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Spec Ops: The Line is a third person shooter based entirely in a "deserted" Dubai after sandstorms have pretty much ruined the whole city, but of course that is not the only factor. It would make a pretty boring shooting game if there were no people to shoot wouldn't it. Your initial mission playing as Captain Walker the main character, is to try and locate a war hero called Conrad who had tried to evacuate Dubai before the sandstorms hit and it had been assumed had died trying to do so until a radio transmission was received. However your mission swiftly changes as you become embroiled in a crazy storyline where you aren't ever sure who the enemy is. Fighting refugees, army, civilians and the very people you came in to Dubai to save. The storyline is dark and gets gradually darker exploring the mental effects of the traumatic experiences and decisions soldiers experience. As I mention below the story can be a confusing as to what on earth is going on. Whether that is intentional to show the confusion the character would be experiencing I'm unsure, if it is they have done it well.
Spec Ops uses a cover system similar to that found in gears of war, where you dive into cover at the press of a button, you can blind fire and can lean out and zoom etc. This works well and the controls are simple so you find yourself bouncing from cover to cover, vaulting over barriers and running around like a lunatic very early on. There are also those moral decisions you can make throughout the game which make a difference to the story in the short term but as far as I know this didn't have any long term effect on the story line. There are many different endings though depending on what you do in the final cut scene at the end so it is worth a few play throughs.
I have played a lot of shooters but i think Spec Ops is very accessible for beginners and challenging enough for the more hardened veteran. I instantly played the hardest difficulty I could (it takes a play through of the whole campaign to unlock the hardest difficulty called "FUBAR"). I found this was hard enough to keep me interested, there are spikes where it gets a lot harder particularly towards the last few chapters of the game where you find you die repeatedly but the checkpoints are regular so it isn't that frustrating which is a plus. The length of the campaign is a bit of an issue. I got it on love film and I got it on the Saturday morning (late morning as I enjoy a lye in) and I'd almost completed the campaign before 5.
The graphics are decent, not astounding but more what you've come to expect from games on the Xbox 360 which clearly seems to be reaching its limits now. You can see your character and your squad mates Lugo and Adams condition deteriorate as you go through the story. The setting is quite hazy but you would expect that in a sandy climate.
The voice acting is really good and believable with a lot of humour at the beginning. What I would recommend is that you do actually listen to it as there are so many twists and turns throughout the campaign that it can get confusing if you miss a cut scene. If you don't really care about understanding it but just want to play through then obviously this doesn't matter. The downside to the voice acting is that occasionally there will be an out of place shout that doesn't really suit the situation.
The achievements for this are all campaign based and all very achievable so if you like to boost your gamerscore it is very possible to get 1000GS from this. I got almost 800 from one play through.
I'll be honest the multiplayer isn't great I haven't played it in depth as it just wasn't worth it. Although if you do get games either rented or via love film etc. this is a multiplayer that doesn't require you to have a code to access so you can actually play it. It has a ranking system similar to pretty much every online game now, and the standard sort of game modes with a free for all, team death match and objective based modes. Each have their own special names. You can modify your character and unlock various things including further game modes. You seem to wait an eternity in lobbies between games but you can't really complain about the standard chaos that ensues during the matches. Its a playable multiplayer but it's nothing new and therefore there are better games that do exactly what it is trying to do.
Personally I would recommend this game but I wouldn't recommend purchasing it at full price, or at all if you can rent it really. As the online doesn't require a code it could make for a decent secondhand purchase and I have heard about possible DLC in the future which will increase longevity.
Story: The Big Bang Theory is a comedy based in Pasadena LA. It is based on 5 main characters,
Sheldon Cooper - almost robotic creature of habit with an IQ through the roof. He is the cleverest of the group and he knows it. Socially uncomfortable in almost all situations and only goal in life is to earn himself a Nobel prize.
Leonard Hofstadter - Arguably the most normal of the group, he is Sheldon's roommate. His main thing is his longing for a relationship with Penny who moves into the apartment opposite in the first episode. Leonard's story is always based around either the longing for Penny or Sheldon telling him he's doing something wrong.
Penny Cooper - Your stereotypical pretty blonde girl, she has moved to Pasadena in search of an acting career. But for now she is a waitress at a restaurant (the cheesecake factory). She somehow finds herself becoming friends with the 4 geniuses despite not really fitting in or even understanding a lot of what they say.
Rajesh Koothrappali - The Indian with selective mutism, he can't talk when there is an attractive girl in the room (including Penny), he is friends with Sheldon, Leonard and Howard through their job at the local university.
Howard Wolowitz - The only one of the guys without a doctorate, he has a Jewish upbringing and still lives with his Mother. He is always after women and this is instantly seen when Penny is introduced to the group. However he is far to inappropriate about it.
Right from the first episode the characters exaggerated quirks are obvious and they do develop throughout the series. This is one of the main things I love about the series is that you can relate to the characters almost instantly. I have written a separate review for the 1-4 series box set. But of the 4 series I think the 1st is the best. The comedy in this series is brilliant, full of social awkwardness and exaggerations at their best as the director tries to get the characters personality across to the viewers. Something which is achieved so well. It had me laughing out loud regularly which I rarely do.
The 1st series contains some of my favourite moments of the 4 series I have seen and if you want to just dip your toe in the Big Bang Theory pool to see what the hype is all about then this is certainly the place to go. Sometimes it has to be said that in the first few episodes the acting isn't great as I think even the actors are getting used to the characters but it certainly isn't a permanent issue.
As this can be picked up fairly cheaply I'd certainly recommend it as even if you don't go on to get the future series this can be watched again. I think I've watched the first series 4 times now (slight obsession I know) but it is that good.
500 days of summer, one of my favourite films. The story is based on Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his relationship with Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). As the quote at the beginning states "this is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story".
Storyline - I admit, I entered into watching this film in quite a negative frame of mind, I had heard mixed reviews about it and wasn't sure I'd get too involved in the twists and turns of the story. As it turns out I found myself roped in almost instantly to what is an emotional and gripping story. It is very true to real life as opposed to some of the normal romance films where it will all begin happy, have the normal low and then all end in happiness. This certainly doesn't do that but as you follow Tom's story I certainly found myself smiling unwillingly and occasionally feeling hurt. It was if I was living the story myself and it's true to life twists and turns really made it much easier to slip emotionally into the story. The script is amazing with so many memorable quotes!
Characters - The main characters Tom and Summer are played fantastically by the actors. They are very believable and you very quickly learn there personality. This is vital as everything revolves around them and if the characters or acting was poor it would have ruined the film. The supporting cast also don't let the side down with delightful often humorous contributions that add to the tale.
Soundtrack - The soundtrack to this film is fantastic. In fact it is one of the best I have heard. Particularly if you are into music such as sweet disposition by temper trap and The Smiths. I can honestly say I have been stood in the lift at work listening to The Smiths - There is a light that never goes out., and I can confirm that girls don't turn around and say "I love the Smiths" but we can always hope. All of the songs portray the mood of the film at the time and if I hear them I instantly think of the moment it appears in the film.
Special Effects - This isn't an action film but the special effects in this film are quite arty as opposed to the usual explosions etc in action films. Whilst they won't blow you away they are good and play a part in the film.
Value for Money - This film can be picked up very cheaply now in special offers etc. and I would certainly recommend it, I would recommend it at full price but considering it can cost just a few pound (dollars if you are US) then I would really get it. I have watched it so many times but would still watch it again. I love the film, the story and the quotes that can be drawn from it some of which are inspiring or summarise something you may have experienced in your life. I couldn't recommend this enough... As I stated earlier and it states in the film it is not your usual love story.
I remember the first time I put these headphones in, I was sat at work in an atmosphere where yes I'm trying to listen to my music but if someone says my name I need to be able to hear them. I put these in and it felt like someone had just put some sort of soundproof bag over my head. I couldn't hear a thing of the outside world, the ear buds fitted perfectly (although there are alternative sizes should you have bigger or smaller earholes). However for my clearly very average ears these the standard was a perfect fit.
The sound from them was so much better than I've heard from other headphones of around the same price too. They had a good range and you could really hear the bass going in all different kinds of music whether it be dance or rock (mood swings) the Sennheiser headphones would deal with whatever I threw at them and deliver great quality of sound every time. Whilst they may not be the best on the market for the sound they produce, for the price of them you certainly cannot argue with it and I was certainly pleasantly surprised by the sound.
"Leakage" has been a big problem particularly at work where sometimes I may want my music loud but without other people hearing. These I found I could have on much louder than any other headphones I had tried and nobody near me would comment, obviously being in the bubble of music and ear bud I can't comment from the outside but normally somebody would say something. As mentioned above if I had both headphones in even without music on it was like having semi decent ear plugs in and with music I was apparently oblivious to any noise around me. These were great for blocking out the outside world and just tuning into my music.
Durability has also been another huge problem I have had with headphones where wire connectors inside have become loose due to the not particularly caring treatment they may have to withstand on a daily basis. Screwing them up and stuffing them in my pocket never seemed to affect them except the mass array of knots that I'd have when I pulled them out my pocket. Also unlike some other headphones I have had the actual ear buds seemed to stay on these rather than slipping off in my pocket or bag.
All in all these were great headphones (until I lost them the other day) but they were that good that I am going straight into town on Monday to buy another pair, and if that doesn't say it all I don't know what does. There are better headphones out there if you want to pay a lot, but for the mid range these are great!
I recently bought myself a Macbook pro for general use around the house, for pleasure rather than anything else. Now I appreciate that apple has inflated prices due to the brand and everything that comes with them. But the MacBook is simply put the best notebook I have ever used!
The first thing I would recommend you do if you buy one of these is read the instructions around the finger motions you can make on the mouse pad. The basic ones are fairly intuitive but some of the others need to be looked at but do make using it so much easier, smoother and quicker and is a good investment of your time.
Accessories on the Mac: well I am not the most technological person, but the Macbook would seem to have all the ports I need. As the keyboard and mouse pad are so good there is no need to buy any extra and therefore the 2 USB ports are more than enough. The charger where it connects to the laptop is magnetic, this means that if you do forget to it is plugged in and yank it out then it doesn't do any damage as it just slips out due to not being too deep into the port. As mentioned above the keyboard is brilliant, simply the best keyboard I have ever used. The lights underneath it gives it a great look and it feels fantastic, easy to use. For the odd time you do make a mistake there is auto correct much like you would have on the iPhone, iPod and iPad if you have any of them.
Built in software: The Mac comes with a lot of the apple software depending on what your hobbies are, such as Garageband, iPhoto, iMovie etc. All of this is very easy to use on the Mac and whilst I haven't gone too deep into any of these but I have watched some instructive videos on it and I'm sure they would do everything you could possibly imagine.
Screen: The screen is faultless it looks lovely and really does everything you could possibly watch on it justice whether it is a movie or a game.
The one thing I find with the Mac is how fast it is, it is so slick and polished that it really does seem faultless. The only problem I can think of is if you are say playing games on it the battery life isn't great but that can be said for many other laptops. Also with all the apple products if you do own any if not all of them the integration between them is almost instant with the Mac and you can tell they were built with this integration in mind (plus you also get the help of the Geniuses in the apple stores).
All in all I would recommend the MacBook to anyone, the only real downside is the extra price you have to pay. But it is certainly worth it particularly if you have all the other apple products.
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon, one of the first franchises to really show what next gen could do with Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 1 and 2. However Future Soldier certainly isn't something to write home about (although it seems enough to write a review about).
Ghost Recon steps into the future with the almost standard world ending war on the horizon. You have all the gadgets and gizmos that are either around now or expected in the military, including an active camp system that only works when you're crouched, military cutbacks obviously taking effect in the gaming world.
The gameplay is fairly bland with nothing earth shatteringly new about it, you skip from fight zone to fight zone, usually starting with stealth until the people giving the orders seem like they've lost patience and allow all hell to break loose. Now I have only played on the hardest level but I can't say I have been overly challenged through the campaign, there are a few difficulty spikes which might take up a few more minutes but your AI teammates are actually living up to their "intelligence" label, one of the positives. They can be instructed to focus fire on targets in standard fights, or in stealth mode instructed to shoot multiple targets at once. Other than this there isn't anything special to report, you aim, you shoot and with a bit of luck you kill. Anyone who has played shooting games before will find this fairly normal.
The graphics are OK but not fantastic, there are a lot of fairly bland colours from the greys of the cities and yellows of the desert. The characters are quite blotchy in gameplay but do look quite good during the cut scenes.
For the sound there is an additional install for it, but a lot of the voice acting is poor and unbelievable and some of the background noises are often repeated.
I can't comment on the online aspects of the game as I haven't played it but given the lack of features, the fairly standard gameplay and graphics, if you are someone who will only buy one of this or Call of Duty Black Ops 2, which is also set to be based in the future. I personally feel COD would be the better option with the history of there games (and the few records that have come with them). For anyone else I think this is a secondhand purchase as will hold your attention for a few hours until something better comes along which it almost certainly will.