on the whole album). Here, Cee Lo is in full on, powerhouse, vocally challenging soul/funk/disco (Forget You's bassline has already drawn comparisons with Billie Jean) mood for a modern era and music just doesn't get any better.

This is a voice of passion and experience for someone who's been around long enough to know that success in the music industry doesn't neccessarily come easily to those who deserve it the most. One review I read even went so far as to compare his voice with Marvin Gaye (a true soul icon), however I think it'd be truer to say that Cee Lo is almost like a male version of Aretha Franklin. We're taken back to the days of early Motown, when synthesised instruments didn't exist and backing singers could make or break an artist.

What makes all this so special is Cee Lo's clear understanding not only of music, but of musical history, this could well be his personal homage to artists as diverse and renowned as Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Jackie Wilson, Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder (to name a few). Despite a couple of melancholy tracks (Bodies is both haunting and decidedly creepy, whilst Please speaks of Cee Lo's longing to be successful as an artist as much as his longing to find love), the album is generally upbeat, fun, tongue-in-cheek (bonus track F**k You is included on my edition) and very, very good.

Most commerical/manufactured 'pop' albums only have two or three good tracks these days, but I can honestly say The Lady Killer does not have a single bad track. Despite being slightly too short (I always want more of the kind of music I love), this is one album I'll be sure to have on everywhere I go between now and Christmas.

Buy it!


Seal 6: Commitment
Seal 6: Commitment
Offered by A ENTERTAINMENT
Price: £4.24

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential For Any Seal Fan, 4 Oct. 2010
This review is from: Seal 6: Commitment (Audio CD)
I don't want to focus on the one or two star reviews given so far, other than to say that those reviewers clearly haven't been listening to the same album I have. In an industry that's become inundated with commercial, manufactured pop acts, Seal truly is like a breath of fresh air, even nearly twenty years after his 1991 debut. Seal has always been the kind of artist who can commit himself to any kind of music (and make it sound good), but clearly that isn't the reason for this album's title.

He's older now, perhaps a little bit wiser and far more settled in his personal life. Hence songs like Best Of Me and Letting Go reference both his relationship with Heidi and their four children. It's an emotive, uplifting, personal nod to 2008's Soul - an album which despite containing old-fashioned material (it was a covers album), elevated Seal back into the music buying public's consciousness. And Commitment does much the same, except to say that lyrically and vocally Seal sounds better than ever.

He's helped along a great deal by David Foster's exquisite production sensibilities. As such, anyone expecting the tried and tested formula of generic (read boring) pop music won't find it here. There's no guest appearances, no duets and no apologies, Seal obviously knows he doesn't need cheap gimmicks in order to sell records and is secure enough in his own vocal range to not need them.

Admittedly on my first listen only two songs really stood out to me (those being Silence and Secret), it takes several playthroughs before you can fully appreciate the quality of what you're hearing. Even two of my friends (who aren't big Seal fans) think this is an 'amazing' and 'really good' album. That says a lot for Seal's enduring (and widespread) appeal.

Lyrically, this is a reflective album, but one which manages to escape the usual cliches associated with songs about relationships. The Way I Lie is about being in a relationship when one person wants to hold onto something that isn't working and the other doesn't have the heart to end things. It's a beautiful, reflective song about what might have been, about love and ultimately loss. In direct contrast Big Time has more in common with Empire State (Alicia Keys). It has a big beat, a big chorus and fantastic orchestral/string arrangement.

In closing, I'm not the kind of reviewer to go through rating every song (I think they're all great anyway), but I really can not recommend this album highly enough. In my opinion it's quite possibly Seal's best album to date and that should be recommendation enough for any Seal fan to go out and buy it straight away.


Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Xbox 360)
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Xbox 360)
Offered by arranged_Bullet
Price: £15.99

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Return To Form, 4 Oct. 2010
I got Prince of Persia: TFS as a free game with my xbox console bundle and put off playing it in favour of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Having completed that game (and played a few others in the interim), I finally sat down with TFS last night, after finding 2008's Prince of Persia devoid of any real incentive to carry on. I'm a huge fan of third person action/platformers, but didn't quite dare to hope that Ubisoft's fifth outing would (in my opinion) better their first.

Make no mistake, this is Prince of Persia for those of us who played (and/or completed) Sands of Time, Warrior Within and The Two Thrones. This is Prince of Perisa returning to its original xbox roots whilst redefining everything that made me enjoy Sands of Time to begin with. It's almost as though this is the game Ubisoft wanted to make first time around, but couldn't due to certain hardware limitations.

Take the opening level, your brother's palace is under attack from invaders and it's up to you to reach him. Except how you go about doing it is such a refined, enjoyable, seamless platforming experience, that I didn't mind playing through a rehash of the original game's opening level. At least not when it looks this good, it's obvious right from the off that you're in the midst of absolute chaos, and things only get better once King Solomon's (fabled) army has been released.

The Prince can now wall run from the left or right-hand side of a ledge he's already grabbed onto, as well as having the ability to climb up cobbled walls. Both are a welcome addition to the standard acrobatic move set of pole swinging, column grabbing and wall leaping. I'm also glad that now you have to run over activated floor spikes instead of walking very slowly (this change was first introduced in Warrior Within).

This brings me to the combat, which despite comments lamenting its 'simplistic, mundane' nature, is anything but simplistic or mundane. Fans of Batman: Arkham Asylum should be lapping up the free-flow combat since there's no actual block button. Instead the Prince can use his acrobatic moves (by pressing A), to leap into the air before coming down on an enemy with a sword attack. There are different finishing moves, which can be used to defeat 'vulnerable' enemies, as well as chained combos and a new shove attack (used to stun shielded enemies). The Prince can also dispose of enemies over low walls, which for a game of this type makes absolute sense.

XP is awarded for the disposal of large groups of enemies and a separate upgrade menu soon becomes available. According to the story you appear to acquire powers of a race known as the Djinn, in effect you're given access to new magical abilities. Personally, I think these abilities add variety to combat, especially given that I acquired the 'stone armour' ability (it makes you impervious to attack for a short time) before any others. However, early on it's more than possible to be killed by hordes of enemies, unless you plan your attack before they actually close in. Easy or not, it's still hugely satisfying to dispense large groups of attackers at once. I remember the combat in Sands of Time as being difficult and frustrating, whilst the difficulty might be amiss, at least it's a lot more fun here. And The Forgotten Sands is all about having as much fun as you possibly could from a single player adventure.

The level design is absolutely flawless (once again), as each area seamlessly flows into the next with no loading times. Commendable. Although your progression is largely linear, it never feels linear in the traditional sense, due to the scope, variety and sheer fun of what's on offer. Large puzzle rooms are not only breath-taking to look at and navigate, but they also require a certain degree of lateral thinking, and this is where The Forgotten Sands absolutely excels itself. Each puzzle can be solved in a logical manner and therefore made sense of without ever becoming laborious, frustrating, boring or overly complicated. And it's for this reason that the game constantly flows devoid of any slowdown of movement, except for some cinematic cutscenes. (Incidentally, having the original voice actor return to voice the Prince is like meeting up with an old friend you haven't spoken to for a long time).

That's as much as I can write from what I've played so far, but if you've still got any doubts after reading what I've written, you probably wouldn't take heed of any further comments anyway. Sometimes you want to experience a game instead of just 'playing it' and much like Batman: Arkham Asylum, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands delivers in spades.


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