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Bought this day one, I'm not one for returning things that aren't faulty but please don't make the same mistake I did. God knows how it got so many 8/10 "professional" reviews, it handles like a broken shopping trolley, looks like a pig's undercarriage and the multiplayer servers are fudged. I bought as a diversion from CoD Black Ops as I was getting sick of it but I'll never take it for granted again.
Spend your money on a 40 pound bottle of Champagne instead, to celebrate you not treading in this steaming heap of dump.
James Bond: Quantum Of Solace
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Hmm, where to start. Visuals are a mixed back, some character models are very convincing, others are shakey. Same thing with the environments - occasionally staggering, but some PS2 standard. Sound is very impressive, Daniel Craig and others chipping in for great voicework, decent soundtrack which emphasises the panic in the pure action sequences, nice chunky weapon effects. Menus are clean, appropriate, simple to navigate and all feel very new-Bond-like. Now gameplay - it's instantly obvious this is a modified version of the COD4 engine which is great. Not quite as fluid but still great. Anyone who played the COD games will notice how naturally it plays (bar a few button swaps to make allowances for cover). The cover system is one of the most effective and fluid seen in any 1st/3rd person shooter out there, there are rarely times when you'll be pinned to the wrong wall/object, dashing to cover is smooth, blindfiring is fun and it all just clicks - most impressive.
The campaign is plenty hard enough, obviously if you're fluent with COD games (or any FPSes really) you needn't bother with the easiest setting. The harder ones (007, like COD4's Veteran mode) will have you tearing your hair out as the surprisingly smart AI mostly takes cover, but will have other enemies sneaking around you to flank from behind. Some parts will have you utilising stealth - quite edge-of-the-seat stuff. You're constantly on the lookout for patroling guards and cameras for 2 or 3 MGS style missions. Most professional reviews marked this game down for being too short in the single-player department, I thought it was long and varied enough, just not quite as smooth or intense as some other shooters on the market. Take-downs (replacing COD4's knife-melee attacks) could have been more challenging but the animations are fairly brutal and cool. Cutscenes are often just still images with M16 explaining the story with odd storytelling - possibly the biggest letdown as a lot of the game is only loosely based on what happens in the QOS and Casino Royale films (save for a few missions, including the very cool crane free-running mission and a very disorientating drink-spiked sequence pulled directly from the hotel in Casino Royale). It's almost safe to say this game doesn't even have spoilers until the end unless you're really listening carefully to the cutscenes and mission briefings. Single player overall I'd give a 6/10, challenging enough but doesn't quite click.
But who cares about campaign modes in FPSes these days? The multiplayer is very good, and in some ways better than that of COD4. You've got standard game types, Conflict and Team Conflict being your deathmatches, Territory Control being an area-control type like Headquarters and so on, then a couple of very cool types. One type will have a team of terrorists chasing Bond - if you're Bond, the idea is to try and deactivate 2 Bombs being undetected by upto 6 enemies. Tense and fun. Being the enemy has you taking out Bond, and getting a bonus for doing so. Then you have the cool Golden Gun from Goldeneye. Find the Golden Gun - a gold revolver with the power of an RPG and keep in possession for as long as possible, nuking enemies. Credits replace COD games points at the end of matches, and you use these to buy new weapons and perks so you can buy any weapons you want off the bat which is good. No prestiges so the rewards do end after a while. Maps are very varied and mostly very impressive - Embassy is everything COD4's Showdown should have been. Cool Achievements will have you clearing the story and trying all the varied multiplayer gametypes.
Overall QOS could have been polished, but a solid 8.5/10, with a stress-free, fun multiplayer offering
Viva Pinata (Classics)
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From the off it's clear that Rare designed this game with kids in mind, the visuals - while unique and brilliant - will put some people off before they've even started and the presentation can be a bit of a chore with slow-talking characters. But don't be fooled, this game will overwhelm you, let alone children.The tutorials are great, making everything clear whenever something happens. And the pacing is brilliant, starting you off with a bit of garden to explore and develop before you're swamped with a humungous set of responsibilities and moral dilemmas. This game has a huge amount of depth, and will have you constantly on your toes. It gives you the same sort of satisfaction that Theme Park did years ago, but now with cracking visuals and a sense of limitless possibilities. Which leads me to it's only downside - it's a proper life-eating game. I was a Halo 3 devotee, but this game is now the resident of my disc drive
Anyone who says this is a bad game has either played it for less than 2 minutes or is too proud of themselves and worried about coming across as gay. When in fact they'll actually make themselves look like that to anyone who's actually played the game. Don't judge a book by its pinata
Sony Ericsson K550i Sim Free Unlocked Mobile Phone
For the price, this phone has great features, decent camera, bluetooth, all that malarky. But the 4, 5, 6 and Left keys jammed more than half the time on my first model after just a week. Took it back, and after a week my replacement is doing the same thing. This means texting is occasionally impossible, and navigating the menus is made a real chore. This problem is common as well, so don't expect plain sailing with this phone
Halo 3 (Classics)
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I tried Halo 1 and 2 briefly back on the Xbox but never really saw the attraction. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this very much (the only FPS I really play is UT2004) but I got it recently with my 360 and can't put it down. This is totally how a console FPS should be - it combines excellent controller-focussed gameplay (quite a rarity), excellent visuals and sound, a challenging single-player outing and unrivalled multiplayer featuring a great ranking/matching system. And with the game being so massively popular you'll never have trouble finding a match
I've not been overly impressed with the single-player side of the game, but I think that's because I'm comparing it to the online modes which are so much more satisfying to play. And because it's so easy to pick up, it's addictive from the word go. A definite 5 out of 5.
Be warned though - it's a bad idea playing this before you go to bed on a worknight... you'll soon find out what it's like to forget to go to sleep
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Bomberman for DS is a huge step backwards from Super Bomberman 2 onwards, and anyone who's played earlier Bomberman games will be able to tell you that. The core gameplay is here, so it's still a laugh... but only in 2-player. The single player game is horrible - every stage is exactly the same, unlike the SNES games where different areas featured different puzzles, traps, items and bosses. The music, unlike the older games, absolutely sucks, the soundtrack consisting of short loops of forgettable yet grating rubbish with no variety. The visuals have gone horribly childish too.
The game is cheap for a reason. Fair enough, it still plays like a Bomberman game should, and if you have enough friends with the game then you might have a laugh but this has to be one of the worst games in the Bomberman series
Aerobie 13 Inch Pro Flying Ring
Gifts & Gadgets
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This thing flies for miles and miles and it flies completely straight (if it's not too windy). Rubbery and durable, the only downside is that its hoop-shape and seemingly infinite flight mean that trees also have a good chance of catching it. Get one now, great fun
Joytech Advanced Analogue Controller
This pad is ergonomic, sure, plenty comfortable enough. But be warned - this pad features the nastiest most unresponsive D-pad ever found on any joypad ever. This renders the pad completely useless, especially if you're attempting to play anything twitchy such as Street Fighter. The shoulder buttons are also poorly placed.
Steer well clear
Sonic Rush Adventure
2 years ago Sonic Rush landed on the DS and showed us what fast platforming is all about. It was a brilliant platformer which combined classic Sonic formula with new twists, but some fans didn't like the way that the focus had been taken away from traditional exploration with speed to just all-out speed.
Now we have Sonic Rush Adventure, which retains the brilliantly fast main acts and 3D bosses of Sonic Rush, but expands on the formula in every way imaginable to create an action platform/adventure hybrid with the longevity and depth of an open-ended adventure game
Graphics-wise - if you've played the original Sonic Rush you'll know basically what to expect - 2D main stages with 3D elements. The 2D is as smooth yet fast as can be, but the 3D parts play a much bigger role now. And fear not, unlike most 3D DS visuals these are silky smooth, uncompromised and action-packed. Sonic Team have done something really special here. Character models, backdrops, animations and effects are all fantastic.
Presentation is second to none in most places - awesome 3D cutscenes, 3D villages to wander around and characters to talk to and accept missions from, large expansive maps to explore, and quick navigation ensures you have a constant stream of action. My only gripe here (and possibly with the whole game) is the talking heads interludes between Zones - I can't understand why Sonic Team chose to use these when they already have fully 3D models for all the characters but they explain the story well enough and the rest of the game more than makes up for it.
Sound is very much like the original Rush. Unique Jet Set Radio style tunes but now swapping some of the modern samples and sounds for more traditional Sonic catchiness. This mix works brilliantly, and the sound effects are as distinct and varied as usual
Then we have gameplay. This is easily the most varied playing game in the Sonic series, and possibly even on the DS. Main stages are traditional 2D platforming, some even having subsections - including 3D parts based on the Sonic 2 half-pipe bonus stages where you have to dodge bombs and collect rings, others feature elements such as hanggliders and minekarts (nice little nods towards the 8-bit versions of Sonic 2), snowboards (Sonic 3) and more. Bosses are set in awesome 3D arenas with 2D gameplay, these are varied and tough enough.To get from zone to zone involves using one of four watercraft and setting a path with the stylus to explore new parts of the map. Each craft has different qualities, and each involves a different Mini-game of varying difficulty. These games range from guiding Sonic using the stylus to dodge enemy fire and collect rings to shoot-em-up games where you have to keep on your toes to blitz everything on screen. These games are brilliant even on their own and utilise the touch-screen perfectly, and while you will be having to play through these mini-games regularly there is enough variety in action to keep them satisfying, not exhausting.
And the content doesn't stop there. On top of the main acts, bosses, bonus stages and mini-games inbetween - you have 100 missions, 20+ secret acts, races, customisable areas, every kind of multiplayer imaginable, time attacks, records, replays... it's quite daunting how much is involved, and to clear the game will take hours and hours of play. But the game is so rewarding to play, you won't be able to put it down. The way the game is handled open-endedly (almost) is brilliant.
What we have here is a must-have for fans of Sonic, platforming in general, action, adventure - and really the first absolute must-have on the DS.
Sonic Rush is fast, polished and absolutely rammed with quality content - get it now