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doomichelle

doomichelle
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Member since: 23.11.2011

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      21.03.2012 13:58
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      An unappealing box of chocolates that isn't worth the high asking price

      When I was first diagnosed with Diabetes I was told that rather than buying expensive diabetic chocolate, it is best just to have normal chocolates in moderation. After sampling this box of chocolates I can see why this is good advice.

      Firstly, there is a restriction on how many chocolates you can eat anyway due to the laxative effects of the ingredients. It is recommended you only eat about 20g of polyols which works out as about 3 chocolates, the amount of chocolates you might as well eat with sugar in.

      The assortment contains dairy fugde, citrus fruit, turkish delight, caramel truffle and toffee. Highlights being the toffee and caramel varieties. All of the chocolates have something of a samey unflavourless theme and there is nothing very distinctive on offer to get the palate dancing.

      By far the worst of the selection was the dairy fudge which was so artifically sweet and sickly it was enough to induce a coughing fit. The chocolates are nicely decorated in typical Thorntons style to make them appealing on the eye, but no amount of decoration can disguise the fact that this isn't a very tasty box of chocolates.

      At about £8 for the box, it isn't exactly good value for money as there are less chocolates than in a standard box of Thorntons chocolate for this price. If you want value for money you would be better off buying a cheaper box of normal chocolates and making them last, rather than spending the money on a box you probably won't enjoy. Diabetic chocolate is certainly no substitute for the real thing and will leave you craving it even more to get rid of the nasty taste it leaves behind.

      The fat content is also miles higher than you will find in other chocolates which is why health professionals will recommend you avoid them.

      The diabetic chocolates are on offer in a smaller range at Thorntons so I recommend you try a smaller packet before committing to a larger box that more likely than not, you won't enjoy.

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    • Theme Hospital (PS) / Archive Game / 14 Readings / 13 Ratings
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      12.02.2012 12:52
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      A chance to run your own hospital from the comfort of your sofa

      Available for : Playstation one and Playstation 3 from the Playstation network
      Price band: Below £5
      Genre: Simulation
      Published by: Electronic Arts

      Theme Hospital is a game that leaves you in control of running a hospital. Running a hospital into the ground if my experiences are anything to go by. Essentially you start from scratch with an empty hospital and empty plots of land you need to buy in order to expand your wealth. Running a hospital is no easy task and quite often you can find yourself going backwards rather than forwards, floundering in debt in order to expand your diagnosis and treatment facilities by taking out loans from the banker. Of course you could argue that it would be a better idea not to take the loan but with a reception room full of unhappy patients you are left with little choice.

      Throw into the mix earthquakes and rats and you have yourself the potential for disaster. Earthquakes will destroy your machinery and your reputation so you need to employ decent handymen to keep on top of them. As for the rats, well the last thing the health inspector wants to see when he visits your hospital is a furry critter running around. My solution is to place a plant pot in front of the rats holes and hope the problem goes away.

      There are a variety of conditions which need to be treated in your hospital and as the levels progress you will find that more and more problems crop up with new research needed to unlock treatment facilities. A few of my personal favourites include, Bloaty head syndrome, The king syndrome (elvis impersonators) and Hairytitis cured by a good sharp electrical shock. The irritating thing is that once you start a new level, all of the diagnosis and treatment rooms you previously unlocked will have disappeared and you will have to research them all over again.

      Your progress throughout the game is mapped by a league table in which you compete against other hospitals in the area. Do well and you will be rewarded, perform badly and you may see the game over screen coming your way. A progress bar at the top of the screen indicates how well you are doing throughout the year with a traffic light red, amber, green system. If you are in the green you are close to finishing the level, in the red and you have to make serious changes.

      As is the goal in most hospital establishments, or so you would hope, the idea is to cure your patients not kill them. This requires that you find the right balance between diagnosis and treatment as a misdiagnosis can lead to death just as easily as no diagnosis at all.

      As for staff, those available to buy are doctors, nurses, handymen and receptionists. Throughout the level the receptionist will pipe in with unhelpful gibbering which more than once has caused me to turn the volume down so I can have five minutes of peace. Doctors too seem to have no sense of purpose and wander aimlessly around corridors when the receptionist calls out they are needed elsewhere. Place them in a room with a line full of waiting patients and there is still a chance they will wander out again, causing your patients to walk out in anger. Yet still, they will demand a pay rise for doing no work.

      Another problem is that doctors need to have certain qualifications in order to do certain tasks such as surgeons and psychiatrists. Waiting for one to be available to buy can be an absolute nightmare as the generation of staff to buy is completely random.

      Despite all of this, theme hospital is a retro game that will keep you going for a long time and is fun, though frustrating to play. At about 2.99 off the playstation network, this is your chance to purchase a game that otherwise would be lost.

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        10.02.2012 14:08
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        A good solution to pet care needs that is longlasting and reasonably priced

        We have owned gerbils for a couple of years and have recently bought a couple of dwarf hamsters too so naturally were in need of something for them to run around in without causing too much havok. As much as I love my pets, they can be destructive little beasts if not monitored constantly so that's why these space pod runners are perfect for a bit of exercise and fun at the same time.

        At first I was trepitious of letting the gerbils run in balls as I had heard their tails can get caught in the air holes. Not wanting this to happen it was a while before we actually bought the balls as we just used to keep them in a cardboard box while we cleaned them out. Clearly chewing critters and cardboard don't mix so we were left with little choice.

        The space pod runners come in colourful colours, ours are purple for the gerbils at a larger size that were bought for about 6 pounds and blue for the dwarf hamsters which were only 3.99. The brilliant thing about the pods is that their colourful design means you can keep an eye on your pets while you are busy doing other things as they are hard to miss. The price too is also reasonable for something that you can use over and over.

        As yet we have encountered no problems with the gerbils getting their tails stuck as the slits in the plastic are quite big. Both gerbils and dwarf hamsters seem to run pretty freely across carpet and stone flooring without getting stuck. It can be like watching an episode of gladiators.

        Now for the negatives. Firstly when you first buy the balls they are deconstructed into two parts which you then have to fit together to form the sphere. This sounds simple but in fact is incredibily frustrating as the moment one side slots into place the other pops out again. Once fitted into place though, the sphere twists around to create a secure ball. Secondly the lids at first are incredibly stiff and it is hard to take them off so you can start using it. In contrast, when the lid is taken off, it can become slack and we have found that we had to put cellotape across the bottom of one lid to keep it secure. However in the many months we have been using this product we have yet to have a critter on the loose so overall we are pleased with it.

        Exercise balls are a good way to give your pets exercise and it is an easy way to get them out and about without having to worry too much.

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        05.02.2012 16:16
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        Even coverage and lasting effects

        Usually for my foundation I stick to brands and products that I know as if you find the right one for you, then it is best to stick to it. However, as one of my friends has recently become an Avon rep I decided to buy some products off her. Originally I purchased a very small tube of this product as a trial size which only cost a pound so I figured it was worth a shot. After trying the product I loved it and when next order date came round I purchased a full 30 ml bottle size for about ten pounds which is the same price I usually pay in the shops for my foundation. Anywhere below this price and the product doesn't usually perform for me.

        A 30ml bottle for me lasts a good couple of months as I don't use very much foundation although I wear it daily. I only use a very small amount for light coverage. When using this product I found the the liquid was soft and covered my skin evenly. The product is also good at covering up blemishes and illuminating the skin. My skin looks more refreshed from using this product and I would certainly recommend it for others.

        The problem with this liquid sort of foundation which is operated by a pump style top is that you can end up with wastage at the end as it won't come out through the tube inside. The top of the bottle can also become quite dirty where the foundation comes out so it needs to be cleaned regularly.

        What I like about the product is that it is not overly obvious I am wearing foundation as the coverage is flawless and evens out my skin tone. The product is also long lasting and usually is on for about 8 hours before it starts to wear off. There are products on the market at the moment however that last longer.

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      • Nestle Kit Kat Chunky / Chocolate / 8 Readings / 5 Ratings
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        05.02.2012 15:59
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        A treat that's exceedingly naughty but equally nice

        Sometimes when I have a chocolate craving, there's only one thing that will solve it... a nice big Kit Kat chunky. A varient on the original wafer Kit Kat, the chunky introduced in 1999 has found massive success since. If only it was as healthy as your bog standard Kit Kat I would be a very happy girl indeed. The 55g bar consists of several layers of wafer slathered in a thick layer of Nestle chocolate, and when I say thick, it really is. Probably why in your average chunky there is a massive 280 calories in comparison to the measly 99 of the original....

        The bright red packaging is instantly recognisable as that of the Kit Kat variety and its size also helps it stand out on the shelves. Retailing at about 90p it sits comfortably among the other chocolate bars on the market. Its size is both a positive and a negative as it comes with the guilt factor, but it is also good value for money as there is a lot of chocolate here to get stuck into compared to some of the smaller bars.

        The shell of the chocolate is quite hard but once bitten into melts in the mouth. Nestle chocolate can be a bit sweeter and sicklier than their main rivals Cadbury but the light wafer in the middle is the perfect counterpart. The two go very well together. It is essentially a Kit Kat on steroids, the beefed up version for those who aren't quite satisfied with the thin two sticks of the original. This is more a log.

        These days the product has grown with more varitety on offer, there is currently the peanut butter (my personal favourite) white chocolate, double choc and orange available to buy. However these are limited editions which won't be around forever which is a terrible shame. Little pop chocs are also availabe for those who like to share... I'm not saying you have to you may want to scoff them all to yourself.

        Overall, if you a looking for something to fill you up this will most definately hit the spot. The light wafer in the middle provides some relief from the guilt of the dense chocolate on the outside, but not that much. Best saved for an occasional treat.

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        05.02.2012 15:33
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        An indulgent pick me up

        I am a massive fan of the Body Shop and have yet to find a product of theirs which I do not like. The side of my bath is littered with products from them as it is a brand I know and trust and you always know that it is well sourced and containing natural ingredients.

        The Mango bath and shower gel comes in a 250 ml clear plastic bottle. The product is very attractive looking as the vibrant colour of the mango gel implies it looks as good as it smells and feels. As soon as you open the bottle which is secured by a flip top lid and screw on top, the smell of the mango hits you. If you want to pretend that your shower is infact a lush tropical rainforest, this is arguably the closest you will get without actually going there. The smell lingers on the skin for a good while after you're done washing too.

        You only need to use a little dollop to work up a good lather so it does last a good couple of weeks. The product is also soap free which is good for those with sensitive skin and has a cleansing effect. Infused with mango it does have a heavy fragrance so it depends on your own personal preference whether you want a strong smell from your shower gel or not. I personally like to be able to smell the shower gel so this product is perfect for me. Some other shower gels which are soap free can be unfragranced and dull.

        At about £4 for a 250 ml bottle this is quite expensive as there are a lot of shower products you can pick up in the supermarket for a lot less. However it makes a nice gift idea and it you feel like treating yourself, then there's no reason not to!

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        05.02.2012 15:12
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        If you enjoyed the ones that came before, this is more of the same thing.

        Genre - Action/ Adventure
        Ages - 15 plus
        Price - Around 39.99
        Publisher - Ubisoft
        Available for - PS3/XBOX 360

        The concept

        Assassin's Creed is the ultimate form of stress release. After a hard day at work there is nothing I enjoy more than coming home and sticking on Assassin's Creed, sneaking around the rooftops and stealthily spreading bloodshed and massacre through stylish means. Essentially, you play as Ezio Auditore the star of the last few Assasin's games with small segments inbetween from previous assassin Altaire and modern day assassin Desmond Miles. In this installment, Desmond finds he has quite lost his marbles through use of the animus, a machine that allows him to delve into the memories of his ancestors Altaire and Ezio.

        A few years have passed since the events of Brotherhood yet Ezio, though slightly greying is still able to leap from rooftop to rooftop with ease, the greatest free runner in the world. The free running element of Assassin's is what really brings it to life. Despite the fact it may not be realistic, watching Ezio perform these feats opens up the game world so much more than simply running around a level playing field and swiping out enemies. There are many approaches to take when playing this game whether it be the secretive approach or the all guns blazing. Your actions throughout are monitored and do too much to make yourself well known and you will soon see the consequences with guards attacking you on sight. Ezio is once again battling against the templars to uncover the secret behind the mysterious golden apple. They however are not his only enemies as the life of an assassin is not the easiest. It can be hard to make friends.

        Gameplay

        Not much has changed since the last few games other than the addition of a hookblade which allows Ezio to launch himself further into the air when climbing. He also has the use of bombs which come in several different varities which you can tailor to your own needs at crafting tables. The use of factions is still available and if you complete additional sidequests for them, there may be more abilities unlocked. As with the last game, Ezio as the master assassin is able to recruit other assassins to the cause and train them up to the rank of master assassin by sending them on missions and completing certain quests. Your assassins can be called in combat if you find things get a little sticky. The combat element has not seen much change from the last games either with Ezio being able to chain kills in a streak if he manages to not take a hit and counter kill when enemies take a swipe. Although this makes combat a fluent affair, it does also take away the challenge.

        The city of Constantipole can also be renovated by purchasing buildings and shops which adds to your overall income then meaning you can buy more shops and weapons and such. There is treasure to be collected and also fragments of animus memories lying around which all adds to your overall completion of the game. Frankly the only way to make this game last is by doing all of the extra quests dotted around the map as otherwise the main story arch will only take a few hours to whip through.

        Pros and Cons

        What this game offers is variety, the fact that you can decide which way you go about a mission means you can play it again without feeling like youre doing the same thing over. However the idea of the game is to stay synched with the memories of Ezio, which sometimes means you have to do things in a certain way in order to get 100% Unfortunately, I have sometimes found myself getting caught up trying to do a mission in a certain way and abandoning it in frustration resorting to my own means to get things done. At first the pace of the game is relentless with plenty of missions to do and assassins to recruit and train but I found towards the end I was just collecting treasure and bits of animus which is really not all that interesting. Once you have all your assassins recruited and trained and have collected the books as part of Sofia's sidequest there isn't really much left to be done. I found this game to be much the same as the last couple and the formula is becoming a little old. That isn't to say it isn't a good game because it is but there is nothing on offer to really shake the franchise up. The sidequest offered where you find out more about Desmond's past is in first person and is dull and clunky. Really not worth the effort.

        Unfortunately the game can be prone to glitches and freezing or at least I have found this to be the case. Another annoying little niggle is that when you fall off a rooftop, obviously there is a chance you will die.... however sometimes you take a smaller leap which seems achievable as you are sure you have done it before and then ... oh wait ... dead.

        The gameplay is however engaging and enjoyable and will keep most amused for a good stretch of time. Some versions of the game also come with the original version of Assassin's Creed included, a blast from the past in case you already sold your copy. There is also multiplayer maps on offer as well so there is still reason to play after you finish the main story by getting your friends involved and proving who is the better assassin.

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          08.01.2012 16:39
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          A controversial book it is impossible not to form an opinion of

          Author - Lionel Shriver
          Publisher - Serpents tail classics
          Pages - 468
          Accolades - Winner of the Orange Prize 2005
          Genre - Fiction
          RRP - £7.99

          We need to talk about Kevin follows the story of Eva, an independent woman who never really wanted a child but found herself the mother of a boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher. Unable to deal with the sacrificies of being a mother, Eva wonders whether her dislike for her own son is what led him to commit such terrible crimes or was he just bad from the very beginning?

          Written as a series of letters to her estranged husband, Franklin who never understood why she hated their son so, this book is chilling, unsettling and offers an entirely different perspective on what it means to be a mother. Eva finds herself going through the motions to save public face but inside she is a woman in turmoil.

          On the one hand, the novel explores the responsibilities of parenthood and on the other, blows the reader out of the water with a nightmarish possibility of a child who can do no right. The novel jumps between the present and past, showing the reader how Eva struggles to deal with her unwanted fame in the community and how it all began. Throughout the book I find myself struggling to decide where my sympathies lie as Eva's horrific mothering skills are contrasted to Kevin's inherent need to be bad.

          Though the book is slow going at times, I kept reading as the plot line was so intriguing it was worth sticking around for. The characters may not be likeable as such as they are all full of flaws, this however is what makes them interesting and the plot so gripping. After reading this book, I have seriously reconsidered the possibility of having children for fear of what the outcome may be.

          The fact that the novel is written as a series of letters makes it feel more personal as Eva pours her heart out on paper in a way she could never do in words when her husband was with her. Sometimes Eva comes across as sensitive and other times a completely selfish witch. There are multi layers to this novel meaning it can be interpreted in many different ways. Reading the book it is impossible not to have an opinion on the characters and their situation and wondering whether you would have done the same. The characters grow and develop throughout the story, and as we learn more about their history the novel earns more depth.

          Now adapted for screen starring Tilda Swinton this is a novel that has been thrust deservedly into the spotlight and it is definitely worth a read. Thought provoking and controversial, this is definitely a book I would recommend to others, if only to see their reaction to it.

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          08.01.2012 16:05
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          An effective footscrub that leaves feet leaving pampered

          Admittedly I desest feet, and therefore am of the sort who never pays much attention to her own. However a telling off from the foot doctor forced me into giving them a little more concern as they were dry, hard and frankly unsightly. I was bought this product for Christmas in a set along with a pumice, some soaking crystals and some lotion. On its own the product costs about 7 pounds which to me is quite a lot of money to shell out for a little tub of foot scrub. However the thing is, it actually works. Within a couple of days I saw the effects and the skin on my heels was softer and smoother. The peppermint gives it a lovely kick and hits you as soon as you unscrew the lid. When rubbed on the feet it gives a cooling and tingling sensation that feels ever so good after a hard day at work or a long walk.

          The gel, mixed with small pieces of pumice stone works to eradicate dead skin skills and leave skin feeling softer and smoother.

          Though the product isn't much to look at when you unscrew the lid, the effects that it has more than make up for it. I was at first put off by the greyish, gloopy gel like substance, thinking it looked a bit like the slime out of Ghostbusters but the cold jelly like substance scrubs easily into the skin, spreading out and working into a pleasant lather when mixed with water.

          Presented in a secure screw top package, the container is water tight, I leave mine by the shower and it never gets water inside. I have used the product pretty much everyday since Christmas day and would say that the 100ml tub has lasted about 2 weeks before I've only been left with a little.

          I would definitely use this product again, however due to the high price it probably won't be as often as I would like. I would certainly recommend using this product in conjuction with the other products in the set as though the product is effective alone, better results are seen when using all of the products together.

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        • Wii Fit (Wii) / Nintendo Wii Game / 4 Readings / 3 Ratings
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          08.01.2012 15:38
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          A game that encourages players to get off the sofa and onto the scales

          Platform: Nintendo Wii
          Ages: Designed with all ages in mind
          Max weight: 23 st 8 pounds
          Needed to play: Balance board (Nunchuk optional)
          RRP: Approx £80

          Wiifit was one of the first fitness games to come onto the market with the sole intention of helping players to do the opposite of what videogaming usually entails, to get active and hopefully fitter. The premise is that if you use the WiiFit on a regular basis and with a healthy diet and exercise regime it can help you to lose weight. There are several activites on offer split into the following categories;

          Aerobic: Hula hooping, step aerobics, jogging, boxing,
          Balance: Games that challenge you to keep your balance and shift side to side.
          Muscle workout : Work on the different areas of your body to build definition and tone
          Yoga: Work on flexibility, toning and stamina.
          Favourites: A collection of the activities you do the most at the touch of your wiiremote.

          WiiFit also features a calender that maps your daily activity, weight and wiifit age. The board also acts as a set of scales which depressingly keeps track of how much weight you have lost..... or gained. The Wii balance board presents you with a wii fit age based on your level of fitness in correlation to your actual age. Also keeping a track of your BMI Wiifit suggests goals for you to reach within a certain time period. I am currently on my 922nd day of WiiFit - 450 of these a leave of absence and have yet to reach a goal in the time period set. Though I may have lost weight, this was unfortunately during the 450 days I was not on the Wii Fit. This is not a miracle weight loss tool. It requires will power and dedication from the player to put the effort in, however it does help as a motivational aid and is good for those who can't fit exercise into their daily routine. Further activites are unlocked by clocking up a set amount of minutes played which gives you the motivation to keep going so you can progress.

          Graphically wiifit doesn't have much to offer as it has the least to offer to the market when compared to things like the PS3 and Xbox but that isn't what developers Nintendo are concerned about. A nice little touch is that you create your own Mii modelled on yourself and as you lose weight you'll see your little Mii turn from a round tummyed jolly little chappie into a slender Mii. I love nothing more than going for a fictional jog around the park and watching all the other Miis run around too, giving you a little wave as they go past. In reality, if I went for a jog in the park, I'd be laughed out of there, ridiculed. Wiifit gives me the freedom to jog around a lush green park, free from bags of doggy poop at a pace comfortable for me.

          Unfortunatley after many days of playing this I found myself getting bored of doing the same activites over and over again on a daily basis. In this sense it can be a short lived affair for quite a lot of money. With the release of Wii Fit plus, the original Wiifit has less to offer in terms of activites.

          WiiFit was an innovative release that paved the way for more fitness games to come flooding onto the market. The addition of the BMI chart is its biggest unique selling point, the best way to be able to map your weight effectively. The Wii balance board mascot is always available to pipe in with helpful hints and tips for a more healthy lifestyle. It's nice to see a game that finally encourages us to get off our backsides and do a bit of exercise.

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          08.01.2012 15:07
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          A game that offers little new to the series worth keeping

          Platform: PS3
          Genre: Platforming
          Network compatible: Yes
          Age guide: Universal
          Players:4
          Playtime: Under 10 hours

          Ratchet and Clank return, (once again) for another intergalactic adventure. The universe once again finds itself in peril and its up to Ratchet and Clank who had quite happily retired from the hero business to save the day as usual. Dr. Nefarious and Captain (now president) Quark also come along for the ride but this time Nefarious is working with the heroes to save the day. Perhaps he isn't so bad after all. When a massive war ship looms it falls to the four to track down its creator and find a way to put a stop to it before its too late.

          Created by Insomniac games, this is not the first outing for Ratchet and Clank. After many other outings on the PS3 for me the formula is becoming a little tired. Shoot some monsters, buy new weapons, shoot some more monsters with new weapons, travel to new planet, shoot some more monsters. What first attracted me to the franchise was the comedy aspect of it. Ratchet and Clank has always been a series that is able to raise a couple of easy laughs whether through slapstick or clever writing however this time around the jokes come sparsely and when they do, I found myself wishing they hadn't bothered. That's not to say the series has completely lost its charm. Every now and again I found myself tittering at a funny quip. However the series has done little since its beginnings to throw anything new into the mix. It all feels a bit samey and hence I found myself finishing it all too quickly.

          One new addition though is the ability to choose between the four characters or to have others join in with you as you play through the levels. This makes a change from being stuck with Ratchet throughout the whole game but on the flip side if you choose one of the other characters they don't really have anything new to offer.

          Its perhaps a blessing that you are given the option of playing with a friend as I found that the artificial intelligence here when playing on the single player campaign left much to be desired. Quite often I found myself standing around wondering where my companion had disappeared to only to find they had plummetted to their death down a chasm. Perhaps more frustratingly when needed to push a button I found Clank to be exceedingly unhelpful, twiddling his thumbs while I desperately jumped from one button to the next before the time ran out when in other instances Clank jumps on the buttons for you, as is the point.

          The end of the game does offer a surprise twist which I won't ruin for you but needless to say, I didn't see it coming. At least the developers did put some effort in when putting pen to paper on this one. The main story campaign will at most take about ten hours to complete or less but there is more available to play online with others to drag it out a little more. Skill points are awared for completing certain objectives so there is reason to play through a level again but for me I found myself not really caring if I got them or not as there isn't really anything to gain. From collecting gold bolts in the levels and completing certain puzzles you are able to unlock new skins for your characters.

          The ability to play in 3D also offers a new addition to the series graphically but that's only if you have a 3D capable TV to play it on.

          My greatest annoyance while playing this game was the distance between save points while playing. In the past it has been clear where autosave was taking place and I always clearly knew where I would be starting off from again the next time. However in All 4 One I was never certain exactly when it was saving but it didn't seem to be that often.

          The simplicity of the gameplay means that you can pretty much pick up this game and know straight away what it is you need to do, especially if you have played before. The furry lombax will certainly be popular with the young ones and the variety of weapons on offer with increasingly comical effects will be enough to keep them happy. My particular favourites were the critter strike which turns your enemies into little piggies and later on bloodthirsty warhogs and Mr. Zurkon who disposes of your enemies for you, leaving you free to take in the scenery.

          Frankly, though the formula has worked in the past I think for the next installment, and I'm sure there will be one, Insomniac are going to have to try a little harder to pull something new out of the bag. The ability to control time in the last game A Crack in Time seems to have been completely disregared, however this was something that was quite different and brought a new dynamic to gameplay.

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          • Play.com / Online Shop / 10 Readings / 10 Ratings
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            01.01.2012 14:26
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            A long established internet shopping site which should be your first choice for internet shopping

            Play.com is usually my first port of call for internet shopping. Nine times out of ten I have been able to find exactly what I am looking for even if it is something you can't typically pick up in the shops anymore. The website is set out into several sub categories for everything that you can buy. A place for everything and everything in its place. The categories are as follows

            DVD
            BLU RAY
            MUSIC
            VIDEO GAMES
            BOOKS
            CLOTHING
            SPORTS AND OUTDOORS
            ELECTRONICS
            COMPUTING AND OFFICE
            MOBILE
            GIFTS AND GADGETS
            TOYS AND BABY

            As you can see there's an awful lot of products that play supply whether they be new or second hand. Anything you buy from play is new however there are also items listed as play trade which may be second hand. In general I can't complain about the quality of products that come from play as they usually arrive well packaged and the same standard you could expect from buying off the high street. There are plenty of big brand names on offer in all departments so you never have to worry that the products don't come from a decent source. Play operate a 7 day return policy for unwanted, unopened and unused products which isn't really that long if you think about it. There is however a free 30 day policy for selected clothing and sportswear if you aren't satisfied with the product.

            In terms of pricing I have often found that buying things through Play.com is cheaper than buying off the highstreet. It may only be a saving of a couple of pounds but the way I see it even a little money off is better than nothing at all. I am a frequent visitor to the site even if I am not looking for anything in particular to buy and have found that quite often there will be some sort of offer in place across the product categories. Thankfully it isn't like on the high street where the sale is full of last years stock, play usually have some fairly decent and recent stock that you can pick up for a fraction of the price.

            As far as delivery goes, unfortunately I have found their standards lacking a little in recent months. I remember when I first started using play about 4 years ago that when I ordered something by and large it would be there free delivery within the next day or two. Sadly this is no longer the case where you can be waiting up to a week for something to arrive, meaning if you want something in a hurry, you are going to have to do some forward planning to allow time for it to come. In addition to this there are now several delivery options in place like first class and next day delivery, however these options are no longer free. I think it is possibly due to the expansion of the company that they can no longer send out products as quickly as they like with millions of people using the site.

            On a few occasions we have been sent products which do not match what we have ordered. Of course play are happy to rectify their mistakes but it is more of an inconvenince than anything to go about sending it back and waiting for the right thing to come again.

            Stock levels can also be a problem. I remember once ordering an action figure for my partner and the product specified that they were expecting stock within a certain period of time. However it never came back in and the product was sitting for months in my order box with no results. I would have preferred if they had just said the thing was out of stock in which case I wouldn't have wasted my time. This happened again with a PS3 game I ordered and I ended up contacting them to ask where it would be. In their favour I did get a response and the product arrived not long after that. Perhaps I'm just an impatient sort.

            Though I trust Play whole heartedly and will continue buying from them as I feel they are by and large reliable - the same can not be said for Play trade which is an Ebay/Amazon style sub division of the website. Unfortunately the one time we bought something off here - a Disney lion King DVD when it arrived it was clearly a fake. With nothing to rely on but trust, it really isn't worth the risk.

            A great feature about the site is that through the different categories, there are always product suggestions and hot buys for things that might interest you and down the side of the page there is a chart for what people are most buying which is great if you are struggling for gift ideas and want to rely on the consumer trends. All products also have the option of reviews so you can read other people's opinions about a product before buying it.

            Overall Play is a good site with a lot of products to browse through. The site is accessible and easy to use which is why I frequently find myself drawn to it. Though its standards have slipped somewhat in recent years, in most cases they can be relied upon to deliver decent products at a fair price.

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          • Nomination Charm Bracelets / Jewellery / 9 Readings / 7 Ratings
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            18.12.2011 16:57
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            A stylish bracelet tailored to suit you

            Produced by Nomination, the world's largest manufacturer of Italian charm bracelets, the Nomination bracelet is a staple piece of many people's wardrobes. Both my mother, sister and myself own a nomination bracelet and it's always a great solution when you are stuck for a present to buy. Available in 4 different sizes from large to small, there's one to suit everyone depending on your own personal preference. We all own the classic size which sits snugly on the wrist without getting in the way and it looks very pretty. I have had a lot of compliments on mine and I wear it for pretty much every occassion whether it be formal or everyday.

            There are a huge selection of charms to choose from and there is plenty of variety on offer as well from birthstones and letters to cute animals and items that reflect your hobby. While mine is a mish mash of things that are personal to me, milestones in my life and things that I like, my mother has a theme with hers which is the birth signs, stones and letters of her nearest and dearest. It really is something that you can treasure forever.

            Made of a stretchy stainless steel, the bracelet slides on and off eradicating the annoying trickyness of clasps. To change the charms the links slide out and clip back in, a skill which I have yet to master as I find it quite tricky to hold the bracelet apart at the same time as clipping one in. We have found sliding a pin through to stretch out one side is quite a good method of changing them.

            A starter blank bracelet retails in at under ten pounds which makes it a great gift for someone who hasn't already got one and thereafter the charms are about thirteen to thirty pounds depending on what style you go for. Some are enamel and eighteen carat gold so obviously these ones cost a little more.

            While the charm bracelet is more practical than the traditional sort of charm bracelet that dangles and gets in the way, the flat style of the charms means it never gets in the way, though occassionally, the bracelet can nip the skin if it catches you. I have only encountered a couple of problems with my nomination bracelet and I have had it for years now. Firstly, the bracelet can get quite dirty between the links, so I recommend cleaning with a cotton bud inbetween the links every now and again. Secondly out of the many charms I have had, one of the dangly ones unfortunately broke off, however my local Silver Shop were happy to fix it for me without quibble. Lastly, after some time the enamel can become a little scratched which is only natural as I wear mine nearly every day.

            The nomination bracelet is a refreshing affordable change to the traditional clunky charm bracelet and with plenty of styles and sizes to chose from it really is a bracelet that you can design yourself. Elegant and classy, it is worth every penny as you can wear it again and again. I would definitely recommend this to others and after some people have seen mine they have gone out and bought them for themselves. Another brilliant thing about this bracelet is, if you keep the spare links that you take out when you buy a new charm, by the time you have completed your bracelet, you will also have enough spare links to create a new one. It's the bracelet that just keeps on giving. However I would say that you should start off with quite a few charms on it if possible otherwise it looks a little bland.

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            • More +
              18.12.2011 16:15
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              A charming duo of Christmas animations

              In our household, officially Christmas doesn't start until this DVD is pulled off the shelf. Two classic Raymond Briggs stories presented on one DVD, The Snowman and Father Christmas is an essential part of any Christmas. Although the Snowman is perhaps the better known of the two both are charming stand alone stories that help to raise the Christmas spirit.

              The Snowman

              Run time - 26 mins

              Originally a book written by Raymond Briggs, the Snowman was made into an animation for Channel 4 aired on Christmas Eve first in 1982. Since then it has become a popular part of Christmas and there are few around who do not know of it. Animated without speech, the Snowman relies on a stunning musical score to convey everything it wants the audience to feel. The story is sweet and charming where a young boy builds a snowman and magically it comes to life. The only words in the film is the iconic song 'Walking in the air' which made singer, Aled Jones who would later cover the song as well known as the film. Without saying a word, the Snowman is full of character and personality. Memorable sequences include their flight through the air and the Snowmans party with a cameo appearance from Father Christmas himself. Nominated for Academy award for animated short film The Snowman is one of the best loved christmas stories told to date and has become as much a part of Christmas as old saint Nick himself.

              Father Christmas

              First aired 9 years after the release of the Snowman, again on Channel 4, Father Christmas is a comical twist on what we expect of the traditional Father Christmas. Based on two of Briggs' books Father Christmas and Father Christmas goes on holiday, this version introduces us to a grumpy version of Father Christmas as he takes us through what he does with the rest of the year. Apparently it isn't as easy being Santa as we all might think. Travelling to France, Scotland and Las Vegas, Father Christmas deals with being one of the most recognisable figures in the world. Voiced by comedian Mel Smith, this version of Father Christmas is one who is both flawed but loveable. Rather than wishing folk a merry christmas, he wishes us all a merry 'bloomin' christmas, as though Christmas is more of a hassle than anything. Father Christmas later went on to appear in the Kit Kat advert.

              The Snowman + Father Christmas = Family, christmas fun

              Combined together and you have about an hour of Christmas entertainment. One a heartwarming and sad tale and the other a funny and light hearted animation, bring them both together and you have the perfect recipe for Christmas. Unfortunately there are no special features on offer in the DVD edition which is a shame as I would have liked to see how the books were transformed into the animations. It's nice to see a handdrawn animation style rather than the now fashionable computer animation. Buying this DVD you get two quality Christmas stories for the price of one. Even though it may only come of the shelf at Christmas time it is an essential part of your DVD collection.

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            • More +
              17.12.2011 17:03
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              An addition to DS that will leave many completely stuck and the rest a sense of pride

              Platform : Nintendo DS
              Genre : Puzzler
              Rating : 7 upwards

              Take a trip into the village of St. Mystere and unravell the mysteries behind its inhabitants. Layton and his assistant Luke travel to the village at the request of one of its residents in search for the missing golden apple, what they find there is something more sinister. What have the villagers got to hide? Find out by solving the puzzles they have to offer and discover the secret that St Mystere has to hide.

              The first in the franchise of the massively successful Layton games, Professor Layton and the Curious village blends adventuring and puzzling together in a story like no other. A vibrant cast of characters and an intriguing plot just as puzzling as the puzzles within it. The cartoony style graphics are attractive and the characters colourful. With fully voiced and animated sequences thrown in with the gameplay this is certainly one of a kind for the DS.

              Gamplay

              Use your stylus to navigate your way around the game world and interact with characters. Solve puzzles to progress further in the story. These can be anything from simple brain teasers to utterly perplexing brain busters. Some are based on tricks of the eye while others rely more on a knowledge of maths to reach the solution. There is a good mixture on offer to keep things moving. Hints are also available around the world to help you solve the puzzles but these are pretty randomly scattered so you'll have to click on pretty much every little thing on the screen to find them.

              The brilliant thing about this story is that it has a really intriguing plot, the characters are curious and its clear from the off that everone has something to hide. However, my issue with this game is that at times, I just found it too difficult to go on without resorting to cheats. I could spend hours trying to solve a puzzle with no idea how to get to the solution even having used up all my cheats. That's not to say that someone else won't find this game absolutely brilliant. For me, puzzles evidently just aren't my thing. It's a game of patience, of which I have none. Certainly the mathematically challenged like myself may find themselves stumped at almost every turn. That isn't to say that the puzzles aren't enjoyable, some of them I found were pretty easy to solve but still required some degree of thought to get to the solution.

              Despite the game being given an age rating of 7 unless your child is a genius I probably would tend to disagree with this. There is a lot to offer however for those who enjoying giving their brain a good work out and there is certainly a sense of achievement to be had from solving the puzzles. Layton is a franchise that has captured the interest of millions and has since sprung 3 further games. They are obviosuly doing something right to get this many followers. However, for me its a game that I have never bought the sequels to as I know I would just end up stuck and frustrated again, my money wasted as I find myself defeated my a piece of machinery.

              Summary

              A game for the patient that is well worth the money if you have the brain power to see it through. An innovative game on the DS widely accepted as one of the best the DS has to offer.

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