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since 07/07/2004


Football Manager 2005 (PC) 14/04/2005

A Mixed Bag

Football Manager 2005 (PC) After my review of the final offering of the SI and Eidos partnership it only seems fair that I now turn my attention to the successors to the throne. The last time I set about reviewing a Championship Manager game it turned out to be an epic experience and highly time consuming. This time I am going to try and make it a more concise experience so I apologise if it doesn't contain the same level of detail as my previous effort. ** Background ** The Championship Manager series has been around for over 10 years and proved to be a very successful partnership between SI Games and Eidos Interactive. For some reason after the release of the last game the two companies decided to part company and try their luck independently. I believe that as part of the split SI Games got to keep the database and game engine from the Championship Manager series while Eidos Interactive got the front end and the name "Championship Manager". I am not sure about the truth behind this but it is what I have heard. After parting company with Eidos Interactive, SI Games have teamed up with Sega to develop the Football Manager spin off game. It was released in the last quarter of 2004 and looks set to be the first in another series of football games. With the much-delayed release of Championship Manager 5, Football Manager has been free to fill the void left from the Championship Manager series. ** The Basics ** Just on the off chance you have never come across this game in some variety over ...

Chester in General 23/03/2005

Another York

Chester in General I have lived near to Chester most of my life and yet never really appreciated what it had to offer until I moved away for a couple of years and got used to a slightly different way of life. Growing up in a smaller town the city experience always seemed like such a pain with everything much simpler and easier on my doorstep. After moving to live in the big smoke for a while I came to appreciate what Chester could offer. ** Accommodation ** As I only live a couple of miles down the road I have never actually stayed in a hotel in the city centre although I am aware of the major hotels and their locations. These are the well-known and branded hotels that can be found in and around the city. The Grosvenor Hotel is location right in the heart of the city under the Eastgate clock and on the main shopping street. Built in 1865 the outside of the hotel fits in well with the vibe of the street while the interior offers five star luxury. This is probably the most expensive and most exclusive hotel in the city centre. For anyone looking for something a little more down to earth there is Moat House hotel and a Holiday Inn Express close to the city centre on the racecourse side of town. The Moat House hotel is situated next to the bus station at the back of a small shopping precinct. It is built into a multi-story car park and looks a little grotty on the outside. The inside is still very nice and offers the comfort you would expect from this brand. The Holiday Inn Express is a ...

Bad Boys 2 (Superbit) (DVD) 15/03/2005

It's been a long wait

Bad Boys 2 (Superbit) (DVD) When I heard about the upcoming release of Bad Boys II I couldn’t help but be filled with a mixture of excitement and dread. As a massive fan of the first film the prospect of a worthy sequel was fantastic but at the same time there was the dread that, as with most sequels, it would be a disappointment. There were a couple of positive signs surrounding the sequel that lead me to be optimistic when watching it; Firstly there is a sizable gap between the first film and the sequel so it is not trying simply to build on the box office success of the first film. Secondly there is the fact that the cast has been maintained between the films. When you consider the success that Will Smith is currently enjoying I can’t see him opting to make a second rate sequel. After managing to convince myself it would be worth watching off I went to the cinema. The fact that I am now reviewing the DVD should give you an early indication of what I thought of it. ** Background ** Bad Boys II is the sequel to the 1995 film Bad Boys. Eight years on and a similar cast and crew have been assembled in an attempt to make a successful sequel. Michael Bay returns as director with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence renewing their partnership that was so successful in the first film. The film also sees Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer team up to produce another classy looking action film. As with the first film the plot is based around a couple of narcotics cops working in Miami. ** Storyline ...

The Chronicles Of Riddick (DVD) 09/03/2005

Fight evil with more evil

The Chronicles Of Riddick (DVD) I have to admit that until I saw the trailer for this second instalment of the Riddick series I was completely unaware of its existence. When I saw all the hype surrounding the release of this film I decided I was going to have to watch the first film in the series, Pitch Black, first. Having seen the first film and not being overly impressed I decided against going to see this film in the cinema, instead opting to wait for the DVD. This week I have finally got around to watching this film thanks to my recently signed subscription with Blockbuster. ** Background ** The Chronicles of Riddick is the sequel to the 2000 film Pitch Black. Pitch Black saw Riddick stranded with some other travellers on a seemingly lifeless planet. It soon becomes apparent that the planet is only lifeless by daylight and that by darkness it is a very dangerous place. The Chronicles of Riddick is set five years after Pitch Black and sees Vin Diesel return as the mysterious Riddick and David Twohy (Pitch Black) return to write and direct it. It is worth noting that some versions of Pitch Black have a 10-minute introduction to The Chronicles of Riddick as a special feature. I rented Pitch Black from the local video store and was able to watch this introduction after the film. ** Storyline ** Set 5 years after Pitch Black, the film opens with Riddick being chased across a frozen landscape by a group of bounty hunters. Riddick is still a wanted man and it seems that the price on his head ...

50 First Dates (DVD) 08/03/2005

Too much effort for my liking

50 First Dates (DVD) This is a film that my missus has been waiting to see for ages so in an effort to win some brownie points (not that I need any of course) I added this to my Blockbuster list. Sure enough it is one of the first films I was sent, much to my girlfriends delight. What better way to spend a cold Saturday night than settling down in front of a romantic comedy with a bottle of vodka and a pack of Stella? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. ** Background ** This film sees Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler re-united in a romantic comedy. After the success of The Wedding Singer in 1998 the on screen chemistry between the two can be guaranteed which is always the most the difficult thing to achieve in this sort of film. This film also sees Sandler reunited with Peter Segal who returns to direct this film after previously working on Anger Management. ** Storyline ** Henry Roth is the king of holiday romance. Working as a vet in the popular holiday destination of Hawaii he is in an ideal position to get involved with women with very little come back. He works hard at keeping all future contact with his conquests to a minimum. Fearing commitment, he will do and say just about anything to prevent them from having any way of contacting him once they leave the island. This is not how he envisions his life being forever though. Through his work he has developed an interest in walrus’ and intends to leave the island to do a full years research into their behaviour. Henry has ...

King Arthur (DVD) 05/03/2005

King Arthur

King Arthur (DVD) This film was never at the top of my list of things to watch when it came out in the cinema. I must admit that I was slightly curious about it but was put off it by the mixed reviews it was receiving. When I received it as a Christmas present my curiosity was reignited so rather than take it back and change it for something else I decided to watch it. Could it be as bad as some of the reviews had implied? Surely not. ** Background ** King Arthur is based on the legendary man himself and his role in the rule of the Romans prior to him taking power himself. The film attempts to combine historical fact and Hollywood style and glamour to produce a stylish and accurate production. The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) and is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Caribbean). ** Storyline ** As the Roman Empire expands, more people are being conquered and face a new life under Roman rule. To support this ever-expanding empire the Romans need to be recruiting new soldiers to supplement and replenish their armies. After capturing a village after a particularly fierce battle the Romans take the young boys into fifteen years military service. At the end of their service they will be free to leave the army and return to their families. Fast forward fifteen years and the boys taken from the small village are now a fearsome group of knights nearing the end of their service. Each of them have their own ideas of how their lives will be when they are free ... 02/03/2005

Bringing entertainment to my home I had been contemplating signing up with this sort of service for a while now but had never got around to it. After Christmas I finally managed to get to the end of 24 Season 2 and decided that I needed something a little different to fill the cold winter nights. The idea of a DVD service popped into my head again and this time I did something about it and signed up. ** Background ** is a spin off from the Blockbuster Inc., which is an international company providing in-home entertainment. Blockbuster has over 9000 stores worldwide as well as an American version of this site that can be found at In the UK alone Blockbuster has over 700 stores, employing around 7000 people. ** Overview ** The Internet site is an attempt to extend the film rental options available to residents in the UK. The site allows you to rent films directly from a central location rather than travelling to the stores. The rented DVD’s are posted to your home address and are returned (by post) when you have finished with them. You are charged through the website at the time of order/rental. ** The Deals ** There are a number of rental options available through the website. Firstly you have the “Pay Per Rent” option that basically works in the same way as the local store does. There is a one off fee for renting the DVD which you can keep for up to 5 nights. The fee you pay to rent the film will cover the postage costs to and from the ...

Catwoman (DVD) 28/02/2005

I am definitely a dog person

Catwoman (DVD) Having recently signed up with Blockbuster I suspect I am likely to see a lot of very average films in the future. I certainly had no intention of seeing this film in the cinema, but now that it is on DVD the lure of the cat suit became too much and in a moment of weakness I added it to my list. Sure enough it was dispatched as one of my first DVD’s. Having watched the film now I can only suspect that this is because no-one else wants to see it. ** Background ** Catwoman is a spin off of the Batman character of the same name. Catwoman is a complicated character in that she is not easily classified in as good or bad. Walking the line between good and evil Catwoman is not really on anyone’s side and simply looks out for herself. This production was written by Bob Kane, who was involved in writing the original Batman films, and has been directed by Pitof. ** Storyline ** Patience Phillips works in marketing for a large cosmetics firm. Coming from an arty background Patience has a very “comfortable” appearance, wearing loose fitting clothes and having a non-mainstream sense of fashion. Patience is shy but a good person who will do anything to make/keep other people happy. She allows people to walk over here and rarely speaks up for herself. A couple of strange events have been happening to Patience in recent days, all of which have involved a distinctive looking cat. These strange events seem to have reached their peak when Patience climbs out onto a ledge to ...

Everything that starts with L ... 25/02/2005

Long Time Coming

Everything that starts with L ... I read Karens version of this earlier on and thought it seemed like quite an interesting one. Apparently Freaklikeme originally set it and I believe Lauramaclean has done it too if you want to check out theirs too. #Time now 11:00 #How is the weather At the moment it is snowy, although not with any real conviction so it is not sticking anymore. Rubbish. #Name Rich #Age 24 #Eyes Blueish with a bit of green. #Hair Black with grey go-faster stripes. #Height 5’ 11” #Weight 13st 10lb. Apparently this is about a stone over weight for someone my height :-( #Do you live in a house or flat or what I live in a house. #How many bedrooms 3 #Favourite room in the house and why My bedroom. It has everything I need/want in it apart from a food source. I have to reply on bribery and delivery services for this. #Best thing about your body I’m not really the person to ask about this as I am never complimentary about myself. Probably my legs or my ass. People used to tell me that they looked good when I was a little younger and I am still clinging onto that. #Worst thing about your body Belly’s gone and got me. #How many kiddies 0 #How many brother and sisters I have one brother who is a couple of years younger than me. He smells. #How many relationships in your lifetime Three of any sort of significance. #How many fillings Four I think, although I probably need some more now. #How many piercings and where None. #How ...

Marriott Hotel, Cardiff 23/02/2005

How much for a vodka?

Marriott Hotel, Cardiff After a miserable couple of months since Christmas me and the missus decided that a short break was called for and after searching around for something appealing decided that a weekend in Cardiff would be ideal. I had a blurry memory about the Marriott hotel from my last visit to Cardiff and thought I would check out their website for a cheap deal. ** Background ** Marriott Hotels and Resorts are one part of the Marriott Group that also includes, among others, Renaissance Hotels and Resorts, Courtyard and The Ritz-Carlton. There are around 450 Marriott Hotels and Resorts Worldwide catering for business and vacation travel alike. There are numerous meeting and conference facilities available at each hotel as well as specialist staff to help with the organising of events. ** Making a Booking ** Spending most of my time on the internet and feeling more confident in making an internet booking I always try and book flights, hotels and other events online first. The Marriott site offers an online booking facility for each of its hotels and shows real time rates and availability. The booking form is available from the hotel page and you simply enter the dates of your required stay and the number of rooms and guests to be included in the booking. A list of available rates will be displayed for you to select. Once selected you are required to enter some personal information and payment details and the reservation is complete. Unfortunately, I had problems with this ... 21/02/2005

A Sporting Oracle Regular readers will know that I am a football fan, but it is not just football that I tend to follow. I like to keep a general interest in most sports, although it does tend to be football that I pay most attention to. Since I started working I have tended to spend some time at the start and end of the day checking on that latest sporting results and news, and BBC Sport has always been my first port of call. ** Background ** BBC Sport is the sport arm of the BBC Interactive service. The BBC website has several different sections covering many areas of interest including general news, radio, sport as well as local services such as weather, what’s on and travel news. The BBC is funded by the television license fee and so is free from advertising. Being funded by the people it is required to provide entertainment and information for everyone, as well as reporting on news and events in a politically neutral way. The BBC website is part of the service paid for by your licence fee. According to the BBC around 31p a month of your licence fee goes towards the development and maintenance of the website. ** General Site Layout ** The page can be broken down into three main sections. Firstly there is a title bar across the top of the page that offers quick links to some of the other services offered by the BBC online, including TV, Radio, Where I Live and the homepage. Secondly, there is a navigation bar on the left side of the page offering quick links to the main ...

24 - Series 2 - Complete (DVD) 08/02/2005

Look Who's Back! Jack's Back!

24 - Series 2 - Complete (DVD) Anyone who has read my review of the first season will know that I am a big fan of this program and after enjoying the first season so much it was only a matter of time before I watched the second season. Well the wait is over, I have just finished watching it so here is my review of the season as a whole. ** The Basics ** 24 is drama series that is set during a single day. The series is 24 episodes long and (you guessed it) each episode is 1 hour long, give or take advert breaks. The drama is designed and written to be in real time. The actual episode length is around 40-45 minutes with strategically placed lapses for adverts when the series is being shown on TV. ** The History ** * WARNING: I don’t like to include spoilers in my reviews but if you have not seen the first season and intend to watch it then this review will contain spoilers for the first season. I can’t think of a way around this because of the relationship between the two series. You have been warned * A year ago Jack Bauer pushed the limits of the law in an attempt to protect his family and presidential candidate David Palmer. Palmer was the subject of an assassination threat and Jack, being the director of CTU for Los Angeles, was tasked with keeping him safe. Jack risked everything when his family were dragged into the plot in an attempt to keep everyone safe and get to the people behind the treat. Despite managing to save David Palmers life on a number of occasions, Jack has not been ...

Need for Speed Underground 2 (PS2) 01/02/2005

I have a need . . . a need for speed

Need for Speed Underground 2 (PS2) I must admit to being a little slow in embracing the Playstation2 craze that has swept the world over the last few years. But when I decided that I finally wanted one (incidentally at the same time it became impossible to get hold of one – typical!) I started asking around some friends on what games I should get. With most of my mates being into their cars there seemed to be a common theme of racing games being touted around. I am not really into doing cars up (as can be seen from the state of my car) but after trying this game decided that I would have to give it a try. I have liked previous racing games (on other consoles) and after a couple of games on this I knew it was going to be something I would like. ** Background ** Need for Speed Underground 2 is the follow up game to “Need for Speed Underground” which was a huge success on the Playstation2 a couple of years ago. Both games have been released aimed at building on the interest in street racing that has been generated by films like “The Fast and the Furious” and “2 Fast 2 Furious”. I should probably also say that I didn’t own the first game in the series although I have played it a couple of times. ** Overview and Objective ** The basic object of the game is to win all the races available, get as much money as you can and continuously improve your car’s appearance and performance (to help you win races and get sponsorship). You are a street racer who has just flown into the city. After setting ...

Atlantic Tower Thistle Hotel (Liverpool) 21/01/2005

Oh what a view . . .

Atlantic Tower Thistle Hotel (Liverpool) . . . early March and I’m in Liverpool. (Sing along to the tune of “Oh what a night”) Anyway, I went up to Liverpool to watch a UEFA cup match last season and decided that while I was up there I would make the most of it and stay the night. I took the two days off work and started looking for a deal on a hotel for the night. Not knowing Liverpool city centre very well I wanted to find a hotel that was centrally located and easy to find. Talking to some people who lived in and around Liverpool I had this hotel recommended to me. ** Location ** The hotel itself is situated on Chapel Street across the road from the Albert Dock. Being at the end of the Birkenhead tunnel there is easy access to this hotel from the M53 as long as you use the right tunnel. Failing that, the Albert Dock is signposted through most of the city making it fairly easy to find your way to the area around the hotel. It is worth considering that a labyrinth of one-way streets surrounds the hotel though so arriving at the front door of the hotel can prove more of a challenge. I found the hotel fairly easily when I went but it must have taken me another half an hour to find a way of actually getting to the front door. I did notice later that the hotel is signposted from one direction but not the other. My tip for getting there is to turn towards the Crowne Plaza that is across the road. Trust me. As for local attractions, aside from the Albert Dock, the hotel is in easy walking distance of Matthew ...

O - Damien Rice 20/01/2005

O MyGod

O - Damien Rice The first time I heard anything about Damien Rice was when a colleague of mine appeared in work listening to this album. I am always open to new bands and new sounds, so after hearing him raving about this album for a day or so I decided I needed to check it out for myself. After loaning his copy over night I decided that there was something pretty special about this album and that I should get myself a copy. ** Background ** Damien Rice was born in Ireland, just outside Dublin in the 70’s. In his youth he was a member of a band called Jupiter before leaving to go travelling around Europe for a year in the late 1990’s. When he returned to Ireland he was a lot more focused about his music and began writing songs again. A demo tape was shortly followed by a recording contract and the production and release of his debut album “O”. ** The Cover ** Unlike most commercial CD releases over the last ten years, Damien Rice’s “O” comes in a rather stylist cardboard cover. It is a very simple design with a small character drawing on the outside and two compartments inside, one for the CD and one for the accompanying booklet. At first look, the CD case appears like something that I would have been expected to make as part of the GCSE graphics project but in truth it is much better than anything I could have made. The sleeve is a good size for holding the booklet and CD without allowing them to fall out, but also allowing simple access. ** The Album & Tracks ** “O” ...
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