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I read about the Zune a long time before it was released, even in America, i picked my first Zune 30GB up the first opportunity I got when i visited Florida, it was not easy, it was sold out everywhere, but i still managed to get it for a cool $140 which was around £70 back then, i was very impressed with it, it was so much fun to use and did everything i wanted. So when i heard about the Zune 80GB coming out i snapped one up straight away, i ordered my parents to buy one from Amazon.com as they where over in America at the time.
So to the actual review
The case is a very nice touch before i get to the software, the front is matt black with its two buttons and the 'Squircle' Touch sensitive pad in the middle. The back of the player is chrome, giving it a nice metallic feel in your hand, which i have to say is quite nice.
The bad point about the case is the screen, as you might be able to see, the glass that goes around the screen stretches fairly close to the edge of the player, and finger prints show up on it very clearly, but then again, anything with a glass or plastic screen will show up finger prints so its nothing to mark it down on.
I guess this is a good a time as any to talk about the 'Squircle' touch sensitive pad, yes, it works amazingly well, it gives very easy control over the software and has lots of uses app wise. The bad point about this though was sadly a short time after this was released touch screen became a big thing. It was just a shame they couldn't have given this player a touch screen, it would have looked great, the screen stretched down to the bottom of the case and the full menu displayed without having to scroll just a little bit. But anyway i digress, it works amazingly well for what it is.
So, to the software, and lets start from the very start, the boot time is amazingly short, its sort of like... pressing the play button to wake it up, saying loading twice to yourself and it should be done, which is very impressive compared to some other MP3 players i have used, which take forever to boot and some phones as well. (Thought i might as well mention that as a lot of people are using there phones to listen to there music these days)
Once booted you are taken to the main menu, which is a list of the features, including music, video, pictures, radio, games ect. it is very easy to navigate with the controls provided but if you don't like the touch sensitive pad you can change it to a click pad as it also acts as buttons, through the settings.
The background of the menu can be changed through the settings or the pictures sections, i like being able to change the background of my devices, it gives an air of customization and truly makes it yours.
The music section is also very easy to browse through, in true Microsoft style it is a good looking list of whatever you prefer, you can change between song, album, artist and others
You can also quick jump to letters in the alphabet for even quicker browsing, there isn't much i can think to say about the music playback, it is just... well... perfect, i have found no problems with it.
The supported media types are MP3, WMA, WMA lossless, AAC, and its own DRM format for Zune Pass subscriptions but it isn't directly available here in the UK (although there are workarounds out there...)
The headphones that are supplied are of a high quality and have magnets in the opposite ends of the buds so they stick together for easy tidying when you are not using them.
This player as you might have guess has a whopping 80GB of storage space, which I have filled sadly with movies and tones of music, but there are even bigger alternatives out there such as the 120GB version.
One of my favourite features of the device is the ability to wireless sync all of your media over wifi with your PC, it is very quick, hassle free and very useful for people like me who are forever losing wires.
So after my glowing review i have to say, simply, don't buy it.
The Zune HD is far far better in every way for around the same price, it can be a little tricky to import to England or... anywhere else besides America for that matter, i bought mine through a website that imported them in bulk so got a little discount as well.
On a final note, do not dismiss this MP3 player because it is 'just an ipod knock of' which it isn't having owned a couple of ipods, i can honestly say this is a lot more enjoyable to use i own it because it is good at what i want it to do, not just because it is a fashion statement like an ipod, apple are not the be all and end all of MP3 players and the Zune is out there to prove it.
I have been a long time fan of the guitar hero franchise but sadly my opinion of them has been slipping, there song choice has been a bit poor recently and the instrument feel low quality.
I picked up Rock Band from Amazon, it was only £7.15! What a bargain! I bought it without even looking at the set list, i just wanted something different to play with.
First of all i want to get some of the bad points out of the way, after playing a lot of the guitar hero games these where the first bad points that i couldn't help but get caught up with.
- It loads pretty slow, when the game is not installed to the hard drive it took around 20-30 seconds to load a song, this could have just been because it was the first time i had played that particular song but it was still fairly shoddy compared to guitar hero.
- Overall the game seems... less epic i guess, there is no over the top explosions or fire (as far as i have gotten in the career that is, there may be later on) it seems to always be your band playing on slightly different stages but there has been nothing about them to make the memorable.
- The graphics, they are a bit distracting, i don't know what it is, maybe just the style of artwork isn't as smooth as guitar hero but i kept finding my eye getting drawn to whatever was going on in the background instead of the notes i should have been playing.
- The game play is about the same as guitar hero, it looks like the highway is shorter, giving you less time to react, which can make expert mode harder, especially when it wants you to play chords with three buttons pressed down, However, at the same time i found it easier for some reason, i could only just do expert on guitar hero world tour but as soon as i booted up rock band, i jumped straight onto expert mode and got all the way to the final lot of songs before i failed one, getting 4-5 stars and usually around 90% of the notes hit.
- Hammer ons and pull offs are also a bit difficult to spot, in guitar hero they are normal notes lit up, easy to see, but on rock band they are normal notes with a small outline around them, making them especially hard to notice in fast songs or when using star power
That's about it! they are all minor points in my opinion as well, i can't think of any other criticisms for this game.
Now the good points, the choice of songs is amazing, as the name of the game might suggest they are all rock songs, which is exactly what i was looking for, the songs are from all ages and even my dad was singing along to some as he was sat at the computer behind me, everything about the game seems very user friendly, unlike guitar hero, there is nothing saying you HAVE to do this, you HAVE to play this gig, you can play most songs in whatever order you want, you get cash for completing songs, which you can then use to buy upgrades for your band avatar, but again, isn't compulsory.
I think the killer feature of this game for me is the downloadable content, there is so so many songs in the collection, most of them are a reasonable price as well.
The rock band set list can be found here
The VERY cheap rock band game can be found here
This was a spur of the moment buy for me, i had just bought a DS light and wanted a new game for it and there was a distinct lack of good games out at the time.
I wasn't expecting much from this game, i hadn't heard great things in the magazines i had read, there wasn't much hype about it either, all i knew was it was made by Square Enix (The makers of the final fantasy series) so like most of there games it was at least worth trying out.
The first aspect of the game that i really likes was the artwork, that is generally what made the game so great to play, the game is set in Shibuya (A ward in Tokyo) all characters are like characters you would see in an anime or a manga, the buildings loom over the top of the screen at either side giving a nice 3D feel to the scenes.
The story is another of the games great factors, i really got sucked into it you take on the role of Neku (neckoo) you are then trapped in an alternative dimension, forced to play the Reapers game in order to get back everything you must.
The Reapers game lasts 7 days, each day having its own mission and time limits (don't worry the time limits are just for show) you need to complete the missions or face being erased by the reapers, the reapers try and stop you by deploying "Noise" which are monsters that do there bidding for them.
In my opinion the combat system is a gem as well but some critics argue otherwise, so i guess its either a love it or a hate it situation. You control Neku on the bottom screen, you equip him with different 'Pins' that give him different attacks, you do these attacks by doing different motions on the touch screen, for instance, if you drag around the screen with some pins you create a trail of fire, if you slash across and enemy you will hit him, if you slash up in an empty space you create a pillar of ice, there are lots and lots of different pins that all do different things, its up to you to find out which work better together and suit your play style
The top screen is also used for combat, you control the other member in your team with the D pad or the A,B,X,Y buttons, you press the left or right on them to make the party member attack in that direction, you then chain together the different symbols (a circle, a plus sign and a wavy equals sign) to create a combo which covers both screens and also heals both party members (Who share a health bar on the right)
It can be tricky to start with controlling both screens but you can set it so the computer takes over if you do nothing.
If im completely honest, this is one of the best games i have ever played, possibly my favourite, it is just so much fun, hard to put down, the story is long as well and there is a huge end game mission after the last boss to keep you going back to it, im currently on my third or fourth play through and still loving it.
So why are you still sat here reading this review? Go buy it!
I was lucky enough to be able to buy one of the limited edition collectors editions of this guide, it is hard backed and numbered but the features are more or less the same.
The book covers absolutely everything you would need to know about the game.
The first section covers the basics, the controls, these however are made pretty clear in the actual game so i don't know how relevant they are in this guide.
The next section is the body of the guide, the main story (and some side stories as well) The story is split up into chapters, each chapter is shown on the key on the right of the page for easy access when you are flicking through.
Each chapter is accompanied by maps of the included areas, these maps show all of the locations you need to visit, the location of bosses or points of interest and the areas that treasure is hidden in. The guide itself is very good, it has helped me through a couple of rough spots, it manages to walk you through every step and suggest the correct party members and equipment to deal with the enemies ahead which are conveniently listed next to the maps. The guide also offers quick tips and story recaps throughout but it carefully set out to not give away any of the story.
After the main walk through there is an in depth section about the side quests that has been a big help as at one part in the game you are given a lot of freedom and a plethora of side quests which makes it easy to get lost and lose track of what you are actually doing.
The next part of this extensive guide covers advanced tactics, including how to battle to a higher standard, controlling summons more efficiently, what party members specialise in class wise, how there attributes increase as you complete the levelling process.
One of the most useful sections after this point in my opinion is the one that covers the weapons.
Each characters weapons are divided by there attributes and represented on graphs, there drawbacks and major points explained in the notes at the bottom. Each weapon shows its maximum level and damage it can do, it also shows what element it needs to be crafter with to make it evolve into the next kind of weapon, this is very useful later on as the crafting system can become a bit confusing.
After the weapons and crafting section of the guide is the bestiary, this has every enemy in the game in it, each shows its drops, its hp and what it is either week or resistant to.
This has been the best guide i have ever purchased put simply, it is very very well laid out and there are pieces of artwork scattered throughout so it makes for an interesting read even if you aren't looking for something in particular.
A great guide, a must buy for anyone stuck in the game or a die hard final fantasy fan like myself.
After a couple of hours of playing with my brand new xbox 360 back when i got it, I quickly got tired of the HUGE thick grey wire running from the back of it to my router and decided to order one of these wireless routers ASAP.
The experience did not start very well when i discovered that it was vacuum sealed, meaning the sharpest pare of scissors i had could only just cut through it. But enough about that.
The wireless adapter is very compact, very stylish, and clips right onto the back of the xbox, the light will turn green when it is connected to a network and the antenna can also be positioned to receive a better signal, but come on, it can only move like an inch from its default position, is that really going to make much of a difference? I cant honestly say as i received a full signal in the normal position and the wireless router is only on the other side of the room anyway.
I have since tried it in most of the other rooms in my house and i still receive the same full wireless performance, so i wouldn't worry about it losing its quality if positioned on the other side of a wall.
This product works fine, sadly it only works with wireless 802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g. Which is a pain as my router can handle 80.2.11n as well. There is a Wireless N version of this product but it will set you back around £60 and i cant imagine there is much difference in performance.
My problem with this product is that it shouldn't need to exist in the first place. The xbox 360 should have one built in, the Nintendo Wii does and that was released at about half the price, the PS3 has one AND a Blue Ray player built in and it still sits at the same price mark as the xbox 360.
This aside, the product works fine, i have had no major problems with it, you connect it via USB so if the socket on the back of the console stops working it can still function from one of the USB ports at the front designed for wired controllers.
I have been going to pizza express every other week for a long long time, pizza being my favourite dish.
Before i get to reviewing the inside of the restaurant ill talk about the outside, everything looks VERY professional, in my village there are a couple of Italian restaurants that look overly tacky, with colours and and Italian flags and things painted on the windows. Pizza express is very minimalistic, the one i frequent is very open, high ceilings, bright, just very pleasant to look at from outside and in.
The atmosphere when you are inside is equally as calm, the tables are not cramped together, i find it a very calm atmosphere maybe because of the music, i guess the closest i could come to correctly categorising it would be light jazz, the walls are usually home to odd bits of art but this changes frequently, they often change the design, the layout, the look and contents of the menu.
Something I also find strange about the set up is the open kitchen, i find it odd because when i imagine a kitchen in a restaurant i picture a stressful loud place with orders being shouted back and forth, but this is just quiet, usually just 2 or 3 chefs.
Anyway, the food, the Menu as you will have guessed is based around Pizza, there are lots of different toppings with choice of low fat cheese for no extra price, and a choice of the thinner base with more health toppings. There is also a choice of pastas and lasagne on the menu all with a choice of sides.
The starters also make the experience for me, the dough balls they make are my favourite, they come with a side of garlic butter to dip them in as well. All in all a nice starter before a pizza, makes the time before the cooking has finished seem like nothing.
The service is nothing to be laughed at either, i have never had bad service, everyone is nice, i usually get seated instantly and the food doesn't take long at all to arrive.
A menu for most of the restaurants can be found here
and you can follow the link to find your nearest restaurant as well
the opening hours are usually
Mon: 11:30 AM - 11:00 PM
Tue: 11:30 AM - 11:00 PM
Wed: 11:30 AM - 11:00 PM
Thu: 11:30 AM - 11:00 PM
Fri: 11:30 AM - 11:00 PM
Sat: 11:30 AM - 11:00 PM
Sun: 11:30 AM - 10:30 PM
...but these can change for the different locations and holidays.
It finally came to that time when my family decided to caste of the chains of DVD and move up to the high definition goodness of Blu Ray. We already had a HD TV and soon after buying this Blu Ray player upgraded to Sky HD (Also reviewed by yours truly on this website)
OK to the review
The overall look of this Blu Ray player is very sleek, i have seen plenty on the market that look like old VCRs, not the high tech state of the art equipment they really are. All controls are touch sensitive and hidden behind a pull down front, keeping it very minimalistic.
The system itself is pretty easy to use, and looks friendly on the big screen, there are a load of options and configurations you can play around with to customise the display.
Something i was very impressed with was the ability to link it to link it to the internet via wifi, this gives you access to you tube which is pretty fun if you are bored sat at home watching something then suddenly think you want to see some cats fall of things or a dramatic looking otter.
The front of the Blu Ray player also has a USB port, this was handy as well, i could play video files i had saved to a pen drive from my laptop, a very cool feature i wasn't expecting.
This has been a solid piece of equipment for a reasonable price boasting a couple of features that could really swing someone's opinion when deciding what Blu Ray player to buy.
Laptops direct, it has to be said, has a wide range of laptops available, most of them you wont find on any other website and defiantly wont find in store, if you look long and hard enough you can find the perfect laptop. I did, i found this Acer Aspire 7738G (I have reviewed it here on dooyoo if you are interested) it was exactly what i was looking for and very much within my price range. It did take some time to find it on the website and purchasing and arranging a delivery from them was a lot harder than lets for instance say Amazon and the whole system felt very out dated and not very user friendly. This is where it loses its first star.
So i finally had my laptop ordered, all was well apart from the quality of the website, they said they would deliver it to my dads work, it was delivered there as no one was going to be at home that week and my dad was only in work for that one day, we arrange it for delivery for that Monday and it did not turn up, this is the reason I am removing another star, they gave us the option to pick a delivery date for our convenience then didn't stick to it, thankfully someone else was in to accept the delivery the next day and i finally got my hands on my new laptop the following week.
This is where I started to get annoyed with laptops direct, the computer they shipped me was broken, it wouldn't turn on, it was "Bricked," just a lump of useless plastic, this was probably more Acer's fault than laptops direct so i gave them the benefit of the doubt.
I contacted Acer through there website in order to get it replaced and they gave me so much trouble, i was asked to contact Acer to receive a Dead on Arrival code so they could verify it wasn't just a problem that an inexperienced pc user was having. I was made to phone somewhere in India where the person reading the script told me to try pressing the power button, is the battery in, is the battery charged... eventually I received the code and entered it into the laptops direct website... and waited... and waited... i got no correspondence from them, not even an acknowledgeable of my problem, eventually i lost my patience waiting and rang them, they said they would look into it and get back to me the next day which was a Saturday so i doubted it.
Then the experience got even worse, my mum got wind of the issues i was having with them and after they did not call on that Saturday lost her cool as well, rang them up and demanded it fixed, she got into an argument with them, they denying any knowledge of the problem and she explaining we sent them countless emails, and rang them and where promised to be contacted the next day. They hung up, no reason, just hung up.
At this point we where just at the point of giving up, we emailed them again and waited, then on Wednesday they finally got back to me, i got to speak to someone who wasn't an idiot, he said yes we have received your problem and will be sending someone tomorrow to pick it up, it will then be inspected for problems and you will be sent either a new one or a fixed one. He then went on to say that if no problem was found i would be charged somewhere in the area of £80... They revived my parcel, emailed me to tell me they where inspecting it for problems and 2 days later. TWO DAYS. They said they have found the problem and will be sending me a new one.
It took them TWO DAYS to figure out the problem that took me about 20 seconds.
Overall i was not impressed with there customer service one bit, they did not apologise, they did not offer my compensation for my troubles, i will not be recommend them to anyone else unless they have the patience of a rock and can't find the deal they are after anywhere else.
I originally bought this game for, that's right you guessed it, the halo 3 Beta, which i know has expired now but i wont let that effect my review of this game.
It is hard to put a label on this game, its sort of a third person shooter in a massive sandbox, but guns are sort of just an option, there are many ways of killing the enemies in your way, from just running into them, to throwing huge cars or other vehicles at them, you get experience orbs for killing the bad guys in different ways, for instance, strength orbs for punching them or throwing things at them, explosives for using... that's right explosives.
The graphics are reasonably good, could have been better but that could have lead to a slow down in game play.
The story sadly isn't all that great. It just seems a bit... empty, its not BAD it just feels like its missing its WOW factor, its all very repetitive.
However it makes up for all its floors by allowing the player to level up there agility to the point where they can jump over buildings... its like 4 jumps to reach the top of a sky scraper...
Just for that fact i would recommend picking this game up if you can find it cheap or in a second hand bin.
This has to be said is one of my all time favourite games, it was just perfect at the time, the graphics, looking back where very blocky but you know when playing a retro game to not expect that much in that department. The game itself is a first person shooter, but the world is very open, you have huge areas to explore and a tone of side quests to keep you busy.
There are a wide variety of guns to collect and your skill with them is governed by your attributes you level up in with the points you get as rewards for missions and side quests.
The Story is a bit confusing at points, a lot of double agents and companies pretending to be good but are evil or the other way around.
If i where to pick any game ever to be remade with current generation graphics it would be this one, i hope Deus Ex 3 is as good if not better as this amazing game.
I have to admit that i bought this game a large amount for the Halo Reach BETA, much like i did with Crackdown and the Halo 3 BETA.
The game was a lot like i expected it to be, Halo 3 with a different theme, you play an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) who is sent into the city of New Mombasa after the events at the start of Halo 2, the covenant ship jumps into hyperspace leaving behind half of its crew that the ODSTs have to deal with and find out why they where left behind.
You are no longer a Spartan, you can not take hundreds of bullets and walk away with no evidence of a fight, you have armour and a health bar which is refilled with, you guessed it, health packs, they are making a come back. You can not duel wield and you also can't jump as high.
Something i did like about the new combat system was the sneakiness, you have a night vision option in your controls which is very handy as it also outlines enemies in red, helping you spot them in the overly dark situations. The whole city is cloaked in darkness as you play as the Rookie searching for evidence of your lost squad. When you find evidence of them, you replay a mission in there shoes, in the day usually, giving a more active explosive experience.
The story is also rather gripping, as you have no idea what is going on for half of it.
The multiplayer is fun as well, i can best describe it as gears of war's horde mode with the halo fighting system. You fight waves of ever increasingly tough enemies.
The game also comes with the complete Halo 3 Multiplayer experience (That is also including all of the Downloadable maps)
Overall it is a fun game and i would recommend it to any fan of shooters.
This was a muchly anticipated game for the xbox 360, square enix making there first (of hopefully many) final fantasy game for the xbox 360.
The game is spread across 3 disks but i feel as if it was just for show, yeah the graphics where good but the game is very straight forward, there isn't the freedom i have come to expect from final fantasy games.
The story as I have come to expect from final fantasy games is fairly gripping, it sucks you in and yeah you will grind for hours to get past the next boss just to find out what will happen next. The cut scenes are spot on, nuff' said.
The game play is different to the previous final fantasy games, no random encounters, instead you can see the monsters and they will lunge for you when you get too close.
The combat itself is a bit dull if im honest, you can just press A and the character you control will use the best combination of attacks, only a couple of situations calling for me to enter my own commands
My other problem with this game is how much you are restrained, there is no freedom to do whatever you want, partly due to the lack of towns, there is no back tracking, no revisiting places you have been, no world maps or anything. Something i felt it missed very much. At one point on the third disk it seems square enix remembered this and suddenly gave the player a huge amount of freedom to explore this wasteland and do some side missions, too little too late, i wasn't interested, at that point i just wanted to get on with the game, i wanted to know what was going to happen next in the story not waste my time grinding to do pointless side missions.
This game could have been perfect if done correctly, bring back random encounters, bring back towns, bring back the freedom we want.
Its still a good game, all things said, but just not what i wanted.
Halo legends is an extension on the halo universe
All of the stories included are set before the events of Halo 1 and possibly before Halo Reach.
Each of the stories carries its own charm having different directors and artwork.
The first couple of episodes are a recap on the halo story as it is, told by Cortana and revealing the secrets of the fore runners and why the Halo rings where created.
The next story is about the arbiter, who he originally was before the elites joined the covenant and how it became a mark of shame
The 2 of my least favourite episodes are the one that told the story of how the Spartans are made which is just a little bit boring and the story of Spartan 1337, which is a bit too different to the rest of the Halo universe, everything get a bit... Dragon Ball Z... and tries to be comical at the same time, but fails
The other episodes are good though, one showing the rivalry of the Spartans and the ODSTs, another showing the realisation of a common soldiers need to be human and look after the others he commands.
The last and my favourite follows John 117 and a group of other Spartans in an attempt to rescue a captured scientist from a fleet of covenant ships, the artwork is a great mix of cartoon and 3d graphics making it very enjoyable to watch
I would recommend this DVD to any big halo fan.
This was one of the first xbox games i bought, after the huge success of the first game i thought, why not, it cant be that bad.
Sadly i was Wrong.
The original game was all about choices, freedom, you do what you want, you change what you want and side with who you want, this is sadly lacking in this game, all most all of it is set in rails with very little freedom, the story is bland and if you side with someone they usually end up stabbing you in the back forcing you back onto the main story line.
The game play is bland, pretty much everything has changed from the original and just doesn't work well, the characters are bland, expression less and boring, the combat is equally as dull.
Everything about this game is a disappointment, even the graphics seem blocky and to top it all off, this is a console game that lags!
Yes that's right, a game made for the xbox that can't run correctly on it.
This game had so much potential but disappoint in every area.
I however, do have high hopes for Deus Ex 3 and has not diminished my enjoyment of the original game.
We have been with virgin for a long time now and they have been such a disappointment, we joined a long time ago and paid for 10mb/s i think at the time it cost us £15 a month, of cause we never got 10mb/s we usually got somewhere in between 6 and 8, which in itself was ok, we could live with that.
The first time virgin media screwed us over was when they boosted there smallest package (which was 5mb/s i think) to 10mb/s and set the price at £10 a month, they did not improve our speed and most infuriating of all they still charged us £15 a month, they made us leave the company and rejoin just so we could have the better plan.
The next step in there downfall was the introduction of speed capping... what a joke, now, if you go over a certain download limit your speed gets capped and reduced to a fraction of what you are paying for, in our case, we are paying for 10mb/s and we most of the time get 2mb/s, they claim this is to be "Fair" on there other users, what a lie, as if they would just magically run out of internet if i continued to receive the performance i pay and expect from them. They are living in the past with this policy, it is an outrage.
Now, the third issue is the slow decline in the speed i have been receiving, when we first signed up we received 8, maybe even 9 mb/s download speeds, then it slowly started to slip, as time went on, now we only get 4 at the best of times, and frequent connection errors as they mess with the lines and fail to apologise or fix anything.
I am urging my family to see this pathetic excuse for a broadband provider for what it really is and would recommend any one else to stay away form it.