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CaptainDisaster

CaptainDisaster

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Reviews written

since 18/12/2000

210

10 Things I Hate About You (DVD) 09/03/2009

The Taming of the Shrew in an American School...

10 Things I Hate About You (DVD) [This is a review of the movie only.] --------------- --------------- --------------- ------ Sometimes you watch a film you loved as a teenager and enjoy it just as much, and sometimes... you don't. I found the latter to be the case with Ten Things I Hate About You - it certainly has some memorable moments, but much of the movie left me unmoved. I guess that's what happens when you watch this sort of movie when you're no longer a teenager... The plot is simple enough and typical teen-movie material; Bianca Stratford (Larisa Oleynik) wants to start dating, but her father Walter (Larry Miller) wants to keep his daughters out of harms' way. So he decides that until her older sister Kat (Julia Stiles) is dating, nor can Bianca. This proves somewhat troublesome for her since Kat has made herself one of the least popular people in school. Meanwhile Cameron James (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has just joined the school and instantly falls for Bianca. His friend Michael (David Krumhoiltz) hatches a plot to get the school bad boy Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) to date Kat... the only problem being that the bankroll for this operation is coming from the hunky but obnoxious Joey Donner (Andrew Keegan), who also has designs on young Bianca. The typical (American) teen comedy props are all there, including the ever-present prom night. It struck me while watching it this time that the production values weren't very good for large parts of the movie, and with some awful dialogue in ...

Surf's Up (Wii) 06/03/2009

A decent surfing game for the WII

Surf's Up (Wii) Surf's Up is a WII game based on the animated film of the same name. It's a decent game and a pretty good interpretation of the movie, which features surf-boarding penguins. The whole game is based around surf-boarding, though there is also a bonus game where you have to slide down a track on a leaf - obviously this has certain similarities with the main game, but it does have a different feel to it. There are several characters to choose from - in fact, all the main characters from the film. Each surfer has his own range of abilities including speed and freestyle ability, and there is a selection of boards which also add to or detract from your different abilities. As you progress through the game there are lots of different things you can unlock, mainly new characters and boards. You can also add new songs to your track list, and the soundtrack is pretty good. I never felt it quite took off, but the songs were good and appropriate to the surfing theme. The sound effects were fine too, with a large number of sound clips from the movie. They did get a little repetitive after a while however. The graphics are also pretty good, with reasonably accurate representations of the characters, good backgrounds and some nice special effects. The different locations are rather nicely rendered and, within the confines of the game (after all, sea and surf are going to look alike in any location) there is a decent amount of variety. There are a large variety of areas to surf in, which ...

Beyond Good & Evil (PC) 13/02/2008

A Game that should be in Your Collection...

Beyond Good & Evil (PC) A game ported over from the consoles, Beyond Good and Evil is an excellent action-adventure game that also entails a good dollop of stealth. You play as a young woman called Jade, a photographer struggling to get by and housing a group of orphans in a lighthouse on the planet Hillys. The planet is at great danger from the threat of an alien race known as the Domz, and are protected by a military group called The Alpha Section. The game puts you right into the thick of the action as a Domz attack threatens the lighthouse, with the shields failing due to late payments to the supplier. After an initial battle for survival, you get your first assignment photographing animals, meet up with your uncle Pey'j (an anthropoid pig, but because of the surreal nature of the game this doesn't seem at all odd...), and find out what on earth is going on. The storyline is simple but highly immersive because of the characters and style of the game. The graphics are superb (it may take a bit of meddling with the advanced settings to get them to display properly though) and create a wonderfully surreal but believable environment. The ambient sound effects are terrific too. Although this is a DVD-ROM game, many conversations in the game are simply shown as text, though of course the cut scenes are fully voiced. The voice acting throughout the game is top notch, among the best and most convincing I've ever heard . The music too is brilliant and not only atmospheric, but also exhibiting ...

Legoland (PC) 12/02/2008

A Legoland you can have on your PC...

Legoland (PC) Legoland is basically Theme Park but with LEGO characters, and is presented in a simple way that makes it a good game for younger ones, though it makes it less interesting for adults. In an attempt to make things more interesting you also have a dotty professor who time travels and generally wreaks mayhem (grabbing new rides and ideas at the same time), and aliens who love theme parks and subsequently visit earth, usually taking most of your rides with them. I've never been a huge fan of the theme park and spin-off games like Roller Coaster Tycoon style myself - though they are quite fun for a while, I tend to quickly get bored of them. If you are a fan of the genre, you will probably like this game more than I did - although you will also probably want more depth than this game, as it is after all aimed mainly at children. Still, all things considered Legoland is still a relatively fun game for a while. To start off you must go through the tutorial levels, which introduce you to the basics of managing the theme park; building the rides, beautifying the environment, maintaining the park and gardens, ensuring there's enough power, keeping an eye on the cash flow, building pathways to make sure that everything is connected, and that sort of thing. The interface is easy to use and allows a fair level of control when you design the bigger rides. You start off with just the basic "theme" plus one other, and gain more as you progress through the game. Every theme has its own ...

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (PC) 09/02/2008

Pirating fun at the End of the World!

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (PC) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End puts in you command of Captain Jack Sparrow, William Turner, Elizabeth Swann, Captain Barbossa and quite a few other characters from the film if you unlock them as extras. The plot is based on the second half of the second film as well as the whole of the third Pirates of the Caribbean films, ultimately ending with an epic battle against Davy Jones. Many locations and plot elements, as well as the characters are in this game, are taken directly from the films. Sometimes the plot scenes don't really follow each other in a particularly logical way, so a familiarity with the films does help in that regard to know what's supposed to be going on. Even if the cut scenes don't always make all that much sense though, it's always clear enough what you're actually supposed to be doing. This game is a rather simple style of arcade adventure where you explore, do a lot of sword fighting, collect objects, solve the occasional puzzle, complete quests, and do more sword fighting. It doesn't really have much in the way of RPG elements, though as you progress through the game you can collect various objects: food (life points), flintlocks (one-shot, slow but powerful weapons), grenades (fiddly to use but good for attacking groups of enemies), and knives (for a quick throw before your opponent gets near enough to run you through). Each of these items become more effective as you progress through the game. The story mode features 12 locations, each ...

Heroes of Might and Magic 5 (PC) 25/01/2008

Those Pesky Demons Are At It Again...

Heroes of Might and Magic 5 (PC) Heroes of Might and Magic V is a massive game which keeps the spirit of earlier games in the series and a virtually identical interface, but it's presented with more style and much more impressive graphics. It stars off with the marriage of Emperor Nicolai and Lady Isabel - but those pesky demons in the land can always be relied on to try and ruin things, and sure enough along comes an evil beast to break up the happy couple. With Nicolai taking the battle to the demons far away, Isabel is much too feisty to just sit around and wait for him to return, and sets off on a journey to gather an army and rush to his side. In the Single Player mode - I fear never emerging back into real life if I venture into the multiplayer mode, and therefore refuse to try it - you start the first of 5 scenarios, each spilt into 5 missions, as Isabel at the start of her quest. If you think that 25 missions in total doesn't sound like there's much longevity to the game, you'd be very wrong - each scenario is likely to take you several hours to complete, and while I'm perhaps a rather cautious player (preferring to build up an invincible army before venturing into very dangerous territory) you would need to be either uncannily blessed or a tactical genius (or, perhaps, a hacker!) to complete the whole game in less than 100 hours. The game is mainly turn-based strategy, though on occasion there are elements that run in real-time. Basically though it's a game you can leave for hours and come ...

The Bard's Tale (PC) 08/11/2007

Not a Bard Game (groan...)

The Bard's Tale (PC) Older games players may remember the original Bard's Tale games. If you're looking for an in-depth RPG game in the style of those games, this modern version of The Bard's Tale may not appeal as it's a very different type of game to the original. Though it's got the same Producer as the original - Brian Fargo - this is not a remake by any means. What we have here is an action-RPG - a curious mix of game styles that works well in some ways, not in others, but in the end it works very well because of the large doses of humour injected into it. Most RPGs have rather hackneyed storylines and this is no exception - rescuing a princess held captive in towers by some evil critters, etc - but The Bard's Tale takes this storyline and makes fun of it, along with the clichés that infest the whole genre. The game has a narrator (veteran games Voice Actor, the late Tony Jay) who at times lets you know what's going on, and frequently insults the Bard, who is voiced by Cary Elwes (not always brilliantly it has to be said, but he's often funny). The humour in the game is mostly very good, especially the narrator's dislike of the Bard, and they often have short conversations - sometimes with other characters in the game wondering just who the Bard is talking to! The game simplifies many of the aspects of a traditional RPG - for instance weapons and combat are kept quite simple. Combat can be a little too repetitive at times, which is probably the main weakness of the game, but there is ...

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - Sith Lords (PC) 25/10/2007

Hey Sugar, Take a walk on the Light Side!

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - Sith Lords (PC) It is about 4,000 years before the events of the first Star Wars film, and 5 years after the events of the first Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) game. As usual the Jedi, guardians of the galaxy and all that, have managed to let themselves almost be wiped out entirely, and yes - it's somehow all up to you to save things. No change there then… You start the game unconscious and desperately in need of help, and in the prelude (I'd advise skipping it unless you've never played the first game) you control a droid trying the get the ship you're on, the Ebon Hawk, to safety and a place where you can recover. However the Sith aren't the only people interested in Jedi, there's bounty hunters galore, and everyone seems to think you are the very last of the Jedi. The plot quickly thickens of course, and nothing is as it first appears - but then, is it ever? Installation -------------- Like the first game, KOTOR 2 comes on 4 CD-ROMs. It takes a few minutes to install, and did so with no problems. I ran the in-game update straight away which took another couple of minutes. Again no problems with that. Initially the game ran fine but I soon ran into some problems… more on that later. Interface ----------- The game is controlled using a combination of the mouse and keyboard. At first I kept expecting the character's viewpoint to change when I moved the mouse, but the mouse actually is just to point and click on characters / objects (though if you have the cursor ...

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (PC) 13/06/2007

Use the Force (again)

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (PC) The first LEGO Star Wars game was a lot of fun, especially in two-player mode. It featured the Star Wars universe made up of LEGO (the famous children’s building blocks), and featured a whole host of characters going through sequences from the first three films in the series. This hotly-awaited sequel brings us more LEGO Star Wars action but featuring the original trilogy, which I’m sure most fans like myself infinitely prefer to the more recent films. Like the first game this has a central hub of activity where you can roam about and get a few extra studs (the LEGO currency) while viewing the vehicles you’ve managed to assemble (more on this in a minute) and choosing your episode / chapter to play. There are 6 chapters for each of the three episodes, for instance Escape from the Death Star in Episode IV (A New Hope), Battle on Hoth in Episode V (The Empire Strikes Back), and Pit of Karkoon in Episode VI (Return of the Jedi). Each chapter is based on a well-known sequence from the film but puts its own twist on things for the sake of gameplay. There is an intro movie sequence to each, as well as one at the end and some along the way – these are both informative as to what’s going on and funny – well, mainly they’re designed to be funny and they mostly are. The gameplay itself has you running around, defeating the bad guys, solving various puzzles and trying to complete objectives to get you to the next part, and ultimately the end of the chapter. You have to play the ...

The Angry Aztecs (Horrible Histories) - Terry Deary 12/06/2007

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry...

The Angry Aztecs (Horrible Histories) - Terry Deary The Angry Aztecs is another in the popular “Horrible Histories” range of books aimed at children, but which can also be quite fun and enlightening for we older ones. They’re a really easy read but despite their slim volumes, inclusion of cartoon illustrations and appeal to the kiddies, they contain a mine of intriguing information about past civilisations and suchlike. Of course, with a name like “Horrible Histories” you expect a certain amount of gore… which the books gleefully deliver. All the Horrible Histories are written by Terry Deary, who obviously has a real passion for bringing history to life. In this book, "The Angry Aztecs", he starts off by giving us some information about the Mayan and Olmec people –the previous great civilisations before the Aztecs became great. A great mystery surrounding the Maya is the fact that they built large cities with huge pyramids and then at around 900CE, they just disappeared – still living on in rural communities, but the cities were completely abandoned. To this day no-one knows why… The early history of the Aztecs if then discussed, and of course why they were so angry – as the book’s title describes them. They became great warriors and eventually turned on those who had subjected them, becoming the most powerful people in Mexico at that time. They had a few unfortunate traits however – not least of which is their habit ripping out living peoples’ hearts in ritual human sacrifice – nice, eh? They had a huge number of ...

Pirates of the Caribbean (PC) 11/06/2007

Not quite the game of the film...

Pirates of the Caribbean (PC) Loosely based on the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, this game puts you in the role of a young sea captain setting out from a little English port, off to make his fortune. This game though was designed not for the movie fan however, it’s very much a game in its own right without much in common with the film. In fact apart from the location and the fact that your character looks a little like Will Turner, there’s really not much similarity to the film at all. What we have here is a full-blown pirate RPG, with a serious attempt made to merge the two genres. (A similar attempt was previously made with Sea Dogs- though the developers claim this was not the original intention but happened over time – which would have worked nicely if that game hadn’t been so buggy.) In many ways this game manages to mesh the two genres, but it doesn’t manage to do so perfectly. The game starts with an optional tutorial mode led by your boatswain, and he pops up at various times throughout the game to offer help. In true RPG (Role Playing Game) style, when you’re in the ports you can wander through the area, talking to the inhabitants, dropping into the local tavern for a quick drink, seeking out quests, trading, visiting the Governor, picking up local gossip, and of course the all-time favourite pastime in RPGs: randomly entering peoples’ houses and taking whatever’s inside. The graphics are very nicely done indeed, whether in town or at sea. There are other places you can explore as well ...

Body - Robert Winston 09/06/2007

Here's Looking At Your Anatomy, Kid...

Body - Robert Winston “BODY” - subtitled “An amazing tour of Human Anatomy” is a real gem of a book that explores the wonders of the human body. I’d never heard of it before, but when I saw it with its cover featuring and inside view of a head my curiosity was piqued, and when I delved into the book a little it looked absolutely fascinating. Written by Richard Walker with Robert Winston acting as Editorial Consultant, this is an incredible book that is both informative and visually stunning. It uses vivid 3D visualisations of the body – made from computer reconstructions of photographs taken of 1mm slices of a frozen dead body (donated to science). The book gives a reasonable amount of detail about how this was done. The photographs are then labelled and a 3D wireframe model is made up of the whole body, with colours and textures then applied from the information in the photographs. This creates some of the most startling images you are ever likely to see. Robert Winston describes the human body as a tremendously sophisticated “machine”, making the point that during his years practicing medicine he has seen many attempts to make bionic replacements for damaged organs or limbs, but that none of these have come anywhere near competing with the real thing. This book looks at the intricate complexities of the human body, yet does so in a way that’s simple and accessible to understand. The pictures show everything from the skeletal form through to the nervi, musculature, lymphatic system, and ...

Finding Nemo - Nemo's Underwater World of Fun 22/03/2007

Too Easy to be Enjoyable

Finding Nemo - Nemo's Underwater World of Fun Finding Nemo: Nemo's Underwater World of Fun is a typical example of a movie tie-in game gone wrong. Sure, it's very nicely presented and has some clips from the movie for you to watch, but there's no substance to it at all. Basically what we have here is a collection of simple mini-games, which when completed let you play a different mini-game. When you've completed that… you've completed the game. (To be fair you can go back and play any of the seven different games again, and the difficulty level will go much higher than needed for to complete the basic game, but why would you?) The best thing about the movie was that although kids loved it, it was just as enjoyable (perhaps even more so) for adults, because of the different layers of humour. With this game it's purely for young children (who may love it) - the games are very easy and it took me a grand total of an hour and a half to complete the game (including watching the movie clips!). The graphics are very nice and look authentic to the film, and the animation is reasonably good (apart from the lip-synching). There is some decent music and the voice-acting is good, though the sound-bites from the movie get very repetitive. It's all very prettily presented though and pretty much all of the characters from the movie are here somewhere. Nemo's father explains when you begin the game that he's going to build a racecourse so that Nemo can prove himself to be a super swimmer. Before this however Nemo needs to ...

Wargames (DVD) 19/03/2007

Would you like to play a game?

Wargames (DVD) I loved WarGames as a kid and, watching it again recently, was mildly surprised to find that I still really enjoyed it. The technology shown, which was quite ambitious for the time, really does look dated nowadays but that manages to lend it a retro-charm rather than simply make it look old. The anti-war (more specifically, anti-nuclear war) message of the film is put across well without it seeming too preachy, and with more countries than ever before having or being suspected of having / developing nuclear capability, that message seems pretty pertinent today. The message comes across strongly but doesn't feel preachy, it's simply an intrinsic part of the film. The film starts, in fact, by showing us an event inside one of the American ICBM (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile) sites. I really didn't remember this part of the film and it very effectively prefaces the rest of the film by showing us exactly what is at stake. It also provides the rationale for the attempt by some sections of the army for wanting computers to be more pervasive in the process of launching the missiles - which, ironically, is precisely the same reason that might not be such a good idea… In WarGames young underachiever at school David Lightman (a very young Matthew Broderick) spends much of his free time on the computer, a monolithic set-up that is described as being "really cool". It even has a modem fitted so it can communicate with other computers (fancy that!), and David spends some of ...

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (PC) 17/03/2007

CSI for the PC - have your swab at the ready!

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (PC) Crime Scene Investigation is the first game based on the popular TV series of the same name. I've not seen all that many episodes (yet), but I've seen enough to know that it's one of the smarter detective dramas out there, and certainly with its use of techniques such as actually following a bullet's eye view (if bullets had eyes) into the body in great detail, the most visually arresting. Having had a so-so reaction to the "Law and Order 2: Double or Nothing" game, I was a little dubious but nonetheless the game looked interesting. Featuring all the main stars of the show (thus making it a better buy for fans, I guess), CSI gives you a number of cases to work through. You are a rookie about to start work with the unit under the tuition of the legendary Gil Grissom ( "Concentrate on what cannot lie… the evidence"."), you are talked through all of the necessary commands in the introduction to your first case, in which you investigate the murder of a young woman in a hotel room. Three tabs are ever-present at the bottom of the screen - Locations, Tools, and Evidence. Locations is obviously to move about the different places available, including the crime labs and justice department, and the crime scene(s) / associated locations. As you find more clues more locations may become available to you. The graphics are quite striking, not amazing or particularly high resolution, but nicely detailed and using an innovative technique to give you a 360 degrees of rotation view of ...
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