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Crown Kinect Camera TV Mount
3 New from
Does the job perfectly - fits my Samsung 5 series LED TV fine, nice and stable. Keeps the kinect sensor out of the reach of grabby toddler fingers and as a plus point having the camera mounted higher means kinect demands less play space. For less than 7 quid you can't really go wrong.
18 New from
Yeah, this really isn't that great a game. Yes, the facial technology is rather impressive, yes it looks nice....but the actual game? Its poorly designed, often incoherent, badly written, sometimes incredibly simple and often quite dull.
To start with - the cases - these are the meat of the game and to be frank they're really not that good. So many of them are often offensively obvious within the solution being clear within first couple of minutes of hitting the crime scene, but you have to trawl through a protracted back and forth to gather the evidence you need and to get all the suspects into the frame and go down all the idiotic red herrings until you can finally, painfully arrive at the outcome you knew was coming all along.
Some of these cases are designed for simpletons (and presumably by simpletons) with zero intrigue and zero mystery with the steps you take to solve the crime following entirely predictable and often utterly daft plot points, all helped along by ridiculously convenient clues and astoundingly good recall from the odd witness. So many of the criminals you chase seem to be actively doing their best to help you out - they leave rare one of a kind guns next to the body, they leave piles of bloodied clothes in their houses, they leave bloodied murder weapons in the nearest bin to the crime scene. A gunshop owner can recite name, address and hours of work for a suspect after being verbally given a gun serial number. Not realistic in any way.
And the interviews! Aside from the facial tech, they're really not that engaging. As above half the time you already know who the bad guy is, but you have to sit down and go through every point of evidence you've drummed up which shows up a fairly glaring issue - namely the facial tech is clever, but not clever enough to be subtle, so characters either stare directly at you to tell the truth or to lie, they start twitching like they're touching a socket with their eyes rolling wildly round the room, all stuttering and unsure. A light might as well come on saying LIE in big neon letters. Which makes things all the more galling when someone is clearly telling the truth but the game claims they're lying - essentially it turns large swathes of the interviewing into a guessing game which, frankly is poor form.
The actual evidence gathering is surprisingly unfun. Simply wander about the crime scene or the suspects house rubbing up against the scenery until the pad rumbles. Collect whatever it is you're able to pick up. Sometimes its something of use sometimes not. Sometimes evidence doesn't correlate correctly to the questions you have to ask in the interview, sometimes you're stuck getting an interview wrong until you find a specific piece of evidence or go to a specific place, which may or may not be accessible yet. Essentially its poorly designed and poorly laid out.
The writing falls fairly flat too. WIthin these dull and lifeless cases, dull and lifeless stereotypes witter idiotic and dull things. Phelps is a deeply unlikeable character who is prone to throwing out all manner of odd reactions to certain things. Suggest doubt with something a suspect says, sometimes you get a normal response, sometimes he goes BESERK and starts shouting in their face. Its inconsistennt and unbelievable.
The city of LA - I'm sure its beautifully recreated, but its utterly dull. Its not even slightly Noire. Driving is bland and pointless, random chases and events are as repetitive as they were in Red Dead - theres no reason to explore the city as you bounce from cut scene to cut scene.
Its a real disappointment and really should have been so much more than this. Worth buying if you're a simpleton or just love dull.
16 New from
Yeah, definately not a good game. A shame really as I'd been following this with some interest, but its a real letdown.
Ok, Single Player first - far too short, clocking in at just under 5 hours which, frankly is pathetic. I finished it the day after I bought it, without trying particularly hard. Graphically it ranges from not bad to fairly dated - character models are blocky, environments are clunky and static with some poor effects. If you're looking for a decent slice of destroyed American heartland to play through then prepare to be disappointed - aside from the odd reference to Hooters and a slightly shonky Golden Gate Bridge, this could be 'Anywhere, America' with bad texturing and a low level of detailing in the environment.
The story, whilst ridiculously implausible is still vaguely entertaining, but fairly ham fisted in the telling. Characters spout all manner of rubbish over and over again, cut scenes are dull and the whole thing never quite gels.
Actual gameplay isn't too bad, the shooting is passable with some hilariously overpowered grenades which fling the enemy across the map accompanied by that stock comedy audio snippet 'Man screaming' - you know the one, its in all the cartoons. Enemies aren't terribly clever however, happy enough to stand still and pop in and out of cover until you press forward and deal with them. Theres fun to be had, but its all crushingly mediocre.
Multiplayer then - Oh dear. If you've played Battefield BC2 online at any point then don't bother with Homefront. To start with, its actually fairly broken - often getting into a game is impossible, with lobbies that don't work, servers that keep booting you off and a party system that refuses to play ball. 32 players in one map, sounds great, but the balancing system when you do finally get in for a game is also broken - I've played numerous maps now where one side has 28 players, the other has 4. Tough match that one. If you are actually able to join as a party, you'll often find youself on the wrong team to your friends which frustrates. There doesn't appear to be any way to squad up with your friends and most maps end up as a pure run n gun spam fest, regardless of the objectives. Battle points isn't a bad idea, but its unevenly set up. Theres always one person who grabs a lot immediately and then sits up in the sky in their apache spamming the life out of the map and dominating the entire game, to the detriment of the overall experience. Its nigh on impossible to drop a chopper unless its a fluke, so again - poor balancing.
Visually, MP is a step down from the dismal SP so maps look hideously chunky and dated - and horribly static too, I'm used to the organic tactics of BFBC2, where you can blow cover away and destroy buildings so it feels terribly restrictive here to not be able to. Weapons are also unbalanced, with absolutely no skill required to use a sniper rifle - you don't even have to allow for gravity, just point and shoot. Meaning every man and his dog chooses to be a sniper and many games degenerate into an arduous slog.
So a deeply average game in so many ways, btoh SP and MP pretty much redundant in this day and age when compared to the competition.
Kinect Including Kinect: Adventures!
8 New from
You've seen the adverts, all those shiny happy people playing in living rooms the size of an aircraft hanger? Tricksy Microsoft eh, forgetting about us in the UK with our titchy houses.
The manual claims 6ft minimum which I know a few people will have trouble finding, but you really need a minimum of at least 8-10ft in front of the TV and a good few feet either side to allow for a decent play space where you can move about without crashing into things. If you want 2 people playing then the wider the better and clearly the further away from the TV you can get, the better. Too close and you'll get errors and people stepping outside the play area and things just won't go well.
So I've had to slightly reshuffle the living room around, I've had to move a small sofa and set the Kinect sensor up so that the TV can be angled differently when we want to play Kinect - don't forget that it needs to be set up, calibrated and then left in its position - every time you move the sensor it needs to redo its set up to confirm the correct play space. A mild pain in the bum, but with a little tweaking its been possible to get a decent play space in a 1930's terraced living room, suitable to 2 people to play.
Set up is nice and friendly with a range of update and fine tune options beyond the basic play area set up.
So, assuming you can find the space, this is a seriously good fun bit of kit. Its also, frankly, a rather spookyily cool bit of technology, scanning your body and mvoements and allowing for all manner of swish gesture based motion control. Its also a little bit weird controlling stuff on the TV with nothing in your hands. Voice controls also feature and although you might feel and sound a bit of a spoon shouting XBOX! DASHBOARD! its undeniably entertaining. It can also be set up to recognise individual players, so if I'm playing a game and my wife wanders in, she gets scanned and recognised and then her avatar joins the game. So clever stuff then.
Kinect adventures is your bundled party games pack and to be fair its a good introduction to control less motion control. The games are fun, suitably daft and surprisingly energetic, even for a toned adonis such as myself...add in two people and its gets even more hectic, all flapping limbs and shrieking, but the sensor copes admirably with translating these terrifying movements into the game. It takes photos too at random moments (Dance central takes hilarious sped up[ prodigy video style videos - awesome)
Flaws, well aside from the space considerations which should put a lot of people off, there hasn't really been any. Now that my play area is set and I've updated my Kinect ID for different lighting conditions I'm recognised whenever I step in front of the sensor and it all goes nicely from there. The only thing I can see being an issue is that naturally the novelty will wear off and I can't really see what kind of games other than party game shovelware (as seen infesting the Wii) Kinect could actually do. We'll see though, so 5 stars on the fun and cleverness factors alone.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops
7 New from
Again, another title garnering huge praise in the professional review press, presumably based entirely on its name and pedigree becasue the actual game is utterly average. I mean its fun and if all you want from your shooters is a continuous barrage of noise and exploding then you're well catered for here. If you want something with a story that compells and environments that feel coherent and exciting then stick with MW1 & 2.
Visually its all a bit shiny and plastic. Not awful, but really not that subtle - whacking a shine on everything just makes it all look a bit fake and a ot of the levels suffer from poor texturing and bad design. Treyarch in typical fashion have decided that we all love our mounted turret sections, so you get to do a great many bits where you stand or ride on a mounted gun of some description and blast away for a few minutes, brain off at whatever moves in front of you. The helicopter sections, boat sections etc are entirely lightweight and utterly dumb. Not to mention dull.
The actual shooting is ok, no worse than any other game of its ilk, but we're stepping back in time to earlier CoD games littered with invisible lines to pass over before the enemy stops respawning endlessly and you can move on. The MW games ought to feel fresh and relevant, but Black Ops just doesn't, it feels likea mish mash of every CoD/MoH game you've played in the last 5 years.
Essentially, been here before, done that many times. Every so often things perk up, a creepy walk into a frozen german ship in WW2 is a shortlived highlight, but before you know its, its back to constant bang bang bang bang shoot shoot shoot shoot, brain off, jump on that truck there, ping rockets about and blow up everything that moves. And the story is a bit of a time jumping crazy joke of bad exposition, poor plotting and obscure chronology.
And don't get me started on the multiplayer. I've been spoiled for the last 9 months by Battlefield BC 2, so stepping into Black Ops multiplayer is just horrid. Not only do the graphics take a nosedive (how bad does that american town level look!), ther servers are all over the place and theres just no subtlety to it. maps are dull and limited and frankly I'm tired of dying then respawing just in front of the guy who killed me, repeat until you've had enough.
Must try harder for the next installment quite frankly. Theres enough here to entertain in small doses, but I expect more than that from such a big franchise.
Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit (2010)
4 New from
I don't understand - everywhere this game is getting good reviews, everywhere reviewers professional and alike are wittering on about the 'bone crunching' crashing. But its not, clearly - play Burnout Paradise which is what, 2 years old now, and see what crashing should really be like and then compare it to this dismal effort. Even odder is the fact that this version of NFS is from Criterion, the very people who 2 years ago brought you the spectacularly good Burnout Paradise.
So why is the crashing so poor in Hot Pursuit? And it really is, its entirely inconsistent for a start - sometimes head on collisions result in your smashing the other car out of the way, other times you'll find yourself grinding to a halt. Cars don't deform particularly - certainly the odd bumper hangs off and they scratch up but if I hit a truck head on and roll down the road then I want the entire car to fold up - it did in Burnout, why not here? Even the takedowns from Burnout make it across in some fashion here, but they're also nowhere near as good as those seen in Burnout.
Poor crashing conspires to suck any sense of consequence from the racing, its like bumping toy cars into each other. Pile into oncoming traffic at speed and for the most part you'll just scrape to halt in a shower of sparks and dust. And the racing itself really isn't that compelling - certainly it looks phenomenally good and the wide array of supercars cars are all present and correct, but they all feel heavy and surprisingly sluggish, which combined with the moronic and personality-less AI racers leads to some realy quite dull point to point racing, even with the supposed 'spice' of civilian cars in the mix. Civilian traffic is nowhere near dense enough, so hardly any white knuckle edge of the seat weaving in and out of traffic here, just long straights trying to fill your boost bar followed by some drifting, repeat ad infinitum. A fair few events are basically just time trials too, and often ones that make no sense either. If you're going to have a narrative to drive things forward, at least try and make it coherent - so here I am, notorious speeder, scourge of Seacrest County, famed for 'totalling' (as much as thats possible herer anyway) not only my own car but whatever gets in my way - why here come Pagani, they'd like me to road test their new Zonda in a time trial scenario. Sensible and of course entirely logical and not at all a stupid way to give me another car.
Its all mildly entertaining, but ultimately it all feels to shallow, too quasi arcade, to average to really get the blood pumping with tracks hemmed in by rickety wire fences but that let you bump off the sides, crashing that feels utterly lightweight, handling that leans towards big stupid drifts even though many of these cars are tight, chuckable racing cars
One day someone will make a decent successor to the 1996 original and then I'll be happy. Until then, this isn't it. Play Burnout Paradise, in every way its a better game.
Saw II: Flesh & Blood
14 New from
Oh dear. Whilst the first Saw game was broken, cheaply made, rough around every single edge and hamstrung by poor design and bad implementation, it did manage to convey the grim atmosphere of the films and captured at least an element of the sweaty palmed tension that the films do so well.
So you'd think the sequel could at least build on that and improve with no real effort? Wrong. First up, one of the most baffling design decisions I've come across. In the first Saw you could pick up various items of weaponry and use them to stove in heads of the crazy victims out to kill you in Jigsaws twisted game - in Saw 2? Well this has been reduced to the most basic QTE button pressing dullness. You can't switch between weapons, you can't choose your tactics, you can't dodge or decide when to swing your axe - no, what you can do when an enemy shambles into view is press X to initiate the fight cutscene and then press A, B, X or Y when prompted to hit them in an entirely prescribed manner. Its pathetic. The combat in the first game was broken and rubbish, but it was better than this.
So as combat has been completely ruined we're left with the puzzles and atmosphere to carry things through. And again, its mostly a bit of a mis step. Puzzles follow the same formula as the first game, in many cases identical to Saw 1. Switch puzzles, gear puzzles, rack pulling puzzles. The new lock picking 'mini game' is an oft repeated chore and completely bizarre. And as the combat is essentially reduced to a mini game, theres little to do other than stalk the grubby environments pressing buttons when prompted and dying and reloading when the game unfairly kills you off.
And die you will, many times. Insta kill events lurk around every corner and if you're not swift enough with your button presses you'll find yourself staring at the unacceptably lengthy loading screen more often than you can stand. And upon reload you'll get to enjoy first hand the dismal checkpointing which resurrects you way back from where you were, back behind multiple locked doors or rotated switches, requiring you to trawl through all over again and more often than not die again at the same place. Rinse and repeat.
Collectables can be found throughout, the problem is once collected, they don't stay collected. Trawl through some optional puzzles or areas to get a Billy doll or a bit of jigsaw and should you die before checkpointing you'll have to do it all again if you want to keep on the path to your achievements.
Technically as with the first game its all fairly basic and broken. Again the torch theoreticaly casts real time shadows, always a lovely effect in any game - except when its inconsitently applied. This box casts a shadow, that one doesn't. This entire room is devoid of shadowing, this one has it all. Its poor and lazy.
Ultimately the atmosphere is again quite nicely portrayed if you like grim drippy warehouses and derelict hotels. Furniture and environments do suffer from repeated use, but its not a bad effort 0 but again, barely a step up from Saw 1.
A real shame as theres the ghost of a good game here, but whoever designed and playtested this needs a good kicking and development duties need handing over to a competant developer.
9 New from
Lets be entirely honest, this isn't a brand new game - this is Halo3 with some different levels. Graphically almost identical to Halo 3, ie a little flat and dull. Still the same flat shiny textures, no dynamic lighting etc. Some physics objects this time, but ultimately a little sad for a 2010 game to look this bland. Gameplay the same, story similar. Its DLC disguised as a premier release which is a shame.
AI is as good as it ever was, so the actual gunplay still squeezes some of the old Halo magic out, but you'll never entirely shake the feeling that you've done all this many times before in previous Halo games.
Its better than ODST, but thats not hard. As my wife said during one firefight, "And how is this different to Halo 3?". I had to concede that it really wasn't in any way.
Family Guy: Season 8 (3 Discs)
27 New from
Ok so its Family guy, so its a given that there are some real laugh out loud moments here - however I wouldn't say its the best series thus far, the jokes are occasionally few and far between in episodes and the writing just isn't as good as it has been or previous series. There seems to be a little too much reliance on the punchline being a swearword - certainly the amount of profanity has increased noticeably. Not really an issue, but occasionally it feels like a lazy punchline.
Generally its business as usual, with the random factor increased yet again. Some of the gags are borderline offensive, but thats family guy. Worth a go anyway.
8 New from
Whatever you do, don't buy this expecting Fallout 3 with better shooting. Its a shame to say that Borderlands is simply far too basic in both RPG terms and Shooter terms to satisfy either craving particularly well and thus the whole games never quite feels comprehensive.
If you're approaching this expecting a decent RPG then prepare to be disappointed. Choosing from a base of only 4 characters with almost zero options to customise (although you can change the colour of you're uniform - essentially pointless in a FPS where you rarely see your character) you're plonked into a world thats entirely static and unpopulated. You can't enter buildings, you can't search random crates or storage points (everything to be found is either dropped and highlighted or in highlighted special boxes), you can't search the bodies of bandits or creatures, you can't combine items or make items, you can't find interesting clothing, food, random things - pretty much everything that you might expect to find in an RPG is absent. In fact you won't be able to find anything that isn't a gun, ammunition, weaponry modifiers or money and having played for around 8 hours now I've only interacted with a meagre 3 people. The towns are empty, the shop is empty, all buying and selling is done via machines dotted about and the result is a world that feels oddly empty and devoid of life. The few NPC's you do encounter are sat immobile in one location, never moving, purely there to give you the quests. And sadly pretty much every single quest is a 'kill this fetch that' affair with little or no imagination. In fact the bulk of the early hours involve traipsing back and forth through the same locations killing the same enemies - the ubiquitious Skags that infest every single location and come in every flavour from easy to kill to stupidly hard to kill.
It can't really be understated how empty and dull the world is. You have a goal to reach and thats it, theres no side tracking, no exciting discoveries, no collecting anything thats not directly related to your quest. The landscape is devoid of places of interest, consisting mostly of rusty outposts full of bandits and skag holes in every cliff face. The land is also not continuous, being divided up into areas with a loading screen inbetween. Each area is fairly small, meaning most quests can be reached within a minutes walk from the empty local town. Theres simply no sense of scale or grandeur, no sense of setting out on a perilous mission.
So really the only possible link to an RPG is that you level up as you go, which allows the spending of a skill point to be assigned to a slot of your choice - upgrade shield, improve melee, etc etc. Hardly comprehensive for an RPG.
So. Lets discount the RPG aspect and look at Borderlands as a shooter. And whilst it does have the capacity to be entertaining, generally its far too basic to succeed purely on those terms either. Combat is utterly simplistic - enemy AI is non existent, so most foes run straight at you every time. You'l spend a lot of time running backwards shooting or circle strafing, banging away until the enemy, usually some manner of Skag, falls over. Its terribly unsubtle, and frankly repetitive. For a shooter, as before, the world is far too static. Cover is limited and non dynamic, theres no physics objects to chuck about - every fight requires pretty much zero consideration to how you interact with the environment. In some cases its easier to stand there, take the hits and simply pump shotgun rounds into the bad guys.
Its all completely lifeless stuff for an RPG and cripplingly repetitive, lacking character and intrigue. Collecting loot is fun, but not really enough.