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Mass Effect 3 (Kinect Compatible)
7 New from
Very dramatic, tense and pretty high production values throughout, and very slick in its gameplay mechanisms. But the story kinda takes a back seat (minimal intro from ME2 to ME3, and no references to the ending of that game) although there are many good missions. A highly enjoyable game, and then there is the ending...The ending is a classic case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, it is genuinely and objectively bad. The last 15 minutes reveal new characters, do several 180-degree plot spins changing the context of major story elements, and could easily be characterised as deus ex machina. It is badly conceived, generates plot holes large enough to fly a spaceship through, is inconsistent with the setting and narrative, is unremittingly grim and provides no closure to the story. Sadly it actually succeeds in tarnishing both the product and the legacy of the franchise at what should have been the moment of closing triumph of a great trilogy.Overall, if you're not a fan of the series, there is a slick shooter here which you may enjoy. If on the other hand you are a real Mass Effect fan you may be better off not playing the final mission and making up your own ending, or reading one of the many fan-written ones.
The Hurt Locker
18 New from
Actually, this only looks like a war movie. But in fact, it is really about adrenaline addiction. Many war movies look at the dehumanising aspects of war - Apocalypse Now - while others look at shock and human soldiers under pressure - Saving Private Ryan - but this one is about what draws you back into war even after you've left and gone home. A worthy addition to the pantheon, but whether it's worth mentioning in the same breath with the greats is uncertain - time will tell.
The Corporation (2 Discs)
17 New from
This rates alongside the best documentaries of the decade. It points firmly at all the distortions that the corporation and it's built-in profit motive inflicts on society, and despite flying off the handle in one or two places it largely maintains a detached air of reason. Highly recommended.
17 New from
This fels a little like a cross between War of the Worlds and an indie romance set in Mexico with a bit of Cloverfield mixed in. It blends elements of monster-movie, slow-paced indie romance, and the hyper-real fake-documentary style into something that should be a cracking film, but a lack of pacing in the romance segments let's it down - with better acting and slightly better gags this could have been another Moon, a film that rises far above it's humble beginnings. Instead it's a creditable effort only, best viewed after a few pints.
World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm (PC & Mac) (Expansion Pack)
22 New from
Cataclysm has refreshed World of Warcraft, by adding a ton of visual gloss, bringing phasing to the levelling, and generally modernising and streamlining the game. Simplifying the talents was a good move, and some of the new race-class combinations broaden the appeal.
But how much you get out of it depends on where you are on the "mmo player curve" - you start out as newbe, then go through enthusiast, hardcore raiding and social phases - and for me, as a post-social player thinking to make a comeback, it wasn't that successful, it kept my attention for about a month. In the end, it was the failure to innovate on the social interaction front that made me give it up again, at heart it's still a chat-room with a light-and-fluffy team game bolted on with the same kinds of quests, professions and economy.
That said, I had fun during my month, and I'd recommend it for social players and alt-o-holics especially. The guild achievements and better levelling experience add a lot for those players, the new starting zones are very slick and story-full, and enthusiasts and hardcore players will find the usual assortment of new pvp/dungeon and raid content. Overall an excellent addition to the game.
Cowboy Bebop Remix: Complete Collection (6 Discs)
Great series - one for lovers of jazz and sci-fi alike, this really captures the feel of jazz in the form of an anime series. Each episode (about 25 minutes each) is like a vignette with a blues/jazz/sci-fi theme, with the first few episodes building up the cast, and the series really hits its stride around episode 8. The first episodes have aged a little, but the rest holds up remarkably well, and it quickly develops into a rollicking set with surprising subtlety as themes carry over from episode to episode.
There's so much about this series which is perfect - the right characters which fit into a perfect ensemble, the right music, good voice acting, the right mix of action and relationship, the 'special' episodes dropped into the flow which focus more on suspense or a particular theme like romance, the right level of maturity in the writing, the main-story two-parters, the right level of violence (not too much) - that it's churlish to pick on the places where the pacing is not as tight as it could be.
It sits with pride in my (very small) anime collection alongside Ghost in the Shell, Akira, everything by Hayao Miyazaki, and of course the Bebop movie (also highly recommended).
2 New from
This plays like a cross between an adventure game and a shooter, with the focus on the moody, atmospheric story. It's like a Stephen King movie in the shape of a game, so there are plenty of tense moments and sharp shocks as enemies suddenly reveal themselves nearby. There are not many story choices - unlike say Mass Effect 2, where you can shape the story a little- but the voice acting is great and it's a wonderful frame for the action. I loved the premonition elements as you find pages of the novel which tell you a bit more about what's going to happen.
The game elements are nicely judged, the mechanic of "light = safe, dark = bad" fits the story well, and the auto-save works nicely, you don't often get put back more than a few minutes if you die.
Excellent game, well worth playing and a bit different as an experience compared to Halo / MW2 / etc.
Samsung BD-C5300 Blu-ray Player
Tried one of these in the shops with a 40" Sharp Quattron TV, with a Hero dvd which plays great on my upscaling HD Recorder at home, but on this upscaling was disastrously bad. Blocky, some color bleeding. Would strongly recommend you have a look for yourself before you buy one of these.
Xbox 360 Elite Console Bundle with 120GB HDD + Halo ODST + Forza Motorsport 3 + Gears of War 2 + Fable II
That's an awesome set of games with the console... two top-quality shooters, probably the best RPG on the console and a great racing game, I don't think I've ever seen that many quality titles bundled with a console. Great value for money if you ever thought of getting a 360.
The Lies of Locke Lamora
15 New from
If Charles Dickens and Fritz Leiber were to collaborate on a book across the centuries, this is what they might produce. The prose is excellent, the city of Camorr fabulously well drawn, and it has a crisp modernity while evoking a beautiful, fabled past riddled with noble gentry, trading houses, crumbling temples, sneak thieves and Gentlemen Bastards. It had me thoroughly engrossed, pulling me away from other entertainment and work alike ;) Highly recommended.