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oneshallstand

oneshallstand

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Reviews written

since 26/07/2001

56

Google Mail (Gmail.com) 27/11/2005

They way it should be done.

Google Mail (Gmail.com) I've been using Gmail for a couple of years now, a friend of mine sent me an invitation and as I'd lost faith with another.com & talk21, and my hotmail account was drowning in seven shades of spam I decided to give it a go. It didn't take me long to decided that I like it, and like it a lot. As a Google service it comes with targetted links much like you would find if you use their search engine. These links are discrete and tucked unobtrusively to one side and *shock* occasionally contain useful links! Currently, Gmail are offering 2.6+ gigabytes of space to save your mail in. Yes, that much and it's increasing all the time. It's a huge amount of space really, and something that's impressed me a great deal. For what it means is none of that sifting through your emails and getting rid of what you don't need. You can pretty much just leave things where they are. This also means that you're not crippled with larger attachements like you are with some providers, as this amount of space should hold pretty much anything you're likely to send by email. The interface is pretty nifty as well. If you've ever had a long conversation with friends via email to arrange something, you will know how frustrating it can be to find earlier emails in the thread sometimes. Well, Gmail links all of those together under a single thread of messages, and when you occasionally have a series of over 30 mails in a row (As my friends and I are wont to do on a slow day) then it helps to keep ...

White Knight Games (Shop) 27/11/2005

All about The Game

White Knight Games (Shop) Updated (Yet Again) November 2005: White Knight Games has ceased trading for what I can only assume is the final time. It looks like a new business is being planned by some former customers, but only time will tell. In the meantime, if you want stuff I can recommend either Cardiff Games or Bishop Games (Coventry). *************** *************** *************** *************** ***** Updated (Again) August 2005: Well, shortly after closing, White Knight Games re-opened under new management, and I'm pleased to say that it's beginning to look up again. There's a wide range of interests behind the shop now and the new manager there is friendly and has already established a good reputation for herself. So if you're near or in reading, this is the place to try again, far better than the town's 'part time' game retailers. *************** *************** *************** *********** Updated July 2004: Sadly, it appears that White Knight Games is no more. I'm especially saddened after putting in a lot of the early work to get the store running, but these things happen I guess. Try Cardiff Games or Bishop games if you want to try and track any of the stuff they stocked. *************** *************** ************ If you've read a lot of my opinions, you'll find I've reviewed a lot of games which tend to get the comment "I've never heard of this, sounds good". Well most of those games come from specialist shops like Cardiff Games, Bishop ...

Go 04/08/2004

The Feng Shui principle

Go There are those mebers of our society that think the height of strategic thinking is Chess, with it's emphasis on forward planning, cunning gambits and meticulous strategy. Then there are those (Like Poe I believe) who'd argue that the less meticulous nature of draughts makes it a game for the cleverer individual. If I was going to pick a 'traditional' game from my experience, it would have to be go. Go is a game that originates from the far east (There still seem to be some arguments over who actually invented it) and has genuinely been around for centuries. It's ostensible also the incarnation of the principles of Feng Shui. It's about balance and patience, but I'm getting ahead of myself, not to mention a bit pretentious. Go is a two player game, the essential equipment includes a board divided into a grid and an equal number of black and white stones or beads. The first rule of Go is that the first player (traditionally white) takes a stone and places it on one of the interstices on the grid. The next player then places a stone of their own colour anywhere on the board. Then the first player goes again. If a player surrounds a stone (or group of stones) of their opponent, those stones are removed from the board. Unlike the 'Western' games though, this capture is not the aim of the game. The aim is actually to capture territory. So if you have an area on the board behind a white cordon, and there are a couple of scattered black stones within that ...

Steven Spielberg presents "Taken" 02/08/2004

Taken my time.....

Steven Spielberg presents "Taken" Over the years, we've seen varius interpretations of the UFO phenomenon, the Roswell incident, abductions and conspiracy theories. In the wakes of X-Files and Dark Skies I thought the genre would have been done to death for now. Then came Taken. Taken is a vast undertaking, a ten-episode mini-series, each episode the length of a feature film itself. It's certainly no small undertaking, especially when you consider just how clever the whole project is. What is Taken then? Well, I'll try not to give away too many spoilers, because it's definately a story you should go into blind. It starts in the skies over Germany in World War II (Excellently realised), where a bomber crew in dire straits encounter something strange in the unfriendly skies. The story quickly transfers back to America, in the years following the war and quickly focuses on three characters, A young mother in an unhappy marriage, the returning 'hero' to small town america (The captain of the aforementioned bomber) and an Amry Air force intelligence officer stationed at Roswell Air Force Base. These three characters form the roots of the whole story, as it's their experiences, and the experiences of their families over the next few generations, that carries the story along. It's a veritable history of the UFO experience, crafted into a single, well thought out story and tied to real world events, from Roswell (Presuming the wreckage found was indeed a Mogul Balloon), through the cuban missile ...

Mad Maestro! (PS2) 22/08/2003

Philharmonics in the Hizzouse!!

Mad Maestro! (PS2) Rhythm/Action Games are no strangers to the Playstation format. The whole thing was pretty much kicked off with Parappa the Rapper on PS1, and games like Dance Stage, Parappa 2, Frequency and Space Channel 5 have perpetuated the genre. Mad Maestro falls into this category of game quite easily, the basic idea is simple, carry a beat and let the music flow, this isn't quite as straightforward though. Let's start at the beginning though, Mad Maestro has a plot, of sorts. There's an old concert hall that has been in town for years, and suddenly there's a threat that it's going to be pulled down. The hall is protected though, one of the statuetees is actually a fairy, who sensing danger goes out to find a way to save the hall. A protector is found in the unlikely form of Takt, the conductor of the local orchestra. The orchestra isn't yet at full strength, so Takt and his buddies must recruit more musicians. They do this by solving the problems of potential members through the power of his music. Yes, it's all good old-fashioned bunkum, but the fairy-tale quality of the backdrop does fit the feel of the game nicely. Each level you are given a piece of music to conduct, via the medium of your dual-shock joypad, and believe me never will the presence of the analogue buttons be more noticeable. On screen, a series of dots in either a diamond or a triangle formation will appear (According to the time signature of the piece) and a ball of light will swim between ...

Twilight Creations When Darkness Comes Board Game 21/08/2003

Long, Dark nights....

Twilight Creations When Darkness Comes Board Game Some months ago I reviewed a game called 'Zombies!!!' on here, a remarkably clever little number using lots of interchangeable small boards, simple rules and many many plastic figures. well the producers of that gem, Twilight Creations, have come back with another twist on the modular board theme, but this one is aimed at the more mature market. Not only is the game more complex, the tone of the game, and the type of horror used is certainly more grown up. When Darkness comes is a bit of a hybrid, it incorporates aspects of both Board Games and tabletop roleplaying games in it's design. The Box contains numerous heavy-cardstock boards, each depicting locations in a generic town (From the Sherriff's office and school, to the local church and graveyard). There are also two rulebooks (One with the game rules and one with a series of scenarios), a huge stack of tokens, a handful of dice and six decent quality metal figures. The game is built on a generic framework, with players able to 'create' their own characters or use pre-generated characters, each better at some things than others. The game is played in one of two ways, either all players compete and cooperate against a generic threat (Certainly some 'monsters' in the game will be too tough for a single player to deal with) or one of the players becomes a GM (Players of RPGs, or anyone who's played Space Crusade or the Lord of the Rings game will be familiar with this idea), who controls the monsters ...

Girl Genius: The Works 03/07/2003

Microscopic cog in his Catastrophic plan..

Girl Genius: The Works Now, it's hard to imagine a game that's more on the fringe than this one. It's by James Ernest Games (The man behind Cheapass Games - This is his non-super-cheap games line) and based on a cult comic-book by Phil Foglio (Girl Genius). I'd love to give you some background on the comic, but having never read it I really can't do so - You can probably guess as much as I can from the title. The concept of the game though is quite ingenious, and seems to fit. Shakespeare said that all the world was a stage, and the people merely players (Paraphrased of course), well this game says that all the world is a machine, an the people in it merely cogs. The game is played from a large deck of cards, each containing an illustration of a character, some 'effect text' and a row of symbols along each end of the card. The idea of the game is to collect cards, this is done by 'popping' cards - done by matching up the symbols along the edges of the cards and removing (and keeping) the card with the longer row of symbols. At the start of the game, each player is dealt a hand of five cards, then more cards are dealt onto the table in a pattern matching the following:- ............... ...... ..........|-... ...... .........|-|-.. ...... ........|-|-|-. ...... ........-|-|-|. ...... .........-|-|.. ...... ..........-|... ...... ............... ...... The horizotally oriented cards at the top and bottom are dealth face up, whilst the rest are dealt face down. Each ...

WWE Smackdown! Shut Your Mouth (PS2) 25/04/2003

If you smell...........What the Rock is Cooking

WWE Smackdown! Shut Your Mouth (PS2) The all action, soap opera styled, pyro blowin', table-breakin' ground shakin' crowd pleasing, women pleasin' antics of World Wrestling Entertainment return to the PS2 in astounding style. The Smackdown series has been a regular fixture on the Playstation and it's big brother for a few years now - providing what was really the first set of wrestling games with any real depth. Now I'll admit, I've always preferred wrestling games to Street Fighter or Tekken style fighting games, primarily because when I play a game like that, I hate it when it's over in a matter of seconds (And I'm sure I'm not alone in that). Smackdown: Shut your Mouth follows the formula of it's predeccesors strongly. The game differs from most fighting games in that it's not about wearing down your opponent's energy bar, but building up your own. Each move that you succesfully pull off (All with simple one-button + one-direction controls) adds to your 'Smackdown' metre, and each time you fill that metre, you get access to the character's Smackdown move. This is a Wrestler's Trademark finisher. For those familar with the WWE it's Rock's People's Elbow or Stone Cold's Stunner - If you know old-school British wrestling think of Big-Daddy's Belly-Flop. These are the moves that your opponent isn't expected to be able to recover from, and as often as not will decide the match. Each Wrestler, all faithful recreations of WWE performers from 1991-1992, comes with a huge set of moves, from ...

another.com 19/04/2003

More than just...

another.com I came across another.com last year, after seeing their name on a number of billboard ads. Their selling point was that you could select your own URLs to go with you e-mail address. As I was getting a bit disenchanted with my previous account with a different provider I decided to join up. The site provides the standard the standard facilities that you'd expect from a free e-mail provider. You can send and receive emails without any great problems. There's a perfectly functional address book and the facility to create folders to hide your email away in. Sa far, so good. So onto the main selling point, the alternate domain names. When you set your account up you get a core default e-mail address yourname@another.com. In addition to this though, you can select alternate domain names from a huge list (Thousands I think) and create a new identity to go before it. So In addition to Yourname@another.com you could have clevername@fbiagent.co.uk, oneshallstand@talldarkandhandsome.co.uk or whatever. The list of names seem sto be constantly updated, especially true when there's something particularly popular doing the rounds (Such as big-brother - plenty of evict-so&so addresses turned up). The site as a whole is simply laid out and easy to navigate around, and when you send an email, you only need to select which of your names you want to use. Ok, it doesn't serve any practical purpose, but some of the names are good fun, so using the same account you can have ...

Cat Attack! 06/01/2003

Feline Great.

Cat Attack! Before we go any further in this review be aware, I'm not a Cat lover, certainly not one of those people who'll go nuts over anything with a cat emblazoned all over it. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike them, but they are not what presses my buttons. So when I start to tell you about Cat Attack, you now know I'm not biased. Cat Attack is a new board game from Boardroom Productions, a new British Player on the Board game market, and this is their first product. If they can keep this standard up though, they've got a great future ahead of them, but already I'm getting ahead of myself, lets get down to basics. The idea of cat attack is that each of the 2-6 players controls a cat with a single aim in life, to fill their larder. They need six items to do this, a bird and a mouse (Which wander freely about the board at the control of all the players) and some vitamins, cat food, fish and milk (All of which have to be retrieved from the local shops. The board represents a top-down view of the Cat's neighbourhood, with back-garden walls and the roads segmented into spaces for the Cats, birds and mice to move through. Each cat has a home space, and there are home spaces for the birds and mice as well (A Birdhouse and a shed respectively), as well as the aforementioned corner shops. Each turn follows several stages. First, a player must play a 'Mog' card frm their hand. This has a number on it and a picture (Like traditional playing cards), and can be used to move ...

Zombies!!! 2: Zombie Corps(e) - Boardgame 02/01/2003

Army Base of Darkness

Zombies!!! 2: Zombie Corps(e) - Boardgame Warning....This is a review of an expansion...You may want to read an opinion on the original Zombies!!! game first. Be warned. When I picked up my copy of the Zombies!!! board game last year, I was royally impressed with it and it went on to become one of my most heavily played games for quite some time. Then they did something I wasn't expecting, they expanded it. Zombies 2: Zombie Corps(e) is a very simple way of expanding the game. I won't cover the original game here (It would be like reviewing a tin-opener with every canned food opinion), but I will point you to take a look at the existing opinions on the Zombies!!! game in the board game section. In brief though, each player commands a 'survivor', who must battle their way out of a zombie infested town. The town is built turn by turn, with each player adding a new board piece every turn, meaning that each time you play the game is different. Zombie vs Human combat is decided using a six sided dice, and occasionally aided by bullet counters or special event cards. Well, that's the basic game, what does Zombie Corps(e) bring to the table. Well, firstly it brings a new stack of location tiles, which represent a military base - and all that you expect to find on one (Barracks, Vehicle pool, Armory....even a top secret Lab). Secondly, a new stack of event cards are added, to mix in with the stack from the first game. There's more life and bullet counters (For those really adept zombie hunters) and a ...

Fiction 02/01/2003

Sunkissed

Fiction Hmm, this is the first time I've entered something in the fiction section, so I hope I'm going about this the right way. Here's a bit of background though. I wrote this a few months ago, I'd been writing a novel-length story and hit writer's block, and this was one of a few I tried to get me going again. I think it's one of the best of the bunch and I found it again whilst sorting through some things when my ex-fiance left just before Christmas. It seemed a shame to leave it lying, so here it is...... *************** *************** ********* -------Sunkissed------- They sat side by side and watched the morning sky lighten as the sun approached the horizon. Even a casual observer could see through their body language that the two were close, yet there was also an intentional distance between the two, the distance of a sin not quite forgotten. The man was hunched into himself, dark hair and eyes deep in colour and darkened with emotion, a haunted look held on his angular features, his breath punctuated by deep sighs. The woman was everything he was not, fair in hair and bright eyed, leaning against a tree with her hands down by her side. The two looked at each other on occasion, their glances conveying sorrow and anger by turns, but each of these looks strengthened by a deeper, more loving emotion. The town spread out below them was slowly coming to life as they watched and considered the events that had brought them here. He remembered early joys and ...

Zombies!!! - Boardgame 01/01/2003

Pawn of the Dead

Zombies!!! - Boardgame Zombie films, seems like once upon a time they were everywhere. Romero and Raimi and dozens of others all having fun with the midless, brain-munching undead. Well, here is a game that neatly encapsulates the spirit of all those zombie films, and is good fun to boot. Zombies!!! is the first game to hit the streets from Twilight Creations after it's original publisher - Journeyman press - closed it's doors last year. It's a simple yet classic premise. The players are all survivors of some terrible event, and have found themselves in a town filled with the shambling dead. Their aim is, of course, to survive. To do this, they can win the game in two ways. One they can make their daring escape, by crossing the dangers of the town and getting to the waiting helicopter. Secondly they can become aclimatised to the new world they live in, adapting to the presence of the Zombies, they do this by killing 25 zombies. The components of the game are as follows. Six coloured 'Survivor' player pawns. 100 Plastic Zombies, two dice, Numerous 'life' and 'bullet' counters, a deck of event cards and a deck of 'town' tiles. The game is set up by seperating two tiles from the stack; the Town Square and the Helipad. The town square is placed at the centre of your playing area whilst the other tiles are shuffled, with the helipad placed at the bottom of the stack. Each player starts on the Town square, and starts with three lives, three bullets and three event cards. Each turn, the ...

Fightball - Card Game 09/11/2002

The Fastest and the Furious.

Fightball - Card Game Fightball is the latest game from James Ernest, the man responsible for the excelent 'Cheapass' series of games. Fightball is a bit different from these for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's a full colour, well produced product. Secondly, it's the latest stage in Mr. Ernest's attempts to produce an entertaining 'Real-Time' Card game, and by far it's his most succesful so far. The previous attempts were 'Falling', where players were all supposed to be falling from a tall building, attempting to be the last to land. It was fun, butthe replay value was limited as you never felt quite in control. Brawl was next, which developed a few more different strategies, and introduced different characters, each with decks with their own pros and cons. On the tail of these comes fightball. Fightball itself is a futuristic sport, a cross between basketball and American football, were two teams compete on an extremely physical level attempting to score goals, by any means possible. The game is played on a pitch, constructed using different coloured card arranged in a five-by-five grid. The cards represent different areas of the pitch, and goals are worth different points depending which area they are scored from. The idea is to 'construct' a play in your opponent's score zone. To do this you need to have at least three cards in a stack. Firstly you need a player. Each player is rated for a shot score and a block score in each colour zone. Next you need to play a ball card, ...

28 Days Later (DVD) 08/11/2002

Rage and Terror

28 Days Later (DVD) I remember seeing a trailer for this a couple of months ago. I'd not heard anything about the film, and the trailer explained almost nothing, but the stark imagery and the cryptic nature of it put the film on my 'Must Watch' list. So it was that this week I went to the cinema with my other half and a group of her Archaeology mates to watch it. First things first, the film is written my Alex Garland (Author of The Beach amongst others) and Directed by Danny Boyle (Who directed the film of the aforesaid book, but is better remembered for helming Trainspotting). The cast is largely unknown, Brendan Glleson being the only actor who I immediately recognised whilst watching it. The story opens in Cambridge, where a group of animal rights activists are breaking into a Primate research laboratory. they are interrupted in their work, but despite the warnings of one of the scientists, stating that the chimps involved are infected with 'Rage', they release one of the animals. The results are immediatly disastrous. That, though, is just the beginning. 28 Days Later... A young man wakes up in hospital, naked on a bed with several days growth of beard and seemingly untended for some time. His room is locked and abandoned, with the key slid under the door. He steps out into a devastated hospital, where despite his many calls no-one is to be found. Stopping only to clothe himself (In surgical clothes) and grab some sustenance (Some cans of drink from a vandalised Vending ...
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