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Product Reviews

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  1.  An Ageless Masterpiece


    Aristotle certainly complements Plato as the second great philosophical master of the ancient world. The way he exemplified philosophy has deservedly passed him down to us as the greatest logician and systemiser of Western philosophy.

    In Metaphysics, which is also the first major work of this particular branch of philosophy, Aristotle explores the `knowledge of immaterial being`, defining metaphysics as the first philosophy, as well as a `theological science`. The fourth century BC Greek polymath and philosopher examines some key themes such as the universal and the particular, the questions of substance and essence , time and change, employing logical cogitation to conclude that a particular substance is a combination of both matter and form. In this respect, we owe him the way we have come to perceive the material things that surround us , for his logical argumentation has deeply influenced Western philosophy. For instance, in terms of the relationship between matter and substance, Aristotle concludes that the matter of the substance is the substratum( or the stuff ) of which it is composed. To further clarify this particular point, we could think of the way we perceive and think about what surrounds us in our everyday life. If we were to apply this concept to a house, for instance, according to Aristotle the matter of the house would be bricks, stones, timbers etc., or whatever constitutes the `potential house` ( and so what makes us think of a house) , while the form of the substance (what we can see through our eyes), is in fact the actual house. It is through this formula that Aristotle justifies the presence of the material things that surround us, explaining how the two concepts are eternally bound to each other.

    It would be worth mentioning, however, that most key concepts in this work, such as the relationship between subject matter and substance or the definition of change were introduced and defined in his previous work `Physics` and later developed in Metaphysics. Therefore, readers who are new to Aristotle might be better off reading Physics before this book in order to fully appreciate Aristotle`s philosophy.

    It might be worth noticing that this edition, translated by Tancred Lawson, is also the first complete translation of Metaphysics into English since the 1924 translation by W.D. Ross. If, on the one hand, Lawson`s version presents Aristotle`s thought accurately, simplifying and expanding the often crabbed and elliptical style of Ross` version, on the other, there are a lot of omissions and changes of word order that make this edition a little less intelligible than the original one. Ideally, reading both versions might be a sound idea for the various introductory and textual essays by Lawson are excellent and explanatory. In this respect, the Lawson edition could be used as an alternative translation which is good to have as a backup, especially to clarify the matter when the Ross edition is much too obscure.

    In conclusion, I highly recommend this work to everyone with an interest in philosophy and, in particular, in ancient world logical argumentation.

  2.  Nice exception to the rule!


    Like many other fellow gamers, I initially thought I was in for a movie tie-in with very little story and the usual batch of brainless enemies to beat up. On the whole, that is pretty much what the game delivers, but there is also so much more to it.

    What sets this game apart from many other movie inspired video games is its excellent mechanics. Each of its 10 levels plays out in two ways: you can either march through on foot and wail on enemies with all kinds of weapon upgrades (huge hammers, gaitlin guns, laser beams just to name a few) or you can just fly through an on-rails level and blast soaring enemies with your power ring. While the airborne levels are not exactly exciting and can be quite repetitive, the ground levels are just so much fun especially for fans of the third-player action genre.

    While going at it on the ground, the God of War influences will soon become obvious to you. In this respect, you not only have attacks, but also grabs, special moves and even on screen prompts while fighting boss battles. To make things even more interesting, all attacks and special moves are actually upgradable and there is a lot to tweak. You can switch weapons as you unlock them after levelling up and personalise your own combo moves.

    I think it would be fair to say that this game will not only appeal to Green Lantern fans, but also to third-person action fans, like me. The only down side to this game is that it is very easy to beat. It took me exactly one day to beat the game ( and earn all of its 41 trophies) while playing on the hardest difficulty. However, given the ease with which you can earn all trophies, trophy collectors might well want to pick up this game for this very reason.

  3.  Ezio is back with an agenda!


    AC Brotherhood picks up exactly where the second installment left off. As a gamer who truly enjoyed AC 2, I do consider this third chapter as a natural advance in the narrative. After the final confrontation between Ezio and his templar nemesis, Rodrigo Borgia, whose life was mercifully spared by Ezio in the second installment, the templar and his son Cesare Borgia mount a full scale attack on Ezio`s estate in Tuscany, razing the assassin`s villa and compelling him to travel to Rome, the hub of templar activity, in order to settle the score once and for all. Determined to visit justice upon Cesare, Ezio will have to carry out a number of missions throughout all 12 districts of Rome, which will bring him into contact with several characters from AC2 and new entries as well. In this respect, a remarkable introduction to the third chapter is the presence of twelve Borgia towers overseeing the districts, each representing Cesare`s control of the area. These lofty barbicans are guarded by one captain, whom you are required to assassinate in order to burn the building to the ground, and finally wrest control of the area from the enemy. These towers are very much a key element of the game because destructing them allows you to open up the area for business, and so renovate blacksmiths, tailors, banks, stables, which in turn will allow you to update your armour, weaponry, collect income, and so much more. But the real innovation of these towers is the fact that as you liberate districts, you will be able to recruit assassins as more citizens will then turn against the oppressor and decide to join your cause.

    In terms of gameplay, mechanics have not changed much from the previous chapter. The bulk of missions is pretty similar in nature to those from AC2, with a number of innovations nonetheless. As aforementioned, one of the major changes is the presence of an assassin`s guild. As you liberate areas, more citizens will be available for recruit whom you can call upon at any time, especially when Ezio becomes embroiled into combat and the odds are stacked against him. As soon as you recruit citizens by saving them from Borgia soldiers, they will automatically join your guild and you will then have to train them up to the rank of assassin by sending them off to complete contracts throughout Europe. The harder a mission , the faster they rank up. On the downside, however, your options are quite limited here. While you can call them upon to even the odds during a fight, you can neither control any of them nor follow them on any of their missions, and since combat is not exactly that hard, one might well argue that there was no reason to tip the scales in Ezio`s favour as it might well make the game a bit less challenging!

    The real innovation of the game, however, is the introduction of a multiplayer mode, which is both refreshing and inventive and quite addictive. The basic idea is that you are given a target and you have to assassinate them, and yet Brotherhood has four multiplayer modes which allow you to work in groups, be a pursuer and a target at the same time and so much more. What is more, while most of the action in single player takes place in Rome, in multiplayer you have a plethora of different locations at your disposal, including more familiar locations with AC2.

    In conclusion, Brotherhood is certainly a great game and a natural choice for fans of the series, and of AC2 in particular. However, because this game really was designed as the natural continuation to AC2 my recommendation to those who are new to the series is to play AC2 first and then Brotherhood to make sure they make the most out of this awesome title.

  4.  Maybe not a `legendary` title


    Many reviewers before me very correctly pointed out the different features of this game. In particular, one of them underscored the fact that playing its demo does not really give you any insight into it, and judging the whole game upon the demo would be a huge mistake, a mistake I made myself. In this respect, another common mistake is to compare `Legends of Wrestlemania` to the more popular Smackdown vs Raw series, both published and developed by THQ. However, being an old school wrestling nostalgic, I eventually set aside my reservations and finally decided to give the complete game a go. Was it worth it? Well, I will say that some aspects of the game surely cleared most personal preconceptions but others just consolidated them.

    On the whole, there is no denying that the developing team at THQ have given us wrestling aficionados an unprecedented opportunity to relive and interact with the most defining moments in the history of the showcase of the immortals. In this respect, Legends of Wrestlemania is the only game around that allows you to re-enact adrenaline drenched, capacity crowd matches such as the one featuring The Hulkster and his then gargantuan nemesis Andre the Giant. The career mode ( Wrestlemania Tour Mode) is divided into three categories: Relive, Rewrite and Redefine history. In the first tangent, you will be prompted by a sequence of on-screen button chains to win the fight as it really happened; in Rewrite, you will be wearing the boots of a series of wrestlers who did not get the title or lost at past Wrestlemania events, with a chance of changing their fate; in the last category, you will be given carte blanche and play as whomever you want.

    Although the career mode is surely peculiar and innovative, the control scheme is what dampens the mood of the game altogether. The scheme consists of four buttons (strike, grapple, block and action), and the remainder encompasses basic manoeuvres, including chain grapples and reversals (most of them prompted), which makes the game appear dull and repetitive. In other words, when you get down to it and your match is underway, you will realise that flurry of punches and chain grapples are all it takes to fill up your momentum bar and deplete your opponents` energy gauge, building towards your finisher, which is also on-screen prompted. In terms of environment action, there are a few neat features that vary upon the type of match you are playing. For instance, in the `Stone Cold vs the Rock` Relive match, you will need to put the Rock through the Spanish commentators` table and take the fight as far as the entrance ramp. Surely, this is a nice addition and its versatility might just tilt the scales in favour of the positives.

    Amongst other features, there is also a second career mode (Legend Killer Mode), in which you will have to take your own created superstar all the way to the top by defeating a series of legends tiers. In turn, wining matches and meeting criteria yield experience points expendable towards your superstar`s attributes - and provided all attributes are limited to four categories, it will not take you too long. What is more, a specific tier of this section is dedicated to superstars ported over from Smackdown vs Raw 2009, a feature that owners of both games and wrestler aficionados might well find appealing.

    In conclusion, I definitely recommend to give this game a go. The game also comes with a multiplayer function, which, structurally, is very similar to the Smackown vs Raw one, but is entirely different in terms of gameplay. However, if you feel you are more comfortable with the Smackdown vs Raw control system, you might well consider hiring this game before buying it.

  5.  The Brush-up That We Needed!


    This is just the game all God of War aficionados just cannot miss out on. A fan of the hack-and-slash, action-adventure genre, I have been into this series since its first PS2 release back in 2005, when the game really represented an innovation in a genre that had hitherto been mostly limited to two-dimensional platform video-gaming and to a much limited assortment of three-dimensional ones.

    In terms of graphics, the developing team from Santa Monica, California, has surely done a great job in porting the game over to the PS3, using anti-aliased graphics locked in at 60fps, and, therefore, adapting them to the demands of today`s gamers who are used to High-definition graphics . While the core games remain entirely untouched, and the animation, models are exactly the same as in their PS2 counterparts, the gameplay has been slightly improved. As I played both games on two different consoles, I have noticed that the gameplay here is a little smoother than it was on the older console system, probably because of the increased framerate which has significantly reduced the annoying screen-tearing. As a result, accompanying Kratos on his quest has never looked better! What is more, as it is now mandatory for all Playstation 3 releases, this collection comprises a trophy pack of 71 trophies between the two games, including a Platinum trophy for each game - an addition that will probably fulfil many gamers` wishes of seeing a version of their favourite game packed with trophies without having to wait for the third chapter of the game!

    Naturally, this game was released as prospective chance for old gamers to brush up on the first 2 chapters before plunging themselves into the third mythological adventure of the series, but also for gamers who are new to the series (and believe it or not, a few of my mates just happen to be new to it!).

    My personal recommendation to all fellow customers would be to get this game right away. However, the reason I have got this collection is that I no longer have the original PS2 core titles, so getting this re-mastered, high-definition version is my chance to add this gem to my collection. Also, notwithstanding the slightly improved gameplay and the high-definition rendition, PS2 owners who already have the original titles might well consider sticking with their original copies, as they won`t be finding any new addition in terms of story.

  6.  Fast and Reliable!


    Although using credit cards on the Play Station Network is generally safe and I have personally never heard of anyone complaining about fraud, using a redeemable PSN card might well put your mind to ease. And they also allow you to top up your PSN wallet account within a few seconds` time!

    Once you get your pre-paid card, all you need to do is scratch off the promotional code provided and enter the 12-digit number on your PSN wallet under the heading `Account information`, and the credit will be added to your wallet instantaneously.

    At the moment, the versions available are the 20-pound and the 50-pound one, either one equally fast and reliable. I personally chose the 20-pound version because of a few games updates I needed, whose price range is usually within 3.50. However, considering the availability of full-game downloads on the PSN network, users who are keen on downloading these such games might well consider the more expensive version. Provided that full games - in particular ones designed for the Playstation portable - may be priced at up to 15 pounds, getting a 20-pound version might not turn out to be a sound idea. Therefore, as my personal recommendation to fellow gamers who intend to buy game updates only ( or Playstation 1 content for that matter), I would definitely recommend this version; on the other hand, owners of the new Playstation Portable media device, which has no UMD slot at all and whose games can only download via PSN network, might be better off with the 50-pound version.

  7. SAW



    5 New from  £25.51  Free delivery

    Available  used  from  £9.21

     Do Not Write It Off as Yet Another Iffy Tie-in


    It is common knowledge that the majority of film tie-in video games have almost always resulted in major disappointments, with the exception of a select few that have made a difference. And this might just be the case of `Saw`. By merging the gritty and depraved elements of the eponymous horror film with the typical components of third-person action video games, the developing team at Konami have come up with this awesome little title that will have you spellbound all the way through the credits footage.

    In terms of the story, if you happen to be a fan of the series, this game might just be your chance to plunge yourself into Jigsaw`s deranged world. The fact that you have to accompany detective John Tapp ( the protagonist of the 2002 film played by Danny Glover) through his bloody odyssey and follow Jigsaw`s clue to the letter to survive will give you the impression of being part of yet another chapter of the series that can stand in its own right . In addition, the presence of two alternative endings makes it all the more appealing.

    In terms of gameplay, riddles and puzzles are spot on. As many a reviewer before me very correctly pointed out, one of the negative sides of the game is the ludicrous combat mode. Aside from a flurry of punches, most of your combat experience is reduced to disposing of a number of identical john does by either clobbering them to death or setting booby traps here and there, none of them presenting any real challenge anyway. However, while the game lacks a proper combat mode, it more than makes up in terms of riddles and puzzles. Although repetitive, most of these such puzzles are timed challenges, in true Jigsaw style, and will compel you to hurry up in order to survive and progress through the game. What is more, if we look at the game under this standpoint, we might just understand why the developing team at Konami did not bother with graphics all that much . . . and trust me when I say that graphics wise this game will make you feel as if you were playing a PS2 game rather than a current generation one. As for my own experience, it was the presence of these beat-the-clock challenges that made me get the hang of the game, making impossible for me to put it down till I was through with it.

    All in all, the game is definitely worth a try and it will not disappoint you. However, it took me exactly four days on and off to complete the game and clear all its trophies, and, seeing that there is no such thing as multiplayer you might want to consider renting it rather than buying it - unless, of course, you happen to be a fan of all things SAW.

  8.  It takes a will of `iron` to enjoy this game. . .


    It`s common knowledge that film tie-in video games have never quite been a bell ringer, as one of the reviewers before me very correctly pointed out. Either because they are rather expensive for game producers to develop or because these are pressurised by film studios to complete the games in time for the films` release, we gamers have never really succeed in getting our hands on film-based video games that could fully do justice to their big screen counterparts. And, as far as `Iron Man 2` is concerned, Tony Stark`s perked up propulsors , and repulsors alike, didn`t turn out to be as effective as we may have hoped. However, that is not to say that there aren`t a few good ideas here and there, which, if better developed upon, may have just salvaged the whole game. . .

    In terms of storyline, the good news is that the game isn`t just a rehash of the homonymous film. Picking up exactly where the events of the movie left off, the tale revolves around some corporate villains trying to steal Tony Stark`s A.I. butler, Jarvis, and using it to create Ultimo, a gargantuan robot capable of melding with human beings. To foil the villains` unholy plans, you will have to don one of Iron Man`s several suits of armour, or alternatively play as War Machine and wade your way through high security military facilities in Russia and Malaysia, fighting down platoons of airborne and terrestrial robot machines till the final confrontation with the brobdingnagian Ultimo.

    With all that said, a decent story just isn`t enough to render a game appealing. In my specific case, it took me exactly five hours to complete all eight chapters of the game, and after playing the first two chapters, I just couldn`t help becoming frustrated with the game mechanics and the gameplay in general. As I wailed through the first two missions, it dawned on me that the game did not present any serious challenge whatsoever, realising that all I had to do was finish off the same batch of enemies and proceed to the next spot indicated by the yellow marker on the map. As you blow up helicopters, aerial robots and minions alike, you will also notice that the allegedly innovative armour upgrades aren`t really worth their weight in exchange points. As you destroy tanks and kill off enemies, you will earn a number of points that you can then redeem in Tony Stark`s laboratory in order to update existing weapons and unlock new perks. In this respect, the remarkable part is that you can equip up to four different missiles/repulsors on Tony Stark`s armour suit or on War Machine`s, and yet the catch is that all four weapons, however different they are, will roughly cause the same amount of damage to your enemies. Because of that, it is rather pointless for you to tweak anything, unless you want to find your favourite combination of missiles and repulsors. Thus, the downside is that game mechanics are rather primordial and the game doesn`t present any serious challenge. You could simply float around and blast enemies throughout the game using the same combinations of weapons - or occasionally switch to combat mode - and dodge incoming bullets without bothering to update any of the existing weapons.

    Finally, the game does not have any multiplayer function ( as expected from many single player adventure video games) and the hit-and-go system of the game pretty much sums it all. The game might then appeal to trophies aficionados, such as myself, but, for the very reason mentioned above, even more dedicated gamers might find it hard to wail through the eight chapters of the game all over again. My only recommendation is to shun this game like pest, or, alternatively, hire it out to add a few more trophies to your collection.

  9.  An Excellent Springboard into the Ancient Greek World


    `A brief History of Ancient Greece` may well stand as the ultimate starting point for students of ancient history as well as for anyone interested in such area.

    Now in its second edition, the textbook encompasses pretty much all main periods of ancient Greece, ranging from the very first settlements in the Greek peninsula to the decline of the Hellenistic period after the campaign of Alexander the Greek. In this respect, the four eminent professors, who have combined their efforts to compile the book, offer a peculiar approach to the understanding of the Greek world including archaeological findings, social history, anthropology and even geographical data. Although the book is a shorter version of `History of Ancient Greece` by the same authors, all themes developed in the book are thoroughly analysed and properly backed up with archaeological evidence, and, at the same time, they are written in a such a concise and accessible way that just renders the book appealing even for those who are new to the Greek world - or to historical studies altogether.

    I personally bought this book because it was one of the set books recommended by an Open University undergraduate course I was studying. Nevertheless, given the ample scope of themes treated in the book, students attending similar courses might well want to have a look into this excellent volume to gain deeper knowledge of historical facts and events. However, notwithstanding the high level of details and richness of contents, I must point out that the volume in question is still a shorter version of the main work by the four authors, and, as a result of that, anyone interested in specific themes might be better off with the longer edition. For instance, in the first two chapters of the book, the authors analyse the 8th century period of ancient Greece that we have come to know as the Greek `Dark Age`, and in doing so they focus on the main institutions of the era, the primary ancient sources ( including Homer and Hesiod) and the key figures of the proto-kingdoms of Greece. Conversely, in later section of the book, the very attention to details given to primary sources is not the same as the one provided in the first chapters of the book. In particular, when studying the Peloponnesian War and the war against Persia, I could not help noticing that the same level of detail given to primary ancient sources did not quite match the one in previous chapters. A striking example of this is the rather scant section dedicated to Aeschylus` Persians, obviously regarded as one of the most influential and reliable ancient sources for the study of the socio-political background and the ethnical divisions in 5th century BC Athens. However, I beg the reader not to consider this personal remark as a critique to the book, for the volume is extremely accurate and reliable. The book must thus be appreciated in terms of the richness of details that a standard companion book might offer, and under such standpoint a `Brief History of Ancient Greece` may well have set the bar quite high for other shorter versions to reach.

  10.  Not quite the game you "wanted"


    Most of us will have become used to accepting the fact that film-based video games do not always live up to their big screen counterparts, and I am afraid that Wanted: Weapons of Fate is not much different in this respect. However, there are a few elements of the game that make it passable to most gamers` standards - including mine.

    In terms of the story, those who have watched the 2008 homonymous film will notice that the game picks up exactly where the movie left off. Although there are no explicit links between the two story lines, the game is closely based on Wesley`s origins as the youngster is in pursuit of the truth behind his mother`s death. In this respect, all chapters are organised in flashbacks where past and present intertwine, and you will play as both Wesley and his father, Cross, following an adventure that will take you from the windy American metropolis, Chicago, to rural, war-torn areas in Northern France.

    Where the story line might generally be interesting, the same may not be said about the game play. As the game is mostly a slick cover-to-cover shooter, you will soon realise that when you are playing as either Wesley and Cross, the motions are exactly the same throughout the game, alas including boss battles. As the game has a rather easy-to-use interface, you will easily slide from behind crates and hide behind walls avoiding enemy fire coming at you. Regrettably enough, such basic strategy remains unaltered all the way through the end, making you wish you could find other ways to interact with the game. Beyond this smudge, the game might warrant kudos for the cool bullet-curving feature, which is the element that truly connects the movie to its video game adaptation. For instance, while crouching behind a crate, the arc of your bullet will project on the screen, and you will be able to adjust the angle, allowing you to deliver lethal headshots or to smoke out enemies from their cover. A prop to this feature is that you just cannot curve bullets as you please. In order to do it, you first have to kill a fair amount of enemies to fill up the adrenaline gauge, which will deplete each time you deliver full-throttle curving bullets.

    A further point I would like to bring up is about the game modes. The game is structured into a story mode, sub-divided into three difficulty levels, with the hardest one (killer mode), which you will achieve upon completion of the intermediate (assassin mode). However, the game also allows you to complete the story mode in two different settings: headshot mode and close-combat mode. Make no mistake: you are not getting a different story here, you are basically going through the same chapters all over again, with the sole difference that in order to clear each level, you have to carry out a certain number of killings in either mode. The negative aspect to this is that you cannot just choose either option from the game menu; instead, you need to unlock them with certain game codes.

    On balance, the game is not utterly shoddy, and given its simplicity it might well appeal for its trophies. In terms of its lasting appeal, provided that there is no multiplayer feature, and the story mode is quite short, I would recommend to rent this game rather than buy it.