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When visiting Paris recently my guidebook advised heading to the top of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur as an alternative to going to the top of the Eiffel Tower as it provides equally stunning views. I took this advice and it is spot on. If you want to see the whole of Paris stretching out below you in all directions to the horizon go to Sacre Coeur.
The building itself is beautiful and though must smaller, I found it more amazing and enjoyable to see than the cathedral at Notre Dame. It is also must less busy, especially at the top, where only 10 other people were up there when I was (at 11am). As it is less busy you can take more time to enjoy it on a personal level. The stain glass windows are stunning and brightly coloured and the interior of the Basilique is nicer than most churces I have been into and the atmosphere as calm and reverent as you would expect.
The Basilique is located on top of a hill in the centre of Paris, so to get there you can either walk up this hill (plenty of beautiful walks in the Montmartre area and I would advise this) or you can take the funicular by buying a standard Metro ticket for under Euro2.
To go into the main building of the Basilique is FREE. As an optional extra you can pay to go to the top of the dome and to view the crypt. Going to the top of the dome alone is very worthwhile and only costs Euro6. The Crypt alone costs Euro4, but is pretty much just the basement and looked boring through the glass doors (my guidebook advised avoiding it). You can pay Euro8 to see both dome and crypt. As the Basilique is on a big hill, you can see stunning views when outside, so paying for the dome is optional, but I would advise it as it is a beautiful dome to see and there are much fewer people at the top than are outside.
InFamous 2 is the sequel to the critially acclaimed 2009 title inFamous and is again a PS3 exclusive title. As the first game was so beloved by the gaming public, developer Suckerpunch had a tricky job on their hands to tweak and improve the original without pushing things too far and alienating fans. I have to say they did an excellent job and this game improves on inFamous in almost every aspect. When playing the game you truly feel powerful and it is pure enjoyment to use Cole's range of electric superpowers again and again.
You play as Cole MacGrath, a bike messenger come superhero. Cole has electirc powers which allow him to shoot bolts from his hands, drain energy from electical devices, hover for short periods and fire electic rockets and grenades. The story picks up where inFamous left off, with Cole ready to battle The Beast - a monster who will detroy the world. You travel away from Empire City and head for New Marais (modeled on New Orleans post-flood) in order to gain new powers to aid your fight. The plot is not as strong as the first game and basically consists of Cole searching for Blast Cores - energy crystals that give Cole new powers and more energy. Once enough Blast Cores are collected, you are able to use the RFI (Ray-Field Inhibitor) to battle the Beast.
InFamous is an open world game, so you can wander around New Marais at will, helping citizens, fighting enemies and completing missions. There are 40 main storyline missions and load more territory missions which once completed mean that no ememies return to a part of the map. THe mechanic that sets inFamous apart from other open world games is the element of choice and karma. Throughout the game you can choose to play as either good or evil. Evil actions range from simply beating people up for no reason, causing destruction, stealing blast shards and zapping annoying street performers while good actions require you to heal or rescue civilians, defuse bombs and capture enemies alive. There are a number of missions where you can choose an evil path or good path by going to different locations. One example is when stroming an enemy stronghold you can either rescue some police and get them to help you (good) or supercharge a explosives rigged tram and blow the whole place sky high (including a number of innocent prisoners - evil). Whether you are good of evil effects the powers you get, how people react to you in the game and your appearance and it is definately worth playing the game through twice to experience both sides and both sets of missions (and both endings). If you have played the original inFamous you can choose to start the game on level 1 good or evil. There are also blast shards and dead drops (audio files) to collect throughout the game, as in the original.
Cole has a range of superpowers at his disposal and these have had a significant upgrade in inFamous 2. You have basic electic bolts, shock grenades, plasma rockets and a shock blast. In inFamous 2 each of these powers comes with a range of upgrades and options and you can create a set of powers unique to your style of game play. For example the standard blast can be upgraded to a Pincer Bolt (three bolts which hit ememies form all directions), Artillary Bolt (long range), Magnum Bolt (very powerful - good), Skull Bolt (headshots cause explosion - evil), Bolt Stream (machine gun style bolts - good) and Scythe Bolt (5 bolts at once - evil). You can choose which suits you best. Every power has similar choices and customisation.
There are also a host of new powers in inFamous 2. The main area is Ionic Powers. These allow cole to create things like electic tornados and lightming storms s well as making ice spikes shoot from the ground or simply draining the life out of anyone nearby. At a certain point in the game you choose to mix powers with one of two characters in the game, opening up either Ice powers or Fire powers (Good or Evil) which give you a couple of new attacks each. The final area of increase powers comes from using The Amp. this is bassicallt a big tuning fork that Cole uses to hit people, thus making melee combat much more enjoyable. The Amp give a number of pretty cool finishing moves and I found myself using it quite a lot during the game. These inprovements in your powers make you feel so much more powerful than in the original inFamous.
Another improvement for inFamous 2 is that there is a much wider range of enemies. You fight people with guns and rocket launchers, beasts with claws for arms (melee), ice soldiers and a range of mutant swamp beasts, some of which are HUGE. This really adds variety to combat and again increases the sense of power you get when playing as Cole.
The visuals in inFamous 2 are very good and a definite improvement on the original. They are not as good as some games (uncharted 2, Battlefield Bad Company) but are vibrant and clear. New Marais provides comtrasting scenary from run down buildings to flooded swamp huts and an industial gasworks and the lighting is bright and well done. Cut scenes are not amazing but again are much better than the first game.
The game takes a good 20-30 hours to complete and as previously mentioned is well worth playing at least twice to complete all missions and experience good and bad karma choices. There are also mission creation tools and the option to have user generated content missions embedded into the main game. These missions appear as green mission markers and you can play and rate as and when you want. You can also filter these to play only the top rated as a lot of the missions are not great and without any voice acting they can feel a little detached from the rest of the game. Some of the missions are fantastic though so it is all about finding these. I am currently on my 4th play though and still really enjoy the game.
InFamous 2 is a fantastic oppen world game that really makes you feel like a superhero (or supervillian). The karma choices work better than in the original inFamous and have a pleasing effect on the gameplay experience. Powers are improved and customisable and enemies are more varied and difficult to defeat. The game is huge and offers great replay value and the visuals are excellent. The only downside is that the story is almost non existant, though this is the only area in which inFamous 2 is not better than its predecessor.
One of my top 3 Playstation games to date, buy this and feel like a superhero.
Thriller was Michael Jackson's sixth studio album and simply fantastic, eclipsing all previous and later work, which if you know MJ is no mean feat. The album contains Jackson's unique blend of hip-hop, R&B, pop and disco to create a stunning set of tracks you will want to listen to over and over.
Released in 1982 Thriller cmented Jackson's place at the forefront of world music and raised him to almost God-like status amongst his fans. The album also received widespread critical aclaim, and was one of the first albums to use music videos effectively as a marketing tool. I still listen to the album reguarly and enjoy it each time as much as the last. Lets have a quick look through the tracks.
1. Wanna Be Starting Something - A disco baseline runs through the song and a delightful mix of sharp lyrics on the verses and smooth tones on the chorus works to great effect.
2. Baby Be Mine - Probably the least well know track on the album, with a dreamy and childlike vibe. A very disco styled song with sharp rhythms.
3. The Girl Is Mine - Duet with the legend that is Paul McCartney, a fun and playful song where the two great men share friendly and playful banter over which of them will get the girl. Great song, feel good vibe.
4. Thriller - An absolute classic, you must of heard this song and seen the 15 minute video. If you haven't, it's all the more reason to get this album.
5. Beat It - A punchy and more rock-pop song than others on the album with quick beat and electric guitars. Jackson sings of being a kid on the wrong side of the tracks. Very funcky, very very good.
6. Billie Jean - Another disco track. Brilliant base line and clean drums topped off with classic MJ vocals.
7. Human Nature - This is a feel good song, similar to Baby Be Mine as it has an almost dream like feel with soft synths and soft lyrics. Delightful.
8. P.Y.T - Stands for Pretty Young Thing and the song is pretty awesome. A personal favourite of mine the song is full of passion with Jackson really letting rip with the vocals.
9. The lady In My Life - A tender and emotional song to gently finish the album. In my opinion the weakest song on the record, but it does fit with the themes and style of the album.
There are a number of special editions around now. One has some interviews with Quincey Jones which are interesting without offering a great deal other than to hardcore fans. This edition also contains a couple of bonus tracks and really nice home demo of Billie Jean. The 25th Anniversary edition contains tracks reworked by famous modern day musicians which are definately worth a listen.
The album is of the highest quality from start to finish and should be a part of any record collection. My favourite Michael Jackson album and one of my favourite albums of all time. Brilliant.
BAD was Michael Jacksons 7th Studio album and was released at the height of his popularity. This record came five years after Thriller (the greatest selling album of all time) so people were expecting something pretty damn good - boy did we get it! The album mixes pop, rock and RnB in the unique Jackson way.
BAD is a fantastic album featuring hit after hit (10 of the 11 songs on the album were released as singles and 5 of these went to number 1 in the US - the only album ever to achieve this feat). Every song is a masterpiece in its own right any they are put together to make a legendry record.
The only negative is that its not quite as good as Thriller, but how could anything? I am a Jackson fan, but I can objectively say that this is one of the best albums of all time. Lets look at the tracks...
1) BAD - The title track of the album is a classic hit. Michael Jackson is bad, really, really bad, and he wants you to know it. Funky base, catchy tune, one of the most well known songs of recent times.
2) The Way You Make Me Feel - A love song that everyone can relate to. A brilliant base line carries the song and its all about 80's harmonies on the chorus
3) Speed Demon - the weakest song on the album, but still a good tune. Jackson's vocals dominate this one.
4) Liberian Girl - A song written years before when Jackson was working on the Victory album, but remastered, it finds a place on this album. Again about love, the song is a smooth serenade.
5) Just Good Friends - A funky duet with Stevie Wonder about a girl that treats a guy mean, but keeps him keen. My personal highlight of the album.
6) Another Part of Me - thsi song is about global unity, that everyone is the same and we should love each other. Sounds like a preachy theme, but is a class song.
7) Man in the Mirror - again, one of the best known Jackson songs, about changing yourself to improve the world. Unlifting, joyous and touching. Pure genious.
8) I Just Can't Stop Loving You - another love song, gentle and sweet, a duet performed with Seidah Garrett.
9) Dirty Dianna - My second personal favourite. A gritty and passionate song where Jackson's vocals are superb and full of angst. You can feel the emotion. Last single from the album to reach no.1.
10) Smooth Criminal - So good, they made a film. The feature song from the Moonwalker Film is simply fantastic. Fast paced and edgy song about an attack on "Annie". My 3rd personal favourite.
Jacksons second best album after Thriller and one of the greatest albums of all time. Jackson is a master. Buy this album, Jackson fan or not.
When So Much For The City came out in 2003 it was something a bit different and I really liked it. That album found a summer niche and I listen to it every year. A year later and Lets Bottle Bohemia arrived and that year obviously was not enough time to write a good album. This feels like a set of songs that were written at the same time the last album came out and they went to the studio, polished up the sound and released it.
The sound of this album is sharper and richer, thanks to much higher production values the band earned with a solid debut album but the songs just aren't good enough to keep me listening, and it only remained in English charts for 4 weeks, suggesting I wasn't the only one who lost intrest.
The Thrills are an Irish indie/rock/pop band from Dublin and their sound is laced with East Coast vibes. I have always felt they have a Beach Boys feel, but an indie feel. Conor Deasy provides a unique sound, with strained vocals which always make me think of warm summer evenings. This album contains more of this signature sound, though does sound slightly different to So Much For The City. Let's Bottle Bohemia has a richer sound, due to the use of strings in the background on almost every song and the vocals do sound better and less washed out.
The album contains a couple of great songs, my favourite being "The Irish Keep Gatecrashing" a beautiful song, effectivly sticking a middle finger up to the bands critics who said they would not sustain stardom. The aforementioned use of strings is particuarly good here. "Curse of Comfort" is another stand out tune on which I feel Deasy's vocals are the strongest and "Tell me something I don't know" provides a promising start to the album with clangey guitars a good beat and catchy lyrics. I always feel The Thrills are at there best when they keep the tempo up and these three songs do just that. Unfortunately if you compare these tracks with the best from So Much For The City, Let's Bottle Bohemia pales in comparrison.
Despite Deasy's pleasant vocals and rich stringed sounds, I find that a couple of slower songs don't do enough to keep the album going. "Not for all the love in the world" is the prime example. It is slow and boring and doesnt add anything to the overall experience of the album. Other offenders are "Our wasted lives" and "Faded Beauty Queens" which are untimately forgettable due to uncomfortable mixed pacing and poor lyrics.
*Good songs for background music*
The rest of the songs I would say are background music, that you don't really want to actively listen too, but provide relaxing and enjoyable 25 minutes when on in the background. "Saturday night" has a catchty (if repetitive chorus and "You can't fool old friends with limousines" grows on you, improving with each listen. This sound is text book Thrills - very listenable without doing a lot.
When I listen to this album I put it on in the car while driving or on the stereo at home while working and let is seep into my subconscious. The sound is usually very pleasant and at times you stop and think "What a good song" before letting it drift into the background again. Unfortunately these "Wow" moments are fewer than in the bands debut album and you are untimately feeling dissapointed with this rushed effort at maintaining the bands popularity. If you want a Thrills album, buy So Much For The City.
The Thrills are an Irish indie/pop band out of Dublin, with Conor Deasy provideing a unique vocal style. They broke onto the English music scene with this fantastic record in June 2003. I really like the album, but there are a couple of weak songs and I find I can only listen to it in the summer.
As mentioned, the album has a summer feel to it as Deasy's soft, light and warm vocals immediatly make you think of summer afternoons. The album has a roughly 50-50 split of slow and fast paced songs, and the topic of most of these is pretty much about being depressed but hopeful. he band were not havign a great time as they wrote the album and a number of songs are about losing or being denied things, yet looking hopefully to the future.
The faster songs are definatly the picks of the album and were unsurprisingly the ones that were released as singles. "Big Sur", "Don't Steel Our Sun", "Santa Cruz (your not that far)" and "One Horse Town" are my personal highlights as each song has almost two sides to it with rhythem and style shifting back and forth mid-song. Other decent tracks are "Say it ain't So" and "Your Love Is Like Las Vegas" as these fly along at a delightful pace. The songs are about loss and regre it seems, with lyrics like "Don't go back", "Never should have settled down", "Tell me where is all went wrong" and the obvious "Don't steal our sun" examples of this vibe. Despite the underlying emotions, these songs are gun to listen to sort of like laughing through the pain.
The slower songs on the album are more full of angst and do add some depth and emotion to the album but fail to his the heights of the more upbeat efforts. "Hollywood Kids" I find almost boring as it drones on about other having privilages while their band does not. "Deckchairs and Cigarettes", "Just Traveling Through", "Old Friends, New Lovers" and "Till the Tide Creeps In" are pleasant without really doing much as they meander through the same topics of regret and memory. They paint the background picture of the band on top of with the quicker songs can excel but I feel they fail to add enough to the album. The Thrills are definately at their best when keeping the pace up.
This is an album with some great songs that you will love, but also a number of slower efforts that are best as the background music to your summer. When the sun comes out I dash to my CD rack and grab this album, but it spends most of the year hibernating. A solid break through for an interesting band.
Ghostbusters is a comedy/action/sci fi movie about a group of paranormal investigators starting their Ghostbusting business. The movie is hilarious, action packed and very very fun.
Three psychology doctors - Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz (brilliantly played by Murray, Akroyd and Ramis) lose their university funding and with no options left, and based on their recent research throw themselvess into a ghost catching business. This happens to conincide with a huge ghost surge in New York and the Ghostbusters have their hands full with ghosts, as well as Walter Peck (Atherton), from the environmental protection agency who is tryign to shut them down. The Ghostbusters recruit Winstone Zeddmore (Hudson) and the team is complete. A powerful demon called Zool soon arrives on the scene trying to destroy the world and the Ghostbusters must stop this from hapening. The story is brilliantly written by Ramis and Akroyd and the acting is natural and believable. In fact, the greatest compliment is that you actually believe the story could be real.
The script is very very funny and the characters work really well togeher. Venkman is obvious, Egon is just plain weird and Ray is delightfully clueless at times. Zeddmore tries to groud the group and realises he is the only one who is sane. Dana Barrett (weaver) is the female interest for Venkman and turns him down again and again. The funniest part of the film is the final battle with Zool which provides one of the most iconic pieces of film history. As well as a comedy, this is an action film with plenty of prootoon-pack blasting of ghosts in the second half (though even this is funny as its 4 guys in boiler suits with partical accellerators strapped to their backs!).
The films soundtrack is superb with a number of great songs, from the iconic theme tune to the uplifting "saving the day" and the hectic "cleanin up the town" which sums up the ghostbusters perfectly.
*Still good today*
I still watch the movie every so often and its as great as ever. The movie doesn't age and will keep you entertained for ever.
My favourite movie of all time. Action and sci-fi blasting ghosts as well as some of the funniest moments ever seen in movies. A definate must own for movie lovers.
Goldeneye 007 is a computer game from makers Rare and developed as a tie in to the James Bond film of the same name. The game was released over a year after the movie but was definately worth the wait. Goldeneye revolutionised the first person shooter genre with fantastic weapons, varied and mind blowing gameplay and multiplayer that changed the future of gaming.
You play as James Bond and the plot of the game generally followes the plot of the film, with some sections being identical to scenes in the movie. At other times the plot deviates from the film, with a couple of short sections of the film bluked out into levels (e.g. Bunker, Jungle and Caverns). The plot is classic James Bond, with a Russian General (Ourumov) trying to attack Britain (and the rest of the world) with a hijacked satalite weapon which can create electonic device crippling EMP bursts. As Bond you try to chase down Ourumov and your ex-partner Alec Trevelyan and secure the weapon. Along the way you are helped by Natalya Simonova, a female computer programmer who you must protect during a number of levels.
The single player campaign takes place over 20 levels (18 story, 2 unlockable). Missions are selected from a military dossier an d can be played on Agent, Secret-Agent or 00-Agent difficulty settings. The difficulty setting effect the starting health for each level as well as the number of mission objectives that must be completed.
Completing missions under a certain time limit unlocks cheat options that can be turned on and add a whole load of fun to the game. For example, Big Head mode means all enemies have giant heads, making head shots easy. There is a slow motion mode which makes all enemies move at about one-fourth normal speed or paintball move where bullet holes are replaced with paint spots as you fire.
Each level starts and ends with a cut scene of Boond, and in between all levels are in first person view. You can pick up any weapon you find and there is no limit on the amount of weapons you can carry. Levels are excellent and enemy AI is very good compared to other games from the same period. Weapons are excellent and varied from satisfying pistols to machine guns and explosive launchers. Playing this game is amazing from begining to end. A number of levels have stealth sections were being detected brings waves of enemy reinforcements and near certain death, so these sections require the use of silenced weapons. Other levels can be hectic firefights against machine gun cameras or double oozie wielding guards. In one level - Streets - you get to drive a tank through city streets. Also you use classic Bond watch gadgets like lasers and magnets.
On each level you start with a set amount of life, determined by the difficulty level chosen and there is no way to replenish this during each level. Once it is gone you die and must restart the whole level. Body armour is available as a pick-up throughout most levels and this provides a secondary set of health which becomes depleted before you begin loosing actual health.
The multiplayer on Goldeneye revolutionised the whole FPS genre and changed multiplayer forever. Four players can play split screen over 11 maps and a variety of modes, some of which are simply genious. There is a straight forward deathmatch mode and a "You only Live twice" mode in which surprisingly you only love twice and the last person standing wins. There is a tag mode called "The Living Daylights" where the person to hold the flag for longest wins, though the flag holder cannot use weapons. There is also a "Man with the Golden Gun" where ther is a single weapon - the golden gun. Finally there is a one shot kills mode called "License to Kill".
The greatest thig about multiplayer is how you can tweak the weapon sets to explosive, pistols, maching guns, thowing knives, or the greatest ever called "slappers only" where you can only slap opponants, accompanied by a satisfying slapping noise.
Multiplayer will keep you playing the game for weeks, though the single player campaign takes hours and hours to complete on all three difficulty settings.
One of the greatest FPS's of all time and by far the most revolutionary. Simply Perfect.
Lylat Wars (also known as Star Fox 64) is a sci-fi flying shooter from Nintendo. The game looks and sounds good and has sharp visuals. Overall the game is really really fun to play, though they first level becomes tedious.
You play as Fox McCloud, the leader of a team of mercenary fighter pilots making up Star Fox. Accompanying you are three AI pilot companions Falco Lombardi (a pessimistic falcon), Slippy Toad (a rather anoying toad who is always getting shot by enemies) and Peppy Hare (a, well, peppy hare pretty much sums it up!). The game is set in the Lylat system which contains a series of planets, an asteroid field and the star Lylat itself, each of which serve as levels. An evil scientist Andross has been exciled to the planet Venom and is starting to stir up trouble so Star Fox are called in by an army general called General Pepper. You must work your way through the Lylat system, reach Venom and defeat Andross.
Through the game you can pilot two craft. In the majority of levels you fly the Arwing fighter aircraft, equipped with lasers and bombs and with the capability to boost, brake, roll, loop-the-loop and in some levels perform a sharp upward U-turn. The main weapon starts as a single laser which can be upgraded to double lasers, then upgraded to a more powerful version of the double laser by collecting an Arwing logo dropped by some enemies. The weapons can be downgraded to the single laser if the wings of the craft take significant damage (or if you die) and these must be fixed before double lasers return. The craft can carry up to 9 bombs which are fired forward to deal significant damage, or damage to multiple targets.
The second craft is the Landmaster tank which can boost, brake, roll and fly for a short while and is equipped with a single laser cannon which cannot be upgraded.
There are 15 levels on the game, but each play through consists of playing 7 levels, starting with Corneria and ending with Venom (though there are two variations of the Venom Level). There is not changable difficulty levels, but completing challenges in levels changes the route taken through the Lylat system. There are 25 different combinations of levels depending on which challenges you complete. Some levels are more difficult than others and offer a higher maximum score so chosing which challenges to complete really affects your final score and position on the games leaderboard. The aim in each level is to destroy as many enemy craft as possible then defeat the level boss by attacking weak points. You receive medals for defeating a large percentage of enemies and keeping your team mates alive. If you take too much damage you die, starting the current level again and loosing all upgrades. Each level playes as a scrolling corridor, where you fly in the middle of the screen as the scenary passes by on all sides. In some boss battles you are allowed to fly in three dimentions which is really fun, but only happens three times in the game.
*Visuals and sound*
The game looks great, scenary is clear and detailed and the Arwing looks great. enemies are sharp and explosions are bright. The sound is also fantastic, though the voices of your AI team through your radio can get a bit anoying.
There is a multiplayer mode where you can have four on four split screen combat either in the Arwing, the Landmaster or a mixture of the two for different players. If you achieve a high number of medals in single player you can also unlock a mode where you are on foot with bazookas. There are three games types, point match, last man standing and survival. Multiplayer is very fun and definately adds some length to the game.
The first level, Corneria, gets quite frustrating after a while as you have to complete it every time you play the game. It is the only level which must be the same, but after this you can pick your route so the other levels never really get boring. Also, your AI companions are pretty anoying as the often fly in your path then complai when they get shot. At other times they get shot bu mutliple enemies and you have to save them and it starts feeling like you are babysitting as opposed to working as a team. Also, a single playthrough is quite short, taking under an hour to complete, though with multiple level paths this is not such an issue.
A fantastic scrolling shooter, the Arwing is a delight to pilot and levels are interesting and provide a challenge in the route changing challenges. Each play through is short, but you can spend hours and hours enjoying all the levels and challenges. I would recommend this to every N64 owner.
Majora's mask take place a few months after the events of Ocarina of Time. You again play as Link and although movement controls, art style and many of the weapons are the same, there are many new developments from the previous game in the Zelda series.
At the start of the game, Link is traveling in search of an old friend when he meets a masked Skull kid, who stelas his horse then turns him into a Deku Scrub. The Skull Kid possesses a powerful ancient artifact called Majora's Mask and is using it to make the Moon decend and destroy the world. Throughout the game you replay the same three days, trying to complete dungeons and collect magical masks, before using the Ocarina of Time to travel back to the first of the three days. You must defeat a dundgeon boss in each of four realms in order to awake mythical giants who can stop the Moon destroying the world.
Majora's Mask is set in the Termina (a land parrallel to Hyrule as featured in other Zelda titles). At the centre of Termina is Clock Town which features a huge clock and many interesting inhabitants. Around Clock Town lie four realms. In the Southern swamp lies the Deku Palace and the Woodfall Temple, to the East can be found Ikana Canyon and the Stone Tower Temple. In the Northern mountains is the Goron village and Snowhead Temple and to the West lies the realm of the Zoras and the Great Bay Temple.
Throughout the game Link must use the three days to collect magical masks. Some of these masks are key to the quest, others simply make life easier or are just a bit of fun. If all the masks are collected, they can be used to purchase a special mask (the Fierce Deity Mask) which makes the final boss battle a great deal simpler. The masks allow Link to change into different creatures, mainly a Deku Scrub, a Zora and a Goron. As Deku Link you can shoot seeds and walk on water and fly for short periods. Goron Link can roll at high speed, walk on lava and has increased strength and weight for rusty swiches. Zora link can swim at great speed, use his fins as attacking boomerangs and creat force fields. The optional masks are definatly worth questing for as they provide added bonuses such as speed or invisibility and can open up new quest oportunities.
Link still owns the Ocarina of Time and it is used in a variety of ways, maintly to turn back time and restart the three day cycle (song of time). Other songs allow Link to transport quickly, open temples, change the weather, and create statues of himself as each of the creatures (useful to hold down pressure switches).
Gameplay follows the blueprint from Ocarina of Time. You spend time talking to strangers and completing tasks in order to get to the next temple, beat the temple boss and move on. There are many optional quests to complete and minigames to play and you will again become completely absorbed in thw Zelda universe.
Majora's mask is another outstanding game. You meet hundreds of characters, complete hours of questing, have fun playing minigames and are drawn in completely to the interesting and deep story line. As this is such a good game, I can only really compare it to Ocarina of Time. The story is not quite as good, and Termina is not as quite as rich and believable as Hyrule. The temples are more interesting owing to the unique abilities of Links four character forms and with all the masks, there is probably a bit more to do. The main reason the game is not quite as good as Ocarina of Time is that without Zelda or Gannondorf actually being in the game the story is not quite as enjoyable. The idea of saving the world from an evil man from the desert is much better than saving it from a Skull Kid bringing down the Moon.
Majora's Mask is a truly fantastic game that everyone should play, but it just falls short of the greatness of Ocarina of Time.
This Whirlpool compact refrigerator is a good product compared to others in the same category, though it does have its problems. The fridge is small enough to fit in almost any kitchen space (width 46cm height 85cm, depth 61cm) and consumers may be attracted for it because of this. If you have limited space available, you could do worse to purchase this product, but if you have the room I would avoid it. The product is coloured white with black trim and looks smart.
At 126 litres (4.45 cubic feet), the capacity is excellent in relation to the size of the unit so you can fit more food inside than you would think. Also, there is a decent amount of room between shelves so you can put taller items in the fridge (but not bottles standing up - though these can go in the door shelves) with ease or you can stack items to maximise space. The fridge is effective at chilling most food, but never gets really cold even when on the nighest setting. Also, this Whirlpool refrigerator has a category B energy efficiency rating with usage around 190kWh per year, so I guess if you are big on low emmisions and global warming this will allow you to sleep at night.
The only main problem is that this fridge is quite noisy. It makes various humming noises, and this doesn't just seem to be a problem with my product, as other reviews I have read also mention this.
This is a decent fridge for its size. If you are short on space in the kitchen this is a good bet. If you have more room though, get something bigger and better.
As most other reviewers have pointed out, the Orange Box (a collection of projects from developer Valve) is insanely good value for what you get. Half Life 2, Half Life 2: Episode 1 & Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2. To keep going on about value to money does a disservice to the quality of the games you get to play. Half life is one of the best shooter series' of all time and comes with all the add-ons in Episode 1 & 2. Portal is the most original game of the last 10 years and Team Fortress is a solid multiplayer shooter. The downside to the PS3 version of the Orange Box is that the load times are long (around 10-15 seconds) which from what i've read is much worse than other platforms. With a bit of patience though, this isnt really a problem at all.
*Half Life 2*
This is a FSP, in which you reprise the role of Dr. Gordon Freeman from Half Life and the game picks up after the events at Black Mesa in the first game. The Combine (a dimension-crossing galactic empire) are harvesting Earths resources and have intalled a brutal police state. You shoot your way across city, swamp, mines and abandoned towns to bring down this regime. The storys is interesting and characters are well animated and interesting, especially your main companion Alyx Vance. The graphics are good for a game that is now quite old and the combat is sharp and enjoyable. With zombie aliens as well as the combine trying to kill you there are pleanty of tense and enjoyable moment. Levels are interesting and provide a mix of environments, with some driving sections added to liven things up. This is a fantastic FPS that many would have missed when is was released on PC in 2004. A must play.
Half Life 2: Episode 1
The story picks up imediately after Half Life 2. The City 17 Citadel reactor is going to explode (due to events in Half Life 2) and you and Alyx Vance must first fight your way into the Citadel to stabilise the core, then help survivors escape the area. All the game mechanics and control system are the same as in Half life 2 and the story is again interesting and intriguing. The main advances from Half Life 2 are improved lighting, better facial animations and improved enemy AI in combat. This is a fanstastic expansion pack providing hours more gaming.
Half Life2: Episode 2
The story picks up from the end of Episode 2. You and Alyx must this time work to stop a huge cross-dimentional portal being opened to allow thousands of new Combine soldiers onto Earth. New ememies called Hunters provide a challenge in combat and there is a greater proportion of driving sections. Other than these minor tweaks Episode 2 is the same as Episode 1 as that were developed together. Again this is in interesting continuation of the story and provides plenty more gaming.
Brilliantly original game based around puzzle solving using a portal gun. The portal gun shoots two portals and walking though one means you come out of the other. You contoll Chell, a research subject in the Aperture Science testing facility. You travel from room to room, using your portal gun to activate switches of energy plates to get to the next room. Soon you escape these test chambers and go after GLaDOS, the computer mind which runs Aperture Science. A short game, but a very intersting one, I really enjoyed playing Portal.
Team Fortress 2
This is on online multiplayer FPS where two teams (Red and Blue) compete in capture the flag, control point, payload (destroy ememy base) and deathmatch modes. There are nine classes in the game: Scout, Soldier, Pyro, Demoman, Heavy, Engineer, Medic, Sniper and Spy. Each class has unique abilities and weapons leading to a strategic multiplayer experience. The combat is solid and enjoyable though to be honest I haven't spent much time playign Team Fortress, as I have been busy playing the other games.
A no-brainer for PS3 owners - BUY THIS GAME.
Extreme Style Matt Clay is a hair styling product from V05 which of all styling products I have used is by far the best. The product is part of the V05 styleing range which won the FHM styling awards in 2007 and 2009 (though the product did not win an individual award so text on the product is slightly misleading).
The product comes as a grey/beige coloured clay which is quite firm to the touch when cold, becomes much more plyable when warmed (by rubbing hands or putting on to blow-dried hair). The product is described as performing four key funcions:
- Adds texture and definition
- Ideal to sculpt hair
- Leaves a matt finish
- Washes out easily
This description is accurate as it is exactly what the product does, though I would add my own
- Allows you to touch your hair without worrying about messing it up.
- Perfect for a messy (just got out of bed) look.
When the product is on your hair it doesn't feel stiff or sticky, just thicker and sculptable. The best thing about the product is that you can re-sculpt your style to a certain extent during the day without it going flat. Also the matt finish makes hair look good, and your cannot see that you have any products in your hair.
*Using the Product*
The product should be used with dry hair. To use the product most efectively, take a blob about the size of a penny (more if you have hair longer than 2-3 inches, or want more substantial hold) and rub it between fingers until warn and plyable. Apply this to hair to style, either to specific area for a personal style or just all through your hair for a messy look. Alternatively, apply the product with warm hands or to hair warmed by a hair dryer for best effects. To remove the product, simply wash with your hair normal shampoo.
(note - to wash the product off your hands I find it is best to rub handss together quickly and the clay turns into larger lumps rather than a general coating and is easier to wass off).
The packaging for Extreme Style Matt Clay has changed a bit over time, and as one pot of the stuff will last from 3-6 months depending on useage the package can change between purchases! Generally the appearence stays similar. The product comes in a 75ml cylindrical blue tin (diameter 7-8cm, height 3cm) with Extreme Style Matt Clay clearly visible on the top. Also ther is usually a red box with white text confirming the product as an FHM grooming awards winner.
This is a quality hair styling product. Easy to apply and to style when on hair and looks natural and flexible. One pot will last you a long time and the product washes out of hair easily. Best hair product I have ever used.
Red steel was released in 2006 it was as an example of how the new Wii motion control system could be used for shooters. I don't feel the game was designed to be the best ever, but more to showcase the new syel of gameplay the Wii offered comsumers and this must be kept in mind when reviewing the game. The two questions are: 1) Does Red Steel show that shooting/first person combat games can work on the Wii and 2) is it a good game in its own right.
You play as Scott Monroe, a man engaged to Miyu who is daugher of Isao Sato; the head of one of the larget Yakuza clans. You are going to meet your father in law to be when a rival gang attacks and you are dragged into helping Sato reclaim control over the waring yakuza tribes. The game takes place in various locales in Tokyo from a nuge hotel to Little Tokyo slums and a peaceful (well untill you come and shoot up the place) retreat in the mountains. You fight your way through each level and defeat key Yakuza members in sword combat, working your way up the organisation to eventually defeat Tokai, a big Yakuza boss. The story is told through amimated still frame cutscenes, which are pretty boring to watch and the story itself is nothing too exciting.
Combat is broken down into two separate elements: Guns and Sword but you have no control over when you can use each of these styles, if someone challenges you to blade combat you are honnor bound to fight them and cant just shoot them. The Wii remote is used to aim firearms (pistol, machine gun, shotgun) and if you hold the A button and move the controler backwards and forwards you zoom the aim in and out. The controll is buy no means perfect and you find pleanty of moments where it is almost completely unresponsive but it does an adaquate job of introducing a new control system to be used on future Wii titles The nunchuck controls your movement and can be used to strafe, jump, duck and reload. The sword combat is controled through using combinations of movements with both the remote and nunchuck. Generally the Wii remote controlls your attacking blade and the nunchuck controlls a secondary defensive weapon. As the game porgresses you learn a series of combo moves, though these are often difficult to use as the movements are not picked up all the time. This means you stand there flailing about with nothing happening at some points getting killed. I think the sword combat is interesting and at times very tense and fun, but the control problems stop it being brilliant.
The game takes a decent amount of time to complete and it is quite fun to replay the main story at least once when you have mastered the control system after your first play through.
There is a split screen multiplayer on Red Steel, though there are only four maps and three deathmatch modes so it is nothing special. In truth I probably only played on the multiplayer for about 30 minutes in the 5 years I have had the game which speaks for itself.
A decent first attempt at a combat game on the Wii. Released as a lauch title i think it does suggest that shooting/sword combat will work on the Wii but it will need a sharper, more responsive control method. As a shooting game in its own right Red steel is not particuarly impressive. The mix of gun and sword combat keeps things interesting but the story and characters are nothing special.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 is the follow up to first installment of Galaxy which came in 2007 and it builds on its predesessor in every way. The basic story is almost identical to the original as Bowser has once again kidnapped Princess Peach and has taken control of the galaxy using Power Stars. You run, jump, squash, fly, roll, spring and ride from world to world collecting Power Stars in your quest to defeat Bowser again.
Where Galaxy had the observatory as a platform for navigating the galaxies, Galaxy 2 uses Starship Mario, and this makes going from level to level much quicker and lets you get on with enjoying the game. Levels on Galaxy 2 are superb, creating some one the most mind-bending and gravity defying situations ever seen in platformers. I kept finding myself tilting my head at odd angles to try to make sense of some levels and the way Galaxy 2 uses gravity to mix things up is one of its strongest points. There are 7 worlds containing 49 levels with a total of 120 stars to collect, meaning hours and hours of fun. If you manage to find all the stars, you unlock a green star challenge where another 120 green stars appear throughout the levels for you to find.
Super Mario Galaxy 2 uses a range of power-ups to perk up the platforming and also sees the welcome return of Yoshi, further mixing things up.
Available power-ups are:
Cloud Mario (can create 3 cloud platforms and stand on clouds until you take damage)
Spin Drill (can drill and attack enemies through non-solid surfaces)
Rock Mario (turn into a rolling rock to destroy enemies and objects)
Bee Mario (limited flying ability, can walk on flowers)
Fire Mario (can shoot fireballs for a limited time)
Boo Mario (can float and travel through grills until you touch a beam of light)
Spring Mario (can bounce like a spring until hurt or land in water)
Rainbow Mario (classic invincibility for a limited time)
Dash Yoshi (speed boost, cal run up vertical surfaces.
Blimp Yoshi (can float until Yoshi runs out of breath)
Bulb Yoshi (give you ability to see invisible sections for a limited time)
The game is pretty easy, and only around 10 regular stars and 15 green stars are particuarly difficult to get for seasoned platform gamers. The boss battles are a bit too easy to be enjoyable as I only died about 3 or 4 times during boss batles in completing the game. I think Nintendo were trying to make the game accessible to a wider rannge of gamers.
Overall this is the best Wii game so far and is one of the best platformers of all-time. Everyone should play this game and it shows that Nintendo can still make great great games.