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I asked for this game for a Christmas present and since then have played it alot. It's a style of game that I've never played before and I actually really love it!
What's best for me is the combination of constructing your zoo how you like, and being able to get up close and personal with tons of animals.
The game is based around different modes...
- You can play a campain game, in which you are given limited money and items. In this mode, you are given a challenge to complete relating to your animals, sometimes in a set amount of time. Whilst completing the challenges you still need to cater for guests and take care of your animals! Completing campain games unlocks some items.
- You can play a challenge game, where you choose your own map and start building. You still have limited money, items and animal choices though so it's up to you to increase your zoos fame and get more money from visitors as you go along. You will also get some optional challenges to complete in this mode which may increase your fame or your money. Completing some of these otional challenges can unlock items.
- You can play with no limitations too, and build a freeform zoo. In this mode, you have unlimited money and all items/animals possible (except the Quagga which has to be unlocked). This is a great way to explore the different maps, try out all the items and own all of the animals although you get no challenges.
The game is easy to play and the tutorials are very hands on, taking you through the details step by step - iId recommend playing them first time around.
A box at the top of the screen tells you things about your zoo, such as if an animal is hungry or if guests need something.
There's an amazing variety of everything in the game, including plants, trees, rocks, biomes, animals, food carts, toilets, entertainment... the list is almost endless. There are realistic differences between some male and female animals, and the graphics are really good.
Taking care of the animals is really fun - you can hire a zookeeper to do it for you (each zoo keeper can be assigned a particular enclosure) or do it yourself. They need regular washing, and their food and water will need topping up. All you have to do to see what the animal needs is click on it - then you can view what it is doing, it's happiness and basic levels of hunger etc. You must also manage more complex aspects such as privacy.
Clicking the zookeeper recommendations button for a species tells you exactly what that animal needs/can have - for example and elephant needs a tall strong fence, but a beaver doesn't. If you give them incorrect food or fencing they won't eat and may escape, terrorising your guests! You can make them as big or small as you like, as long as the animals have enough room, and you must paint the enclosure with the correct biome for your animal. Then you can add trees, rocks and plants that re suitable for the biome. The animals must be given suitable enrichment to keep them occupied too!
Building the enclosures is simple and they can be as creative as you like. You can draw the enclosure out yourself or use the tolls to draw different shaped enclosures. Not only can you create the enclosures how you like, but the tools allow you to change the whole zoo map. You can choose and alpine map and wipe out all the mountains, or put a mountain in the middle of a desert map! You can also add water wherever you like, and create waterfalls, hills, dips, valleys, cliffs and more with the click of a button.
In the game, you can run your zoo from above and zoom in and out, or you can walk around your zoo as it would be for a guest. It is using this feature that you can care for your animals, empty bins and pick up litter (or hire a maintenance person for that!)
The combination of catering for guests and running a business along with caring for and conserving all kinds of animals makes this game really unique. It may sound complicated, but it's really not at all - it's very easy to get the hang of. I believe it to be very resonably priced, especially as it has unlimited game play and there are loads of add ons to buy like marine and extinct animals (which we have and is also very good - dinosaurs!)
I would add that backing up you saved games is a very good idea - there are two different methods of doing this easily which can be found online. I would also say that I tried to download free add ons such as extra animals from the Zoo Tycoon website and long story short it made havoc - the game ran extremely slowly and I had to reinstall it - so back up those games!
If you are looking for a game with a difference that is pretty much limitless them try this. It's hours and hours of fun, and you can save as many different zoos as you like.
I have read other books by M.P. such as Wolf Brother and the others in that series, which were all very good. It seems M.P. is a very multi-talented, as Dark Matter is just as good as these, even though the target audience and genre are very different.
I won't tell you all about the story, as I don't want to spoil any of it for potential readers, but if you were considering buying this book then do.
The basic storyline is that Jack and his companions take a trip to the arctic for research purposes. They arrive in the summer, when the ice is beautiful and intriguing. However, the summer doesn't last long so far north, and soon the camp is swathed in darkness. It's in this darkness that Jack becomes lonely and soon begins to experience things which shouldn't really be possible.
I've got to say that this book is pretty spooky. Not in a predictable or childish way, but in a way that seems to creep up on you like the arctic night and build up slowly, until you start to believe maybe Jack has gone crazy! Eventually though, as things get stranger and yet more real for Jack, you realise that this isn't just the product of lonely days in the constant darkness, but is something very, very real which wants Jack out.
When I went to bed after reading this, I actually was a bit frightened to fall asleep! M.P. doesn't put too much description in the book, which I think works for a ghost story. The details are enough to make a chill run down your spine, but there's room for you to imagine the rest, which means that it can be whatever is most scary for everyone as they fill in the gaps.
As I read, I found that I was really experiencing the emotions that Jack was, and could clearly picture the setting in my mind, which made it very real and also made it feel like I was actually there in the arctic. The setting of the Arctic itself really set this book off for me, as I've never imagined the Arctic as a scary place before. It really makes the story different from some other horror books which are usually set in haunted houses!
The way the book is written (in the form of a diary written by Jack for the most part) was something I liked. It felt more personal that way, with fewer descriptions and more thoughts, feelings and emotions from Jack.
Overall, the building tension and growing fear make this impossible to put down - I finished it in a few days! All of the research that M.P. has done into the arctic and its inhabitants and traditions has really made this believable and holds the story together. Don't let the fact that it's set in the 1930s put you off, it's written in a way which isn't old and yet still has a hint of the 30s so is easy to follow.
I got my copy from Amazon for about £8 which I felt was very good value for a new and very good book. So, if you want a creepy thrill with and intriguing and unusual story and setting then this is the book for you!
This toothbrush a good all rounder. When I brought it, it was £22 in a half price offer. If you had to buy it full price from the high street, it's a bit on the dear side at around £40!
However, it's well designed and easy to hold, with grips. It's not too heavy either and is fairly slim line so easy to store and hold. The button to turn it on and off is grippy too, and easy to use.
The dentist seems to think it works too! In fact, it is often recommended so it must have a lot of merit.
The brush came with two heads, which means that 2 different people can use the same brush, which is very cost effective. There is a small bag of coloured elastic bands which can be attached to a head so they are easy to identify, preventing mix ups.
The brush is very easy to charge, all you have to do is stand it on the base and off it goes. However, this also means it's not very stable when charging if you knock the base or the brush, so I'd say to put it somewhere flat and out of the way. The cord for the charger is quite long which is useful but it has ONLY A SHAVER PLUG, so you will need to buy an adapter, which was about £3.50 from Boots.
Once charged, the brush lasts for about a week, maybe a day or two longer. It does take a long time to charge though, about 2/3 days morning to night. The charger is also quite small which makes it good for travelling with.
Also, there is a small light on the front of the brush which flashes red when the battery is running low. You get 2 or 3 more uses out of it though, so you're warned in plenty of time before it runs out altogether!
When using the brush, you are supposed to do each quarter of your mouth separately. After 30 seconds, the brush vibrates and stops quickly before continuing, which means to change to the next quarter. Eventually, you have done all quarters over 2 minutes, and the brush vibrates and stops 4 times to let you know. Very handy!
When we brought our dog Alfie from the Dog's Trust a while ago now, this is the food he came with. Not wanting to fiddle with his diet, we decided to stick with it, and we have had no problems since!
The food is in small, dry, bite sized pieces which are quite hard and crunchy. This is good for their teeth, as it scrapes away plaque and food debris. I'd imagine it's also quite good for dogs who rush, as the small bits need quite a lot of chewing and so might slow them down. It also makes measuring out the right amount easier!
Even though the pieces are quite hard, our Alf doesn't struggle, even though he's pretty much a gummer now so other dogs who have less teeth than a few years back should be fine with it too! If it is a little too hard, some warm water can be added to make it softer, without loosing any taste or nutrition which is a great alternative to just feeding it dry. It is also hypoallergenic, so dogs with sensitive digestive systems will find it doesn't upset them.
Alf seems to like the taste too. He's not a big eater anyway but he finishes a few bowls a day so it must be nice, and it smells pretty appetizing too, even to a human!
Arden grange is a great brand with a lot of choice, but this is a good basic food from their range in my opinion as it is for all breeds of adult dog. It has special minerals and vitamins to ensure that healthy coats, teeth and digestive systems etc are supported and has a fairly high meat content too. It also lists what amounts each size of dog should have which makes it easy to measure out the correct amount and not over or under feed your dog.
The bag we buy is 2.5kg, which lasts for around 3 weeks for our little dog and costs around £9, which is fairly steep, but it is a brand I'd trust myself and the bag details many reasons why you should choose it. The bag, whilst I'm on about it, is pretty good for storing the food in too, even once opened. It folds over neatly at the top, and a peg or clip holds it securely in place, keeping the food fresh.
I'm not kidding folks!
I've read this book a few times now, and have to say that I could read it again and again. Each time you read, you find something you didn't notice before and it's those little details which really bring C.B.s world to life!
The amount of imagination which has been poured into Abarat (book and place) really makes this stand out for me, and the idea of the islands being hours is very original. Although the basic story is that of good versus evil, it's given a very original twist which sets it apart from some other hero/villain books - such as the inclusion of evil versus evil (I won't give it away though :)).
This is a book which I couldn't put down, because when you've been reading for 5 minutes or so you actually start to forget it's not real haha! The way it's written makes you want to keep reading and before you know it you've finished the book. C.B. leaves little hints to the rest of the story which compel you to investigate, and although there is a main story running throught it, the book has many other, smaller stories which all intertwine with Candy's adventure. I thought this really brought the book together, as sometimes having different tangents can make a book difficult to read - not this one!
The description of the Abarat is so detailed that it's clear C.B. has spent a lot of time thinking about it, and although he puts a lot of his imagination into the book, there is room for you to fill in the gaps, which makes the reading experience different for everyone, every time.
The characters themselves have lots of depth and history which draws you in and makes you really feel what they are feeling.
The book has light and dark moments, just like the Abarat's islands, but it generally has a feel-good theme going underneath - Candy finally realises she is more than she thought, and is worth more too!
We brought this camera a while ago along with a dock which charges the camera and allows you to easily transfer photos to a computer.
It's a great size, small enough to fit into your pocket but not so tiny that you can't see the screen properly or press the buttons. It's very light and has a wrist strap to make carrying it about easier.
The camera is 4 mega pixels, and so the photos are very clear. When up loaded onto a computer they are big too - 2304px X 1536px, so when viewing them you can see so much detail. It takes good photos in bright light too, with not a lot of glare which is good for sunny photos or snowy photos.
The camera has many different features as well, which include:
- Auto mode which automatically focuses on an object.
- Portrait, which takes good photos of faces
- Landscape which focuses on far away scenery
- Macro which takes good closeups
- And of course a video recording feature too, amongst others.
When taking macro photos, its hard to tell where to stop so that the resulting photo is clear, but when you get it right the results are fantastic.
The videos are clear too and not sticky or jumpy, although they take up quite a bit of storage space.
The camera has many different flash types as well which it automatically uses if it thinks the area is too dark. However, these can be changed and turned off if you don't need them.
The storage space is fairly good with a memory card, and many photos can be stored. Videos, as mentioned, take up a fair amount of space, but short ones are OK.
Photos can be edited from the camera itself, such as cropping before sending to the computer too which saves time and is very easy.
The screen which displays photos (and acts as a viewfinder to take pictures through) is a reasonable size and very clear, or you can use the old fashioned viewfinder at the top if you prefer. Having a choice is one feature I thought was great!
The zoom goes really far, and the quality doesn't suffer too badly on zoomed in photos which is nice.
I haven't had any problems with software, which is also a bonus! Either the memory card can be removed and inserted into the printer which then transfers the pictures to the computer (check your printer has this function first though). Or, the camera can be connected to the computer via a USB cable. You could choose to use a printer dock instead however, which I usually use. The camer sits on top and once loaded, you can press a button which immediately send them to the computer using the Kodak easyshare software. The software allows you to edit and organise images or just copy them to your computer. It doen't take long and is pretty simple too.
However, the dock is supposed to charge the camera too, which when it works is really handy. We put some rechargeable batteries in our camera from a local shop, which turned out to be a bit dodgy and now the dock doesn't charge our camera, so i'd reccommend using proper batteries which you know are from a reputable shop!
This is the first smartphone I have brought, and I think i'm going to stick with it as it's generally very good!
I brought it for around £80, which I felt was a very good price for such a good phone (from Carphone Warehouse). I had it on pay as you go as I don't spend much! Therefore, I can say on pay as you go (02) it's very cheap to run.
The camera is 3.2 megapixels, and take's fantastic photos - really clear. The camera has lots of different features which I was really pleased to discover, such as macro for closeups, night setting for photos that are in the dark, candlelight setting which adds a nice glow and so many more. I often take my phone out when taking pictures instead of my camera as it's so handy!
The touch screen is really responsive and doesn't stick or get stuck. It needs skin contact to work however, unlike some touchscreens which need just pressure. It's display is very bright and clear so viewing photos from the gallery is really enjoyable.
I haven't found the battery to be bad at all, as some other people seem to have. It doesn't take long to charge from empty, perhaps 2 hours, and i've found it to last for a long time, about a week or two with moderate use.
I use a memory card with my phone, and it provides altogether an OK amount of space. I think it depends on how many photos and songs you wish to store along with apps - I have a lot of photos which makes it tricky to fit in all the apps i'd like, but overall it's not such a problem. I think most people wouldn't go as crazy with photos as I have, see!
It came with a lot of features such as a calculator and clock which I found useful, and some others which I have yet to use, such as Allshare and Samsung Apps. The radio plays very clearly and the memo pad is really useful.
The phone plays music nicely! I don't use the headphones which came with it so I can't comment on those, but it allows you to store songs in different folders, rename songs and includes album art for some songs.
When used with Wi-Fi, the phone is very quick on the internet and displays websites clearly. The phone has a useful feature that allows things to be viewed portrait or landscape, depending on which way you hold the phone, and double clicking allows you to zoom in to read small text easily.
There is just one thing which was not mentioned when I brought the phone or anywhere else - unlike some smartphones, it does not support live wallpapers - that is, animated wallpapers which respond to touch and things.
Also, when taking photographs, it is a good idea to double check every now and then what size they are set at, as sometimes (not very often) it changes back to default by itself.
When viewing photos which are portrait orientated, the phone often flips them around which doesn't affect their quality but can mean you can't see all of the photo. When setting an image as the wallpaper, if the image was not taken by the phone it can cause some problems with sizing and orientation - but that's OK, because the photo can be rotated from it's menu and you can select which area of the image you'd like to be displayed as the wallpaper.
But considering everything else, these aren't really an issue :)
A great allrounder with few issues, it's a brilliant budget smartphone that runs just like the other more expensive ones for a fraction of their crazy price!