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Gears of War was one of the first games i played when i bought my Xbox 360 and shooting games are definetly my favourate genre. Gears of War or GOW introduced a new style of running and gunning where by the camera angle was over the shoulder of your charactor making it feel like you were following them adding to the atmosphere and gaming experience.
GOW the Game
GOW is based on a ficticious set of charactors on a planet a lot like earth called Sera, on Sera a group of mutant looking creatures who live under the planet surface called the 'Locust Horde' have more or less taken over the plannet and the only people who can stop them are 'COG' humanities last stand in the form of some hard ass soldiers.
The following are the main charactors in the game:
Marcus Fenix - The hero of the game and the charactor the user controls in story mode.
Dom Santiago - Marcus's best friend and in game co-hort, Dom is searching for his missing wife.
Augustus Cole - Nicknamed 'The Cole Train', a former Football player turned soldier.
Damon Baird - Sarcastic but intelligent member of the squad of marines.
GOW is great fun to play from the first to the last level, you basically have to blast your way through scene after scene of Locust bad guys using a variety of over the top weapons such as machines guns with attached chain saws!! I like the way that even though the game is just run and gun the user has to use the games environment to user cover such as behind walls and cars to duck behind and run and leap into cover when under heavy fire. As well as moving around on foot the user can use a car in one level and even run along a moving train while mounted on a machine gun which all adds to the different experiences of the game. The controls are intuitive from the controller to the screen so the user very quickly picks up what to do in the game, what is also helpful is when presented with a puzzle or your not sure where to go on screen prompts offer hints and tips as to what do next. The game is split into numerous difficulty levels, easy and normal in my opinion are not enough of a challenge but playing on the hard settings can be very difficult and really make you think about how you have to approach a certain situation.
Guns 'N' Violence
GOW is certainly not recommended for anyone under the age of 18 and is very brutal and violent game, classic moves such 'curb stomping', 'frag tagging' and 'chaingsawing' are just a few of the colourful and gory ways of dispatching the Locust Horde. When ever an enemy is killed blood spurts all over the screen which is great fun however for the squemish of gamers blood mode can be turned of in the options menu.
The following are the main weapons in the game:
Lancer - The main weapon that Marcus and the troops use, a powerful machine gun with a chainsaw blade mounted underneath.
Snub Pistol - Small single hand held pistol useful for dealing executions to downed enemies - not useful for long ranged encounters.
Gnasher Shotgun - VERY powerful shotgun when used in close proimity to enemies, not so useful from long range.
Longshot Sniper Rifle - A rifle that allows you to zoom in from great distances and take out enemies without them seeing you. You can pull of spectacular head shots with this gun ;)
Torque Bow - A modern day bow and arrow type gun, this weapon takes a few seconds to aim at a target allowing them to dodge however if the torque hits the victim they have a few seconds before it explodes in turn blowing them up!
Boomshot - A long range missile launcher, if fired from distance into a crowd of enemies the result is not a pretty one! Its not advised to use this close range as you could end up blowing yourself up!!
Hammer of Dawn - My personal faveourate, this gun needs to be used in an open air environment, by locking onto a target the gun communicates to a satellite in space which in turn sends down a powerful laser beam disentigrating everything in its path!!
The online modes of GOW are probably its strongest selling points, there are various online modes that can be played within the game but my favourate is team death match where by teams of 4 take on each other in a particular setting from one of the games levels. Last team standing is the winner!!
I prefer online mode to offline single player as its great fun to play with friends especially over a head set, i never get bored of pulling of a spectacular head shot from distance against a friend!!!
Gears of War is certainly an Xbox classic and will be remembered as such for many years to come, it paved the way forward for the next generation of high definition gaming and i still play on it today.
'The Girl Who Played With Fire' is the second part of the award winning trilogy of books by Swedish author Stieg Larrson entitled 'Millenium'.
After reading the first book i did not read this for a few months afterwards but getting back into Larrson's style of writing was easy. The first few chapters of the book focus on Lisbeth the young punk renegade, she has certainly changed from the first book and we learn more about her ways of scamming the system and her skills as a computer hacker taking advantage of loop holes at every chance.
Michael Blomkvist returns again after his spell in prison and is now somewhat of a celebrity and well known in his native Stockholm, we find out a lot more about him and he comes across as a bit of a womaniser. Without spoiling the plot of the first book some of the charactors return 2 major ones. One of whom plays a fairly central role in the second book.
Compared to the first book i found the first half of this one to be of slow pace at first, it is only half way through where a major plot line happens and once again the book turns into a frantic page turner that keeps you hooked. I found the content of the book a lot 'darker' than that of the first with its heavy influences on sex trafficking and violent murders.
One thing i did not realise until reading this book was that Stieg Larrson the author died before the millenium trilogy was released, this is great shame as he is certainly one of my favourate authors.
To conclude the Girls Who Played with Fire is an excellent sequal to the first book and well worth a read.
Having been made to hoover at my parents house on many occasion i have used their own dyson an earlier model to this one. When i recently purchased my new house my folks offered to get me some bits and pieces as a house warming gift one of which was a hoover.
We purchased the hoover from Tesco in store for £199.99 (can not believe hoovers were so expensive!!). The following is my review of the Dyson DC33.
Un-packaging the hoover was easy with very little assembly required, all of the peripherals such as extra parts were packaged seperatly and all fitted neatly to the main hoover itself. I was amazed at just how light the hoover was carrying it upstairs and out to my car it is certainly a lot lighter than you would expect when lifting it clean off the ground.
Hoovering is easy with the dyson the cable is long enough for me to vacume my entire ground floor and upstairs from one plug and it glides well on the floor surfaces i have tiles, laminate wood and carpet. The difference to a white carpet after hoovering is insane and judging by the amount of dust in the hoover compartment either i have a dirty floor or this thing is picking up dirt that is not really visible. The hoover comes with a long thing pipe that can connect to the telescopic hose to get into nooks and crannys, ideal for hoovering round the skirting boards in my house. Another extension piece is designed for hoovering fabrics such as under sofa cushions and again works really well. The sucktion on the Dyson is incredibly powerful when placing an extension hose against the parm of your hand and i would not advise it to be used on certain parts of the anatomy haha.
Hoovering my car with the Dyson is also easy the telescopic hose allows to get under car seats with ease and the pipe and fabirc extensions really came in handy in compact areas of my car.
I have even used my Dyson outside - this is probably not recommended by the manufacturer but i have hoovered my patio several times without any ill effects to the hoover itself.
Disposing of the dirt from the hoover is easy, there is a catch near the dust compartment that allows you to remove the dust compartment and pull a plunger like switch which releases the bottom of the compartment - be warned do this over a bin! I learnt the hard way and had to re-hoover the newly created mess!!
The Dyson comes with an excellent garuntee system covering the machine for free parts and labour for 5 years. I registered my Dyson directly on their website and all that is needed is the machine serial number and puchase date, there call center is then open 15 hours a day for queries.
A Dyson may seem expensive compared to some of the other hoover products on the market but i feel they are the best on offer to the home market, the garuntee system and the power of the hoover make this an excellent needed commodity to any home.
Rock Band was released on the PS3 in late 2007 and is a music based game allowing upto 4 players to take the role of a rock band by playing the guitar/bass, drums and singing. All of the hardware that comes with Rock Band plugs into the PS2 over USB, a 4 port USB adapter comes with the game allowing all instruments to connect straight to that.
Rock Band comes with Rock Band the game, the games itself allows the user to interact with songs with the user tapping the relevant guitar frets and drum beats in accordance with what is displayed on the screen. A number of rock songs come with Rock Band and these songs can be played on an easy, medium, hard and very hard setting.
The track list that comes with Rock Band is as follows:
Are you gona be my girl - Jet
Ballroom Blitz - Sweet
Black Hole Sun - Soundgarden
Blitzkreig Bop - Ramones
Celebrity Skin - Hole
Cherub Rock - Smashing Pumpkins
Creep - Radiohead
Dani California - Red Hot Chilli Peppers
Dead on Arrival - Fall Out Boy
Detroit Rock City - Kiss
(Don't Fear) The Reaper - Blue Oyster Cult
Electric Version - The New Pornographers
Enter Sandman - Metallica
Epic - Faith No More
Flirtin With Disaster - Molly Hatchet
Foreplay/Long Time - Boston
Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones
Go With the Flow - Queens of the Stoneage
Green Grass and High Tides - The Outlaws
Here it Goes Again - OK Go
Highway Star - Deep Purple
I Think I'm Paranoid - Garbage
In Bloom - Nirvana
Learn To Fly - Foo Fighters
Main Offender - The Hives
Maps - Yeah Yeah Yeah's
Mississippi Queen - Mountain
Next to You - The Police
Orange Crush - REM
Paranoid - Black Sabbath
Reptilia - The Strokes
Run to the Hills - Iron Maiden
Sabotage - Beastie Boys
Say It Aint So - Weezer
Should I Stay or Should I Go - The Clash
Suffragette City - David Bowie
The Hand That Feeds - Nine Inch Nail
Tom Sawyer - Rush
Train Kept A-Rollin - Aerosmith
Vasoline - Stone Temple Pilots
Wanted Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi
Wave of Mutation - Pixies
Welcome Home - Coheed and Cambria
When You Were Young - The Killers
Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who
I will attempt to summarise my gaming experience and the use of the instruments.
Rock Band is a fun game to play and the added benefit of using the instruments does make you feel somewhat like a rock star. The song list with the games is comprehensive and in my opinion provides something for all who have a taste in broad rock music, however having said that more songs would have been better. I found the easy and normal modes a breeze on all the instruments but moving on to hard was too much of a step up for myself (i have no musical ability) and god only knows how people cope on the hardest setting. I really liked the 'World Tour' option which allows you to start off with more easier to play songs and then progress your career onto other rock venues and harder songs in turn building up cash which can be spent on different guitar designs and unlocking new songs. I never played the online mode of this game so do not think it is appropriate to comment on this.
Guitar - The guitar that comes with the game modeled on a Fender Stratocaster feels comfortable in the hand and looks pretty dam cool when slung over the shoulder. The design of the buttons and the strum bar fitted well in my hands but some times i noticed that a note was not picked up, the whammy bar worked well though. One part of the gaming experience is something called 'Star Power' which requires you to hold the guitar in a vertical position or hit the back button, both of which were hard to do mid song and i found i would often miss a note activating it.
Drums - I found the drums the harder of the 2 instruments to play as never having played the real drums i found it hard to synchronise my feet and hands at the same time, plus i got worn out hammering the drums all the time.
Microphone - The microphone can be used either by using the supplied one or using a headset, i hate singing and sound like a drowing cat so i stick to the guitar mainly, however saying that the microphone works on tones and not words so effectively a song can be hummed and still score a perfect song.
Overall i really enjoyed Rock Band and for the £150 outlay (can be picked up cheaper) its great fun on a friday night with mates round drinking beer and pretending to be the next Guns 'N' Roses!!
Back in the day i use to love button mashing with my friends playing track and field on the NES - those were the days. When i saw this released on Xbox Live Arcade i just had to download it. At only 400 Microsoft points it was a bargain especially with some of the crazy achievements that are available.
The game itself is split up into a number of track and field events including 100m, Long Jump, Javelin, 110m hurdles, Hammer throw and High Jump.
My definite favourate is the 100 meter sprint up to 4 players can play at once and this event is purely who can mash the buttons on the control pad the fastest, the site of 4 grown men rapidly mashing buttons is a sight to behold haha.
In true arcade fashion you often notice the CPU players 'cheating', when ever your ahead in a sprint or the hurdles the CPU player suddenly becomes a man possesed and sometimes comes rushing past you.
Overall a great throw back to 1980's arcade games and a worthy purchase of 400 MS points.
After searching around for some time for a new television to replace my aging 32 inch sony, i stumbled upon this. Setting me back almost £600 i awaited delivery from Amazon.
The delivery took 3 days and the box the TV came in was HUGE. Dragging the box into my living room was a task itself negotiating paint work and being careful not to damage the box.
I quickly got to work opening the packaging and removing the huge 42 inch screen not realising there was a seperate stand (see the bottom of the pic). Instructions for screwing the stand and television together were simple enough. Lifting the television was not it was very heavy and i would not like to have to move it often.
Picture quality on the tv was exceptional especially at full 1080p over a Blu Ray to one of the tv's 2 HDMI ports, the quality of the picture when not watching HD content was not as sharp as i expected, after watching a champions league match on an evening i noticed that the picture appeared a little grainy which i subsequently found out was because large screen tv's such as this perform better with a HD input. The instructions for calibrating the colours and picture were easy to follow and the remote control allowed me to set this up to my taste.
The tv comes with 2 HDMI ports, 3 Scart Ports and audio input/output connectivity to my surround sound system.
Overall i am more than impressed with this tv and plan on keeping it for at least 3 years.
When i first found out Transformers was going to be turned into a live action film i was excited beyond belief, i was scouring the internet for months before release trying to find trailers and plot details. When the film was eventually released in the cinema i was lucky enough to obtain pre-release tickets to a special showing.
The cinema was packed out and full of mostly guys my age all of whom shared a passion for the 1980's Transformers. From the very first scene of the movie i new the film would be an instant classic in my mind, the sight of seeing a live action transformers was amazing and the special effects brought to the screen under the directorial leadership of Michael Bay was brilliant.
The main charactors of the film Sam and Mikaela played their roles well and the comedy aspects of the film had everyone at leaset giggling in the cinema. As the film played out we learn more of the Transformers and although different from the 1986 movie storyline the plot was interesting enough to keep me watching.
The films finalee sees an ongoing street battle between the autobots (good guys) and decepticons (bad guys), In my opinion this demonstrated mind blowing special effects i had not seen before.
To conclude although a lot of people critise Michael Bay films and the Transformers i loved it from start to finish and have re-watched the movie many times since.
I have recently joined a new company and have been given the W510 as a works laptop, having used Lenovo's in previous companies i new what to expect from this machine, here is my review.
My W510 differs slightly from the above tech spec as it has 8GB memory and a 500GB hardrive, this is excellent for setting up my own internal VMWare images which my job often demands. The screen is of a great size which is ideal when running multiple applications.
Having used Lenovo's before my expectation level was fairly high for the W510 and i have to say it does not disapoint. The key board is a great size - often laptops i use the keyboard just does not feel right, i have fairly large hands but i can touch type on this without making errors accidently hitting 2 keys at once. This is my first experience of Windows 7 Pro and i find it is easy to use and intuitive much like Mac OSX but with a windows front end. Being able to pin my favourate apps to the tool bar is great as i can access them with ease. Battery life is great and there are numerous options to pro-long the battery with the internal IBM power saving application meaning i do not always need to find a wall socket to plug into. Perhaps the only down side of the W510 is the weight and dimensions, its certainly not a light weight machine and carrying it in the over shoulder bag provided is quite heavy.
If you are lucky enough to have this laptop as a works machine i highly recommend it the sheer amount of power at disposal to the user is great and although it might not suit everyone its a great laptop if performance is required on the go. However i probably would not buy this laptop as a personal machine purely down to preference as i am a Mac user at heart.
I have always loved the Transformers and growing up in the 1980's was when the Transformers were most popular. I use to enjoy watching the show on saturday mornings and then harrassing my parents to buy me the latest transformer toy - optimus prime being the obvious favourate.
Transformers the Movie (the original not Michael Bay's live action version) was released in 1986 (god i feel old), i remember it being the first film i ever saw at the cinema, it was my friends birthday and as a birthday party we went to see this at an old cannon cinema - do they even exist any more??
The thought of a feature length film featuring the transformers and new charactors was very exciting and none of us new the plot line.
The sheer overwhelmingness of the first big battle was exilherating and both myself and friends were traumatised to say the least in a certain scene - no spoilers!! We could not believe what had happened and for veteran fans of the Transformers will know exactly which scene i am referring to.
25 years later i still enjoy the film immensely and watch it now and again on a rainy sunday afternoon. As an adult i appreciate the film some what more enjoying the pounding rock score which accomponies the film and the more adult orientated theme of the film compared to the tv series. I also notice some of the poor animation in the film but who cares its the transformers.
Compared to the modern movies that have been released this is far superioir in my opinion and i guess i will still watch this film in another 25 years!!
Having not seen Dexter before until a few weeks ago my friend lent me season one which i watched over one weekend and loved.
Dexter (the charactor) is an anti hero of sorts and without revealing too much plot is a serial killer who only kills bad guys. Ususally crime shows are not my thing but i enjoy the dark humour that is portrayed in Dexter. I always root for Dexter when he is in a sticky situation and love the charactor development that is portrayed for each actor in the show. I feel for Dexter some what as he has a lot to juggle in his life with the main issue keeping his big secret from the people closest to him - his adoptive sister, his girlfriend, his colleagues. I like the way Dexter things as he applys what everyday people think to a serial kill to take out a bad guy and he is good at it!
Season 1 revolves around 'The Ice Truck Killer' who is killing prostitutes around the Miami area leaving the police baffled, the episode guide is as follows:
3) Popping Cherry
4) Let's Give the Boy a Hand
5) Love American Style
6) Return to Sender
7) Circle of Friends
8) Shrink Wrap
9) Father Know's Best
10) Seeing Red
11) Truth Be Told
12) Born Free
I felt the first couple of episodes were a bit slow as i was not really sure what to expect but as the season progresses i found myself wanting to watch the next episode straight away to find out what happens. There are some great twists in the season which i genuinely did not see coming.
Looking forward to season 2 and hope it matches season 1.
The Sony Playstation 3 is the 3rd of Japanease electronics giant Sony's games consoles following in the foot steps of the Playstation 1 and 2. The Playstation 3 is marketed by Sony as a competitor to Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii.
Some of the major features of the Playstation 3
The Playstation 3 has a large catalogue of games available that are platform exclusives such as Reistance fall of man, Metal Gear Solid and the Gran Turismo series. Many of the early Playstation 3 games however were direct ports of the Xbox 360 versions which often led to poor performance on the Playstations 3 platform. As time has gone on more titles have been designed with the sole intention of only running on the Playstation 3.
The PSN network is a free online environment for users to connect to and play games online to other Playstation 3 gamers. In April 2011 however the PSN network was hacked and Sony confirmed that the personal information of upto 77 million users could have been obtained.
The Playstation 3 is the only next generation console which comes with a Blu Ray player as standard. Blu Ray is a next generation video format created by Sony as a logical progression to DVD.
My User Experience
Owning both and Xbox 360, Wii and now PS3 i have to say i prefer the Xbox 360, i think this is partly due to my familiarity with the Microsoft brand and the controller, i noticed that the PS3 controller feels a lot smaller and lighter in my hand which feels strange.
I do like the PS3 design as it looks sleek and slim under my TV and does not take too much room. The console when running is fairly quite and does not sound like a plane taking off like the xbox 360 :)
Free online capability is great as i like playing games online with friends however i have noticed that the PSN seems a lot more unstable compared to Xbox live and i certainly prefer the NXE experience - guess you get what you pay for as its free.
Perhaps my main reason for buying the PS3 was the ability to play Blu-Ray discs, i understand that there are far better Blu-Ray players on the market however the added incentive of a games console and free PSN make the console a bargain in my opinion. The Blu-Ray playback is fantastic and i was blown away by watching films like the Dark Knight and Transformers in full high definition.
For those seeking a Blu-Ray player i can highly recomend the PS3, the fact that its a games console as well is an added bonus. For those purely looking for a games console i would suggest going down the Xbox 360 route as there are more games and the Xbox live experience is better than PSN.
Many have said that the extra cost for an Ipad is some what extravagant when on first look it appears to be just a 'big iphone', this is certainly not the case.
First released in March 2010 the Ipad went on to own over 75% of the tablet market through out the year - an astonishing market figure.
The Ipad comes with a 9.7" screen and the design of the tablet does look like a large iphone however on powering on the Ipad this is where the technical simalarities end. The Ipad comes with A4 1 GHz processor so every day tasks such as web browsing and multi tasking are slick and fluid especially over a wi-fi connection.
64GB of storage space on the model is a massive increase in capacity, many Ipad exclusive games take advantage of both this and the extra CPU power turning the Ipad into a glorified games console.
The Ipad is a perfect introduction for Apple into the new and exciting tablet market.
Since the release of the original Iphone back in 2007 Apple have had practically unlimited success with both the 3G and the 3GS. The new Iphone entitled 'Iphone 4' looks to continue this successful trend with many new features both comestic and under the hood.
Perhaps the Iphone 4's most prominent feature is the introduction of video calling or 'face time' which fellow Iphone 4 users can make over a Wifi connection.
In terms of hardware specification the Iphone 4 has the new Apple A4 processor and 512MB of eDRAM memory. The phone itself has been revamped weighing a lot less and coming in at a thickness of just 89mm makes the phone one of the slimmest on the market.
The Iphone 4 comes bundled with latest IOS 4 which supports the use of folders and multi tasking something which Iphone users have been long looking forward to.
Phone calls are clear and both messaging and internet access are simple even for the novice user.
Apple build on the success of the Iphone 3G with the Iphone 3GS, the 3GS boasts a more powerful 3G signal, faster internal processor and longer battery life.
The Iphone 3GS is simliar in looks and style to its predecessor the 3G, the 3GS comes in different models starting at 16GB and going upto 32GB respectively offering more capacity.
The 3GS has a better camera than the earlier version with a 2MB pixes forward facing camera.
The 3GS's faster processor is plain to see when browsing web pages, running applications and faster downloads.
The app store offers a wealth of new applications which the 3GS harnesses with ease. Once again the 3GS can be synced with the users Itunes for the back up of contacts, applications, music and photos.
To conclude the 3GS is an excellent step forward and a worth add to any consumer buying a new phone or upgrading their current contract.