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Assassin's Creed II
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I am pleased to say that this game is a quantum leap over the first Assassins Creed. Almost every aspect of this game has been improved over the previous one. Aside from the graphical fidelity, the gameplay has been improved ten fold. The fighting is more fluid and more interesting with a greater depth, the storyline holds your attention with excellent historical titbits thrown into the mix. All the side missions are also extremely well executed and another layer of play should you choose to explore it.
This game is very absorbing and I would recommend you purchase this game if you haven't already. I wasn't going to buy this game because I was dissapointed by the first one but the second installment of this franchise does anything but...
The Shield: Complete Season 1 (4 Discs)
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Absolutely stunning TV series. The pilot episode on the 1st disc sets the tone for the entire season to follow and boy does it set the tone...... Truly one of the best shows ever to grace the small screen.
The whole cast are superb but the main protagonist is Detective Vic Mackey (Micheal Chiklis) who is absolutely superb in the bad yet good yet bad cop role. If you haven't watched this TV series before then at £17.99 (current price on play.com) it's an absolute steal.
It's brilliant - buy it, watch it, love it.
The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2 Discs)
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CANTONATHEKING like a lot of people probably went to see this movie in the pictures because Brad Pitt was in it and without reading any of the background on the film.
This is not a flash bang Mr & Mrs Smith but nor is it a Seven or Fight Club. It probably shares more in common with Clint Eastwoods Unforgiven than any other film I can think of.
It is a long movie and a very slow burner at that but it is very well acted, very well shot and very bl00dy good. Pitt brings just enough menace to the surface in his portrayal of Jesse James that you know he is a powerful and dangerous man.
There are long periods in the film where not much happens but the tension between all the characters is palpable, and the strains of their relationships with each other keeps this movie flowing.
This movie is puntuated by moments of action but the main story narrative and characterisation is why should watch this movie.
As I said earlier - do not be expecting a Brad Pitt big hitting movie, which is the mistake I think a lot of people made at the cinema. However, if you like films like Unforgiven then give this a shot. At least on DVD you can pause it if you need to wee.
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Before we start, firstly let me say that I love this kind of RPG style game and therefore you do not need to take what I say in this review as gospel.
Mass Effect is an awesome game, so far. Firstly the graphics are outstandingly crisp and clear. The character design and animation is equally superb too. Ok, so occasionaly the texture mapping loads a fraction late and therefore 'pops' but that really is a minor quibble.
The action areas of the game really reminded me of Ghost Recon in the way the characters behave and operate. This is impressive, since this is only one part of the whole game experience in Mass Effect.
The squad commanding using the pop-up command wheel takes a little bit of getting used to but it becomes second nature after the 3rd or 4th hostile encounter.
Now, as is the nature with RPG games like this, there is a lot of the game spent having conversations and investigating which is what this game is really all about. The fact that the combat system is so effective is an added bonus and simply helps to make this game feel more complete.
Also, the Light/Dark side of your character as decided by decisions you make is more shades of grey than Knight Of The Old Republic was. You can build both Paragon points (light) and Renegade points (Dark), so your character is not as clear cut bad or good as they were in KOTOR. Could be interesting.
Now, you will know whether this style of game is something that you like or don't like, so I'm not going to try and persuade you to buy it based on it's Ghost Recon-esq fighting system or anything else for that matter.
If you liked KOTOR or Jade Empire then you will love this game. Another Space Opera sir? Yes please.
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First of all, I am not a big FPS fan - the last FPS I really enjoyed was the original Unreal Tournament on the PC.
However, Bioshock is absolutely brilliant - I can't believe how much I am enjoying this game. The experience is immersive and there is great depth to the environment and characters within the game.
The plasmids or chemical enhancements make the combat extremely entertaining and bring a refreshing dimension to the combat. Nothing quite like using the Telekinesis to catch a grenade or rocket mid-flight and send it back the way it came - very satisfying.
The graphical quality is excellent and the storyline is very well handled, drawing you in and building a whole narrative along the way. The city of Rapture feels alive and that what makes the game work so well.
Many people will be unhappy that there is no multi-player option and I have to admit that setting a friend on fire using one of the plasmids does have a morbid attraction but this game works so well as a one player game that it is well worth the money.
The Night Watch
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This book is very well written and extremely easy to get into. It's a very interesting take on the whole horror mythology and very entertaining because of it.
Some of the ideas in this book are absolutely excellent such as 'entering the twilight' - a world which sits on top of the real world - like a spirit world (for want of a much better word).
The moniker on the cover states the Russian J K Rowling or words to that effect and in the respect that it's easy to read and quick to get into I would have to agree but this book is so much more than that.
It's a new take on some old themes as I said before and it's inventiveness deserves a try, at the very least. I really enjoyed this book and will be getting day watch to prolong my enjoyment.
The only other selling point I can think of is that it if you've read this book then it really helps the Night Watch movie make a lot more sense.
Having said that maybe I should watch it sober - that would probably help : )
God is a Bullet
If you like your dirty americana crime books then this book is a must.
I picked it up because I liked the title and the summary of the story appealed but I was totally in awe of this book. One of my favourite books that I've read in the last 5 years.
The book manages to convey the all the grubbiness, decay, filth and violence of it's subject matter so that it's almost palpable.
A brilliant crime novel - excellently written.
Lord of the Rings
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What is their to say about The Lord of the Rings that hasn't been said before? Not much really - it's a fantastic fantasy story - amazingly conceived and written by J.R.R. Tolkien with fantastic creatures and magical storytelling.
I felt I had to write a review of this boxset however, simply because it's exactly what has allowed me to persuade other people to read this landmark creation. It comes in 3 smaller books which are not as daunting to the uninitiated unlike the many huge tome versions available.
This boxset allows you to read each beautifully crafted part of the story in a handy sized book. I would recommend it for it practicality but that would be belittling the creation that these books house.
A magnificent story in a magnificent boxset.
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This book is a novel but based around the time of real historical events. How accurately these events are depicted in this book I don't know, as I am no historian.
However, it matters not the historical accuracy, as this is a story about love, betrayal and redemption. The story is wound through the battle for Malta between the Christian Knights of St John and the Turkish army, laying siege to the Maltese fortress.
The book is well written and very graphic at times, especially in its depiction of the fighting but there is good characterisation in this novel that allows you to connect with the characters and will draw you in.
There are other threads about religion, war and humanity, intertwined within the story - some subtle, some not. I could witter on about the dichotomy of man or whatever but the basic point is that this is a good story but if you get more out of it, so much the better.
Although the outcome of the story is fairly predictable there can be no doubting that before the end of the novel it will be the outcome that you want.
At the end of the day, if you enjoyed Green River Rising or Blood Stained Kings by Tim Willocks then you will not be disappointed with this book. It is written intelligently with the same style and grit, as those novels.
The God Delusion
This is an excellent book and very interesting whether you believe in God or not. There are several very well argued points in this book which are very well put forward.
It is very clear that Richard Dawkins is a very intelligent man but is also aware that the audience for this book may not share his high intellect. To this end, most of the arguments in this book are explained in laymans terms.
This makes the book very accessible to everyone. I would recommend this book - it will make you think about your beliefs and belief systems in general.
It may not shake or change your beliefs in either direction. It may even re-inforce them but no matter what your religious standing this book deserves a place on your bookshelf.