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All reviews - Movies (107) - TV Shows (28) - DVDs (14) - Books (35) - Music (49) - Games (24)

Tetris Party review

Posted : 15 years, 8 months ago on 1 December 2008 04:27 (A review of Tetris Party)

Tetris has always been an awesome game and there have been multiple versions of it on every conceivable platform. Tetris finally comes to the Wii in the form of Tetris Party. The 'party' bit is the usual gimmick with Wii games to emphasize their multi-player and casual nature. These new modes are fun, especially the co-operative mode with a doubled play area. The graphics and sound are mediocre at best. In conclusion, it's a reasonable (and cheap) way to get the classic Tetris on your Wii.

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A world of goo-ey goodness

Posted : 15 years, 8 months ago on 30 November 2008 11:47 (A review of World of Goo)

World of Goo is a brilliant puzzle game. The concepts are deceptively simple, as they are with most great puzzle games. You use balls of 'goo' that attach to each other to form beams. These beams are like stretchy bands and result in interesting structures. The physics of the game is incredible and greatly enhances the enjoyment of the game. The game consists of mini puzzles, the aim of which is to feed the required number of goo balls into a vacuum pipe. You start from one point in the maze and build your goo structures to reach the pipe.

If that sounds simple (i.e. boring) so far, perish the thought. Just building the structures can get really challenging on some levels. In other levels figuring out the right structure for the level is the real challenge while the structure is itself quite easy to build. The toughest levels combine the two. You also get different types of goo balls as you go along to help you accomplish different tasks in a level. Despite the different types of balls, the focus firmly remains on solving the puzzle and building the structures, which is all good.

The level design is exceptional. Frequently, the levels are dynamic which results in very interesting solutions. One of my favourites involves using balloon goo balls and the wind to create a structure that is literally hanging in the air. The art direction and music is top notch. All the levels look very polished in addition to the aforementioned excellent puzzle design.

Minor quibbles include the background music, which is good but gets reused on so many levels that it can't help but feel repetitive. I would also have liked a way to save the game in the middle of a level. Without it, I end up having to redo one section several times while I figure out the rest of the puzzle (and fail repeatedly). This can get annoying in some of the longer levels.

The game has been on the top of the Wiiware charts since it's release and it's not hard to see why that it. A sequel to the game is already in the works. If they can keep the same innovative level design and iron out the quibbles (or not), they will have another excellent game on their hands.

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Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 1) review

Posted : 15 years, 8 months ago on 28 November 2008 11:47 (A review of Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse, Book 1))

I read the book because I like the TV series based on it (True Blood) quite a bit. I wasn't sure what to expect, despite having watched the series. I liked what I read. The first season of the series had more or less stuck to the plot of this book despite playing around with the characters. The most remarkable quality of the book is that it makes the world of Sookie Stackhouse feel very natural. It's not easy considering that she is telepathic and her boyfriend is a vampire. Writing in the first person is an excellent idea since it prevents the story from getting carried away and keeps it grounded in the thoughts and concerns of Sookie herself and is the chief reason for the natural feel of the story.

The vampires and their world is explored through the eyes of Sookie which definitely adds an interesting element. She gives her perspective on things, the perspective of someone who is both curious and a little hesitant to dive in. Again, using the first person voice of Sookie greatly helps in keeping the feel very natural. There's a couple of surprises along the way and you can tell the author is setting up for the subsequent books in the series by adding these elements. However, they don't detract from your enjoyment of this book.

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Posted : 15 years, 8 months ago on 28 November 2008 11:33 (A review of Thunderball)

It's a rare Bond movie that actually keeps my interest, even though I've been sucked into watching most of them like some cultural black hole. I finally broke my habit and didn't watch the last two. Good riddance too.

Coming back to Thunderball, It's among the most acclaimed Bond movies. I have no idea why that is. Despite occasional flashes of wit and a plot element, this movie is slow, long and boring. I actually like the remake - Never Say Never Again - much better. That made much better use of the plot.

Bond seems to spend half the time running around on the beach in shorts. The acting is stilted and unnatural all round, these people seem to playing caricatures of themselves rather than real characters. The actions sequences are overly long but they don't look too dated. It's these sequences and the slight semblance of a plot that save this movie from being a total loss.

In conclusion, don't watch it, your time is better spent elsewhere.

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Good Oasis, not great Oasis

Posted : 15 years, 8 months ago on 16 November 2008 09:11 (A review of Heathen Chemistry)

Oasis went through quite a long creative trough, one that lasted close to a decade. They would produce albums that had some great songs but the rest would be junk, more or less. This album bucks the trend somewhat as it has more good songs than filler.

There's some really good songs here - The Hindu Times, Force of Nature, Stop Crying Your Heart Out, Force of Nature, All In The Mind and a handful of other good ones. The balance psychedelia with crunching hard rock, so the album sounds both floaty and gritty in equal measure. A good Oasis album, not a great one but satisfying nevertheless.

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Quirky look at Paris

Posted : 15 years, 8 months ago on 12 November 2008 04:53 (A review of Six in Paris)

The concept is intriguing, take six directors and let each of them make a short film set in a Paris neigbourhood. The result is a quirky melange of stories that cover the gamut of emotions from funny and bittersweet to sad and tragic. There's the story of an American student who falls for an impostor, a young boy who can't stand the noise made by his quarreling parents, a dissatisfied housewife who doesn't really want what she thinks she wants and more. The directors also bring their varied styles to the table. Somehow, despite the enormous potential for the stories and styles being jarring, the end result gels very well resulting in a great cinematic experience.

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Second best Oasis album ever

Posted : 15 years, 9 months ago on 20 October 2008 04:06 (A review of Dig Out Your Soul)

Oasis haven't produced such a consistent album in over a decade. Their best album to date is still 'Morning Glory' from 1995. Since then they have produced several inconsistent albums that always had a bunch of great songs but did not hold together as complete albums. 'Heathen Chemistry' and 'Be Here Now' are my favourite examples. Now, after more than a decade, Oasis have come up with an album almost as good as 'Morning Glory'.

Oasis are very consistent on this album, there's almost no filler and the music is focused (unlike some of their previous forays in psychedelia). What prevents this album from being their best is the lack of a killer single(s). There isn't any 'Wonderwall' or 'Do You Know What I Mean' here to knock you off your feet. The songs are well written and well constructed so they grow better with each listening but nothing grabs you up front. That's the only quibble I have with this album, which is a completely satisfying listen. This is the album Oasis fans have been waiting a decade for.

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Only by the Night review

Posted : 15 years, 9 months ago on 8 October 2008 10:57 (A review of Only by the Night)

I haven't heard any of the albums by Kings of Leon before this one. It caught my attention in a review that stated the sound was similar to U2. I can see why the comparison fits, they use a similar distorted guitar based, psychedelic sound that characterised the first half of U2's career (and much of Coldplay's albums too). The Kings sound much more muscular than U2 ever did and are influenced by more classic rock and roll such as Led Zeppelin as well.

Their lead singer, Caleb Followill, has a slightly rough sounding voice reminiscent of Springsteen or Dylan and he uses is to great effect throughout. His vocals are a great complement to the music, illustrated best in songs such as 'Closer', 'Sex on Fire' and 'Use Somebody'. While the music on these consists of distorted guitars and psychedelic soundscapes, his voice cuts through the dreaminess like a ragged woodcutter's axe. Without his vocals, these could be well be Coldplay songs.

This is an excellent rock album, with great melodic hooks, muscular playing throughout and interesting songwriting for the most part. They don't go overboard, with just 11 songs and a combined length of about 45 mins. This allows them to be consistently good and while some of the songs are obvious highlights, there isn't any filler here. The Kings have found a place in my music collection.

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Italian for Beginners: Romance for the Jaded

Posted : 15 years, 9 months ago on 4 October 2008 01:00 (A review of Italian for Beginners)

I've seen a handful of Dogme 95 movies and most (if not all) deal with rather weighty topics and are definitely not mainstream movies. 'Italian for Beginners' is listed as Dogme 12 in the list of Dogme movies. It's basically a gentle romantic comedy about a group of people who join an Italian language class in a Danish village. It is easily the most conventional movie I've seen from this group in terms of theme and content. It is also one of the best romantic comedies I've seen - ever.

Dogme 95 forces a set of rules on the film maker - filming must be done on location, only hand held cameras are allowed, no props whatsoever, no background music unless it's being played in the scene, the director must not be credited and many others. The net result of this is usually a movie that is raw and direct, decidedly unconventional, and by no means boring.

Applying this formula to a romantic comedy has resulted in a movie that has a very natural feel to it, is entirely free of cliches, does not rely on artificial situations to generate the comedy. The script is simple, yet engrossing. The characters are entirely believable, both in their grief and their happiness. The acting so natural that it is like watching the characters themselves and not an actor playing the character, a trick that is difficult to master.

The movie, in conclusion, is a short and bittersweet concoction that you should have no hesitation is tasting.

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(What's the Story) Morning Glory? review

Posted : 15 years, 10 months ago on 20 September 2008 03:01 (A review of (What's the Story) Morning Glory?)

One of the best rock albums of the 90s. Listening to this again was like a walk down nostalgia lane. So much of the music I like is over a decade old now and so many of the bands that came into existence when I was young are over a decade old too. So much for the nostalgia, on to the review.

Oasis backed up their excellent songwriting (mostly by Noel Gallagher) with great rock music.. In the 90s, it was a distinct break from the alt rock sound with it's buzzing guitars. Oasis constructed their songs in a format more reminiscent of the bands of the 60s and 70s. Their music tends to be guitar driven, which I love as well. They combined hard rock, slow rock and acoustic rock, sometimes all in the same song (case in point being 'Champagne Supernova').

This album was, in my opinion, the best they ever put out. The songwriting is consistently good, all the way to the end, this album has almost no throwaway songs. The music is varied and swings between frothy and fun to sombre and heavy. My favourite songs were the brilliant 'Wonderwall' and 'Champagne Supernova'. The former is an acoustic guitar driven song with lyrics about disappointment and longing. The latter starts off slowly but builds up to a big ending. These songs represent what Oasis were capable of at their peak.

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