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Paul Chapman

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Best of PlayStation Network (3 items)
Game list by Paul Chapman
Last updated 8 years, 1 month ago
25 reasons to own a DS (13 items)
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Last updated 8 years, 2 months ago
Top 10 PS3 Exclusives (10 items)
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Recent reviews

All reviews - Movies (1) - Games (1)

Perfectly executed film, bittersweet story

Posted : 8 years ago on 23 September 2009 01:45 (A review of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)

The film as you would expect from the title and trailer describes the life story of Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt) who is faced with the unusual predicament of aging backwards. Director David Fincher guides us through a series of Benjamin's life defining moments, but it is his relationship with Daisy (Cate Blanchett) that is central to the film. I was drawn in by this hugely interesting premise and keen to see how a tale that presents such obvious technical challenges would translate to the big screen. Despite taking nearly three hours to unfold I was more than satisfied with the experience, I fully believed in both Benjamin's character and the relationships he forms throughout this beautifully crafted film.

I can definitely see where the comparisons with Forest Gump have come from and whilst I'm a fan of both films I had the same problem with them - they are a tad tedious! It's sadly inherent in a film that focuses on someones life story that they end up being rather predictable viewing experiences. Fortunately the film kept my attention thanks to some exemplary casting and stellar performances from both Pitt and Blanchett, as well as a Taraji P. Henson who play Benjamin's surrogate mother Queenie. The key moments of Benjamin's life are brilliantly captured, I personally enjoyed that the director focused on both the highs and lows of life in equal measure but I was left emotionally exhausted by the time the film reached its climax.

Benjamin Button has much to offer, it's almost worth watching for the presentation alone. It's a tribute to the quality of the make-up and CGI in this film that I was so drawn in to the screenplay; we have really reached a stage where special effects no longer distract from the content. I can see why many will be left frustrated due to the slow pace and subtle payoffs, but if you put aside the time and go into this with a curious mind I'm sure like me you will be pleasantly surprised.


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Table Tennis ported to the Wii with mixed success

Posted : 8 years, 2 months ago on 6 August 2009 12:06 (A review of Rockstar Games presents Table Tennis)

When I saw this release for the 360, I was almost tempted to go out and buy the console for it. Admitedly, Table Tennis was never meant to be a sytem seller like Halo 3 etc, but I fell in love with this game from the moment I saw it. The developers – Rockstar Games, are often shrouded in controversy for being the team behind the ultra violent GTA. Despite the drugs, prostitutes and killing, there’s a maticulous amount of work and attention to detail that made GTA great and I sensed that those same qualities were at work in Table Tennis. Despite its budget price tag, the 360 version of the game was critically acclaimed, with breath-taking player models, an intuitive but intricate control scheme, and top class presentation. So just over a year later and still without a 360 I decided to give the new Wii version a try, who knows, it could be a perfect match for the Wii-mote!.

I managed to pick up my copy of Table Tennis for 20 quid; I had heard some fairly negative reports from the likes of 1Up and Gamespot so I was pleased to pick it up for a reasonable price. Following the opening sequences, you are asked to create a profile and select from 3 different control schemes. My guess is that rather than trying to create a definitive control scheme the developers copped out and offered the range in the hope of making the game more accessible. I found the various choices a tad intimidating, it was difficult to make an informed choice without trying them out. In spite of this I opted for the ‘control freak’ setting which seemed to offer the most control – requiring the Nunchuk for player positioning and the Wii Remote for swinging. It makes me wonder how nice it would be to see Wii games with the intelligence to learn and adapt to how the user wants to play the game. Anyway, I digress; the sharp shooter mode uses automatic player movement, allowing for precise ball positioning with the Nunchuk, whereas the standard mode uses the Wii Remote on its own.

Table Tennis is without doubt one of the better looking Wii titles, featuring beautifully detailed character models and venues held together by fluid animations. For me though, it’s the graphic design that really stands out. The presentation throughout the game from the slick menu’s and simplistic score counter, to the packaging, instruction booklet and even the website are exemplary. It really deserves a mention as it’s often an overlooked and underappreciated element in game design. As someone who has yet to invest in an HD TV and truly next gen console the graphics are great and seem to have ported from the 360 very well – I guess it’s true that ignorance is bliss!

To compliment the impressively realistic looking visuals the sound is exemplary. Rockstar have captured all the obvious details of the sport beautifully from the sound of bat on ball to the oohs and ah’s of the crowd. What takes it too the next level though is the special effects that are applied during key moments. The action slows down matrix style when your player is at full stretch, and as rallies progress the background around the table fades too black and a chorus of drum and bass kicks in to build the tension. This draws you in and really makes what would be a fairly average game of glorified pong into something much more.

Despite all this praise, Table Tennis is by no means perfect. The game is let down by the translation of Wii motion controls into the action on screen. It is beginning to become clear that true 1 to 1 motion with the wii-mote is difficult achieve. As a result there is an awkward lag between swinging the controller and the resulting player movement. You end up swinging as soon as the ball crosses the net and then waiting to see what your player does. At first it is really disconcerting and the game feels totally broken, but you get used to it and eventually you find yourself reading the game, building rallies and creating opportunities to slam the ball past your opponent.

In terms of gameplay there is plenty to unlock including new characters, venues and outfits. Unless you’re a completist type, I imagine you will probably tire of beating the somewhat predictable AI before everything has been won. Two players are supported, but online play is a noticeable omission from the Wii verison, this would have certainly made it a must buy title. All in all given the budget price I am not unhappy with table tennis and given the lack of triple A Wii games it’s well worth a try. But as the lacklustre controls add nothing, you can’t help but feel like you’re missing out on a truly next gen experience though.


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