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Nation Radio is a radio station for the South Wales area; the station plays primarily alternative rock. Nation Radio has had a bit of a chequered history since its creation in June 2008. Taking over the licence of XFM South Wales, the station is required to play alternative music as well as a certain percentage of new alternative music. However, soon after the launch many mainstream songs were being played, and the station began to move away from the fairly successful, but perhaps little known, XFM format in South Wales. Thankfully Ofcom stepped in and Nation Radio has moved back to its alternative rock roots. However, the station has managed to find a balance of new and old music to acquire larger listening audiences than XFM South Wales could.
Firstly the best way to learn about a radio station is to give it a listen, so here is where you can:
Frequency - 106.8-107.3
DAB Digital Radio
Website - http://www.nationwales.com/
During the day the station plays new rock and classic rock. A regular feature throughout the day is Rock Classics, with songs from artists such as Led Zeppelin, The Who, Jimi Hendrix regularly featuring. More modern 'classics' are also played throughout the day with hits from the 90s from bands like the Nirvana, Greenday and Blink 182, as well as many more being common place. Then naturally the more modern mainstream alternative rock, bands like Razorlight, Kings of Leon and Biffy Clyro the obvious ones to expect.
The station has a few specific shows, which play more specific songs. Airplay concentrates on unsigned acts mainly from South Wales but also the rest of the UK too. This segment is really great for giving unsigned bands a chance, and I have been to see a few local bands play as a result. I believe this show is played on a Sunday afternoon and replayed Wednesday Evenings; however the website does not appear to list actual show times so I shall have to get back and update this as soon as I can confirm this exactly.
There is also a show played on Friday and Saturday evenings named Anthems. This is as you'd expect with alternative rock 'anthems' played to get you ready for your night out. Songs such as Mr Brightside by the Killers, and Sex On Fire by the Kings of Leon are what you would expect to hear in this show.
In terms of the music played, it is hard to rival if you are a fan of alternative rock, with the station having a pretty good following outside of the local area as a result. The only station I occasionally listen to instead would be XFM London.
Unfortunately Nation Radio did not have the money to spend on DJs as its predecessor XFM South Wales had, so the big name DJs were axed straight away. Most of the DJs do a good job however, they aren't perhaps the most riveting but they discussion is generally kept to a minimum on the majority of shows so it does not detract away from the station.
There are two main DJs who do talk more however, but by no means to the extent Radio 1 DJs tend to talk. These DJs are Welshy and Allan Lake. Personally I quite enjoy Welshy, he has quite a sarcastic dry sense of humour and tends to just do little sketches once an hour or so, however I can see this getting old fast for some listeners. Likewise I'm not a fan of Allan Lake at all; however some of my friends quite enjoy his style. Though he does talk quite a lot, sometimes to the extend I change station for a song and on switching back he is still running a phone in or other feature.
Here is my main dislike about the station, though it is slowly improving as the station grows more popular. The commercials played are generally your typical cheesy radio adverts. There is currently a slightly worrying and growing trend for Gavin and Stacey like impressions in the adverts themselves, which do no favours for the Welsh Stereotype whatsoever.
A feature I love about the station is the archived playlists, if you here a song you want to know the name of (as generally 3 or 4 songs are played between DJs talking, and there are no DJs after 10pm until the breakfast show), you are able to look it up on the website by searching the specific day and time for up to a week.
In conclusion if you're a fan of Alternative Rock I would recommend giving this station a listen, especially the Airplay segment to hear new up-and-coming bands. The stations playlist contains only 16 songs compared to around 50 songs for Radio 1 which shows the mix of songs they play.
Although I am a keen golf fan I tend to only have the time and wiliness to play golf during the summer. Although I don't have an official golf handicap, I know roughly what it is and have always been sure I could improve upon it greatly if I put the effort in. This summer I decided to put my money where my mouth was and really make an effort to improve my score on my local course. My handicap is probably around the +24 mark (bearing in mind I before summer I bought this book I only played around 3 rounds per year), so I set myself the aim of completing a round getting fewer than 18 over par, better than a bogey a hole.
As a fairly competent long distance player I really was searching for a book which would help me with my short game; chipping, pitching, putting etc. Being, to my mind, the best short game player, as well as obviously the best player, in the world Tiger Woods sprung to my mind. Luckily enough for me he had written a book. Published in 2001, How I Play Golf, is described on the cover as "A Masterclass with the World's Greatest Golfer". This seemed enough reason to buy it alone.
I ordered the hardback of the book and at the time I didn't bother to check how many pages the book had or how big it was, and I was quite surprised to be greeted by a 27x23cm nearly 300 page book. It's such an attractive looking book I was unsure whether to use it or to put it safely on my shelf just to look pretty.
I managed to eventually open it and just by reading the foreword I immediately felt a change in my golfing philosophy. A key factor in Tiger's game is the mental aspect, and just with a 3 paragraphs he had instilled me with a new positive outlook and determination.
Unlike most golf books, Tiger's starts from putting and works backwards; as it's the way he learnt it can't be bad. This has always been my weak point, many a time I've got to the green in regulation, and should have got a par or even a birdie and have ended up with a bogey or even worse a double bogey. I really needed as much advice as I could get, and compared to most golf books the amount of information dedicated to putting is huge. Tiger doesn't just teach how he plays golf, he also talks about other players who he believes are better, and what is coach says he should do. There are also very good photographs to go along with the text, so if you are unable to visualise what Tiger is saying, you'll be able to take see exactly how to hold a club or how to stand.
Next up is chipping, this was just as in depth as putting. I've always struggled with chipping, I'll find myself 5 yards from the green looking to chip the ball only 10 yards, and I'd always end up topping the ball and sending it flying 25 yards to the other side of the green! But after merely skimming through the chipping section I was out in the garden chipping perfectly, though I wasn't really getting the distance right that comes with practise of knowing how hard to hit the ball in different lies - which Tiger does talk about, however, the flight and contact with the ball was so much better, and I haven't topped the ball since.
I've just decided to talk about the two chapters that really have helped me so far. Overall however, there are 13 chapters:
1.How To Start - This is a short intro really just talking about the important things in golf, learning and having fun.
2.How To Putt
3.How To Get It Down - This is about turning a 3 into a 2, how to bring your score down.
4.How To Escape From Sand - Here there is advice about how to tackle various bunkers in various positions.
5.How To Full Swing - this is the first point in the book where Tiger talks about a full swing. Although I didn't read this as in depth as the short game chapters; this section was great some of the photos are brilliant, including a pull out segment breaking is swing into 15 different still shots from 3 different angles.
6.How To Flag Your Irons
7.How To Nail Fairway Woods
8.How To Smoke Your Driver
9.How To Handle Problems - "What to do when things start getting ugly" - gives advice on shots from difficult lies and how to know when to cut your losses and play safe.
10.How To Stay In Control - This was pretty useful as for me, and I'm sure a lot of people, after one big mistake my game tended to fall to bits as I lost concentration. Tiger here teaches you how to manage your game.
11.How To Master The Mind - This was probably my favourite section, it is all about having the mental toughness to improve your game.
12.How To Get Strong - Tiger here gives exercise tips and dietary advice.
13.How To Play - This is really just a conclusion to the book just giving you the message to get out there and start enjoying the game.
So how did I get on, I stopped playing golf for a week while I read this book and just practised different bits in my garden or on my carpet (this was just putting, I would not recommend you try using a driver indoors!). I was then ready to hit the course again, initially there where flickers of what I had learned coming into action though the first 9 holes ended up not going to well, probably my worst of the summer. However, I persevered going through the same routines every time, imagining what I wanted to do with the ball and maintaining my positive outlook. I ended up breaking my record on the course, even though I had such a poor first 9 holes! And the improvement seems to have stuck.
I've read skim read quite a few golf books and I have to say none come near to how good this one is. I'd recommend it to any golfer of any skill, the jargon maybe a little confusing at first for beginners but it's worth it for the knowledge and insight you can gain. I love it so much I'm trying to work out who I can now buy it as a gift for at Christmas!
This book is available in paperback for around £13 and hardback for around £18.
American Gangster is... well it's an American Gangster film. Released in 2007, it was directed by Ridley Scott and stars Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington as the main stars. The film is based on the true story of Harlem gangster Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) and his rise to fame and glory as a drug lord during the 60s and 70s. The film follows the journey of Frank Lucas and of detective Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) who is put to investigate the recent influx in drugs.
*So what is the Plot?*
Frank Lucas inherits $100,000 dollars as well as the turf of his former employer and father figure; the renowned and idolised local gangster Bumpy. With this money he decides not to invest safely in bonds or an ISA, he goes straight for heroine.
Meanwhile Richie Roberts, the average-Joe detective, whilst studying to become an attorney and refusing to be bought out like his fellow colleagues makes it his mission to clean up this influx of heroine.
The film follows both characters separately until their inevitable collision.
*How does it fair?*
The film was shot using 180 locations in New York, this made for a really authentic view of the city. Instead of the usual set like feel often found in films, you really get a feel for Harlem in the 60s & 70s.
Washington's performance is solid, though not great. The character is caught in two minds and you get the sense so is Denzel about how to play him, he doesn't show that evilness inside him or that compassion for his mother in the most believable fashion. However, Russell Crowe was his usual good self and his character with his cheap suits and bad habits suits him very well. Sorry Russell! Other standout performances are; Josh Brolin, star from No Country for Old Men, as a bent detective and the 83 year old Ruby Dee as Frank Lucas' mother.
The film does look at black rights during the film but does little for it. Whether Ridley Scott overlooked this part of the film or whether it was just lost in translation. It just portrays the black Harlem community in a highly negative way when clearly not all members of the community joined in with criminal activities, and clearly a lot must be said as to why these activities were resorted to. Maybe I'm just being a bit to overly politically correct, but I think something was lacking here.
The film is torn between being gritty and violent, or a groovy take on the 70s. The tone is set in the first scene for the violence and I think this is to the detriment of the film as nothing after this is shocking. Meanwhile the scene where girls pack the heroine completely nude, in order to stop them stealing the "merchandise", should comes across as quite comical which is the opposite.
*A few facts*
The film is a certificate 18, this is due to the drug taking in the film, though there is violence, it's minimal. There is not much swearing in the film, I hardly remember any, no worse than after watershed program on TV.
The film 157 minutes, so it's long, it drags on a little at times. However, the extended version lasts 19 minutes longer and is included on the DVD. Even though I said it drags on I'd have to recommend watching this version as it adds a little more information to the plot. I'm not sure this is the kind of film you will want to watch twice so it's probably worth spending that extra 19 minutes for a little more closure.
*Extras on DVD*
As mentioned there is the Unrated Extended version as well as the standard Feature commentary which has director Ridely Scott and writer Steven Zaillian. I can't comment on how good this is as I'm not really a fan of film commentaries and decided not to watch it.
Really the simplest summary would be, though there's nothing you won't have seen here before in other Gangster films it is well worth watching if you are a fan of this genre. After watching it, and spending a while thinking what to put in this review I'm still not really sure whether I'm a fan of it or not. I suppose a good gangster film comes down to those memorable moments, I can think of a handful from Goodfellas and The Godfather even though I haven't watched them for a while. I only watched this film 2 days ago and I struggle to think of a scene that you will remember or even a quote.
I guess it all boils down to the fact the film has a lot of unfulfilled potential and didn't live up to the hype, but it is no way a disaster.
Whilst recently on a weekend trip to Brighton my girlfriend and I decided we'd try this restaurant. We were really looking for something a little more quaint and original but due to it being a monsoon outside we abandoned our search and just ran inside.
The restaurant's tagline is; "The Ultimate Fusion Buffet Restaurant with food from China, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam". And this is prominently displayed upon the windows. Outside there is a menu displaying all the meal options available from the buffet, it is quite substantial with around 30 main dishes as well as different types of rice, deserts and even chips.
The restaurant is fairly large, with enough seats for about 100 people, and large spaces between the tables as well as a large area for accessing the buffet. The buffet section covers the whole length of one of the walls and is probably about 25 metres long.
We began by ordering drinks; I was quite disappointed at their range of Asian Beers, with only Cobra on the menu. I was even more disappointed when I was informed they had run out of Cobra. I begrudgingly had to order a Budweiser from the 3 equally uninspiring and forgetful choices available. There was however the option of free refills on soft drinks, which is pretty good for if you're taking kids or driving.
Now that our drinks were ordered we headed over to the buffet. The first thing I noticed was the complete lack of organisation. I am quite interested in knowing a bit about the meal, but the only identifiers were simple names such as pork curry. There wasn't even anything identifying where the meal originated from. I established the curries formed the Singapore aspect, having been to Singapore and knowing there is quite a large Indian influence there. However, to me the rest of the meal was very much just what you would get at a Chinese takeaway, and bared little resemblance to what was displayed on the menu outside.
We both formed a starter from the lighter options available, with a few noodles, some sesame toast and spring rolls etc. And whilst it was quite pleasant, I did not feel it offered much more than Tesco readymade equivalents would. We then had a main course, this was much harder to create and there was not much difference between all the Chinese options, and only boiled rice was available. The food was good but yet again nothing to write home about. We then finished off by going to the deserts. There was a chocolate fountain, however I find these a bit sickly but I'm told that was quite good by my girlfriend. The highlight was however the banana and pineapple fritters, which doesn't say much. The other deserts were jelly, ice cream and bizarrely some Tunnock's Tea Cakes so once again the options were lacking a bit here. On the whole everything tasted very nice but it's nice to know exactly what you're eating.
The service was prompt and they were very quick to take away plates after they were finished with, which I find can often be a problem at buffets, where you end up with a stack of plates pushed to the side of the table and are struggling for room to eat your next course. The toilets were nice and clean as you'd expect.
All in all it wasn't the worst meal in the world but it didn't live up to my expectations. However, living near Cardiff Bay I am probably spoilt with one of the best Asian Buffet restaurants I have ever seen.
The Buffet cost £9.99, so I guess you get what you pay for. It's cheap and cheerful and though I wouldn't go out of my way to go there it would probably suit someone a large outing with family or friends. The restaurant is a chain and there are also Restaurants in Birmingham, Doncaster, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield.
I would not recommend this restaurant to people with a nut allergy or vegetarians. There were few options for both.
Bridge FM is a local commercial radio station for the county of Bridgend. Although it can be heard further West in Swansea and East in Cardiff. This allows for good traffic reports for those who commute across South Wales regularly.
The music is very diverse although nearly always in the popular-music genre. The age of the songs very a lot, one moment a new song such as Lady Gaga could be playing and the next Lionel Richie Dancing on the Ceiling. This does make for an entertaining experience as there is nothing like belting out the classics in the car, alone or with family/friends. There is a bit of repetition with the modern songs however, the classics to not get repeated as often.
There are a lot of adverts however, which can be quite frustrating as it sometimes feels like an age since you last heard a song. But this tends to be the case with most commercial radio stations. The talking of the DJs tends to be understated however, so for example; unlike Radio 1 where you must listen to the less than fascinating stories of the DJs lives regularly, while you just want to hear a song.
I must confess to not being an avid listener of Bridge FM as the music is not always to be taste. But I do have it saved to flick onto now and again. Generally hoping I am in time for a classic song like Queen or David Bowie.
Whilst it may not be to everyone's tastes Bridge Fm is a good quality station and does have a lot of listeners in the area. They are also very supportive in the local area often sponsoring events and giving air time to up and coming bands. You can also find some of the DJs performing in the local clubs some evenings if you are an big fan.
The All Fronts Collection was released on July 28, 2009 and is the main downloadable content pack for the Gears of War 2 game. So this is a review just about what is in this downloadable content and not the game or gameplay itself.
It costs 1600 Microsoft Points, which equates to about £14. However, as the smallest pack you can buy is 2100 you must pay slightly more than this, but if you buy things from marketplace anyway this will not affect you. (You can actualy buy 1600points if you buy the special GTA points, however these seem to me the same price as normal 2100 point packs so offer worse value for money)
Dark Corners Content
All Previous Map Packs for online play
Where All fronts represents value for money is the fact it contains the latest Content of Dark Corners which i shall go into later. But also all the previously released maps. There were 3 previously released map packs, which cost a 600 points each. Therefore at 1600 points you are already making a saving by buying All fronts.
This contains a brand "Deleted Scene Style" new chapter which extends the the storyline of the game. It also has two methods of completing it, "Guns Blazing" Or "Stealth", so this also means more game time.
There is then also a Dark Corners Map Pack, this contains seven new maps for online.
Besides offering great value the collection has over most downloadable content it is also a pretty good pack. The maps offer a much needed freshen up to online play, and are mostly quite fun and innovative. There are also a lot more fun achievements to try and aim for. I'd recommend this to anyone who plays Gears 2 on a regular basis.
I remember really looking forward to this game when it came out, so much so that I pre-ordered it, which I don't often do. After enjoying the first addition of the Vegas series, which my friend owned, we both decided to get this game.
The main lure of this game personally is the cooperative play. You are able to play with players on split-screen, though the box actually says 2-4 players so be careful here. You are then able to online with 2 players doing the main campaign and up to 4 doing a special Terrorist Hunt mode. This is what makes both Rainbow Six Vegas and Vegas 2, the multiplayer.
As far as the story goes, it's pretty basic and has been seen before. It's not overly linear and you are able to use different approaches for different things. For example you can choose to go in guns blazing by rappelling down the skyscraper and smashing through the window, or you can try sneak down the stairs and take the guards out with surprise. Really as far as the campaign goes it's not going to win any awards, but it's quite solid and fun, and until the twist in the final scene of the game seems quite well written.
Terrorist Hunts are where I racked up most of my playtime on this game however. The concept is, you start on a small map and have a set number of terrorists to kill. Both the difficulty and the amount of terrorists can vary. On the easiest difficulty I think you are allowed to respawn 2 times after dying but on the hardest you must survive the whole thing without dying. What's great about this mode is you can just dive in and out and play with a friend or two, and just have a bit of fun.
The online was extremely popular when the game first came out, and I believe there are still a good number of people who play online. There are lots of different modes online, the basic deathmatch, capture the territories and capture the flag concepts are all here. This is again good fun and is probably what made this game so popular when it was released.
A good aspect about this game is the player progression, for each terrorist you kill you gain experience points. These points go towards increasing your rank, as your rank increases you gain access to different equipment. To begin you unlock the main guns and armour which will help you online. The higher ranks tend to unlock things just to enhance your appearance, such as being able to create custom camouflage and a police riot helmet (I personally took advantage of both of these and enjoyed wearing a bright pink riot helmet). This is great fun and as the sense of progression as you further your rank is brilliant.
The control system is great and is easy to pick up for any first time player of the game. And the game itself is quite easy to grasp with the cover system working well. Something which is not in a lot of games is the ability to create a female character. I can think of very few shooters that give you the option to create both.
So what are the negatives; the campaign isn't that long and on the easiest difficulty can be over very quickly, 6 hours being an average reported on most game sites. There can be some issues with the frame-rate while playing the campaign co-op split screen, though this doesn't affect the Terrorist Hunt mode whatsoever.
For achievement lovers out there however, be warned, much to the annoyance of a lot of players one of the achievements requires the Xbox 360 live vision camera to acquire. If you have this camera though you are able to use the wonders of modern technology to make you in game character appear just like you, well a slightly scary looking version of you at least.
All in all this is a pretty good game, though not revolutionary it doesn't seem like it's just cashing in on the success of its predecessors. It's a very fun game and has a pretty good shelf live.
This game really surprised me. I borrowed it from my friend who had it free from a bundle pack, and really didn't expect much good to come from it. But I was willing to give it a go. Being a game aimed at young children, I donned my kid-hat and jumped right in. This is the game of the film by the same name, and features all the voice actors from the film and follows pretty much the same storyline.
The combat system is pretty fun and, if you weren't a giant panda voiced by Jack Black, it could be mistaken for being a more renowned game like Ninja Gaiden, that and the lack of swords and maiming. It's quite simple to control, which is great for young'uns, with combos being able to be achieved easily. By easily I do mean easily, I'm terrible at games were combos are necessary.
This game is also quite entertaining, especially for kids, with the script being light hearted and funny. It'll definitely keep the games demographic amused. The graphics are also pretty good, better than the usual games that are released in conjunction with films.
The game can be a little repetitive, however, which isn't too bad for us childish grown-ups. But I can see younger players perhaps getting frustrated by this.
The game also features multiplayer modes, offline only, that can be unlocked by collecting gems in the normal campaign mode. There's a basic brawl mode where you fight against each other, but also there are several different kind of mini games as well
All in all though it's a fun little game, and I can see it captivating children a fair bit. I myself ended up playing it through a couple of times to get all the achievements.
To be honest I could just sum this game up with one word over and over again. Repetitive, repetitive, repetitive, repetitive...actually that's not a bad idea. But I'm not going to do that; I'll try adding a sprinkling of positives and negatives in-between the vast repetitiveness.
So what's good about Prince of Persia? For the first few hours it's great. The controls are good, the graphics are great and doing ninja like leaps across the terrain is great fun. You thing fight a few evil demon chaps now and again and are able to fight as one of the two characters; either using melee attacks or magical attacks. Then after your travelling and killing you come across a boss which requires a bit of work to kill. So yeah, that is it for the good points, well they aren't really good points - simply more the not bad points.
So now the bad points, after a couple of hours of doing this climbing, jumping and swinging to your destination, taking down a boss and repeating, you find yourself saying this isn't bad a little repetitive but I'm sure something different will happen soon. And surprise, surprise, what happens? The exact opposite happens! You start fighting the same bosses and doing the same travelling routines again, only now you're in an environment which is darker, or there's rain or maybe some snow.
So that's that, you grin and bear it and get on with the game to try and complete it, but the main two characters now know you hate them. They know to the extent that they start trying to annoy you too. In-between the inane drivel, which is where the game tells you what the story line is in an attempt to try keep you jumping along the terrain, they argue with each other and repeat the same phrases over and over again. The extent of the Prince's cheesy chat up lines and comments almost made me want to watch Jo Brand doing stand up to balance out this game with some awful male bashing, almost.
I'd also say I love achievements; I'm a bit of a 'completionist' when it comes to games. So the final straw of this game came after I'd played the game for a couple of days. I decided to glance at the achievements after gathering a few just through normal play. I then realised that there were already a vast number of achievements I could not achieve through playing as I had already been rescued too many times and already killed that boss but in the wrong manner. I know achievements shouldn't be easy, obviously it's meant to be an achievement to get them. But the mad repetitiveness of this game makes it become more of a job than a game to complete it. Achievement rant over.
So what can I say about this game, I tend to say most games that are below par are worth a rent, but I really can't say that with this game. You'll most likely instantly get bored with it and take it back before you've completed it. So all I can say is it's best to stay away, completely. In fact you can try playing this game in real life, that'll be more entertaining. Go to a pub, try do a handstand or if you're feeling daring a back flip, try a cheesy chat up line, and go home. It'll safe you time and money!
What a letdown! This game was possibly one of the shortest shooters I have ever played. I completed it in a day, and I wasn't playing it non stop, I did a few chores, popped out for a bit, and played it on Medium, not even the easiest difficulty! But this isn't the worst point of the game, after all short doesn't always mean bad, the phrase 'Short but sweet' proves this.
So what else is bad about this game? It's incredibly repetitive, with continuously similar corridors to run down and bad guys to gun down. There's very little to do besides follow the strictly set path and shoot at the rather dull enemies. And even this is made very easy; all you must do is take cover behind a conveniently placed box or a door and take down the enemies one by one until it's safe to move on.
As is standard with this kind of game there as online mode, with the usual area of game modes. I found this to be an enjoyable experience. It was pretty much everyone running around fast paced, with very little skill with the first one to shoot generally coming off the winner, and repeat.
However, despite this there are some good points to this game. The graphics are good and the likeness to Daniel Craig is pretty great, whether you love him or hate him. And the cover system, coming straight out of the Gears of War franchise, works well.
Now a point to remember is the storyline is a combination of both the Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace films. Although it does not follow the plot greatly, obviously needing to add in more fight scenes.
Overall it's not the worst game I've ever played, but it's nowhere near the standard I would have expected. I'd say to rent it if you really want to give it a play.
What really upset me about this game was however the lack of any chance to drive Bond's Aston Martin. Coupled with the fact there is a great car chase scene at the beginning of the Quantum of Solace film. Guess I'll have to stick to driving like bond in real life, sticking under the speed limit of course!
What is Spotify?
Spotify is an amazing free to download and use music player featuring a huge library of music to choose from. It is funded through advertising roughly lasting 30seconds every 3-4 tracks played. Alternatively you can pay a fee in order to no adverts whatsoever.
What makes Spotify different?
Now there are a quite a few competitors out there which offer a similar service. However, what makes Spotify stand out is the ability to select whatever song you want. A lot of music players you can only create a kind of genre playlist which plays songs you say you like, but you have no control over what exact song it's going to play next. With Spotify your free to do what you want, if you want to listen to some Mozart because you're feeling in a sophisticated mood one moment and then you want some Iron Maiden the next moment, you can! This is great because if you're someone who buys a lot of music it allows you to listen to that single you heard on the radio in the car when you get home to see if you really do want it on your Ipod.
Another great thing about Spotify is, Playlists! You have the ability to make a playlist of all your favourite songs. Here is my favourite thing about it though, Collaborative playlists, you and your friends can both create an online playlist together and add songs to it for the other one to hear.
As for the cost of Spotify if you want to avoid those adverts, which can get a bit annoying due to their repetitiveness, it's not that expensive. It costs £9.99 a month or only 99p for 24 hours. I think for 24 hours this is a great cost, if you're having a house party you can hook your laptop up to your speakers and get uninterrupted access to all the latest and best tunes.
The range of songs is great and you very rarely find something new missing. There are however a few songs missing that you'd expect to be there. But with a constantly updating library and more record labels signing on it's unlikely they'll be missing for long.
For me Spotify is one of the best things I've discovered. As a music lover it is great to be able to access all my favourite songs for free and importantly in a legal way!
Here's a great little game for you and your friends. The basic aim is you assemble a team of premiership football stars and are rewarded points for how they perform in that week's set of games. I personally think this is the best fantasy football available if you're just doing it for a bit of fun, as its free.
So how does it work? - Your budgeted with 100m to spend on 15 players, 2 goal keepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders and 3 forwards. You can then select your 11 first team players (with different formations possible), and the remaining 4 players are subs and will automatically be selected if one of your first team players does not in real life. You also get to choose the order of preference for the substitutes and a team captain who earns double points.
Another interesting quirk of this fantasy football site is the player values. The player values can increase by 0.1million at a time, it is all dependent on how many players transfer in the player, or transfer out the player. If over a certain amount of people transfer out a player then this reflects in their value and vice versa. I highly recommend using the FISO site, (reviews here - http://members.dooyoo.co.uk/internet-sites/fiso-co-uk/review/). This site predicts the player value changes.
You're able to make free transfer a week, further transfers cost 4 points each. With the exception of the wildcard which allows you to make as many transfers as you want that week. I'd recommend saving this for the winter period, where you get a lot of games, 2 a week, and can give your team a good mid season shake up.
All in all this is a great fun game, I recommend getting a group of friends together in a league and having a bit of friendly competition, not too friendly though!
Entering the ring the undisputed best boxing game of all time, Fight Night Round 4! It's safe to say this game is good, very good in fact.
Graphics wise this game is perfect. The boxers look pretty amazing, every minute detail, from the sweat bouncing off them when their punched, down to the glint on their shoelaces.
The choice of Boxers is great too with at least 2 choices in every weight division, and 48 boxers in total. Most of the greats and household names are there, with a couple of exceptions.
Gameplay is also good and very realistic. During the fight you have a stamina bar and a health bar. The best way to get health down is by making combos, and it also decreases more the less stamina the opponent has. Stamina decreases with the more punches you do and the more blocking. Therefore it's necessary to make could use of blocking and counter attacks to survive and take down your opponent. It makes for quite a realistic fight.
Another good addition is the Legacy mode, where you create a boxer and progress through their career trying to become champion in your weight discipline, it allows you to also go up or drop down a weight discipline. I'd say this mode is quite good overall though has a bit of a short life. My one major issue is creating the custom boxer. There aren't many options available in terms of customising his appearance and you're pretty much confined to one of the predefined models, though the clothes customisation is good.
The online is great too, and there's a large online player base to have matches with.
Now for the bad points- First up the loading times are pretty long and if you couple this with quite a confusing menu system (I get lost a fair bit trying to find what I want) it gets pretty frustrating.
The real bad point for me is the new punch system, where the user only uses the thumb-stick. Basically you push to the left to punch with the left hand and to the right to punch with the right hand and depending on if you push say up and left or down and left it varies whether it's a jab or uppercut etc. However, I, like a lot of other people, struggle to get it to do exactly what I want to do and struggle to get combos going.
That being that though it is the best a boxing game has ever been, and it's still good fun. If you like boxing it is well worth a buy. It went down to £25 during July on Amazon, and it may be worth waiting and seeing if it goes down again soon, however at £29 on Amazon, that's one of the cheapest prices around regardless.
I think it's safe to say Halo 3 is one of the most popular games of all times with over 8million sales. But what makes Halo 3 this popular?
For me it's definitely not the story line. The storyline of the Halo franchise in my opinion has got progressively worse with each game. As well as progressively shorter! By no means is the campaign bad, however, this is not Halos finest moment here. I also feel a lot of things seem to be copied and repeated through out it. What is good about the campaign however, is the ability to play up to 4 player cooperative. There are not many games out there that offer this, most games only offer 2 player if they offer co-op at all. So that is something that makes Halo stand out.
Another good aspect is the variation while doing the campaign itself, there are lots of different kinds of vehicles to drive aswell as many different weapons. I personaly enjoy driving the vehicles, especialy during co-op, it's quite fun and has a bit of a team bonding exercise about it.
What realy makes Halo stand out and is where its success lies is the Multiplayer. The matchmaking system to link you with other players online is the best going. It takes no time whatsoever to get into a game, with the True skill system matching you with players of equal skill.
There's also lots of different types of game modes to play, and a huge player base, with thousands always playing even the least popular game modes. It's a great game to play with your friends, with up to 4 people being able to play online with only one person needing an xbox live subscription.
In short this game is a must have for any 360 owner, and if you don't have it, go get it now! You can pick up a new copy for about £15 and a preowned for around a tenner in most shops.
I wasn't really sure about ultimate team. I played the trial and decided there wasn't really enough substance there to warrant the price. However, a few of my friends then bought me some MS points and coupled with it being 50% off the other week I took the plunge.
I'd have to say I'd be extremely dissappointed if I had paid full price for it. Maybe I haven't fully understood the concept but I'll just summarise my experience. So, at the start you are given a collection of Bronze Player Cards, these are basicaly players who have overal ratings of about 50-60, with the odd one a bit higher and some a bit lower. You can then assemble your team out of these cards. The menu and navigation system is quite good, and I quite enjoy seeing the layout of the team with the real player photos. You also get cards which give you special powerups, for instance increasing the stamina of a player during a game.
So after getting my team sorted I jumped into it and went online, assuming there'd be some kind of ranking system only pitting teams of similar levels against eachother. Now my team was only half a star out of 5 stars at the start and straight away I am faced with a tottenham team packed with the household names, Ronaldinho Lampard etc. But on top of this the team also contained a player who was at least 9 foot tall, more skillful than ronaldo, and had rainbow coloured skin. I was being pretty competitive if I say so myself, however this, Rainbow coloured skillful reincarnation of Peter Crouch was impossible to stop, any corner or cross of any kind was a goal due to the bizzare height advantage.
So naturaly, I've worked out you must first improve your team offline before trying to participate online a bit. But after doing this some what I just feel that the execution of Ultimate Team is pretty poor. I don't see the point in having these over powered players as it just changes the balance of the game and becomes a game of who can pass to their superstar the fastest and try beat the entire team.
I think the idea behind Ultimate Team is great, and there used to be a card collecting idea similar to this on an old NHL game by Ea that I really enjoyed. But overall I don't rate the experience that well. Hopefuly with Fifa 10 they will have this built in and performaning better, and not use it as a money maker 6 months after the games release.