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Profile for M. E. S. Downing > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
M. E. S. Downing (Essex, England)

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Mass Effect: Andromeda Deluxe Edition  [Xbox One - Download Code]
Mass Effect: Andromeda Deluxe Edition [Xbox One - Download Code]
Price: £69.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Mass Effect Inquisition / Dragon Age Andromeda, 10 April 2017
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After a few hours I realised this game was more like Dragon Age Inquisition than the previous ME titles, now I liked DA Inq, and I kinda like ME And, but let me tell you the pro's and con's now that I've finished it, and done everything.

On the plus side the game looks rather good (generally, I'm not including the well publicised lack of facial expressions), there are some slow transitions between light and dark, but the combat system works, and the story-line is pretty good (if a little obvious) - especially the mysterious benefactor. There are of course the nice Mass Effect "in jokes" such as Ryder dancing, and some of the interactions are pretty well written. The playable areas on core planets are huge, sometimes annoyingly so when it comes to the "random" location quests.

The con's list will be long - but not game breaking as a whole, they're just points that bugged me:
The Nomad - the replacement for the Mako, supposed to be better handling (it's not) and an all-round better vehicle - give me the Mako anytime - those guns would have been soooo useful.
I have ALWAYS avoided games with jet-packs - I just don't like the concept (especially in multiplayer) - but it was a new ME game, so I had to get it. The jet-packs in this game have not changed my mind, I hate them, yes they provide the third dimension and new possibilities, and yes that third dimension increases the potentials - but I still hate them, the number of times you miss the jump, or end up a little short whilst trying to re-position in a fight, then end up dead - I HATE THEM - Shepard didn't need them, Ryder shouldn't.
A lot of the side missions are unnecessarily convoluted - go here, go back to the ship for an email, go back here, go to another system, go back to the ship for another email, etc etc - it just gets annoying - especially at Kadara Port.
The skill system - in previous ME games you picked a class and that was it - now you can swap between classes on the fly and put points into perks across the 3 ranges. I reached level 62 (or 63) and had filled the skills I wanted to use AGES before, this also means that all your squadmates have had their skill trees completely full as well - progression is therefore too wide for the Pathfinder as a whole (and too narrow in specifics), and too narrow for everyone else.

Other stuff:
The weapons and armour crafting - very DA Inq - not completely necessary to do, but nice to have - however although there is the plus that you can dismantle a crafted item to get back the augments, that means you need a spare to equip, so you really need to carry around a duplicate of everything as there is no storage crate.
The interactions between squadmates in the Nomad are pretty good (especially when Peebee is one of them), but Liam is just a dick ALL of the time.
There are numerous glitches of course, but hopefully these will be ironed out.
The co-op multiplayer is probably good between friends, but not necessary, as far as I can see it doesn't do anything (unlike ME3)

If you're a Mass Effect Veteran then you have to get the game, if not, but you like Sci-Fi shooters - prepare yourself for a huge job of work. Overall it's a good game but could have been better, at the end you do get a warm fuzzy feeling from the crew, but not the buzz from the end of ME1.

Urban Empire (PC DVD)
Urban Empire (PC DVD)
Offered by Gameseek
Price: £13.03

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Definitely not Tropico, 21 Mar. 2017
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This review is from: Urban Empire (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
I loved the Tropico series of games, they're funny, tricky, and great world builders, so I had high hopes for the new title from Kalypso.

I have to say though that it was a massive disappointment.

Firstly it's deeply rooted within the Sim City set-up of form a district, then stuff builds on it automatically, compared to the individual placement of buildings within Tropico.

Then you add the dynamic of having to get every little tweak passed by the council, this just takes control away from you and becomes utterly irritating. If you have the money, things sail through (even if you can't in the long run afford them) just ensure you can pay for it up front, and bingo, you have the new district, railway station, whatever.....
This even goes for tax changes - now I get they're unpopular in the real world - but if suddenly (and it can happen very suddenly) you're hemorrhaging money - you still have to get the rise passed by the council, and this often fails. In this case - you're screwed - start a new game. The really bonkers decisions though are when you're just short of enough cash, but you're trying to install sewerage and running water to a district, now which idiot on a town council wouldn't want their district to have sewerage and running water?? The idiots on the council in this game is the answer.

The tech tree is quite nice, but overall the game is not engaging, it's not funny, it's not even entertaining - and the lack of overall control just annoys the hell out of me. I've tried it on 3 separate occasions hoping for a patch to unbreak it, but I'm not sure I'll load it again.

Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen)
Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen)
by Steven Erikson
Edition: MP3 CD
Price: £9.24

4.0 out of 5 stars The hours just roll by, 3 Feb. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've read the book before but thought I'd get it on CD to make the commute a bit more pleasurable, and it certainly does that, perhaps it's knowing the entire story so that the names and locations are familiar, but it certainly is a great book.

The narrated version is OK, Ralph Lister certainly keeps things chugging along nicely although some of the pronunciations are different to what I had in my head (I assume that Erikson was consulted on these), however I can't help but think that the addition of a couple more voice actors would have made it special - especially for the female characters. Someone like Adjunct Lorn should have a hard, flat voice, but still female and he doesn't quite nail it.

If this audiobook is the first time that you have dipped into the Malazan world then I'm not sure that his various voices for all the characters will properly differentiate each one, and it might make it even more complex - for someone who's read all the books, it's just a niggle.

Price: £19.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too much frustration, too little gain, 22 Feb. 2016
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This review is from: XCOM 2 (PC DVD) (DVD-ROM)
XCOM 2 looks really nice, and most of the time it can play really smoothly....and there are the good things out of the way.

Now onto the rest
There are a few circumstances where the frame rate drops. This is especially prevalent on cut scenes, a few times you get a black screen during an alien move, and if your move happens to find the objective it can focus on that rather than what else is happening.
Deciding on which of your troops to move happens automatically, of course you can then change that however it results in whizzing all over the map until you can click on the person - that gets annoying after a while. During the mission the reports from central just get in the way "we're losing a lot of civilians here"......no, really, can you tell me something else that is patently obvious....
The biggest annoyance is the targeting - such and such a percentage to hit, and it doesn't, or doesn't do enough damage when you're right next to the sod, who happens to be a massive beast and is unmissable from a mile away - it all just ends up with "why didn't you hit, why didn't you kill it" - there is just too much frustration in this game, and it gives so little satisfaction in return....whatever the advent program is, even if mankind gets turned into soup.....bring it on as that will be more enjoyable than this "game".
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 7, 2016 4:40 AM GMT

Assassin's Creed Syndicate - The Rooks Edition (Xbox One)
Assassin's Creed Syndicate - The Rooks Edition (Xbox One)

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the hype and the wait, 30 Oct. 2015
There is plenty to review as there is plenty to do in this new installment of the AC franchise

The Cons:
All AC players will know the frustration of trying to get down off a high point where no leap of faith is available, and despite the new free run down function it still remains clunky and troublesome - when you need to hit the ground fast to get into cover grabbing every handhold on the way down is not fun.
Some of missions have rather silly full sync conditions - if you're going up against templars, why would you not want to kill them all??? And when those conditions require (or allow) interaction with NPC's, then things have to potential to go pear shaped rather quickly, requiring a restart at previous checkpoint.
I also don't see the point of the Queen Victoria missions, they only activate after you've finished the main story line, so they add nothing to the overall game, the start point is a comfortable distance from any fast travel point - they just seem a late add on.
The skill tree seems rather short - some of the skills themselves are awesome and well worth the effort, but I maxed out at level 10 with 6 of 7 boroughs held only on sequence 4 (the whole map is available once you hit London).

The Pro's:
London looks good, compressed, but good. Some of the lighting effects are lovely - especially seeing your shadow way on the ground as you're zip-lining across a gap - although I am surprised that 1) it didn't rain much (you saw the puddles after rain and people watering their plants at the same time {it's just rained....why}), 2) they didn't make much use of fog/pea-soupers.
Most of main missions and Conquest tasks are a blast - sneak in, sneak around, kill targets...repeat...pure AC.
The characters are good - Jacob is a world class moron (wait til sequence 8) but likeable, and Evie is world class at winding her brother up - and I like being able to switch between the two. The others are also entertaining and well rounded - Mrs. Disraeli is delightfully potty.

The in-betweens:
I'm not sure about the WW1 missions, there is a nice catch-up on Juno's storyline, and the zepplin raids are good, but why WW1??
The zip-line function, very useful for going up the very tall buildings (and London is very tall) very quickly, but some locations you could get a lock onto, some not....I never worked it out (I also never worked out where all that wire comes from and how it attaches to the location you jumped off)
There is some progress on the main story (much better than Unity) but nothing playable in the modern time.

Overall this game is way better than Unity, generally really enjoyable, occasionally screamingly frustrating - perhaps they could have introduced some pushback minigame where the Blighters attempted to regain a stronghold (not like the Revelation game though), but I enjoyed it (100% sync baby!!!)

The Newsroom - Season 3 [DVD]
The Newsroom - Season 3 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jeff Daniels
Price: £14.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant....again!!!, 16 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This final season is a barnstormer from start to finish, the story lines fly from the screen with an energy that is utterly unstoppable - I watched the first episode during dinner and was up to midnight until all were finished. The dialogue is crisp, clever, funny and engaging - typical Aaron Sorkin stuff, delivered with snap and panache by excellent actors. You could actually watch these episodes without knowledge of the previous seasons, a few references would pass you by, but these are superb story's that leave one concept imprinted.....to do better.

Ankle Cold Compression Cuff - Cryo Therapy Injury Ice Pack Rehabilitation Swelling
Ankle Cold Compression Cuff - Cryo Therapy Injury Ice Pack Rehabilitation Swelling
Price: £33.50

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No help for high ankle issues, 19 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Having got good results using the 66Fit knee compression cuff and now also having a slightly ropey ankle I decided to try one of these. If you have problems on the heel or arch of your foot I'm sure it would be extremely beneficial as those areas got very nicely cold, however for issues on the instep or above your ankle this item is of no help. Surely it wouldn't be beyond the wit of man to have almost a cold "sock" which is then surrounded by the compression unit, and so provide complete coverage of the ankle/foot.

Dragon Age Inquisition: Prima Official Game Guide
Dragon Age Inquisition: Prima Official Game Guide
by David Knight
Edition: Paperback

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not good enough..., 20 Dec. 2014
As a guide for the story line this book is OK (just OK), there is the usual gripe about having to flick back and forth between where you should be and the map showing the overall picture - but that's not unusual in guides.

The first major problem is the maps - they are sometimes wildly inaccurate, generally unhelpful when different levels are in play, and for some crazy reason also a different orientation to the in game map - a picture speaks a thousand words - and these maps just say "pfftttpphhh" a lot.

Another major gripe is the description of some of the locations where side missions start - go here and find this (especially for treasure maps). The map will then give a marker on the location of the treasure, ok (but see above) but having an idea of where the starters are ON a map would be good too.

The biggest problem though is the lack of detail - lack of information on full completion of a mission (requirements etc), lack of information on finding all the collectables (the reason I get the guide in the first place, especially the mosaic pieces), lack of detail on the choices to be made (see the judgements). This is a Bioware game, the moral decisions are part of it, as generally the in game verbal choices do not fully describe what is going to happen the guide should GUIDE - eeny meeny miny moe isn't the idea, there is also lack of detail in the foes to be faced - it say's what they are weak or immune to, but what attacks do they use - when crafting a suit of armour that's good information to be had!

For a game this size the guide could and should have been twice the thickness and jam packed with information, if you use it or not then that's up to you, but having the information available is better than not - PRIMA c#cked this one up.

Assassin's Creed Unity - Bastille Edition (Xbox One)
Assassin's Creed Unity - Bastille Edition (Xbox One)
Offered by * The Game Monkey *
Price: £34.97

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where's the Story????, 1 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As a fan of the series I actually bought the One to be able to play this game. It is without doubt gorgeous, the synchronisation animation is the best yet, and the cut scenes are beautifully rendered - the faces are so realistic. Free running is definitely more fluid than previous games, but it doesn't take long to realise this is a true AC game as he hangs onto ledges inches above the ground, jumps on everything possible (even changing direction in mid air to lock onto a destination) and always takes the most difficult route possible.
Paris itself is jam packed with people (the crowds are huge) who fortunately don't seem to get too much in the way - compare it to 1 or 2 when the main character tripped over everyone.
The in game story line is pretty good but without real depth (how did he learn to be an Assassin), the Paris stories are annoying, irritating and frustrating - as are the Cafe Stories - short but generally miles away from fast travel points so requiring running all over the place, murder mysteries are ok (but why are they there??). The new feature of in-game Co-op are really nice - especially to generate more skill points, although the heists are superfluous, and the Rifts are good as well - especially being able to judge your score against others.
Is the game buggy - YES - but they are fixing it, even making the next DLC free to everyone to say sorry. Occasionally doors are closed, or you're spotted through walls - but it is being fixed.
On the game overall though I have a major problem - only when I finished it did was I reminded what the point of the game was in the first place - there is no dipping in and out of history to the current - previously I just wanted those bits out of the way to be running around in the past, now I realise they were key to keeping the main story going - and here's the problem - there is no continuation of the main AC story line - the entire game is there to stop a technical detail. If you're an AC fan then you're going to have to get this game because it's an AC game - if you've never played an AC game and so don't care about the main story but think it looks good then you can get this game as occasionally it will be entertaining (and it does LOOK good) so Ubisoft win either way. But I'm not happy.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 25, 2015 5:41 PM BST

Assail: A Novel of the Malazan Empire
Assail: A Novel of the Malazan Empire
Price: £4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Stick with Erikson!!, 22 Sept. 2014
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Whilst the various character story lines all ending up at the same place (oops sorry minor spoiler) was a nice touch the whole thing seemed a little rushed, and also rather short. I can't say "I don't like it" and give it 2 stars although it probably really deserves it - this supposedly wondrous and highly dangerous place called Assail was just so under done. There were good character threads, and there were very weak ones. Why was Fisher kel Tath there, what about the Forkrul Assail, why (and how) did you know who come back.

If you're reading all this trying to work out what my reasoning is, and what the good and bad parts of this book are - and not finding out anything valuable then congratulations - that's exactly how I feel about this book - very whatever......

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