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samwilliams1991

samwilliams1991
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Member since: 11.08.2010

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      17.08.2010 03:20
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      A beautifully written reminder of a politician's humanity

      This is Obama's first book and it is truly one of the best I have ever read. I have been reading a lot of autobiographies lately and generally find I prefer the stories of real people as opposed to characters and this was by no means a disappointment. Regardless of your political views as an author you have to admire Obama's honesty and gift for story telling which anyone will be able to relate to on a personal level.

      The book covers his story from his childhood growing up in Indonesia and Hawaii through until 1995 when it was published the year before he was elected to the State Senate and the deep level of personal insight and honesty is truly fascinating. As a standalone book it would still be moving and interesting because it gives such detailed and eloquent descriptions of human emotion, doubt and insecurity but knowing that it is the story of President of the United States gives it a whole new magnitude and makes the decency and humility of the author that much more refreshing.

      Another reason why I found this book so appealing is that although it is written by a politician it doesn't impose politics on the reader in the way we are used to. Instead when political issues are raised they are in the broader more ideological sense rather than as false promises to win votes, this I feel broadens it's appeal to even people who are not interested in the story of the President but means it is worth reading just for the sake of the personal story and the easy manner in which it instils empathy without being preaching.

      I would highly recommend this book to anyone along with Obama's other book "The Audacity of Hope" which I have also reviewed. As I wrote in that review as well though I think it is unlikely that if Obama does write any more books in the near future that they will be as open and interesting as these two given the hugely increased level of scrutiny he is exposed to.

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        17.08.2010 02:49
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        One of the best books I have read in a long time

        This is the second book written by Barack Obama and unlike Dreams from my Father it is not purely autobiographical, instead it is organised by chapter on various topics of American politics such as race, religion and the constitution. Although I am interested in politics when I first looked at the contents I felt as though some chapters such as the one on the constitution I would have to skim read or skip entirely simply because I have no prior knowledge of any real depth about the American political system. I was pleasantly surprised though to discover that the author has written without assuming the reader has an extensive knowledge and manages to clearly explain his subject matter without being patronising or overly long winded.

        Another thing I liked about the style of writing is that the book does not become overly technical and burdensome by overloading the reader with statistics or data. Instead Obama writes with a more personal anecdotal style which is very appealing and although this book is more focused on policy than Dreams from my Father it still manages to convey the personal side of politics and gives an insight into his own views and opinions as opposed to just being a blatant manifesto. Furthermore this personal edge means that it is not just straight out statements about solving all the problems that America faces but it is instead genuinely representative of human emotion and as the title suggests, hope.

        I would whole heartedly recommend this book to anyone whether they consider interested in politics or not, simply because it is an interesting exploration of society and the style of writing can only be described as unique and fascinating.

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      • Borderlands (PS3) / Playstation 3 Game / 9 Readings / 9 Ratings
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        16.08.2010 18:31
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        You won't get bored-of-this-quickly-erlands

        Borderlands is a FPSRPG which stands for First Person Shooter Role-playing Game. In simple terms that means you shoot things and your character gains levels,people who have played games such as Fallout 3 will find this style of play very familiar and indeed much of the Borderlands experience feels "borrowed"from other titles, the over arching format as I have mentioned is very fallout esque, the cartoon style graphics are reminicisnt of the game XIII that was released a few years ago and even little details like the way item names are coloured to indicate their relative quality is identical to the colour scheme used in World of Warcraft. This is not necessarily a bad thing though because all the games which I noticed similarities with are some of the best games ever made so by combining small aspects of them all the developers certainly haven't done a bad thing.
        "Borrowed" features aside Borderlands is an excellent game in it's own right it is set on a wasteland planet where the player choses from one of four classes with various skills and abilities (Soilder, Beserker, Siren, Hunter) and sets of in search of "The Vault" a place said to contain massive amounts of treasure.The game proceeds through a series of missions for various NPCs doing various tasks such as killing bandits and collecting weapons parts all to help aid in their quest. The missions are generally pretty fun and they have nice variation in the objectives and boss characters but the main part of the game that stood out for me was the huge variety of weapons that are availables such as scoped machine guns that shoot lighting and pistols that fire rockets, this level of variation in weaponary really added to the game in an environment where many games now are just sticking with conventional real life firearms. Another advantage that Borderlands has over most other games is in the quality of the available DLC, a lot of the time when I pay for additional content in games I resent the fact they are charging so much just for a few extra maps or vehicles but in Borderlands each of the DLC packs added hours to the game's life span. The main feature which appealed to me though is the offline multiplayer mode, as you will doubtless be aware if you have read my other reviews I am incredibly disappointed by the amount of games which are only online since the launch of the PS3 and Borderlands really pleased me by having the full single player story mode available to play with 4 players online or 2 players split screen. This drop in/drop out multiplayer is great fun especially if you ahve real friends who you can sit and have a beer with which makes multiplayer gaming a lot more sociable than shooting a 12 year old American boy as he squeals into the headset. Although you will need the real company because the in game characters aren't particularly friendly and lack humanity.

        In summary this is a cracking game and good value for money with all the time you get out of it, I just felt it somehow didn't quite feel alive so it only gets 4 stars

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        15.08.2010 20:18
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        Worth picking up for a couple of quid, decent flight simulator

        HAWX is a combat flight simulator set in the near future where you play the leader of an elite fighter group, graphically the planes look very nice and the satellite imagery combined with 3D models for buildings and bridges etc. is a nice touch. The game play is enjoyable if a little simple at first and the game has quite a slow learning curve, like most games that I review I only got this title as a rental and after playing two levels I thought about not bothering to play through the rest of the game. But I persevered and when I reached level 5 the game started to realise it's potential with an in game tutorial about the OFF drifting mode set over a Caribbean base. I am no expert in military aircraft but I have seen the Red Arrows a few times so I am pretty sure that performing drifts akin to a hand brake turn in an aeroplane is the stuff of fantasy, this doesn't take away from the fact that it is great fun and makes the game a lot more enjoyable in dog fight situations and it is pretty cool for general horsing about. Another feature which is non-essential but pretty snazzy is the missile-cam, when you fire a missile if you hold down the X button you follow the missile until it hits it's target. Something that makes the game a lot more enjoyable is the online co-op mode, if you are lucky enough to have friends with PS3's then they can replace your frankly useless wingmen and especially if you have voice chat it is a great laugh and adds hours to the games lifespan. As is rapidly becoming the norm for next-gen console games there is no offline multi-player mode. It seems like every time I buy a PS3 game the lack of local co-op options disappoints me, I feel has though game developers have given up all hope on people owning games consoles and maintaining real social relationships.

        In summary HAWX is a decent action game and one of the best flight simulators that I have played in some time, especially at the price you can pay for it now it is well worth picking up.

        *Spoiler Warning*
        The main drawback of this game though is not the slow start or the lack of local multiplayer but is the weak story line. Essentially you and your team work do mercenary work for a company, cut scenes blather on about rising stock value and then the company turn against the US and launch a full scale invasion which supposedly is going to make them a profit. Luckily Captain Patriot (the player - I forget his name) and his wingmen remain loyal to the flag and take on their former employer. As a Tom Clancy game I feel that the game should not just have solid graphics and game play etc. but a decent plot and story, I don't know if Tom Clancy is directly involved in the scripting of game's which he puts his name to but as a professional author he really should take a little pride. Essentially the gaming industry goes through phases with who it's villains are, initially we had aliens and/or space junk in classics such as Space Invaders. Then Medal of Honour lead the way in unleashing a wave of games warning the public against Nazis and now the latest enemy of choice in games is the PMC (private military company), I am not condoning PMCs but I just feel as villains in video games they are pretty tedious and frankly I consider the notion that there is some global conspiracy to create a world in perpetual war to be pretty far fetched tosh that was probably thought up by someone who lives in a tree. Therefore I feel for a professional author to attach his name to a silly conspiracy theory and tart it up a bit with some research into fighter jets does a disservice to himself, the gamer and the industry at large.

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        13.08.2010 23:21
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        One of the best games currently on the system and has left me hungry for more

        Grand Theft Auto is one of the most popular and best selling game franchises of all time, I own all of the titles in the series and love the way that through the PS2 and PSP they have developed over time with each game adding new features and generally increasing the quality of the experience. With that in mind I felt that GTA IV was something of a disappointment although it did add a lot of excellent new features which I will go on to discuss on a personal level there were a few things missing that I had really enjoyed in the previous games.

        As a stand alone game it is absolutely stunning and without a doubt one of the best games on the system; The graphics are delightful, the controls and the havoc physics engine are a joy to experience and the classic GTA humour and quality of the characters in the storyline has been retained. The reworked Liberty City has a real life like feel to it from the excellent side missions which can be started by talking to characters on the street to the show which players can go and watch with a range from cabarets and strip clubs to Ricky Gervais performing stand up. There is even a working TV in the player's home with a substantial amount of custom made programmes which in true GTA fashion are tasteless and juvenile but absolutely hilarious such as "I'm Rich", "America's next Top Hooker", "Republican Space Rangers" and my personal favourite, the advert for " the Wigwam Native American Restaurant - No need for reservations"
        It is this rich and engaging game environment that makes GTA IV fully deserving of its 5 star rating.
        Another solid addition to the GTA experience is that for the first time there is an officially created online multiplayer system as many people are doubtless aware the PC versions of previous titles had third party modifications made to enable online and LAN multiplayer games but in terms of the quality of a game for reviewing purposes an included multiplayer which is fully supported by the game developer is much more desirable and the GTA IV online mode I found to be very fun especially if you have a couple of friends to play with.

        Although I have no qualms with giving GTA IV a 5 star rating as I mentioned at the start of the review there are several niggles with it that as a long term player of the franchise I found slightly disappointing. Firstly the turf war and the owning/running of businesses which was in San Andreas and the empire site system from Vice City Stories were some of my favourite features in those games and comparable systems are notably lacking in this latest title. Another issue which I consider only to be a downgrade from previous titles is the lack of customisation options compared to that of San Andreas which had more clothes and the excellent fat/muscle mechanics. Also compared to San Andreas Liberty City lacks slightly in variety compared to the 3 cities and dozens of smaller towns on a map which spanned an entire state. This lack of variety again is disappointing in terms of the amount of properties the player can own in Liberty City when compared to previous titles with the airfield etc, and on that note the removal of aeroplanes from the game. In conclusion GTA IV is an excellent game in its own right especially now it can be picked up so cheaply and the areas where it did advance although a little disappointing have in some respects simply whetted my appetite for future titles which I have very high hopes for. I personally view Liberty City as the starting block for the franchises expansion into new formats and the scope for improvement that the PS3 and 360 offer is very promising when compared to the huge progress made from GTA3 to San Andreas and Liberty City Stories to Vice City Stories.

        In summary the last portion of this review may go straight over some peoples heads and seem contradictory but my personal feeling is that although GTA IV is an excellent game Rockstar's true victory for the franchise will have to wait until the San Andreas of the PS3

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          11.08.2010 16:26
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          A refreshing alternative to most games with a dark sense of humour that will appeal to gamers

          "Naughty Bear tells the tale of one demented teddy bear's ruthless efforts to torment and harass the inhabitants of the Island of Perfection."

          Upon reading this concise description of Naughty Bear I was instantly intrigued, I feel that many new games that are being released are bland and frankly poor imitations of the Call of Duty series whereas Naughty Bear as a concept has the originality and comedy value that attracts me to gaming.
          The opening sequence of the game aptly sets the scene for the game which is hilarious and at times just unusual. The over-arching objective of the game is to kill and terrorise bears in order to exact Naughty's revenge. There are a vast range of weapons and methods available to achieve this objective from careful stealth kills and disabling phone lines to simply getting a gun and killing every bear you see. It is this unique and varied style of play which really makes Naughty Bear feel like a rare treat. Additionally once a level has been completed with the method of your choice there are specific challenges to be achieved such as timed runs and completing the level without being seen by the other bears, this was a particularly nice touch and gels well with the PS3's trophy system because it rewards you with online trophies and in game costumes with special bonuses and unique benefits which give the game a more tactical edge.
          What I found disappointing about the game though is the lack of local multiplayer options. The online mode was adequate and the option to compare high scores with friends is a nice touch but I feel the problem with many new generation games is they fail to cater for more casual players who prefer to play together from the same room. In my experience the chance to get a decent score and enjoy the full potential of a level was a set back to taking it in turns to play through a level and obviously there is no split screen which would have alleviated this issue. In my opinion the lack of viable local multiplayer is the only thing holding back this fun and original game from the 5 star rating I feel it could so easily have achieved.
          Please remember to rate my review. Thanks XD

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          11.08.2010 16:22
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          A refreshing alternative to most games with a dark sense of humour that will appeal to gamers

          "Naughty Bear tells the tale of one demented teddy bear's ruthless efforts to torment and harass the inhabitants of the Island of Perfection."

          Upon reading this concise description of Naughty Bear I was instantly intrigued, I feel that many new games that are being released are bland and frankly poor imitations of the Call of Duty series whereas Naughty Bear as a concept has the originality and comedy value that attracts me to gaming.
          The opening sequence of the game aptly sets the scene for the game which is hilarious and at times just unusual. The over-arching objective of the game is to kill and terrorise bears in order to exact Naughty's revenge. There are a vast range of weapons and methods available to achieve this objective from careful stealth kills and disabling phone lines to simply getting a gun and killing every bear you see. It is this unique and varied style of play which really makes Naughty Bear feel like a rare treat. Additionally once a level has been completed with the method of your choice there are specific challenges to be achieved such as timed runs and completing the level without being seen by the other bears, this was a particularly nice touch and gels well with the 360's achievement system because it rewards you with online trophies and in game costumes with special bonuses and unique benefits which give the game a more tactical edge.
          What I found disappointing about the game though is the lack of local multiplayer options. The online mode was adequate and the option to compare high scores with friends is a nice touch but I feel the problem with many new generation games is they fail to cater for more casual players who prefer to play together from the same room. In my experience the chance to get a decent score and enjoy the full potential of a level was a set back to taking it in turns to play through a level and obviously there is no split screen which would have alleviated this issue. In my opinion the lack of viable local multiplayer is the only thing holding back this fun and original game from the 5 star rating I feel it could so easily have achieved.
          Please remember to rate my review. Thanks XD

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