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Superman has been one of those superheroes who has eluded me, although being maybe one of the most famous fictional characters, maybe due to my own ignorance or simply poor work by film and media creators, what I know very little about the guy, so I came into "Man of Steel" with a fresh mind as the only exposer I have had to Superman was from the TV series "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" which was broadcast on the BBC in the 2000's, and I fairly enjoyed it, although now I hear that the story wasn't true to any comics and they made a lot of it up.
The films have to elude me as I have not seen any Superman films prior to going the Man of Steel, so even though I hear that they are all terrible and don't do Superman any justice. So I come into the cinema with a fresh mind on this film.
This film (unlike many others I hear) starts off explaining the story of what happened on Krypton, Superman's home plant, the short version being due to excessive use of the planets natural resources, the planet on the verge of exploding and the planets official authorities have a conflict of interest on who is going to survive and by what means. General Zod takes the role of the Antagonist in the story as his interest's conflict with that of Kal-El (Superman), father who foresees the troubles and sends his son on a spaceship to Earth to the dismay of General Zod.
This part of the story was quite interesting, as I knew very little about Superman, I was under the impression that Kal-El was simply sent to earth due to the destruction of his planet and was the last of his kind, I didn't know the whole backstory of what occurred as it happens there is a rich backstory behind Superman's existence and his place on Earth.
The rest of the film varies between pre-teen, teenage and adult Clark as he grows up and finds his place on Earth and learns about his powers on Earth. Which unlike I thought aren't a naturally occurring this, but in fact a "side effect" of being Earth. Until he discovers a spaceship buried in ice and being investigated by the American government.
This was my favourite part of the film as it shows that "Superman" is in fact just a person lost on our planet trying to discover who he is. Man of Steel is more about Superman discovering who he is and his role on Earth.
The final part and what seemed like the longest, is when General Zod comes to Earth to find Kal-El and take over the Earth turning it into the new Krypton, which Kal-El doesn't approve off and stands with the human race, which causes a long battle gains General Zods forces.
This is although seems necessary in a Superhero film, seems the most long winded part of the film as Superman battles Zod's forces for what seems like an hour (maybe it was), with a lot of vehicles and buildings going down using very well done special effects, however an awful lot of it making the film seem repetitive, I am all for action scenes but what's wrong with taking a quick break with a side story?
Overall, the story was great, allowing you to really get to know Superman; however the last part of the film seemed really longwinded and tiring, I can't help but think that if they took out half of the fighting and the building massacres, it would have cost them a considerable amount less and it would have been a really good and throughout interesting film.
For a movie based on one of the most famous Superheroes, you'd think that some major actors would get involved. However the only large names involved would be Russell Crowe who played Jor-El (Superman's real father), and did a great job may I add. As well as Kevin Costner whose name seems to be very familiar even though I have seen but one of his other films and he plays Jonathon Kent (Superman's/Clark Kents adoptive father). All other acting roles are filled with experience big screen actors but no names of which I've taken note of before. The most notable actor here being Henry Cavill best known for his role in "The Tudors" and a very much British actor, who really gave himself justice in playing Superman, well casted and seems to belong in the part. There are also other equally well done roles by Amy Adams playing Lois Lane and Michael Shannon playing General Zod.
The film seems to have cast few actors which allows the attention to be primarily on Superman and the main storyline, which was all good and well until they spent the rest of the budget on Visual Effects, the core of which went to creating collapsing building.
I was quite shocked to see how many visual effects artists where listed in the credits for this film!
As I mentioned before, the visual effects was the priority within the budget and it was spent quite well. Although I wasn't able to watch it in 3D, I've heard good things from numerous sources and with it in mind, the 2D version showed lots of scenes which 3D would be effective, especially in the final bit of the film with the epic battle. If you're planning to see it in the cinema, I would highly recommend going for the 3D option, as it would make the film both interesting with the story and a visual experience in the final moments.
Overall it was a film which was meant to be seen in 3D. Although containing some great story elements which allows audience with no knowledge of the history of Superman (like myself) to enjoy it as well as dedicated fans to see a Superman film which isn't terrible and which sticks true to the comics.
Seagate Expansion 500gb External Desktop Drive
About 44 years ago, NASA managed to launch a man into space and land him on the moon, get him to walk around and bit and make world history, and all of that was done on a computer with 'apparently' the same power as a modern day scientific calculator. It is quite astonishing how computers are advancing at such a rapid rate, the most significant difference if how much storage memory has improve in the last few years.
Back 5 years ago, a Hard Drive which can store 1 Terabyte (1024 GB), was considered astonishing and a sign of a great computer, I had 120GB in my laptop and thought it was more than enough! Now I have a 1 Terabyte Hard Drive in my desktop and somehow still find it necessary to have a 500gb External Hard Drive!
Seagate is a well-known name in the computer industry being one of the biggest if not the biggest manufactures of Hard Disk storage media devices in the world. Recently buying out Maxtor and Samsung's Hard Drive division and expanding their business, they are known well for introducing a lot of first time products like the first 3TB and 4TB External Hard Drives in the last few years, showing themselves as leaders in Storage technology. Therefore you should be confident when buying a Seagate product as reliability is well established and the technology is always top notch.
---About Seagate Expansion---
After numerous days comparing and reading technical reviews and asking advice, I managed to finalise on the Seagate Expansion 500 GB HDD (Hard Drive Disk). The Expansion itself is a midrange product from Seagate, however when purchasing a Hard Drive, all you should really be concerned with is how reliable is it in keeping the media and its warranty, as this shows how much the company trust their product, the longer the more likely it will last (also don't forget to activate it!)
The Hard Drive is nothing special externally, it is quite slick and has a nice reflective finish on the place up top (please refer to the pictures), which gives it an appearance of elegance, although mine appears to be camouflaged under some dust! There is a Seagate logo at the front as well as a little light which tends to flash in reference to what the drive is doing (Standby, Working or Awaiting). This basically shows you that the power management system is working, the Hard Drive will go into power saving mode when not being used and will quickly active upon you clicking on a file relating to it.
The Seagate Expansion comes with everything you require to get the drive working. This is basically the power cables and the USB 2.0 data lead. As you've guessed, it is an externally powered drive via the mains and was released way before USB 3.0 was in the headlines.
With the lack of USB 3.0 it may put you off, however it still gets reasonable speeds with 5,400 rpm, however by today's standards; you can get something much faster for probably much cheaper.
The build quality is slightly questionable, but you've got to consider it is meant to be an External Static Drive for a Desktop, and not to be carried around as a portable drive. Therefore although it looks nice, it does feel like if you drop it from knee height, it may not work again. However having owned this Hard Drive for 3 years, I've found no problems.
When working, it doesn't tend to produce much noise at all. Upon waking it up you will hear a start-up moan and that is about it, in all, it's quiet.
Finally, the ease of use for this drive is brilliant. Anyone can purchase it and get it going within minutes with the easy Plug & Play features, all you need to do is plug it into the mains and attach the USB, all Drives will install automatically and nothing else is required, it is like using a large Flash Drive, drag and drop.
Now I bought this around 3 years ago from Argos on Sale for £50 (came with a free 8 GB USB Flash Drive), and this was quite deal for the technology available at the price. Now you are easily able to buy a far more advanced Drive for the same price if not cheaper! Yet I still see the same USB 2.0 drive being sold for £50.
I couldn't have recommended this drive more highly 3 years ago for the price and the ease of use. However times have changed greatly and USB 3.0 is available to any Joe or Jane for competitive prices, unless you're getting it this Hard Drive for about £30 or less, don't bother.
Having mentioned that the drive is slightly out-dated with luck, practically the same drive is available with USB 3.0! Also comes in different sizes ranging from 160GB to 1.5TB!
But I must warn you, although Seagate are a respectable and a trustworthy company, the price reflects the brand and often you'll overpay, I always tend to wait for a Sale, as Hard Drives significantly drop in price with a range of other offers thrown in.
Now as I mentioned, I couldn't recommend the Seagate Expansion 500GB Desktop Hard Drive highly enough, however with the massive advance in technology every month, purchasing this exact one for the prices they want is extortionate. The Seagate Expansion does however make updated versions with the new USB 3.0 connection (make sure your computer has it so you can take full advantage of the speed).
It looks good, and performance exceptionally, although may feel a little dodgy.
It isn't on odd occasion that you'd be seeing me drink an energy drink, in fact I'm kinda addicted to them, so it was to my surprised that I realised I had not tried Relentless' Juiced Berry version of their drink, so after splitting the 2 for £2.00 deal with my friend in Tesco, I tried this new and quite exotic energy drink since apart from Red Devils which are Cranberry flavoured Energy Drinks, I have not seen of another berry related Energy drink on the market.
I expected this drink to be similar to Red Devil, which doesn't really give you an impression of berry when you first taste it but more of a 'sharp' taste explosion with the fizzy bubbles, similar to a normal energy drink which gives you the taste of synthetic fruit, but in a cranberry style. However Relentless Juiced Berry was slightly different, on opening I could clearly see that the drink was very red and on first taste it seemed kind off flat as I could only taste the berry flavour, as you would similar to a berry juice drink, as it was similar in the next and the next taste, even allowing me to pretty much jug the whole drink, which is some people know is very difficult with fizzy drinks. So unfortunately the title is somewhat accurate it is 'Juiced' Berry, as it is more juice than the standard fizzy energy drink.
---Compared to the other Relentless family---
Relentless Origin is my typical choice for energy drinks as I like the standard 'fruit' taste and it comes in a good size for a cheap price, and I occasionally have Juiced Energy or Inferno to mix it up. Well having tasted the Juiced Berry version of these drinks I am in no hurry to find the 4 pack of these as I do with Relentless Origin. As I've briefly mentioned above Juiced Berry unlike Origin or Juiced Energy tasted flat and juice like, the drink offered nothing of the Energy Drink charm Origin provides and compared to Red Devil, it's kind of weak in flavour.
Just like Juiced Energy, Juiced Berry is comes at a slightly more expensive than the original Origin averaging at around £1.45 in Tesco (compared to Origin at £1.25), this is the standard Relentless 500ml can, comparing this to the closest energy drink of its flavour, Red Devil, which is 0.29p in a department store in my town and comes in a 250ml can, however like I've mentioned, this is typically a deal of some kind going on in the shop giving you 2 for £2.00 or 3 for 2.
This is I find quite disappointing, unlike its brand brother Origin, which provides a good 'buzz' giving you lots of energy and allows you to concentrate slightly better (in personal experience), Juiced Berry failed to provide any of that, which is quite inadequate when the only reason you buy this, is to get an awareness buzz as for £1.45 I'd expect no less, and the can of that size also.
Just like with all energy drinks, there are some health issues mainly related to the high caffeine content, it is not recommended that young children drink this and I've seen a restriction of 16 years old in some shops. Also it is mentioned on the can that pregnant women and people with heart conditions should avoid this drink. Also because of the caffeine, some people may experience bladder irritation which will cause you to go to the toilet more often, or your bladder may sometimes 'insist' on you going.
I'm slightly disappointed with Relentless Juiced Berry because of its juice like nature, as I find being able to jug an energy drink somewhat troubling (because of caffeine content) and I've always liked the classic carbonated energy drinks rather than this flat version. So unless you are specifically looking for a Berry flavoured drink which is kind of an energy drink but doesn't give you the energy boost and isn't very carbonated, I'd recommend this, if not I'd say stick with the original and the best Origin or find yourself a retailer who sell Red Devil.
Jamaica is famous for a lot of things, its beautiful landscape, great people (with amazing accents), its 'herb' medication (wink wink) and its Bobsled Team, but one thing I didn't think I'd be finding Jamaica exporting is some amazing Beer!
I was up for something different one late afternoon after a hard shift at work and I was browsing through my Tesco beer/lager section and fancied something other than my typical Kronenberg or Budweiser '66, so I turned around and saw Red Stripe, the packaging is somewhat simple, in fact looks like some Tesco Value beer in the sense of it being all White with a red stripe saying "Red Stripe" in white text through the stripe (get it? hahaha). Having heard from somewhere that Red Stripe is good, I was eager to try it as I am up for trying anything once, so I grabbed a pack of it.
The beer isn't anything special in apparel when you pour it into a glass, the typical lager/beer colour with the standard amount of foam at the top, (if you pour it holding the glass at a 45 degree, does any beer justice). Trying it for the first time, I tasted nothing different from Kronenberg, so it was good, a decent taste and very drinkable. Quite light and goes down well, it's the sort of beer you can easily down a pint off in a few seconds without any problems. But the real "specialness" comes in when you take a good half mouth full, you can really taste the difference between your typical beer, it's got that extra 'crisp' taste, which doesn't linger in your mouth for long after swallowing, so you go in for another gulp and enjoy that as much as the first, second, and third!
I also found that when I couldn't be bothered to find a glass, I took a can on it's down and took it down straight from. I found that it somehow tasted better from the can. Probably something to do with the taste and greatness being compacted into a small space escaping from the can.
Basically put, Red Stripe is something special in the Beer department and definitely worth a try!
Packaging, Price and Volume
As I've mentioned the packaging is quite simple and nothing eye catching, but it is found in the premium section of beers/lagers in Tesco in 440ml cans in a 4 pack for around £4.00, which is a typical price for a premium lager/beer (to date of posting there is a 3 for 2 offer on at Tesco which Red Stripe is included in). Red Stripe is also available in 12oz bottles, but probably rare to find.
The alcohol level is at 4.7% Vol, so it's above the average. But personally I don't find it to have as much of an effect on myself. I usually get drunk of a cider much faster than of a beer. Can easily take 2 of these cans and not feel a difference (but that's me).
Red Stripe has earned its space in my all-time favourite beers due to having a unique taste and can be easily drunk with a meal or on its own. It's also the same price as the other lagers and beers on the market and I will definitely be stocking up on Red Stripe over anything else in the future.
***Warning- Epic Novel Ahead***
I have been using PayPal for numerous occasions from donating money to special causes to being paid for work I have done for someone overseas in American. It is a fantastic website and the service they provide is the best on the web. The main reason I use Paypal is because I receive and send money on eBay for things I've sold and bought and it's made eBay such an pleasant experience that some get addicted to eBay and I've got to say I have been on the verge myself. However sometimes people disagree on eBay because of the produce they have received and want a refund, the problem there is the seller is 60% of the time reluctant to give you a refund or simply refuses. Here is my experience with PayPal's Claims and Disputes procedure.
I don't want to bore you with the details, but basically I bought a Xbox 360 console on eBay which had the Red Ring Of Death (broken down), I was fully aware of this fact and I was sure (and was right) that I could fix the console, but that wasn't the main thing that attracted me, it was the fact that for the price tag of only £65, I not only got a console I could easily mend, but also 28 Xbox 360 games, now any Xbox 360 gamer or in fact anyone who knows anything about technology would agree that 28 Xbox 360 games of any kind are worth more than £65, so I jumped at the chance, although I knew it was too good to be true, and how I was right.
After a week of waiting I finally received the long awaited package and got my knife and sliced open the packaging tape and to my surprise, I found a bubble rapped package with about 15 disks and about 10 cases of poorly packaged and replicated Xbox 360 cases and games. They were counterfeit, fake, replicas, copies, whatever you call them; they were not genuine Xbox 360 games, now that just drops the price of the package to £20 - £30, I fact I wouldn't have bought it. I know your probably thinking, well it was too good to be true, what you expect, I expected a really fantastic bargain.
Of course after carefully reading the sellers descriptions, which has more mistakes than a Reception Class Shakespeare's Poetry Essay, I decided to contact the seller, of course I was a little distressed about the whole ordeal, but maintained myself from writing anything that the seller would later use against me. The seller, I later realised was either a 12 year old child or a very stupid adult (my money on child), was highly unhelpful, said that he did stat they were "copies", but what he really said could have been interrupted differently by anyone, "Included 28 games copies", since replica games are not allowed to be sold on eBay, I though he meant 28 games, but some are the same as others, hence copies of the same title.
---My Attempts to Resolve With Seller (As Recommended By eBay & PayPal)---
I attempted to reason with the seller, saying I only want a partial refund as I don't want to send back the console as it will cost about £10 to do so out of my own wallet, the seller simply gave me 1 line answers saying, not his fault, "take it up with eBay". After about a week or so of back and further as the seller only replied once a day, quite annoying, so not a hope in hell would I be able to solve this dispute with this person.
---Dealing with PayPal Saga---
I have has previous experience with a PayPal dispute before, a seller sold me a broken item, refused to give me a refund, I disputed and it was solved within a week, I sent it back got my money, fantastic. Although it was a similar case here it took a little longer, and it is probably one of the more complicated cases PayPal can do, so if I lived to write this article/review, it's not all bad. I opened the dispute after talking to the seller, who was probably trying to be as uncooperative as possible. Paypal responded quickly, asked for the seller point of view in this situation, which the seller gave, after about a day Paypal came back to me and said they would like some proof of counterfeit, now this is where my problem started, I didn't know what they meant, so I had to call them up and ask.
PayPal has to have one of the best telephone customer services I have ever dealt with, although you do have to deal with an automated machine, which asks you for the customer ID number the website gives you when you select the option to call and can take a few minutes to get you to a real person, but if your desperate, just use some tricks like swearing at it, mumbling your speech or saying "Speak to an Agent" constantly. The people are very friendly and are typically English, they recognise you issue and deal with it or transfer you, so it is done quickly. I was able to explain my issue got some good answers and I was on my way in 10 minutes.
---Dealing with PayPal Saga- Continued---
I eventually got the required documents, I basically had to go to a game shop and ask them to type me out a note to say that the games are not genuine, I have a friend who works in HMV who did it for me, I don't know what I would have done if I had to go to a total stranger in a Game shop and ask them, they would probably say no and I would be embarrassed and still requiring the letter/note. The letter basically had to include a company's letter head and location information. This is a little odd, since in cases like mine, it isn't jewellery or something that has special shops what would do such a request for you, it can be difficult to obtain the information, especially as I was only given 3 days. I scanned the document and sent it to PayPal. They didn't replay for 2 weeks, which got a little annoying so I decided to call them again (I forgot to mention that it's an 0870 number, but I got these calls free from the BT package), I once again experienced their fantastic customer service and I was asked to send another document, which I had to print off and sign saying I destroyed the counterfeit games, I printed and signed. It is quite odd, as PayPal asked me to fax the document, however it could have easily been scanned and sent, which I did and it was fine.
After a few hours wait, Paypal said that the case was granted in my favour and I get my refund, which I was ecstatic about since I have been running around and waiting for almost a month. Unfortunately the seller only had £5.60 in their account and I was given that, Paypal said they will get the rest from the seller eventually, and to this day about a week after the issued refund.
The seller even contacted me saying when I will send back the games from the refund, since PayPal didn't say anything about sending back the console or the rubble that is the games; I decided to tell the seller just that. I bet now he wishes he gave me my refund when he had the chance instead of his account been frozen.
Basically PayPal has been fantastic, and this is for anyone faced with a refund issue similar to mine, I advise you to talk to PayPal, they are very helpful and will eventually get you your money. Also it is worth giving them a call, although it is premium charge for the 0870 number, it is worth it.
Thanks for reading and hope anyone luck who is faced with a similar situation.
I'm a very dedicated Motorbike enthusiast, I own a motorbike (mind it's only a 125cc, as I can't ride anything larger...by law...yet), I 9/10 times can tell you what the make and model of a motorbike is going past and I love the MotoGP and the Isle of Man TT and essentially anything involving 2 wheels and an engine. Although I usually miss it due to work on the weekends, I'll stream it later to see what happens.
So the obvious choice for a game would of course be a MotoGP game, and I got MotoGP 09/10 before the newest (to date of review) one came out which is MotoGP 10/11, just like Fifa games, they tend to update them every year to include new changes in the game. Considering MotoGP 10/11 has been out for a couple of months (to date of review), and I'm still playing MotoGP 09/10, must mean I am either cheap (well yes) but could also mean this game has got a lot to offer to keep a regular gamers like me entertained for months! Well I wouldn't say entertained but more determined to beat the game than anything else, even though it is near impossible.
When you first get into the game, you are created with the typical Developer/Publisher intros and an Intro video for the game, basically showing all the bikes going around and excitement, explosions and things as such. Then a very simplistic menu comes up where you get to choice which game mode you'd like to go into, Championship, Career, Arcade, Time Trail or Multiplier (Online), all these are basically very similar to each other with minor differences in who you progress through the game and what the goals are of each mode, but if you are looking to milk some achievements from this game, the game requires you to spend a decent few hours in each mode.
This is the first mode I went into when I started up the game. You basically create some Team by selecting a country, your team colours and what bike you want to start off with, since the aim of this mode is to progress through to the high ranks, you start of in the 125cc category and progress through to Moto2 and MotoGP. Have numerous tools to your disposal, this being the team you can build up of Engineers and Press Officers. The Engineers are assigned by you to upgrade your bike and the Press Officers to find you sponsors to pay you money, so you can afford the staff and upgrades to the bike. But what does really annoy me, is the fact that you barely get anywhere with any bikes before the MotoGP part of the career, you'll upgrade about a quarter of the bike and have to dump it for a faster one to participate in the bigger CC Engine events, so honestly, save your money and don't bother.
There are numerous races in each season, each race consisting off a Practise, Qualify and Race. The first 2 aren't necessary but if you wish to rank up to a higher level, they earn you more points, so it's a good idea to do them, and you don't have to sit there for 5 (or however many you set) laps and do them, just 1 is enough to get a grade.
Speaking of grades, yes, you get graded in your performance on the track, it all comes down to if you come first, crash or keep colliding with other racers, if you do good and make nice clean turns (following the line), you'll get an "A" and hence a good amount of points, if not a "C" or a nothing, which is a bit of a waste. It all really depends on how dedicated to the game you are, if you want to just complete it, get the complete career achievement, don't bother but if you want to get a few involving upgrading your bike fully and getting to level 30, I'd start doing them practises.
One major thing in the Career Mode is the fact that you can't Restart a race, once you're in a race, qualifying run or the practice, you're in there until you finish or quit. You've got a "Second Chance" which allows you to rewind the race before you crashed or whatever you wish to skip back on, which is pretty cool as you don't have to keep redoing the whole race, however this does effect you're grade at the end. You may not have crashed (technically since you went back); however the penalty for using Second Chance is as bad or worst in negatively affecting your score.
Overall the career does take a long time to complete, depending on the difficulty setting you choose (the harder it is, the more points you get at the end of the race), it could be from a week or 2, or if you're like me, a good month and a bit of daily play to just complete the career, never mind the Level 30. It does get boring and you've got to be a little mad to stick to it for so long.
This is basically what the whole 2009/2010 thing is about since each game updates the riders and Teams as well as bikes they ride. The concept behind this mode is you select a team you want to race for from the different classes (125cc, 250cc and MotoGP), and once selected you follow the team through the racing season of 2009 or 2010 but you're responsible for their fate since you're racing.
Basically it's just racing through the season and seeing where you come in the end, quite simple.
Unlike Career Mode however, you can "Restart Race "and "Second Chance" isnÂ't present in this mode.
Arcade Mode is quite interesting as I expected it to a basic copy of Championship Mode, however I was happy to see something new in the game which is quite fun in all fairness. Basically its racing (fancy that!) but you've got to keep within the given time, Outrun style, so if you're too slow to get to a checkpoint, you'll be out of the race.
Once again you get to select from different engine sizes and the rides within them teams, exactly like championship mode in essence but the aim of the game is slightly different.
It's quite fun for an experienced player as you can be challenging you're skills as you can't afford mistakes at all within these races, if you fall on your behind, there is no Second Chance or Restart here at all so you've got to suck it up and hope you can make it up.
Speaks for itself really as all you do is exactly like Championship and Arcade mode, select the Engine size of the bike, the team, the track you want to time trail and off you go trying to get the best time possible on the track. There is an achievement involved with this mode, being to get a specific time on a specific track, and that is basically all the experience I have on this mode as it is not something I'd spend my time doing.
---Game Modes Thoughts---
As you can probably tell now, they are all very similar, Career Mode being the most worthwhile doing as it does offer some kind of procession as you can rank up and move up in bikes and have money to spend on things so gives you the Management experience. The rest of the Modes are basically copies of each other with minor differences, I doubt unless you are after some extra achievements that you'd even do more than 2 races in each, as it gets very repetitive, especially if you've just completed Career Mode!
The weather does change quite a bit in this game; you can be racing in nice sunny weather, with dry roads, or maybe slightly wet roads if not a full thunderstorm with the track basically being a puddle. However I have not noticed any different between a drenched track and a dry track in terms of handling, this could be down to me only playing on Moderate difficulty for almost all races, but the difference in minimum if any. Unlike you'd expect, you won't go flying off the bike if you take a turn to sharp or press the brake too much in the wet as much as you would be in the dry, mind this could be down to the difficulty and I could be proven incorrect when playing on insane difficulty.
But nevertheless it's nice to see the weather change on different tracks, as you could be doing a practise on Silverstone in sunshine and be doing the actual race with dreadful rain (typical Britain).
---Quality of Controls---
The controls are quite simple and similar to any other racing game, you press RT to accelerate and LT to apply brake, mind with a motorbike its separate controls for back and front as is carried here with "X" being back brake and LT being front, "A" is to improve aerodynamics (lay on the tank) and of course the Left Analog to steer.
All controls are responsive and do as they should, I can't complain at all as just like with real motorbike racing, your responses are crucial in your success, and you'll eventually get a hang of using the different brakes, although it is easily to get the concept of the back brake being weaker and the front stronger (70% / 30% in fact), but it is a great way to learn.
Manual Gear controls are something else on this game, even though I ride in real life, I could not get the hang of these gears, I think all logic from reality is missing as the gears don't function correctly at all, and will case you to get frustrated even if you're doing it correctly. If you wish to do the Manual Gearing achievement, I'd go on the easiest track (the German one) and the easiest difficulty with 2 laps, you being pole position; otherwise you'll not get anywhere!
Overall, the controls are good (exception of Manual gear changing) and easy enough to understand, the vibration feature being as expected, vibrates on the intensity of the braking or if you go on gravel, and basically everything works fine.
Now this is what the motorbike enthusiasts are after and people who wish to experience racing with as much realism short of actually getting on a bike and doing it.
I can say, that this is just like any racing game, it gives you 2 options, ride the bike in a technical manor, following the guide line showing you when to brake and accelerate (on the easier modes), or you can go off Rambo style and race however you want, which I find being much more effective.
Even though technical riding is much better and you feel you have a better grasp of the game, as you're doing exactly what the real racers are doing, it doesn't get you anywhere fast as you'll be stuck in the gang and getting continuous fines for Collisions as the controls couldn't possibly be sensitive enough to prevent you from touching someone an inch away from you in a turn.
So I've recommend the method only viable in a video game of flooring it before any corner and insure you brake in time at an upcoming turn as not to get on the gravel. This will cause you to drift your bike, you pull a stoppie at almost where turn and to wheelie it on every straight (getting you loads of Showboating points), but I never see this in a real MotoGP race, so my suggestion is, if you want to win every race (or the good majority), race like you would in a GTA game.
There is an online feature on this game as you'd expect, it allows you to start races with other online members and really test your skills in comparison to other players, could find the answer to which riding style is better (madness or technical). Once you find other players you pick the map and rules and set off in the race.
However due to this game being quite old and a more updated counterpart being released, it is hard to find people online. In my short time there, I managed to play 3 people, 2 being new and as bad as me...actually much worse as one just stayed at the starting line and was attempting to do burn outs and donuts, and the other just crashed and gave up, whereas the 3rd guy simply owned me beyond anything. I suspect it is near impossible to get the Full Grid achievement requiring you to enter a race with around 20 players as I doubt there 20 players online at one time, or ever!
Basically, this game is not good for online play. It does however feature some downloadables, such as a bikes/maps pack and the 2010 update for the Championship which I didn't bother with, so can't comment.
On the Xbox 360 there are 50 achievements with about 30 of them achievable in Career Mode, which is pretty good. But I must say, although some are quite each easy and unlock from progressing through the game in Career Mode, others can be quite difficult, or time consuming to do, for instance the 100 Races Achievement (Centurion), I've completed Career Mode and MotoGP within that Mode numerous times, yet it still seems not to be enough, and the fact that you can't find out the statistics of how many races you've done, so keep going (Unless you fancy counting how many from the start). Others include finishing a race separate from your bike, which I did accidently once and was surprised to get 20g for my mistake.
The online achievements are near impossible. Winning 21 (Black Jack) races online is doable of course with a lot of dedication as well as the 69 (Nick Hayden) wins online too, however getting a 20 human starting grid is going to be near impossible!
Some achievements for instance finishing a race with each rider in the game (Doppelganger) for 5g is highly dull and the reward is awful, although you only have to finish the race and not win.
Well, MotoGP is surely has its ups and has it many downs, it does look good and gives you a decent experience of Motorbike racing, but it also lacks a lot, the weather being a big downside as it would be nice to have the bikes respond to the weather as they should, possibly giving you a better score at the end of Career Mode if you've done it on a wet track rather than a dry one.
However even though it is greatly flawed in many aspects I will continue to play it and coming back to it as I enjoy the simplicity behind it and personally I like to get some music in my headphones and play this game, thinking about stuff, as it gives me a sense of multitasking, and this may be why this game will continue to sell.
It will be interesting to see how MotoGP 10/11 compares to it, but I don't think I will be investing in it just yet as I want to completely use up MotoGP 09/10 as I'd expect them to be near similar (as you'd see with Fifa releases).
Racing games have been around since the start of computer and console gaming, with the exception of very first consoles and computers, every major console has had its share of racing games, they seem to be the staple of the gaming industry as someone somewhere will always buy them, myself being a prime example, I am a sucker for racing games, and have had numerous on every console I've owned, so I'd make myself a subject matter expert.
The Forza franchise has been around since May 2005 and is been created since then by Turn 10 Studios, a studio owned by Microsoft and dedicated in creating the Forza games for the Xbox console platforms the first 'Forza Motorsport' being created for the original Xbox console and if often seen as the Microsoft answer to the PlayStation exclusive and well known Gran Turismo series which has set the standard for all racing games since it was first released in 1997 for PlayStation.
Forza Motorsport 2 was slightly ignored when it was released on the Xbox 360 when it was first introduced, however Forza Motorsport 3 got a big entrance with expensive advertising and a flash announcement campaigns it was hard to miss Forza being released.
The title screen is simple for Forza 3, after all the developer and distributor logos finish coming up, you are shown the introduction video which is quite cool the first time you see it but after you traditionally skip to the splash page. You press start and load your game.
You are presented with 3 choices -
*Forza Motorsport 3* - This is the main game, upon entering this option you choose to do the 'career' of the game. Season Play allows you to progress with the game, every time you complete a season you get to do the next season in a faster class, essentially progressing from F class to R1 class, within 6 seasons, upon completing season 6 I'd class the Season Play complete, however it keeps going until I can only assume you've competed in every event, although no more achievements are to be gained from continuing the Season Play.
In all, simply doing Season Play near religiously every evening, it took me about 1 and a half months, potentially less if I had a higher tolerance to boredom and sleep resistance. Considering the 'Main Events' in each season get longer going from about 3 races in F class to complete the Main Event to 13 races with 40 mile races in R1 class, it can get very exhausting playing it near the end.
*Event List* - This is tied with Season Play, all the events features in Season Play can be played individually via Event Play, and you can even pick single tracks to race on within the each Event. This is a great way to go back and redo races if you didn't get the place you wanted in Season Play (in order to get 100% completion for instance). The best part is upon getting to Season 6, you'd have collected a good arrangement of cars for each class and for each Event requirement, which gives you an upper hand in most events.
Getting Gold in every event in the Event List, you get an 80g achievement, although you get to do a few events via Season Play, completing every event in the list will add some considerable game play time.
Multiplayer - This is for Online play and requires Xbox Live in order to use it. Having very briefly played it when I first got it, I wasn't all that impressed. It tends to be very empty most of the time (due to Forza 4 being released), however the rare occasion you get to race with another person the experience isn't all that exciting. Forza isn't really a game you get and expect an astonishing Online Experience. However the few people I did see had some interesting vinyl images on their cars and if anything, you'd go online to show off your Creator skills.
*Free Play* - This has got nothing to do with the game completion, but simply gives you access to the complete game instantly to just mess around on, giving you 3 modes to get started quickly in; Quick Race to play on any track using any car available or Hot Lap, essentially a time trail. Split Screen being 'in living room' multiplayer.
With the main 'Career' bit of the game all combined you are sure to get hundreds of hours game play out of it, as many people have said, "You don't complete Forza, you retire from it" as few have ever been dedicated enough to get 1000g on it.
Upon release the Developers said that the Cars had more detail within them than any game before them, this was why the additional disc was required to allow you to install the additional content to get access to the cars (around 2 GB) but the game is playable without the additional content. However having played numerous racing games on the Xbox 360 (my favourite being Race Driver Grid), I see the modelling effort hasn't gone to waste as you can see the cars are quite well presented, especially on a 42 inch HD TV, however I feel the effort wasn't really required and was more of niche for the game to sell it, as it hard to make a realistic racing simulator unique.
You get a large choice of cars within the game from your everyday Focus' and Land Rovers to the more exotic Ferrari and Lamborghinis and of course the race spec cars for the R3 to R1 classes, in all around 400 cars on the normal version of the game from 50 different manufactures.
All cars have unique handling pros and cons, making car purchases at the beginning more of a science rather than just going for the fastest, as handling plays a major part in a lot of the tracks.
Unlike the main competition, Gran Turismo, you can modify your car both stylistically and performance, with easy tools to do so in the Upgrades option. This can be quite useful for a lot of races and especially the Event List. Each time you use a car the experience you gain from the race get added to your car and after a certain amount you go up a level (up to 5), this gives you discount on parts in the Upgrades for that specific car/manufacture. However levelling up the cars doesn't really count to your progress (after the first car, where you get achievements).
The best part I've not seen in any other game is the Paint feature. This allows you to style your cars with custom paint jobs and add personal vinyl's you can create yourself from different shapes. This really allows any creative person with an artistic flare to go mental, with the many tools available you can spend hours working on one car. A great feature, but often ignored.
Unfortunately I've never had the privilege to go on any of the famous race tracks featured in this game, only seeing them from numerous angles during broadcasted races and other events I couldn't comment on how realistic the tracks are to drive on. However they are near photorealistic with lots of detail on the ground in particular, you can tell a bit of attention was spent to make the race track more than just a something the car moves upon, you if spend the time to look around rather than just at the road, you can notice minor details that the greater picture make it seem quite nice.
However the blurb at the back of the game case states as a quote "Race on over 100 of the most renowned real-world tracks", which you could be blamed to assume 100 unique tracks? Further investigation would bring up the words "variations of tracks". By I mean that although, yes there are 100 tracks which are not all the same, the differences are not at all great. You will often find yourself on the same track over and over again throughout a small bit of the career or what at least feels like the same track as its either been reversed or a minor change added. It is more like 20 tracks with 5 versions of each track, which when attempting to complete the game can get amazingly repetitive.
This in my eyes is where the game can really shine. You can make the career and individual races as easy as you want to almost impossible by adjusting the assists the game offers. There aren't any achievements to gain from playing the game in a difficult mode, so I tend to make it easy and relaxing. However attempting to play the game with no assists and no automatic, can prove a major challenge to a lot of people and is definitely something you've got to commit to master.
If you are after the an easy relaxing racing experience you can pretty much have the game do everything and you steer.
Each car in the game has its own driving style which can really effect how hard a specific race could be, so making careful choices can ease the experience feature.
Once again, the fastest car I've ever driven was a Vauxhall Astra and this was around an old airfield (good times). The game does give you a good example of the challenge the sport provides (especially on hard difficulty settings).
Performance wise the cars seem to all respond well, you go on the grass you slow down, receive damage and the car is handicapped in the damaged area as well as the damage is visible and quite well from a minor scratch to the panels being left on the race track.
No game has yet applied external environmental factors such as wind and rain to effect performance of the vehicle, e.g. during a long race weather changes effecting driving style required, could be an interesting addition (that's a free on Turn 10).
As unfortunately the money sponges which the distributors are have realised they can not only sell you the game but stuff later to make you spend MORE money as if potentially spending £40 isn't enough. Forza 3 through its life time got many car packs released on sale on Xbox Market Place, each pack providing you with some new cars to race in. Later the packs and everything created for the game was released in a Game of the Year (GOTY) style, called the Forza 3 Ultimate Collection. If you find it somewhere, it tends to be only a few pounds more and probably worth the few pennies to get the complete game.
Lots of easy achievements are available for this game right from the start. Things like winning a race, getting up a level and levelling a car will get you easy points. It does increase in difficulty as you get further into the game (naturally). But in all not much thinking is required and on simply completing the game past Season 6, you're look at about 700g, the other few up to around 850g are easily gain-able by doing small bits around the game, nothing challenging.
If you've got online, you're looking at an easy but very time consuming 1000g, as some achievements require you to get involved in the Storefront and Auctions, I haven't talked about it much because it seems something you really ignore and I only look once or twice.
In all, if you are really dedicated you can get yourself an easy 1000g from this game, or simply run through some more interesting games and get the 1000g from them in the time it would you from this game.
Forza 3 is a good game; it does exactly what you'd expect from a down to basics racing game. It has a lot of cars to try out and lots of tracks. However unlike a few others on the market currently and I'm not comparing this to the Need for Speed franchise but rather games like Race Driver Grid.
In all the game could be much better and it would be interesting to see how Forza 4 has panned out, but I'm not hearing anything significant has changed.
Over the last few years I've managed I've had a mixed history of phones, although I am not the type of person who swaps their phone every month because of their rolling contract upgrades or very deep pockets, I've managed to own a Blackberry and an iPhone before moving onto an Android phone this review is about, and I can say in confidents that it is the best phone I have used in my life by far!
The Xperia Arc is an Android operating system based Smartphone which was first released in April 2011 by Sony Ericsson to join the ever expanding market of Android mobile smartphones. The phone was out to compete with similar phones from their competitors such as the Samsung Galaxy, Samsung Nexus, Nokia X7 as well as the iPhone 3GS. Although the technology has slightly advanced the Xperia Arc still remains a respectable phone to have within the community with its many features which I will discuss further on in the review. The Arc was one of the last phones released under the Sony Ericsson name, as Sony now outright own the Smartphone business.
---Shape, Feel and Look---
The phone looks quite stylish and slim with a distinct Arc at the back (hence the name), very slick and suave with simply 3 buttons on the front and a large 4.2 inch screen which has the BRAVIA Engine, allowing for some clear and sharp images, it's surrounded with a silver bezel on the sides, top and bottom, the device looks modern and unique having the majority of the new Xperia phones based off this original design. The phone is quite light only weighing 117g compared to the iPhone 3gs which weighs 135g, and after owning the iPhone, I did notice quite a difference although it is only a minor variance of 18g.
One downfall I hate to announce is the design itself, it's too slick. The phone has no gripping features at all and doesn't naturally sit in your hand when you first acquire it, I was having quite a bit of trouble figuring out a good place to put my hand, after a year it seems thoughtless but I remember the troubles. This is even more of an issue when you're intoxicated and like most young people like to get the mobile out and upload a picture of your mate wiped out on the side of the road due to that 20th Jagerbomb (true story), the "slickness" and my hand/finger coordination caused me to drop the phone numerous times.
However, even though the phone is a floor magnet, it compensates to being extremely durable. Without having a case on the phone at all for the last year, there is quite a bit of damage on the edges due to drops and scraps, the screen seems very scratch resistant and the Arced back naturally only allows the edges to take hits. I will admit I could have looked after the phone much better, primarily by investing in a £5 case, but it has taken the test off the elements, drunkenness and anger.
The phone is designed around the Android Platform which came out in 2007 with the HTC T-Mobile G1 and was made famous by the HTC Google Nexus One. It has since been featured as being the direct competition for the iPhone as it's in the majority of handset on the market today (not forgetting Windows Phone 7 and Symbian for Nokia). The success falls on the fact that it's an open development OS which allows anyone to get it and modify it and make it available to the consumer, hence why features are being added none stop, with significant changes in each update! It's also found on many new tablets being released by the day with many new and interesting applications to be discovered. It's free and it's amazing!
The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc is currently running the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update (came out with 2.3) and I must say that after getting an update and freshly applying a new OS onto the phone things significantly speed up. The OS is very good and allows extensive customisation to the homepage and how you want the applications set out; it basically offers everything the iPhone doesn't in the customisation department. This does get a bit over your head to begin with trying to get it how you want, yet only discovering the phones features can get frustrating but it does become easier by practise and watching a few YouTube tutorials.
The phone as you'd expect comes with all the basic functions of making calls and texting as well as the modern day favourites of a Music Player, Photo Gallery and Video Player with an expandable memory via Micro SD of up to 32 GB, which is a must if you like the media side of the phone.
The Android OS offers an extensive library of applications in many categories such as Games, Business, Finance, Education and Entertainment. There are lots to look through and download, you can turn your phone into whatever you want, such as an entertainment device with games and media or a business/school aid to keep notes and get assistance, and its available to everyone with lots of applications FREE and many offering more for a small price. The Google Play Store (Previously known as the Android Market Place) also allows you to by e-Books and Media more suited for larger devices like Tablets, however still available for purchase for the phone.
Unfortunately one downfall of the Android is that the manufactures insist on placing on Bloatware on our phone when we first get them and insist on resisting uninstalls. With the Xperia Arc, I got numerous stupid apps I knew I'd never use and a few couldn't be deleted; luckily there is an App for that!
Also just like any Smartphone and I've mentioned this briefly, it will start to slow down, you install and uninstall apps, take picture and the ROM clogs up with useless data as computers do, so a fresh install is often the solution so maybe look into that every 6 months?
Overall I love Android, and it works fantastically with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc.
In regards to hardware, the phone is pretty much a mini computer, but a few years ago it wouldn't surprise me to find a computer with the same specifications as this mobile phone now.
Processor - 1 GHz Scorpion (Snapdragon).
RAM - 512 MB, this is not for storage.
Storage - 1GB is built in however only 320mb is accessible for storage (the rest is software). Can take up to a 32GB MicroSD, typically (when new) is supplied with an 8GB MicroSD card.
Camera - Single 8.1 MP camera on rear of phone accompanied by Flash. Camera can take up to 8.1 3264×2448 resolution images with lots of detail thanks to the, Back-illuminated sensor Exmor R CMOS Sensor, Auto Focus, Face recognition, Image stabilizer, Smile detection and Touch focus features.
Screen - 4.2 inch screen at 854×480 resolution with a BRAVIA engine allowing it to look sharp from all angles.
Battery - Is Lithium Polymer (Li-Po) battery with 1500 mAh (removable).
Connectivity - The phone has all the basic methods of connectivity avalible with mobile phones Bluetooth (headsets and data share), microUSB (data cable and charging), 3.5 mm audio jack, Assisted GPS, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n and HDMI (Type D connector)
One of my favourite parts of the phone is the camera and probably one of the main deal makers for me when buying a phone. With a fantastic 8.1 MP Sensor giving you images of up to 3264×2448 which can be displayed fantastically on the BRAVIA Engine 4.2 inch screen. The images are of a fantastic quality and easily mistakable for Digital SLR quality on Facebook, I by far have the best photos from nights out!
The video can be shot in lovely 720p quality and it delivers great video at that quality, although the phone does tend to get a little warm when recording for a long time.
I find it quite amazing that my phone can take better picture than my mums Digital Camera, but I suppose technology advances at rapid rates.
A few major things with the camera however, even though it's very good, it's crazy slow. In order to get to the camera you need to either press the small button on the side or the Camera Icon in the menu, either way, it will take a good few seconds to get the camera up. The worst part is getting someone else to take a photo. After about a 1 minute tutorial, they still get it wrong and lose interest, so I can next get myself in any group pictures!
The videos are much easier to take and can be viewed on a HDMI compatible TV via a special HDMI to Mini HDMI wire which is provided with the phone. I've never done it but seems like a nice feature to have and very few phones have this.
I have mentioned many above, but to give a quick summary of the main faults.
- The design of the phone isn't ergonomic to the hand and can take a while to get used too.
- Software after a while will begin to slow down and a software reinstall may be required.
- Camera is slow
- Pictures take a while to load up
- Battery Life isn't good, although it does perform better on random occasion.
- Signal isn't fantastic
- Boot up time is long
As mentioned above, the battery life isn't great. But it all depends on what you are doing. If you use this phone to simply text and call throughout the day and keep the Mobile Internet and Wifi switched off, the battery should last up to 16 - 20 hours. However upon using the Internet or using any apps, especially games on the phone, the battery decreases rapidly.
The battery originally in the phone is the standard 1500 mAh battery, however upon some research on eBay; you can get a battery of up to 2680mAh for around £15. Having never tried it, I can't possibly comment on it, but if it doesn't blow up the phone, the increased power could be a big bonus.
Unlike the iPhone, the Xperia Arc doesn't really have accessories avalible at every corner shop, so it can be quite difficult to get them anywhere but online. I was quite surprised to find quite a lot of cases and screen protectors available for the Xperia, so upon getting one, it is a worthwhile investment.
I've had this phone just coming up to a year and I have been happy with it for that duration. Slightly frustrated with it becoming slower but the re-install of the software with the update has made it much better. The camera is fantastic although can be a bit slow, and the look and shape of the phone is eye catching and unique. I would highly recommend the phone if you're looking for something other than the iPhone and you're on a budget, because in many areas it if so much better.
In the 2 months, I've had the pleasure, no wait, the honour of driving the most magnificent car I have ever had the chance to get my greasy hands on! Due to work commitments and the company being the fantastic guys they are, myself and a few co-workers have had the opportunity to drive the new Ford Galaxy Zetec Diesel up and down the country and basically use it at our own disposal (for company related reasons I mean). Now I get to drive a lot of new cars around the place and nothing really makes much of an impression as much as this new Galaxy has on me, so I thought it was due a review.
I've previously reviewed my own bought Ford Focus 2003 Zetec Diesel which I thought was an outstanding car and Ford really hit the nail on the head with those generation of cars. However having done my research after driving the Galaxy, I've noticed that I've failed to realise the obvious fact that Ford have not only hit the nail, but put up a whole shelf in the last 10 years since my Focus was developed! The Galaxy I'd say is a fantastic representation of their efforts!
---History of the Galaxy---
Now if you're stuck in the past like myself, you'd be thinking of the old Mk1 Galaxy made between '95 and 2000 as well as the slight facelift added to the 2000 - 2006 Galaxy, nothing to eye catching and basically looks like an outstretched Focus, ugly. In fact the Mk1 was voted by Top Gear as the least satisfying car in the UK and Coronation Street used it as a murder accessory and drove it into a canal! The 2000 onwards model seemed to redeem itself with better engines and overall the interior was far more "classy" with all 3 variants (LX, Zetec and Ghia) being able to tickle the pickle.
The Mk3 which I am reviewing really seemed in a new league, creating a car previously seen as something my mum would struggle with due to having made some terrible life decisions with my dad to something myself as a young hip cool adult will consider purchasing as a run around!
As I keep mentioning for some odd reason I am seriously attracted to this car, it seems to me like someone got a bulldog and gave it a makeover producing a Katy Perry/Rihanna/Tyler Swift love child! It's stunning. Ford has really done something special with the 'Ford Kinetic Design' features they include in all their post 2008 cars. The cars look slick, fast and stylish; the headlights look like a teenage girl has gone nuts with a mascara brush and created a new grace! This is ever so vibrant on the Galaxy MPV as it's naturally a large vehicle; all the features are exaggerated and look fantastic! This is only talking about the Zetec, also known as the bog standard, as far as I can gather Ford now do Zetec and Titanium with Titanium X being the most spec'ed out as standard (not including additional extras).
The Titanium models are around £4,000 more expensive with standard features. However the exterior styling is minor and yet vivid enough to tell any passer-by that you're driving something slightly more special than the chump in the Galaxy Zetec. If you're after smashing out £25,000 for a new Galaxy, I'd get the penny jar out and upgrade to the Titanium simply for the "street cred" when you pull up to pick up your kid from school or stop outside the company headquarters.
Only ever seeing the interior of a Zetec Galaxy I can safely assume that anything costing more will be better. The MPV I drove was simply standard and contained no additional purchase extras, and yet I was still impressed by, well, how much it impressed me. As you get into the car you feel instantly comfortable with the soft fabric seats designed from some space age technology to put any worries you have in the world at ease, and with the numerous seat adjustments you can do, you can get into the perfect position, and you don't have to worry about crushing the rear passenger, they've got miles of leg room!
The most eye catching feature of the interior from the drivers view is by the obscure looking handbrake. First seeing it, I thought it was some space age leaver, and took me a few seconds to work out that it descended into the "floor" to release the brakes. It seems with this and a few other features it's trying to fool you into becoming a pilot.
The steering wheel itself is made of a soft leather style material and is quite small with the Ford logo in the centre with the horn as standard, and numerous controls on the sides for stereo controls and controls for the dashboard computer (I'll go through later). The stem controls are as usual for the indicators, window wiper/washer and Hands Free Controls for your compatible mobile. The lights are Ford typical on the right side via a dial.
The heaters are something special, this being quite a cold few months for us in the UK, a good car air conditioning system is something to praise! The Galaxy one allows you to quickly demist your Windows by setting it to crazy heat and adjust it by temperature so you will be at a constant temperature and it feels great knowing you're all sung in your Galaxy and the guy next to you is probably fighting with his too hot/cold settings.
The Stereo (6000 Stereo CD/radio) is just an updated standard Ford, it looks all complicated until you realise it's just buttons for radio presents, either way it works well with the speakers providing a good output and the radio is able to get signal in about 80% of where I went (where my car struggled). You are able to upgrade to a Sony DAB audio system which has USB compatibility for £350 at the dealership though when ordering your Galaxy.
Overall the Drivers interior is quite lush, as you get into it you can't help but notice the many things which are missing from the car which you could have had if your wallet was deeper. I suggest if you can dig deep the few little extras might be worth it, such as the Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Window Wipers and Headlights, Panoramic Roof, Blind Spot Assist, Touch Screen Sat Nav, Rear Passenger LCD TVs, and these are to mention a few extras you get include.
---On Board Computer---
I briefly mentioned the on board computer which falls into the many automatic features included in the Zetec. The little screen between the Rev Counter and the Speedo allows you to browse through some maintenance of the car, as well as switch on Eco Driving, basically it allows you switch of the engine when the car is at a standstill and the clutch is released (in neutral gear), supposable saving a fair bit of fuel during traffic jams, its included in like 90% of all new cars since about 2010 but still quite amazing.
Parking Sensors, detect if you're getting to close to a solid object via beeping. With such a large vehicle, it could be very helpful for parking and tight manoeuvring. It sure was for me getting used to such large vehicle after driving a car.
The Bluetooth Hand Free is also a nice feature allowing you to use your phone and drive. Upon entering the car you can connect to your car through your phone as you would with to a headset and when it rings the car will let you know. If your phone allows it, you can connect automatically each time you enter.
The computer as accessible via the controls on the steering allows you to browse information about the vehicle like fluid levels and how its performing and its fuel and how many miles you've got left.
Now this has to be my favourite part of the car. Being the passenger in the Galaxy is luxury, you feel like you're in First Class. The Galaxy has the capacity to seat up to 7 people with 5 people in the car it can be very luxurious for everyone around (not too much for the driver). The middle seats (next to the rear doors) can seat 3 people, the seats all move back and forth and adjust the back allowing you to get into a perfect sleeping position.
For dining options, there are airplane style fold down tables with cup holders allowing your kids to enjoy the McDonalds in comfort.
There is a fantastic amount of leg room for the middle passengers, allowing you to stretch out and relax; even the tallest person can sit in comfort.
I can't really say the same for the back most passengers in the rear, having fixed seats which are still comfortable, lack the luxuries of the middle, but still gives you a reasonable amount of leg room, although the seats where designed to be folded away with as much ease as possible.
This is a massive vehicle when it's not loaded up with 7 people the rear seats can be folded down revealing a massive storage area in the rear for shopping and animals if necessary, I would imagine a small bike will get in easy. If further space is required the middle seats fold down.
There are also cool little bits and bobs around the cabin which allow you to store items with a massive compartment to the left of the driver and door compartments as well as a nifty little sunglasses holder on the roof.
The MPV comes in both petrol and diesel. The petrol has can be bought with a 1.6 litre EcoBoost and the 2.0 Litre EcoBoost both with Stop/Start technology. Although the 1.6 Litre has been criticised for being slighting to slow for such as large vehicle.
The majority of the engines within the Galaxy range from 1.8 litres up to 2.3 litre Duratorq TDCi Engines with a 2.0 litre Flex-Fuel Duratorq available, allowing you to run on alternative fuels.
With the many engines available, I was stuck with the 1.8 Litre Duratorq, with this said, I was surprised how much power could be produced with the vehicle able to do a wheel spin from start and pull away at rapid rates, with seconds between gear changes on the motorway. This was fully laden with 5 passengers and bags in the rear.
We did a lot of motorway driving and the 1.8 Litre Duratorq was quiet and responsive allowing me to speed up and slow down with little effort and cruising with the additional economy gear (6th), it consumed very little diesel on our journeys requiring few fill ups. It's advertised at: 49.5 mph (combined) and average CO2 emissions of 152 g/km, seems quite good for such a large vehicle!
Under the bonnet was quite simple and nothing looked confusing and was all clearly labelled allowing you to undertake basic maintenance if required in the future, as with a brand new vehicle anything goes wrong, take it back to them and cry!
As mentioned above, for a large MPV the Galaxy outputs and outstanding 49.5 mpg (combined), probably smashing out over 60 mpg on Motorways if not more if driven slowly and carefully.
The vehicle is outputs 152 g/km of CO2, this means the tax will be at £170.00 per year. For a large vehicle like this, it seems reasonable considering past Galaxy MPVs will be paying in excess of £215.00 with today's rates.
This being a brand new vehicle, if purchased from a decent Ford Dealer, will come with a good bit of warranty and maintenance plan which is worth investing in if you plan to keep your warranty. I'm sure upon purchasing a £25,000 vehicle; they will cut you a deal for a Servicing/Maintenance plan.
The Duratorq engines are known to be very reliable and easy to repair with quick access to major components within the engine. I know this due to having an old Duratorq within my Focus and my local garage is always happy to take mine in for repairs due to Ford strategically locating their components.
Although I have had the honour of driving the Ford Galaxy Zetec for a few weeks, driving it on a regular basis and messing with every single gadget in the arsenal really allows you to figure the vehicle for what it's worth and the Galaxy 2012 is really something special as a vehicle. Having been somewhat absent minded in the last few years about Ford, I've realised I've seriously underestimated this manufacturer and they're in forms of technology development are keeping up with Japanese manufacturers like Honda who are famous for innovation.
Although I've praised the simple version of the MPV, I'd strongly recommend that if you're got extra money in the pocket to spend, I wouldn't cheap out on the extras within the vehicle because unlike those you see in the "high end" market with BMWs and Porsche, the additional extras offered are either useful or a significant feature in the vehicle (e.g. Panoramic roof)
However having praised the Galaxy all review, I must not forget to mention there is tons of competition out in the market with many MPVs being much cheaper and offering more. But then again, would the Galaxy be voted Best MPV of 2012 if there wasn't something simply special about the vehicle?
Although it has been released back in 2007 in the early years of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 generation, and I've had it in my collection in about 2010, I've still failed to get the motivation to play the game, although I've been told numerous times that it is one of the best games around and it's been recently put up for debate as being the best game in the current generation of consoles, which made me think that this game must indeed be something special to have millions of video game players agree on this single game as being the best out of the many that come to mind as being my personal favourites, so I blew the dust of the game case and placed it in the console with quite high expectations, which in past experiences has never been good, as I expect too much and never feel fulfilled to the level of my expectation.
---Story (Minor Spoilers Included)---
The game starts with an introductory cut scene in which you first meet the protagonist of the game, a passenger in a commercial aircraft in the year 1959, looking at a picture of his assumed family and smoking, when suddenly the trip takes a turn for the worst and the crash lands into the sea (I assume it's the Atlantic Ocean), and looking like the only survivor the protagonist swims towards what you later find out is the entrance to Rapture. Upon using the supplied submarine to drop down to far below the sea level, you are welcomed by a character called Atlas whom you communicate only through radio and discover this amazing underwater city, created by Andrew Ryan to be a place where each person is free and there is no government intervention, "a person can be what they want", but as you arrive there is far from a utopian society as you witness a "Splicer", a deranged citizen of Rapture rip apart another "Splicer".
You are then lead through an "as you experience" tutorial through the game where you discover that the whole place is depended on "ADAM" which is a substance which "Little Sisters", essentially possessed little girls who harvest "ADAM" from dead Splicers, and are protected by "Big Daddy's" who are guys in the 1950's Scuba diving equipment, also possessed to protect the Little Sisters as they collect ADAM. (In Bioshock 2, you find out that the Big Daddys are workmen who built Rapture and repaired it before it all went into chaos).
As the Protagonist you follow directions from Atlas to help him find his family battling Splicers and discovering more about Rapture as you progress in the Story as well as history of different people and what went on in the city through recorded messages discovered around the city.
The game is set from the aspect of a first person shooter, with a difference. You go around killing Splicers whom are out to get you at every corner, following direction from different characters via radio to complete goals in Rapture. This can vary from finding an item to taking pictures of the Splicers for "Research", either way I found it quite entertaining and gripping, although the concept of the game seems quite simple, it is challenging enough to require some effort, but at the same time you'll be gripped to continue playing it (few games have this effect on me).
When I mentioned it was an FPS with a difference, it was due to the fact that although you discover basic firearms throughout the progression of the game, such as a Revolver, a Shotgun, a Machine Gun as maybe one more, you are also collecting Plasmids, which you use with your left arm, these are essentially "Special Powers", which are developed by altering your Genetic Code with an Injection, allowing you to shot Electricity, Fire, cause Tornados and many more, providing you've collected enough Eve to use these powers, in essence the ammo for the Plasmids.
Essentially the Plasmids are related to the RPG system character development, the more you progress the more options are open to you, but in order to stand a chance against the newer enemy you come across, you need to advance the character, this either being through upgraded Plasmids or by finding the "Power to the People" stations and upgrading your weapon, doing all this will allow you to blow through the Splicers much easier, but as you progress the Splicers will come in greater numbers and pose a bigger challenge.
One of my favourite things about Bioshock is the "respawn" method, unlike other games were you come back to a checkpoint, Bioshock will drop you off in a Vita-Chambers scattered in numerous locations around the game rather than starting from a checkpoint or from a Save, this makes the game a little less stressful.
Among finding Plasmids and upgrading your weapons, you'll find numerous other stations such as the U-Invent allowing you to create ammo and other items from junk you find from scavenging around, as well as vending machine shops and ammo vending machines to spend your money in for health packs and Eve among other things.
Research is unlocked a bit into the game when you acquire the camera, this is used to take pictures of the different splicers and gain a researched advantage, basically the more picture you take the more damage you inflict and you'll get awarded different Plasmids.
As the Story progresses the more Plasmids you collect and the more challenging the enemies become, although if you check every corner, box, enemy or whatever else you might come across you will find money and items which help you and make the game fun as you're not constantly being over powered by Splicers.
The most interesting element of the game which is linked to the overall story of Rapture and what has caused the mayhem, is the Little Sisters who are possessed little girls how collect ADAM and Big Daddys who are as I mentioned possessed Workmen in Scuba Diving suits. To get Plasmids and develop in the game you must either Rescue or Harvest the little sisters, harvesting gives you more ADAM, but kills the Little Sister and Rescuing gives you fewer ADAM but takes the possession away (Note, your choice may matter). Admittedly when I first played it, I thought it was a bit "strange" to essentially have a goal of finding little evil girls who syringe out ADAM from dead bodies and they have a large guy protecting them whom you have to kill in order to drain the ADAM out of this little girl either killing her or freeing her from her evil way. But I promise it's really interesting and griping with lot of twists and turns and it's a game which encourages you to investigate. I had not once just done a goal straightforward, I divert and investigate everything I can find to make sure I've got lots of ammo and health at all times, due to this, what may be a medium length story, turns into a long and fulfilling game.
Only having played this on the Xbox360, I can't comment on the Trophies included in this game but 9/10 it's usually the same.
Being quite old makes this game perfect for most achievement hunters like myself, since it has no online features, it has no online based achievements and this makes it perfect for 100% completion as it is very doable and quite easy with only potentially requiring 1 play through to get the full 1000g.
This game will give you around 700g for just completing it on Easy/Medium, further achievements can be gathered through completing the game on Hard (which isn't all that challenging) and completing a number of collectables in the game, which with the help of a guide will probably get a few extra hours out of the game, as well as some "as you play" achievements.
I quite liked Bioshock's achievements as they are realistic to get and just require some dedication and time.
The game has got 2 endings depending what you do with the Little Sisters, having seen one ending I was compelled to find out what happened in the other ending and this gave me and excuse playing the game again and picking up the other achievements throughout the game, mainly the collectables. Having completed it twice, I am still not ready to part with Bioshock for some odd attachment has formed, maybe it's another GTA 4 in my eyes and I can come back after a few months or realistically a year and replay it.
The best part of Bioshock except the captivating storyline and the unique aspects the game has taken which vary it from anything else available, is exploring Rapture. But due to the mayhem in which you are thrown with Splicers fighting over every bit of ADAM they can find, you come into a very dark world where everyone is killing each other and you aren't anybody special. This means you'll be seeing a lot of gruesome things on your journey varying from dead bodies decapitated on the ground to entering a room with a person hanging from the ceiling, but eventually it becomes second nature.
Either way, it's not a game I'd recommend to the light hearted and easily disturbed and especially younger children.
As I've mentioned many times throughout this write up, I love this game, the story, the way it's presented and the fact that there isn't anything like this. Although it's set as a first person shooter with special powers, of which there are many about, Bioshock has that special flare which distinguishes it from any competition. It is a game which you simply want to keep on playing as the action and development is constant and there isn't many if any moments in which I was bored.
It does take some time for the game to reveal its true fun self at the beginning as it can seem a bit dull, however you must stick with it and soon you'll become as enthusiastic as me about it.
Never Back Down was a film about a disgruntled youth is drawn into a fighting world within his school due wanting to fit in more and due to a grudge he has with a guy he had a fight with at the beginning off the film with his one fuse being that he doesn't like people taking the "mike" out of his dad who had died. If you've seen the first film, just imagine that same story outline for the second one.
I wasn't ever expecting to see a Never Back Down 2 due to it having the feel of a sole one hit wonder of an independent film, everyone I know who has watched it said it was a supreme film and loved it, which makes me wonder why it received such low rating when it was released. But either way, the ending of it pointed away from there ever being a sequel, it just didn't feel right, but yet here we go, and I must say, it is one of those rare films which is actually good as a film milking of another films success!
A young High School Wrestler called Mike starts college and after going to a Freshmen party is invited to see a wanna-to-be Dana White (UFC Founder) called Max Cooperman (who was the main characters friend in the first film), who has organised a massive event for the "Savage Science" called "The Beatdown", he needs to find 16 fighters, off which one Mike becomes as well as a further few you discover in the film. You see numerous other interesting characters from different backgrounds such as Justin who is a Comic Book nerd being beat up by bullies, Tim, a responsible older brother who helps out his mum and 2 siblings as well as a ladies man, Zack. They all find their way to be trained by Case, a former MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighter whose come to an unfortunate halt in his career, and he takes them all under his wing and trains them, until they all disperse in motivation in fighting and it becomes less about The Beatdown.
The story is very simple and quite predictable on most parts, for instance the meet up with Mike, Zack and Case seemed to go down as a standard which was a bit disappointing as it'd be nice to see something new in a situation like that (similar to what happened in Never Back Down when they meet the couch/trainer), but overall it does flow very well, there isn't any complicated backstory and everything is explained very well, I also liked the bits where it reminds you with short scenes that these are still individual people with their problems and they've not disappeared due to them being better trained fighters.
First thing I've got to say is right at the start of the film, I was very confused with the 2 characters Mike and Zack, as they look very similar apart from Zack having an ear stud, which was the only giveaway on who I was looking at most times, although they are different people all together.
The film is directed by Michael Jai White, who has seen his way around a few films but never really made a big name for himself as an actor and this is his directing debut film, he also coincidently plays Case in the film as often happens in independent films and with new directors. Mind I can't fault him on his performance as Case as he not only looks the part being a professional martial arts in reality, his angry style acting really suits the character and made him really stick out.
Not until doing a little research that I found out that almost everyone in the cast had some kind of Martial Arts/Boxing history or was a professional fighter, for instance Tim (Todd Duffee) is a Heavyweight Boxer and Justin (Scott Epstein) was in Ultimate Fighter (TV Series), which was surprising as he pulled off playing a nerdy character at the start very well, although his transformation was quite amazing in 95 days from a nerdy character to a Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ), Muay Thai and Boxing professional he becomes (tad unrealistic, but the film is awesome so can be ignored). Continuing the cast call with a small cameo appearance from Lyoto Machida who is the current number 5 best Light Heavyweight fighter in the world!
Simply put they've got a whole lot of professionals with some decent acting skill to come and save on the stunt doubles to star in the film, which proved to give the audience a fantastic spectacle.
The fighting scenes were astonishing, I'd say better than watching the real UFC as they were very well choreographed to keep the audience on the edge of the seat (it did with me) watching the impressive moves (although often impractical) displayed. I must say, if anything to watch for it the Capoeira MMA mix they've established for Zack and the final Beatdown near the end was nothing short of watching the UFC itself.
I really hope not as they've struck very lucky with this one as Michael Jai White has combined what he is good at, this being Martial Arts and film and has come up with nothing short of another Never Back Down film, and I was gripped from the moment I started watching it. But I hope that unless they plan to take a whole new approach and not follow the recipe from these two films, they should let the series die here.
Even though I was very surprised to have seen a second Never Back Down film, as I've heard nothing about it until I stumbled across it, and I will admit I was worried that it was just another low budget film trying to milk of a previously successful film as it has a whole new cast and director, I was very glad to find that this wasn't the case and Michael Jai White has made a great film title into an even greater film.
I can't say nothing bad apart from small little nit-picks like the acting wasn't breathtakingly good and some bits are a little unrealistic, however putting any little bits like that aside, you've got yourself a great film which would be enjoyed vastly by any fighting sport fans and even still by anybody who liked Rocky (although they're nothing alike).
It may surprise many people that music is just like video, if you buy a 3D Blu Ray movie from a shop, you want to watch it on a large 3D TV because that way you will get the benefit of the great image, and why is it any different with music, I am shocked to find people spend a fair deal off money on music and movies with fantastic audio tracks and listen through their laptop speakers or through generic speakers, where the sound quality of the track is gone to waste!
Music is a brilliant and wonderful thing and it should be enjoyed at its most and it doesn't require you to spend hundreds of your hard earned pounds!
===Logitech Z313 Speakers===
Logitech is a well-known company in the computer industry; they are probably the leaders in computer accessories and can provide you anything from computer mice to microphones, speakers, keyboards, webcams, you name it, they probably have it. The great thing about Logitech is, they have their products ranging to the high end, best of the best to the cheap of the cheap; however they maintain their good quality builds and you essentially pay for the performance you want from the product.
The Z313 Speakers are what you call the mid-range speakers, they won't cost you a fortune, but it is a price you'd think about before paying, as they come to around £30 - £40. For this price you get a full 2.1 Sound System and my favourite part, a little controller which you can switch the speakers off and on with, and toggle the volume, and it has a 3.5mm jack for your headphones too. In fact I was surprised to find these speakers for £10 in a second hand shop in my local town!
The look of the system, although isn't a main worry for me, can be the selling point for most people. I must say that the 2 speakers aren't the prettiest set you'll ever come across; in fact they are pretty plain as seen by the picture. The speakers look identical as they have no volume control on them (done by control pad), and the only variant is the 'R' and 'L' on the back for left and right, they have an air intake hole on the bottom and the speaker itself at the top with a silver plastic trim. Nothing special or eye catching, the subwoofer is just a black box with an air intake hole, and a bass distribution cone on the bottom which isn't visible.
All in all, not a handsome set of speakers, but I personally don't care much for the look but rather the quality of sound.
Logitech are known for building some of the better hardware accessories, and I in fact still have a webcam I bought from Logitech in 2005, it was cheap back then and 7 years later still functions without any problems.
These speakers are no different, straight out of the box you can tell they are very well built, the plastic used doesn't fell cheap, and although the system is quite light (as all are, it's basically just air), the plastic does add some weight to them so they aren't so flimsy.
I've dropped the speakers on numerous occasion of my desk due to it being a large cluster of papers and whatever else, things get pushed off, although it is a meter drop at most, they speakers seem to have survived and function fine, so they are knock resistant to say the least.
A small complain I may have about the build, the little remote pad which comes attached to the subwoofer/speakers is kind of light and the problem with that is that I've had to tape it to the desk to keep it in the same place, if it had some weight to it, it would remain stationary and not be knocked away.
Sound quality is the thing you buy your speakers for, as that is their primary function. It's hard to describe the quality of sound other than simply saying it is very good to say the least. The audio is very crisp and even at 25 watts RMS, ("Root Mean Square" the true loudness of the speakers), and 50 peak Wattage, you won't be going death in comparison to a Night Club system supporting 500 peak watt speakers, but it's loud enough to get neighbours complaining. The subwoofer although small and under the desk friendly can really shake the furniture when some bass kicks in.
At top volume with a good 320 kbps track (Basically a good quality music track), I can hear no distortion in the track and all levels of the track can be distinguished. You won't get a track cluster with vocals and back beat fighting for control basically, as you'd in £1 earphones.
Simply put, my friends in my apartment block have invested in many Stereo systems with massive speakers with built in Bass Boost and crazy flashing lights. Yet still come into my room with my humble speakers on the shelf and sub under my feet and are impressed!
Unfortunately there are some minor issues I discovered. Although the speakers are suitable for most desks with reasonably length wiring, I was attempting something more creative, and was a failure due to the shortness of the wiring. The remote is attached to the Subwoofer, and the wire is about 2 metres long. So the Sub has to be close by. I managed to get an extension 3.5mm to get my speakers away a bit though.
Also as mentioned, the Remote is a little bit light and tends to just disappear of the desk. It would be good if it has some weight and grip. I solved it by getting some Sticky Foam Tape and it now doesn't move.
Logitech have a very LARGE range of products in most lines. Speakers seem to be their favourite as they have a lot of choice. If you are willing to spend a few extra £/$, you can upgrade to the Z323 speakers, offering to AUX ports (TV + PC together?) and a more 360 sound distribution, but no remote. If you're up for an audio battle with the neighbours the Z626 would be perfect until you upgrade to the 5.1 speakers, my next set will be the Logitech Z906 Surround Sound 5.1 System, but that's for another review!
If you're after some reasonably priced speakers which are quality and truly built to last, the Logitech Z313 system will square you away and you will be satisfied! Don't except poor, distorted audio ever again!
This being my first year of driving, I managed to pass my driving test (easy) and save myself a decent budget to purchase a much awaited car. With a reasonable budget of around £1000 and the Internet I managed to track down a decent car. Something which is cheap to run, hence a diesel; something which is quite generous in baggage space; hence a hatchback and mainly something which is known to be reliable and common for cheap parts and repairs. This narrowed it down to only a few, and being 19 I didn't fancy purchasing a Corsa or a Fiesta, I wanted to be somewhat unique and somehow the Ford Focus was the next step up!
My main goal when purchasing a car was to get the best Miles Per Gallon (Mpg) I could, although having a job which allows me the funds to purchase and insure as well as importantly maintain a car, the added cost of filling the car up goes strain the wallet, especially with the current fuel prices being as high as 150p per Litre of Normal Diesel and with no sponsorship from the parents, it's all coming out of my own wallet!
Reliability of course is always a factor; everyone wants a car which will keep going with just the basic maintenance. After numerous hours of research I discovered the TDDI Endura-D engine was not only strong but cheap!
All these factors come together and I was assured that parting with my hard earned cash in exchange for the Ford Focus 2003 TDDI Diesel will be a great idea. After having it for almost half a year I am quite sure I know the car upside down now, so in good mind to do a detailed review.
The Ford Focus has become quite an iconic car throughout the last few years; it is one of the most common cars in the UK and is very popular throughout Europe and America alike. The Focus was born in 1998 after replacing the Ford Escort in the European market with Ford totally redesigning the cars shape and engine to create what would become one of the best selling cars in the world. Looking back on some past marketing videos and reviews, the Focus was an innovative car being designed around the passengers and the driver as well as giving it simple features, like Rear Lights at the top to be noticed easier and crease markers for the driver to recognise the front of the vehicle as well as excessive luggage room and headroom and interior comfort. Even now in 2012 the original MK1 Focus can be seen to be ahead of its own time.
Yet Ford still innovates and improves with the new Focus models, developing technology to make driving not only comfortable but safe!
My Ford Focus MK1 TDDI Diesel features the almost legendary design. What I call the "door wedge" shape, at first glance you'd think it was designed around a Right Angle Triangle; to this day I am trying to calculate the Pythagoras Theorem from it (Maths joke). The whole car seems to have a triangular theme to it from the headlights and rear lights to the side windows, quite an interesting design to say the least; if the car was yellow I'd half expect Jerry to come chasing after me!
But looking at it more closely, it has a bit of elegance to it, and you quickly get used to it. As mentioned above the design has got some purpose to it. The bonnet have minor unnoticeable grove to allow the driver to reference the front of the vehicle, which has helped a considerable amount in parking. The headlights are located at the top of the rear to allow cars coming from a distance to notice your braking and indicating and the shape is purposely aero dynamic, yet still allows lots of rear headroom and storage.
Essentially, I still can't get over how peculiar the car looks from the general shape to the oddly small wheels in comparison to the body. However it has drastically improved with the Mk2 Focus, although it took them 7 years. But each feature has got a purpose within the vehicle from the aerodynamic roomy shape to the wheels for the best ride and cheaper tyres. The car was designed around the consumer and done so brilliantly.
First time I ever got into a Focus Mk1, it has a large dashboard with little on it and a wide centre panel (Gear Shift Console), which separates you and the passenger quite well giving you lots of space.
The car was clearly designed around comfort and convenience, as you can determine by the numerous cup holders in centre panel. I've found these highly useful as I do lots of long journeys and having a drink and a place to put things close to hand is really helpful. Very few cars I've been in have such a convenient yet simple feature.
As I mentioned the dashboard doesn't comes with lots of buttons and controls. A digital clock and a Hazard Lights Triangle at the top centre, and the only thing which may require a second glance is the headunit, which has some numbers which are basically for the radio station pre-sets, useful if you drive around the same town, useless if you move from town to town daily. There are the duel fans in the centre and since ones drive and passenger side as well as the window heater all controlled by the 3 dials at the bottom of the console, as well as the A/C and Recirculation buttons, unfortunately the A/C as usual doesn't work but can be recharged for £50 at most garages.
The Zetec comes with a steering remote stem for the stock headunit but can work with compatible aftermarket units too. The Headunit itself is simple and mine was CD compatible (older models have a ~sigh~ tape deck), all it does is radio and CD which got instantly replaced with something with an Aux and a USB. Some removal keys are required (or some creativity with a metal coat hanger) to remove the original unit and it can fit a double din headunit, which is great if your after looking a bit flash, personally I was on a budget so a simple single din and a facia plate was satisfactory.
The other steering controls include the standard indicators, wiper/screen wash operation for front and rear and you can also manually operate the front wiper by moving the right stem down (and holding for movement). Horn is centre of steering wheel and light dial is far right of dashboard; turn right for Side and Beams and pull out for Front and Rear Fog lights. A very user friendly interior with few controls and all easily operation by a 6 year old.
The dashboard and centre console is very well built and all solid plastic (in the Zetec, Ghia comes with wood finish). Mine seems to have survived the test of time considering I got it in a honking condition; it always tidies up well, although worth a mention that the gearstick panel is slightly loose but easily replaceable.
---Interior for Passengers---
A lot of manufacturers concentrate on creating a good driving area as you are the person who is purchasing the vehicle and I rarely hear people getting in the rear of the car and experiencing how passengers feel.
Having been a passenger in a lot of Focus Mk1's, I can personally vouch that the rear has a lot of space for 2 people to sit comfortably, and extra person can fit easily but creates a minor squeeze. No problems for a 5 door car, may get some sore legs with a 3 door, the middle seat also features a full over shoulder belt for the passenger, not a lap belt!
The front passenger has got a lot of personal space, especially if they can move the seat back (with no rear passengers), the large middle console gives decent separation from the driving elbowing you in the legs every gear change.
In all the Focus Mk1 is a car which was designed to provide comfort for everyone and not just the driver!
Considering the car looks quite small from the outside being easily confused for something in competition with a Corsa rather than its very well aged mother! I've had numerous people tell me "That won't fit in there" or "Sure you have enough space in the boot?" to which I replied with a smile and a later demonstrated how much space I have to my disposal!
To scale up the boot space, myself being a slightly larger than average man....I'm tall, I can easily curl up in the boot and close the door. When the seats have been dropped down at the back, I have been able to fit a fully constructed mountain bike (wheels attached to from). I've also with a squeeze had 3 people with 2 large grip bags each in the car. Basically the moral is, although it may look small, the Focus is like the Wardrobe to Narnia!
Not forgetting numerous storage spaces in the car itself, such as the door "pockets" at the front and the glove compartment box. The cup holders can also be used to hold spare change as well as a convenient "ashtray" where I hide my money for diesel fill ups just in case.
As I mentioned in the introduction to the review, the car I am reviewing is the Ford Focus 03 TDDI, which features the Endura-D Engine. As far as I'm aware very few variations of the TDDI (Turbo Diesel Direct Injection) was made and only came in 1.8 Litre. With the all future Diesel Fords it quickly became the TDCi (Turbo Diesel Common Injection), the main difference was that the TDCi is newer, quieter, more economic and compatible with more cars.
The TDDI engines are easily mistakable for a 5th Generation Ford Transit Van! I've had many comments on this and I find it quite amusing to say the least. The TDDI is very noisy and any modern car you'd probably be worried about the loudness, but it is incomparable in reliability to very little else. A regularly maintained and serviced TDDI engine has been known to run well into 300,000 miles, mine has been running steady from purchase and built up over 133,000 miles and after a ruff spot with the starter motor, its back and kicking at and exceptional level!
However although the engine is strong and reliable, the major bottleneck I delayed to mention is that is it very sluggish, don't get me wrong it will pull, but with only 6,000 rpm on the rev counter and 4,000 being the safe zone, it does take some time to build up speed. With only 75 horses under the hood, I have to think twice before I take a gap in a roundabout or pull out from a junction because it does take a good few seconds to get to 60mph.
But not being a speed demon, I have learnt that all that slowness means I am saving a lot of pennies!
Repairs and Part Availability
When I purchased the vehicle, I noticed that it was having a bit of bother starting up requiring 2 turnovers to get it ignited on average, which got consistently worst. Trying to diagnose the problem myself I skipped to the cheapest and obvious, getting it serviced, changing glow plugs, re-changing oil, fuel cleaner and battery before I gave in and got the RAC guy to have a look, instantly telling me it was the Starter.
The moral of the story is not that I am an idiot, but that I discovered that a lot of the parts for the Focus I bought and looked at were not all that expensive and readily available from places like Europart and other local shops.
Being a very common car any spare parts I need I can easily go to a Scrapyard and find anything on the many Focus' who found a resting place. So it is gives you peace of mind that if you damage some bodywork, it can be found in a scrappy, and 50% of the time in the same colour (unless its cheese colour).
Although I was looking for a car that looked decent, had lots of room and some "street cred", my real goal was to find a car that wouldn't cost me a fortune to keep running. This car does exactly what I am after; having a very decent 40 mpg advertised on town roads and around 60 mpg on motorways, the car is built to be economic on fuel. I find that in towns I get around 30 mpg on average although I haven't measured it successfully to really say, motorways however this car is fantastic, I am all about saving money and keeping to an average of 60 mph for 200 miles, it on average costs me £30 in fuel (being 140p per litre of Normal Diesel).
Tax on the car is in the F Band for emissions which means its £135 per year (£74.25 per 6 months). Insurance group is "5" or "5E", but of course take in account your NCB and living area. I found this can be insured at a tiny increase in comparison to a Group 1 car (e.g. Corsa 1.0).
Parts for the body are extremely easy to come across considering there are Focus' all over the place. So any car scrap dealer can sort you out with body parts as I found when my Mirror Cover went mysteriously missing (I suspect theft), I found one instantly in my local scrappy, but now I have 2 black covers on a blue car. Engine parts aren't expensive either, being a TDDI all the parts are basic and it doesn't have anything fancy like the TDCi with its Dual Mass Flywheel. Most things are common in Europarts.
In all due to myself having a bit of OCD, I've decided to replace the majority of the consumables on the car to insure it doesn't conk out due to something stupid and it's not cost me much to do so. Its been very reliable and cost effective for me.
Having owned this car for the last 6 months, I've gotten to know it well. The best thing is although it has had some troubles (old parts dying out), there has not been anything which has coursed me great stress and that's really all we ask from our cars, to do its job and not ruin our wallets. The Ford Focus 1.8 TDDI Zetec is a very oddly shaped, economic and spacious car, it looks after you as much as you look after it which can't be said the same for some of my friends cars.
In all, I couldn't recommend it higher, especially for all the new drivers just getting their licenses, think outside the typical box of Corsas, Clios and 206s, go for something worthwhile!
I'm not the sort of guy to go a see a movie on its opening night in the cinema, nor am I the sort of guy to just go out to the cinema without knowing whats on before hand and going to see the closest movie to our arrival time, which is a scary thought because we could have ended up going to see Nanny McPhee (Shudders). Fortunately we ended up going to see Kick Ass, which wasn't a movie I had the highest of expectations for because even the trailer (which is meant to be good) isn't all that gripping and fails to make me jump up and reserve my ticket for the next showing (and I've done that before). So it was to my surprise that the film was actually reasonably funny and I found myself laughing with everyone else and enjoying the movie.
Warning - Mild Spoilers
Dave Lizewski is teenage boy who isn't at the top of the popularity scale as he explains in the opening scene, there isn't anything that makes him stand out from the crowd, and constantly getting robbed and beat up has made him think about what it would be like to become a superhero, which unsurprisingly doesn't grip his friends as much. Finally having enough he orders himself a suit and creates an alter ego called Kick Ass but fails at his first attempt at fighting any crime as he gets a beating, stabbed and ran over which results in him getting some metal to fix up his bones and numbed nerve endings meaning he can't feel as much pain. This results in him attempting at becoming a superhero once again and succeeding making him not only popular via videos on YouTube fighting bad guys, but wanted by a big criminal in the city and leads him on a comical journey into meeting other hero's and gaining respect from his peers.
===Thoughts on Story===
This story is more of a parody of a typical superhero movie like Spiderman or Batman, which are frequently mentioned in the film as the protagonist fails during his first attempts at becoming a superhero eventually succeeds, as is typical of the majority of movies based around the same topic. I though the story was straight forward and easy to understand, also not forgetting to mention it is based on an actual comic called Kick Ass written by Mark Millar and illustrated by John Romita, Jr, a less known publication by Marvel, so although I can't comment on Comic Vs. Film, the film takes elements of comics like the overhead banner saying 'Six Months Later' in the first few minutes of the film. The film is also funny, which although it is advertised as a comedy, I wasn't expecting much in real comedy, but it features lots of scenes which simple situational humour and the speech from the characters had me and the audience in my cinema in stitches. On an overall I really enjoyed the story, best film I can compare this to is The Watchmen, but instead of the long winded story we've got a snappy scenes and hysterical situations.
From first impressions we've got a good mix of star actors such as Christopher Mintz-Plasse who is of course McLovin from Superbad playing Chris D'Amico & Red Mist, also Nicolas Cage as Damon Macready & Big Daddy, who is undoubtfully a well-known actor and Clarke Duke playing Marty who was in Sex Drive and they've all had comical acting experience judging from their films. But among the stars, we've got the main actor portraying Dave Lizewski & Kick-Ass, Aaron Johnson who has been in Nowhere Boy, but other than that this is his blockbuster debut. I found all the acting to be up to standard and they were all funny in their own way, even Nicolas Cage who I've never seen been funny managed to make me laugh numerous times as he plays Hit Girls (Chloe Moretz) father and uses odd training methods to make her the ultimate superhero. Overall fantastic cast who did their jobs very well.
One of the things I noticed when watching this film is that the trailer uses a lot of scenes from the final bit of the film, which in general contains a lot more action as it is the finale of the film. However I must say that although the trailer seemingly advertises this as a film containing bland attempts at comedy and which features nothing but ridiculous fight scenes (as the impression I got from watching the trailer), it is far from that as it is equally balanced between comedy and action, giving the audience something to laugh at when watching an epic fight scene other long monologue.
===Age 15 Certificate===
It is odd to see a film featuring children to be a 15, however I do see why as it contains quite graphic violence with people being shot and blood, but also quite strong language and a scene or two of drug taking, probably not something I'd let a 10 year old see.
I highly enjoyed this film and I'd recommend it to anyone who likes comedy and action mixed in a great superhero mixture. The story was phenomenal and the cast really made this film work. If you planning to go to the cinema with some friends, this is a quality film to check out and would be appreciated by anybody (over the age of 15).
Since its Halloween season and the ghosts and ghouls have come out to play, I decided to get a ghoul out of my DVD cupboard and listen to its story. In other words I remember that I purchased Halloween (Rob Zombie Version from 2007) last year and for some strange reason I never watched it. So I may as well do so on this splendorous night 3 days before Halloween.
I've got to mention that I haven't seen the old version of Halloween, so I only know what I have heard about it and there hasn't been much.
Just to summaries the story without spoiling to much of the film for anyone, which I may do later on in the review, so if you wish to make up your own mind before getting a heavy dose of mine, please do as I think you'll feel the same as I do about this film.
But film starts by showing the disfunction between the Myers family and how the young Michael Myers (main character) after being abused at home by his "father" and bullied in school because of his mums occupation as a erotic dancer eventually triggers his career as a emotionless psychopathic killer and a place in a mental asylum for killing the majority of your family and only sparing his baby sister and meets his mum outside pretending to not know anything. In the asylum you find that Michael has an over obsessive love of making masks and hiding his face from the world. Eventually Michael gets the opportunity to break out of the asylum and goes on his hunt for the loved one he left behind, and of course killing everyone he sees...literally.
First of all, the film is quite entertaining for the first few minutes as you begin to become familiar with young Michael and you spot the signs that lead to his eventual killing spree, the story varies enough at the beginning so you don't know what's going to happen and don't really expect him to do what he does that early on. So I praise the director (Rob Zombie) for keeping your attention fixated long enough to commit to watching. However after Michael ends up in the mental asylum and eventually breaks out, it all starts to go downhill. Actually I can pinpoint the scene where you just know it's not going to get any more interesting. The scene where he kills the warden who was "good to Mickey". From there you sort of begin to suspect what the film has got installed for you. My main complaint is that Rob Zombie seems to not know anything about building suspense, I'm not sure if its anything like this in the older Halloween films, however this one doesn't contain any heart pounding moments, well for me anyway. You always see Michael coming and you see the victim scared, fighting, dead, in the exact order and this is for every victim guaranteed. In fact, everyone Michael comes in contact with seems to die; there is no suspense because you know they are dead once you see them in the film. Although Rob Zombie didn't seem to pay any attention to building up a scene or adding a little bit of anticipation to the killings, he did however do his best to make it as gruesome as possible. In every murder you are guaranteed to have an almost video tutorial of how they are killed, seeing as much of the detail as possible. Whatever happened to films that simply create the scenario for the viewer and the killer drags the victim behind a wall and you just see some blood splatter; now those films are scary.
My main pet pee about films, especially horror films, is that they have to be as realistic as possible, or at least offer an explication of why something is like it is. This film doesn't do anything of the sort. You see Michael go into the asylum as a chubby little boy, just slightly sadistic but muscle bound he was not. When the film catches him 17 years later, he is about 7 foot tall and looks like The Undertaker, but he has been locked in a tiny cell for 17 years. Rob Zombie explained that he would go on raged and trash the room, hence he developed his strength, but I doubt that would make him look like Arnold Swatenegger.
My last point is about the ending of the film. I couldn't believe that they left it on such an unbelievable cliff hanger, it explained nothing of what happened leaving me extremely confused and I don't think I was the only one searching online for an explanation. All I found was - Watch Halloween 2.... What a rip.
I could go on raving about how unrealistic the film is, how I didn't like the lack of an explanation, but to really understand my rambling, you have to watch it. However if you are looking for a film with a good story line and not just pointless killing scene, don't bother with this film, and honestly....Saw has better killing in it than this film and includes a somewhat good story.
I give this film a 6/10 - Not worth it