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Review: Pro Evolution Soccer 2010

It’s one of the most hotly anticipated head-to-heads in football, but it only comes around once a year. PES has the historical advantage, but in recent years FIFA has become the consensus top dog. What have the Konami boys got in store this time?

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Claiming the title: But is PES 2010 really a return to former glories?

It’s been a tough time on next gen consoles for Konami’s once lauded Pro Evolution Soccer franchise. While PES 6 on the Playstation 2 was arguably the finest version of the game to date, sequels on the latest range of consoles have often failed to liveup to the hype.

What is more, their Canadian-based rivals at EA Sports have had no such troubles, with their previously mundane FIFA franchise going from strength-to-strength in recent years. FIFA 09 was arguably the first time in the history of the rivalry that the Wayne Rooney-backed game was better than the Fernando Torres’ preferred — will this year prove that to be a blip, or the state of things to come?

The good news, if Shingo “Seabass” Takatsuka and his team will see it that way, is that on the whole PES 2010 is a superior game to FIFA 09. It’s the same joyful playing experience of old, with passes zipping around with ease and games never feeling the same.

Long range shooting, something that EA have never really managed to get to grips with, is the same blast it has always been. When the ball bobbles free outside the box, the sense of nervous excitement is palpable — anything could happen as the ball is fired goalward — and provides a tension that also contributes greatly to making multiplayer such a great experience.

There are areas for improvement, many that have long need some attention. The typical lack of licences will anger some more than others — especially as things seem to have regressed in recent years with La Liga no longer fully licensed. Goalkeepers are also the same erratic bunch of past versions, and consequently some otherwise good goals feel ‘cheap’ as replays highlight the ‘keeper’s woeful reflexes. Continue reading

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Reviews, Video Games | | Leave a comment

Review: Reaper Season 2

The first season of Reaper was a triumph, albeit one blighted by the spectre of cancellation and low ratings. In that respect, Season 2 follows in its predecessor’s footsteps…

Reaper: The Devil and Sam Oliver...

Reaper: The Devil and Sam Oliver...

At the conclusion of this second series, having again garnered relatively poor ratings (a fact many attribute to poor scheduling) the show was cancelled by the CW. As a result, Reaper’s two main actors, Bret Harrison (Sam Oliver) and Tyler Labine (Bert ‘Sock’ Wysocki), left the show, making the possibility of an immediate revival on another network look unlikely.

The turmoil behind the show filters through to some of the episodes — later on in the series in particular it certainly feels like producers were trying to squeeze a lot of long-running storylines into the limited 13-episode space they had. While not wanting to give too much away, the ending to the series — if, as looks likely, it is also the end of the show — is not one that will particularly satisfy viewers, and leaves more questions than answers.

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June 23, 2009 Posted by | Reviews, Television | | Leave a comment

Review: Flight of the Conchords Series 2

Life is nothing if not a struggle for New Zealand’s fourth most popular folk digi-rock duo…

Jemaine and Bret: The Conchords

Jemaine and Bret: The Conchords

There is so little to hate about Jemaine and Bret, the two bandmates that make up Flight of the Conchords, that it almost hurts. Whether it be their general inability to strike up conversations with (normal) girls, or their total failure to get anyone apart from Mel (the band’s ‘fanbase’) to attend their gigs, something about the two New Zealanders makes them compelling viewing, despite the conspicuous absence of anything involving personal or professional progression.

The first series introduced us to the band, and allowed us to follow as they singularly failed to make any sort of headway on the American music scene. In that respect, then, the second series follows religiously in the same footsteps. As Jemaine tells Murray, the band’s injudicious manager, during the last episode of this collection, “It’s the story of two men who started at the bottom, who with a lot of hard work continued along the bottom, and then finished at the bottom.”

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May 3, 2009 Posted by | Reviews, Television | , , | Leave a comment