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mblain1

mblain1
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Member since: 06.04.2012

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    • Fallout: New Vegas (PC) / PC Game / 5 Readings / 4 Ratings
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      11.04.2012 12:55
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      Should be in everyone's 'Top 10 Greatest Games' set.

      The scorching Mojave Wasteland is the new setting for the latest of the Fallout series. As I have mentioned in my previous reviews, I have always been a fan of Bethesda's work, and when I heard they were bring out Fallout 3 I wasn't too thrilled. To me it was described as 'Oblivion with guns'. That statement alone put me off. However I decided to buy the game after seeing how well the critics gave it. It was way worth the £40 I paid, and New Vegas is no different. After playing Fallout 3 I became obsessed with the style of gameplay and the post-apocalyptic setting. (the two aspects which make Fallout so great). Fallout New Vegas begins with you in the eyes of a bound man in a cemetery. Two thugs and a man in a checker suit stand over you, until the suit decides to pull a gun and shoot you. You wake up in a house in the town of Goodsprings, with a Doctor Mitchell who has nursed you back to health. In the previous Fallout you choose your character stats with a children's book and an exam in the vault. In New Vegas it is different, you use what seems like a carnival game to determine your stats as well as a psychiatry exam where you decide what you would do in certain situations as well as taking part in a Rorschach inkblot test. After this you set out to learn who attempted to kill you, to settle the score and find answers. The gameplay in Fallout New Vegas is very similar to that of Fallout 3 other than improved stealth mechanics, iron-sights and improved melee. The famous V.A.T.S system is back in New Vegas. This is a system where you are able to pause time and choose which parts of a body you can shoot or shooting multiple targets. The accuracy of your shot is based on one of the seven stats your player has, in this case Agility, Perception and Luck are all factors. There is also a limit on how much you can do this, the more 'Action Points' you have, the more you can use V.A.T.S. There is now also the option of gambling! What would Vegas be like if you couldn't gamble? And so they put this option in. You can enter a casino, swap your preferred currency (bottle caps, Legionnaire money, NCR money etc), for chips and choose between blackjack, the slots or roulette. These casinos offer prizes for each time you rack up a lot of chips from gambling, this can include food, drink, armour and finally a penthouse suite. However there is a limit to how much you can win before the casino will ban you. The story (and setting) for New Vegas is, in my opinion, better than Fallout 3. It seems to have much more incentive. In Fallout 3 you try to give clean water to the city of Washington D.C. In New Vegas you are trying to discover why someone wanted you dead, what was stolen from you, and joining different factions as a all-out war is in motion. The setting is also much better. In Fallout 3 you could explore the Wasteland of D.C. and the surrounding areas. It was decent enough but New Vegas seems much more alive with numerous towns and communities surrounding the centre of Vegas, the strip. Each character has a different personality and overall it seems much more real. Graphics and sound have always been a huge feature of Bethesda's games. With Skyrim recently hitting stores, Fallout's graphics (despite being a good 4 years old) still look amazing. The only qualms I have about the graphics are that they have barely improved in comparison to Fallout 3. The lighting of the Vegas skyline seems very different to Fallout 3 but that's pretty much it. The gun, armour and monster design looks good enough but still seems to use the old textures of Fallout 3. If you're thinking "oh well Fallout 3 had A LOT of graphical bugs, maybe this isn't the case in Fallout: New Vegas", you're wrong. Unfortunately Bethesda games have always come with a ton of bugs, graphical bugs are just a portion of the list. However Steam has released quite large updates for the game, which is probably the case with Xbox Live and PSN for example. Luckily the soundtrack makes up for this. We experienced the use of the Pip-Boy and it's radio features in the previous game, in New Vegas this is brought back with a whole new set of songs. Unfortunately the radio presenter is not half as charismatic as Three Dog, the presenter for GNR. The voice acting seems to have improved, giving the player an idea of a 'real atmosphere' within the game. Every player seems to have a completely different personality, causing us to actually feel emotion, whether it's love, hate or even sadness. There are many features in the game improving from Fallout 3. Bringing back the companion idea pleased me a great deal, each of these companions offers different perks that become available to the player when the companion is following them. Other perks within the game seem to have improved, giving the player a much wider choice. There are around four DLCs for the game, unfortunately for me I have not been able to purchase them yet, but since I bought all of the Fallout DLCs and enjoyed them a great deal, I'm sure the New Vegas DLCs will not disappoint. In conclusion the game was amazing. With hundreds of hours of gameplay it's definitely worth the £15 I paid. If I'd have had money earlier when it first came out, I'd have forked out the £35 for it too. It's a huge improvement on Fallout 3 and after this I cannot wait till Fallout 4 is developed. I'd definitely recommend it to any fan of RPG, FPS or Bethesda. Even if you're a casual gamer this will draw you in. It's an experience. With stunning graphics and sound, this game is at least a 8.5-9 out of 10. Unfortunately there are no multiplayer aspects and numerous bugs which is why I have no given it the 10 it probably deserves. It's not for everyone but most gamers should be happy to own this.

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      08.04.2012 16:15
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      Minimal flaws, excellent story and inspired gameplay.

      It's quite surprising how a game franchise can be the influence for numerous films and games. Silent Hill is the exception, since we would expect no less from Team Silent. The first game I played in the franchise was Silent Hill 3 around 4-5 years ago. It still scares me now as it did when I was 14. At that age all I wanted to do was kill monsters. But now replaying the game I've found myself less obsessed with combat, and more obsessed with the puzzles and storyline. This was the reason I picked up Silent Hill: Shattered Memories from the shops a couple of weeks ago. I'd heard very good things about the game and one of those positive aspects was that there was no combat. None whatsoever. This intrigued me and so I bought it. After a couple of hours of playing the game I realised why the combat was taken out. It was taken out because it scares the living hell out of you when all you can do is run. In true Silent Hill form when the monsters appear the scene which surrounds you, changes. In previous cases it was a decayed, industrial scene. Now in Shattered Memories it changes to the 'Ice World' (which doesn't really need to be described). The storyline is a remake of the original Silent Hill, another reason why I thought it would be a good idea to pay the reasonable price of £21.99. We follow Harry Mason trying to find his daughter, as it is in the first one. However we see this as a memory, since the protagonist is actually in a psychiatrists office, remembering what happened. The controls for the game are very well done. I personally thought the controls from the PlayStation/Xbox/PC would be ported terribly, as it is usually the case with the Nintendo Wii. This again was another surprise. You use the normal Wii controller with the nun-chuck controller. The nun-chuck is used to control where the player goes, whereas the Wii controller is used to position where your torch is pointed, as well being used to control your in-game mobile phone. The phone is a huge aspect of the game, giving the player the ability to take photographs, call people and listen to voicemail (where to hear what is being said, you have to hold the controller to you ear as you would a phone, it becomes quite creepy), receive text messages, save your game, write notes and finally is used as a device to hear static (frequently used in the previous games, but instead with a radio). The graphics and sound are also brilliantly impressive. With the Wii I'm not terribly impressed by the graphics, but on occasion I am. In this case I was completely thrown back off my chair. The lighting effects, combined with the use off the torch, produce an eerie atmosphere of dancing shadows. The textures throughout the game are much more impressive than your average Wii game (as well as looking better than many of the Silent Hill games). The shine that ice gives off when you're in the ice world can be astounding. The switch between the fog world and the ice world is again, impressive, there's no way to describe it and you would have to see it for yourself. Nothing has changed with the famous voice acting and soundtrack of the Silent Hill franchise, and is as creepy and spine-tingling as ever. Character design is one of the main aspects of the Silent Hill franchise and is seen as Team Silent's talent in the gaming industry. Harry Mason is portrayed extremely well in this game, however I cannot compare him to the Harry Mason that was in the first game, though I have seen clips and in my honest opinion, I prefer the Shattered Memories version. Throughout the game we see the famous characters of the Silent Hill franchise including Cybil Bennett and Dahlia Gillespie. These characters change their personalities, depending on how the player answers the questions which are put forward by the psychiatrist. These scenes are in first person and depending where you look, how you complete the tasks given and the answers given the game changes. For example Cybil Bennett may be authoritative, sexualised or in her normal character state, depending on the questions answered. The monsters also change depending on this, they can be mutilated in certain ways and may also be feminised, linking to the symbolism of the protagonists' sexual repression. Overall this is possibly the best game I've played on the way, with minimal flaws and countless advantages, it also one of the best of the Silent Hill series. Although it can not really be compared since it is a completely new and innovative style of gameplay and story-telling.

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    • Sony KDL-32EX401 / LCD TV / 4 Readings / 1 Rating
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      07.04.2012 15:41

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      A decent enough television at a very reasonable price.

      I only bought this TV around half a year ago and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. For £350 from Costco this HD TV was a very good buy. For an 18 year old student £350 is quite expensive, however I couldn't regret it less. I only bought the TV to have in my room, watch films with friends etc. And wow. It has definitely done the job. The installation was easy enough, set up within 10 minutes. Around a month after purchasing the TV I decided to buy a wall mount for it, I was quite worried that at certain angles the TV may look distorted or produce a darkened picture. This was not the case. The HD works fantastic, connecting my Xbox 360 with the HDMI cable produced a perfectly, crisp picture. Even just watching it's built in freeview the picture is quite brilliant. The sound of the TV is also quite impressive, I love the fact that you can alter the sound to your taste, as well as the picture. 32" is a perfect size for my room. I'd previously had a 22" Grundig television, and decided that it was far too small. The interface that the Sony Bravia uses is very, very, easy to navigate. It includes the ability to alter sound, picture, language as well as giving the user an option to use a USB stick/Hard drive to view pictures, listen to music, watch films and so on. The remote control is very easy to use, which is common in the Sony Bravia series. Unfortunately there are many useless features. One being 'Theatre mode' which is basically darkening the picture rather than anything else. In my personal experience I've never needed that feature.

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    • Half-Life 2 (PC) / PC Game / 4 Readings / 3 Ratings
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      07.04.2012 01:03
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      If you love single player FPS games with a brilliant story. This is the game for you.

      This game is one of my favourites. It's amazing how a story can suck you in and a game to become so addictive. With several awards Half Life 2 was nominated as one of the 'greatest games of all time' which may seem like an overrated view. However, this game does deserve that title. First off I have to discuss the Source Engine. The 'source' of it's graphics. In 2004 when the game was released this engine was used for numerous games created by the game developers at Valve. A very famous example of this is the 'Counter Strike: Source' game which sold hundreds of thousands of copies. The engine was highly praised by critics and users alike. The story of Half Life 2 follows on from the previous instalment in the series Half Life 1. Gordon Freeman is back but this time comes back to City 17, a dystopian, autocratic city ruled by the 'Combine' an Empire which spans across the universe. From there we seen Freeman fighting the combine, occasionally with the help of the Rebels and Vortigaunts (aliens who've made an appearance in the first Half Life, and are now part of the resistance), and meeting new characters along the way, such as Alyx Vance and the mysterious G-Man. The gameplay element combines puzzles and first person shooting. The FPS aspect of the game is now a little outdated but still highly enjoyable. The puzzles throughout the game give the player something to think about other than mindlessly shooting. At certain points in the game the player is able to drive a buggy and a hovercraft (Airboat in game), which is extremely fun, unfortunately it doesn't seem to be in the game quite enough, but maybe if it was it wouldn't seem as fun and the novelty may have worn off. In the game there are so many different places to explore. From the East Berlin style bloc to the evacuated, zombie-ridden town of Ravenholm. The game lasts around 20-30 hours, depending whether you rush ahead or explore every place you can, finding the numerous Easter Eggs that are present throughout the game. The good thing about the game is that you can play it over and over again, it is fairly linear but so enjoyable that it doesn't matter! The sound is both awe-inspiring as well as highly frightening. The voice acting throughout the game is fantastic, we see that each character (other than the silent Gordon Freeman) has a complete personality, and can feel real at times. The voice acting of the rebels is also quite a big part, it's clearly been taken with care since ever rebel sounds different and it gives you and idea of so many different people who are involved in the rebellion. The soundtrack to the game is also decent, the sound can either wow you when you're looking across a vast city, or can scare you as it does in the town of Ravenholm. As I've stated, it is one of the best games you can buy, and now it's around £10-£15 for 'The Orange Box' (A game combination of different games based on the Source Engine including Half life 2, Episode 1 + 2, Team Fortress 2 and Portal) Personally I'd rate this game at a 9/10, knocking off 1 mark for the outdated graphics as well as the bland and boring multiplayer.

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      • More +
        06.04.2012 20:55

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        Very good beginners guitar, I'd recommend it to any early learners over the age of 13-14.

        I remember buying this guitar ages ago from 'Dawson's' before I had even touched a guitar. The only reason I bought it? Because as a kid I've always wanted a strat and a fairly priced beginners strat is exactly what I was looking for. It looks beautiful. The 2-colour sunburst design was the best decision I made. A newly polished rosewood fret combined with it's slick design makes the guitar look much better than your standard electric. The materials used for the guitar make it highly reliable. The nickel plated strings are easy to pluck, yet are resistant to erosion. Over the 2 and a half years I've had this guitar, playing at least an hour a day, it's still amazing that the strings have never had a need to change. The rosewood fret board combined with the maple neck makes it easy to move your hand up and down the fret, while also providing good protection against knocks and drops. 21 Frets are present on this guitar, which makes the ability to play numerous beginner songs, very easy. The nickel-plated strings combined with the 3 strat pick-ups make the guitar sound very decent for the price of £180. The controls for these pick ups are white sixties knobs just to the side of the pick ups themselves. The controls include a master volume control, the control for the neck pick up and the control for the middle pick up. A positional lever is next to the knobs, giving you the ability to control how your guitar will sound in terms of tones, using 5 different combinations of the 3 pick ups. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who is looking to learn guitar. £180 is a lot of money, however this guitar is very decent for the price.

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      • Nokia C3-00 / Smartphone / 5 Readings / 2 Ratings
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        06.04.2012 20:29

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        Best phone I've had, worth the £80 definitely.

        I remember receiving my first phone off my mum at the age of 9. A Nokia 3310. The main things I remember about that phone is it's blocky, brick design, green screen and the ability to play 'Snake'. This Nokia shows us that their designs for phones have improved over the last 10 years. The technology we now have helps us to communicate with people in many different ways, but the mobile phone will always be the most important, in my eyes at least. The design seems somewhat similar to the design of the 'Blackberry' phones. This design works very well with a 2.4 inch display and it's incredibly useful 'QWERTY' keyboard. The home screen of the Nokia C3 is very customisable. The ability to change you background screen has always been a feature that is expected of any phone but the ability to manage email, text messages, phone calls as well as live Facebook and Twitter feed being presented on the main screen. A main aspect of the phone is Nokia's 'Ovi Services'. These provide the user to use Ovi instant messaging, access the internet and social networking sites. The messaging services provided are the standard text message, Ovi chat, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk, along with the use of numerous emails. The 2.0 megapixel camera on the phone isn't spectacular but does the job of a basic phone camera. The memory is not too impressive since only 55MB are built in, you can however increase this to 8GB, through the expandable memory (memory cards for example). Overall I see this phone as my favourite, out of all the phones I've had it's the easiest to use, the most reliable and is a very great deal for £80.

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      • HP Touchsmart IQ515uk / Desktop PC / 8 Readings / 5 Ratings
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        06.04.2012 19:22

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        Decent enough computer but the touchscreen loses it's novelty within an hour.

        At the time of it's purchase around 3 years ago we saw this desktop in Costco for £800 half price. We tried to check reviews etc but none were found. Now I realise why. This computer can be fast and flowing one minute, but the next, it could be utter chaos with the graphics card producing multicoloured lines on the screen or a message telling us that the hard drive is pretty much busted. The thing I noticed at the age of 15 was "OH WOW TOUCHSCREEN". I regret the day I begged my parents to buy the computer for our family. The touchscreen must add on around £200 to the total since the specifications of the PC are around an average £500-£700 computer. We now realise that this touchscreen is completely useless, I'm not saying it doesn't work well because it does! It's just when you have a mouse what is the point of it. The graphics card is fairly decent, able to use up to Direct X 10, and nVidia's 3D enhancements. However when the processor is only an Intel Core Duo at 2.0 GHz this is rendered pretty much useless when playing games. It will play Skyrim at around 30FPS low-medium settings, Stalker Call of Pripyat at around 40FPS at medium settings and Modern Warfare 2 at around 20-30FPS at high settings. It has been brought to my attention that 3 years does mean it's lasted a decent amount of time, however we're close to replacing our graphics card and have replaced our hard drive twice now. It could be something to do with how we use the computer constantly and is pretty much on 20 hours a day. Another problem however is how it's extremely difficult to find any replacements for this computer, since the motherboard is fairly small because it is classed as a laptop (in terms of specifications). I wouldn't recommend buying one unless it's fairly cheap or you're definitely going to use the touchscreen feature, however it has been very useful to the family as a fast computer for word processing, browsing and gaming.

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      • Silent Hill (DVD) / DVD / 9 Readings / 8 Ratings
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        06.04.2012 18:49

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        Completely overrated. Recommend to any fans of Silent Hill or psychological horror.

        I was surprised to see people thinking that this film was, and I quote "crap". The thing that angered my to my very core was how they had no reason for this. Other than fan boys and fan girls stating that "it has ruined the Silent Hill franchise" why? Oh, because instead of Harry Mason we have Radha Mitchell searching for her daughter. I thought this was an excellent switch of the Silent Hill protagonist since we see a strong female role for a change as a protagonist. We see the young 'Sharon' (Jodelle Ferland) an adopted girl to Rose (Radha Mitchell) and Christopher Da Silva (Sean Bean), who has experienced recurring nightmares of the town of Silent Hill. To find out why her daughter has been seeing Silent Hill in her dreams, Rose takes Sharon to the town of Silent Hill. While being chased by the Police Officer Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden) a ghostly version of 'Alessa Gillespie' appears in the road, forcing Rose to crash the car. When she wakes we see that Sharon is missing and a thick blanket of fog and ash consuming the town. Throughout the film their is a feeling of mystery and eeriness. Especially after Sharon disappears and Rose and Cybil are attacked by the first Silent Hill monster we see. It seems that the transformation from game to film has worked very well. Especially in the portrayal of the universe that Silent Hill is based in. Rather than the typical 'slasher' approach or attempting to make the audience jump every 2 minutes, Christophe Gans has helped keep the psychological horror that comes with the Silent Hill franchise. There is much symbolism throughout the film, an example is the 'Janitor'. We first see him when Rose experiences her first switch to the 'otherworld' (an industrial setting of Silent Hill which is much more dangerous than the 'fog world), and soon see why his character is forced to drag himself along while tangled in barbed wire. In my opinion this was an excellent film in terms of recreating the Silent Hill universe in a film. It may not follow the Silent Hill 1 plot completely to the letter but gives us an idea of what we can expect in the new film 'Silent Hill: Revelations' (following the plot of Silent Hill 3 and Heather Mason).

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        06.04.2012 18:17
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        9 out of 10, minimal disadvantages and I cannot wait for the next in the series to develop.

        For as long as I can remember Bethesda has been one of my favourite game developers of all time. From the 1st game of the series (The Elder Scrolls Arena) to Skyrim, the latest of Bethesda's fantastic products. The game set in the fictional province of Skyrim, has once again wowed audiences such as myself, with the beauty of the game. We have seen in previous games developed by Bethesda, such as Fallout 3 and New Vegas, that the use of the Havok Engine has made the open world that much better, through the use of particles and its dynamic animation. This in my opinion is one of the reasons Skyrim is so GOOD. It's quite amazing how a game can make everything feel so real, whether its atop the icy mountains or underground in a series of winding caves. One of the main improvements Bethesda has made with the new Elder Scrolls game is the combat. It used to be a hack-and-slash style game where players would repeatedly mash at the mouse buttons, hoping for an outcome. However this has been improved through the use of physics, if you swing a sword, attempting to hack off someone's arm, the chances are you will deal a great amount of damage to that particular limb. The perk system seems to have also improved. In the previous games 'perks' were a main highlight, and again, this is the case. The perk tree has the ability to improve your player based on how you act in the game. An example of this would be someone using the bow over and over again to slay their enemies, the perk tree will help you to become the Robin Hood of Skyrim, through perk options such as 'slow motion', or 'quick draw' (the ability to draw an arrow from your quiver and line up a shot, in half the time of a normal archer). Dragons. I think this is what draws people to the game more than anything, think about it. Who doesn't love dragons. As a child I constantly remember dreaming about dragons and with the help of JRR Tolkien's 'The Hobbit', I have fallen in love. These majestic creatures make appearances throughout the game. From the start we experience an attack from a dragon, and soon learn that the player is a 'Dragonborn' (if you want to know what one is, buy the game and find out!) Voice acting and a story which just draws you in, is also a great part of Skyrim. In earlier games such as 'Oblivion' voice acting may have been mocked (much like quotes from Skyrim such as 'took an arrow to the knee') but the developers at Bethesda have made it much harder from fans to mock this time... with a few exceptions. From the lush forests to the mesmerising waterfalls, the experience of Skyrim is both heart warming and heart stopping all the way through. If you're a fan of the series, a fan of RPGs or even a fan of dragons, I recommend strongly that you purchase this game. However, you MUST check the recommended and minimum specifications of your PC. If it's not able to run, I'm sure Skyrim for the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 is equally as good.

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