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The Golden Compass - Xbox 360
The Golden Compass - Xbox 360
Offered by Ma's Wholesale
Price: $9.99
73 used & new from $0.29

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars horrendous gameplay makes this one to avoid, regardless of what you think about the movie, December 20, 2007
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
I don't expect much when it comes to video games based on movies. Quite often they feature mediocre gameplay, a boring storyline that sort of, but doesn't really follow the plot of the film, and pointless objectives that make you feel the developers were banking on the franchise itself to sell copies of the game and didn't care about making it something actually worth playing. But The Golden Compass is bad, really bad, even for a movie based game.

I gave the game a chance--I played through the whole thing--but I just couldn't get over how poorly made it was. For starters, the gameplay is dull and the difficulty varies far too much for a game intended for younger children. At times you're pushing the button flashing up on the screen (which is fine), and at other times you're trying to keep Iorik alive while he's fighting the witch queen or a guy with a flamethrower. This game is rated for kids 10+, but I imagine a child that age would be bored stiff with the button matching mini-games and frustrated beyond belief with the more difficult parts of the game.

The controls are fairly straightforward but the camera angle is absolutely awful. In fact I spent as much time trying to overcome the terrible angle, when I couldn't see what I was fighting or the ledge to which I was supposed to be jumping, as I did trying doing anything else. If the camera worked right the game would still be dull and rather pointless, but the camera angle makes this game nearly unplayable.

Part of the potential appeal for this game comes from the prospect of playing as Iorik, the polar bear who accompanies the girl Lyra on her adventures. Playing Iorik is the best part of the game, but unfortunately the majority of the game is spent playing as Lyra, thus stifling what could, possibly, have been the game's only redeeming quality.

There are many, many better games available for the price. Don't be fooled into buying it just because it accompanies the movie--this title is bound to bring frustration and annoyance to anyone who plays it. And even if, somehow, someone were to enjoy the game, the entire storyline is good for about 5 hours of play--definitely not worth it.


Invest Like a Shark: How a Deaf Guy with No Job and Limited Capital Made a Fortune Investing in the Stock Market
Invest Like a Shark: How a Deaf Guy with No Job and Limited Capital Made a Fortune Investing in the Stock Market
by James DePorre
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.17
102 used & new from $0.01

25 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing introduction to an unorthodox style of investing, November 28, 2007
James "Rev Shark" Deporre has been well known for many years for teaching an investing style that goes against the grain of traditional Wall Street wisdom. Shark investing means moving quickly and aggressively, and fleeing at the first sign of danger. Now, in this book, Mr. Deporre provides an excellent introduction to his methodology and preaches against the buy and hold mentality that is ingrained in so many. I am not a subscriber to the Rev Shark's website, but I do include his column among my regular reading on Realmoney. I found this book to be very insightful, and found many things that rang true with me and caused me to stop and consider how I've been handling my own investing.

I believe this book should be taken as an introduction to DePorre's style of investing--nothing more. It is true that the subject matter is light and that the book does not go into a great deal of depth, but that does not mean it is just another superficial look at trading. The Rev Shark brings a unique approach to investing and his perspective is refreshing. In the midst of a sea of brokers, pundits, advisors, and analysts who constantly preach a buy and hold methodology and seem to think that every small investor has to mirror a mutual fund to be successful, it's nice to hear from someone who believes the little guy can make it on his own without going head to head with the 'Wall Street Whales.'

In short, you won't find in depth lessons on charting here in the book, nor does DePorre provide a spoon fed methodology to picking stocks. What he does offer, however, is some great advice that, if heeded, can help the average investor use the fact that he or she is investing with limited capital to their advantage, rather than allow it to be a handicap. In fact, most of what DePorre says is relatively common sense, but it rings with such a sense of truth that it's worth taking note of. He labels it 'shark investing' not as a cute analogy but rather as a means of defining how the little guy needs to invest if he wants to survive. Be aggressive when the time is right, gorge yourself when profits are available (don't be timid when things are going in your favor), and run at the first sight of danger. It's okay to sell a stock and buy it back a little higher (the Rev refers to that as the price of insurance), and no stock, no matter how much money it has made you in the past, deserves your full devotion, because any stock can turn on you in an instant.

Those looking to be handed a method of picking stocks will likely be disappointed with the Rev Shark's book, as will anyone expecting an exhaustive treatment of investing in less than 200 pages. Those willing to take it for what it is, however--an introduction to a unique approach to trading that, if applied correctly, can help you survive as a small fish in an ocean full of whales--will find this book a great addition to their investing library.


The Simpsons Game
The Simpsons Game
Offered by King Beardo
Price: $70.25
42 used & new from $19.90

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A review from a long time fan of the show who's actually played the game, November 20, 2007
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: The Simpsons Game (Video Game)
The Simpsons game deserves credit for bringing the world of Springfield to life--I'll give it that much. As you run around the interactive town, going into landmark locations like Moe's or Krusty Burger and listening to the mumblings of the town's citizens you know and love you can't help but be appreciative that the experience was FINALLY put into a game. The game is also voiced by the actual cast, thus giving the game validity and making it actually feel that you're involved in an episode of the show.

That said, the Simpsons game delivers only a mediocre gameplay experience. The game features several levels (18 I believe) with various silly scenarios. You progress through the levels using two members of the Simpson family in each of them, and each family member has abilities that are useful and can help you in unique situations, and each has a collectible item (Homer has Duff bottle caps, for example) to obtain during the levels and throughout Springfield. The game also features "Cliches," which are unlocked moments when you do certain things in the game and Comic Book Guy pops out with a sarcastic comment about how boiling lava (or whatever) in video games is not very original.

The levels are mildly amusing and some of the commentary from both the Simpsons and the town's denizens is very entertaining. The gameplay, however, is lacking. Not only does the camera get annoying, since it never quite adjusts the way you need it to, but the controls have several little quirks that can drive you crazy if you play the game for any amount of time (such as Bart's aiming mechanism for his slingshot). This may not be enough to deter hardcore fans of the show, but it's something to keep in mind.

That brings me to another very, very big disappointment with the game. Sometimes the animation is great, and the 3-D imaging while you're actually playing is pretty good. At other times though, especially during the cutscenes, the game features some of the most sloppy animation I've ever seen in a game. It's tough to describe, but suffice it to say that some cutscenes look as though the characters in them were literally cut out by a 10 year old with scissors and then stuck onto the 3-D background. The result is horrible--just awful--and I cringed every time I saw those scenes with jagged lined and flat-looking characters on my high definition display.

If you're a fan of the Simpsons it's probably worth renting this game. Don't buy it, though, just because it's got the Simpsons name on it, but take it for a test drive first.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 9, 2008 7:08 PM PST


Halo 3 - Xbox 360
Halo 3 - Xbox 360
Price: $11.46
519 used & new from $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Great game, but not all it could have been, October 10, 2007
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Halo 3 - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
I'm not sure any game ever made could have lived up to the incredible hype piled on Halo 3, and it's worth bearing that in mind when considering the merits of this game. That having been said, Halo 3 doesn't break a whole lot of new ground, and much of the game feels like more of the same, though in this case that 'same' is something very worthwhile. People pick apart and criticize various parts of the game, but many of those same people are online all the time playing this thing like crazy anyway. Here are some things to consider:

THE CAMPAIGN: Okay, so Halo 3's campaign is pretty uninspiring. The graphics are breathtaking at times and there are several moments of lighthearted dialogue (both the marines and the Covenant say some very funny things if you listen closely), but ultimately the campaign is just about shooting and blowing stuff up while you move toward some sort of relatively bland objective. The depth of the campaign leaves much to be desired, no doubt about it.

Still, I love playing the campaign. Why? Simply because there are so many options. First is the option to play 4 player co-op online. You can ratchet the difficulty up and blast your way through, and it's a lot of fun. The game contains several "skulls," which you have to find and which you can activate while playing campaign missions to give your enemy various enhanced abilities (better armor, more grenades, the ability to dodge your grenades, etc). There is also a meta game where you're scored based on the time it takes you to clear the level, how many times you die, and the style with which you dispatch your enemies. Skulls give multipliers to your score, as does turning up the difficulty. There are achievements associated with high meta game scores as well. This, to me at least, gives the campaign some replay value, which is a good thing since the storyline isn't engaging enough to make me want to play through it again alone.

ONLINE MULTIPLAYER: Many people argue this is the true essence of Halo, and in that Halo 3 delivers...well, mostly. The game offers some great multiplayer maps, some fun weapons, great team modes, and the ability to edit maps to your liking through the Forge. You can unlock new armor, customize your appearance, and track your service record as you increase in the game's ranking system. Still, the multiplayer isn't without its drawbacks. It seems strange that ranked Lone Wolf matches have only 5 players, for example, and that most of the team modes in ranked play have 8 players (4 to a side) when the game supports up to 16. These are minor complaints and can be resolved with some time and tweaking, and ultimately the fact remains that multiplayer in Halo 3 is a lot of fun.

Another note--whenever you play Halo 3, be it during campaign or in multiplayer mode, a temporary video of your game is taken, and you can view, edit, and permanently save these videos after your game (otherwise they're deleted). You can also share videos and screenshots of your exploits. Nice touch.

Overall I think Halo 3 is a great game. Is it monumental? Maybe not, but it should have some great staying power and be a lot of fun to play for some time. While I can understand the complaints people make about the game I don't think it's enough to ruin the Halo experience. If your only desire is to play the campaign on single player I'd recommend renting this one before you buy it, but if you want Halo for any sort of multiplayer action I'd say this one is worth owning.


Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree
Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree
Offered by coastbooks100
Price: $32.28
108 used & new from $0.95

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Needs more variety, October 3, 2007
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
If you've ever played any of the brain training games for the Nintendo DS, chances are you know how much fun exercising your mind can be. This game, which is a sequel to Big Brain Academy on the DS, lacks the lasting appeal of its predecessor, however. While most of the games are fun at first, after going through a couple tests they quickly become dull and repetitive, and the lack of variety (there are only 15 games total) makes the boredom come even faster.

The real shortfall here, in my opinion, is that the game had so much potential on the Wii. It could have been so much better. The single player mode isn't bad--it's similar to the brain weight test on the DS--but the multiplayer mode is really lacking. The game features a basic head to head mode of play, but it would have been nice to see some variety for multiple players rather than just the "see who can answer X questions first" mode of play. I would think, too, that a puzzle type game like this one would include more extensive stats for each player. Each person's profile consists of a book that does show some statistics (and allows you to use your Mii, which is a nice touch), but I would have liked to see leaderboards for each event posted in the lobby of the game as well as statistics and maybe some sort of badges for multiplayer competition. In fact would it be too much to ask for SOMETHING to reward players for playing and achieving higher scores--some kind of unlockable or something similar?

Big Brain could really benefit from more online support as well. You can compare training data over WiiConnect, but the options are pretty limited and, in my opinion, not really worth it. I would like to see an online community with more variey than just the "beat my score" type. The lack of one just adds to the disappointment of what might have been.

This isn't a bad game overall, and it is enjoyable for a little while. I suppose it could be heaped onto the pile of "Wii party games" and provide some entertainment for a group of people, but the fact remains that Big Brain Academy: Wii degree is a game that should have been so much more.


Xbox 360 Rechargeable Controller Battery Pack Black
Xbox 360 Rechargeable Controller Battery Pack Black
Offered by Worldwide Sales
Price: $17.99
12 used & new from $4.75

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth it, September 27, 2007
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This is the licensed rechargable battery for the XBox 360 wireless controller. There are many cheaper imitations out there, but this product fits so perfectly in the controller I don't know why you'd mess around with an imitation, especially given the reasonable price tag. It's more convenient than AA rechargable batteries too, and can be charged while you play if you have the play and charge kit. This battery lasts for many hours and charges quickly--it's a must if you're using wireless 360 controllers!


Xbox 360 Black Play and Charge Kit
Xbox 360 Black Play and Charge Kit
Price: $15.92
92 used & new from $2.57

5.0 out of 5 stars Great accessory for the wireless controller, September 27, 2007
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
The XBox 360 Play and Charge kit is a great solution to the problem of batteries. Wireless 360 controllers can burn through a set of batteries fairly quickly, and replacing them can really add up. This is a great solution--it comes with a rechargeable battery and a cord that allows you to play while the battery is being charged. And the cost will quickly be offset by the money you'll save in NOT having to replace AA batteries, believe me.

If your battery runs out while you're playing, just hook the controller to your 360's USB port and you can continue gaming interrupted. This doesn't seem to be the best solution for charging, however. Instead I have my cord hooked up to a USB port on my computer, and whenever a battery gets low I switch to another controller and plug the one that needs charged into my computer. The batteries charge pretty quickly and last a long time.

If you've ever messed with changing batteries out on a Wii you'll see why this product is so great. The cost of this battery is pretty minimal, and with the clutter you can save by using wireless controllers it's definitely worth it in my opinion.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 10, 2007 9:09 AM PDT


Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 - Xbox 360
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 - Xbox 360
Offered by Rockymountainretail
Price: $8.79
172 used & new from $0.01

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Online options make this version worthwhile, September 27, 2007
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Okay, first things first. The gameplay in Tiger Woods PGA Tour doesn't change all that much from year to year, and the 2008 edition is no exception. Sure, there are some new features and more golfers to choose from, but the improvements in gameplay itself might not be worth upgrading if you've already got Tiger 2007. Where this game does come through, however, is in the online options. The ability to play a match online is great, and Gamernet, which allows you to post challenges for other people to attempt and beat, is a lot of fun.

THE GOOD:

-If you're a fan of the franchise you'll enjoy the gameplay in Tiger 2008
-The inclusion of more LPGA golfers is a nice development for female players
-Gameface, when/if it works (the site seems to be unstable and many people haven't been able to make it work), allows you to use a picture of yourself to customize your golfer's face!
-online options are great, and the Gamernet challenges should appeal to people seeking producer points for posting difficult challenges, and those who want to earn player points by beating or "busting" those challenges.

THE BAD:

-New features are, for the most part, good, but Tiger Woods '08 is still basically the same game. Some more innovation would be nice.
-Gameface doesn't work very well for a lot of people, and I've found Gamernet to be pretty buggy as well. You can only have 3 clips up at a time, and taking down your old challenges so you can post new ones can be frustrating. EA seems to offer little to no support for anything related to the online portion of the game.
-The game is STILL buggy. EA released an update that fixed a bug preventing the Tiger Challenge from being completed, but the game still freezes up at times and some of the animations don't work. I've played entire rounds where my opponent didn't have a ball--he was just swinging at the ground and launching nothing into the air.

Overall, Tiger Woods 2008 is probably worth picking up if you don't own any of the recent titles. If you're thinking of upgrading from '07, however, you might want to rent this one first and see if the new stuff is really worth the price of a new game. Personally, if it weren't for the online aspect of the game I'd recommend buying '07 and saving the money, but if you like to play online this one might be worthwhile.


Dirt - Xbox 360
Dirt - Xbox 360
Offered by ricksgreatdeals
Price: $63.99
40 used & new from $2.22

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great racing game--accessible to a wide audience, September 24, 2007
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Dirt - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
Dirt is a great racing game that features enough customization to cater to a wide range of fans. There are 5 difficulty levels on Dirt, each with varying amounts of realism, damage, and AI skill. Arcade racing fans can set the level on Rookie or Clubman (I believe that's what the 2nd lowest difficulty level is called), while more serious racers can ratchet up the difficulty for a more realistic experience. Dirt features several types of racing in a few different modes and a total of 46 available vehicles you can collect (along with several paintjobs for each), and for the most part is a pretty good game, though it does have some shortcomings. The good and the bad:

THE GOOD:

- Career Mode is great. There are 11 tiers of competition which expose you to all the various racing types in the game, and you can earn money from career mode to buy more vehicles.
- The races are fun and the control is great. Difficulty can be adjusted to suit your needs and the car can be tweaked if you so desire (but doesn't have to be if you don't want to mess with it).
- Several tracks offer quite a bit of variety, and the ability to race different classes of vehicles on most of them provides replay value.
- Great graphics, great sound effects when you drive or crash
- Upon completing a race your time is uploaded and you're given a worldwide rank based on everyone who has ever run the race. Nice touch.

THE BAD:

- Championship Mode is, ultimately, pointless. Sure, it's a great idea to have Championships of 15 or 30 races (or more if you choose the long option), but when you win a Championship you get no money, no trophy--not even a cutscene of any kind. Couldn't there be SOME kind of award, even if it was a new skin for the vehicle you won the championship in?
- Multiplayer lacks, both on and offline. First, there's no split screen multiplayer, which is annoying. But even online play is limited to only 2 kinds of events where you don't actually see your opponents but are only aware of their time relative to yours. This would be okay (and doesn't bother me that much), but communication between opponents is limited as well.
- The frame rate can suffer sometimes, though this doesn't happen often.

Dirt is a great game overall, but a few shortcomings keep it from being a spectacular game. Why not offer money or some kind of prizes in Championship Mode? And why not allow the XBox mileage achievements to be earned in other modes of play (you can only get the mileage in career), which might encourage more people to play online rather than playing the career over and over again? Still, if you're a fan of racing at all I highly recommend Dirt since it's few flaws are not enough to keep this game from being a lot of fun.


TMNT - Xbox 360
TMNT - Xbox 360
Offered by Legendary Games
Price: $85.77
28 used & new from $27.98

2.0 out of 5 stars Very short game--maybe okay for a rental, September 17, 2007
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: TMNT - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
TMNT is the latest of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles games and is the companion to the recent movie of the same title. You fight as each of the turtles, and sometimes can switch between them, through several stages (I think there were 14 or 16) that more or less (often less) accompany the plot of the movie. This is a typical movie-based game, short and without anything defining to make it really worthwhile, but not a complete waste of time if you rent it.

The Good:

-Well, it IS the Turtles, so that's a definite plus if you're a fan of either the originals or the new movie.
-The fighting and some of the Turtles' abilities are fun, for a little while at least, to mess around with.
-There aren't many unlockables, but there are a few fun things you can unlock to add variety to the game, including big heads for the Turtles, halloween costumes for the bad guys, and "weekend weapons."

The Bad:

-The game is VERY short. It took me between 4 and 5 hours to complete the game. After completing each stage with an 'A' rating you unlock the ability to play the stages again and find special gold coins in the stage, but there's really no reason to do this and I see little replay value in the game.
-The game is VERY easy with a few really tricky parts. You can die as many times as you want and just keep on playing, and you can fall or miss jumps or whatever and it really doesn't matter. That made me think the game's difficulty was tailored to younger people, but later in the game some of the jump sequences (especially on the last stage) are so difficult they require much more skill than the rest of the game.
-No multiplayer. I understand that some of the stages (like those with Raph as the Watchman) take place with only one Turtle, but what made all the old Ninja Turtles games so great was the ability to play with your friends.
-The camera angle is annoying at times, and there are many times when you're trying to do a certain kind of jump and end up falling to your death because you can't see well enough to line it up correctly or the game just executes the wrong move.

This game is worth renting if you've REALLY got nothing better to do, or if you want some quick Achievement points on the 360, but I definitely wouldn't buy it. It's fun for a while, a short while, but by the time you play the short story mode through you'll be more than ready to move on to something else.


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