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giantrobot42

giantrobot42
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Member since: 05.10.2012

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      22.10.2012 14:19

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      Not quite the definitve edition but worth owning

      I won't go into details about the film itself as I'm sure most fans of this will have seen it many times already, so I'm going to review the disk itself.

      This title has been available on import for a while in Blu-Ray format but wasn't an especially good release. Fortunately, this UK title has been given a proper HD upgrade and looks better than it ever has. It was given a full remaster and it looks like a lot of dust and scratches have been removed. There is still a level of grain which reflects the look of the film when it first came out and the effects look pretty much as they always have. I will say that the final appearance of the endoskeleton is very impressive, the chrome really stands out. For it's time, the stop-motion is very well done but by today's standards, it's showing it's age a little bit. Overall, this is the best looking version of the film you can get for now.

      The soundtrack is still the same 5.1 remaster produced for the collectors edition of the DVD. I'd have liked the choice of the original mono but it's not available here. This is a shame as the newer soundtrack is a bit quieter than I would have liked, also the gunshots have been changed for different sounds which is a bit distracting if you've seen the film a few times as they don't really fit. However, the overall score works well with a surround sound setup and again, is the best around at the moment.

      As for the extras, there's not a huge amount provided. The deleted scenes are probably of most interest as if these had been included, there probably wouldn't have been much scope for a Terminator 2. There's also a couple of featurettes (both in HD) which look at the special effects and a retrospective look back at the film with some interviews with cast and crew. These only run for around 30 mins altogether. It's not the definitive special edition that fans would like to see, there's no commentary from either Arnold or James Cameron and I'd like to have had the choice of the original soundtrack.

      In summary, if you're a fan of the film and have an HD setup, then you should get this. It's not much more than a tenner on most sites which makes it a bargain.

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      22.10.2012 11:19

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      One for fans but keep an eye on the price

      I'd been eagerly awating this release as a long-time Doom fan. It's been a long time since 1993 and the first instalment of this ground-breaking first person shooter, now it's been given a makeover for it's release on the Xbox 360.

      I played Doom 3 before on the original Xbox and PC and the game itself hasn't changed a great deal. The graphics are noticeable sharper and the controls are easier to use. One of the bugbears from the original game was the lack of ability to use a flashlight and a weapon at the same time. That's been fixed with this version so you can flick on the light using LT whilst blasting away with RT. The flashlight does slowly run down so you need to keep an eye on it so that it doesn't go out suddenly while you're in the middle of a firefight.

      The game includes all the content from the 'Resurrection of Evil' add-on pack plus more new levels called the 'Lost Mission'. And for true retroheads like me, you also get the original Doom and Doom 2. There's also co-op and multiplayer options but I haven't tried these yet.

      Recommended for fans of the original, however I suspect the price will come down fairly quickly on this so you might want to hang on for a couple of months.

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    • Arden Grange Dog Food Range / Dog Food / 9 Readings / 9 Ratings
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      17.10.2012 14:57
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      I wouldn't buy anything else for our dogs!

      We have three boxer dogs and for years have been feeding them a succession of the mainstream tinned foods. But every so often one or more of them would go off their food and we'd have to try something else. After one of the dogs had to have surgery for cancer, we decided we would find a more healthy dog food which would hopefully help with his recovery. We opted for Arden Grange after trying Burns and Naturediet (yes, they turned their noses up at those!). It comes in three flavours, Chicken and Vegetables, Lamb and Vegetables and Tripe and Vegetables. Not only are all three eating the meat every time, it seems to have improved their health and appearance. All of them have shinier coats and even though the oldest is 11, despite his surgery he is running around like a puppy again. They also look a lot sleeker too, they haven't lost weight but they've changed shape!

      One thing that I always notice from this food is the smell, it doesn't have the horrible odour of some tinned meat and instead just has a normal, meaty scent. It always gets the dogs straight in the kitchen when the tins are opened.

      We haven't tried mixing in the Arden Grange dry food yet as we are using James Wellbeloved and they seem to like that. For us, the best indication of a dog food is if they're happy to eat it and look like they're benefitting from it. That's true for this food and I don't think we'd ever touch anything from the main ranges again. Also, it doesn't cost the earth. It is about £6 for six tins but you can get them cheaper if bought in quantity. And it's worth it to keep our boys and girls in the best of health.

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      17.10.2012 11:28

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      A worthy investment

      I came relatively late to the world of Xbox 360, courtesy of a freebie from a mobile phone contract upgrade. After initially playing a few games and discovering the fun to be had from online gaming, it soon became clear that the 4Gb of memory supplied with the unit wasn't going to be enough.

      The hard drive upgrade is the obvious solution to storage issues. It was especially easy to install, there is a slot underneath the Xbox which is custom made for it. You just slot the unit in and off you go. It is a bit expensive when compared to the freestanding hard drives you can get for PC's but I paid around £40 for mine which seems reasonable.

      The advantages are clear straight away. Firstly, it makes it a lot easier to download and store demos. Also, any in-game storage requirements are well catered for. I've bought a couple of the add-ons for Modern Warfare 3 and some Guitar Hero packs and still have plenty of room left. I don't imagine even the most hardened player is going to run out of room for save games either.

      I didn't realise initially that a game can be stored on the hard drive to speed up access. This has proved useful for me in a couple of cases. I have a game called Rage which supports high definition graphics but only if you install the game to your hard drive. It's nice to be able to do this and the game looks great because of it. Also, I have a couple of second-hand titles which have disks that are a bit scratched. Frequently, these would struggle to load but once they were installed on the hard drive, I could run them every time ( you still need the original disk but it clearly doesn't need to read much of it any more).

      I haven't downloaded any music or films yet but I can see that I've got plenty of room if I decide to. So I think this is a no-brainer for anyone with a 4Gb Xbox 360.

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    • Mmxii - Killing Joke / Music Album / 1 Reading / 0 Ratings
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      17.10.2012 11:13

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      An above-average release

      I'm a long time fan of Killing Joke and whilst I'm pleased that they're still chugging away after more than 30 years (on and off), I'm afraid MMXII isn't one of their strongest works. After 2010's astounding Absolute Dissent which featured a reunion of the original line-up for the first time since 1982, hopes were high that KJ would produce something special in 2012.

      Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad album. But it's not great. For the first time, to my ears anyway, some of the tracks are blatantly using riffs from older songs. KJ have a style all their own but every album up to now has had a distinct identity. On MMXII, we have the stonking Pole Shift as an opener which crunches between slow chords and a speeding chorus for nearly 9 minutes. But the chorus sounds like it was lifted from Blood on Your Hands. Corporate Elect is one of the better tracks but again the central riff is taken directly from the opening to Money is Not Our God. Glitch is a mishmash of Intravenous and Majestic and Trance is pretty much Pssyche part 2. The only standout song is In Cythera which stands head and shoulders above the rest and was a worthy single release.

      This is a good stepping-on point for new fans though and whilst it was a bit of a disappointment for me, I suspect a lot of long-time supporters will love it. With news of two new albums to come in 2013, I'm hopeful of a step up from MMXII provided we all survive the apocalypse of course :-)

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      08.10.2012 13:30
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      Good choice initially but you realise the shortcomings when you live in the area

      The places to go shopping in Weston-super-Mare can be divided into three areas, the High Street, the back streets and retail parks.

      The High Street is a pedestrianised area with around 40 shops, these being mainly typical big name stores with a selection of cafes mixed in. The biggest store is Marks and Spencer with BHS not far behind. As usual, there's an awful lot of mobile phone shops and the ubiquitous Poundland (occupying a former Woolworths). There's a bank at either end as well as in the middle so you don't have far to go for a cashpoint. Other well-known stores include The Works, Brighthouse, GAME, Boots, Milletts and WH Smiths. In the past there have been more than this but with the recession biting, a few big names have disappeared. Adjacent to the High Street, there's an indoor shopping precinct called the Sovereign Centre. In here, there's a few more named stores, H Samuels, Body Shop, Savers, Waterstones, Wilkinsons and an Animal store plus others. There's also a discount CD/DVD shop where HMV used to be. There is a multi-storey car park backing onto the centre which is probably the most expensive place to park in Weston (other than the sea-front in the summer). Food choices are either a deli at one end or Burger King at the other.

      Occasionally there are craft fairs and events at the Wintergardens which is a building facing the seafront that can be accessed through the end of the centre nearest to Burger King. It's worth checking out as these are rarely advertised well.

      At the Pier end of the high street, there's a MacDonalds, New Look and Superdrug plus a few smaller shops trailing towards Dolphin Square. Heading away from the Pier, there's a Post Office and eventually the Odeon cinema which looks terrible from the outside but is actually quite good within, having been upgraded with decent seats and digital sound. The opposite end of the High street leads to the Boulevard which is mainly estate agents and restaurants although there's a great little hardware shop that sells all sorts plus some gift shops along here which are worth checking out.

      In summary, the High Street has lost a lot of shops over the last few years and is lacking in variety, especially if you're clothes shopping. A new development is being created in Dolphin Square but as yet, no retailers have committed to it although there are plenty of chain restaurants ready to move in. Parking anywhere nearby works out at around £1 an hour, although the seafront during summer months (designated as 1st March to end October) will cost you £7 if you go over 4 hours so I would avoid this if you can.

      At the end of the High Street, towards the Grand Pier, turning left past the large 'spring onion' monument, there's a number of smaller retailers hidden away. Down this road there's a Holland and Barrett which signifies the last of the chain stores. Beyond here there's a comic and film memorabilia shop, a craft shop, a place selling camping and hiking gear, somewhere for tattoos, a psychic bookshop, a pet supplies shop, a model shop and a few other quirky gift type places. It's worth a stroll down here as I don't think all visitors to Weston will realise what's on offer. And you're supporting local businesses too.

      Lastly, the retail parks. As you come off the motorway at J21, the first area you would pass is on the right and contains a Morrisons, Matalan and Boots. There's also a Subway, Costa Coffee and Dominos with a Sue Ryder charity shop tucked away at the end.

      Further down the A370, is the Aisecombe Way retail park. Here there's an enormous B&Q, Aldi, Carpetright, Comet and a Sports Direct. Also, recently opened is a Costa Coffee and a Frankie and Bennys. There's plenty of parking here but it does get busy at weekends.

      Beyond here, the A370 meets a big roundabout and this is the last retail park area. Based around the Winterstoke road one-way system, there's a large number of retailers. In the centre is The Range, Dunhelm Mill, Home Bargains, Wickes and a British Heart Foundation furniture charity shop. Across the road are PC World, Currys, Staples, Pets at Home and some carpet and tile places. Pretty much all the big retailers you might expect and a Gala Bingo if you really have to indulge. On the other side of the retail park is Asda, there's a Next tucked in next door and a Mothercare around the back. For munchies, there's a Pizza Hut and drive through McDonalds nearby and a drive through KFC next to PC World.

      If you live in Weston, there's a good selection for most things but I find that clothes shopping is a bit restrictive and it's better to head up the motorway to Cribbs Causeway. This also has the benefit of offering free parking, something that's set to become a thing of the past in Weston when the council introduces on-street charging later this year.

      If you're down here on a day out and like to browse the shops, then there's plenty of choice. For residents, the shortcomings become clear after a while and you have to travel further afield for a better choice. Cribbs Causeway is the obvious destination with Clarkes Village also worth a visit. If you have the time and your legs can stand it, Bristol's Broadmead shopping area should fulfill all your needs.

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        08.10.2012 11:26
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        Best version of the film available

        In 1990, Schwarzenegger blasted onto movie screens with 'Total Recall', a violent, action sci-fi chase from Earth to Mars with a stellar cast. This is regarded as one of the Austrian Oak's best films, the pairing with Paul Verhoeven (of Starship Troopers and Robocop fame) providing the perfect match of blood 'n' bullet showdowns, and over the top visuals.

        So what is this latest Blu-Ray like? Previous release have been little more than transfers straight from the DVD and haven't taken advantage of the benefits of HD. Fortunately, this release takes care of that. The transfer has been personally overseen by the director and looks 100% better. Whilst this isn't the shiny perfect picture you might expect from a modern blockbuster (or something DNR'd to death), it looks as good as it did back on the silver screen. Similarly the soundtrack has been given a DTS-HD makeover and it sounds superb. My only gripe is that the rear speakers didn't seem to have much going on, but from the front the gunfire and booming score sounded as clear as the dialogue. Again, the best we've heard from this title. The release is a triple play, so you get a separate DVD and digital copy but I haven't looked at these.

        It doesn't skimp on extras either, we get the same commentary from the star and director which the special edition DVD had. This can be a little dry sometimes, Arnold seems to be treating it a little like an audio description track on occasion. However, there are moments of banter which make it worth a listen.

        There's a 30 minute documentary on the making of the film as well as a shorter featurette. Both of these are interesting to watch but are presented in Standard Definition. There's a photo gallery and trailers which won't take long to go through.

        For the Blu-Ray, we have some new HD content. An interview with the director which provides some insight into the various issues in the making of the film, a short feature focussing on the special effects and a brief look at the restoration process.

        As a big fan of this film, I had been holding out for a decent HD release and this is the one to get. My only gripe is that I'd like to have seen the deleted scenes which were trimmed originally to get the rating in the US down from NC-17 to an R. But for now, this release should be the fans choice.

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        08.10.2012 10:50
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        A star attraction in Bristol, everyone should see it

        Like a lot of folk around the Bristol area, I suspect many are aware of the SS Great Britain but only a few have actually visited. So to help rectify this, the wife and I decided to go along.

        It's well signposted on the way into Bristol with the usual brown 'tourist' signs, so it's relatively easy to find. If you are driving alongside the harbour it's hard to miss and you'll soon know if you're on the wrong side of the water! There is pay and display parking nearby so be sure to have some change with you. There is also a ferry for foot passengers from the other side of the harbour but I'm not sure when this runs.

        The entrance to the museum is through the gift shop and from here you purchase tickets for entry to the ship and surrounding area. The tickets are printed to look like the original boarding pass which is a nice touch, you are asked to sign yours and then it can be used for a return visit any time for a year afterwards. You are also given a guide to the ship which is handy as it's divided into distinct areas which can be easy to get lost in the first time you go inside.

        As you step out from the gift shop, the area around the ship is made up to look like a harbour, the ship itself sits in a dry dock with glass covering the gap between the hull and the harbourside. With a shallow layer of water sitting on the top, this gives the impression that the ship is floating. This looks especially impressive when you descend into the area below the hull. You can take the stairs, or a lift if you are mobility impaired, down the to base of the dry dock. From here you can walk around the hull and view the restoration that's been carried out as well as some of the corrosion which remains. This area is specially air conditioned to help keep the hull rust-free. It does look impressive to view the bulk of the ship towering above you through the glass ceiling.

        Going back up to the dockside again, there's a separate building which houses a plethora of exhibits from the ship itself including a huge section of mast which spans the entire length. There's a ships wheel complete with computer simulation for the kids to have a play with and a photo exhibit showing the steps taken to retrieve the ship from where it was abandoned to it's new home in Bristol. From here there's a walkway to the ship itself.

        The ship is divided into sections as it would have been back in the day when used for passenger transport. There's the rough and ready third class, slightly better second class and the luxurious first class section. All these sections have been restored with authentic furnishings and it really helps bring the era to life. You can also see where the cargo hold was situated and how it would have been used as well as a view of the impressive engine room. You can also walk around the upper deck but the steps to get there are quite steep. Again, provision has been made for a lift in the ship itself if you need help to get about. There are also loos on board, in authentic style but with modern additions.

        There's another walkway leading off the ship which takes you around the other side of the dry dock and back to the shop again. There is a cafe and tearoom which did lovely jacket potatos and cake when we stopped there. Weather permitting, you can sit outside directly overlooking the harbourside and enjoy the views of Bristol.

        In summary, I think anyone would enjoy this piece of British history. It appeals to young and old and thanks to investment in access, everyone can get in and out easily. I heartily recommend it!

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      • Madison Inn (Swindon) / Hotel National / 3 Readings / 3 Ratings
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        08.10.2012 10:22

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        A budget option if you're desperate but I would check elsewhere first

        I've stayed in a wide variety of hotels in Swindon on business and have found through trial and error which ones are good and which are not. Unfortunately, the Madison falls into the latter category. It tends to be around £55 - £65 per night for a double room with single occupation with breakfast costing extra. The rooms themselves are acceptable in terms of furnishing and facilities although my main issue is with cleanliness. I've stayed here on a couple of occasions and have found that both times I've had to ask for someone to come and clean the room again. The carpets were not vaccuumed, the bed linen didn't look clean and the bathroom still had hairs from a previous resident (urgh). The staff dealt with my queries by changing my room for me but the alternative wasn't much better and after a long day, I decided to stay put.

        In terms of facilities, it has all you'd expect from a 3 star hotel although the wi-fi does cost extra. It is well located, right next to the A419 and is close to a retail park and supermarket if you're bored in the evening. They do offer free access to the Nuffield gym but it's a 25 minute drive through Swindon to get to it so I can't see this appealing to everyone.

        In summary I wouldn't recommend this myself, although it is one of the cheaper options in Swindon, it's offering an average experience.

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        05.10.2012 12:25

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        A forgotten gem, well worthy of being discovered!

        I discovered this book by accident a while ago and I've read it several times since. It's one of those books that seems to have gone largely unnoticed which is a shame as it's an astonishing read.

        The story is set in Green River State Penitentiary, a rough, dark and bleak prison where Ray Klein has spent three tortuous years after a medical blunder which cost him his career and a patient their life. The prison itself is run by Hobbes, a warden who is losing his sanity and in the process is stirring racial tensions amongst the inmates to the point where it explodes in a riot prompting the entire prison to be locked down. Unfortunately not all the prisoners are in their cells and a rampage ensues.

        Trapped in the prison hospital with visiting psychiatrist Juliette Devlin, Ray realises that he's going to have to call on all his skills and courage to save those around him and escape the hell that Green River has descended into.

        This is a very brutal novel with scenes that will haunt you afterwards, not just the violence but the prison itself seems to be verging on something you'd expect to find in a third world country. Compared to stories like the Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption, this is a far worse place to be incarcerated. In fact, this does stretch credibility at times as it seems impossible that things could be quite so bad in a US prison but it all adds to the feel of the story.

        I'd say if you're a fan of Lee Child, Michael Connolly, John Connolly and similar authors then you would certainly enjoy this book. I'm looking forward to seeing what else Tim Willocks has produced, this is a masterpiece you won't soon forget.

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        05.10.2012 11:51

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        A superb read

        I'm a big fan of these sort of historical, action novels. Made popular by Bernard Cornwell and later Conn Iggulden with the Emperor and Genghis Khan series, there's been an explosion in stories across the breadth of history. I wish we'd had these sort of books to read in 'O' Level History rather than the boring old textbooks we ended up with!

        But I digress. Revenger is the second novel by Rory Clements to feature his character John Shakespeare (older brother of a certain William Shakespeare) who is what is known as an 'intelligencer', a kind of spy working for representatives of her Majesty.

        Without going into the plot in great detail, this story features a conspiracy plot against the Queen which spirals into a potential disaster threatening thousands of lives. For those who aren't familiar with this period of history, it's a detailed window into the workings of the court of Eizabeth and shows that political machinations of the late 16th century are not always so different from what they are now. But it's not without it's fair share of action and John Shakespeare has the fighting skills of Sharpe combined with the investigative cunning of Shardlake.

        I'd thoroughly recommend this novel and the rest of the series to anyone who's enjoyed similar titles from other writers of this genre. It's a great read and I look forward to more from Rory Clements in the future.

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        05.10.2012 11:36

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        Not bad for short blasts, no long-term appeal

        I came to this game as a complete novice to the world of Warhammer. I like the whole look of the Space Marines and the hardware but I don't really have any idea of what it's all about. The game initially looked very similar to Gears of War with it's imagery of future warfare against monsters setting out to destroy Mankind. And playing the game also has that feel in terms of the cut-scenes and graphics. But the gameplay itself is sadly lacking in comparison to GoW. It's a lot more basic, effectively a hack 'n' slash parade through nicely rendered landscapes. It doesn't have the duck and cover feature of GoW which made it a lot more tactical. Here, you're resigned to blasting away at Orcs until your ammo has gone or wading into them with repeated button presses to clear a path. It looks great but after 5 minutes, it all gets a bit boring and I'm not sure how often I'm going to come back to this. I guess fans of Warhammer might find it more appealing but as a casual gamer, I couldn't recommend it unless it's dirt cheap and you fancy a quick blast of something different.

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      • Miele S6220 Cat & Dog / Vacuum Cleaner / 6 Readings / 6 Ratings
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        05.10.2012 11:25

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        A fantastic vaccuum cleaner

        We bought one of these as there are three dogs in our household. Previous cleaners, including a Dyson seem to struggle to get all the pet hairs up but the Miele is a revelation. Although it's quite small and light, this little cleaner packs a big punch. It features a spinning brush in the main head which is excellent at stirring up the carpet to get the hairs out. With the full power of 2000W, this pretty much gets everything up first time. A useful feature is the ability to adjust the power level, there's a switch on the top with six settings from the full 2000W down to 300W. The lower speed is ideal if you have a more delicate rug with fancy fibres on it and is also useful for hard floors. There's three extra heads included, a crevice tool, small brush head and small T-piece. Unlike the earlier model, there's no storage compartment for these in the cleaner and you have a plastic stand which holds them together instead. I guess this has been done to make the size of the cleaner as small as possible. It does require bags although these can take a fair amount of dust and you can buy 3rd party equivalents if you don't want to spend a fortune on the original Miele bags.

        In summary, I'd thoroughly recommend this cleaner for anyone with a pet hair problem. It's light, powerful and has a quality feel to it too. We wouldn't be without it!

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