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I recall at one point we had a new members guide or something here many moons ago... do we still have one of those or should perhaps one of us step up to the mark?

Reviews written

since 23/04/2003

501

Papers, Please (PC) 22/04/2017

Are Your Papers In Order, Sir?

Papers, Please (PC) In a world where immigration is an ever more important aspect of life and there is constant vigilance in the world of passport checking and correct visa’s, Papers Please strolls into the gaming market. Well, actually it strolled into the gaming market way back in 2013, but that is completely besides the point. You wouldn’t think you could make a game revolve around checking passports and documents, but you would be wrong as that is exactly what this is. Within the game you take on the role of an immigration officer in the fictional country of Arstotzka which is distinctly hostile to its neighbours… not like the UK at all… at all. Your job as passport officer is to check and review all of the passports of those coming through the border, whether they are citizens or migrants. The list of rules you have to abide by get longer and more complex until you have to inspect passports and other documentation against tools, guides, lists and such like. You are only meant to let those in with the proper documentation (obviously) and you are rewarded for the number you let in properly and fined for your mistakes. With this money you keep your family fed, clothed and sheltered so you have a reason to get this right…however the game incessantly chucks moral dillemmas at you where you have to decide whether to take the fine or do your job. Gameplay incorporates a variety of different tools which you can use to ascertain whether the papers are genuine or to arrest terrorists or those with ...

My 500th Review 19/04/2017

A Change of Pace; Common Place Notebooks

My 500th Review Every milestone review I have done something slightly different, albeit something focusses either on myself or on Ciao. My 100th review focused on Ciao quotes, my 200th review was a look at my Ciao history, my 300th review was a look at Ciao through time, stats and reviews, 350th; how to write a Ciao opinion, 400th; the story of Splodge and my 450th an A-Z all about me! And now, for the 500th review I am going to treat you to a run through of the highlights of my Common Place Notebooks, For those that are unaware my Common Place books are notebooks I have kept taking down my favourite quotes from every novel I’ve read. I have however discovered that this is a larger task than thought of. Having reached the end of the first book, I have reached well over 4000 words and that was picking one or two quotes for many of the books, but missing a great deal out that I wouldn’t now be interested in re-reading. I am therefore giving you a run through of the highlights of my first Common Place Notebook and if it’s vaguely well received, then I will have a ton of ammo for my 550th review and every milestone after! Common Place Notebook 1; 2006 Faith Beyond Resentment; James Alison This was one of the first theological books I ever read and was leant to me by my vicar; written by a gay Catholic priest, his outlook on the world is interesting and thought provoking. Fragments is a pretty word. But the word hides something that is not pretty: it means things broken. Broken words. A broken ...

Cotehele, Cornwall 17/04/2017

Naked Children Fart in Faces!

Cotehele, Cornwall Cotehele House was one of our final destinations on route home from our Cornwall trip; after all, why would you waste a journey home just in travelling when you can hit National Trust properties on route as well? This was a property that we had meant to visit on our previous visits but had never quite got around to it as we walked the hill and got there far too close to closing to pay full price. Now being National Trust members, we made a detour to ensure we actually saw the place… and we parked on top of the hill rather than hiking up the hill to boot! Pronounced Coat-heel, Coathele probably means wood on an estuary and derives from the old Cornish word ‘cote’ meaning wood and ‘hele’ meaning estuary. There has been a dwelling of sorts at Cotehele since medieval times, the current house is mostly Tudor and has been rebuilt by three generations of Edgcumbe’s. From 1553 Cotehele was more of a second home for the Edgcumbe family, that is until their main home Mount Edgcumbe was destroyed by bombs in 1941 due to WW2. This then forced Piers 5th Earl of Mount Edgcumbe to move to Cotehele. The history of Cotehele is varied from Richard Edgcumbe I modernising the house and building the Chapel-in-the-Woods to his son widening the hall and rebuilding the Chapel and then his son in turn built Mount Edgcumbe as well as heightening the Hall at Cotehele. Colonel Piers Edgcumbe moved back to Cotehele and extensively remodelled the interior of the house in the 1650’s and the house then ...

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (DVD) 11/04/2017

Fantastic Indeed!

Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (DVD) Harry Potter is one of my many obsessions and it was therefore no surprise that when the 2016 film came out set in the same world, me and my fiancé were at the cinema within the first week. It is also no surprise that the DVD made its way onto our shelves fairly shortly after release; after all, this is wizarding business! This is the ninth film instalment of J.K. Rowling’s world and is the first in the Fantastic Beasts series which is set to have sequels coming out at some point. We're going to recapture my creatures before they get hurt. They're currently in alien terrain surrounded by millions of the most vicious creatures on the planet; humans. Taking us out of the United Kingdom (and indeed out of the present time), fantastic beasts follows Newt Scamander (eventual author of the textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) as he travels to Arizona via New York in 1926. As a magizoologist, Newt has a great interest in magical creatures and carries around with him a magically expanded suitcase which houses a variety of magical creatures of varying levels of interest and danger. Surprise, surprise, one of them (thankfully the harmless although greatly aggravating Niffler) escapes from this suitcase while he is not watching and things spiral rather quickly from there. Jacob Kowalski: I don't think I'm dreaming. Newt Scamander: What gave it away? Jacob Kowalski: I ain't got the brains to make this up. Between Newt, Tina Goldstein, a demoted Auror and Jacob ...

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Blu-ray) 06/04/2017

The Finale of a Magical Journey

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Blu-ray) Please be warned, I cannot prevent giving major spoilers for the previous films as the film is impossible to review without context. If you have not seen or read the previous Harry Potter instalments and have any plans to, please stop here. I started reviewing all of the Harry Potter films in memorium of Alan Rickman after his death… I then got distracted and wandered off to review other shiny things that were closer to hand. It is therefore over a year since Alan Rickman sadly passed away and I still have not finished this collection of reviews. This however is the ultimate, the finale, the end of the Harry Potter universe. Well. No. I lie. However it’s the last Harry Potter with Alan Rickman in it and that has to count for something! Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real? Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the final episode in a now eight film long series recounting Harry Potter’s years at Hogwarts. Made from a book of the same name, you have to have been living under a rock if you haven’t heard of it. Anyhow, having learnt he is a wizard, the wizarding world has near killed young Harry more times than I have fingers…not least because an evil dark wizard is actively out to get him. But even normal things like sports can get you killed in the magical world… and that doesn’t take into account dragons, dementors, werewolves, pissed of centaurs, psychotic teachers or trolls. I've always wanted ...

NCIS Season 1 (DVD) 03/04/2017

Gibbs is Awesome!

NCIS Season 1 (DVD) NCIS is a show I have followed for a number of years; originally because my mother used to watch the same episodes on loop, but then because I realised it is simply a darn fine show. Recently, myself and my fiancé have gone all the way back to the start of the show and been watching the episodes in order… that in turn gives me something new to review… and so, NCIS Season 1. Series Background For those who are unaware, NCIS stands for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service who it may surprise you to find out, investigate naval crime. This can be anything from murder kidnap to terrorism to murder to fraud to well, more murder. There is admittedly quite a lot of murder going around. The NCIS is the primary law enforcement and counterintelligence arm for the navy, including the Marine Corp however they frequently end up in tussels with other law enforcement agencies over jurisdiction, with the obvious one being the FBI. The first season aired in 2003 and whilst it is character driven, it can be watched in any order with no overriding plot line to mess up if you skip around a lot. By the time you hit the latest seasons though this is no longer the case and it’s seriously a case of you will miss vital information if you miss an episode and won’t have a clue what is going on anymore! With twenty three episodes of about an hour each in Season 1… and a current total of 13 Seasons… this is a series that will keep you going for a while though! Characters/Actors The NCIS team is ...

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Blu-ray) 31/03/2017

Everything Keeps on Getting Darker...

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Blu-ray) Please be warned, I cannot prevent giving major spoilers for the previous films as the film is impossible to review without context. If you have not seen or read the previous Harry Potter instalments and have any plans to, please stop here. I started reviewing all of the Harry Potter films in memorium of Alan Rickman… I then got distracted and wandered off to review other shiny things that were closer to hand. It is therefore over a year since Alan Rickman sadly passed away and I still have not finished this collection of reviews. Heaven knows how long it will take me to get to Dogma, Love Actually and so many other wonderful films… Fair warning, it tastes like goblin piss. Have lots of experience with that, do you, Mad-Eye? Unless you’ve been living under a rock for well over a decade, you will be aware that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; Part 1 is a film of a book of the same name…although the book was only one book and therefore didn’t have part 1 and part 2. Having learnt he is a wizard, Harry has since learnt that being a wizard isn’t a very safe thing to be. He’s nearly been killed a minimum of ten times by the start of this film and he’s only just coming of age! And I am missing out many other dangerous escapades like dodging a dragons flame and having the potential to fall off a flying invisible horse. These are dark times, there is no denying. Our world has perhaps faced no greater threat than it does today. But I say this to our citizenry: We, ever your ...

Hot Fuzz (Blu-ray) 28/03/2017

By the Hot Fuzz!!

Hot Fuzz (Blu-ray) Hot Fuzz is one of those films that quickly finds itself categorised as darn right insane… and for mighty fine reason at that! It’s humour and action and utter insanity and yet it’s rather good fun to watch in all honesty. As a 2007 film this is now a decade old and yet because it was so quirkily insane when it was first released, it has stood the test of time and comes across as entertaining rather than ridiculous. Ok, it does also come across as ridiculous. Nicholas Angel has one of the best records in the police force and therefore finds himself relegated to the small and sleepy village of Sandford for making his colleagues look bad. Sandford is a crime free, idyllic little country village which is watched over by the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance. In light of the utter dearth of crime, the police there don’t actually need to do much and so Nicholas finds himself exceptionally bored and trying to find things to do…including chucking all the underagers out of the pub and therefore making him exceptionally popular with the landlord as you can imagine. You wanna be a big cop in a small town? F**k off up the model village. However, within a short period of Angel arriving on the scene, strange things seem to be happening… at least he thinks they are strange. Everyone else ridicules him for thinking so, but Angel is determined that people are being murdered in some spectacularly weird ways. The plot thickens as more and more people turn up dead in unexpected and innovative ...

Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (PS Vita) 27/03/2017

Welcome Back to the Wizarding World of Wonders

Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (PS Vita) Those who know me, know that I am somewhat of a Harry Potter fan and an equal amount of Lego. It should therefore be no surprise that I own multiple copies of this particular game and its prequel. I first played the DS version but also own the 3DS version and the PS Vita version came with my console. It is worth saying right from the start however that if you own one of these versions then there is little point in buying the others; they are all exactly the same. The main console version (PS3 etc) is different, but all of the handheld versions of Years 5-7 are identical. If you failed to notice from the title of the game, this is a Harry Potter based Lego game that covers the following films; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. It is most definitely following the film versions and any differences in the books are not covered. The game does make a basic assumption that you are familiar with the series and know what is going on throughout all of these sections. If you are not familiar with Harry Potter then you are going to struggle with this game to put it mildly. Nothing is explained and you are expected to follow where you are and what is going on. For those of us with a thorough grounding in the plots this is fairly simple, for others it may prove more problematic. As with all of the Lego games there is a certain amount of mangling ...

LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS4) 23/03/2017

Playing Sack Dolls With a Friend!

LittleBigPlanet 3 (PS4) LittleBigPlanet 3 is one of those weird games that is kind of made for children and yet is also more than playable by adults. In fact, once you get to the later levels it is probably made for older children and adults as I can’t imagine younger ones managing. However, younger children rarely complete these kind of games anyway from my limited experience, and will be quite happy having fun on the levels they are able to do. From an adult perspective this is one of the very few games that I have in the collection that I keep solely for multi-player gaming; useful for when my fiance’s sister comes round! LittleBigPlanet is a series of exceptionally cutesy puzzle-platformer games which revolve around cuddly toy like characters who all have special abilities and play styles. You have Sackboy who is made of sack, OddSock who is a four-legged kind of dog who can run and wall jump, Swoop who is a cute bird thing who flies and Toggle who can become Big Toggle or Little Toggle depending on what you need him to do. There are also level specific characters who only show up once or twice for specific reasons; a lava level might require a heat proof yeti for example. Don’t ask me… There are multiple aspects to gameplay; the core game revolves around playing through colourful and cheerful platform levels with definite puzzle elements. These are 3D platform levels and in fact have you going back and forward between levels of the screen as well as up, down, left and right. It’s a clever ...

Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer (N64) 21/03/2017

Pod Racing Doesn't Plod Twenty Years On!

Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer (N64) I’m officially doomed. Downstairs now lies the N64, the MegaDrive and I’m working on sneaking the Gamecube down as well… to pair with the PS4 and the Xbox 360. How my long-suffering fiancé hasn’t cancelled the wedding and run off with the money I do not know. Star Wars: Episode 1: Racer was a game that I absolutely adored as a child and it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I booted it up as the first game to be played on the N64. Because there’s always a level of trepidation when dealing with childhood loves that may prove to be utterly crud. Star Wars: Episode 1: Racer was the first and, in honest truth, the only racing game I got into. It has also been one of the very few Star Wars games I have got into – Lego hold the dominion on my Star Wars gaming hours. But for someone with little interest in Star Wars and no interest in racing, what was it that attracted me to this game? What was it that caught my attention and held it way back as a snuggle faced sprog… and indeed, managed to catch and hold me near twenty years later? Well, it’s fun! God’s honest truth, this game is absolutely awesome fun and that makes up for everything bad I would usually find about racing games. There is no attempt at realism; you are racing pods for pities sake, they aren’t all that worried about wheel spin and surface grind or whatever the technical words would be for such things. You are racing in little pods, bouncing through the air with boosters and the chance of blowing up if ...

Pokemon Pikachu Zip Hoodie 19/03/2017

Piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiika? *ZAP*

Pokemon Pikachu Zip Hoodie I have always been a huge fan of the Pokémon games, particularly the older Pokémon games; from Pokémon Black onwards Nintendo have fallen into the trap of dumbing them down, making them too easy and involving none of the grinding or skill or strategy that was always required in the older games. Pikachu was one of the very original Pokémon, and still is one of the most easily recognisable and famous Pokémon released; the small yellow electric mouse was Ash’s original partner and is known for being cute but powerful. This particular hoodie is made in Pikachu’s honour and you certainly can’t miss it, considering it is bright electric yellow. Yep. Bright, bright yellow. Design wise, it is aimed at the Pokemon fans without a shadow of a doubt. The hood section of the hoodie has a Pikachu face designed into it with the big eyes, pink cheeks and two big ears; amusingly it is the ears that yet the most attention as they are separately attached to the hood and actually really quite large and padded. On the back you have the zig-zag tail of the Pikachu painted up the middle of the back and the brown back stripes across the lower back. There is then the Pokémon logo printed nearly in blue on the top right hand breast. Functionality wise, it’s a zip top hoodie made of medium thick material which can be worn under a coat or jacket; in fact you could easily put a soft shell jacket over the top and then a larger coat for the real winter weather. It’s sold in S, M, L and XL with the small ...

Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed (PS Vita) 14/03/2017

Uninteresting and Uninspiring

Akiba's Trip: Undead & Undressed (PS Vita) I own a number of weird and wonderful games for the PS Vita. Some downloaded on a whim, others because they looked interesting and occasionally games that I knew what I was getting into before I bought it. Akiba’s Trip is most certainly one of the former and for the life of me, I cannot quite understand what possessed me to purchase it in the first place. It’s RPG but not really my usual kind of buy…and that’s saying something. Nanashi is the main hero of the game and it is safe to say that he is a broke and unemployed so when he sees an advert for a strange job, he goes and investigates. Unfortunately this ends up with him chained to a table with a strange man prodding you and apparently you have signed your life away. You are now part of an experiment that has turned you into something inhuman and there is only the final stage to complete. You are promptly rescued by a random girl as you try to bargain your way free and it turns out that you’ve been turned into a Synthister and by forming a blood contract with her you can save yourself from a doomed life of sucking energy in a vampire like fashion. Synthister’s are vulnerable to sunlight (vampire reference obviously) and so the best way of beating them is to apparently… strip them. Yes, you heard me right the first time. You literally have to beat the clothing off your enemies with weaponry in order to kill them dead; you do this by beating them up because clearly, that is going to work. Game logic. Hey ho, the same is ...

Lush Herbalism Facial Cleanser 12/03/2017

Going Green!!

Lush Herbalism Facial Cleanser Nettles, rosemary and rice bran vinegar work to cleanse the skin, removing dirt and grease, leaving bright and beautifully clean skin. I’ve recently been running through Lush cleansers in an attempt to find a replacement product for Fresh Farmacy which is a little too harsh for my skin now I’ve changed contraceptives. Herbalism isn’t quite the top dog in my search but it’s a quite close second or third all in all, which isn’t bad going at all. I was rather nervous of this one as it’s known as one of the harsher ones and my experience with Dark Angels led me to believe I may lose several layers of facial skin…thankfully, this wasn’t the case! This is a fresh cleanser and as with all of the other fresh cleansers Lush offer, you have to make it up from powder into a smoother cleansing agent with water. There are positives and negatives to this approach; you have a far greater level of choice in how much product you want to use and how heavy a cleanse you want on the day. If you want a thick and heavy cleanser, just use less water. However, it is time consuming and more difficult to get right than using a regular cleanser; too much water and you create a liquidy unusable mess and too little and it’s unspreadable. Personally, I use about a five to twenty pence piece worth and gradually drop water onto it until I get the required consistency. Looks wise, this is weird whether it’s in powder/paste form or made up into a liquid consistency. It is bright green for starters and ...

Final Fantasy XV (PS4) 08/03/2017

Doesn't Quite Do Final Fantasy...

Final Fantasy XV (PS4) Final Fantasy is one of those series that I have followed since a teenager; I fell in love with Final Fantasy VII and played all the way through to XII (with the blip of Final Fantasy XI being ignored as I pretend it didn’t exist). However, they then fell out of favour with me. Final Fantasy XIII did nothing for me and I barely scratched the surface of the game before tutting with disapproval and going back to my tried and trusty VII. XIV was even worse, having gone back to MMORG gameplay (lots of real people being jerks in an online world you are forced to share with them) and was never even bought. There was that 0-HD one in there somewhere as well which I barely class as Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy XV is therefore my first real Final Fantasy on the new generation consoles. Was I excited? Hell, yeah, I was excited! Final Fantasy XV is however a game that I am utterly conflicted about from a reviewing standpoint. It’s a decent game, don’t get me wrong. The gameplay is interesting and easy to pick up, there’s an absolute ton to do and it has kept me fascinated for many, many, many hours. From that stand point alone, it is a good game. Is it the best game I have ever played? No. But it’s good. But is it Final Fantasy? Well, to answer that question I have to briefly explore what I think Final Fantasy is… other than a game series, obviously. Final Fantasy is: * In depth and complex storylines that span 50 hours or more of play time for the basic quest following moral ...
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