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Capital punishment has existed for thousands of years in countries across the world. At one time or another most of the world's states have used capital punishment to execute criminals. This has included some of the leading world powers such as Britain, France, Germany and Russia, whilst leading nations such as the United States and China still continue to use the death penalty today.
The death penalty, some argue, acts as a deterrent and, consequently, reduces crime. A research poll conducted by Hart research claims that the majority of police officers do not think that the death penalty is an effective deterrent against crime. Some claim that this policy of 'an eye for an eye' is an effective deterrent. However, although this phrase is taken from the Bible, it is not representative of the Christian doctrine of forgiveness. Taking a life in retaliation for a life is wrong on moral grounds, because it reduces the state to the same moral level as a murderer. In addition, taking a life for a life can have repercussions. In November 2008 three people were executed for their part in the Bali bombings in 2002. The bombings left 202 people dead, but now retaliation in Indonesia against the executions has seen a crowd of twice that number attack local police. Violence provokes violence.
In terms of cost to the taxpayer, it has been argued that the death penalty is a cheaper alternative than keeping a criminal locked up for life. However, studies have shown that the cost of executions is greater than the cost of keeping criminals in jail for the rest of their lives. In particular the cost of acquiring chemicals in the case of execution through lethal injection is particularly high. The L.A. Times (6 March 2005) has claimed that the Californian taxpayer is paying $114 million more per year on executions than they would had the prisoner have been sentenced to life in prison. Floridians are paying $51 million per year extra because the cost of executing criminals is higher than keeping them in jail for life.
Another argument against the death penalty is the fact that the law, like humanity, is naturally prone to error. During court trials juries can arrive at the wrong verdict as a result of discrepancies in interpreting the facts, natural bias and judgement. As has happened too often, people have been punished for crimes they have not committed. In the cases where the death penalty has been applied, this mistake will cost innocent people their lives. The recent case of Scotsman Kenny Richey, who was sentenced to death and later acquitted after spending over 20 years awaiting execution on death row in Ohio, only serves to highlight that innocent people have been labelled with crimes they did not commit.
Finally, many studies have found that during execution criminals go through a torturous amount of pain. Many executions in America have brought this issue to the fore time and again. The executions of individuals such as Allen Lee Davis (whose post-execution photos are, unfortunately, freely available on the internet) and Angel Diaz (who took almost 40 minutes to die after being lethally injected) highlight concern that criminals undergo excruciating pain before dying. Whilst their crimes are appalling and defy reason and explanation, it surely is not a positive reflection on society that they go through the excruciating pain that they have put others through. For me, personally, this goes back to the idea that in doing this we are creating an endless cycle of violence.
The debate surrounding capital punishment is fierce, and it has both its supporters and its detractors. Crimes that have warranted the death penalty have been heinous, barbaric and downright inhumane. The crimes that have been committed should never be forgotten or downplayed. However, on moral grounds I feel that it is wrong to demand the life of a murderer in retaliation for their crimes. Capital punishment, in my opinion, only continues a circle of violence and reduces nations to the moral level of the criminals that they are executing.
After trashing EA's previous football offering on the Wii in my previous review (Fifa 08), it was with some scepticism that I picked up Fifa 09 - this time given a rebrand under EA's new 'All Play' line up. Having played Pro Evolution 2008 on the Wii, with its innovative and revolutionary point-and-click controls, I was interested to see that Fifa 09 had incorporated the Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 (PES) style of controls into its gameplay. This, coupled with the fact that Career mode had now been included for the first time on the Wii, meant that Fifa 09 was worth a look.
Firstly, the controls. After the success of Pro Evolution 2008, and the atrocity that was Fifa 08 on the Wii, EA thankfully decided that it was time for a rethink. The best way I can describe the control system is a Pro Evolution-lite system. Players can opt to use the Gamecube controller, but for me this new control system is best played on the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination. Although the point and click elements are there, there is no ability to point at players and move them and allow them to make runs as on PES 2008. At first, this drove me mad, as I felt that by not being able to select players to make runs, EA had totally missed the point of this new style of controls. However, the control system - even though not letting the player have total control over the game - strangely works well. Passes are made by pointing and clicking at players, allowing for fluid, one-touch passing football. Despite having played the game to death I can't put my finger on why the controls work so well, given that you don't have as much freedom over movement as in PES 2008 but, hey, after Fifa 08 I'm not moaning. For players not comfortable with the controls, Fifa 09 lets you opt for a simpler control system without the pointing and clicking.
Even the shooting and the free kicks on Fifa 09 are handled well. Power shots are available by shaking the nunchuk, whilst a precision shot is achieved by waving the Wii Remote. The accuracy of a shot is determined by timing as well as selecting a direction using the nunchuk, and this works incredibly well, giving (and I never thought I'd ever say this) Fifa the edge over PES. Free kicks are done well, too. Players can pick the bend on the ball, as well as the power and placement. Free kicks on Fifa 09 are the best-handled free kicks on any football game I've played. Well done EA for actually thinking about the control system this time.
Fifa 09's strength is in its longevity. For the first time on Wii there is a Career mode, allowing a player to take control of any league club in England, France, Germany and other major footballing nations over a number of seasons. This replaces the one season offering on Fifa 08. Players can manage the finances of their chosen club, buy, sell and loan players, select team sponsors and scout for players. Again this gives Fifa the edge over PES which, although innovative, suffered from a lack of a Career mode.
Fifa 09 also boasts more family-orientated mini-games. Table football and a keep-up challenge are additions that extend the shelf life of the game. A big deal was made of the new 8 on 8 Footii Match. This allows players to take control one of a select few international teams, styled with Mii-like players. Even though the Footii match only features one-off friendlies, it is a good feature best played with a friend. It is more suitable for younger players, meaning that Fifa 09 is suitable for all the family.
A major downside to Fifa 09 is its Online mode. Fifa 09's online play is let down by its frustrating inability to let the player complete a full match. Too often I've been online and had my game disconnected, both when I've been losing (when it didn't bother me so much) and when I've been hammering another player (which is gutting). Online play isn't really recommended and is a frustrating affair, and I know from reading forums that I'm not alone in suffering frustrating online experiences on Fifa 09. This is something EA clearly needs to sort out next time.
The only other negative point I'd make about Fifa 09 is that the controls, whilst working well, do need refining. For the majority of gameplay I don't have any complaints about the controls. However there are little niggles, such as when I'm unable to send a player on a run that will open up the opposition's defence, or when the cursor (which you use to pass to teammates) seems to lag and end up on the opposite side of the screen to which I'm pointing. This only happens rarely but is annoying when it does happen. However, given EA's effort and rethink (basically stealing PES 2008's controls) I don't want to emphasise these points too strongly.
To conclude, Fifa 09 is a very strong effort by EA. It has implemented the innovative controls offered by PES 2008 and blended it with a newly-added Career mode, 8 on 8 Footii match and mini games. Fifa 09 is a great football game for the older gamer, whilst also providing entertaining and easy-to-pick up mini games for the younger player - which I guess was the idea behind the 'All Play' rebrand. Although the Online play lets it down slightly, Fifa 09 is highly recommended and means that the new Pro Evolution Soccer (PES 2009) will have to think hard if it wants to improve on this title.
Having clung to my Motorola V300 for what seems an eternity, I was excited when my partner informed me that we were both having new phones (usually this means that I have her phone, while SHE gets a new phone). Nevertheless I spent a while looking for a phone that would (a) not be too expensive, (b) have enough features to make it worthwhile and (c) allow me to stay with T-Mobile (as I like my 3p texts).
Having found the Samsung E590 I was quietly excited. For under £40 this phone had loads of features, and many more, that I was after.
The phone itself is tiny and, believe me, I have small hands. It is extremely compact and sits easily in my pocket without leaving a strange-looking and hard-to-explain bulge that my aged Motorola did. Yet despite being a tiny phone it has loads of impressive features. The menus on the phone are, in addition, easy to navigate through.
The phone has an in-built MP3 player (which I think you can use as ringtones, too), and having tested it out, I can say the sound quality is superb. Considering my last phone couldn't play MP3s, I was really surprised at the quality of the sound on the Samsung. My only gripe is with the earphones that come with the phone. They feel quite uncomfortable, but this may because I am used to listening to music with the new in-ear style earphones.
In addition, the phone has an FM radio. At the minute I'm listening to a football game on a local radio station, and the sound quality is again flawless. The reception is superb and I can see that the radio feature is something that I'm going to be using regularly.
In terms of games - which I'm not usually mad on - there are a few, but they do have to be downloaded via the WAP on the mobile phone. Speaking of the internet, my early impressions of it are very good. Loading up the internet is done simply by pressing the scroll button in the middle of the phone, and you are able to access the internet within seconds.
The Samsung E590 also features a digital camera. With 3.0 megapixels, this camera isn't going to give you fantastic and clear photos and recorded videos, what it does give you though is a handy little piece of kit which provides half-decent pictures and videos. If you're after a phone with a very good camera then this won't be the phone for you. If you're after a phone, like me, where taking photos isn't that essential, then the E590 is ideal.
Before buying this phone I read reviews that slated the control/scrolling stick that is used to navigate the menus on the E590. One review said the control stick was like handling a razorblade. However, I personally haven't had any problem with it at all and, thankfully, it feels nothing like a razorblade!
So far, I am really impressed with this phone. It is excellent value at under £40, and for that price you will get a stylish phone with excellent features such as a built-in MP3 player, FM radio and over 80mb of free space to start with. If you are looking for a phone with a really good digital camera and video-capture ability, then this won't be it. But if you're after a cheap and good-looking phone with some excellent features, then I can highly recommend the Samsung E590.
Wikipedia.org is a ground-breaking encyclopedia available free-of-charge to any internet user. At the last count (as of September 2008) Wikipedia has over 2.5 million articles in its database, and is responsible for saving the lives of many students across the world who (like me) used upon it for their academic study. Wikipedia is available in languages such as English, French, Dutch and Spanish, to name but a few.
What distinguishes Wikipedia from other encyclopedias such as Encarta or Encyclopedia Britannica, is that its articles do not come from scholars or so-called 'experts of their field' - but from everyone across the world. Anyone can register with Wikipedia and edit its articles. While this can lead to vandalism to Wikipedia articles, and editing certain articles for political purposes, its result is that many people across the world can challenge the knowledge in the encyclopedia and add their own edits to articles to increase their accuracy. Another benefit of this is the fact that Wikipedia can be kept bang up-to-date. Incidentally Wikipedia was in the headlines last year for posting the news of the death of WWE wrestler Chris Benoit a full 14 hours before police discovered his and his family's bodies (see http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11601721).
One the greatest strengths of Wikipedia.org is that it has articles on a wide range of topics. Wikipedia carries articles from obscure movie actors, to minor politicians to internet phenomenon. It is a great tool for academic research. There are portals that house a collection of sources and articles for subjects such as Geography, History, the Arts and the sciences. There is even a Wikiversity that aims to support learning from home. This is a great tool which will hopefully enpower people and provide knowledge to as large an audience as possible - given that the amount of people using computers and the internet will surely increase for years to come.
Each article in Wikipedia has to meet a given criteria in order to be accepted into the Wikipedia database. Claims within articles have to be fully cited and backed up, whilst each article undergoes a process of vetting and verification which cleans up articles deemed not quite good enough for the site. In addition, articles on a variety of controversial subjects can be locked for editing for a period of time, in order to protect against an expected spate of vandalism. For instance, prior to the release of J.K. Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', the article was locked so that people who had obtained copies of the book before its release could not give away major plot details.
As well as a fully-functioning encyclopedia, Wikipedia is a great source for current news events across the world. It is also updated daily with obituaries for notable people who have recently died. Therefore Wikipedia is not just an encyclopedia but an up-to-date online newspaper, fresh with the latest developments across the globe as they happen.
Wikipedia carries articles with a range of multimedia. Videos, pictures and sounds are all parts of the encyclopedia and they appear within a range of articles. Wikipedia is also able to be utilised by people who have limited vision. Certain articles within the website have been recorded, and they can be read out at the touch of a button.
MY OWN EXPERIENCE OF WIKIPEDIA
I was introduced to Wikipedia whilst I was a student at University studying History. Whilst it didn't, literally, have half the articles that it does now, it became an essential tool for learning. Having failed to do the reading for a seminar or lecture that I should have, a short trip to Wikipedia meant that I could turn up to seminars not completely in the dark. Wikipedia articles have to be cited, which is a useful source of primary/first-hand information for the student, whilst they also provide links to other sources and websites. Particularly with articles likely to be used in academia, they had reading lists which were incredibly useful to me as a History student. As someone aspiring to become a History teacher, I know that Wikipedia will be a fantastic source for my lessons and hopefully one that I will recommend to children when they need it.
In short Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, a newspaper documenting current affairs, and a multimedia and learning tool all rolled into one. It is a fantastic tool which can be used by people of all academic abilities and for a variety of uses. Although some would see the fact that anyone can edit it as a disadvantage, I feel that it is one of Wikipedia's greatest strengths. Anyone from around the world can add their life experiences and information to an encyclopedia for the first time. It is a tool that students will love and use, and Wikipedia is a truly-revolutionary encyclopedia that will give archaic encyclopedias like Encyclopedia Britannica and Encarta a kick up the backside.
Having worked my way through the James Bond books - I've been a self-confessed James Bond fan for a couple of years - I finally reached Ian Fleming's The Man with the Golden Gun. TMWTGG is the last full-length James Bond adventure by Fleming and it was published posthumously in 1965, one year after Fleming's death.
For those of you that hated the film version (I didn't think it was that bad, although it was not one of the better titles in the series) you can rest assured that the book, like most other James Bond books, bears virtually no resemblance to its film adaptation.
James Bond, after the events of You Only Live Twice, is missing, presumed dead. TMWTGG opens with a man, claiming to be Bond, wanting to see Head of the British Secret Service 'M' (who we later learn in the book is called Sir Miles Messervy) in person. It is revealed that it is actually Bond (who was picked up by the KGB after leaving Japan) and that he is on a mission to assassinate 'M' having been brainwashed by the KGB into doing so. Suffice it to say Bond fails to kill 'M' and he is rehabilitated by the British Secret Service and sent on a mission to eliminate Fransisco 'Pistols' Scaramanga, 'the man with the golden gun' who has assassinated other Secret Service agents.
Bond finds Scaramanga in Jamaica and becomes his personal assistant, using the pseudonym Mark Hazard. After his cover is blown TMWTGG becomes a battle between Bond and Scaramanga to see who is the last man standing.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the book. As it was published after Fleming's death, some people have claimed that other authors edited the text. Many critics cite TMWTGG as one of Fleming's weaker entries in the James Bond series, and attribute it to supposed posthumous editing. The New Statesman actually called it, at the time, 'sadly [an] empty tale'.
However I feel that the negativity surrounding TMWTGG is unjustified. Admittedly the book takes a while to really get going, and that it isn't until Bond's cover is in danger of being blown that the pace of the book really starts to pick up. But from that point until the end, the book is well paced and pulls the reader along with it. The climax of the story, and Bond's attempt to assassinate Scaramanga before he himself is killed, is a real page-turner.
The inclusion of Bond's best friend, and CIA counterpart, Felix Leiter as an undercover hotel manager is a good twist. Mary Goodnight's role is also played out better than in the film adaptation, in which Britt Eklund's version of Mary Goodnight provided more comedy than anything else. The character of Scaramanga is a more rounded character and more believable in TMWTGG, although he is a little less intimidating than Christopher Lee's portrayal. All in all though, characters in the book are well thought-out and described, as is the plot.
TMWTGG is a fitting finale to the James Bond series. Although it takes a while to warm up, when it does pick up pace in the second half of the book it is unputdownable. TMWTGG is a good read, with an interesting plot and intriguing characters. If only some of the films had actually stuck to the plot of such books as TMWTGG more closely, they may have been met with more critical success rather than with big box-office takings.
Kabookii is a Wii-version of the board game Cranium. Having never played the board game version, I was unsure as to what Kabookii actually involved. Having read that it was a party game, I thought that it would be great for when our friends come round and, inevitably, have quite a few/lots of beers.
Kabookii is a party game that involves the use of just one Wii Remote and a pair of glasses similar to those old-style 3-D glasses that everyone seemed to have when I was a kid (these are included with the game). Up to four teams can play Kabookii, but I reckon that it's ideal for two teams in a Kabookii-face-off to the death. Kabookii is highly recommended as a party game, and isn't really suitable for playing on your own - unless you like the challenge of being two teams at once and trying to beat yourself.
Points are awarded for correct answers to the puzzles in Kabookii. It is the first team to 24 points that wins.
Points can be gained through a number of challenges. Some of these can be through answering questions, whilst others involve actually getting out of your seat and making a complete fool of yourself. But after a few drinks, who cares?
Points that can be won from the comfort of your seat are through the Zelpuz (anagram) game, Select-a-quest (multiple-choice questions), Polygraph (true or false?) and a game similar to the Blankout game found in the board game edition (guessing a word with certain letters missing). Another activity sees players attempting to guess where certain countries and landmarks are on the earth by clicking on the right position on the globe. To make things more difficult no names of countries are provided, which makes things more interesting (unless you possess superb geography skills)!
In addition, there are music questions, in which one person will attempt to play a famous piece of music for their teammates to guess.
Motion-based controls are used well for the Wii version. In the Cameo game players have to use their Wii Remote like the object being shown on screen. So, if a hammer is shown, the user has to pretend to hit imaginary nails. Talkback Cameo is the same game, but this time the player with the Wii Remote can not look at the screen. Chaos ensues as teammates yell instructions, whilst the opposing team - in our house, anyway - always puts off the player.
Some of the most fun puzzles are the drawing-based activities. There are a few variations within Kabookii of drawing. Some involve drawing a picture (for teammates to guess) using only pre-given shapes such as squares, triangles and circles. Another game involves drawing, but this time the drawing disappears as your drawing it (which can be a real laugh). Finally there is a standard drawing game involving use of air-brush type tools. The most fun in Kabookii is, I think, through these drawing games. As all activities are timed, there is always desperation as the time ticks away with your team badly needing points.
Kabookii is a great game to play with friends and family. It is perfect for any get-together. It is suitable for all ages (my four year-old nephew loves it), and it has provided many laughs in our home when played with friends. The wide range of questions means that the same question rarely appears twice, in my experience. It isn't suitable for one player, and the game does not have any extra content other than the standard team vs team mode. It is a shame that I haven't played the board game version as I can't tell you whether it is worth investing in the Wii version if you have the board game. However at a glance, I think that the Wii motion activities, the music and the geography rounds - all of which use the Wii Remote - would warrant anybody buying the Wii version despite owning the board game.
Kabookii is a fantastic game and will provide hours of entertainment for all the family and - for this reason - is a recommended buy rather than a rental.
I was never a massive fan of point-and-click adventure games. This was probably because they always involved too much thought and were often too cryptic (for me at least). The result of which was often me flicking through my inventory trying to combine a cabbage with a spanner in order to progress. Therefore it was with a little trepidation that I acquired the Wii version of Agatha Christie's best-selling novel 'And Then There Were None' (ATTWN).
Trying as hard as ever not to reveal the plot for those who have not yet purchased the game, it goes a little something like this. 10 strangers are invited to attend a weekend away at Shipwreck Island (Soldier Island in the book), off the coast of Devon, by a mysterious Mr U.N. Owen whom none of the protaganists have ever met. Upon reaching the island, the boat of Mr Narracott (controlled by the player) is scuttled by one of the ten, with the result that the assembled guests have to sit out the storm and wait for help to arrive. It is revealed that each of the guests, barring Narracott, have dark and mysterious pasts. One by one the guests start to die, leaving a race against time to uncover the identity of the killer as well as the pasts of those imprisoned on Shipwreck Island.
Players assume the role of Fred Narracott and have the entire island at their disposal to search for clues and a method of escape. Interrogating guests and searching their belongings, as well as the surroundings, are key parts of the gameplay. This works effectively in delivering the plot, as the events on Shipwreck Island are seen through the eyes of each of the guests present.
The story works well on the whole and even if you have read the Christie novel, you be guessing the killer until the very moment that their identity and backstory is revealed. This is because the makers of ATTWN opted for their own unique ending, which despite seeming a little implausible, they should be creditted for trying.
The graphics are really a mixed bag. The opening cutscenes I felt looked fantastic, whilst the makers did a great job of creating a moody and intense setting. Storm effects look good, whilst the house that the player spends so much time in also looks very good. On the other hand some cutscenes reveal the weakness of character animations. Often you will wonder why characters look so bad. The lip-synching can, at times, be pretty bad as can the level of detail on the characters.
In terms of controls there isn't much to say other than Wii Remote point and click concept works well. However use of the Wii Remote motion sensor controls appears to have been an afterthought by the developers. Only on a couple of occasions can the player use gestures to solve puzzles, and even then this can be frustrating - particularly the use of the Wii Remote to open a safe-combination on a door which was extremely frustrating to say the least.
However, I want to stress that whilst the game has its flaws, it really succeeds at creating a fantastic atmosphere. This is in no small part to the music that accompanies the game. Coupled with the lighting effects and the sound of the storm battering Shipwreck Island, ATTWN does well in creating a great setting. In addition this is helped by the fact the voice-acting is handled incredibly well. The script isn't cheesy either, which can sometimes happen with games that predominantly feature talking characters.
Delivery of the plot is helped by the fact that most, if not all puzzles, can be worked out with a bit of thought. Clues are present throughout the game and should present ardent point and click fans with little difficulty.
A massive criticism that I have with ATTWN was the fact that it has little replay value. After completing the game, the player is left with one final puzzle. Upon solving this puzzle the player is rewarded with the ending from the original Christie novel. This was a good idea. However there is no incentive to play the game again, other than seeing the entire story played out again. Therefore people may think twice about paying the full retail price for a game that they could complete in a weekend having done everything there is to do.
Nevertheless I want to finish this review on a positive note - unlike those who spent their last days on Shipwreck Island. While admittedly there is little replay value to the game, ATTWN really does well in delivering a fantastic and effective atmosphere. The plot is good, and the graphics, music and lighting combine well to produce a sombre and eerie atmosphere.
I would definitely recommend this game, but I would also recommend renting it, as for all its atmosphere it has little replayability. Having said that, although you will finish the game wishing that there was more to it, ATTWN is a very good attempt at a Christie novel, if let down by its glaring flaws.
While straightening my hair one morning I noticed that pieces of my hair were breaking off into my hands and that it felt dry and in generally bad condition. This was only a few weeks after I had been to the hairdressers - so either I have a hairdresser who managed to miss all these split ends when cuttting my hair or my hair was in such poor condition that the split and brittle ends on my hair were already reappearing. Either way I had a sudden nightmare of myself returning to the hairdressers and being told that to save my hair I would need to have a short-back-and-sides!
I started trawling the internet for a miracle cure for my hair that would stop these split ends receding up through my hair - each website would say the same thing: "stop using your straighteners - leave your hair curly for work". For me this is not an option - my hair does not curl when left, my hair resembles one of the Hair Bear Bunch. I was beginning to lose faith until I stumbled upon this product - 'Kerastase Resistance Ciment Thermique'.
Kerstase Resistance Ciment Thermique is a leave-in treatment that is heat-activated so it is supposed to work WITH your heat styling equipment to protect your hair. The product description states that it "works by strengthening the hair fibre internally and protecting the surface of the hair, smoothing it from root to tip." So instead of straighteners being the enemy - they now help to condition your hair!
So, always willing to try new things, I ordered it and couldn't wait to try it out. I washed my hair with Tigi's Catwalk Oatmeal & Honey shampoo and conditioner (which is also to help my damaged hair - see my other review) and towel-dried my hair. It tells you to squeeze out a walnut-size amount of product into your hand and apply it first to the ends of your hair where there is the most damage. After this you massage it in and also through the lengths of your hair and leave it - don't rinse it out.
When applying it I noticed that it gave off a strong citrusy smell that although not a bad smell, it was a bit overpowering.
It then tells you that to get the most out of the product you have to dry your hair with a hairdrier and style your hair as you would usually. So I blow-dried my hair and noticed upon doing so how soft and smooth my hair felt and not greasy at all. After then straightening it I was left with zero frizz, my hair seemed stronger and it seemed to obey my every command. It also seemed to give my hair much more body and shine than how it usually hangs limp.
The product instructions also explain how this heat protection lasts between shampoos so you don't have to add any additional heat protection between washes.
The price of Kerastase Resistance Ciment Thermique is usually around £15 which does at first sight seem a lot of money for a 125ml bottle. What swayed it for me was how much money I wasted on £5 bottle of heat protectors that claim to protect your hair but infact don't do much at all.
I wholly recommend this product to anyone who straightens their hair daily or anyone who suffers with weakened hair - you won't be dissapointed with the results that it gives.
Having been a football fan from an early age I couldn't wait to get a football game for my shiny, new Wii. STOP PRESS Given that I support West Bromwich Albion, I guess I can't be considered a football fan, instead a tortured soul whose endured some terrible football matches. Anyway enough of that, having reviewed Fifa 2008 for the Wii you can guess my disappointment when I came to play EA's latest offering. Therefore my hope turned towards Konami's Pro Evolution 2008. Despite never being a great fan of the Pro Evolution series, I felt that after the mundane experience that was Fifa 2008 it could only get better. How right I was.
The success of Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) 2008 has been down to Konami's rethink of strategy and its innovation at producing a game that utilises the point and click nature of the Wii Remote. After watching a friend play PES 2008 I was unsure that the revolutionaty control system was right for me, having been used to holding down circle to shoot, square to lob, x to pass and so on. This new control system, after all, looked like hell to try and control - let alone trying to win a football match using it. However a few training sessions - the game lets you practise and pick up new moves as you go - and a few matches I was hooked. This control system has been a revolution and is groundbreaking in the history of football games. Hopefully now, the days of pressing x to pass are long gone. Konami has obviously thought long and hard about PES 2008. Fifa 2009 - take note.
To attempt to summarise the control system of PES 2008 in a few words would be to do it a grave injustice. Nevertheless I'm going to have to try. The runs of players are controlled by pointing at them, holding A and dragging an arrow to the place that you want to move them to. Passes are executed by clicking on the player designated to receive the pass and pressing B (or double-pressing it for a lobbed pass). Sound complicated so far? You bet. But its much easier than I'm making it sound, and it makes for the best football experience ever on a computer console.
It really grieved me that, upon returning to Fifa 2008 to see if my initial (negative) impressions were right, I did not have the power to tell players to make runs where I wanted them. PES 2008 solves this with a hard-to-explain but user-friendly control system. Shooting is done through a shake of the nunchuk, and apparently it all depends on timing. Despite the fact that I initially found it wierd that I was flailing my nunchuk about whenever I got into the penalty area, nothing is more satisifying than getting on the end of a pin-point cross, or belting home a 30-yard winner in stoppage time through the power of my nunchuk.
My only criticism of the controls would be that attacking free kicks, which are again controlled through the nunchuk, seem completely random as surely there can be no sense of timing in taking a free kick? Aside from this the controls are fantastic. Cross-field balls to opposite wingers are made so easy, so too are pin-point crosses into the penalty area.
PES 2008's strength, aside from its controls, is its depth. The Master League allows you to control a team in the English, French, Spanish, German etc premier leagues for one season. Before I receive any backlash - YES I did slate Fifa 2008 for only having a one-season career mode. But Fifa 2008 did not have PES 2008's revolutionary control system, nor did it have PES's Champions Road mode.
Champions Road mode allows the player to take control of a team and compete in mini-leagues, acquiring better players and upgrade points in the process. This mode is addictive, as I found myself repeatedly playing against better teams in order to get the players from the opposition to join my juggernaut of a team. Throw into the mix some of the best club sides, some international competitions as well as Classic XI International Teams and you have PES's highly addictive and playable Champions Road. Months after getting PES 2008 I was playing Classic Brazil just to get Pele (or Palm as he is known on the game).
The game boasts an online mode which, to be honest, is a mixed bag. Sometimes I find that I'm having the best online football experience ever, and other times I'll get really frustrating lags that make online play impossible, even comical. Nevertheless it's worth persevering worth, whilst hoping that Konami rectify this for PES 2009.
This brings me to another minor drawback. PES 2008 does not hold the licences for (many) team names and (some) player names. Therefore you may find yourself playing against Middlebrook (Bolton) and Birmingham Village (Aston Villa), but with a game this good, who cares? Anyway if you have enough time (err...like I did) then you can change all the team names anyway.
To conclude, I can't rate this game highly enough. Just when I thought developers were forgetting the average football fan, along came PES 2008. Its unique control system may not be for some. It wasn't for me at first. But after I got over the shock of pointing and clicking it was a revolution. The control system works like a dream (as you've probably gathered by now), and Champions Road provides so much depth to a game that already boasts a season-style mode. In all this drooling over the controls I almost forgot to mention that you can save the goals that you've scored.
Anyway, PES 2008 is a fantastic game and one that I guarantee will be copied and immitated many times. This is the one that started the ball rolling (ends on a bad pun).
God of War 2 is the sequel to the huge-selling God of War. The game opens with Kratos - newly-appointed Greek God of War - reeking havoc on a superb graphical recreation of ancient Rhodes in a bid to become the overlord and most powerful Spartan in ancient Greece. Athena, on behalf of the gods of Olympus, shows her displeasure and takes away Kratos' powers. The player is left powerless and is forced to defend themselves against the Colossus of Rhodes which has come to life. This, all within 2 minutes of starting the game.
GoW2 sees Kratos betrayed by Zeus and forced to pay a visit to the Sisters of Fate in order to change his destiny and avenge Zeus. A colossal task for the deposed god of war. Needless to say, Kratos has to travel to the ends of the earth in order to exact his revenge on Zeus and the gods of Olympus, visiting beautiful landscapes, destroying horrific mythological monsters and meeting many recognisable and legendary figures from Greek mythology.
GoW2 carries on the good work laid down in GoW. Despite a change of lead designer (from David Jaffe in the original to Cory Barlog), the same high standard of graphics, of soundtrack and gameplay is visible in GoW2.
In terms of gameplay, Kratos has new powers granted on him by the Titans, who wish to see the end of the Olympian rule. Although the controls are virtually identical to GoW, Kratos has new powers and magic. New moves are unlockable through the upgrading of weapons - which works in the sameway as the original by collecting the red magic orbs. A new addition is that Kratos can now collect magic phoenix feathers and gorgon eyes. GoW2 builds upon the great control system of GoW, refines it and adds new features. One other new feature are the 6 urns that are hidden throughout the game that unlock extra features that won't be spoiled here.
Cutscenes, showing Kratos' battle through ancient Greece and the underworld, are beautiful and produced in fantastic detail. They document the story well, whilst not dominating the game or turning it into an interactive movie (take note Hideo Kojima and Metal Gear Solid 4!). The balance between gameplay and cutscenes is handled superbly. In addition the game is complimented by a superb and fitting soundtrack.
One minor gripe is that the story centres around exacting revenge on Zeus and, aside from this, is non-existent. However it has to be remembered that GoW2 serves as what seems to be a middle to the story of GoW and GoW3 and is, largely, a filler in terms of plot.
However, this is only minor and is more than compensated for by the improvement and refinement in the gameplay and controls, the stunning graphics that recreate the world of ancient Greece and the beautiful cutscenes. There is great replay value to GoW2, offering The Challenge of the Titans as well as unlockable extra cutscenes and costume extras. GoW2 also solves the problem with GoW, insofar as all the magic accumulated during an initial run-through is available the next time you play.
GoW2 is probably the last great title to be released on the PS2. Visually it is stunning, gameplay has been tweaked and improved and provides fantastic replay value for gamers. It is a must-buy for anyone with a PS2, and a game that really shows the power of the PS2 and its graphical capabilites.
Homepride Pasta Bakes are ideal for those who "can't cook won't cook". Available at most supermarkets they are a quick, easy and inexpensive meal (about £1.45) for those who can't be bothered to cook a family meal after a long day at work. Nevertheless, despite the minimum preparation time needed, Homepride Pasta Bakes are delicious.
Preparing a Homepride Pasta Bake could not be easier. You don't even have to boil the pasta beforehand. You simply add the jar of sauce plus a jar of water to about 200g of pasta and cook in the oven for an initial 20 minutes. After this time you can add cheese for extra taste and then you pop it back in the oven for another 25 minutes. Simple.
Homepride Pasta Bake come in a variety of flavours. My favourite being the Creamy Tomato and Herb Pasta Bake, topped with grated Cheddar cheese, which is delicious.
These come highly recommended, after continued use during my student days, and provide a healthy alternative for when you have no, or little, time to cook.
Medal of Honor Heroes 2 (MoHH2) is the second Medal of Honor game realeased on the Wii, following Medal of Honor: Vanguard. MoHH2 is a marked departure from Vanguard and notably uses the Wii Zapper.
In MoHH2 the player takes control of Lt. John Berg, with missions based on the Battle of Cherbourg as part of the Allied invasion of France in June 1944. Players fight their way through 8 levels each with a different setting, including Port, Sewers, Bombed Village and Monastery.
There are three main modes to MoHH2. The Wii Zapper can be used with all three. The first is a Campaign mode in which the player will take control of Berg in a standard first-person Medal of Honor shooter. The second is an Arcade mode, which comes in the form of an on-the-rails shooter in the same style as House of the Dead and Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles. Lastly is the Online mode, in which players do battle in one of 8 arenas against players from across the world.
CAMPAIGN MODE. Campaign Mode features 8 levels, which is a little disappointing. Although the levels are large, and there are three difficulty levels (Green, Veteran and Hero) to each, you can't help but feel that for a Story mode this game is too short - but perhaps this is because I liked the Playstation Medal of Honors whose Story modes were longer because they didn't offer Online or Arcade Modes.
ARCADE MODE. Arcade features the same 8 levels but through the guise of an on-the-rails shooter. Despite being the same 8 levels as in Campaign mode, Arcade mode still delivers a unique and fast-paced experience which has enough to distinguish it from the Campaign mode. Playing with the Wii Zapper on Arcade mode is highly recommended, and makes for one of the most immersive and enjoyable gaming experiences you will have on the Wii or any other console.
ONLINE MODE. Online is where MoHH2 really shines. The game delivers a great online gaming experience. Players have to register with EA Nation before playing online, but the service (as at the time of writing this) is free and therefore well worth it. Players can play in a host of different games including Deathmatch and Infiltration, and people will therefore want to get MoHH2 for its online play alone. I have yet to experience any lag on the online mode, although sometimes it has to be noted that opponents will take ages to die when you shoot them. I have unloaded clips of ammunition into enemies only to be killed by a single shot. Whilst this can be frustrating, it should not detract at all from the online experience. It is probably more of a reflection of my lack of gaming skills! A notable feature of the Online mode is that it is compatible with the Wii Zapper (as are Campaign and Arcade modes).
Although there is not much of a story to MoHH2 - other than Lt. Berg taking down the Nazi strangehold on Europe in a one-man army - this title will appeal to both fans and newcomers to the Medal of Honor series. Graphically the game is great - I particularly thought the first level looked great and detailed. Fans of the series will recognise themes from soundtracks to previous Medal of Honor games, which adds to the experience.
In conclusion this game is a must for Wii owners. Although the Campaign/Story mode is brief, it is more than compensated for by the fact that it is Wii Zapper-compatible, which provides a great gaming experience. This experience is enhanced by great graphics and a fantastic and recognisable soundtrack. Online mode really strengthens this title, and provides longevity and great replay value.
There are many important questions in life. "Is there a God?" "What is the meaning of life?" However no question has been more important than the one asked by many across the country today: "Fifa or Pro Evolution?"
Having grown up as a teenager hooked on Fifa 2000, having played Fifa 2003 and loved Fifa 2005 and 2007, I would have answered "Fifa". However the Pro Evolution series has fought back, and delivered its rival edition on the Wii in 2008.
EA, I feel, has really shot itself in the foot by releasing Fifa 2008 on the Wii. Gone are all the usual staples of a Fifa football game, such as the Career/Manager Mode and the whole concept of transfering players. They have been replaced by a single Season Mode, where players can take control of a team of their choice for one season only. Straight away the Season Mode takes away much of the replayability that I liked in previous Fifa games, as there is no ability to build a team over the course of a few seasons and progress through the English leagues (as you could on Fifa 2007). Consequently EA has opted for a pick-up-and-play approach rather than market the game to long-term fans of the series.
With this release EA concentrated instead on producing side games. New additions to Fifa 2008 for the Wii are the table football, football juggling and target practise mini-games. Whilst new additions and ideas are always great, you can't help feel that EA has marketed this game to appeal to younger Wii owners.
There are many features of the game that work well. Graphically the game is sound and players and stadia are recreated well. The soundtrack is also good. There is an online mode which will, undoubtedly, extend the life of this game. Online modes include interactive leagues and one-off matches.
However, it is in terms of the control system that I feel EA could have done a better job. It is mainly for this reason that I have not played the online mode as much as I should have. Whilst the controls for Fifa 2008 work ok, they are by no means great. The shooting system can appear a little inconsistent and often, my Wii doesn't seem to detect the difference between flicking the controller up (for a power shot) and flicking it down (for a lob shot). Consequently the shooting system - to me at least - seems a little random and frustrating. Compare that with the control system on the Wii version of Pro Evolution Soccer 2008, which saw a massive overhaul by Konami, and delivers excellent controls.
In conclusion, fans of the Fifa series may be let down by the absence of a Manager Mode, instead being replaced by a single Season Mode. Wii owners are compensated with addition of three mini-games, which will appeal to a younger generation of football fans (which is not a bad thing). Therefore if you are looking for a realistic and in-depth football game, then Fifa 2008 will not be it. I would opt for Pro Evolution 2008 due to its greatly-improved control system and the depth of gameplay available
Resident Evil 4 (Wii) is the remake of the 2005 edition made for PS2 and Gamecube. Without wanting to give away too much of the game's plot, the story sees Leon Kennedy attempt to rescue the US President's daughter Ashley Graham from the clutches of a evil cult known as Los Illuminados, hailing from a small, rural European village.
I bought this game having only played Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on the PS2. I can honestly say it is probably the best game I have played on the Wii. The game is incredibly atmospheric - and this is done mainly through the soundtrack, the use of lighting and the setting of the game. It also forces the player to think, as all too often Leon will run out of ammunition. This gives the player the dilemma of whether to upgrade their existing guns, buy more powerful weapons or increase the size of their attache case. The fact that Leon runs out of ammo also renders the player defenseless against the hordes of Los Illuminados, causing the player to flee and rethink strategy.
The game is also immersive due mainly to the use of the Wii Remote. The player takes control of Leon in an over-the-shoulder/third person shooter-type perspective. Pointing and clicking to fire a gun feels incredibly immersive, and coupled with the aforementioned lighting, soundtrack and setting, makes for a unique gaming experience. (Just to note, the game is not compatable with the Wii Zapper)
Graphically the game looks great. There appears to be no real difference between the graphics seen in the PS2 and Gamecube verions and those found in this version. However as the graphics look so good, there seems no reason for complaints.
The story mode is great value for money - it took me over 20 hours to complete on my first run-through and, at times, provided real challenges. The puzzles are also worth mentioning because they add to the game, making it more than just a third-person zombie shooter, however most can be overcome with little difficulty.
Completing the game reveals the strength in depth of the Wii version of Resident Evil 4. After completion, extras modes taken from the PS2 and Gamecube version are unlocked. These are the 'Separate Ways' scenario (taken from the PS2 version), 'Mercenaries' and 'Assignment Ada'. These add great value to an already fantastic game.
In conclusion Resident Evil 4 for the Wii is a fantastic game that epitomises the strengths of the Wii. Whilst the Wii may not be able to deliver the photo-realistic graphics of the next-generation consoles, the Wii makes for an atmospheric and immersive experience which - in my view - is the most important thing. Resident Evil 4 is great value for money, with plenty of extras extending its gaming life. It is highly immersive and delivers an early indication of what the Wii is capable of.
A fantastic game that should be in every Wii-owner's collection, whether they are fans of the Resident Evil series or not.
You are the Quarry (YatQ) sees Morrissey's long-awaited return - seven years after the release of his previous album Maladjusted. It was because of YatQ that I started listening to Morrissey and also to The Smiths, and I've been hooked since - now owning all The Smiths' albums, and most of Morrissey's (except Maladjusted and Southpaw Grammar). I think that, along with Your Arsenal and Vauxhall and I, YatQ is one of the strongest albums Morrissey has made yet.
YatQ has a wide collection of songs from the upbeat and more-recognisable songs such as 'Irish Blood, English Heart' (featured on the Fifa 2005 soundtrack) and 'First of the Gang to Die', to slower-ballad type tracks such as 'Come Back to Camden' and 'The World is Full of Crashing Bores'.
Although many will immediately recognise 'First of the Gang' and 'Irish Blood, English Heart', this album delivers a strong collection of tracks. This album is a rarity in my collection insofar as I can listen to it start to finish without wanting to skip the 'weaker' tracks often found on other albums I own.
As you would expect, Morrissey does not hold back with his political views. YatQ starts with a stinging attack on the role of George W Bush's USA in today's world, and is followed by Morrissey's attacks on Oliver Cromwell, the Royal Family and British politics in 'Irish Blood, English Heart'.
Particular highlights for me - aside from the immediately catchy 'Irish Blood' and 'First of the Gang' - would be 'Come Back to Camden', 'How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?' and 'I Like You'. It is the strength of the depth of this album that makes it one of the best albums I own.
This album comes highly recommended for any Morrissey fan, any any fans of The Smiths, and for any Indie/Alternative fans in general. This album got me into Morrissey, and I still consider it one of his stongest and most thoughtful efforts yet.