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Leo91 "leo91" (London)

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Assassin's Creed Brotherhood (PS3)
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood (PS3)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £8.99

107 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb follow up to Assassin's Creed 2, 21 Nov. 2010
Prior to release, I was sceptical. After less than a year in development, it was unlikely that this could be anywhere near as good as AC2. Yet somehow, it builds upon what AC2 did right and manages to add and expand the AC formula, to create, what I believe, is now the best Assassin's Creed game.

But if you already own an Assassin's creed game, and played last year's AC2, why should you buy ACB?

Combat: A vast improvement over the original. Quicker, sleeker, more stylish, much more brutal.

Rome: Bigger, more beautiful and much more varied than all the cities in AC2 combined. Horses can go anywhere barring interiors (obviously) making getting around a breeze, and there are plenty of tunnels, which act as warp points so you can get from A to B in seconds.

100% sync: Completing a mission alone is fine, but fulfilling objectives (such as not touching the water, not being seen, or completing a mission under a certain time limit) will give you further missions which delve into some of the events left unexplained in AC2. These also apply to the Lairs of Romulus areas, making the game a bit more of a challenge.

The Lairs Of Romulus: These essentially replace the Assassin's Tombs in the second AC, but they are much better and much bigger (there's a theme developing here) and just like in AC2, they're extremely well designed making them exceedingly enjoyable areas to explore and complete (with added difficulty coming from the aforementioned time limits among other optional tasks).

Graphics: It's clearly still the same engine, but Ubisoft have improved it for Brotherhood. Close ups of characters now (especially Ezio) are stunning in their clarity, which I don't remember being the case with some characters in AC2. Facial animations seem to be a little tighter too. The horses are no where near as good as Red Dead Redemption's but they're fluid and relatively easy to control. Water looks a lot better too (I found AC2's water too shiny. It was extremely odd stuff..).

Length: I'm currently on the 4th sequence (there are roughly 9 overall I believe) and I've played for almost 20 hours so anyone thinking this was somehow going to be a short game is wrong. Although there may not be as many story sequences as AC2 there are a lot more other things to do. The Courtesans, Thieves and Merchants all have separate sequences and challenges that you can complete throughout the game and even shops will have individual tasks for you to complete which earn you exclusive items/ weapons etc. There are also Borgia captains to kill, Towers to topple, Rome to rebuild, feathers and flags to collect, Leonardo's Weapons to destroy and Assassin's to recruit, send out on missions and build up (stat-wise) individually. Things are continually happening on screen, with information about how much money you're earning, if your assassin recruits have been successful on a certain mission, the availability of new weapons etc. all flashing up on screen pretty much every 20 mins or so (which believe me, flies by). Needless to say, it's a little overwhelming at first, but the game never becomes repetitive as past games have done at points because the sheer amount to do is monumental.

The 'Brotherhood': Probably the most satisying gameplay addition to the series, and I'll want to see it back in the next one. By coming to the aid of certain citizens in Rome, you'll begin to amass Assassin recruits who will be more than willing to repay the favour whenever you require it. They are also individually upgradeable via globe-trotting missions which have you sending them off to London, Paris and Moscow, to name a few, in order to train and hone their Assassin skills. While they're away, they're obviously inaccessible to you, but their missions don't take long to complete and once they've achieved Assassin status (though you can use them beforehand if you want), they're a potent and effective force, which you'll call on time and time again. Sure, they make the game easier, but their inclusion adds tremendously to the experience.

These are just some of the notable improvements which make Brotherhood's existence easier to swallow and recommend for others to enjoy. The fact that it's taken only a year to make, is even more outstanding too.

So no this is not AC3, but it follows the trend of the Assassin's Creed series by incrementally improving itself with every new release and for that, I think Ubisoft should be applauded. If you liked AC, and AC2, you will love Brotherhood. It's as simple as that.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 23, 2010 12:20 AM GMT

Little Kings Story (Wii)
Little Kings Story (Wii)
Offered by Galactico
Price: £10.89

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who knew that being a King would be this much fun..., 26 April 2009
This game has been on my radar for a while now, but I hadn't planned on buying it on release. I'm so glad I did in the end.

To be honest, I didn't really start getting into it until I'd unlocked a few options and saw how much depth it had to offer. It's a game which at first looks simple but after all the layers are perfectly layered on becomes something of a monster (e.g. strategic positioning, precise choice in item distribution and party members etc.). It never feels too overwhelming though thanks to the perfectly judged learning curve and difficulty level. Moreover the world you'll be exploring is huge, with plenty of side missions to delve in to if the eventual main goal of world domination becomes too stressful. Add to that the wonderfully diverse UMA (your foes, ranging from snails and mushrooms, to bigger creatures and bosses, like dragons and huge frogs) who all need different strategies in order to be overcome; a brilliant soundtrack made up of remixed classics; and wonderfully bizarre characters which remind you of the unrivalled creative prowess the Japanese seem to have when making great games, and you've got a recipe for a fantastic game which deserves all the praise it can get.

I'm 10 hours in, and I'm not even close to scratching the surface of what this game has to offer and having owned a Wii since Nintendo's launch of the console way back when, I can safely say that this is up there with the best of the lot. If you loved the strategy elements and combat system of Pikmin, the quirky characters and enemies of any Zelda game, mixed with the depth and epic scale of Okami, then you're sure to enjoy what has been one of the surprise hits for me on Wii so far this year.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2010 12:18 AM GMT

De Blob (Wii)
De Blob (Wii)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £9.99

45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best game nintendo never made!, 6 Oct. 2008
This review is from: De Blob (Wii) (Video Game)
If I was to tell you, that De Blob is one of the most original, fun, and beatifully crafted and creative games on the Wii, would that be an overstatement?
I would say not and for a NUMBER of reasons.

Firstly, the premise is brilliant.
Chroma city has been taken over by the Inkys who want nothing more but to sap the bright vibrant colours out of the place and enforce their strict regime on everyone. No individuality; no freedom of speech; Just grey cities and grey people.
It's up to you, as De Blob (a....errrm blob), to bring back the colour to chroma city and it's people!

Each level takes place in a different area of Chroma city and gives you a time limit which you can expand in various different ways; for example, by completing different challenges within the levels or even by freeing the gradians (the inhabitants of chroma city) by colouring in various buildings. Within the HUGE levels, there are so many of these challenges and gradians to free (each adding roughly a minute on to your time) that it's practically impossible to run out of time.

Each level is HUGE but they never feel big enough to get lost in largely because they're separated into smaller areas or sections. Although the architecture never really changes, as all the levels are within the same city, each level does feel different and unique as you progress, as each level is in a different area of chroma city ranging from the docks, to more in land areas with complex transport systems and LOADS of buildings.

It's the colour aspect of the game, which naturally becomes the driving force of the game's gameplay.
You can choose between seven colours; red, yellow, blue, orange, green, purple and brown. Naturally to make the secondary colours, you'll need to mix two of the primary ones. To make the brown, you'll need to mix all three of the primary colours.
For the most part, it's up to you, what colour you paint the city, but certain challenges may ask that certain buildings be painted a certain colour. (There is also a separate mode for those who just want to paint the buildings and various other objects in each level the colour that they want) There are however, obstacles which get in your way throughout each level which come in the form of inkys - little guys with huge helmets which spew black ink at you when you get near them. If this ink touches you, you'll have to reach a water source as soon as possible or else you die.
Other hazards include, ink which pollutes the water of some levels until you purify it, electric plates which...electricute you and fire surfaces which burn you... the latter two of which can be switched off temporarily in some cases by a nearby switch.
Lives are handled via these red face icons generously spread throughout each level, and if you do die (which once again, won't happen very often) you'll come straight back to life relatively near to where you were AND with all your work on the level unchanged, meaning you won't have to re-cover buildings with colour and re-do challenges.

To colour buildings it's a simple case of touching them with your blobby self. Each building consumes one paint point and to replenish these, you simply body slam (literally) into different colour cartridge things which appear in various different places in a level. Different buildings may need more paint points in order to colour them, through the consumption of colour cartridges. A positive side effect of getting more paint pots (the most you can obtain is 100) is that de blob grows bigger in size, making slamming enemies such as the aforementioned inkies (via a good old swing of the wii remote) much easier and more effective.

What I haven't mentioned yet and which is one of the most important and brilliant things about De Blob is it's soundtrack. Each level has a jazz or reggae theme playing in the background which gets more involved the more you colour things in. The genius comes in, when you also factor in each colour representing an instrument, that, on painting anything during the world, plays along with the underlying tune in the background as an improvisation. Meaning that every time you play through a level, you're in for a treat for the ears, as you'll be, essentially creating your own soundtrack through the interchanging of colours and the actual process of colouring things in. It's a wonderful way of involving the soundtrack in the playing experience and really gets you moving to the beat and flow of the game.

Control-wise, it's very simple: to jump you shake the wii remote and to lock on to inkys or ink cartridges, you simply hold Z on the nunchuck and shake the Wii remote. By holding A, you bring up your radar, which can be misleading, but generally works fine - and that's about it.

So what do I think about the game - It has a CRACKING but simple and in many ways, topical storyline which opens up a world of fun, both in the simple and addictive pleasure of colouring in and exploring the levels, looking for every hidden item, and trying to colour in EVERYTHING, while having an entertaining and magnificient soundtrack which you play your part in creating - what more could you ask for?
And in terms of a new playing experience, with a lot of replay value, and even a 4 player multiplayer opition, this game has ALL bases covered, and simply makes you smile with it's beautiful visual flair and booming soundtrack which seriously works its way into your head.

I couldn't recommend it enough, and it's a game like no other on the Wii - and seeing as the Wii is all about new experiences and creativity - this game has all of that in abundance making it a perfect and welcome addition to the white box's other excellent library of games.

All I want to know now is when the sequel's out!
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 24, 2008 10:04 PM GMT

No More Heroes (Wii)
No More Heroes (Wii)
Offered by APE-GAMES
Price: £9.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No More Heroes: There's not as much blood...get over it..., 14 Mar. 2008
This review is from: No More Heroes (Wii) (Video Game)
It is a a shame that the european version of the game no longer has the streams of blood the American version has, BUT, what some people are forgetting in their reviews for this game is that even without the gushing blood, this is truly a magnificent game.
I have NEVER played a game like this and all wii owners waiting for something different, fresh and violent should definitely invest in this game.
What Grasshopper has done brilliantly is exploit the wii's strengths. For combat you won't be swinging the Wii remote round like a looney, you'll simply be pressing A and raising and lowering your wii remote for the two different stances - simple but very effective and deeply satisfying especially when delivering the final blow. The true delight of this game though is its boss battles which are without doubt some of the most fun I've played in any game.
The game does suffer from frame rate issues and between assassinations it can be a bit of a chore to drive around the city doing little jobs here and there and collecting t-shirts from bins, but you'd be a fool not to buy this game on the principal that it's not as gory as its American counterpart, because you'd be missing out on an absolute classic...

Dark Water
Dark Water
by Koji Suzuki
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark water, 16 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Dark Water (Paperback)
Although many others who have reviewed this book have managed to find fault with it in some way, I do not share the same attitude. Though other customers may well have read a lot more books than me and more specifically, have read other books by Koji Suzuki, I do not have the luxury of having suzuki's back catalogue of other material to base my opinions of this book on. Therefore, as a newcomer to his style of writing, (with the exception of having read the cult classic Ring) I hope to convey a far less pessimistic attitude towards this book, Dark water.

Let me begin with saying as a student, this kind of book works perfectly for me. It is broken up in to short stories, allowing for bite-sized chunks of reading easily digestible yet not time consuming. Sometimes with other books, on returning to them when I've found the time, I must re-read pages just to remember what's going on, but with dark water I could finish a tale and then later come back to begin a new one, allowing for an enjoyable and exciting treat each time.
Having seen the film dark water (the japanese version), I was dissapointed with the length of the tale from which the film originated in the book, however, taken into account the relatively small number of pages this story occupies, I feel the story's tension and creepyness does not suffer as a result of its length. In this book less is definitely more.
Each story is similar in length but on each page, Suzuki conveys, and describes so much, carefully picking his words to convey everything from the deep emotions of each character to the environments they inhabit. He has written a relatively short book - which is decieving, as it is in fact packed with detailed and genuinly creepy tales, each of which I thoroughly enjoyed.
These are my own personal views on this book, but as a newcomer to Suzuki's works, Dark Water has managed to hook me in, further beckoning me to read some of his other books.

For anyone who hasn't been scared by a book for a while, this is perfect!

Tomb Raider: Anniversary (Wii)
Tomb Raider: Anniversary (Wii)
Offered by Turbotrance
Price: £13.57

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She's still got it, 11 Jan. 2008
You would have thought now that the tomb raider formula would be beginning to tire especially seeing as the series, in numerous iterations, has failed to evolve and innovate to keep the franchise fresh. The core to all tomb raider games has always been its level design, and of course, Lara Croft; with the big busted lady's amazing ability to swing and jump across deep crevasses and sidle along ledges as thin as her waistline, without breaking sweat at the hundred foot drop looming below. So why then is this game, which is a re-make of the first tomb raider, so fun to play whilst feeling fresh and like a completely new adventure?

This is largely due to the Wii remote which the game exploits to its absolute maximum not only helping its supreme and utterly absorbing playability but also the series as a whole. Lara has never been so good.
The game may feel slightly linear but the enormous environments which you'll visit will allow for a lot of exploration and with secret items to collect, a reason to re-visit them a second, and even third time, just to get everything.
The aforementioned Wii controls are the true highlight however with a motion for almost every piece of lara's equipment. Use a pick axe by moving the wii remote back and forth as if hitting a wall, to open new secrets and pathways; aim your torch to light your way when it's too dark to see; take rubbings of ornate designs from the many walls and floors of the tombs you'll explore; and aim your wii remote to take out those dinosaurs and gorillas which inhabit the temples and areas awaiting you.
To do these actions before would just require a button press, which was far less satisfying and intuitive as the superior wii controls this game exploits. And with the upgraded graphics helping to bring life to the environments and the amazing work done to animate Lara as she scrambles around rock faces and swings through the air with her grappling hook, this game sees off all competitiion from the original and even other games in the growing Tomb Raider franchise.
With the exception of quite a steep learning curve in regards to the controls and a few glitches here and there where the game needed a bit more polishing, this is definitely Lara at her best as she relives her first and probably best adventure in the Tomb Raider franchise.
A must-have title for any Tomb raider fans or newcomers to the series.

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