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JC (Beds., England)

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Absolute Dark Knight (Batman)
Absolute Dark Knight (Batman)
by Frank Miller
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet experience..., 19 Jan. 2007
This is the second over-sized "Absolute" Batman that I've bought - the other being Absolute Hush - but this one doesn't quite justify the price tag. Just as Napoleon didn't quite conquer Europe.

As said before in other reviews of the two seperate editions of "The Dark Knight Returns" and "The Dark Knight Strikes Again", the former has a far superior story with better visuals - the few early pages with the flashback to THE double murders struck me the most. When George Clooney in an interview for the movie "Batman and Robin" (oh, yes...) said "yeah, yeah, the parents are dead, get over it" or words to that effect - that's why the movie was pants. Bruce's parents' violent deaths affected the spoilt little rich boy in a way no normal person could truly fathom and so has created one of comic fiction's most tortured characters. The "I've got super-powers, let's use them to fight crime" ethos doesn't apply here. Scaring the crap out of criminals does.

This follows through - ending with the climatic Superman/Batman clash. And so ends an amazing work of fiction. In the next story - set a few years later - the problems start. Batman turns into a revolutionary political animal in DKSA and it's not for the better. I can see what Frank Miller is trying to do - he's trying to create the world as how it would look like if fantastic superheroes and supervillains existed at all and what people would expect. It's the kind of writing that smacks of American paranoia and so cannot be taken seriously throughout. See the Orange advert about the New York blackout? Everyone found a home or a place to stay during that time. Beforehand, people would have predicted riots, looting, etc. but no. This is about sticking it to the man. This particular man (i.e. me) couldn't care less.

The pokes at the media are fun, but everything seems so rushed after halfway through, trying to create something that is too fantastic - basically it has too much of Supes. Going back to the old "Batman battling with his psyche, age and criminals" is the best sort of Batman story you can do. Deviate from that blueprint and it suffers. Nevertheless, the story has a good first half and these problems only really show up after that point.

So why four stars? I feel that DKSA might be a "grower" so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt for the mo, but you're really going to buy this for "The Dark Knight Returns" - a sublime story for a superior character.

Beyond Good and Evil (PC DVD)
Beyond Good and Evil (PC DVD)
Offered by Clearance Game Deals
Price: £4.29

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Polished action-adventure, 23 Dec. 2006
This fantastic little game has been sadly overlooked by many. It's a game that combines stealth, action, RPG elements (buying and selling items) and the use of vehicles (including fun races), with a good simple plot and a main character that is developed throughout the course of the game. The designers here have gone for a "less is more" game, whereby the action is not full on all the time, giving the player a chance to enjoy the scenery and the weird and wonderful characters that inhabit it.

But - and this is the reason it did not receive 5 stars - since it's 3rd person, sometimes the view of the camera can get in the way of the action and so obscure other enemies - not much fun if you're supposed to be in a stealth situation. To be fair this hardly happens but when it does it's annoying.

I like games that slowly tease you in and then give unparalled entertainment. I like the ones that make you feel like you don't know what's going on at first and then by the end when you have full knowledge of the situation, they give you a... well, that would be telling. There were some pumped fists when certain puzzles were taken care of and the designers were aware that some were harder than others, so they give you a little theme tune to show that they appreciate you working them out.

It's one of those games that's just a pleasure to play. To paraphrase Firefly, it's "shiny".

Broken Sword I and II: Double Pack (PC DVD)
Broken Sword I and II: Double Pack (PC DVD)
Offered by Game Gadgets
Price: £7.99

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paris in the fall..., 24 Nov. 2006
The Broken Sword saga kicks off with the best you can get in point 'n' click adventure. You play George Stobbart, an American tourist who's visiting Europe. After a stop off for a coffee at a French cafe, George finds himself chasing after an international assassin dressed as a clown, gets dragged into a global conspiracy with roots going back to the 11th century, travels the world in trying to find pieces of a puzzle to a mysterious document and to top it all off he gets continuously heckled by a French journalist.

Although this sounds like something Dave Gorman would end up doing by accident after getting drunk, the game itself is a supurb piece of entertainment. The puzzles take you in gradually - there's nothing here that is so quirky and so abstract you'll hurt yourself thinking about it -and the first half an hour is probably the most fun I've had on a computer game. Revolution had a go at the adventure genre with Lure of the Temptress, improved upon it with Beneath the Steel Sky and ended up with creating one of the most likeable characters to grace a computer screen, with no small thanks to Rolf Saxon who plays him.

BS 2 goes off on a tangent with more quirky humour and slightly harder puzzles. Indeed, at one point George himself states that "I scare myself sometimes" when trying to work out one in a particular. This makes out that the creators are self-aware and know how other games can very nearly be impossible to work out unless you use the old "try everything with everything else" technique which gives no sense of enjoyment - just relief that you can get on with your life. The second - and the rest of them - are enjoyable, but the first will never be beaten.

American hero, French heroine, British humour. Supurb.

Baldurs Gate 4 in 1 Box Set Game PC
Baldurs Gate 4 in 1 Box Set Game PC
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £5.99

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I don't actually need to buy this but..., 8 Jun. 2006
... I feel compelled to write about it. There's been many an RPG review that goes along the lines of "...it's great, but in Baldur's Gate 2 you get to do THIS...". Even today, the same goes with such fantastic games as Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - amazing graphics and great to play but... your character is very lonely. In all senses of the word. Let me explain...

In Baldur's Gate 2 (actually in Throne of Bhaal) if your character strikes it lucky with one of your travelling companions, she becomes pregnant and eventually gives birth. Your decision could then be: 1. Let her continue with you; 2. Dump her; 3. Put her somewhere safe (i.e. away from you and the hundreds of different types of undead, hobgoblins; ogres; dragonkind; demons etc. that are out to kill you.)4. Say out loud with the dialogue line "You're PREGNANT!?" First time around, I went with 4. Earlier on, she threatened to leave if you didn't remove another character she was having difficulties with. You did that because you quite liked her above the snide remarks of the other. A paladin that is torn between family and duty, a snarky druid and her stammering husband, a winged elf that had her wings cut off and of course the ranger who has had a few blows to the head and believes his pet hamster is omniscient... the only time when I felt this way about fictional characters afterwards was on Firefly.

In both 1 and 2, the dialogue is first class with BG2 having more dialogue between characters in the party. Most of it is text, with very little spoken out loud, but it gives the characters that you travel with a development arc that is not seen at all today. The graphics are by today's standards very dated - it's in top-down 2D perspective for crying out loud - but who cares when you can have your own sprawling estate in the shape of a castle, wizard's tower or a thief's criminal ring?

For those who are just entering Baldur's Gate, I will not give away the plot - it just wouldn't be fair. I'm merely scratching the surface of what these games are capable of. The only niggle for some is the fact that you're never given a large skill set to play with - you have your class and that's it, since it does not work with the 3rd Edition D&D rules (as in NeverWinter Nights). But to me, reared on DragonLance novels at an impressionable age, character development and strong storylines takes first place to being able to customize your character to the nth degree. Not to mention that you're able to bluff your way out of a sticky situation by proclaiming that you're a eunuch just to keep your girl happy.

Enter Faerun, and enjoy.

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