Posts filed under: ‘Reviews‘




Winging It: S1.1 Pilot

It’s been twelve years since The West Wing premièred, and I never finished the whole series. I think we were dedicated watchers up until about season four,or maybe five, and then for some reason we stopped.

I’ve been meaning to get back to it ever since. I know its a great series – I loved it when we did watch, and so many of my friends still rave about it. So since I happened to pick the series up quite cheap (go the staff discount!) I figure I should utilise some of my public transport commute time and watch it.

As expected from the opening minutes of a new show we’re introduced to the cast.

  • Sam – ladies man
  • Leo – pedant
  • CJ – klutz
  • Josh – workaholic*
  • Toby – serious

*Well, the initial moments with him asleep at his desk kind of lead you to think that, but as the story progresses you realise it’s probably more worry about his foul up.

I remember: Almost the only thing I remember from this episode was Sam sleeping with a call girl, particularly his line regarding POTUS being his boss, not his friend, and then who POTUS is. I know it’s the first time I had ever heard the term, and the way the scene is delivered makes me think it wasn’t in general use before that…is that right?

Biggest surprise/discovery: That Laurie, the call girl, was Cuddy! Also Mandy. I don’t remember her at all! Not in the entire series. When I think WW cast, she just doesn’t exist. Are we sure she was always in there, or was she maybe photoshopped in later? 😛 Actually, on review, I wonder if that was because she isn’t introduced until after all the main staff and even the admin staff.

Favourite moment/s:

  • Leo: True or false, if I were to stand on high ground in Key West with a good pair of binoculars I’d be as informed as I am right now?
    Josh – That’s true.
  • Mrs Landingham telling Leo off for how he speaks in the Oval Office
  • The President giving a serve to the  religious right.

Observations: And the first political issue they’re dealing with  is “boat people” – different countries, a decade apart,  but the reactions of individuals are still the same.

And I can’t help wondering how POTUS’ bike accident would have been handled in this age of Twitter.

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1 comment September 20, 2012

REVIEW: Dark Space by Marianne de Pierres

I hate trilogies, I really do. In fact I hate series. That’s a lie, actually. I don’t hate series at all. In fact I generally love them. What I hate is finishing one book and wanting to dive into the next one immediately, only to have to wait. So, clever clogs me waited this one out. The whole series is available, and I have two books already, so I could comfortably start.

Except, I hit two hiccups.

  1. I thought the next book I had was book two, but it turns out it’s actually BOOK FOUR!
  2. The point is moot anyway, because I CAN’T FIND IT!

Now, I have to go book hunting.

Title: Dark Space

Series: Sentients of Orion (Book 1 of 4)

Author: Marianne de Pierres

Publisher: Orbit

Year Published: 2007

I love a good space opera, and this pushed nearly all the right buttons for me.  There were a few things I wanted to see in more of, but I actually get the impression they are going to be addressed in the next book.

In a far future where worlds across the galaxy have been settled, there is still discrimination and injustice. The discovery of a god-like being has a bearing on some, but for others, life goes on.

A young woman fights to keep her birthright, an heir disgraces his name, an ambitious architect will stop at nothing to attain greatness. And when the playing field of life is rocked, each person must examine themselves, and their motivations to find what kind of person they truly are, and what is important to them.

The story jumps around a little, mainly following four protagonists, but this serves to give a good overview of the situation.

The characters are real and solid. No one seems to be truly evil, or truly good, rather each person has many layers, giving them a genuine depth. And, like real life, relationships between the characters don’t always go the way one would expect.

So, the verdict: I loved it. I have to go and hunt the second book out TODAY.

10 comments February 28, 2012

REVIEW: Deus Ex: Human Revolution (Xbox 360)

I didn’t play Deus Ex, or Deus Ex 2, and generally the completist in me dictates that I need to finish the preceding games before I can go on, so I have context. So I had no intention of playing Deus Ex: Human Revelations. But Tusk twisted my arm, and finally convinced me by telling me a) that is was a prequel, so I didn’t need back story, and b) about the “Pacifist” achievement. Normally, I’m not fussed about achievements, but this one intrigued me, so I decided to give it a go.

It very nearly lost me during the training session. Actually, to be honest, it did lose me. I wasn’t feeling crash hot as I started it and so I gave up really quickly. So Tusk completed the training scenario, swearing that those killed during that time don’t count in the quest for “Pacifist”. (Ha! Ha, I say! ) And then, about a week later, in a moment of boredom, I picked it up again.

And the next week or two was spent sneaking around Detroit, and Hengsha, and a few other locales.

The Scenario: 

The year is 2027 and humanity is poised on a knife’s edge, ready to create the next step in its own evolution, by embracing augmentation technology. Yet not everyone likes this – dissenting groups around the world are rioting and committing acts of terrorism.

In the initial stages of the game, Adam Jensen, the protag, is caught in a terrorist attack on Sarif Industries (SI), a biotechnology firm specialising in human cybernetic enhancement, and to save him from death, he is augmented and turned into a version of the Six Million Dollar man. This attack not only destroyed precious research but seemingly killed several scientists including an ex-girlfriend of Adam’s.

Six months later he is brought back early from his recovery when SI experience another attack.

Because of the deaths during the training scenario, I failed in my attempt at the “Pacifist” achievement. So I did something I’ve seldom done before. I immediately re-started the game. And to add another element to it, I decided to try for “Foxiest of the Hounds” achievement as well.

The fact that I actually revisited a game immediately after completing it is testament to how much I enjoyed it. I get bored with games quite easily, and often don’t finish them, because, well, they don’t grab me.  But DE:HR pushed the right buttons for me so I found myself diving right back in. Of course, there are things I would rather skip now that I’ve done them once, but since I don’t have that capability I’ll just plod on through it as the mood takes me.

The Good:

  • There’s nearly always more than one way to achieve something. Often several ways. You can go in with brute force, or you can try a subtle approach.
  • The hacking mini-game. Not the most awesome of things, but they do provide a nice change of pace.
  • Dialogue and persuasion. Conversation choices really do affect outcomes. Your responses can make the difference between a hostage being released or killed or learning critical information for free.
  • It was good to see some of the bosses were females.
  • Playing with the augs is fun.
  • Ambiance
  • Faridah Malik! I’d happily play a game about her. I think she is an awesome character.

The Bad:  

  • I would’ve liked personal interactions to be a bit more in depth.
  • It would’ve been nice to see female gang members and Bell Tower soldiers.
  • It’s a bit sad that you can rifle through people’s drawers, while they’re sitting there and they don’t even notice.
  • It would also have been cool if people eventually revive after being knocked out. Or you know, maybe you have to render them some assistance, or drop them off at clinic or cop shop before they die.
  • On that note, it would be cool if guards that are patrolling notice when their mates actually disappear.
  • More side quests would’ve been good.
  • Boss fights. I don’t play these games for the combat, and these were tedious. Not necessarily challenging, just very…meh.  I found myself wishing that final scenarios for each mission could be varied and not just a straight out, one-on-one fight.
  • Some areas were a bit dark, and with all those awesome augs, you’d think one of them would give you night vision, but no, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Overall:

Engaging with a diverse range of quests. I found the game very enjoyable, but I’m not sure that it’s an accurate reflection of how good I thought the game was. It was flawed, and predictable in places, and quite clichéd in areas, but something about it grabbed me. And for that I can forgive a lot.

7/10

Add a comment January 13, 2012

Australian Women Writers 2012 National Year of Reading Challenge

  In an effort to motivate myself to read a little more, and to think about what I’m reading, rather than just choosing brain candy, I’ve signed up for to 2012 Challenge.I have already identified a couple of books I want to read, but I’m going to try and be practical and so I’ve chosen the Stella Level. And I think I’ll be a Dabbler. That means 3 books, 2 reviews.

So, what’re the deets?

Challenge period: 1 January 2012 – 31 December 2012

Goal: Read and review books written by Australian women writers – hard copies, ebooks and audiobooks, new, borrowed or stumbled upon by book-crossing.

Genre challenges:
Purist: one genre only
Dabbler: more than one genre
Devoted eclectic: as many genres as you can find

Challenge levels:
Stella (read 3 and review at least 2 books)
Miles (read 6 and review at least 3*
Franklin-fantastic (read 10 and review at least 4 books)*
* The higher levels should include at least one substantial length review

2 comments December 11, 2011

REVIEW: The Company Articles of Edward Teach

BOOK: The Angælien Apocalypse/The Company Articles of Edward Teach

AUTHOR: Thoraiya Dyer

PUBLISHER: Twelfth Planet Press

RRP: $12.00

In The Company Articles of Edward Teach, Dyer takes the body swapping trope in a different direction. While it is about wish fulfilment, it isn’t jealousy and misunderstanding of another’s life. Rather it is about two teens, wishing they were anyone else. Both raised in orthodox families – Layla, a Muslim, resenting the dominance of her father, the control others have over her life. Avi, Jewish, and railing against the future his mother has mapped out for him.

A chance encounter sees their wishes fulfilled, not by swapping with each other, but by both being thrown into bodies in a different time and place. and explores the effect on the psyche.

The story tells the struggle of the teens to hold onto their identities, and to survive in a time of violence and sickness, as they try to implement and practice and hold onto what they know, understand and believe, when it isn’t compatible with the thinking of the time they are in.

Well told and fast paced, the story captures the brutality of the time period it is set in, and does a good job of portraying the confusion a modern teen would feel if they were confronted with this situation.

Overall I found this an enjoyable quick read.

 

Add a comment November 21, 2011

REVIEW: The Angælien Apocalypse

BOOK: The Angælien Apocalypse/The Company Articles of Edward Teach

AUTHOR: Matthew Chrulew

PUBLISHER: Twelfth Planet Press

RRP: $12.00

I’m always a little bit terrified when I read a story that utilises biblical elements. I think there’s always a possibility when you read stories that dwell on premises that are at the core of your belief that you’re going to get offended. Maybe because an author has seized on just a few points that they think they know, but they’ve failed to understand, or because they take the story into the realm of the blasphemous.
This doesn’t mean I don’t read stories that contain those elements though. I might read them, but my stomach will stay balled up and my breathing will be shallow because I’m tensed, waiting to see how things play out, unsure whether I am going to be offended or upset.
I was a bit apprehensive when I started reading “The Angælien Apocalypse”. Actually, that’s not quite correct. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really have any idea what it was about when I started, but within the first few pages I was getting the idea.
The story is set in the near future and looks at the imminent return of Jesus, together with the rise of the Anti-Christs, and the warring factions behind the return. There was one point in particular where it very nearly lost me, providing an either/or scenario that I couldn’t come to terms with, but as I continued, albeit with some apprehension, this resolved itself.
All in all I enjoyed what Chrulew did with this story, weaving numerous aspects from various parts of the bible into a cohesive and entertaining story.

Add a comment November 20, 2011

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