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The Time Traveler's Wife
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I bought this for my wife and we watched it together on Valentines Day. Neither me or my wife have read the book but we do enjoy a good film from time to time. Such a shame then that this disappointed us both.
Like some others have said, it all feels very rushed and all over the place. In a film such as this it is vital for the audience to connect with the main characters and ride along with their emotions, but it was a bond that never happened. I never felt involved or concerned for their situation and this is probably due to the pace and 'cut and paste' feel of the directing more than the acting.
There have been a few films that have brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat, building such a strong relationship with the main characters. Films like My Girl, Bridge to Terabithia, My Sisters Keeper to name a few. Ashamed as I am to admit it, even so called 'naff' blockbusters like Pearl Harbour and Armageddon managed at least one emotional scene.
So to sum it up I would say it is a pretty emotionless and quite forgettable film. The time traveling side of it seemed almost irrelevant because unlike The Butterfly Effect and (dare I mention it) Back to the Future, he is unable to alter events. So in many ways it was more like Premonition because we knew what was coming. The parts where he did travel back in time seemed wrong, and could come across as a 39 year old grooming a six year old girl - though I'm sure in the book it all seems quite innocent and makes much more sense to the story. So if you are looking for a romantic love story where you care about the characters outcome I would look elsewhere. But if The Time Traveler's Wife still holds interest for you (even though I haven't read it myself, but going on others comments) I would recommend you read the book instead.
Bridge To Terabithia (2007)
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As many have said, Terabithia is not a Narnia, Harry Potter, Spiderwick, Stardust, Labyrinth, Never Ending Story etc.
I did not expect to be whisked off on some fantasy adventure because I was aware that the CGI moments were minimal and were not the main focus of this film.
Terabithia is, however, a very beautiful and moving story. It is more like a coming of age film about two young children building a strong friendship and both having positive influences on each others lives - such as strengthening bonds with Parents, Sisters and Classmates, over coming bullying etc.
It's an inspiring and uplifting movie, reminding us of the beautiful innocence and imagination of young children's minds but also how they have to deal with what reality throws at them to allow them to grow and mature.
The acting is very impressive and beliveable, much better than the awful original from the 80's. It's an emotional journey - maybe suggested for ages 10 and over.
My Horse & Me 2
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The first thing you probably want to know is; have they sorted out the controls? As this was the biggest problem in the first game, especially for younger players. Well the good news is they have, and you now get three control options.
First is steering using the control stick on the nun-chuck with an auto jump, second also uses the control stick for horse movements but allows you to press the A button to time your jumps. The third control method is similar to last years, but far far improved - instead of raising the controls up and down and ending up flapping all over the place, you simply twist the nun-chuck to turn left and twist the remote to turn right (there is an option for left handed people to switch these around) Jumping is a simple flick using both (either up or down) This control method is much tighter and far more responsive than in the previous title.
Another worthy mention is that you now have a small zone area before each jump. So if your approach is too tight an angle, the horse will refuse and rear up, or even throw you off completely.(This never happened in the last game, it would jump the tightest of angles or just stop dead if your approach was too slow) As you enter the zone it gradually fills green and this is when you need to jump, go too early and again your horse could refuse or clip and knock the jump, giving you a 4 point fault. Speed is controlled with the trigger buttons, B to speed up, Z to slow down - using these you alternate between stand, walk, trot, canter and gallop!
After the disappointment of last years title there has been much improvement made. As you can see from the video it actually has a storyline to it this time, graphics are very colourful, with a bold, almost 'cartoon-like' style which works really well and is solid. The grooming elements and general horse care are far more involving, and actually take place in the stable and not on a tiny pedestal. Picking and cleaning the horses hooves is cleverly done and works very well.
There is much to unlock; various tack, clothing, videos of real life events. There are six different save slots. Multiplayer is quite fun, although you all look the same & ride a white horse, it does allow for rider names so you know who's turn it is. You can have up to 8 players taking turns & add any events and venues you have unlocked. After each event there is a leaderboard with everyone's scores on.
Another improvement is being able to use the remote's pointer abilities to input names (much easier and quicker than that awkward old wheel interface)
There are a few downsides though, you have to be the girl you see in the video (there is no option to be a male rider, even in multiplayer) - customizing is minimal - skin, eye & hair colour (as well as clothes you unlock). You can put in your own name & name your horse (although during the cut scenes you will still be called Emma) The horse you get is standard, there are no breeds to choose from (you can change the coat and mane/tail colour, change tack) Commentary during events can get quite repetitive.
But these are minor niggles and after the massive overhaul it received this time, we can only hope the series continues to improve. I'd like to see online multiplayer competitions, an award ceremony for the winner/top three in multiplayer. More customization (male rider option) and maybe some split screen multiplayer games.
My conclusion is, if you didn't get on with the first game due to the poor controls then you'll enjoy this game much more, especially younger gamers. There has been much added in and it is generally a far superior and better presented package. I even managed to pick it up for less than the old game.
TV Show King Party (Play Zone)
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This is a great little quiz game that makes use of your mii's, you even see them in the audience too. It's a simple concept, a question is displayed on screen and you point and select from one of 4 possible answers. (You need a fairly big tv though as the questions aren't read out, just displayed in text)
It is a great game for all the family because even kids have a 1 in 4 chance of guessing right. After every round you choose whether to spin the wheel, which can completely turn things around - you may win an extra $15,000, or get to take $10,000 off another player, you could lose everything or you could swap your amount with the person in the lead, jumping from last place to first. This means anyone can win and no one is ever out of the game.
I marked it as 4 stars because it doesn't offer the depth, variety or humor that buzz has, tv show king is fairly simple, but the presentation is good and it does what it sets out to do.
If you are connected to the internet, you can download this as a wiiware title from the wii shop channel for 1000 points = £7, but if you don't have access to that then £9.99 is a great price (for the extra £3 you're getting a case, a disc and delivery)
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Lets be honest, there isn't one decent racing game on the Wii yet [Excite Truck was passable, Mario Karts will surely be great] but everything else is very poor at best.
+ responsive controls+ good price
- Unnecessarily long loading times [up to a minute to load a race]
- Dated graphics, we all know the Wii can't compete with 360 & PS3 but that's no excuse to have poor N64 style graphics
- Poor sound- Poor frame rate
It's a port of the arcade racer 'The Fast and Furious' minus the licence. Don't be tempted by the cheap price - you certainly get what you pay for. If you enjoy 14 year old graphics then your better off downloading 'Wave Race 64' or 'F-Zero X' on the Wii's Virtual Console.
FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage
This game is great, and at £25 or less it's a bargain. If your bored of simulation driving like your Forza's, McRae's and PGR's and you just want pure fun, then this is the game.
Very much like Burnout meets Destruction Derby, and in my opinion much better than Burnout Revenge. There are race events, derby events, stunts, death match style races with the last one standing. The graphics are great, lot of objects to smash through, cars to wreck etc.
Online gives you the same choice of races, derbys and stunts, and is a great laugh. Even if you buy Burnout Paradise, this game is different enough from other racers to sit proudly in your collection. OK so it's not perfect, car handling isn't as good as it could have been, and it's basically Flatout 2 with bells on, moments of frustration will occur... but at the heart it's a pure, adrenaline, arcade smash-em-up racer, with fun mini games, upgradeable cars in career mode, great challenges in carnage mode and a solid online mode, even without a hard drive you get full replays of your races and derby events and trust me there's always something you'll wanna watch in the replay!
It's one of the most under-rated games on 360 right now, if you love your racers to be about speed and fun... then look no further! It's worth every penny!
The Legend Of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass
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This game is a master piece on DS, Nintendo really know how to push to get the best from their games. They could have just ported Zelda Ocarina of Time, like they did with Mario 64 DS, but they've created a new adventure for us to enjoy built specifically for DS! Graphically it's almost on par with the Gamecube's Wind Waker, a very impressive feat indeed.
It's a joy to play and control, the cut scenes are great, as is the control system, and sound, two screen boss battles... ALL Amazing! Plus they also threw in an online mini game for good measure. If you love Zelda, you'll enjoy this and if your new to Zelda games this is as good a place to start as any.
It's an adventure not to be missed!
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OK let me start off by saying my Wife bought a Wii because of this game ,so I must thank EA for that miracle!
My Sims is not your typical 'Sims' game, you don't have to worry about eating, sleeping, going to the toilet or working. Your time is taken up by building and decorating.
You chat to a 'Sim' and after building/designing their new house/shop/restaurant etc they give you further tasks of building furniture for their new place. Building is done in your workshop and is pretty much what the game revolves around.
You are given different blocks and shapes which you can spin and rotate to build your objects [chairs/beds/ovens etc.] Every object has a basic 'blue print' but you have some freedom to add to your design. [it's like building something out of Lego blocks]
The reason I've rated only 3 stars is that this game is by no means perfect. Building things can be fiddly and annoyingly frustrating on occasion. Blocks flicker about, not slotting in where you want them to go, and sometimes you'll spin the camera to find the block is hovering in mid-air.
The character design is very charming and cute but the 'Sims' themselves have very little character or humor, they repeat themselves constantly - so there isn't the variety of text found in other Sims games [even the DS versions had more to offer here]
I can't help but feel the whole game is another EA rushed for release date effort. It is ultimately a very shallow experience, By far the most frustrating thing is the loading. Every time you enter or exit a building [which is quite alot of the time] it loads [wooden blocks fill up the screen, and it takes anything from 3 to 8 seconds] This just slows down the whole experience, along with occasional juddering and lagging of the graphics [which lets face it are so simple and basic that loading screens and slow down are really unforgivable on a console like the Wii]
If your a very patient person with time on your hands and you enjoy building/decorating things then maybe consider this, otherwise wait for the true Animal Crossing [Nintendo would be mad not to do a Wii version] which I'm sure will be a much more pleasant experience and will more than likely include online play too.
Pro Evolution Soccer 6 (Classics)
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OK I'll be honest with you, when I purchased this at release day for £40 I was gutted, angry, disappointed... I hated it so much that I even signed an online petition to Konami.
After playing Pro Evo 5 for a year, I had HUGE anticipation for this "Next-gen" title, but when I discovered the Edit mode had gone, there were only 8 stadiums compared to the PC & PS2's 33, only 1 vs 1 online compared to 4 vs 4, no PES Shop and no replay mode - it all seemed a bit of a joke! More of a backwards step!
Even Pro Evo 5 had a 2 vs 2 online option, and given that the 360 is all about LIVE play, and also had the biggest hard drive on a home console [before PS3] - it seemed strange that you could no longer save your favourite goals - if anything all these features should have been improved - Not removed.
Why rate 4 stars then? Well, after trying all 360 FIFA's and coming back to this you realise just how good it actually plays and how much more control you have over your players. Your 1st few shots will be like rugby conversions ending up in row Z, but trust me, stick with it and you'll realise just how good the gameplay actually is.
It has become me and my brothers most played game - because every game and every goal is different - like real football, and mainly because it's FUN!
So half the features, but half the original price.. at £17.99 [forget FIFA] this is the only football game worth owning on 360! [well until Pro Evo 7 - but that won't be out until Oct/Nov 07]