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Muse - CD
31 New from
Muse have always been one of my favourite bands. Their blend of blistering rock, Orchestral arrangements and near operatic vocals have always proved to be a compelling musical style of their own that rewards repeated listening by revealing layer beyond layer hidden in its depths. The Resistance is, in my opinion at least, a huge letdown.
Gone is the energetic rock and complex guitars that drove previous albums forward. Instead the songs on offer seem to be somewhat neutered to the point that much of the latter half seems to plod, with no real urgency to take us anywhere. The complexity that bled through from previous albums is sadly lacking, with the songs being much sparser and simpler affairs. More worryingly though, a surprisingly large number of songs seem somewhat familliar even on first listen. More than a few people i know have commented that United States of Eurasia sounds a lot like Queen, Guiding Light starts of sounding like any of a million eighties power ballads (and continues much the same) and Undisclosed Desires is only differentiable from any current pop song by Mathew Bellamy's unique Vocals. And then theres the albums title track, Resistance, which, while i cant quite put my finger on it, seems to sound like parts from different songs at different points during its 5 and a half minute run time.
On the upshoot, Uprising is a pleasant enough pop song (though Super Massive Black Hole did it better),Unnatural Selection is a decent slice of rock that promises much (though fails to deliver with a plodding mid-section) and the final 3 part Exogenisis Symphony makes for interesting, if not exactly exciting, listening.
Muse's Live shows demonstrate just how great they can be. Unfortunately, The Resistance isnt the musical showcase it should have been, and, while there is nothing here that could be descriped as cynical filler, there is very little here that comes close to their previous efforts. all in all a good listen.... but nothing more.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots (PS3)
5 New from
First things first. I have played every MGS game released and still hold intensley fond memories of the PS1 original. The solid characterization, dramatic cutscenes and engaging story coupled with solid game mechanics helped to make the MGS series the legend it is today.
However, I simply cannot recomend this latest installment.
Whats the problem? i hear you say. Well, it certainly looks spectacular. But, unfortunatley, thats its major downfall - you only really get to look. When cutscenes last longer than some feature length movies, you want some kick ass action waiting at the end.Not here however. after sitting through 45 minutes of mind numbingly contrived narrative, you finally regain control of snake only to have it snatched back again 5 minutes later for another 45 minutes of dull cutscene. It wouldnt be so bad if the action that filled the 5 minutes of which you have control was spectacular. more often than not, however, youre given perfunctionary tasks - walk across room and try to open door, sit through 30 minute cutscene before door opens, walk through door, cue 20-30 minute cutscene etc.etc.etc. Very ocasionally the action ramps up to fifth gear - taking down enemy patrols while speeding along on the roof of an armoured personel carrier is one of my favourite moments - but these moments usually come sandwiched between excruciatingly long periods of inactivity.
If the story was good, i could almost forgive it for making me watch more than play. However, MGS4 is a car crash. the story is a horrid mess that never really knows where it is going to drag the player next. Old characters are bought back with no real purpose or role, and the new characters to which we are introduced are instantly forgettable. And if your expecting those long cutscenes to filled with amazing action and revealing dialogue - youre gonna be disapointed. Banal, long winded and confussing were the thoughts that crossed my mind frequently while listening to characters converse.The controls arent bad, but i never really felt i had an oppurtunity to experiment with all the moves on display.
All in all, this is a bloated, rambling attempt at a videogame. if it wasnt for the fact that I am (or used to be) a die hard fan of the series, this would only just have scrapped a solitary star.
My Advice: Avoid. Avoid unless you are a serious fanboy or you enjoy wasting your life.
8 New from
Have owned this for around 3 weeks now and, even though i've completed a few times, this has hardly been out of my PS3 - I simply cant get enough.
You play as Issac Clarke, an engineer responding to a distress call from the crippled USG Ishimura. your brief is to get aboard and repair the problem. However it soon becomes obvious the problem is more than mechanical after youre team is attacked. Seperated from the rest of the team and hunted down by hellish necromorphs, Issac has to brave the horrors onboard if he ever hopes to escape.
So far, so-so. the plot isnt particuarly special. What sets dead space apart from the crowd is the way in which it builds tension and suspense. Killing enemies isnt simply about aiming in their general direction and letting rip you see. The necromorphs that Issac face are most efficiently killed by taking them to pieces limb by limb - literally. almost every part of these hellish creatures can be dismembered. At first this serves as an amusing way to dispatch of enemies as limbs fly about and blood splatters every surface. However in later stages, where the packs of necromorphs become ever larger, it becomes essential to switch between enemies taking legs off to slow them down before severing heads to finish them off.Through screeching chords and discordant crescendos and lighting effects, the game draws you into a sense youre never more than a heartbeat from unimaginable terror. you'll creep through the bowels of the ishimurra convinced that something is about to happen, untill finally you let your guard down ... and BANG. The real beauty is that even when you know something is about to happen, the way the scene is handled will still make you jump. The developers have put so much effort into drawing every last drop of suspense and tension from the game that, in later stages, playing can sometimes become an exhuastive experience - in a good way.
The graphical world developed for dead space may be presented in a neutral pallet, but this doesnt mean that it doesnt look great. the corridors of the ishimurra are resplendant with detail - corpses litter every surface and the walls are adorned with arterial splatter and frenziedly carved messages. graphically Dead Space is a very impressive title, creating a world so solid and real that your drawn in from the very start.Couple this with the fact that there is absolutley no screen clutter of any kind to contend with - Health is represented on Issacs suit - and that there isnt a single cutscene, means there isnt a single thing to pull you away from the action on offer.
I have only one complaint with dead space and, though it may seem minor, taken in the context of the Survival Horror genre its a pretty big one. Dead Space is far too generous. Play on medium difficulty and you will hardly ever run short of ammo or find yourself near death with no healthpacks. Worse still the games is literally littered with save points which are, in the main, redundant as death results in a short load before setting Issac back almost exactly where he died. Admitedly, the availability of ammo and health becomes scarcer as you progress through the difficulty levels, but the location of save points and the continue system remain the same. Normally I wouldnt complain, but in a game that works so hard to create a sense of fear in the player, the fact that death is never more than a slight inconvenience is a big tension killer. Or maybe this is just a minor complaint amplified by the fact that I like my games a bit HardcoreEither way Dead Space is a fantastic game that any fan of Survival Horror must own and that every gamer (over the age of 18) must experience.
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 09 All-Play
3 New from
I dont usually by sports games - the thought of sitting in doors in front of the telly recreating something i could be doing outdoors in the sun doesnt usually appeal. However having only once played true golf and sucking at it miserabley, - and not having sufficient financial resources for tuition and course time - Golf is one of the few sporting pursuits I would rather tackle from the comfort of my own living room.Having previously owned and loved '05 on the PS2, i was initialy tentative about this wii offering. Too many multi-platform games have been ruined on ninty's console due to failure to utilise the remote or by trying to cram button intensive features onto the remotes, admitedly sparse, button layout. However on seing that this wasnt a direct port of the PS3 and XBox versions, rather a wii specific version, I allowed myself to be sucked in and purchased.
Bloody glad i did. This has proved to be the most intuitive golf game i have ever played, thanks, in the large part, to the way that the remote has been implemented in the play. Swing back with the remote and the onscreen character matches the depth of your arc. lower your swing slightly and your character reduces their swing also. movements are translated directly and near-instantly onto the screen, helping you to learn how to control your swing better and eliminate the guesswork out of shots.
Theres plenty of features crammed in there too. Play alone through the PGA cup or challenge modes, hook up with friends and indulge in a myriad of mini games (my favourite being battle golf) or take your game online and compete against other players to improve your rank and standing on the online leaderboards.Online play is a peach - quick to connect, a steady stream of opponents and very little hanging about. And unlike ninty's own online offerings, you can even communicate with your opponents, OK, Your limited to a set of pre-selected phrases but its a step in the right direction at least.
Too good to be true, i hear you cry? well, almost, the comentary is boring and repetetive, the putting takes a little while to get used to - at first youll hit miles too hard or fall well short of the pin - and it can be a little hard to guage shot strength as theres no onscreen feedback untill after the ball is in the air. However, you can turn the comentary off, and after a few hours off practice on different courses and in different conditions you'll be hitting the ball exactly as you planned to - more often than not.
All in all TW 09 All-play is about as good as golf gets without playing it for real. There really is very little to fault it on and the sense of acheivment when you land your first hole in one overshaddows any of the minor niggles mentioned.
Metallica - CD
4 New from
Metallica are back, and not a moment too soon. Death Magnetic is a speeding freight train of an album,that puts all the young pretenders to the throne of thrash back in their place.This may not be Metallica at their prime - I think those days are now well in the past, - But this is them as they should have been through Load/Re-Load and St anger. Lots of fans slate the Black album, but as the album that introduced me to metallica, this holds a special place in my record collection.
The album kicks off to a fine start with 'that was just your life' - a slow pulsing heartbeat building into the shredding that doesnt let up for the next two tracks - 'End of the line' and 'Battered, beaten and scarred' (possibly the best track of the lot).Things slow down a bit for first single 'Day that never comes...' before swinging back with 'All Nightmare long' - an awesome slice of metal with possibly the catchiest chorus you'll hear since the black album - and the underated 'cyanide'.Next is Unforgiven III, in my opinion the weakest track on offer here -too much like a ballard for my liking and james' vocals just do not sound right.'Judas kiss' kicks things back in to touch in the second half, followed by ' suicide and redemption', an instrumental track that, while its no 'orion', is definitley worthy of a place here and melts into the blistering 'My appocalypse' a hark back to the golden days of '..puppets' and 'kill'em all' - proof that even in thier forties and fifties, metallica still have the raw energy and aggression that fuelled them through their early career.
In summary, then, Death Magnetic is a tour of things great and old for metallica. drawing ellements from 'puppets', 'justice for all' and even the 'Black album' and combining them into a sound which is that of a band matured, yet remembering their roots. A must buy for any Metallica fan - old and new.
I Am Legend
33 New from
Having read and loved Richard Matheson's book, I was expecting grand things from this big bucks hollywood interpreatation. Instead I felt hugely let down.
For anyone who has not read the book, i wont give too much away. except to say that the only thing the film shares with it is a rough synopsis of plot and the title. This review is mostly written for those who have enjoyed the book and can appreciate its dilution through Hollywood production.
The character of Robert Neville has been watered down for the film and all the rough edges removed. His lapses into insanity have been played more for laughs than character exploration and the overall tone is mucj lighter than the book.Worse still, the producers have almost completley disregarded the source material and made something more akin to an action movie than a study of character, society and sin.It even has a happy ending, with Robert managing to find a cure. The producers havent just missed the point, they have missed the whole of the big thingy that the point is attached to.
Infact the only reason i gave this two stars is because the scenes of a desserted new york at the beggining are breathtaking. from there on in it's pretty much not worth the effort.
If you havent read the book, do so now as it is far more engrossing and inventive than the film.
I am Legend
1 New from
I first picked this book up about three years ago, on recomendation from a friend. For some reason i never quite got around to reading it. I finally made a conscious decission to do so when the film came out. Having had JRR tolkiens masterpiece ruined by Peter Jackson's interpretation, i was determined not to let the same thing happen again. I was blown away!
This a thrilling a nd tense account of a man who is alone in the world. Hunter by day, at night he becomes the hunted as he barricades himself in his home and drinks himself to oblivion. The books pitches the perfect tale of Horror, loathing, fear and un-ending loneliness. you're never quite sure if its the world thats gone mad or just the central character as he plods his way through his solitary existence and punishes himself for his percieved transgressions.
I usually read much meatier books and, subsequently, I whipped through this in just a few hours. From start to finnish this is an incredibly poignant tale that, in just 160 short pages, makes you believe in the central character and his battle with insanity.
Put simply this is a masterfull tale that is as pertinent today as it was on release in the 50's.
Super Smash Bros: Brawl
6 New from
Ok, this is my first forray into the smash bros. universe, so forgive me if it seems like i am being a little critical, but i really dont beleive that brawl lives upto the hype that surrounded its release.
For starters the single player mode was obviously only put in as a bit of an afterthought. The subspace embassy - or story mode, if you prefer - is so poor that if the review was based on this alone the game would fail to muster even a solitary star. Classic mode is better, but boomerangs between boredom and frustration, being either far too easy or much too hard. Obviously the game was designed with multiplayer in mind. Fortunately the multiplayer experience is a much meatier affair. when theres you and 3 mates sharing a sofa things can get very compettetive extremley fast.During one particularly chaotic session i nearly broke my brothers nose with the remote and my friend stormed out after loosing 16 consecutive bouts. However, it soon becomes apparent just how limited the game is. After all this is effectively a 2-D brawler with some snazzy effects. It certainly is fun to start with, but it soon becomes tiresome when you have just pulled off the same move 20 times in a row becuase theres no other moves to pull.
Then theres nintendo;s single biggest clanger with brawl - The online multiplayer mode. Everything works fine, you can connect easily enough and there always seems to be a steady stream of opponents to fight, but, nintendo has forgotten why people would want to play against other people - the banter, the jibes and the put downs. By failing to give you anyway of communicating with the person you are fighting against, nintendo have ensured that the online experience feels no different to battling against CPU Characters. thus rendering the experience slightly pointless.
To be fair this is still amongst the favourites for a post pub bout or two. But in these days of fully 3-D fighters like soul caliber, this kind of thing fails to cut the mustard as far as i am concerned. If only the online experience had been better...
Alien Vs Predator: Requiem (2)
22 New from
As a concept, Alien Vs. Predator should be about the best thing since... well, since just about everything. Combining two of the most iconic figures in sci-fi and pitching them head long into a battle of survival should be kick ass.
However, as an exercise, AVP Requiem proves just how far reality can fall from potential.I have loved the graphic novels from which the film takes its title, and have often been enthralled by the tales of genetic engineering, bio-weaponry and unlikely loyalty . I was disapointed with 2004's AVP, especially as it seemed to ignore the legacy from which it took its names. Unfortunately, Requiem does little to put right these ills.For one, it seems that very little has been thought out in way of story or plot. The film kicks off shortly after the end of the first, with the predators leaving earth victorious. However it isnt long before the ship runs into trouble and plummets straight back to earth, backwater america to be precise. This should have been the kick off for a brilliant horror-sci-fi movie. I for one can remember nightmares as a kid (Ok, young man) in which the Alien arrived on earth. Unfortunatley, it is at this point that all atempt at reasonable plot are given up in favour letting our two protagonists get down to business. There is a half backed tale of teen love/lust and a cop/con brother act in there, but the acting is of such low grade that you never care enough whether any of the human cast survive for these stories to have any effect.
However, the biggest problem by far is the shear darkness of the whole film. I dont mean it's-the-end-of-the-world, life-is-pointless type dark. I spent literally the first half of the movie trying to work out just what was wrong with my telly as the contrast was so low before i realized it was the film that was at fault. To be fair, there could be a very decent and highly enjoyable action flick hidden away here, but it was just far to dark to be able to tell.
Overall, this is another poor showing from the AVP series, a series with the framework and legacy to provide a truly outstanding film. If you must watch this, however, watch it with the lights off. it wont be any scarier but it is the only chance youve got of seing anything on-screen
Planet Terror (2 Discs)
12 New from
If, like me, you grew up in the early eighties and were pretty much bred on cheap, gore-filled schlockers with names like toxic mutant 4, then you will most likely love planet terror.
A plague of zombies seige a small backwater town, with most of the inhabitants torn to shreds or infected, it falls to a rag tag bunch of survivors to end the scourge once and for all.
OK, so the plot is thinner than a serial killer's sense of morality, the acting is at best wooden and at worst down right hammy and the special FX are so preposterous that they wouldnt convince a toddler. But this is all part of the films brilliance as it simultaneously pays homage and makes fun of grindhouse cinema.
Its over-the-top, unbeleivably violent, ridicously gory and down right silly - and it knows it. Serious film types will hate it, and those too young or too old wont get it, but for those born of that era its a rare treat in todays billion dollar blockbuster dominated world. watch this with an open mind and - for some - an empty stomach and if youre not laughing by the end, theres something wrong.